Dead Suns Pawn Collection and a Trip Down Memory Lane…

Dead Suns Pawn CollectionWell would you look at this lovely package that arrived in the mail?!

Gorgeous!

I’m a huge fan of Paizo’s Pawn Collections, but it’s been ages since I’ve got my hands on a new set. Today that changes! It’s time to crack open Starfinder: Dead Suns Pawn Collection!

The Dead Suns Pawn Collection contains over a hundred pawns that include allies, enemies, monsters, and starships. The minis in this set are highly versatile, and definitely going to see some heavy use even after the campaign is over.

 

There’s a lot of awesome pawns in this collection, so narrowing down our favourites was tricky! Our favourite medium figures are the dwarf, Durovar Kreel, and the Downside Kings thugs. Both are incredibly versatile, easy to use, and look awesome. Our favourite large pawns are the whiskered renkroda, Ilthisarian, Gatecrasher, and scavenger slime. Why? They look like nothing else I own. Of the big pawns, I like the sky fisher a lot, while for ships I like the Crypt Warden, a ‘Batplane’-like Eoxian ship, and the Barrow Catacomb, which looks fierce!

Favourites

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why Dead Suns? It’s been out a while now. Surely I’d rather have Against the Aeon Throne or Alien Archive 2?

Our story begins back when Starfinder was new… The rulebook had just hit my hands and I was scouring it for character concepts and cool locations to adventure in. ‘Eww, bugs!’ I thought, ‘NOT playing a shirren.’ (My, how the tables have turned! I love those fellas!). I was excited to check out the first Adventure Path and see what the Starfinder Society would look like. So imagine my surprise when I realized the first adventure path would feature the Starfinder Society. Why would I want to adventure with them when I’m going to get a ton of that in the Starfinder Society? In short, I didn’t. A little disappointed I gave Dead Suns a cursory glance and decided to jump into the Starfinder Society with both feet.

It wasn’t a mistake. I adore the Starfinder Society, both it’s structure, low price point, and exciting adventures. 100% huge fan. But, later down the line when I was getting into the world of play-by-post gaming I was looking for some fun Starfinder games to join –– I was up to date with all the SFS scenarios at the time –– when I stumbled across a recruitment for the Dead Suns Adventure Path. I created a character, applied, and was accepted. We had some rough patches at first. Players arguing and some drop-outs. But the GM crafted a really detailed world for us to adventure in, and it showed. Unfortunately, we played together only a few months before the GM stopped posting, and my glitching, emotionless, android mechanic hung up her adventuring shoes. I was disappointed, of course. But, I was also hooked.

I loved Dead Suns.

So, a short while later, when my brother asked if I’d let him practise GMing a one-shot of Starfinder I hopped at the chance. I offered him one of my SFS scenarios to practise on, but he declined. He owned the first volume of Dead Suns and wanted to give it a shot.

I spent a solid week planning my character. There would only be myself and an NPC run by my brother, and we would only have a single afternoon to play together (while our kids ran around my house causing havoc), so it needed to be something easy to play, and have a personality or background I could capitalize on quickly. Something fun! Something crazy! With a race I couldn’t use in SFS.

I decided to make an ikeshti congregant who left Akiton to make her fortune. She could send her money back home to support her people and adventure for both excitement and coin. Simple motivations that would let her hop into the action. So how, exactly, would she make her fortune? Reality TV! My ikeshti, named T’kesh, would be a reality star known for hunting down exotic prey, cooking it, and eating it. Everything she didn’t eat she would craft into her own line of R2Es named after the episodes and dishes she created! She was a hunter, chef, and daredevil! I decided to call her show ‘T’Kesh: Killer Chef!’ I made her an operative with the explorer specialization. She fought with a knife, tactical pistol, and sniper rifle.

When I told my brother he laughed and decided to create his character to be her cameraman. A mystic lashunta who dreams of creating award winning documentaries, the poor guy was stuck filming my crazed ikeshti’s absurd hunting-cooking show.

Thus prepared we sat down to play. We only got a few minutes into the session before my daughter stuck her head up to the table. She was six at the time, and had only learned how to play Starfinder a week or two before. “Can I play, Uncle?” she asked.

“…Uh…. No, I don’t think so. I don’t have time to help you play today.”

My daughter gave him a pouty scowl and stayed there, stubbornly perched at the edge of the table with her eyes and nose just barely above the tabletop.

