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Minireview: The Bastards of Erebus (Pathfinder #25)

The Bastards of Erebus (by Sean Reynolds) kicks off the latest Pathfinder adventure path, “Council of Thieves”. It’s supposed to be a more-or-less city-based path, so I’m looking forward with interest to see how this one develops; city-based adventures are much rarer in D&D -type games than wilderness stuff or the ever-present dungeon crawls.

The beginning is very promising, at least. The thing is set in the city of Westcrown, the slowly decaying ex-capital of the Cheliax empire (which has now turned to demon worship). The players are expected to be “concerned citizens”, ones with deep ties to the city and reasons to care about it – otherwise, the moment things get rocky the PCs might just decide to head off somewhere else. Which might make sense for the PCs, but would sort of kill this adventure path dead. It probably works best if the PCs aren’t too wealthy and don’t have connections outside the city. In other words, don’t have easy ways to flee or secure their own safety.

This adventure entangles the PCs in a resistance movement of sorts, one which wants to do something about the corrupt nobility which is letting the city slowly slide towards ruin. An initial incident forces the PCs to flee into hiding, after which it is assumed they start to form “ze resistance!”. So yes, like in all pre-plotted longer plots, some railroading is needed… but here, I think the smartest thing would be just to talk with the players beforehand and establish what you’re going for.

The adventure is pretty good, and is noteworthy for including a lot of NPC details. Not stats, but important things like personality etc, for people who normally are “nameless lvl1 cannonfodder” in D&D games. Paizo is clearly trying to push the normal D&D envelope a bit here, since this one is very far from the usual combat fest. Oh, there is combat,. but even that is of the interesting sort: the PCs are expected to stage an ambush, and are given pretty free rein with that and multiple (good) options. Nice, that.

This looks like a very cool adventure path, assuming the style stays somewhat like this first installment, with more focus on non-combat skills and social stuff. Also, the whole city of Westcrown is pretty nice as a locale… a city in a state where the state religion is demon worship, but which is still a perfectly functional environment for the inhabitants. Something like that could easily go in a stupid cliched “we’re evil, waaagh!” direction, but thankfully none of that is present here. It’s just a city, with a somewhat unusual structure for religion and law.

So… off to a good start.

Published on by Orava, tags , , , , ,

  • Gravatar

    by Orava

    I stand corrected, sir.

    I’ll now go cower in the corner, awaiting the assumed speedy arrival of the local Hellknight hit squad.

    (devil, demon, who cares. They are all brimstone to me. :)

  • Gravatar

    by Navdi

    “the slowly decaying ex-capital of the Cheliax empire (which has now turned to demon worship)”

    Blasphemer! The Chelaxian Empire is, and has always been a loyal subject of Asmodeus, the Prince of Hell. Even implying demon worship is a sure-fire way to get the attention of the Asmodean Inquisition. Also, for the record, Hell serves Cheliax, not the other way around. :)

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