Snow, Colds, and Falling Behind

Do you ever have those weeks when you feel totally and completely busy, but by the time the week’s over and someone asks you what you’ve done you realize there’s nothing much to say?

That’s me this week. Heck, that’s me this month. The past two months, even.

I’m constantly busy with… nothing. Stuff. Just everyday life. It’s normal for most people, I suppose. And totally fine. Just hectic! (Yes, it deserved that exclamation point!).

Winter’s here to stay. It’s cold, but not really cold. There’s snow, but it’s not really snowy. It’s a strange sort of in between. It’s cold enough that everyone in my house needs to wear full winter gear, but it’s also much warmer than it should be. We’ll get way colder yet this winter. We’ve got a bit of snow, but not a enough to make snowmen or go tobogganing (that’s sledding to those of you outside Canada).

With the cold came colds. My son’s been slowly fighting off a sickness for over two weeks. He finally took a sick day for it, and went back to school just the other day. And of course he came home sick again already. Poor thing. My daughter’s getting sick now, too. Not surprising, of course. But, unfortunate. Luckily it’s not a horrible cold. They’re not nauseous or anything. It’s just one of those lingering ones where you just have a sore throat, cough, sniffly nose, and a some mild fatigue. THAT. That’s what they’re trying to power through. For weeks.

My kids are getting excited for Christmas. They’re practising a ton of songs for their Winter Concert at school, which means I get to hear them sing and dance each day. My daughter’s particularly excited. She loves to sing. They’ve also made their wish lists, and decided who they’re going to ask for what gifts. Top of their list? A bunk bed and a Nintendo Switch. Also, my son wants to raise two hundred dollars to donate to help save the Piping Plovers (adorable little shore birds) of the Great Lakes. I’ve told him he needs to set his goals a little lower there, but he’s a dreamer. My little environmentalist. I guess I need to ask for a winning lottery ticket for Christmas. Haha.

We’ve got swimming lessons once a week to squish in amongst chores and trips to the laundromat. My kids adore swimming, but they’re about as graceful as a moose. They get the job done, but it does not look pretty. Haha. My daughter’s particularly adorable to watch. Even when she sinks and is clearly the worst swimmer in her class she’s got this humungous grin on her face. She’s just so damned happy to be there. She’s got such a great attitude.

In other news, I’m about to have two fewer kids on my hands. My sister-in-law is off on a trip with her sister to Egypt — she’s obsessed with Egyptology — which means my brother took some time off to spend with his kids and I find myself without them for two weeks. What the heck am I going to do with myself when my own kids are at school? I’ll be ALONE. That’s like… unheard of! It’s also awesome! I’m so behind on everything it’s my well-deserved chance to catch up. I’ve got chores to do, errands to run, a blog *cough cough* to pay some much deserved attention to, the rules to Traveller to learn, hundreds of surveys sitting in my inbox, and campaigns to prep and GM. Perhaps most importantly I have a ton of work to do on a special project I’m working on with my brother.

Special project? How intriguing!

Yes! It is!

It’s called Realms of Atrothia, and you can expect to hear more about that in the very near future!

In similar (but not quite related news), the call for Wayfinder Issue #19 submissions ended on Halloween, and both myself and my children submitted articles for consideration. Wayfinder is a free fanzine you can download on Paizo’s website. Issue #19 is going to be a Starfinder issue that focuses on Absalom Station! My kids each put together an Alien Archive entry, while I wrote a ‘Weal or Woe’ article, and two new Themes. Although I’m nervous, my kids are literally bouncing with excitement. They can’t wait to hear if their submissions will be accepted. Unfortunately, they have a bit longer to wait. Authors won’t be informed until early December if their creations will be used. Yes, that’s at least two more weeks of hearing “Mom, do we know yet?”, “Mom, how much longer do I have to wait?”, “Mom, how much longer NOW?”, and “What’s taking so long?”

Man, I hope they both get in. I can imagine the tears if only one of their articles gets accepted. I’m sure if their articles get accepted and mine don’t I’ll never hear the end of it. Haha. That’s alright. I’m sure my pride in them would far surpass my personal disappointment. I hope.

Wish us luck! (And best of luck to any of you who submitted an article to Wayfinder!)

On the Pathfinder Playtest front I have to admit, I am playtested out! Thankfully no more rules updates are coming. But, I honestly just want to go back to the warm comfort of regular Pathfinder for a while. Preferably a long while. Unfortunately, that’s not in the cards, as I’m still involved in a play by post run of Doomsday Dawn and another of the Pathfinder Society Playtest Scenarios. Oh, well. C’est la vie! I’ll enjoy the experience while I still can.

You know what I AM enjoying? Starfinder Wednesdays on Paizo’s Twitch Channel! If you’re not watching them you really should!

All the best everyone!

Jessica

Shaping the Society: Rewards

Whew, it’s been a busy week! Where has the time gone? No matter! Today we’re taking a break to talk about the future of the Pathfinder Society! With the release of Pathfinder 2 next year, there’s going to be a lot of changes to Pathfinder Society Organized Play. Lucky for us, Paizo wants our input! A while ago we did a recap of all the surveys you can give them your feedback on, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly suggest you do! This week there’s one more topic to add to the list: Rewards.

GrandLodgeSymbol
The Glyph of the Open Road, symbol of the Pathfinder Society.