Soon the first fight broke out. “Can I at least roll something?” My daughter asked. “I can count, you know.”

My brother said no again, but I’m a sucker for including kids in RPGs. “Oh, let her roll something. She can grab a mini from your bucket and act like a bystander. You use an enemy stat block and she’ll just move and roll. It’ll be fine.”

My brother relented and my daughter peeked into the mini bucket. She found little droid mini from the Star Wars RPG and plopped it on the table. “This is Rabbot!” she announced grandly. “I am an SRO operative with the ghost thing! I will sneak around really quiet like a bunny! I have antenna on my head, and they look sort of like skinny rabbit ears! Also, I am your second cameraman! My eyes record pictures and sound like a camera and my tummy can turn into a stove.” She moved her mini onto the board. “Beep… bop… rabbot… Oh no…. what is with this… fighting…”

When it was her first turn she looked at the board and then looked up at my brother. “Does rabbot have a tactical pistol or an ‘az-ma’ laser pistol? I hope it is a laser one. They shoot way further.”

“Uh… sure. Laser pistol.”

“YAY!” she moved her mini around behind some cover then snuck up on top of a crate. “Trick attack with stealth!” she yelled, rolling her dice. Then she did her best robot voice. “Beep… bop… rabbot… eat this…” She fired her laser pistol, scored a critical hit, and spent the rest of the fight being an absolute rockstar. She was focused, remembered all her rules, and spontaneously created an adorable, thoroughly entertaining character.

When the game was done my brother left and my daughter grinned, “When do we play next, Mom?”

“We don’t,” I told her. “Sorry, baby. We were just playing Dead Suns that one time.”

“But, Rabbot is the coolest.” She gave me a pouty face then added in her best robot voice, “Beep… bop… rabbot… don’t let me… die…” She stuck out her tongue and closed her eyes, making a very silly ‘dead face.’

We didn’t have time to play another game at the table, so I had to say no. But, weeks passed, then months, and she never lost interest. Eventually, I buckled. Sort of. I told her we could all make characters and try Dead Suns out as a play-by-post. But, it would be up to all of us to take the time to write out our turns. She was absolutely thrilled and forced everyone in the house to get characters made. She insisted I keep T’Kesh, of course, and that she would play Rabbot. My son made a skittermander mystic with the xenodruid connection. He named him Skitt and decided that he tried to be a helpful cameraman too, but he was horrible! In fact, the only reason T’Kesh allowed Skitt on her team was through Skitt’s heavy use of charm person spells. Also, he could talk to animals. My husband gave it some thought and ended up making a space goblin operative with a supercomputer implanted in his brain. He named him Nubb, and decided he could act as an editor for T’Kesh: Killer Chef!

Yes, we had a mystic and a whopping three operatives. SUCH a balanced team (not). Surely this would turn out great…

We didn’t always have the time to post in our Dead Suns campaign, but we never stopped playing it. Just this month both of my kids insisted that their Dead Suns characters were their very favourites and they really wanted to bring Dead Suns to the table. So, we did some shuffling and carved out some time. Dead Suns would enter out weekly game rotation.

I didn’t need to pick up the Dead Suns Pawn Collection. A lot of the minis I already have from the Core Rulebook, Pact Worlds, and Alien Archive could cover what I needed. But, my kids really love Dead Suns, and I wanted to make it special.

Plus, did I mention I love Pawn Collections? What better excuse could I have to pick them up!? Haha.

Minis in hand and statistics transferred to proper character sheets, we’re ready to bring this game to life.

My daughter couldn’t be happier. This morning she looked at me with her big brown eyes and gave me a giant hug. “Thanks for not letting Rabbot die, Mom.”

Totally worth it.

 

Preparing for Adventure

For Valentine’s Day my seven-year old son received the D&D Starter Set. He was pretty proud of this turn of events, as it marked the very first d20 product he has ever personally owned. He has some hand-me-down books, of course. And he reads my books all the time, but this one? This one was HIS.

We opened it up and he ogled the beautiful blue dice it came with, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the swirling colours. He owns a good deal of dice, but this set is one of his favourite. They look great, and they’re really easy to read. We pulled out the Starter Set Rulebook and the adventure it came with, flipping through both to look at the pictures. And then he got to the loose papers.

“What are these, Mom? Boss stats or something?”

I explained they were pre-generated characters.

“Why would I need those?”

“They’re for new players, dear. So you can just open the box, grab a character, and play.”

