Tag Archives: wrath of the righteous

Wrath of the Righteous Retrospective

Well, we finished our Wrath of the Righteous campaign successfully.  You can read the many, many session summaries and weep in fear at our hellacious character builds at the link.  “Yeah, I’m level 16 with 10 mythic tiers, no big deal.”

Overall we enjoyed this AP, but it was deeply flawed in a number of ways.  It was ambitious, but its reach exceeded its grasp.

The Characters

I enjoyed my PC, Antonius.  I tied him into a Dave Gross novel even, as being a ward of Count Varian Jeggare gained after the Iron Mountain massacre in Tien Xia.  Having been brought up some in Cheliax he was a nice foil to the rest of the party’s expectations.   I was pro-tiefling (because of Uncle Jeggare’s man Radovan) and, true to a LG alignment, saw LE devils and CG whatnots with equivalent amounts of distaste. So some of the goody-goodys looked on his proud red and black Chelish garb with suspicion. As a monk/paladin of Irori he was different and I tried to balance the “lack of attachment” Irori thing with, you  know, Pathfinder, gotta have some loot to play.  I also gave a try playing him as a gay character, but all the major NPCs were chicks in this AP!  So I was largely thwarted there.  I tried to start something up with some guy’s brother we found who had been turned to a statue and we turned him back but then it was “back to the Abyss to kill demons” and the task at hand, realistically, was always more pressing than love, so really no romantic attachments were made by any of the PCs in this AP.  I did pull off the “you are already dead” Fist of the North Star move once in a while, which made me happy.

The other PCs were all fun. Our aasimar sorceress was our war leader since the mini-ruleset about wars was all about Charisma, so we called her “Khaleesi” much to Tim’s chagrin. Patrick was Shawanda the paladin (modeled on the iconic paladin), who paladinned up the paladin. Matt was Trystan the archer, who built his own religion. Bruce (Skyping in) was Tabregon the oracle, who largely healed and boasted about how much he could carry.  Chris’ cleric Tsuguri was of some good Tien moon and insanity god, so that was nice and different.

The Story

The story was decent.  A bit railroady.  We went to interesting places and saw interesting demons and killed them, which definitely lives up to what it says on the tin.  It did get a bit repetitive – one fire, bug, and ichor soaked place after another loses its punch with repetition.

The initial NPCs were supposed to be interesting throughout the entire campaign.  They weren’t.  We picked out other NPCs we liked more, like Uziel our repentant tiefling.  Our GM was a good sport about pivoting to them instead of the goons we were “supposed to” care about. This happened in Jade Regent too.  “Here’s people you should care about, instead of the more interesting people you meet” is crap design and they need to quit it. I mean, a GM should just call the audible but they can feel constrained from doing that when the adventure keeps trotting someone out because it “might be important” that it’s them… They should explicitly say “you can sub in other NPCs into whatever weird relationship or plot minigame we’ve built into this.”

There were too many high level NPCs for us to pal around with really.  Our poor GM – he’s trying to run a crapload of super high power bad guys, and besides our party we end up having a variety of angels and a Runelord and such along with us. So none of them really get their due.  We converted a Runelord to good!  And then it was just kinda like “we have a pet Runelord now.”  “Hey Alderpash you gonna get the lead out and fireball someone or just sit on your ass another round?!?” There were so many rules options it was too much to keep up with just for ourselves and for the primary bad guy, let along a bunch of other high-level-plus-epic-tier guys.  It devalued them.

But we kept interested in the story, in fact later on in the AP the GM was kinda dispirited at how much we were rolling over the fights and wanted to know if we wanted to continue the AP or not.  We said yes – by this time the idea of more grindy fights was not attractive, but gunning through the encounters to get to the story points was interesting.

Challenge Level

The AP was flat underpowered.  By a large margin.  Some of this is the mythic rules (coming next) but frankly I’m not sure we needed the mythic tiers to rock this AP. The GM upped enemies and added stuff and had bunches of singleton enemies band together.  We still one-rounded a lot of stuff.

This was partly good and partly bad.  On the one hand, when we one-rounded a mythic two-headed linnorm, I felt like “boo – that should have been more epic.” But when confronted with another fight with bugs with 1000 hp apiece, I couldn’t get those combats over with fast enough.

The Mythic Rules

The mythic rules are a innovative ruleset from Paizo.  They’re not just retreading 3.5 content, they are continuously exploring the design space and coming up with more options.