For those of you who don’t know, GMs who run adventures are rewarded Stars in Pathfinder Society Play, or Novas in Starfinder Society Play, to show their experience and dedication to the game. Achieving a star brings with it some benefits, bragging rights and, in the case of that coveted fifth and final star, a shout out on Paizo’s blog. Obtaining five star GM status is a TON of work, and those gamers who earn one deserve every bit of prestige that comes with it. But those stars are for Pathfinder. Not Pathfinder 2. With the games being so different, they need a new symbol to track GMs experience with the new system. Currently there’s two main suggestions: The Gylph of the Open Road, which is the logo of the Pathfinders (and will be called ‘glyphs’) and the Sihedron, which is the seven pointed star of the ancient Thassilon (which will be called sigils). Personally, I’m fully behind the GLYPHS option. It just makes sense. And the Gylph of the Open Road looks awesome! Want to let your opinion on the matter be known? Vote in the poll and let your voice be heard.

Sihedron Rune
The Sihedron of Ancient Thassilon.

So what else is changing? Well, this next one is huge. The fate of the current Pathfinder Society Organized Play. There are ten seasons worth of awesome adventures available for us to play. But what happens if you’ve played most of them and you want to keep going? What happens if you don’t want to play Pathfinder 2? The good news is you can keep playing Pathfinder Society Scenarios as long as people keep GMing them. But what happens when you’ve played them all? Should replaying scenarios be much easier? In short, Paizo has three options for future replays, which I’ll quote below:

  • Option 1: A modest, fixed number of replays that would renew on a seasonal basis. These replays would not be level or character locked and would give opportunities to progress new characters through old stories or seat players who have already completed an adventure so that a full table can be formed.
  • Option 2: A more generous but fixed number of replays for all players and GMs. This would work much like option 1, except instead of a small pool that would refresh each season, you’d get a larger pool to spend at your discretion. However, with this option once you’ve used all of your replays, that’s it.
  • Option 3: A sliding scale, fixed number of replays based on a percentage of total games played. This option would work much like option 2, except instead of everyone getting the same number of replays, the quantity of replays offered would scale up based on the number of games you’ve completed. This option would likely include a weighting mechanism whereby the number of GM stars you possess add some number of additional replays, rewarding our most devoted players and GMs with additional replays. One distinct benefit we see in this option is that it will help normalize the progress of groups with a mix of new and long-time players; long-time players will have more replays since they have fewer unplayed scenarios available to pick from, and newer players should find that it’s easier to get tables for the remaining scenarios they still haven’t played.

Now, all those options seem viable, but only the top option would allow players to continue playing indefinitely. I’m fully behind Option 1. Got an opinion? Head on over to Paizo’s blog post on the topic and leave a comment with you vote!

Also on that same blog post you’ll find information for a model they’ve created to reward experienced players who have unused convention and GM boons, by using them instead in a sort of prize table to cause powerful, limited use effects in Pathfinder Society 2 Organized Play. For full details I suggest reading their blog. Like the idea — I know I do — then leave a comment! They want to hear your feedback.

Thanks for tuning in today!

Jessica

Pathfinder Society Scenarios: ‘Treason’s Chains’ and ‘Mysteries Under Moonlight Part Two: The Howling Dance’

Today we’re going to take a look at two of the most recent Pathfinder Society Scenarios that are currently available for purchase, and let you know we thought. Although you’ll find references to events in each that I liked or disliked, and comments about specific characters, these scenarios are not explored in detail. It’s not my intention to spoil the events in these scenarios, or give summaries and full reviews, but to share my opinions and provide recommendations. Whether you intend to use them in home games of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, sanctioned scenarios for use with the Pathfinder Society Organized Play, or just want to read a nifty new adventure, we’ve got you covered! So let’s get cracking!

Pathfinder Society Scenario 10-06 - Treason's ChainsPathfinder Society Scenario #10-06: Treason’s Chains is a Tier 1-5 Adventure written by Adam Meyers. It takes place in Katapesh, a city (and nation) where commerce is king and coin can move mountains. For more information on Katapesh check out Dark Markets: A Guide To KatapeshLegacy Of Fire: Player’s Guide, or the Inner Sea World Guide. In addition to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook this scenario makes use of the Advanced Player’s Guide. It features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary, and the NPC Codex (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario) and utilizes Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Pub Crawl and two custom maps. This mission is of particular importance to members of the Liberty’s Edge faction. Characters (or players) who have played Pathfinder Society Scenario #3-03: The Ghenett Manor Gauntlet, #7-01: Between the Lines, #7-11: Ancient’s Anguish, or #7-12: Twisted Circle will have a personal (or at least passing) connection to some of the characters featured in this scenario. Finally, any players who have the special GM Boon ‘Goblin Patronage’ will want to give this scenario a whirl for boon related reasons we’ll talk about later.

Katapesh is a strange place, and the city itself if home to not one, but four Pathfinder Lodges. The most senior Venture-Captain is Roderus who runs a lodge out of his inn and handles all missions that take place outside of the city. The most secure and respected Venture-Captain is Aurora Steelbloom, who runs the grandest lodge in the city at the ruins known as the Twilight Gate. Jurisdiction for the rest of the city is split between Venture-Captain Wulessa Yuul, and Venture-Captain Phlegos Dulm. Unfortunately, these two bicker and fight constantly. So, when the aged Venture-Captain Roderus decides its finally time for him to retire, he’s more than a little uneasy! How can he leave the fate of Pathfinders in Katapesh in the hands of a pair of agents who can’t even follow one of the three main Pathfinder creeds: COOPERATE? This adventure tasks the PCs with working at Roderus’ retirement party. They’ll have to serve drinks, entertain guests, clean up, keep order, and perform other menial tasks. Using their mundane duties as a cover they’ll need to spy on the Venture-Captains in question (Dulm and Yuul), ferret out the truth from rumours, and determine if these two Pathfinders can work together, or are trying to sabotage one another. If the PCs uncover any wrongdoing they’ll need to report to Roderus and delve deeper into the investigation, until the facts come to light and Roderus has enough peace of mind to retire. Players and GMs looking for more information on the featured Venture-Captains can check out Seekers of Secrets or (to a lesser extent) Dark Markets: A Guide To Katapesh.