He looked at me like he’d been insulted. “I think I can handle making my own.”

I laughed. “You’ve never played D&D before.”

Another look like he’d been insulted. “I’ll learn.”

He settled into his bed and read through the little booklets and soon came to three realizations. First: Most of the information in the books was stuff he already knew. Second: There was no information on how to make his own characters. And third: I would DM for him. It was just more fun that way.

I pulled down our D&D Player’s Handbook and opened it up. We settled onto the couch together but, as my son soon pointed out, he could do it himself. Not long afterwards he announced. “I’m going to be an really old dragonborn rogue named Old Sorewing. His clan was destroyed, but he saved all the kids from the clan and brought them with him to Neverwinter. That’s the city that the adventure starts in, Mom. His old clan was called the Dogbone Fliers. But he made the dragonborn whelps his new clan. They are called the Fishgut Clan, cause they survive on fish they scavenge from the ocean. They live in the sewers, and abandoned buildings and stuff. And Old Sorewing robs and steals to support his whelps. He’s their leader, you know. But, one day he paid a guy named Gundren Rockseeker with fake coins — that’s the guy who hires us in the adventure by the way. And he got caught. And Gundren said that if Old Sorewing didn’t do a job for him he would send the cops after his whelps! And Old Sorewing doesn’t want that! His Clan is his flaw. So he is going to do a job for Gundren. Now find me a character sheet, Mom. And write all that down for me.”

“And here I thought you could do it yourself,” I replied.

MOM,” my son huffed. “Fine. Get me a pencil, too. And an eraser! I will need one of those.”

A few minutes later we were settled at the table, working on his character sheet. My son was surprised at how quick and easy making a character was. He’s used to playing Pathfinder, so in comparison making a D&D character is easy. Sure enough, he stuck with his plan. He made an old dragonborn with white scales who was graying in places. He has a white dragon as his draconic ancestry and can breathe out a cone of cold. He wears fake wings on his back, and a fake tail (to make him look like a real scary dragon!). He chose the criminal background, and took the gear packages that came with his class and background. Old Sorewing is incredibly smart, charismatic, and dextrous, with Strength and Constitution both tied for his lowest stats. He’s trained in Deception, Intimidation, Perception, Persuasion, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth. He fights with a rapier and a shortbow. My son filled in his sheet, draw a picture of his character, and explained his background, flaws, and traits again, so I could write it all down for him.

“Is that it?” he asked.

“Yup, that’s all.”

“That was easy. I like that. But I also kind of don’t. There weren’t many… choices. To make me different from other rogues.”

“Dear, I promise you, Old Sorewing is very different from other rogues. He’s going to be great.”

“Yeah, but only cause of his story and stuff. Don’t I get a feat at least?”

“Nope. No feats. Although you can choose to take one at higher levels instead of increasing an ability score, if you want. You don’t need to worry about that now, though. In a few levels you’ll get to make some more choices for your rogue. That’ll make you feel more unique.”

“Well, alright…” he said, still uneasy with how easy it had been.

“You do have one more job, though, dear,” I pointed out. “Convince your father and sister to make their own characters.”

My son grinned and was off. Convincing my daughter to make a new character is the easiest thing in the world.

“Hey, come make a — ” my son started. But before he had even finished his sentence my daughter cut him off.

She raced to the table shouting, “I heard! I want to make a goblin named Zig who is a bard and wants to help people! I’ll shout, ‘ZIG HELP!’ all the time!” She laughed and leaned over to whisper to me. “I got that idea from the character Zig from that Pathfinder Society Scenario we are playing, Mom. Zig is the BEST!” (Zig is from PFS #10-06: Treason’s Chains)

I laughed and whispered. “I know. We’re all playing it together, remember? But goblins aren’t a playable race in D&D.”

“Well, fine. I’ll be a gnome then. Now get the dice!”

My daughter had a ton of fun making her new character. In the end she decided to make a Forest Gnome Bard Entertainer. Charisma was her best stat, with Dexterity, Constitution, and Intelligence all a close second. Her Wisdom was low, and her Strength was even worse. She chose to be proficient in the mandolin, harmonica, piano, and flute. For skills she chose Animal Handling (of course!), Acrobatics, Performance, Nature, and Survival. For cantrips she selected dancing lights and message (along with minor illusion, which she gets for being a forest gnome). Her first level spells were animal friendship, feather fall, healing word, and speak with animals. She loves the idea of the ritual spells! From there she started filling out her background. She decided that Zig was trained by the fey as a bard and is the youngest bard in gnomish history. She has a pet rabbit named Ziggy, that she loves very much. In fact, the rabbit is the only family she has. What happened to the rest? Tragedy, of course! One day when she was very young, Zig’s grandfather was attacked by a werewolf and barely escaped with his life! Unfortunately, he became a werewolf the next full moon and ate everyone in her whole family! Zig only escaped with the help of her fairy friends! To this day, Zig is terrified of lycanthropes of all kinds (a trait she shares with my daughter).

