It’s been a busy week around here lately, with both Valentine’s Day, and then Family Day long weekend. My kids had a blast handing out their Valentines earlier this week. My daughter handed out rabbit Valentines to her classmates, surprising no one. My son’s were animals with cartoony sunglasses and fake moustaches. They were adorable. My kids have spent the days since reading and rereading their Valentine’s and nibbling away at their chocolatey treats.
For Valentine’s we gave my daughter a comfy Totoro scarf. It was a bit pricey for my liking, but my daughter hates scarves. A problem that needs remedying, since it’s way too cold where I live to go outside without a scarf in the winter. Thankfully, she adores the film ‘My Neighbor Totoro‘ and my husband happened to find a Totoro scarf earlier in the month at Little Star Gifts. She’s thrilled to have it, and has grown so attached to it she refuses to take it off — even during class time. Uh-oh! She informed me that she tried wearing it lots of different ways during class. Around her neck, around her waist, and even on her head. Luckily, I haven’t had any complaints from her teachers yet, but we’ll see how long that lasts. Haha.
My son got a Rubik’s cube — he fiddles with everything, and enjoys hands-on puzzles. We also gave him the D&D Starter Set. He’s thrilled with it, and we’ve already started making custom characters to play through the adventure it comes with. (More on that later this week).
We’ve been playing a lot of board games lately. Bang, and Boss Monster earlier this week, along with Adventure Time Munchkin. My husband slaughtered us in Godstorm Risk. I taught my niece and nephew how to play Bad Bunnies, since my daughter wanted to play it with them. They caught on quick actually. Well, not the youngest, but she had fun just playing whatever card she felt like and commanding ‘higher’ or ‘lower.’ She was thrilled to be included with the ‘big kids.’
This Family Day long weekend my kids wanted to squish in as many games as they could. My daughter insisted on Dinosaur Island, which my husband won, beating me by ONE victory point. So close! My son chose Bunny Kingdom, which my daughter won (for once). She was very proud. My son made a huge Heroscapes set-up for us to tackle, and also picked out Magic: The Gathering Arena of the Planeswalkers for us to play as a family. He’s a big fan of tactical miniatures games. Finally, I played my daughter one-on-one in Lord Of The Rings Monopoly and got my ass kicked. Absolutely trounced. Frodo for the win! Haha. She had so much fun. It was adorable.
The rabbit is my daughter’s most important game piece.
Frodo for the win!
One Ring from Lord of the Rings Monopoly
Both of my kids birthdays are coming up in another few weeks, and they’re already plotting what games they want most, and where they want to have their birthday party. They’ll be seven and eight soon, which leaves me wondering where the time has gone. It passes so fast.
RetroCon is coming up in a few weeks near my house. We’ve already bought our tickets and tried to sign up for some games. It will be the first time we try to play PFS scenarios in public as a family. Fingers crossed my kids behave! Haha. And if not? Well, sorry future GM. We really wanted to give it a shot. Unfortunately, there’s not too many sessions we can play. We’re only able to attend one day of the three days of gaming, and on that one day there’s only one game we can play in. Evening games don’t work for us since they run too late, the only low-tier game in the morning is Core, which we don’t play, and the afternoon game I did manage to sign my husband and kids up for is one I can’t play (since I’ve already played it). Still, we signed up for the waiting list for that morning, and I’ll sit with my kids and help keep them focused while they play through a game in the afternoon. It’ll be fun. We’re excited.
Sign ups for the second online OutPost play-by-post convention is happening on Paizo’s messageboards right now. There’s plenty of openings in games of all tiers for both PFS and SFS, so if you have any interest in trying out play-by-post gaming, now’s a great time to give it a whirl. Sign-ups are here, and information on play-by-post gaming can be found on Paizo’s messageboards in the Flaxseed Lodge, and Castamir’s Flaxseed Station. OutPost II runs from March 11th to May 6th.
With the end of the long weekend comes a return to school for my kids, work for my husband, and a different kind of work for me. Plenty to do!
Welcome back to Cauldron, home of the The Shackled City Adventure Path! When we last left off our heroic musicians were investigating a series of missing person cases which recently culminated in the abduction of four children from a local orphanage. Fate led to our characters taking the rescue of these people upon themselves! They’ve tracked down the kidnappers, and discovered an underground complex run by slavers. They’ll have to work fast if they want to save their fellow citizens before they’re sold!
The Shackled City Adventure Path is available for purchase in its entirety here. The first volume, Life’s Bazaar, is available for purchase here.
Our eccentric heroes are all members of ‘Dinorabbit,’ a musical band that changes its name frequently and was most previously known as ‘Boople Snoot.’ The band’s lead singer and song-writer is Falco Rhiavadi, a foppish noble bastard of mixed Tien descent whose father was devoured by a dragon when Falco was just a boy. A well-groomed, handsome man with an easy smile and a winning personality, Falco’s a black sheep among his family. Mechanically Falco is an oracle of life whose familiar is a jealous and demanding thrush named Ruby. Falco is played by my husband.
Mick Frimfrocket is a gnome with dark blue skin, bright pink hair that stands straight up on his head, and light blue eyes with flecks of red around his pupils. He’s energetic, bold, and loves nothing more than a good laugh! Mick acts as the band’s pianist and creative director. He’s the driving force behind the band’s constant name changes, and over-the-top performances. Mick was born in Jzadirune but was brought to the city of Cauldron to escape the Vanishing. Orphaned by the mysterious events and with few memories of those early years, Mick was raised in the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same orphanage that recently had four children kidnpapped right from their beds! Determined to save those little scamps, Mick was very excited to take up this missing person’s case and follow it to its conclusion — particularly when he realized that it led to his one-time home. Mechanically Mick is a monk / bard (prankster) who attacks with wild kicks while playing his piano in battle. Partway through exploring Jzadirune he came into possession of a broken magical construct. He’s played by my seven-year old son.