This scenario had a lot going for it. It has a lot of fun, engaging social encounters that feature a ton of colourful characters. Zig and Yigrig Moneymaker were particular favourites of mine (as I suspect they will be for many players). Zig’s scripted examples of assistance he can lend during the opening retirement party are adorable. There’s a great dynamic evening battle featuring both allies and enemies which promises to be entertaining. Finally, the inclusion of Yigrig Moneymaker’s family is a great segue that can lead to goblins becoming a core race in Pathfinder Second Edition next year. This scenario features three different boons. Two of these you should be able to obtain just by playing through the scenario with moderate success. Both are limited use boons that are actually useful, which is great to see. the third boon is only for members of the Liberty’s Edge faction, and has extra benefits if you also possess the ‘Goblin Patronage’ boon mentioned at the start of this post. A minor downside? There’s very little treasure options up for offer. Overall, I really enjoyed this scenario. I give it four out of five stars.

Pathfinder Society Scenario 10-07 - Mysteries Under Moonlight, Part 2, Howling DancePathfinder Society Scenario #10-07: Mysteries Under Moonlight Part Two: The Howling Dance is a Tier 3-7 adventure written by Crystal Malarsky (who also wrote Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-10: Tyranny of Winds Part Two: Secrets of the Endless Sky, Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-03: On the Border of War, and the young adult horror novel Ashwood). This scenario is a direct sequel to #10-05: Mysteries Under Moonlight Part One: Testament of Souls. It begins in the city of Magnimar, but quickly moves to the massive swamp known as the Mushfens. In addition to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebookit makes use of the Advanced Player’s Guide, and the GameMastery Guide. It features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: BestiaryBestiary 2, and Bestiary 5 (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario) and utilizes Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: WoodlandsPathfinder: Map Pack: Forest Dangers, and a gorgeous custom map.

In the previous adventure, Magnimar found its beloved monuments corrupted by some foul source. The PCs worked for Venture-Captain Shiela Heidmarch and the Varisian Council, made an enemy of the occult investigator Theodorus Ichonvarde, saved a lyrakien servant of the goddess Ashava (Luvyire), discovered the identity of the being behind the corruption (whom we will call only by their name, Tulvhatha, to avoid too many spoilers), and the place they can be found (The Glade of Silver Sparks) which was once a holy site to Ashava. In addition, the PCs were likely granted a blessing by Luvyire, which he can grant to all characters participating in this adventure if they will allow him to do so. This adventure tasks the PCs with travelling through the Mushfens, confronting Tulvhatha, and doing what they can to cleanse the area of evil. Characters who have already played the first in this series of adventures will of course have more reason to participate in this one. But, characters who worship Ashava, have an interest in moonlight, dancing, or putting spirits to rest, or have connections to lycanthropy will all find something special to interest them in this scenario. On a similar note, if you have any characters who have a lot of fears, or who you would enjoying roleplaying their response to their fears at a table, I highly recommend you bring them! This is a spooky adventure, and embracing that atmosphere can be a lot of fun.

This scenario had an wonderful haunting tone to it. The environment was appropriately ominous, of course, but many of the encounters themselves often played into the horror theme. Not a gory sort of horror. More of a moody, hopeless, suspenseful sort of horror. I ADORED it. The scenario starts with some minor (but fun) roleplaying encounters. The blessing which your characters can accept is awesome! It has the ability to turn you into a celestial (non-evil) werewolf for the scenario. Aside from the obvious mechanical benefits, the acceptance of this boon leads to two other delightful encounters, and has the added benefit of helping you find your way to your destination. Super cool! Of course, it should be noted, that if you happen to have a horrible fear of werewolves (like my daughter) or spirits this is NOT the scenario for you! Haha. I adored the first major encounter of this scenario. In addition to bringing back another character from the first scenario in this series, it could cause some healthy discussion as to the fate of your opponents (depending upon the alignments we see on the player’s side of the table). There’s a delightful chase in this scenario, which has very clear repercussions for failure. I absolutely loved it! Although, it should be noted, I’m a sucker for a good, purposeful chase. The haunts in this scenario were exceptionally well-done. Particularly the one that plays upon your character’s fears. Embracing that horror theme with my characters is something I always enjoy as a player, so I can’t wait to toss one of my more expressive characters into this mission! And the final battle with the main villain was both memorable, flavourful, an mechanically difficult. Just awesome. But my favourite part? This scenario features the coolest wolf encounter in existence! Seriously! It’s going to be so much fun! I love it! This scenario only grants one boon which you should be able to obtain during a playthrough without trouble. It’s a nice, useful, limited use boon which gets even better if you also have the boon ‘Celestial Lycanthropy’ from Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-05: Mysteries Under Moonlight Part One: Testament of Souls. Overall I loved this scenario. Seriously. Loved it. I give it five out of five stars!