“But, all that sad stuff is a secret, Mom!” my daughter explained, “Because she doesn’t want to talk about it!”

Fair.

With a bit more work, my daughter decided that Zig loved animals more than anything. She sings songs about animals, in the hopes she can make her audience love them as much as she does. She also sings to animals, which is one of her favourite things to do. If an animal is in danger, Zig will selflessly hurl herself in the way (“Zig save!”) and if she finds out an animal is abused she’ll sneak back later to free it (“Zig free!”). And, of course, Zig loves to help. In fact, she even tries to help when she’s horrible at it. (“Zig help!”).

“I am SO EXCITED!” my daughter shrieked as we finished up her character.

“Me too,” I replied. “She’s going to be a lot of fun.”

My husband was next. He whipped up a half-elf paladin of Kord named Argo Grey. Raised by the priests at the church of Kord in Neverwinter, Argo had a thorough education, but always had a hard time focusing. He was constantly daydreaming of adventure and glory. Although pious, Argo wasn’t meant for book learning. He was meant for sports! He became a competitive athlete, but to this day he needs to stop and reference his holy book whenever he’s asked to recite a prayer or perform a ceremony. As the only half-elf in the church, Argo covered his ears with a bandana, to hide his heritage as a way to better fit in with his peers. It became habit, and he still passes himself off as a human whenever possible. Tying his character into the upcoming adventure, he decided that Argo was once mentored by Sildar Hallwinter, a man who was acting as a guard for Gundren.

Strength, Constitution, and Charisma are all Argo’s highest ability scores, with Dexterity a distant second, average Wisdom, and poor Intelligence. He fights with a longsword and javelins, and wears sturdy chain mail and a shield. He chose the acolyte background, and ended up proficient in Athletics, Insight, Medicine, Perception, Persuasion, and Religion. Like my son, my husband was a little disheartened at the lack of extra options at level one. Although he likes the simplicity and ease with which you can create characters, he also likes making decisions. There wasn’t all that much to fiddle with at level one. Still, he was excited to give Argo a whirl, and looks forward to selecting a fighting style and sacred oath at later levels.

Which left me. Shockingly we had no major arcane caster, which is a role I never get to fill at home, so I decided immediately to take the opportunity to make one. I was going to make a sorceress, but frankly, as a fan of the many different bloodlines available in Pathfinder, having only two options for sorcerer bloodlines wasn’t cutting it for me. Wizards are always fun, but I decided to make a Warlock. It’s not something I’ve made before and I enjoy playing a creepy weirdo now and then. And her race? Dwarf, obviously! It’s one of my favourite races.

I created a hill dwarf named Eldeth, who was once a soldier in the dwarven infantry. She was tasked with escorting a eccentric sage to an old ruin underground. While there she discovered a beautiful green orb, which she felt compelled to claim for her own. Unfortunately, her unit was attacked by duergar and taken captive. While imprisoned, Eldeth had strange visions. Her fellows believed she was going mad. In her dreams the orb was speaking to her, and in one particularly lucid fever dream she accepted its aid. Only it wasn’t a dream. Eldeth had been bound to the orb and it’s fiendish master. In exchange she was granted the power to escape. She returned to her people much changed. She was deathly pale, with dark black veins around her eyes, inner arms, and over her heart. Her irises had turned black, as had her once vibrant hair. They called her Eldeth Darkvein, sole survivor of the Stonton Massacre, and though they were happy she returned home, she made them uneasy. She couldn’t spar with her fellow soldiers — she was too violent. And when she bled her blood came out a thick black ooze. It wasn’t long before she was ‘honourably’ discharged, and went on ‘vacation’ to the surface. Her clan was relieved, but Eldeth had lost her purpose. All she had left was the orb, and her fiendish master, which whispered dark thoughts to her. She hated and loved it, which terrified her. Recently a dwarf she used to know, Gundren Rockseeker, offered her some simple guard work, escorting a caravan from Neverwinter to the tiny town of Phandalin, which she accepted. Few folks would give her work these days, and she needed the coin.