Rabbity Castalle is a rabbitfolk waitress who works at the Tipped Tankard Tavern. A dancer and singer for the band Dinorabbit, Rabbity also has a pet panther named Panthy. She’s lucky, nimble, and quick, but a little skittish. One of her co-workers is one of the people who was recently abducted, so she’s very keen to solve this mystery and return him home. Rabbity is a hydrokineticist played by my six-year old daughter, using the rabbitfolk race. Rabbitfolk are a Pathfinder Compatible race created by my daughter (with some help) which will soon be published in the upcoming Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion by Sunburst Games (Kickstarter coming in February!)
The final member of our party is Aeris Caldyra, a local locksmith who was cajoled by her roommate, Rabbity, to join the band as a percussionist and set designer. With few friends to call her own, Aeris relented to the rabbitfolk’s request and is the least talented member of the band. The last worshipper of Alseta in Cauldron, with more than a few secrets and regrets, Aeris is a suli bloodrager with a chip on her shoulder. Always one to lend a hand, like her Grandfather Marzio once would have done, Aeris is determined to rescue the missing citizens of Cauldron. Aeris is my character for the Shackled City Adventure Path.
Although that’s the last of our PCs, that’s not the last of our party. The members of Dinorabbit are also travelling with a half-orc janitor named Patch! Patch is a big, stuttering, fool who works at the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same place he was raised. Patch recently got recruited to the Last Laugh Thieve’s Guild and was asked to watch over an orphan named Terrem. Unfortunately, Terrem was kidnapped on the very evening that Patch went out to meet with with the guild. Distraught over the boy’s disappearance, Patch was pressured by Falco and Mick into helping them rescue the kids. And so, the poor one-eyed janitor finds himself heading into danger.
Our eclectic crew of musicians, janitors, and locksmiths, retraced their steps and re-entered the forge. Our heroes had battled enemy hobgoblins and goblins here two sessions ago in an effort to free three citizens of Cauldron who had been labouring here. With the battle won they sent their travelling companion, Keygan Ghelve, off with the freed prisoners. It was his job to bring them back up to the city and see them safely to the Church of Adabar.
In the time since they had taken down dozens of hobgoblin guards, but knew there could be more. Seeing nothing amiss Mick headed over to the door they had yet to peek through. He listened against it but couldn’t make out anything. Opening the door led to a large dining room lined with benches and tables. It was empty at the moment, but stray dishes on the tabletop and a distant murmuring told them that enemies were not far away. The group quickly did a sweep of the room, listening at all the various doors. Three were silent, one sounded like a kitchen, and the last was very noisy. My family discussed their options. Noise might mean trouble, but the kitchen probably mean someone banging on a loud pot which could sound an alarm. And silence meant…
They weren’t sure.
Curious, my kids decided they should check out the quiet room first. They found a threadbare living room that slept at least three people, a pantry, and a larder. Nothing of interest. They moved towards the kitchen, when suddenly Panthy prickled up her ears. She wandered over to the noisy door and growled….
“What is it, Panthy?” Rabbity asked. “You hear something?” Rabbity pricked her ears around. “I think… I think I hear a kid crying!”
“Well hurry up!” Mick exclaimed.
“Wait!” Falco proclaimed. He whispered something to his bird.
Ruby tweeted back melodically.
Mick drank a few defensive potions, Aeris drew her sword and Patch worried. When they were prepared, Falco quietly cracked open the door and peeked inside.
The room very large, with a raised stage in the back topped by three iron posts. Chains dangled from the top of the posts, ending at the manacled hands of three children. The kids from the orphanage! On the steps stood a strange figure in ill-fitting armour who looked like a mix between a dwarf and a troll. He clutched a fourth child by a chain around its neck and waved the kids face in front of another figure, this one a soft-looking gnomish fellow with blue skin, orange hair, and massive glasses.
“He’s good!” The troll-man bellowed.
“Oh, I don’t know about that Kazmojen!” the gnome-like creature argued. “I agreed I’d pay fifty gold for each child, but this one… This one is defective! There’s something about him I just can’t put my finger on.”
“Nonsense!” Kazmojen argued. “He’s got… spirit! Yes! Break him and he work harder than others. Forty-five!”
The gnome shook his head. “Oh, much too much work… And he spits!”
As if to punctuate this point the child spit in the gnome-like creature’s face. “I bite too!” he grinned.
Kazmojen yanked the child around by the chains clamped tight around his neck. Behind them a strange beast shifted. The quills that coated its back shook back and forth at the movement. The beast stretched its quadrupedal form and growled. It looked like some sort of quilled dog monster. A very large quilled dog monster.
While the trio argued over the cost of the kids, four other hobgoblins guarded the chamber. Two at a pair of double doors, one at a door across the room, and one at the door that Falco was peeking through.
“The child that the Last Laugh Thieve’s Guild wanted you to protect?” Min asked back.
Patch nodded with worry.
“Ruby!” Falco whispered. “Do the thing!”
The bird fluttered into the room, chirping insults loudly in it’s sweet little voice. “HEY UGLY, OVER HERE!”
As the various ugly enemies turned to look at the offending bird, Rabbity shoved an invisibility potion in Panthy’s mouth with a clever grin. Then she pushed the door open hard so it smacked the hobgoblin on the other side in the back of the head. Rabbity clamped a hand over her mouth and giggled. Then she crouched down and whispered into the ear — she hoped — of her invisible panther.
Patch was too worried over the children — Terrem in particular — to wait any longer. He hurried into the room pointed at the people talking and stammered, “L-l-let the children g-g-go!”
