Today we’re taking an in depth look at the second book in the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path! This survival horror campaign pits the players against the return of the Whispering Tyrant, the lich-king Tar-Baphon, who was defeated and sealed away long ago. Tyrant’s Grasp will be the final Pathfinder 1st Edition Adventure Path released before the switch is made over to Pathfinder 2nd Edition in August. Intended to take characters from levels 1 to 17, Tyrant’s Grasp is six volumes long.
A wonderful Player’s Guide for Tyrant’s Grasp is available as a free download on Paizo’s website here. The Player’s Guide gives players a relatively spoiler-free way to properly prepare for and integrate their characters into the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path. I highly recommend checking it out.
It should be noted that the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path is not for everyone. Terrible tragedies will occur and you won’t always be able to prevent them. These events are bound to have a lasting effect on your characters, so players should be prepared to consider and role-play the marks left by the trials you face. Depending on the generosity of your GM you could be in dire situations with limited resources, so players will need to be resourceful to survive. Plenty of the imagery and events in this adventure are dark, morbid, and sorrowful. Although I wouldn’t call all of the volumes in this series horror adventures, some are — though not your typical horror. I’d call it… a morbid tragedy. There’s plenty of undead, necromancers, and disaster. It’s definitely not a campaign to play with kids or if you’re looking for a light-hearted game.
Eulogy for Roslar’s Coffer is the second volume of the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path. Written by Jason Keeley, this is an adventure intended for fifth level characters, which should bring PCs up to level eight by its conclusion. This adventure begins when the PCs return home to Roslar’s Coffer and find it greatly changed.
Eulogy for Roslar’s Coffer looks great. From cover to cover it’s a high quality book filled with nice maps and beautiful, dark artwork. The cover depicts Jando Parr, a half-orc ranger, in the foreground. Behind him is an image of Imrijka (the iconic inquisitor) and Kess (the iconic brawler) battling an undead moose. Both images are by Igor Grechanyi. There’s a nice map of The Gravelands (Lastwall and parts of Ustalav) on the inside cover. There’s a lot of artwork throughout the book — mostly of enemies. I particularly enjoyed the art for Chatar Esuri, Valthazar Quietus, an oracle from the backmatter, and the couatls in the Bestiary. The maps, all drawn by Matthias Rothenaicher, are really nice. They look great, of course, but they’re also well thought out and executed. All of the rooms are clearly labelled and visible, and I didn’t notice any discrepancies between the maps and the accompanying text.
In terms of content, Eulogy for Roslar’s Coffer is a bit of mystery, a bit of exploration, a bit of problem solving, and a lot of combat. PCs will need to explore Roslar’s Coffer, figure out what happened, find a way to move forward, and defeat their enemies. There’s some nice connections between this volume, the ones before and after, and Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-04: Reaver’s Roar. I particularly enjoy how this adventure plays with feelings of familiarity, déjà vu, and player expectations.
The entire adventure takes place in Roslar’s Coffer and it’s immediate surroundings, as well as two major encounter areas. The town is a dark, tragic place to play in. There’s plenty of scripted danger and wandering encounters, as well as a few scripted non-combat encounters. Most of the social encounters in this adventure occur on the town’s streets, although there’s not that many of them. Outside of this most of the PCs interactions with others will be based around whatever information they manage to pry from their enemies lips. As much as I like what was done with Roslar’s Coffer, I wish there was more there. That said, Roslar’s Coffer is the perfect place for GMs to tie the surroundings closely to their player’s backstory and history. I highly recommend GMs do so as much as possible, as that’s what will really make this place special.
In and around Roslar’s Coffer there are two major locations to explore. Both are quite combat heavy and contain some memorable encounters and enemies.
And now it’s time for a warning:
We’ve got more to say about this adventure, but it’ll come with spoilers! Don’t want to read them? Skip on past this next section until you see the large words ‘SPOILERS OVER.’ Got it? Good! See you on the other side!
Eulogy for Roslar’s Coffer is split into three major parts: A Town Tormented, Restless are the Dead, and The Unclean Light. The adventure is 55 pages in length with six pages afterwards dedicated to three NPCs: Chatar Esuri, the coolest looking ghoul I’ve ever seen; Jando Parr, a half-orc ranger who could become an ally of the PCs, and Valthazar Quietus, the final enemy the PCs will need to overcome.