Constitution is Eldeth’s highest ability score, with Strength and Charisma a close second. Her Dexterity is fair, her Intelligence is average, but she’s weak-willed, with a poor Wisdom score. She’s a warlock with a fiendish patron, and the Soldier background. She gained proficiency with Arcana, Athletics, Intimidation, and Investigation, and chose to fight armoured and with her trusty battleaxe. For cantrips she selected eldritch blast (of course!) and prestidigitation. For first level spells she chose hellish rebuke and comprehend languages. Eldeth is power hungry, dour, and intimidating. Traumatized by her time as a prisoner of the duergar, Eldeth is paranoid everyone is out to get her, and terrified of being imprisoned or enslaved. She hopes to one day discover the identity of the demon she accidentally bound herself to, but hasn’t had any luck yet. When she thinks no one is looking she talks to her orb, holding it close and whispering gently.

With all our characters ready to go we sifted through our minis and each picked one out. We were ready to begin the adventure from the D&D Starter Set: Lost Mine of Phandalin. Or rather, everyone was ready but me. I still had to read the adventure.

Thanks for joining us today! Tune in later this week for a review on the contents of the D&D Starter Set, and a campaign update on our first session playing Lost Mine of Phandelver!

Jessica

 

The Mantisbane Pact

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!

Jessica


Beginnings

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.

Taldor
Taldor’s coat of arms. Image courtesy of Paizo Inc.

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…

Red Mantis
Symbol of the Red Mantis Assassins. Image courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Blood.

 

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.

“Kilarra Calvennis?”

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.”

Kyonin
Kyonin, home of the elves. Image courtesy of Paizo Inc.

“Obviously.”

 

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—”

“Crazy.”

“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?”

“Iadara.”

“Where?”

“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!

Want to learn more about Golarion, Taldor, Grand Prince Stavian III, Kyonin, Ilizmagorti, Mediogalti, and the Red Mantis Assassins? Check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The Inner Sea and explore Golarion for yourself! For more information on Taldor you can also check out Pathfinder Companion: Taldor, Echoes Of GloryPathfinder Campaign Setting: Taldor, The First Empire, or play the War for the Crown Adventure Path which begins with Pathfinder Adventure Path 127: Crownfall (War for the Crown 1 of 6).

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.

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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

 

Character Focus: Wacky and Weird

My family and I entered a contest a few weeks ago. Hosted by the overly generous Hmm on Paizo’s message boards, she was going to give away all the boons necessary to create a mermaid in PFS play. There were a few ways to enter — for yourself with a mermaid character concept, for a group of friends with a team created from the other boons she was giving away, or by nominating someone else who you thought deserved to win. My family and I entered together, and were lucky enough to be chosen as one of the winners.

I’ve mentioned this contest before on my blog, and I promised that when our characters were complete I would share them with the world.

That time is now! (Finally! Haha.)

My family and I wanted to make a quartet of characters who are (and were) universally considered outcasts among their people and Golarion at large. They’re weird, and different. But what’s strange for one culture isn’t strange for others, and it’s those very oddities that the others embraced and connected with. After all, who cares if the vanara has unnaturally large eyes, if he’s hanging out with a grippli? These guys are friends, companions, and (in many ways) family. They don’t have the same interests, and they don’t always get along. But, hey? What family does?

My daughter was the first person to create her character. She’s always the first person to do so. Admittedly, I would beat her to it, except I always wait to see what my kids want to make before creating my own character.

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Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Beast contains a variety of character options for catfolk, grippli, kitsune, nagaji, ratfolk, tengu and vanara! For more details you can check out my detailed blog post on the book, or purchase the book for yourself. It’s a fun one!

My daughter made a grippli named Croak. In her original character pitch she had said she was gong to make an energetic, poisonous grippli who fought with a blowgun. She was going to be a ranger with the poison darter archetype (rangers can be found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook, grippli can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide, and the poison darter archetype for rangers can be found in Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Beast). When it came time to make her character and actually get her down on paper, she stuck to it. But, she also added to it. In addition to being a poison darter, she’s chosen to be a skirmisher, which is an archetype for rangers which sacrifices their spellcasting in order to use some nifty tricks a few times each day that can benefit yourself and your companions. This won’t have an effect on her character now, but in the future it definitely will! (The skirmisher archetype for rangers can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player’s Guide).