Panthy slunk away from Rabbity — although what the panther was doing was a mystery. Mick stepped casually into the room and whistled a little tune. Then he made a funny face at the hobgoblin guard near the door. The guard let out a laugh. Then a giggle. With a confused look on his face he started laughing at the top of his lungs, then fell to the ground and laughed some more. Mick gave the hobgoblin a wink and casually stepped over him and into the room.
Aeris dashed into the room and held her sword out at the two slavers. “Leave the children or die!”
Falco stepped into the room and whacked the laughing hobgoblin in the head with his fine walking stick. Meanwhile, Ruby continued to taunt the hobgoblins. Rabbity managed to send a blast of water at another hobgoblin before the tall figure — Kazmojen — let out a loud laugh. He pointed at Patch. “You can’t have those three,” he said with a gesture at the crying chilling chained to the posts. “Them bought already. But you can have the biter. Forty-five gold!” Then he turned his hideous face on Aeris and pointed at her. “Kill.”
The dog-beast let out a loud howl and took a few paces forward.
“Now, now, Kazmojen. Kill HER you mean! Yes? Not kill me! Certainly not!” The little gnomish fellow hurried up the steps to the back of the room and hid behind an iron post.
Finally the hobgoblins leapt into action. One tried to shoot down the irritating bird, while the others moved to attack Patch. He took a few heavy blows and already looked near death! The battle had barely even started! Clutching his daggers tightly Patch fought back against the hobgoblins, with Mick soon joining him.
Aeris swung her blade at Kazmojen, but struck only his sturdy armour. Seeing her outnumbered, Falco hurried over and placed a hex on the leader, lowering his AC. Suddenly Panthy leapt upon Kazmojen, biting, and clawing, and tearing! His armour deflected most of the blows, but Panthy’s teeth tore a hole in the back of his leg. Kazmojen roared in pain and anger, while Rabbity laugh.
Kazmojen pointed at the Panthy. “Prickles, KILL.”
Prickles looked from Aeris to Panthy, trying to decide which looked most tasty. Apparently deciding the panther was the winner, the dog-beast turned on Panthy.
“NO!” Rabbity exclaimed. She raced closer to the dog-beast, pointed at Kazmojen, and shouted, “KILL, Prickles! KILL MASTER!”
Kazmojen scowled at the rabbitfolk. Meanwhile, Prickles turned to consider this predicament. After a few moments he bit Kazmojen! The troll-man roared in outrage and swung his axe at Rabbity, but the nimble little kineticist dodged backwards. Taking advantage of his distraction Terrem yanked his chain away from Kazmojen’s grasp and made a break for it, running across the hall an out of the main doors.
“I’m out of here!”the strange gnomish fellow exclaimed. Then he, too, turned and fled. One of the guards fled with him.
The battle raged on. Mick and Patch took down the hobgoblin guards with daggers and wild kicks. Falco kept up his hexes, lowering Kazmojen’s defences and foiling his aim. Rabbity shot water blasts at Kazmojen from afar, while Aeris fought him in melee with her sword. It was a tough fight! Patch went down halfway through and, with no time to go heal the poor fellow, all they could do was hope he would survive. Kazmojen turned most of his attention to Aeris, nearly knocking her unconscious multiple times. If not for Falco’s constant healing near the end of the fight she would have died.
A short while after Terrem fled they heard his scream. A deep, gravelly voice told him “YOU SHOULD NOT BE HERE, TERREM KARATYS.”
Mick dashed over to the main doors and whipped them open, hurrying off to help Terrem. He caught a glimpse of a massive floating head, covered with eyestalks and a huge central eye.
By the time Mick rejoined the fight, Kazmojen had fallen and Prickles was eating him.
Exhausted and bleeding from dozens of wounds, Aeris dropped her sword and fell to her knees. Falco and Mick quickly gave her and Patch what healing they could. They drank the rest of their potion reserves and searched the room in the hopes of finding more. Aeris freed the children, while Patch gave them all hugs.
“Terrem?” Falco asked Mick.
Mick shook his head. “Kidnapped by a beholder,” he whispered.
“What? Why would — Huh?” After a moment of shock Falco shook his head and hurried over to the other exit. He peered through the door and saw a bridge, but no signs of the gnome.
“We have to hurry and follow that weaselly guy! He might be about to leave with some slaves.” Mick urged.
Falco walked over to the children. “What’s that way?” he asked them.
Most were too scared to reply, but one of the children, a dwarven boy named Deakon, found his voice. “Cells! That’s where they kept us! Over the bridge and through the door. There’s a whole hallway lined with cells. I… I don’t know how many had people in them, but at least some did. I could hear them.”
Falco thanked Deakon, then beckoned Patch over. “We need to hurry and free everyone else. Patch, you’re in charge of the children. Wait here and wait for my signal. When its safe you can cross the bridge after us. We’ll keep it up as we explore, all right? Hopefully we can keep you guys safe, but if not, it’s up to you to flee with the kids. Get them back to the church.”
Patch nodded with a look of determination in his eye. He tried to stammer out an affirmation, but couldn’t find the words. Instead he nodded again. Then he kept Deakon and the two silent girls close.
Rabbity stood over the quilled dog. “Can we keep him?” she asked the others.
Aeris shook her head. “Rabbity, that’s… that’s not a dog. You can’t keep it as a pet. It’s a howler. They’re foul creature from the Abyss that feed on fear.”
Rabbity shook her head. “What? Nonsense! We’re going to be the best of friends! Aren’t we, Prickles?”
Prickles looked at Rabbity a moment. He growled… then stopped. He stretched his legs and back, and growled.
“We can’t keep it Rabbity,” Aeris repeated. “In fact, we should probably kill it.”