Through this adventure the PCs will primarily take on undead and agents of the Whispering Way. It’s quite combat heavy, although, as previously mentioned, many of the enemies are memorable and unique. From simple foes like a mutated bear and a stampede of zombie moose (the stats say elk but the image on the cover is a moose, so I’m going with that!), to cunning enemies like patrols of Whispering Way cultists, tricky nekomata, and juju zombies made from the corpses of your PCs, there’s a lot of fun combats packed into this book.
There’s few potential allies in this adventure, but that doesn’t mean there’s few social encounters. The PCs will have plenty of opportunity to interact with spirits and help put them to rest. They’ll also have chances to interact with and befriend Jando Parr. Finally, a number of enemies can be rather chatty, and clever PCs might be able to learn much from them.
Part One: A Town Tormented begins with the PCs arriving in Roslar’s Coffer to find it destroyed. The people are dead, corpses stalk the streets, and a toxic miasma surrounds the town which proves fatal to anything that attempts to leave. Arriving from the Dead Roads in an old stable outside town, the PCs get to explore Roslar’s Coffer and attempt to learn what they can. There’s some fun encounters here –– the previously mentioned zombie moose stampede is a memorable combat, while meeting (and hopefully allying with) Jando Parr allows the PCs to make a friend, learn about the recent happenings in town, and find a base of operations where they can rest in safety. The other major encounter is with a loci spirit formed from the souls of those who died in Roslar’s Coffer. The spirit bars entry to the cemetery.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot to do in Roslar’s Coffer. PCs won’t find many clues in the buildings, the only people they can talk to are Jando Parr, patrols of Whispering Way cultists, and a few spirits of the dead. I really like these spirits, and I love the mundane ways you can put them to rest –– things like fixing up a garden, teaching the school-kids a lesson so they can be dismissed by a teacher, and helping a man remember what jewelry he was about to buy for his beloved. It’s great fun! But that’s all there really is to do in town. So why would your PCs bother putting some spirits to rest? Hopefully out of the goodness of their hearts but, even if that’s not the case, the PCs will soon discover they have to. There’s no way to escape Roslar’s Coffer and the only place they can viably reach that is unexplored is the cemetery –– a cemetery that a certain loci spirit bars entry to. To get inside the loci spirit insists the other spirits in town be calmed. Accomplishing this allows PCs access to the cemetery where they find a familiar tomb….
Part Two: Restless are the Dead begins when the PCs enter the tomb of Roslar. This is a location that will seem very familiar to the PCs, as Tyrant’s Grasp begins when the PCs wake up in a idealistic version of Roslar’s Tomb in the Boneyard. This version? Not so nice! It’s decrepit, vandalized, and plagued by undead. This section of the adventure does a great job of messing with player expectations by showing them a location they’ll feel like they know that isn’t the same. It’s going to be a lot of fun to play at the table. It’s very combat heavy, with only few enemies within the tomb capable of carrying on a conversation.
Part Three: The Unclean Light begins after the PCs have traversed Roslar’s tomb and discovered a secret tunnel that leads to the Bastion of Light, a Sarenite church with a storied history located within the toxic fog surrounding Roslar’s Coffer. This temple has been home to Sarenites, orc war bands, and a mythic red reaver over the years, before it was liberated by the Pathfinder Society in scenario #10-04: Reaver’s Roar. In the months since it has undergone some renovations. Now it’s home to the Whispering Way. The foul cultists are using it as a base of operations to explore the town and catalogue the effects of the weapon used to destroy Roslar’s Coffer. In some ways this backstory will shine through. PCs that are locals will know some of the history of this place through ghost stories and legends. Players who’ve played #10-04 will enjoy the references and tie-ins. Canny PCs might be able to cobble together clues from room descriptions. But, for the most part, this is just a cool building where the bad guys live. The PCs sneak in through the secret tunnel, discover who lives there, and attack. This is likely going to take more than one day as the place is densely populated and PCs are going to be already low on resources from traversing the tomb. There is a place you can rest inside the temple, but it’s more likely PCs sneak back out the secret tunnels and recuperate under the watchful eyes of Jando Parr.