Croak is incredibly nimble, and rather wise. She’s decent with people and animals, and pretty healthy. She’s not one for book learning, and she’s physically weak. Her final stats are Str 8 / Dex 18 / Con 12 / Int 10 / Wis 16 / Cha 13. As a grippli she’s small, has dark vision, a base speed of 30 feet and a climb speed of 20 feet. She has the ability to camouflage herself while in a swamp, and has no problem travelling in such environments. She speaks Common and Grippli. She was sorely tempted to take the toxic skin variant racial trait, but decided against it. Croak loves to swim, so my daughter didn’t think it made since to give up swamp stride. As a ranger she has the track ability, which she’s excited for. However, she does not have a favoured enemy or wild empathy. These are both abilities she gave up for her archetype. Instead she has poison use, and she secretes a paralytic toxin from her skin which she can use to poison her weapons a few times each day. At higher levels she’ll give up her combat style for rogue talents and give up her hunter’s bond ability for sneak attack that only works with a blowgun.

Now, you might be saying, blowgun? Really? They’re not very good. Well, too bad! My daughter thinks they’re the coolest. She bought a toy one for herself the other day at the local dollar store. I warned her they were tricky to use, but she insisted, and she’s been practising ever since. By now she can get the foam dart to sort of fall out of the blowgun and land on the floor. This is a great improvement from her first few attempts which resulted in the dart moving slightly and staying inside the blowgun. Haha. Admittedly, I’m not much better. As an out of shape asthmatic I can make the dart fly no more than five feet. I’m quite proud of this, actually, as I expected to do much, much worse. (Hooray for low expectations!).

Croak decided to use her favoured class bonus on a special grippli ranger option: she gets a +1 bonus on swim checks. When this bonus hits +8 she also gains a swim speed of 15 feet. She finds this very exciting. She chose to put her skills into acrobatics, climb, diplomacy, perception, perform (song), and swim. She’s also naturally good at stealth and survival, but she did not invest ranks into those skills yet. Perhaps in the future. For traits she chose insider knowledge, which gives her a +1 on diplomacy checks and made diplomacy a class skill. She also chose reckless, which gives her a +1 on acrobatics checks and made acrobatics a class skill. (Insider knowledge can be found in the Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Guide, while Reckless can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Campaign). All things considered, acrobatics turned out to be her best skill, which is just how she wanted it. For her feat she chose agile tongue. This grippli feat allows her to use her tongue to lift light objects, make sleight of hand checks, and perform steal and disarm maneuvers. It also lets her make melee touch attacks, but that won’t have any benefit for her right now. (Agile tongue can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide).

When it came time to buy her equipment, my daughter certainly took her time! Haha. She bought a blowgun with a ton of blowgun darts, a net, and a pair of poisoned sand tubes. But for her melee weapon? Oh, it took forever! Melee is not going to be Croak’s forte. She’s intended to be a close range combatant who stays mobile, and hinders her foes. Her strength score is poor, but she still wanted to be able to have a melee weapon for those times she she gets locked down. The problem? My daughter has no idea what most weapons actually are. She can read their names and statistics, but rarely does she actually know what they look like. There are some she knows, of course: longsword, short sword, dagger, gauntlet, cestus, scimitar, sickle, whip, spear, quarterstaff, net, blowgun, bow, crossbow and darts.  She also sort of knows what a sling is. Or rather, she knows what it is, but she likes slingshots better, so she insists the sling is a slingshot. Not the case, of course, but hey, she’s six. It’s a slingshot! As a ranger she had proficiency in a lot of weapons she didn’t recognize, so we spent some time looking up pictures of each weapon, and even watched some videos of how you use each one in battle. In the end, she chose a light flail for her weapon. She became so enamoured with this dangerous weapon that the same day she was at our local dollar store and bought a blowgun, she also bought a little toy flail that’s perfectly sized for her. She’s been hard at work learning how to swing it without whacking herself in the head. For her armour, she picked out a reinforced tunic. In addition to basic adventuring gear she bought a sunrod, a healing potion, and a few vials of acid.

So who is Croak? What’s she like?

Croak is a beautifully coloured grippli, with bright pink and purple skin. Her big, yellow eyes are so bright they practically glow. Her big wide mouth is always curved up in a happy smile. She wears a bright yellow tunic with a belt made of vines. She has a blowgun on her belt, along with a LOT of darts, some vials, and a light flail. She wears a backpack which she’s drawn on with chalk to make look fancy (it mostly looks messy). She taps her toes while she waits, wiggles her fingers, and flicks her tongue around. She never seems to stop moving.