I hope you enjoyed taking a peek at this months newest Pathfinder Society Scenarios with me. I know I enjoyed reading them!

Until next time,

Jessica

Marko Horvatin, Yigrig
Yigrig Moneymaker, an enterprising goblin featured in Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-06: Treason’s Chains. Art by Marko Horvatin
Leonardo Santanna -Tulyhatha
The spookiest will-o-wisp you’ll ever lay eyes on! One of the enemies from Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-07: Mysteries Under Moonlight Part Two: The Howling Dance. Art by Leonardo Santanna.

 

Pathfinder Playtest Update 1.6!

Pathfinder Playtest Update 1.6 is finally here.

This is it. The last one.

Or, more accurately, the last scheduled one. Although Paizo has no plans to do so, they might release another update in the future.

So what does this mean?

For starters, the final chapter of the Doomsday Dawn playtest surveys are open. You can head down to the Pathfinder Playtest website after completing Doomsday Dawn and fill them out.

For those of us who aren’t done Doomsday Dawn (or the Pathfinder Playtest Society Scenarios) don’t worry about it. You can still fill out feedback surveys until the end of the year. That’s two more months of time for playtesting and feedback.

And finally?

Well, you get a bunch of cool new updates! And by a bunch I mean a LOT. More specifically, each of the classes in the Pathfinder Playtest have some new changes. For some classes the changes are minor, and for others they’re HUGE. Seriously! Alchemist got a whole overhaul and Paladins? Well, we’ll get there…

So read on, and see some of what’s new!

Alchemists have a huge number of changes! In fact, they have a whole new progression chart. But, we’re only going to take a peek at some of them. No longer running off of resonance, they used infused reagents to create a certain number of alchemical creations each day for free. This brings about a bunch of changes to many alchemical items, including different level versions of many items such as acid, alchemist’s fire, and mutagens. Another neat addition is essentially a specialty — are you good with bombs, healing, mutagens, or poisons? This selection will give you some cool abilities along the way, tailored to your alchemist’s style of play. I ADORE the changes to alchemist, so be sure to give them a thorough look-see.

Barbarians have very few changes. Their proficiencies have become more broad, and most noticeably, barbarian’s rage has an update which is going to make it feel more… unpredictable. After each round spent in a rage you’ll need to make a flat check to see if you remain in your rage. This check will get harder the longer you’re raging. It’s a flavourful change that I think will be great.

Bards have minor changes. Like all spellcasters they’re going to be getting one extra cantrip at first level. They also have some changes to their muses. Clerics also get one more cantrip. Their change is a removal though, they can use less channel energy per day. Sad! Haha. On the plus side there’s been a change to somatic spell casting which will allow all those clerics (and paladins) who use a weapon and shield to cast without difficulty. (The changes are more intricate than that, so be sure to read them!).

Druids have a lot of changes, particularly to the wild order and wild shape. Seriously. There’s lots. Haha. There’s also changes to the spell goodberry, and to animal companions.

Fighters only real change is to stances, while Monks have they ki strike improved (YES!), and some other changes to their ki pool and ki powers. Skipping around a bit, rangers have some minor changes to their hunt target ability, rogues have some awesome expansions to their rogue specializations, and sorcerers have some new feats and a new infernal bloodline (called diabolic). Wizards have some awesome new abilities, and gain the quick preparation ability right from level one. They can swap out spells they’ve prepared for others, and can give up lower level spell slots to prepare higher level spells. Just AWESOME! I’m super excited to give them a try.

But wait? What about paladins?

Paladins no longer need to be LG. Instead, they can also be CG, or NG. Each of these options will affect some of their abilities, as well as their paladin code. Exciting!

Of course, there’s many more changes than we’ve mentioned. So be sure to snag yourself a copy of the update and give it a read. Pathfinder Playtest Update 1.6 is available as a free download here.

Enjoy!

Jessica

Starfinder Society Scenarios: ‘Siege of Enlightenment’ and ‘The Beacon Code Dilemma’

Today we’re going to take a look at the two most recent Starfinder Society Scenarios that are currently available for purchase, and let you know we thought. Although you’ll find references to events in each that I liked or disliked, and comments about specific characters, these scenarios are not explored in detail. It’s not my intention to spoil the events in these scenarios, or give summaries and full reviews, but to share my opinions and provide recommendations. Whether you intend to use them in home games of the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, sanctioned scenarios for use with the Starfinder Society Organized Play, or just want to read a nifty new adventure, we’ve got you covered! So sit back, and get ready to explore the Pact Worlds!

Starfinder Society Scenario #1-24 - Siege of EnlightenmentStarfinder Society Scenario #1-24: Siege of Enlightenment is a Tier 1-4 adventure written by Tineke Bolleman. It takes place on Sansorgis, which is a planet in the Acalata system. It’s a dry place poorly suited to agriculture, but rich in mineral deposits. There players will help with the evacuation of a mining colony, attempt to peacefully navigate some space politics, and explore some Pre-Gap ruins. This scenario features starship combat. It utilizes Starfinder Flip-Mat: Basic Starfield Starfinder Flip-Mat: Space Station, and Pathfinder Flip-mat: Ancient Dungeon. It makes use of the Starfinder Core RulebookStarfinder Alien ArchiveStarfinder Alien Archive 2, and the Starfinder Armory. That said, all of the relevant information from both Alien Archives is included within the scenario itself. Siege of Enlightenment does not continue any ongoing storylines, and the only recurring character within it is Venture-Captain Arvin. There are a few interesting characters introduced in this scenario, including then hobgoblin Captain Odrakor of Susumu’s Sword, half-elven Corporal Kalyavata, and the human Chief Engineer Kerchatu. Unfortunately, roleplaying with such characters will be quite brief. There’s also some delightfully entertaining enemies (the first one is particularly fun)! There are no specific boons I’d suggest slotting for this scenario, although I will say that having a few characters trained in Computers and Engineering on your team is very important, and that such characters with have the opportunity to do something special during parts of the adventure. On a similar note, scholarly and studious characters — particularly those interested in archaeology, cartography, chronicling, history, and scribing — will also find opportunity to  showcase their interests in this scenario.