The mythic rules, as written, are 50% on target.  They’re billed as “not just more plusses – they’re truly myth and legend level powers.” And that’s true – sometimes.  The story they tell about the mythic rules is compelling, its execution slightly less so, and its use in this AP much less so.

My most bad ass power was Imprinting Hand. Also very thematic as an Irori worshipper.  I could touch someone and gain knowledge about them.  The GM loved this too, as he could dump the 1 page of AP backstory on me in the 30 seconds before we ripped whatever it was asunder for good. That’s a mythic power.

For every one of those, there’s a “double your plusses” power.  Mythic Power Attack, et al.  Those weren’t fun, they were just power inflation. Various others made us immune to something – we liked those, though they frustrated the GM.  He’d do something whizbang to us and we’d say “Oh, I’m unaffected…” We started referring to these at the table as our “cheating bonus.”  “The room fills with poison gas!  Make a DC 30 Fort save!” “I’m not affected.  You know, cheating bonus.” The GM would just sigh and move on.

Then the other powers – which were fun but also the real source of mass power – were the ones giving us extra actions.  Lots of extra actions.  That’s how we’d really kill stuff.  I could double move then full attack then get an extra attack.

The mythic rules as written are OK.  But Wrath of the Righteous did not make the best use of them.

First of all – mythic enemies are supposed to be legendary enemies. We ended up fighting mythic bugs.  Not bug-men named the King of Biting Ants or whatever – just big locusts they gave mythic tiers to.  Super stupid.

Second – they did not use mythic flaws at all.  I was hoping we’d have a lot of fights that required smarts.  You know, a giant minotaur we just can’t hurt until we figure out he’s only vulnerable to mistletoe sprigs, that kind of stuff.  That’s covered in the mythic rules.  Nope!  Not a single damn opponent had those.  The answer was always, always, “just pour on more hit points worth of damage.”  That’s extremely unfortunate and I don’t understand the thinking there.  I know the Paizo designers are smarter than that.  Is it “well some players are dumb and if they can’t just hack their way through everything they’ll get TPKed and/or frustrated and that’s bad for sales?”  I don’t know, but it made mythic combat – which should allegedly be more interesting that just pure high-level combat – even more predictable and “mash the buttons till it dies.”  Well, this AP buyer would like to request some that require two brain cells to rub together and not just DPS.

Conclusion

I don’t want to say this AP was bad – but it kinda broke us of Pathfinder, to be honest.  One of the reasons we went with Dungeon World for our next campaign was that we were looking for other options – 5e, Savage Worlds, DW – because after this festival of rules and math, when we looked at new APs and considered launching into one, we (and more importantly, the GM) were like – “Fuck this, I don’t want to do this again.”

It’s not just the mythic rules’ fault, we’ve been playing Pathfinder a long time and with every year there’s another 50 lbs. of rules options. It gets tiring.  I remember our last D&D 3.5e campaign before we left 3.5e behind for good, we were so jaded we were all playing super weird races and classes trying to recapture that elusive high – “chasing the dragon” in a very real sense. We had to take a break.

I’m still running a Pathfinder campaign – that I’ve deliberately kept down to 8th level over like 5 years because I have been doing this long enough I can see when the light at the end of the tunnel is a train.

We’re still using Paizo APs because they generally rock especially when divorced from the weight of the rules.  Will we go back to Pathfinder?  Maybe at some point, hard to say right now.

So I’m not saying don’t play Wrath of the Righteous – but I am saying know what you’re getting into.  If you love the rules and tactics, you’ll love it.  If you don’t, but want to put a lot of work into revamping it, you’ll probably love it too – it has a good chassis that if a GM were to significantly alter it (reduce number but add weight/complexity of… everything) it’d make a rollicking good story. But running it as-is, even with minor mods, it’s a mixed bag.

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Wrath of the Righteous Chapter Six, City of Locusts – Sixth Session

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Areelu Vorlesh

Sixth Session (9 page pdf) – We confront the witch Areelu Vorlesh, in order to slay her and then to close the Worldwound for good! We also get an undead Storm King, a hundred-handed titan, an avatar of Deskari, and more in the bargain. No worries for mythic murderhobos, and we close the rift – but then we get tossed into a landscape with Deskari the demon lord himself!  All that remains is blood and vengeance in the climax of this AP!