Croak’s a hyperactive, bouncy little thing that’s constantly moving and talking. She’s impulsive, impatient, and finds it difficult to settle. She loves to climb, swim, and play. She’s a very mobile and acrobatic fighter, cartwheeling, dancing, and diving across the battlefield. This makes her a big target. But, she doesn’t mind! They’ll never catch her! Especially once she’s tangled them up in a net, or poisoned them!

Croak is the funny member of the team. She is naive, and boundlessly optimistic. She looks on the bright side of everything, even if she has to get pretty creative to find that bright side! She’s the team member who keeps everyone moving, and brings a smile on a dour day. She’s their spirit.

Croak grew up in a tribe of grippli who lived in the Mushfens of Varisia. Life there was hard! It required patience, and relied on stealth and camouflage. Croak did not fit in. She was bright, chipper, and NOISY! Plus, she never sat still. After a particularly disastrous fishing expedition involving sixteen butterflies, a rubber ball, a fishing net, and seven very upset grippli, Croak was cast out from her tribe.

It sucked! She was very upset! 

She travelled a lot after that, and had a lot of trouble fitting in. Lots of people thought she was WEIRD. But, in time, she made new friends. They didn’t mind that she never sat still. After all, they were always travelling anyway! And Croak never slowed them down. They didn’t mind that she squirmed around and bounced through the battlefield. She was a very distracting target! They didn’t mind that she talked all the time. They didn’t even mind her singing! Well, okay, maybe they minded her singing. She couldn’t really be sure when she was singing, after all. She was rather loud.

Croak loves to explore nature with her friend Pinesong Rippleroot. She loves to go swimming with her friend Sereia. And she loves to make discoveries in cities with her friend Lomo. 


With my daughter’s character made, we sat down to work on my son’s: Pinesong Rippleroot.

Advanced Race Guide
Aquatic elves, grippli, ratfolk and vanara can all be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide along with a ton of other fun and exotic playable races!

In his original character pitch, my son decided to make an eco-conscious vanara druid with a stumpy tail and hair growth issues. He kept his character concept the same, but while creating his backstory he decided he would have a pet pig. While we explored the druid class and its archetypes together, we also checked out some similarly themed classes, including the shaman, and nature-themed oracles, sorcerers, and witches. Although he loved the idea of a lot of the druid’s abilities, he fell in love with the idea of using his pig as a spirit animal. He debated for a time, but in the end decided that Pinesong Rippleroot would be a shaman. (Vanara can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide. Shamans can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Class Guide, sorcerers can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook, while oracles and witches can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player’s Guide).

Pinesong is incredibly wise and nimble. He’s surprisingly charismatic and friendly. His final statistics are Str 10 / Dex 16 / Con 10 / Int 10 / Wis 16 / Cha 14. As a vanara, he has a thirty foot base speed,  20 foot climb speed, and low-light vision. He’s nimble, and gains a +2 bonus on his stealth and acrobatics checks. Pinesong gave up his prehensile tail ability and instead chose risky troublemaker, which lets him roll twice on his use magic device checks. He speaks Common and Vanaran. As a shaman he forms a bond with a single spirit, which grants him magic spells, abilities, hexes, and other benefits. He also has a magical spirit animal who acts as a conduit between himself and his spirit. My son immediately decided to select the nature spirit. This would grant him some nifty plant and animal themed spells and abilities. Right now it lets him use the spell charm animal as his spirit magic spell, and create little hindering storms around his enemies with the storm burst ability. It also allows his spirit animal (a pig named Cutie Pie) the ability to move through any undergrowth and natural difficult terrain without penalty or harm. Shamans are prepared casters, so for his first adventure he chose to prepare daze, detect magic, stabilize, cure light wounds, and goodberry.

My son chose to invest his skill ranks into acrobatics, climb, knowledge (nature), survival, and use magic device. He’s also naturally good at stealth. There’s a lot more skills he wants to invest in at higher levels, including handle animal, knowledge (arcana), and spellcraft. For traits he selected dangerously curious, which gave him a +1 bonus in use magic device and made it a class skill, as well as reckless (that’s a pretty popular trait in my house!). (Dangerously curious can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Campaign and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player’s Guide). For feats he chose weapon finesse.