Siege of Enlightenment begins in a mission briefing with Venture-Captain Arvin, where he tasks the PCs with helping a mining colony in Near Space evacuate, and then exploring a ruin. Sounds simple, right? Not quite. This scenario involves a bit of space politics which mostly occurs behind the scenes, but is important to understanding the mission. Basically, it involves two different groups who have each have their own space empire in Near Space: the Marixah Republic (a multi-cultural group containing many races from lost Golarion which the Pact Worlds trades with), and the Gideron Authority (a militaristic, predominantly hobgoblin group that the Pact Worlds has few ties with). Both of these groups are independent of the Pact Worlds, rule their own star systems, and have colonies outside of their systems. Following a military coup, the Gideron Authority turned its attentions to conquest, and the two space governments have been cautiously circling each other since. Recently, the Gideron Authority appeared around the planet Sansorgis, collected information on the Marixah Republic’s mining colonies with their long-range sensors, then left. Worried that they would soon fall under attack, the Marixah Republic ordered the evacuation of the colonies. Knowing that they wouldn’t have time to excavate a nearby ruin on their own (and not wanting it to fall into the Gideron Authority’s hands), the Marixah Republic offered the right of exploration to the Starfinder Society in exchange for aid with evacuating the final colony. It is into this political turmoil that your players will travel. Characters will get to interact with both the Marixah Republic and the Gideron Authority, lend a hand to some people in need, explore an important historical site, learn some secrets, and kick some ass. bring the initial starship battle there’s a new starship ability introduced (ramming) which I think is awesome! The first physical combat is very interesting and should be a lot of fun at the table, but it’s very complex, so GMs will need to familiarize themselves with it thoroughly before attempting to run the battle. Despite the complexity (and the very dense map), I think it’s going to be a hoot! In the ruins there’s the addition of a simple new mechanic called Discovery Points, which are meant to track how much your players discover and catalogue about the ruins, without bogging down gameplay too much. Although such tracking will all happen on the GM side of the screen, I think it’s wonderful that your player’s thoroughness will be rewarded. It is supposed to be an archaeological investigation, after all. I love that this scenario featured so many new creatures from the recently released Alien Archive 2, particularly the computer glitch gremlins (although seeing the ja noi (oni), tashtaris, and hobgoblins in play so soon was delightful). I did have one major complaint, though. This scenario is very combat heavy! It contains one starship battle, four other combats, two traps, plus one of those listed combats is likely to also contain at least two hazards and traps (possibly more). That’s a LOT. As for boons, this one doesn’t have much going for it. It offers only a single boon, and it’s one of those ones that doesn’t do anything for you right now, but maybe one day it will. Not super exciting. On the plus side it has a lot of gear up for offer on its chronicle. All in all, even though this isn’t my favourite scenario it has some fun encounters and is a great choice for characters who just want to get into some good old fashioned fights. As an added bonus this scenario is perfectly set up to lead to more scenarios involving the Marixah Republic, the Gideron Authority, and the ancient ruins, which is always great to see. I give this scenario three out of five stars.

Starfinder Society Scenario 1-25 - Beacon Code DilemmaStarfinder Society Scenario #1-25: The Beacon Code Dilemma is a Tier 3-6 adventure written by Adrian Ng. It begins in The Starfinder Society’s Lorespire Complex in Absalom Station where you’ll do some research for an upcoming mission, and heads into the Drift where you’ll explore a recently discovered Starfinder vessel that’s been missing in action for over a hundred years. This scenario features the REPEATABLE tag. That’s right. It’s a tier 3-6 repeatable adventure! AWESOME! Although this scenario doesn’t continue any ongoing storylines it does have cameos from a lot of different characters featured in other adventures which I absolutely adore. The Beacon Code Dilemma doesn’t have starship combat. It makes use of one custom map and heavy use of Starfinder Flip-Mat: Ghost Ship. In addition to the Starfinder Core Rulebook this scenario uses content from the Starfinder Alien ArchiveStarfinder Alien Archive 2Starfinder Armory, and Starfinder Pact Worlds. That said, all of the information from the Alien Archives that is needed to run this scenario is included within the scenario itself.

As already mentioned, this scenario features a lot of recurring characters. The bleaching gnome Venture-Captain Naiaj is certain to appear. Of the other four major recurring characters, two will appear in each playthrough (because it’s a repeatable scenario which two are featured will be determined at random by your GM). Depending on which two are featured you’ll want to have different boons slotted, and possibly even bring along different characters. If the ysoki Royo is featured you’ll want to slot ‘High Society Influence (Royo)’ which is from Starfinder Society Scenario #1–05: The First Mandate. If Whisperer of Solar Winds is featured you’ll want to slot the ‘Dream Whispers’ boon which is from Starfinder Society Scenario #1–16: Dreaming of the Future. If the shirren Chiskisk  is featured you’ll want to slot a chronicle sheet from Starfinder Adventure Path 1: Incident at Absalom Station (Dead Suns Book 1 of 6). And finally, if Venture-Captain Arvin is featured you’ll want to slot the ‘Starfinder Insignia’ boon from Starfinder Society Quests: Into the Unknown. Unfortunately, although you can choose which boons to slot after the briefing (and therefore can slot appropriate boons) there’s no way to know which characters you’ll be interacting with beforehand (so you might not slot the characters with the appropriate boons). Luckily, it’s repeatable, so you can give it a shot with all of your characters if you want to. And, if you’re really lucky, perhaps your GM will tell you ahead of time.

