The Rituals of Choice Adventure Path
Part I: A Witch’s Choice
By Steven D. Russell
A woman arrives in the protectorate of Questhaven from another plane, stepping barefoot through a portal of pure eldritch might. She is Morwen Khyar, a self-proclaimed demigoddess, Their Savior, and her power is such that no one disputes her claim not even the servants of heaven. Se seeks the true name of the Worldsmith who created the universe, and by speaking it aloud she will destroy this universe gain the power she needs to saver her own. The truename of the Worldsmith is hidden within the very fabric of this universe, and demigoddess or not, she lacks the power to dismantle the world without ruining the information she seeks. The path to her goal now lays open: Mortals under their own free will must rediscover and chose to carry out twenty forgotten rituals which will allow her to learn the Worldsmith’s truename. Morwen’s plan is to stay in the shadows and use mortal minions subtly and secretly, so that no other deity can move to stop her. Moreover, even if all else fails, she has a contingency plan: the creation of heroes. So begins The Rituals of Choice.
“A Witch’s Choice” is an Pathfinder Roleplaying Game adventure designed for four 1st-level characters. Characters will advance to 2nd level by the end of the adventure. This is the first installment in the Rituals of Choice Adventure Path, a complete campaign saga consisting of 20 adventures.
The campaign path will take characters from a simple escort mission at 1st level to an apocalyptic battle for the multiverse at 20th level. The campaign is episodic with individual adventures able to stand alone despite a plot arc that runs through the entire series. This full arc will become clearer with each episode, together with “The Rituals of Choice Player’s Guide” free pdf that you can find at our website, www.ritepublishing.com.
The Rituals of Choice Adventure Path takes place in the Protectorate of the Questhaven campaign setting but is modular enough to work equally well in any other standard high fantasy Pathfinder Roleplaying Game campaign setting. Morwen can easily arrive on some other plane of existence, with the presence of the truename of existence being a new and exciting discovery.
To play the Rituals of Choice Adventure Path, you will need a copy of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook and the Pathfinder Bestiary. This book may draw a number of monsters from the various other Pathfinder Bestiaries and Third Party Products, but the book will provided full stat-blocks in these cases.
Characters with ranks in Diplomacy (Gather Information) can learn more about the adventure background. When a character makes a successful check, the following lore is revealed; including the information from lower DCs. Knowledge (local) can provide Lore DC 20 or lower. Knowledge (arcana) can provide the Lore DC 25 but not the information from the lower DCs. Knowledge (planer) can provide the Lore DC 40 but not the information from the lower DCs.
When running “A Witch’s Choice” as part of the Rituals of Choice Adventure Path, characters that put a rank into the appropriate skill or preform research in a library can reroll to learn more about the adventure background.
DC 10: The frontier town of Far-Rough lies just over the western edge of Korvack’s Cauldron (caldera of a dormant supervolcano) along the north of The Drifting Glade at very limit of the Protectorate of Questhaven. Several years ago, a well-to-do nobleman from the Kingdom of the Last Warlord named Vethkar came to Far-Rough by braving the Shattered Labyrinth. With him, he brought his unpredictable and autistic daughter named Zewthra.
DC 15: Zewthra’s condition is now killing her and by the judicious use of his resources, Vethkar has discovered that he must take his daughter to a mystical site where she must perform a special ceremony. The journey is hazardous, however, and his struggle to keep his daughter alive has already depleted his assets. Recently, he has been having a strange recurring dream about the PCs and a giant harpy eagle. He believes this dream has a mystical component, a sign from beyond, and he plans to follow the directions given in his dream. He truly believes that having the PCs escort himself and his daughter is the best chance for her survival.
DC 20: What only a few people in the town know is that Vethkar is brother-in-law to the Last Warlord. When his daughter began showing signs of the Verrik’s racial malady, the Phrenic Curse, he did not wish her to be put away in the Damned Depository (an asylum for those truly victimized by the curse), so he fled here.
DC 25: Zewthra’s malady is the result of the verrick raical curse and her own personal choices. When she was very young, and her witchery powers first manifested, she killed a rare guest of the Last Warlord, a young taurian boy (Minotaur). Zewthra chose to suppress her new powers rather than risk killing anyone else, but the effort cost her dearly. She now seems to be nothing more than a deranged child in a woman’s body.
DC 40: In truth, Vethkar’s dreams are the work of the wretch (half-orc half-hag) Dreamspun Sorecerer Bakhuth, who is also known as “The Wretched Harpy” to the Blood of Steelcrag, and “the Dreamspinner” by the verrik.