So you know it’s going to be a big fight when it starts off like this:

The doors at the end of the chamber slam open. Standing there is Areelu Vorlesh and Korramzadeh the Storm King. The Storm King has changed somewhat since the characters last slew him – he now has a distinctly undead cast to his features. She is also escorted by four vrolokai demons. Areelu Vorlesh starts off by casting gate and bringing in a hecatonchires titan, a massive creature fifty feet tall with a hundred arms, each of them carrying a weapon. The creature is so massive it must squeeze to get through the twenty-foot portal.

This fight is actually a challenge.  We have multiple party members struck down, though breath of lifes and miracles flow heavy to bring them back into the fray. I go after the vrolokais, Trystan and Calanthe go after Areelu Vorlesh, Shawanda tanks the Storm King, our new friend the inevitable keeps the titan occupied with a wall of force.  Tabregon and Tsuguri pour the healing and extra actions into us. Finally,

Trystan opens fire on Areelu Vorlesh with the mighty sun bow, driving her to the very doorstep of death. Seeing her near to her end, he fires a single remaining arrow into her throat. She falls to her knees, staggered, pierced through by seven arrows. Shawanda takes advantage of this to strike down Areelu Vorlesh, executing the witch with Radiance. As she dies, the characters are able to see her soul emerge from her body, and then get dragged down by a swarm of insects to be absorbed into the material of the Abyss.

She’s dead, we do the ritual, the Worldwound is closed, Golarion is saved!  Happy ending? Well, it would be but when we do that we all get teleported in disarray into someplace where Deskari the demon lord and a batch of heavy hitter minions (balors, apocalypse locusts) are lurking. I (Antonius) am struck down immediately and Deskari and his goons loom over us…

And then Trystan shoots him right in the head – rolls a crit, pulls a card from the Paizo crit deck we use, head shot, instant kill. (There may have been a one rolled on a massive damage save in here too, I don’t remember clearly). But it was a righteous single shot demon prince kill. We’re all like “What the shit!?!” The balors all skedaddle. Victory!  We all roleplay our new lives as gods/mortals/Kung FU wanderers for a denouement.

Next, a debrief!

Wrath of the Righteous Chapter Six, City of Locusts – Fifth Session

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Favored of Deskari

Fifth Session (8 page pdf) – We kill some giant maggots, a devastator, the Favored of Deskari, some demented aeons… Actually, we heal the aeons. Then we kill some demons and free an inevitable. I personally kill a mythic quasit in a gimp mask.  The Abyss gets goofier all the time.

The demon killing’s not done yet.  It’s fight after fight as we get to the Heart of the Worldwound.

Shawanda steps up to a katpaskier demon, Radiance in hand. She cuts free its arms, then its legs, then severs its head. Evil-smelling ichor flows across the floor. She pronounces, “This is how you treat assassins who have no respect for life.” She is unaware that her words echo those of Prince Argrath upon his return to Pavis.

Our session scribe, besides being invested in the fight descriptions, is also indulging his penchant for Gloranthan lore. But what all this boils down to is we fight bugs and demons and stuff.  We’re jaded so we’re just like “OK” but then when a quasit with a gimp mask shows up that gets our attention!

 

Wrath of the Righteous Chapter Six, City of Locusts – Third and Fourth Sessions

Third Session (missing) – The characters invaded the Soul Foundry and grabbed the Suture, a crippled anti-mythic aura demon. At that point Khorramzadeh the Storm King showed up and the city of Iz started to vanish into the Pit. The characters slew the Storm King and celebrated their victory as they escaped from the crumbling city.

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Khorramzedeh the Storm King

Fourth Session (10 page pdf) – Time to close the Worldwound for good!  So we kill, that being the answer to all problems.  We kill some wormy dragon riders, kill some demons, kill Diurgus the Brood Lord, kill locust-dudes…

Well sorry, one of our summaries went missing, and it was one where we totes had to kill a super-balor. I mainly remember trying to keep the Suture way away from the action so he wouldn’t dampen our mythic goodness and we stomped him out like we stomped out everything this AP.

Then we go chill with Queen Galfrey of Mendev.  She’s our BFF.  She says we need to go to Threshold and perform some ritual that has details but is mainly about killing things.  So we do. We have a pretty good fight with a bunch of locust swarm guys riding ancient black dragons.  When I (Antonius) murderize the last dragon I appreciate our session scribe’s poetic turn:

Shredded scales fall from the sky like defiled snowflakes.