The Beacon Code Dilemma begins when Venture-Captain Naiaj calls you in for a mission briefing in the Lorespire Complex. There they meet a new character: an SRO priest of Triune by the name of MP-8 from Aballon. MP-8 was blessed with a holy vision from which he deciphered a beacon code. Knowing that this must be a mission of the utmost importance he put together a team and followed the coordinates into the Drift where they found a lost Starfinder vessel called the Amber Reconnoiter. Unfortunately, the ship opened fire on them. Surprised, an not wanting to risk damaging the very ship they were sent to find, MP-8 retreated and contacted the Starfinder Society. Naiaj tasks the group with researching the ship, then heading out into the Drift to explore the vessel, find out what happened to it, and retrieve whatever object it is within that MP-8 is after. As this scenario is repeatable, a lot of aspects are determined randomly. Where you need to do your research within the Lorespire Complex, who you interact with, the crew of the Amber Reconnoiter, their mission’s purpose, and how they met their end (and therefore which handouts you receive), are all obvious examples of randomized aspects. In addition, there’s a wide variety of environmental factors and enemy abilities that are also determined randomly. I absolutely loved this, and was surprised how thorough it was. Really well done!

Whatever random options are determined for your playthrough, characters will need to do some research on the Amber Reconnoiter in two different locations in the Lorespire Complex in order to learn what they can about the ship and determine the codes to shut down the ship’s automated defences. Some of those locations feature new characters as well, my favourite of which is the overly chipper Recordbot-128 in the Halls of Discovery. From there you’ll head out into the Drift and travel to the Beacon Code. Once there you’ll need to navigate through a planar storm, then spacewalk over to the wreck through a debris field (which has an awesome map!), fight off some creatures native to the Drift, and board the Amber Reconnoiter. But, that’s just the start of your mission. You’ll need to explore the wreck, figure out what happened to its crew, and find the object MP-8 is after.

I really enjoyed this mission. I love that is gives you a chance to explore some locations within the Lorespire Complex and actually research something — which should be an important part of being a Starfinder. I loved that we got to really engage in some of the hazards of Drift travel through the planar hazards, battle, and exploring the debris field (which I thought was super cool!). And finally, I loved the how the purpose and fate of the Amber Reconnoiter changes in each playthrough, along with the wonderful player handouts that come with each of those options. One of my only pet peeves was that some of the interactions on the Amber Reconnoiter mention sound when the ship does not currently have artifical atmosphere. It is mentioned that the PCs can repair the power core enough to restore atmosphere (and therefore let sound travel), but many of the things that happen before you’ll have a chance to do so (including enemy tactics) mentions or presupposes sound travelling through the ship. I found it odd. Still, it’s a small quibble that GMs should make note of before running it. Visual cues can easily be used in place of audible ones until atmosphere is restored. In terms of boons there are two up for offer. One is a nice Starship boon that’s useful in the Drift, and one is a slotless limited use boon that can help you get a bit more bang for your buck. Again, this scenario has a lot of gear options available on its chronicle sheet. Overall, I really enjoyed this scenario and can’t wait to give it a play. I give it four out of five stars.

I hope you enjoyed taking a look at these new scenarios with us. We’ll see you again soon when we dive into the new Pathfinder Society Scenarios!

Until then,

Jessica

Graey Erb-SusumusSword
Susumu’s Sword is a Gideron Authority ship under the command of Captain Odrakar. Featured in Starfinder Society Scenario #1-24: Siege of Enlightenment. Art by Graey Erb.
Michele Giorgi-MP8
MP-8 a, SRO devotee of Triune appearing in Starfinder Society Scenario #1-25: The Beacon Code Dilemma. Art by Michele Giorgi.

 

Ode to the Lost: Lara Belfast

Today on d20 diaries we’re taking a look at the lost.

You know the lost.

The abandoned, the deceased, the forgotten, the retired. The characters whose stories were over before they even started. Who began a journey that would never come to a close. Who died in action.

Them.

Not all of them, of course. Just one.

A character of mine who recently died in action. An inglorious end for an ambitious, (possibly deranged) woman with way too many voices in her head.

Today we meet Lara.

Lara Belfast had always had strange dreams. They were vivid, immersive… lasting, and always featured other people. She would wake, and for hours after have the feelings of these others inside her. Their hopes and fears and memories. It was like she had really been there. Lived through it. As other people.

It was normal, her parents told her. Dreams were just dreams, and they would pass. But they didn’t pass. They got worse. When they started to occur during the day, her parents finally began to worry. But when she woke up one day from a dream where she was a shipwright and immediately set to work building a fully-functioning wooden sailboat,  she realized the truth. They weren’t dreams. They were people.

Real people.

Lara was reliving her past lives. Not only that, she could learn from them.  Her family moved after that. Got a fresh start. Her parents didn’t want their neighbours realizing she was odd.