The adventure begins with the characters asleep, having strange dreams, and awakening to find themselves in Plunging Stream Manor, the home of Vethkar. He should be able to convince them, by the offer of a reward and the plight of his daughter Zewthra, to take an oath to escort his daughter to a mystical site known as . There are obstacles along the way as well as strange and wondrous encounters. When Vethkar dies halfway to the site (heart attack, if not by violence), the PCs must make a choice: continue or abandon the quest. If they continue, they must then convince the deranged Zewthra to choose to perform the ceremony of her own free will. If done properly Morwen will link all similar mystical sites (Avatar’s Landing) on the world to the place she first set foot upon in this world (). This will enable Morwen at some future point, drain all the might of every mystical site that has any of the qualities possess into herself.
The adventure hook will plunge the characters into the action from the very beginning. However, let the PCs choose the reasons they joined together before placing them in the initial encounter. Below is a list of suggestions that both the GM and the players can agree on. This list is by no means all-inclusive, and GMs are encouraged to tailor these to their unique group of PCs.
· Agents of Authority: The PCs are young and newly appointed Questors, the adventurer’s guild that rules Questhaven (Vethkar’s various inquires for assistance from the PCs through his political connections have been answered). The PCs gain a +2 bonus on Diplomacy and Knowledge (nobility) checks.
· In Rebellion: The PCs have sworn to serve in the fellowship of the Phoenix who seek to overthrow the oligarchic rule of the Questors, and set up a true democracy. (Vethkar, having abandoned The Last Warlord to save his daughter, asks for the PCs through an old friend, who became The Nameless Revolutionary who is the Phoenix-child that leads the Fellowship). The PCs gain a +2 bonus on Perception and Sense Motive checks.
· Wards of the State: The PCs are/were all wards of a noble in the Kingdom of the Last Warlord (Vethkar is that noble, and he finally believes that the characters are ready to help him. They are fully aware of the adventure background except the DC 40). The PCs gain a +2 bonus on Sense Motive and Bluff checks.
· Orphans, aren’t we all: The PCs are all part of the same orphanage (Vethkar discovers them and adopts them). The PCs gain a +2 bonus to any two of the following skills: Alchemy, Appraise, Decipher Script, Craft, Handle Animal, Heal, Knowledge (any one), Perform, Profession, and Sleight of Hand.
· Let My People Go: A benevolent patron buys the PCs as slaves and then frees them (Vethkar is the benevolent patron, who offers to reward them for their assistance). The PCs gain Toughness as a bonus feat.
· A Mother’s Love: The PCs all share the same adoptive mother (A woman in Vethkar’s village, which is why he settled here. He offers rewards and the plight of his daughter‘s malady). The PCs gain a +1 bonus to Fort, Ref, and Will.
· The Cost of Education: The PCs actually all attended the same school, and they are subject to indentured servitude for their education via the merchants’ guild that was their patron (Vethkar buys the PCs’ contract from the merchants’ guild, and offers them payment as well). The PCs all gain Skill Focus as a bonus feat (they may chose the skill to focus on).
· Heroic Legacy: The PCs are all the children (or adopted children) of a retired heroic company, who ask their heirs apparent to stand in for them. The PCs can once per day roll two d20s instead of one and take the higher result. A PC must declare the use of this ability before the roll is made.
· The Dragonsworn: Ardon-nue “The Breaking Fire” a pyroclastic great wyrm read dragon who is seeking ot destroy the Questor’s society is recruiting a group of independent agents (his last group disappeared) (The dragon is intrigued by Vethkar’s dreams about the PCs and sends the players to assist him). The PCs gain a +4 bonus to saves against charm and compulsion effects.
· The Fellowship: The PCs recruited each other; every PC member must recommend and have a connection to the next party member (not the same one) until you come to the last who has to give a connection to the first party member (Vethkar asks the first member, who started recruiting the party, to recruit the other members for the quest). The PC who starts the chain chooses a skill, and gains a +2 bonus to this skill. The next PC connection chooses a skill and both the first and second PC gain a +2 bonus to this skill. The third PC in the connection chooses a skill and the second PC and the third PC gain a +2 bonus to this skill and so on, until there are no more PCs left to join. The last PC gains a +2 bonus to the skill the first PC chose. In the end each PC will have a +2 bonus to two skills as a benefit from choosing this background.