“Nuh-uh! He’s my friend! And he’s coming with us.” Rabbity hopped on top of Panthy, adjusted her saddle, and loped off towards the door and bridge.
Prickles watched the rabbitfolk go. Then he looked long and hard at Aeris with eyes that showed far more intelligence than a normal animal. He growled at her.
Aeris adjusted her stance and clutched her blade tightly. Howlers were fierce opponents…
Prickles growled some more, then snorted in derision. It turned from her and followed Rabbity out onto the bridge.
“Well, shit.” Aeris remarked.
And so, having ‘befriended’ a howler, Rabbity, Mick, Aeris, and Falco continue hurried across the bridge, intent on saving what people they could.
As I packed up our gear and calculated experience, my daughter grinned. “Prickles is going to be my best friend.”
I tried to explain just how horrible a howler was. Even pulled out its picture.
My daughter just grinned. “Aww, cutie!”
“It’s not cute at all,” I retorted.
“Yes, it is! And we will be best friends! And Panthy, too!”
Faced with her chipper smile, I laughed. If she wanted to try to befriend a howler, I wouldn’t stop her. It had been raised to be a guard dog. And Rabbity was both great with animals, and diplomatic. Perhaps she could control it. But, control wouldn’t keep a howler alive or content. They lived to sow terror, and kill.
Rabbity would have her hands full.
How could it go wrong?! Right?
Wish her luck!
Behind the Screen
The Shackled City Adventure Path is a difficult to get your hands on adventure path published in eleven separate Dungeon Magazines, or available in hardcover from Amazon here or from Paizo Publishing’s website here. The first adventure, Life’s Bazaar is available in Dungeon Magazine #97 from Paizo Publishing’s website here.
Despite being a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Path, we’re running this campaign with Pathfinder (both the campaign setting and the ruleset). Our characters utilize content from many sources, some of which are listed below.
Today we’re taking a look the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path, a six-part survival horror campaign for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game that is currently available for pre-order. This 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.
A wonderful Player’s Guide for Tyrant’s Grasp was recently released, which is 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. It explains that this is a campaign where terrible tragedies will occur, and you won’t always be able to prevent them. Often you’ll be in dire situations with limited resources, so players will need to be resourceful to survive. In addition, the Tyrant’s Grasp Player’s Guide offers suggestions for thematic archetypes, prestige classes, bloodlines, mysteries, patrons, favoured enemies, and favoured terrains. It points out useful feats, skills, traits, and languages. It lists local animals that could make good choices for familiars and animal companions. It touches on each of the major races and religions in the area and where they fit into Lastwall’s society. Finally there’s a list of unique campaign traits that player’s can select for this campaign, and a short primer on Lastwall, the country where this adventure path is (partly) located.
The Dead Roads
The Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path begins with Pathfinder Adventure Path: The Dead Roads (Tyrant’s Grasp 1 of 6). Written by Ron Lundeen, The Dead Roads is an adventure intended for first level characters, which should bring PCs up to level four by its conclusion. This adventure begins when the PCs awaken already defeated in the Boneyard, a land where the dead go to be judged. There’s just one problem… They’re not dead. Trapped inside a tomb that doesn’t belong to them, they’ll need to escape, figure out what happened to them, and find a way to return home. But, how could one possibly escape the land of the dead?
PCs will get to interact with psychopomps, a type of outsider native to the Boneyard who work to ensure that the processing of souls is done accurately and efficiently. Typically functioning as guides for the souls of the deceased, the psychopomps are confused over what to do about the mysterious PCs. Players will need to maneuver their way through psychopomp politics and travel the Dead Roads, a secret path that connects the Boneyard to the land of the living. If they can, they just might make it home.
In addition to The Dead Roads adventure, this volume contains a few articles and a bestiary of new creatures. Matt Morris shares “tips, tools, and tricks drawn from the Boneyard and its grim denizens,” Mikhail Rekun discussing four races with connections to death, dusk walkers, mortice, shabtis, and my personal favourites, dhampir. Finally, Crystal Frasier wrote a timeline for the events leading up to the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path, which will be invaluable for GMs. New monsters in this book all have ties to death and the Boneyard, and are written by Ron Lundeen, Kyle T. Raes, and Mike Welham.
Eulogy for Roslar’s Coffer
Pathfinder Adventure Path: Eulogy for Roslar’s Coffer (Tyrant’s Grasp 2 of 6) is written by Jason Keeley and is intended for fifth-level characters. Having returned to the land of the living, the PCs find themselves in the ruins of Roslar’s Coffer, which was destroyed by a super-weapon known as Radiant Fire. Here the dead walk, creatures are corrupted, the very air is a toxic fog, and cultists of the Whispering Way stalk the streets. You’ll need to escape the town and warn the rest of Lastwall about the events that have occurred!
In addition to the adventure itself, this book contains articles on Arazni the Red Queen (written by Lyz Liddell), mercantile groups in the Lake Encarthan region (written by Eleanor Ferron), and the Whispering Way (by Crystal Malarsky). New creatures in the bestiary are written by Sarah E. Hood, Luis Loza, Jen McTeague, and Mikhail Rekun.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #141: Last Watch (Tyrant’s Grasp 3 of 6) is written by Larry Wilhelm and is intended for 8th-level characters. PCs will need to travel to Vigil, capital of Lastwall, to tell the Knights of Ozem about the terrible events that occurred in Roslar’s Coffer. Unfortunately, no one believes your crazy tales. But, Vigil’s got its own problems, and if you can unravel them you just might be able to prove to them that the threat posed by the Whispering Tyrant and his agents is real.