There are a lot of fun enemies in this temple. The Whispering Way cultists here (and throughout the whole book) have some really nice artwork. There’s a mutated bear that druids might be able to control or befriend, a zombie made from the red reaver that once lived here, and plenty of other traps and undead. My favourite encounters are a pair of tricky nekomata that try to separate and impersonate members of the party, and the final villain, Valthazar Quietus. Valthazar is an androgynous looking Ustalavic nobleman who is a pleasant conversationalist. He’s more than willing to chat with the PCs (as long as it suits him!). He’s accompanied by juju zombies created from the corpses of the PCs which is sure to be jarring and a ton of fun to play. It’s definitely a highlight of this adventure!
But, escaping Roslar’s Coffer isn’t as simple as killing your enemies. Valthazar used a powerful artifact to create a toxic fog around the destroyed town, then protected the artifact with an occult ritual. PCs will need to figure out how to access the artifact and shut it down. There’s plenty of clues laying around and a well-stocked library, but figuring this out could still be a bit frustrating for some players. This section also makes use of library and research rules.
Eulogy for Roslar’s Coffer ends with a mysterious stranger suggesting the PCs travel to Vigil, capital of Lastwall, to tell them what has happened to Roslar’s Coffer.
In addition to the Eulogy for Roslar’s Coffer adventure, this volume contains three articles and a bestiary containing five new creatures. All three articles are intended for GMs.
The first article, Merchants of the Road, is written by Eleanor Ferron. In it you’ll find details on a variety of very strange travelling merchants and caravans that could be added into the campaign. This is particularly useful at various points in the adventure path when shops are hard to come by. Each also comes with some potential plot hooks. The merchant groups are the Baramasco, Clockwork Caravan, Palanquin Trading, Taotake, and (my personal favourite) the Redclover Tribe of kobolds! Although I doubt I would add these groups into Tyrant’s Grasp when I run it, I would definitely enjoy using all of these groups in other adventures and campaigns.
The second article, Arazni, The Red Queen, is written by Lyz Liddell. As the name implies it contains information on Arazni, her history, and her fate. Arazni is such a tragic figure, and her personal story arc is incredibly important to this adventure path –– even though it does unfold primarily offscreen. She’s suffered through life, death, life as an undead, imprisonment, unwanted marriage, and so much more. She’s endured (and still endures) trauma that has shaped her into the person she is, and drives her actions throughout this adventure path. I particularly enjoyed seeing how her faith and focus has changed over the years. I think this article was very well handled.
The final article, Machinations of the Whispering Way, is written by Crystal Malarsky and details The Whispering Way, servants of the Whispering Tyrant and the primary villains of this adventure path. It also includes some stat blocks that are used in this adventure. It’s a very important article for GMs to read.
The Bestiary is up next! It contains a random encounter chart and five new creatures written by Sarah E. Hood, Luis Loza, Jen McTeague, and Mikhail Rekun. Oddly, none of them are featured in the Eulogy for Roslar’s Coffer adventure. The first two monsters are couatls: auwaz, a CR 6 couatl found near oceans that helps the lost find their way home, and mix, a CR 8 couatl known to guide and watch over societies. Other creatures include gurgist, a CR 6 human mortic; melacage, a disturbing CR 5 incorporeal (usually) ball of undead souls; and pixie circle, a CR 7 plant creature capable of transporting enemies to other pixie circles.
Which brings us to the end of Eulogy for Roslar’s Coffer (Tyrant’s Grasp 2 of 6) by Jason Keeley! Although I wish there was more to do and discover in Roslar’s Coffer, I really enjoyed this adventure. There’s some combat encounters in this book that are going to be unique and memorable for everyone at the table, and the adventure’s location and events are going to have a lot of emotional impact for PCs. As a GM that’s something I really appreciate.
Tyrant’s Grasp continues with Last Watch (Tyrant’s Grasp 3 of 6) by Larry Wilhelm, Gardens of Gallowspire (Tyrant’s Grasp 4 of 6) by Crystal Frasier, Borne by the Sun’s Grace (Tyrant’s Grasp 5 of 6) by Luis Loza, and Midwives to Death (Tyrant’s Grasp 6 of 6) by John Compton. You can also check out a previous blog post I wrote on Tyrant’s Grasp before its release here, or our review of The Dead Roads (Tyrant’s Grasp 1 of 6).
Thanks for joining us today!