A Review of the Council of Thieves Adventure Path

Council of Thieves is the fifth adventure path, #25 to #30, from Paizo Publishing for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Notably, this is the first adventure path that was written specifically for the Pathfinder system, which had just been released; the previous paths were all for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5. The supplements are covered by the Open Game License with some content being considered Open Game Content as a result.

The path is in six parts, as all of Paizo’s are, starting at 1st level and taking characters up to 13th level by the end, a rather lower concluding level than is typical.

Each module can be purchased either as a PDF or as a softcover book. All of the PDFs can still be purchased from Paizo’s store as well as some of the softcovers. Other softcovers can be purchased from sites such as Amazon.

For more complete reviews of each individual module rather than the brief overview of the entire path given here, click on the links to read them.

The Bastards of ErebusThis Adventure Path is naturally based in Paizo’s setting of Golarion, primarily in the city of Westcrown, the former capital of Cheliax, a nation which has turned to devil worship. The characters’ eventual aim is to block the attempt by members of the Council of Thieves to seize control of the city.

The Bastards of Erebus has the characters (hopefully; they could say no which would derail things a bit) recruited by a resistance organisation that wishes to help bring back Westcrown’s greatness and make it a better place to live

The Sixfold Trial has the characters taking part in a play that is notorious for killing off its actors, in order to get invited inside the manor belonging to the Mayor of Westcrown.

What Lies in Dust has them going into the long-closed Pathfinder lodge of Delvehaven in the city, to recover an artefact that is inside it.

The Infernal Syndrome has the characters returning to the now-destroyed mayor’s residence, this time to try and prevent the escape of a pit fiend that was being used to power the mansion’s magic.

Mother of Flies has them travelling outside Westhaven to get information from a hag and then returning to the city to explore a safe house belonging to the Council of Thieves, specifically looking for a contract that has been stored in the treasury.

The Twice-Damned Prince is the finale and is different to the previous modules in that it is a large collection of miniquests, most of which can be conducted in any order, before the final confrontation.

As well as the adventure, each supplement also has additional material. There is a six part piece of fiction set in the Chelish capital, which can help give background information for Cheliax. Each also has a bestiary introducing new monsters; many of these are either devils or inhabit the Nine Hells. There are also new rules and details on two archdevils and their followers and various new spells, feats and magical items are also listed.

Council of Thieves Adventure Path in Review

Every module is well bookmarked and well presented, with full colour illustrations up to around a half a page in size, including one for every new monster. The text was by and large free of errors and the presentation as a whole was very good.

Almost all of the adventure takes place actually inside the city of Westcrown in the Empire of Cheliax (Cheliax is also the setting for the Hell’s Vengeance Adventure Path and Westcrown appears in that too), but very little of the city is detailed. A GM would be advised to either detail, or get a supplement detailing, various standard city locations and NPCs; otherwise the place seems to just consist of the adventure locations. Which does not feel like a city. Naturally, detailing a city in full would require an entire supplement and is therefore outside the scope of an adventure path. Making the city feel like more of a bustling metropolis and major port would be advised, and there are quite a few supplements, for Pathfinder, generic and other systems, that can help with this.

The various different adventures are decently put together, although the focus of the first five is essentially a dungeon crawl with a few other encounters building up to it – a bit of a railroad in some respects. The final module is rather less of a railroad than the others are, much of it being a sandbox with no fixed order for most of the encounters.

As a whole, the series does suffer from a common adventure path problem, and one that isn’t really fixable due to the format – lack of detail in some areas caused by a lack of space. This can only really be fixed using by Paizo publishing other background material outside of the path itself. This isn’t a true complaint, as it is expected, but it does entail more work for a GM.

The railroad sensation of much of the campaign can be addressed by a GM adding side quests to the main plot, and there are some suggestions on things to do. However, GMs buying adventure paths tend to do so to cut down on prep time, not increase it. The biggest problem with a railroad is that players can derail it quite easily. There are some good bits, and some interesting ideas, although in the last adventure GMs may need to tweak the final results table – it looks too easy for the characters’ actions to turn them into villains and rather difficult to come out of it as heroes, which will be really annoying. Still, Council of Thieves is an interesting city-based adventure series.

 

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