Further content in this volume include articles on the threats of the Negative Energy Plane (written by Patchen Mortimer), the Seal-Breakers (written by Greg A. Vaughan), and relics from the Shining Crusade (written by Alexander Augunas). New creatures in the bestiary are fearsome monsters and undead hordes, written by Mike Headley, Isabelle Lee, Meagan Maricle, Kendra Lee Speedling, and Larry Wilhelm.
Gardens of Gallowspire
Pathfinder Adventure Path #142: Gardens of Gallowspire (Tyrant’s Grasp 4 of 6) is written by Crystal Frasier and intended for 11th-level characters. In it the players will enter the haunted lands of Virlych to confront the Whispering Tyrant before he can escape Gallowspire, regain his former power, and lay waste to the world. Extra content in this volume include articles on extra missions that can be accomplished in Lastwall, the ecology of carnivorous plants, and witchgates. Although new creatures will be included in the bestiary, further details have not yet been announced.
Borne by the Sun’s Grace
Pathfinder Adventure Path # 143: Borne by the Sun’s Grace is written by Luis Loza and is intended for 14th-level characters. Saved from doom by Arazni, the Red Queen, the PCs find themselves in Arcadia where they’ll get to examine the legacy left behind by both Tar-Baphon the Whispering Tyrant and Aroden the deceased god of humanity. Here there are new alliances to forge, secrets to uncover, and new lands to explore. Additional content in this volume includes an extra large article on the region of Arcadia where Borne by the Sun’s Grace occurs, an article on a psychopomp usher, and new monsters.
Midwives to Death
Pathfinder Adventure Path #144: Midwives to Death (Tyrant’s Grasp 6 of 6) is the epic conclusion to the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path. Written by John Compton, this adventure is intended for 16th-level characters. Your PCs return to the Inner Sea only to discover that the Whispering Tyrant is leading his armies against Absalom, in an effort to seize the Starstone for himself and become a god! They’ll have to battle his allies, turn his super-weapon against him, and destroy him for good! The events of this Adventure Path are world-shaping, said to bring about “dramatic changes to Golarion.” Additional content in this volume include an article “showcasing the final material written by Paizo’s developers for the first edition of the Pathfinder RPG.”
Its going to be epic!
And with that we come to the end of the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path, and the end of Pathfinder 1st Edition. Or rather, we come to the beginning. At the end of this month the first volume of Tyrant’s Grasp will be in our hands and we’ll get to create characters that can embark on this epic adventure to save Golarion. With the conclusion of this adventure path, we’ll transition to a new edition of the game. A new way to play in the world that we all know and love.
“Times they are a-changin,’ ” and I can’t wait to see how this adventure path leads us into the future.
The Dead Road (Tyrant’s Grasp 1 of 6)
Eulogy for Roslar’s Coffer (Tyrant’s Grasp 2 of 6)
February is here, and that means a lot of new d20 products will be coming out later this month.
Dungeons and Dragons is releasing Tactical Maps Reincarnated. This is a collection of twenty full coloured tactical poster maps in a folio. The maps look really nice, with some being rather generic and easy to use (like a path through the wilds), and others being more specific and a bit trickier to make use of (arcane rooms, castle chambers, and so on).
One of the play-by-post campaigns I am lucky enough to take part in is run by the wonderful GM Zek on Paizo’s messageboards. The campaign is called the Mantisbane Pact, and it takes place in Golarion, the world of Pathfinder. Mantisbane Pact involves an alliance of powerful monarchs and rightful rulers who come together to destroy the Red Mantis Assassins and their god, Achaekek. Our players would act as their agents, travel to Ilizmagorti (a city firmly in the grasp of the Red Mantis Assassins), and work to bring the entire organization crumbling down.
No pressure, right? Haha.
This awesome custom campaign was recruiting by application, meaning interested players would need to create a character and submit it for review. After a while the GM would select which players they wanted to play in the campaign. This is pretty common practise for online play-by-post campaigns, due to the high interest of players, and the length of the campaign. It’s important you find a team of characters and players who work well together. Unlike other campaigns I had applied for, The Mantisbane Pact asked interested players to create a short story for their characters as part of the selection process. My character, a smart-ass, jaded slayer name Kilarra Calvennis, was accepted alongside a team of other awesome PCs to undertake this mission. At various times throughout the adventure we also had the opportunity to write other vignettes and flashbacks, often from the perspective of our shaman, who can view moments from the past by using the Akashic Record.
Today I’m sharing with you the initial short story I wrote for my character, Kilarra. After today it will be available under the d20 Stories feature on our website. Enjoy!
Kilarra Calvennis stood in her boyfriend’s bedroom preparing for the worst betrayal of her life. She strapped on her armour slowly, fussing with the buckles with sweaty, shaking hands. She was nervous and excited, all at once.
She was about to undertake a test—one of many she would have to pass in order to become a Red Mantis Assassin. The target was her father. He wouldn’t die—this wasn’t an official assassination. It was just a break in. A simple test of skill, stealth and loyalty. Get into her father’s office without being seen, knock him unconscious, remove all the documents in his office, and slip away without being caught.
She could do this. She knew she could. So why were her hands shaking? And why was her heart fluttering like a panicked bird trapped in her chest?
Kilarra sighed. Her father deserved everything that was coming to him. He was one of the many corrupt nobles that dealt in lies and bribes. Just one among hundreds, but his methods sickened her. She had rebelled against him and against her country. She tried to bring about change, first with words, and then more drastic measures. None of it worked. In the end it wasn’t her father that had changed, or Taldor… It was her. And it wasn’t for the better. She did more harm than her father ever had.
“It’s his fault,” she reminded herself aloud. Her voice shook, but she continued. “He deserves this. He brought it on himself.”