As she grew older, Lara’s connection with her past lives grew. She learned new skills, saw new places, took up new professions, and felt things she had never felt before. She was wise and experienced beyond her years. And when one night she threw a chair across the room with her mind, or answered a question her parents had only thought — not spoken — they weren’t even surprised. Nothing surprised them anymore. Not when it came to Lara.

PZO1110
Lara Belfast is a character for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game! I recommend picking up a new hardcover of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook while you can (with the launch of Pathfinder 2 next year, only the pocket edition will remain in print). 

Lara always loved her Dreamers — as she liked to call her previous incarnations. She was an echo of them — all of them — and that’s what she started to call herself. Sure, they made it hard to have friends, and boyfriends, but her connection with them was so real, so… intimate, that she never regretted her powers. Not once.

Well, maybe once.

There were many dreamers, but one of them in particular had always come to her strongest. He was a shipwright, young, strong, and handsome. He had a sister named Gilly, and a girlfriend who he stole kisses from under the dock at night. Sara, was her name. And one night everything went horribly wrong.

A few men found them. They were drunk and rough. Her dreamer was punched right in the face. She could feel the pain, and hear the crack of her nose breaking. She could taste the blood. But that wasn’t the worst part… The worst was the screams of his beloved. That’s what got to Lara the most. That’s what made her cry. And the way her dreamer had felt… Helpless. Broken. Scared. 

When the dreamer awoke, things were worse. Her dreamer and his beloved had been sold to slavers. Life on the ship was hard for her dreamer, but for Sara it was hardest. Her dreamer struggled, and planned, and when he could take no more he fought back. She Her dreamer had to save Sara. He loved her, and she was in so much pain.

But, suddenly it’s not sorrow her dreamer feels, but agony. Her dreamer’s dying — his arm is broken, and as the first mate of the ship stomps his way across the deck…

STOMP, STOMP, STOMP…

Her dreamer hears another sound. His name: Benjamin.

Sara’s here… She can see him. Her dreamer looks up at the first mate — he’s tall, and strong, in nobleman’s clothes, with slicked back hair and a waxed moustache, not much older than her dreamer. The first mate smiles as he brings the blade down across her dreamer’s neck. Then everything spins and for a moment — a crazy, painful, terrifying moment — she can see her dreamer’s body.

He would be handsome if he still had his head. 

There were plenty of other dreamers — the lumberjack, the warchief, the chef, the sickly child, even an old dame — but it was Benjamin who stuck with her most. Benjamin whose memories haunted her. He was the last, she knew. The person she had been before she was herself. Gilly, Sara, his killer… They might all still be alive. She had to find out. She had to know. 

So she left home — barely a grown woman — to do research, and to find them. Sara especially. But it was the first mate she found first. Still alive, aged 46, and still working on slave ships. And Lara (Echo, she went by now) did the craziest thing she had ever done (which was saying a lot). She used her psychic powers to get hired as a sailor on his ship. She used them again to get close to him, and to make others ignore her when she snuck into his quarters. She had finally found his old ledgers when he caught her in his quarters. She tried to talk her way out of it, but it was useless. She would soon be joining Benjamin… 

He drew his blade, stalked towards her…

And then the storm struck.

It tossed the ship so hard the both of them went flying. She struck her head against something hard — the bunk maybe, perhaps the floor — and when she awoke she was alone, shivering with cold, dripping wet, on a strange beach. The ledger was gone.

She would never know what happened to Sara.

Never get revenge against her beloved dreamer’s murderer. 

But then another dreamer reared her head: the lumberjack. Echo was shipwrecked on an unknown island. She would need food, and shelter, and warmth. It would be a struggle just to survive. The lumberjack always was the practical one. But she was right. So Echo let go of her disappointment, and shame, and let the lumberjacks skills come to the forefront. There was work to do, and she didn’t plan on dying yet.

She wasn’t ready to be the next dreamer.


Echo was created for an online play-by-post campaign run by GM Fuzzfoot called Castaways. The premise?

“Slavery in parts of Golarion is legal, but there are plenty who still abhor it. Working undercover – some as slaves, some as slavers – you are on a slave ship trying to discover the key players and document the slave routes in order to disrupt the business. Unfortunately, fate has another plan for you. A terrible storm strikes while the ship is deep at sea. You remember rain and lightning, and terrible thunder! The ship broke into two, and you were tossed into the sea. You were sure you drowned, and yet you find yourself washed up on a shore. Which shore? You have no idea.”

Applicants had to create third level characters, and wow were there a lot of good ones! Happily, of the twenty-one submissions, Echo was one of those chosen to play. Along with  five other lucky unfortunates, she washed up on the shores of an unknown island. Wounded, confused, lost, but not broken!

Echo was joined by Pharithstillis Euduethistle, a chipper gnomish sorcerer who enjoyed making jewelry; Nathan Bensson, a kineticist with control over water; Celebeth Quinciel, a free-spirited elven unchained rogue (arcane scoundrel) who grew up on the frontier with her parents; Aki Mori, a multiclass ninja arcanist who spent most of her time in human form, but made excellent use of her ability to transform into a small fox; and Molothor the Bloodhound, a hobgoblin druid who had long ago become accustomed to his life as a slave.

Echo was a human woman in her early twenties with a lean body, pale skin, and blond hair. She’s attractive, intelligent and wise beyond her years. Her eyes are gray, and fathomless, the only feature she bears which belies her soul’s unknowable age. Her effect on people is varied, sometimes hypnotic and sometimes disconcerting.

