Wednesday 12 March 2014

Wrath of the Righteous Player's Guide

The player’s guide for an adventure path is an important book for setting up the campaign and getting the players started. The successful guides help players to create characters that will fit into the adventure path, have a decent chance of surviving it, and be enjoyable to play. A less successful guide might give players a wrong impression of what the adventure path is about, resulting in characters that don’t fit. The Wrath of the Righteous Player’s Guide is certainly one of the more successful ones. It makes clear what the adventure path entails and gives useful background information, although it is lacking a bit in the advice department.

Like many adventure paths, Wrath of the Righteous tries out some new ideas and new mechanics. The most obvious, in this case, are the rules from Mythic Adventures, but the campaign also makes use of rules from Ultimate Campaign, in particular the downtime and mass combat rules. Wrath of the Righteous also tries something new with campaign traits. As usual, the six campaign traits provided in the Player’s Guide provide backgrounds for the characters that tie them to the adventure path in various ways. Each trait is also tied closely to one of the six mythic paths. Choosing a trait does not mean that the character must later choose its associated mythic path, but rather that the trait and the path compliment each other well. But what makes these traits different than the usual campaign traits for adventure paths is that each of these traits leaves something unresolved from the character’s past—something that will come into play during the adventure path itself.

While I think this added aspect of campaign traits has a lot of potential to enhance the adventure path, it also brings with it a couple of problems. I spoke of these problems in my review of Demon’s Heresy, but I’ll discuss one of them here again in a less spoilery way. The biggest problem they introduce is what to do in the event of character death or new characters joining (due to a change in players). It’s recommended that every character have a different campaign trait, but there are only six altogether. There are suggestions with each trait on how to handle multiple characters having them, but in all cases, these suggestions are for multiple starting characters. If new characters are introduced during the campaign, there’s a very good chance they won’t have one of the campaign traits, which will make more work for the GM when the time comes for the traits to be resolved. This same problem can also occur if one (or more) of the players simply isn’t interested in any of the traits and chooses not to take one of them. On the whole, this is not an insurmountable problem, but one that both players and GMs should be aware of so that accommodations can be made if necessary.

The Wrath of the Righteous Player’s Guide also contains quite a bit of useful background information for the players, including a history of the Crusades and a brief description (and map) of Kenabres, the city where the adventure path starts. It also lays out the fact that redemption is a major part of the adventure path and that it may be possible to redeem some of the villains. It includes rules for how to handle redemption and an alignment change to good. These rules are the same ones that first appeared in Champions of Purity. The book is rounded out with a short section on hunting demons and a description of the righteous medals, awards that crusaders can earn for showing great valour in the battle against the Worldwound. These are medals that the PCs, too, might be able to earn in the course of play.

A bit surprisingly, the book doesn’t offer much advice on choosing a mythic path other than the link with each campaign trait. It states that the mythic rules will be used in the campaign and informs players that they do not start with any mythic tiers (they will gain them during play), but otherwise offers no suggestions on paths or powers that will work well in the adventure path. It also offers very little advice on choosing a character class or race, other than stating that paladins are a particularly good choice as this adventure path is pretty much tailor-made for them.

Overall though, the Wrath of the Righteous Player’s Guide does a good job of setting up the adventure path and providing players with information to create useful characters. The background information and traits set the scene and flavour of the adventure path well.

1 comment:

  1. I'm really glad they talk about redemption as a theme in this book because otherwise a lot of players would assume the standard rule of: "No redemption, kill all evil humanoids." Whenever you are going to move away from the standard game assumptions, you should outline that fact upfront and I like how they do this here.