She slipped her hands into her black and red leather gloves, grabbed her helmet off her boyfriend’s bureau and left the room.
Bastien grinned at her. “You look beautiful, love,” he said.
Kilarra smiled. If her father was everything wrong in the world, Bastien was everything right. He was her beloved. Her mentor. Her life. He pulled her up from the life of gangs and crime that her father had driven her to and stood her back up. He gave her purpose. He gave her love. He was intoxicating. So when Bastien confided in her that he was an assassin, she accepted that. And when he asked her to worship his strange mantis-god, she prayed with him. And when he said that she was gifted and that he wanted to train her to be like him, she was proud.
She would do anything for him.
“I’m ready,” she replied.
Bastien nodded. “You are.”
She kissed him goodbye, slipped her red, mantis shaped helmet over her head and crept out the window onto the roof. If she had to rob her father to prove herself to Bastien, she would do so gladly.
The trip to her father’s office was short and uneventful. She kept to the shadows and stayed quiet. She slipped in through an open window on the third floor and crept down the dark halls with ease. There was a light around the edges of her father’s office door. He was in there, just as Bastien said he would be. She reached for the doorknob and hesitated.
This would change everything. Whatever happened between her and her father… Whatever he discovered and whatever she did… There was no going back. After tonight Bastien would take her to train among his fellow Red Mantis Assassins. He would train her to kill.
She never wanted to kill anyone. She still didn’t. But the thought of letting Bastien down made her sick to her stomach. She didn’t want to disappoint him. Not after everything he had done for her. She wanted to make him proud. She would make him proud. No matter what.
Kilarra took a deep breath and turned the doorknob. She cracked the door open and glanced inside. Her father was at his desk, back to her, clutching something at his chest. She moved in silently and shut the door.
He didn’t notice her. He didn’t hear her coming. But something about the way he was twitching in his chair put her on edge…. And the smell… Smelt like…
Kilarra inched across the room, hands shaking, afraid of what she would see.
Her father jerked erratically and fell from his chair, landing in a heap on the floor. A letter opener protruded from his chest.
“Dad!” she exclaimed.
He flinched when he saw her and tried to scream, but the blood in his mouth made it come out a wet gurgle. She tore her helmet off, and tossed it aside. It’s black insectile eyes watched her accusingly from across the room.
Her father’s eyes widened. He gurgled again, trying to speak, but she couldn’t make out what he was saying.
Pain exploded across the back of her head. She fell to the ground in a heap. Her ears rang and her vision blurred. She reached a shaky hand to her head. It was wet. And something was in her hair… She looked at her fingertips and saw they were covered in blood.
The killer was still here. How could she have been so stupid?
Kilarra crawled forward, but the blow she’d taken to the head had been fierce. Her arms were shaking and she couldn’t focus.
Behind her she heard laughter. It was familiar, but… wrong. Cold and cruel where it had once been warm.
“Ba- Bas- tien..?” she whimpered.
“I thought you’d be harder to take down than that! Didn’t you learn anything from me?”
It wasn’t him. It couldn’t be. He loved her.
There was motion beside her, and then pain. The man who sounded like Bastien kicked her so hard in the chest her whole body was lifted off the ground. She fell on her back, her head cracked against the floor with a wet crunch.
And there above her, smiling, was Bastien.
“Why?” she whimpered.
“Sorry, love,” he replied. “But I’ve always loved playing games.”
He struck her again, knocking her unconscious as a tear streamed down her bloody, swollen face.
When she woke up Bastien was gone, but she wasn’t alone. The guards had found her, bloody and beaten, clutching a bloody letter opener in one hand and her fathers coin purse in the other. Her gear was missing. Her father was dead. Bastien was gone.
She would have done anything for him. Anything.
He took everything from her but her life.
Six Years Later…
Kilarra stepped out of prison and into the busy, sunlit streets of Oppara for the first time in six years. She looked around, and took a deep breath. Slowly, a smile spread across her scarred face. Gods, freedom smelt good.
As she opened her eyes her smile slipped. A woman in a military uniform stood in front of her. She was middle-aged, blonde, clean-cut.
“Who wants to know?”
“Officer Landau. Agent of the Crown.”
“I didn’t do it,” Kilarra replied.
“Do what?”the woman asked.
“Whatever it is you think I did.”
Officer Landau smiled. “I think you’re the woman who spent six years of her life serving jail time for killing her father. The same woman who spouted tales of mantis headed assassins for years.”
Kilarra sighed. “And what? You want to hear it again? You want to laugh? I’m out now. A free woman. ”
The officer smirked. “Yes, convenient, isn’t it? Serving only six years of a life-time sentence.”
Kilarra’s frown deepened. Landau was right. Officially she was being let out for good behaviour, but that was clearly a lie. Kilarra hadn’t been good in prison. First she had cried, and then she had yelled, and then she fell in with a bad crowd all over again—or rather, she made her own bad crowd. “Leave me alone,” she growled.
The woman raised an eyebrow. “Why? So you can track down who hired the Red Mantis Assassins and beat them bloody? So you can hunt down your mom, or your grandmother or you brother or any number of other potential suspects and wind up back in the prison you just left by days end?”
Kilarra repressed a frown. That was exactly what she had been planning to do. She plastered a smile across her face and fluttered her eyelashes sweetly. “I’m reformed.”
“Whoever hired you did so for power, or money, or some other petty reason. You weren’t the target, you were the scape goat. It wasn’t personal for them. But this person—this guy you were with. Bastien. He made it personal, didn’t he? Isn’t that who you should be getting revenge against? The man who betrayed you?”
Bastien. The sound of his name sent a wave of anger surging through her. If she ever saw him again she would cram his stupid mantis helmet down his throat. Focus…”Did one too many blows to the head make you deaf, Officer Landau? I said I’m reformed. I’m not going to kill anyone. I’m not searching for vengeance. And I’m not talking to you.”