Echo herself is kind and self-sacrificing. She’s obsessed with her past lives — most especially that of Benjamin — and not only learns from them, but lives for them. Her dreamers still visit her every night, but she is in control of her mind, and no longer loses herself to their memories.

Occult Adventures
You can find information on many awesome occult classes, including the psychic, in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Occult Adventures. (This is one of my very favourite sourcebooks!)

Mechanically, Echo was a psychic with the rebirth discipline. Her discipline powers were past-life memories, which allowed her to make all knowledge checks untrained, and add half her psychic level as a bonus on all knowledge checks. Her second was mnemonic esoterica, which allowed her to choose a spell from another spell list she could cast each day (which she most often used for create water).

Her phrenic amplifications included defensive prognostication, which allowed her to see a glimpse of her future whenever she cast a divination spell (which could increase her AC for a round), and intense focus, which allowed her to gain a bonus on concentration checks.

For traits she chose dangerously curious, to allow her to make better use of magical devices, and self-reliant, which prevented her from taking penalties on craft checks made without the proper tools, and even make craft checks without tools at all. For feats she chose skill focus (sense motive), and magical aptitude, both of which played well to her backstory, particularly when coupled with her ability to detect thoughts.

Her spells were great fun to select, as Echo was the first (and only) psychic I ever made. Her starting knacks were detect magic, light, mage hand, prestidigitation, and telekinetic projectile, while her first level spells were burst of insight, mage armour, mind thrust, and true strike. She made the most use of burst of insight, which was incredibly helpful for both survival, and creating shelter.

Together the castaways struggled for survival, facing the elements, exhaustion, dangerous beasts, and ominous portents. They explored the beach and sunken wrecks for their gear and supplies. In time some of them met a young child, who spoke strange words and led them to his people — who unfortunately turned out to be cannibals. Echo and Aki were captured, but managed to escape without too much difficulty. Echo spent her time tossing telekinetic projectiles at her captors, while Aki simply transformed into a fox and slipped through the bars.

Eventually Aki returned to free Echo and they fled, but the cannibals were soon on their trail. They escaped, eventually running into the rest of their companions. Together they abandoned their camp and headed further into the jungle. But the cannibals knew these jungles far better than our heroes. They woke up one night to find themselves surrounded and vastly outnumbered. Captured again they were led back through the jungles —  until a tribe of grippli attacked! The grippli ended up the victors, and brought the castaways back to their village. Echo and her friends spent quite a bit of time there. They learned the grippli’s language and what they could of the island. Eventually, they decided to help the grippli defeat the cannibals. The group made a plan, and the castaways set out to begin phase one. Unfortunately, fate intervened. While exploring a cave they came under attack by a massive lobster. Echo was slain within moments of the battle beginning, with Aki following suit soon afterwards. Nathan fell unconscious  next and, with Malothor lost long before this battle, that left only Celebeth and Pharithstillis still fighting. Deciding to beat a hasty retreat they grabbed the bodies they could — Echo and Nathan — and fled back to the grippli village. The grippli gave up hopes of changing their fate, and Celebeth and Pharithstillis spent the remainder of their days among the grippli village.

We started our campaign at third level, and it came to an end at fourth. Echo was burnt and given a burial at sea.

Just another of the Dreamers.

As to who she became next…?

That’s a mystery for another time.

So ends the tale of Lara Belfast.


Thanks for joining us for our first ‘Ode to the Lost.’ I hope you enjoyed it!

Got an abandoned, forgotten, or deceased character whose tale you want to share? Let us know in the comments! I’d love to read all about them.

May you have better luck than Lara! (And your ghosts never come back to haunt you!)

Jessica

 

Starfinder Guild Guide Updates!

Big news for the Starfinder Society today, as the Starfinder Guild Guide has a new update. Now that’s a Halloween treat! There’s some pretty awesome changes this update will be bringing to Starfinder Society Organized Play, but first, lets start small…

There’s changes to the rebuilding rules for characters and personal boons. There are new, expanded, and edited faction boons. The Wayfinders new capstone boon allows you to play as a ghibrani (YAY!), while the Exo-Guardians new capstone boon allows you to use a whole new starship: the Gorgon. The instructions for filling out chronicle sheets have been updated, vehicle tags and vanity boons have been mentioned, UPBs can be bought in any quantity, the Drake’s been edited. And… well there’s plenty of other minute changes you probably won’t notice on a read through. In fact, some of the small changes we named you probably won’t notice either.

But, you know what you will notice?

A new faction! Second Seekers (Jadnura) is now a faction you can join! First Seeker Jadnura was previous lost in the Scoured Stars Trinary system and was recently freed by the Starfinders, led by First Seeker Luwazi Elsebo. Oh, the drama! Be sure to check out this faction’s boons, as some are pretty nifty!

And, my favourite change? All legacy races have been included as playable races available to everyone! Yes! Dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, half-elves, and half-orcs, can now be played by all! *happy dance*

But wait?! What about those boons you may have earned which let you play as a specific legacy race? Never fear! Those boons can be used to increase a single ability score under fourteen by +2 on your existing characters with that race. For special GM boons this will not take up a personal boon slot, while with boons earned through a scenario (such as halfling admittance or dwarf admittance boons) it will take up the personal boon slot.

Awesome!

Those of you who don’t have it can download the Starfinder Society Guild Guide for free on Paizo’s website.

Enjoy!

Jessica