In fact our scribe is really on with the purple prose today, so Shawanda and I vie for coolest sounding kill. Next up is me on a shemhazian:

Antonius leads by shattering the shemhazian demon, leaving the creature upon the brink of oblivion and bleeding out quickly. He tells the creature, “You do not know it, but you are already dead.” He rerolls two of his missed attacks and all thirty-five feet of the demon collapses to the ground. The thing weights some 12,000 pounds and it gushes an ocean of blood.

Then Shawanda on a kalavakus:

Shawanda howls out her sacred rage as she divides the last of the kalavakus into two parts, dishonoring the first and defiling the second.

And we kill a balor covered with tick swarms.  That was lovely. Combo!

Antonius circles around the vermin balor, his eyes glaring, his fists dripping unnatural gore. He strikes, but Diurgus evades the worst effect of his attacks. Calanthe launches a mythic flesh to stone against him, slowing him. And Shawanda steps to the fore bearing mighty Radiance. Her first strike drives deep into the unsacred breast. Her second severs Diurgus’ spine, covering the blessed blade with rivers of black-flowing gore.

Mildly tuckered out, we resort to our now trademark “mythic moving blade barriers cuisinart trap” setup to kill some other stuff.

And we examine some Abyssal keep thing, with jacked up Abyssal stuff in it.  We’re jaded.

 

Wrath of the Righteous Chapter Six, City of Locusts – Second Session

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Sister Perversion

Second Session (11 page pdf) – In an Abyssal brothel called the Yearning House, we fight Sister Perversion, her succubi, and simulacra of ourselves they like having sex with. Then we fight her drider boss. Then to the Foundry to find some demon who’s the key to it all, and get to fight a dracolich version of Terendelev. A True Rez and look we have a dragon!

Apparently between this session and the previous one we talked with Nocticula and got sent to a brothel in the Abyss? There’s not a missing summary, must just be an early departure/late arrival missing part of 1 or 2.

Anyway, fighting sexy versions of ourselves is fun (we’re pretty sexy anyway!) And they actually try to mind-control us, which is possibly the most dangerous game, since we are so way overpowered the only thing that can threaten us is ourselves.  But, we win clear with use of what even we have begun to call “mythic bullshit.”

Some of my favorite bits:

The rakshasa suddenly dies, stricken by a previously undiagnosed brain tumor.

The characters also find the kitchen. The cook is a fly-headed coloxus demon, assisted by a variety of quasits. Calanthe dismisses them all before they can even respond to Tsuguri’s cry of, “Health department!”
Whatever useful foodstuffs are present get tossed into the portable hole for use by the forces of the Crusade. Tabregon cannot resist commenting upon the interesting irony of deporting hard-working demons with extreme prejudice. Perhaps this adventure has more social commentary in it than otherwise expected.

We kill a super-drider.  And then we find the bones of the dragon Terendelev and fight it as a dracolich!  But not a dracolich because that’s ™ Wizards of the Coast or something. Anyway, it lasts two rounds. Well, one and a half.

 

Wrath of the Righteous Chapter Six, City of Locusts – First Session

 

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Aponavicius

We power through to the last chapter of Wrath of the Righteous Adventure Path, brought to its conclusion as we beard Deskari himself in City of Locusts.

First Session (7 page pdf) – A mess of locust demons attack Drezen, so we go to the Abyss (again) to go kill their general, Aponavicus the marilith. Blade barriers are so much fun. Then we find out Areelu Vorlesh is trying to absorb Drezen into the Rasping Rifts!  Guess who needs to die now?

Some nalfeshnees and apocalypse locusts and iron golems and a dark phoenix and Aponavicius the marilith general!

So we kill them, for hours and hours.

Wrath of the Righteous Chapter Five, Herald of the Ivory Labyrinth – Seventh Session

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Baphomet Hisself

Seventh Session (6 page pdf) – Baphomet himself appears and tries to kill us! Someone gets decapitated… Read on to find out who!

So we know he’s coming and we pull out all the stuff we’ve got – prismatic spheres, globes of invulnerability, heralds of various gods, a Runelord… He brings a fistful of balors and some minotaurs.

We killed him once on Nocticula’s plane (well… we helped) and now if we kill him again on his home plane then he’s dead for good and it’s no more sicko minotaur sex demons ever. A noble goal.

I don’t want to ruin the ending, so go on and read already!