“That’s too bad. See, I’m recruiting for a special assignment. Grand Prince Stavian the Third has entered into an agreement with—“
“Spare me the politics. It’s boring.”
Officer Landau continued as if she hadn’t been interrupted by a dirty ex-con, but Kilarra could tell her smile had turned cold. “It’s called the Mantisbane Pact, and its purpose is to send agents to kill the Red Mantis Assassins, destroy their organization and assassinate their god.”
Kilarra froze. “Achaekek…” she breathed.
The soldier smiled. “Got your attention, have I?”
“You’re looking for people to assassinate a god?” She burst out laughing. This woman was clearly mad. “How’s that working out for you?”
“Finding brave enough—”
“Crazy enough, you mean.”
“Driven enough volunteers who might actually be able to get the job done is… difficult. Which is why I’m here.”
Officer Landau grit her teeth. “I’m giving you the opportunity to apply for the team. There’s no guarantee you’ll get in. There’s other volunteers just as driven—”
“As you. Now are you in or can I wash my hands of you?”
Kilarra smiled. “Well with a sales pitch like that, how can I refuse? Where do I sign up?”
“Pack a bag. The applicants sail for Kyonin tomorrow.”
Want to read more about Kilarra? Be on the look out for more vignettes and flashbacks in the coming weeks!
Today on d20 Diaries we’re taking a peek between the covers of one of the wonderful new products that came out at the end of last year: Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Construct Handbook. If you’re a follower of this blog you’ll know this was a book I was thrilled to get my hands on this past holiday season, and I was not disappointed.
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Construct Handbook is a thick softcover book that is 64 pages long. Although the Pathfinder Campaign Setting line typically contains world lore (for all players) and some extra material for GMs, this book is a bit different. Equally geared at both players and GMs, it contains detailed rules on creating constructs, class archetypes, magic items, and a lot of new golems and golem templates. The cover features some atmospheric artwork by Ignacio Bazán Lazcano, which depicts the iconic arcanist Enora giving commands to her adamantine golem, as it battles a quantium golem. (Talk about epic career goals! Haha).
The front inside cover shines a light on some famous construct innovators, providing an image and a paragraph of information on each. The crafters showcased are Sidrah Imeruss, founder of the Technic League and an expert in the robots of Numeria; Toth Bhreacher, founder of the prestigious Golemworks in Magnimar; and Hadia Al-Dannah, a world renowned Qadiran mathematician, former scholar of the Clockwork Cathedral in Absalom, and expert on clockwork construction. The information is brief but lends a face to the construct trade, which is really nice. It also serves to give any characters interested in crafting golems a famous mentor or role model to live up to. A nice bit of fluff and backstory for any characters interested in seizing it.
After that we have the table of contents, and then we hop right into the introduction. In addition to touching on what’s going to be in this lovely little tome, the introduction also discusses how the general populace of Golarion views golems and their crafters (both positives and negatives), and the difficulty in obtaining appropriate raw materials to craft a golem (which can often become an adventure in and of itself!). The Construct Handbook primarily focuses on clockworks, golems, and robots, but explains that there are may other kinds of constructs. For each of these major kinds of contracts it doesn’t touch upon, it contains a paragraph of information that lets you know where those constructs were first introduced, how compatible they are with the templates in this book, and where you can look for further information on them (if applicable). Constructs mentioned in this way are animated objects, colossi, and homunculi.
Leaving behind the introduction we hop right into the first chapter: ‘Crafting Constructs.’ This section of the book is six pages long and is really, really useful for anyone who wants to make a construct. Not sure I can stress that enough! Haha. It starts by taking a look at every step in the construct crafting process and explaining it fully and clearly. That includes everything from the requirements, cost, and finding materials, to time, and skill checks. It then details other methods that you could use to craft a construct, such as the use of the infamous golem manuals, purchase, and theft. After that it talks about construct modifications, which were first introduced in Pathfinder RPG: Ultimate Magic. It offers four new basic modifications (I particularly liked the movement and resistances modifications) and six really cool new complex modifications (be sure to check out construct shelter, mind link, and self-repair).
The next chapter is six pages in length and contains eleven new archetypes. Some of these archetypes fell into expected themes: those that create or destroy constructs, but others I found quite surprising. My favourite archetype was definitely the clocksmith, a wizard archetype that falls solidly in the ‘create construct’ category. This delightful archetype lets you create a magical clockwork familiar in place of your regular familiar, and gives you craft construct as a bonus feat at level one instead of scribe scroll. In place their arcane school powers, clocksmiths gain a bonus on saving throws against effects created by constructs, and increase their effective spell level when casting spells that target constructs. At later levels they can tinker with their clockwork familiars, granting them eidolon evolutions. Super cool and thematic! I love it!
Other archetypes that fall solidly in the ‘create construct’ category include the construct caller, an unchained summoner archetype that allows your eidolon to be a construct; the cruorchymist, an alchemist archetype that gives up its poison abilities and mutagen to have a homunculus familiar which he can heal or alter on the fly with his own blood. Although I enjoy the construct caller, I find the cruorchymist is really rough on your CON score, with one ability dealing CON drain and another dealing CON damage to your character. Ouch!
Of the archetypes that focus on destroying constructs, I found that I liked the construct saboteur best. This rogue archetype swaps out knowledge (dungeoneering) and knowledge (local) as class skills in exchange for knowledge (arcana) and knowledge (engineering). They gain arcane strike at first level instead of trap finding, and gain a special kind of ability called an arcane sabotage, which is essentially construct hindering rogue talents accessible only though this archetype. My favourite of the arcane sabotage options are diminish senses (which can blind a construct for a turn) and magic vulnerability (which replaces a construct’s magic immunity with spell resistance instead). Most of the arcane sabotage options also allow you to extend of bolster their effects by giving up any sneak attack damage that you would deal. Super cool!
I was pleasantly surprised by the Forgefather’s seeker paladin archetype that enables pious worshippers of Torag to destroy dangerous artificial creations. They can smite constructs, cut through their DR with ease, and, at level 20, they even have a chance to automatically destroy a construct with a single blow. Not only was this archetype really solid and thematic, it was not something I expected to see. Construct killing paladins? I like it! The final ‘construct killing’ themed archetype was an arcanist archetype called the arcane tinkerer.
After reading the archetypes in this chapter, another theme became apparent: archetypes that can hijack or otherwise assume control of enemy constructs. Here you’ll find the construct collector occultist archetype, and the voice of Brigh bard archetype. The voice of Brigh was an interesting archetype. They have the ability to effect constructs with their bardic performances, which is very cool. But, most of it’s offensive performances have changed so that they only effect constructs. Essentially this means that you can use your bolstering music on allies of all kinds, including constructs, but that your hindering ones, like dirge of doom, fascinate, and frightening tune can only affect constructs. It’s a balanced trade if you’re going to be facing off against or allying with constructs on a regular basis, but otherwise is a rather large negative. However, their new bardic performance, Brigh’s Spark, allows them to reanimate a destroyed construct and force it to fight on your behalf. Each round they use this performance the construct regains more hp, and if it ever reaches full hp before they stop performing, it remains animated and under their control for 24 hours. So worth it!
I rather enjoyed the construct collector, as well, particularly because it gives up my least used of the occultist abilities for some cool new powers. They sacrifice magic circles, outside contact, binding circles, and fast circles, for the ability to temporarily halt a constructs destruction and control it for a turn (at the cost of some mental focus). At higher levels this ability’s duration is extended to a few rounds, and then a few minutes. They also gain the ability to harvest parts from broken constructs, which hold a point of generic focus. They can use the generic mental focus stored in these parts to fuel their focus powers on a one-for-one basis, which renders the parts useless. A nice touch!
The last few archetypes are much less focused and more easily used in a wide variety of games. The engineer is an investigator archetype that creates mechanisms that can aid them in a specific task for a few minutes. These mechanisms cost an inspiration point to create, grant the inspiration dice to the check it was made for throughout its duration, and can be shared with allies. They also gain a bonus on identifying constructs and on engineering checks. The scrapper is a fighter archetype that scavenges the parts from armour or broken constructs and uses them to augment their own armour. How much the makeshift modifications help and last depend on how powerful their source was. I found that archetype one of the most surprising I read! Really wasn’t expecting it, but I like it! Finally, there’s the wild effigy, a shifter archetype whose aspects and wild shape take on the appearance and consistency of stone instead of flesh and blood.
Chapter three is four pages of magic items, all with a very strong construct theme. It’s mostly golem manuals, but eight other magic items exist as well. I particularly like the chirurgeon cube and the oculus of magnetic fury.
Which brings us to our last and largest chapter: the bestiary. This thing is a forty three pages long, making it well over half the length of the book. In this chapter you’ll find fifteen new constructs and nine construct templates (each of which includes one sample stat block). Five of these constructs are a new intelligent kind of construct with ties to the Jistka Imperium, called an automaton. There’s also four new clockworks, three new robots, and three new golems. My favourite new constructs were the champion automatons (who can grab an enemy in their pincers and then whack another enemy with them! Hahaha! I love it!), clockwork songbird, dragonhide golem, and sand golem. My favourite construct templates include the energized golem, haunted construct, and recycled construct.
Which brings us to the end of Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Construct Handbook. Overall I really enjoyed this book. It’s got some cool archetypes and a lot of awesome new enemies. New beasties for your players to battle against is always a great investment as a GM, so it was worth my money based on creatures alone. It’s an invaluable book for anyone who want to get into construct crafting. That said, it is very tight on its theme. Chances are if you’re a player who isn’t planning on crafting constructs or playing in a construct heavy campaign, you won’t find much of use in this book. It should be noted that although I’ll get the most use out of this book (as a GM), all of my family — my husband and my two young children — read this book and got inspired by the class archetypes. The three of them are now begging me to make them a construct themed campaign. (Do we not have enough campaigns?! Pretty sure we do!). I suppose it’s more use for players than I thought! Haha.
All in all, we’re happy to have this lovely little book on our shelf!
Do you own the Construct Handbook? Got some favourite creatures from it or stories about construct crafting you want to share? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear about it!
Whoo, there’s some deep snow between my home and my kids school today! That morning walk was exhausting! I can’t remember the last time I had to walk a few blocks through hip deep snow, never mind while also dragging a sled filled with toddlers behind me, but wow! Don’t want to do that again! …Until another few hours from now when I do have to do it again… Haha.
Winter anecdotes aside, we’ve got some exciting news: FREE STUFF!
In honour of the Kickstarter campaign for their first major release, Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion, Sunburst Games is giving away three FREE digital copies of Realms of Atrothia: Legacy Races Revisited!! The draw for these awesome Pathfinder Compatible prizes will take place on Saturday, February 9th. You can enter by heading to their Facebook page, and commenting with your favourite race to play in Pathfinder, in the comments section on the giveaway post. Plus get a bonus entry whenever you share the original post! Easy!
For more information on Realms of Atrothia: Legacy Races Revisited you can check out this blog post I wrote on it. For more information on Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion or the Kickstarter, go here or check out this blog post I wrote on it. And finally, for more information on Sunburst Games and their products, check out their website at SunburstGames.com.