When it came time to buy his gear my son knew exactly what he wanted. Pinesong adores fancy, complicated objects, which my son wanted to reflect in his gear choices. He purchased a light crossbow and lamellar cuirass. (Lamellar cuirass can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Equipment and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Combat). Of course, Pinesong also tries to make his own gear — and does a horrible job at it. He uses hand carved wooden stakes for his melee weapon, and wears a braided belt of grass and vines. For his other gear he invested in some basic adventuring equipment, a vial of acid and a flask of holy water.

Pinesong Rippleroot is a chubby, vanara with a bulging tummy, thin white fur, and a short stubby tail. His eyes are much too big, which makes them look like they’re bulging out of his head, but his smile is wide and happy. His hair on the top of his head is styled into an outlandish hair do! It looks very odd! With every breeze his fur moves around, showing off his many bald spots. 

Pinesong wears a belt he fashioned himself from a braided vines and grass. There’s a wooden stake hooked onto it, and a belt pouch. On his back is a crossbow and a backpack, and over his chest he wears some odd looking armour made of little squares that he thought was fascinating! He does not wear pants or shoes.

Pinesong was always a strange vanara. He was born hairless, with massive, bulging eyes, and a short stunted tail. The other vanara thought he was hideously deformed! As he grew it didn’t get any better. His hair never grew in, his tail never got longer, and his eyes? Well, they got bigger, but that just creeped everyone out more. Eventually, the tribe could take it no more and Pinesong (whose birthname is Bug-eye Manycurse) was abandoned. He was still a child then, but he took to life in the forests with enthusiasm. The birds never complained or called him ugly. The bugs never screamed when he came to play with them. The animals became his friends, and the wilds his home. He was happy, and free. In time, Pinesong’s hair did grow in. It’s very thin, and a good breeze shows off his many bald spots, but he’s very proud of it. He keeps it long and refuses to trim it, worried that it won’t grow back. He brushes it all the time and styles it in outlandish hair-dos. His tail is still too short, and never really grew in. He’s also quite chubby and big for a vanara, with a bulging tummy, and a wide, happy, face.

Eventually, Pinesong reached the edge of the woods and found something amazing! A TOWN. They had homes made from dead trees, and could shape the earth into little cute rectangles for making things! Apparently they were called bricks and they were not for throwing. Pinesong was fascinated! He moved in right away, but still finds the ways of the city strange. He doesn’t understand why they get mad when he sleeps on rooftops. Or why they greet him with shrieks and screams. His concepts of ownership are, admittedly, in need of some work. They offered him a home at this place with barred windows, but he got bored so he left. They didn’t like that very much. He loves trying to build beautiful things like the city folk do, but he’s horrible at it. His inventions always malfunction and break, usually causing him to hurt himself. A minor price to pay for mastering a craft! 

In time, Pinesong made some great friends. There was a grippli who was delightfully exciting! She thought his big eyes were beautiful, which made him blush all the way to the tips of his wonderfully styled fur. There was an elf who could breathe water! A feat he’d like to accomplish one day! And there was a ratfolk who knew the many intricacies of city life which so eluded him. 

One day he found a little pig who was being chased by naughty children with sticks! Pinesong swooped in to save the pig, and he hasn’t left his side since. He’s decided to call the pig ‘Cutie Pie.’ Pinesong loves his curly little tail and his happy squeals. Pinesong was very surprised to find that Cutie Pie is magical! When he asks Cutie Pie for magical power, nature listens, and the magic flows up into Cutie Pie and into Pinesong. It’s pretty cool!

Despite his newfound fascination with city-life, Pinesong cares deeply for the natural world. He wants to protect the many animals, plants, and delicate eco-systems of Golarion. He has a soft spot for lost things, foundlings, and orphans of all kinds. He’s a happy fellow, with a jolly, screeching laugh. He’s a bit oblivious to the intricacies of society, and the cultures around him, but loves learning about such things. He’s constantly trying to make friends, even though most people are creeped out or irritated by him. Despite his goofy demeanour, Pinesong is uncommonly wise, and his group of friends often turn to him for advice, comfort, healing, and guidance.


I chose to make an aquatic elf by the name of Sereia whose curiosity got her abandoned on the surface. (Aquatic elves can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide, while extra class options for them can be found in Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Sea). I had originally intended to make Sereia an arcanist. I’ve never had a chance to make an arcanist before, and I was quite excited for the chance.

When I sit down to make characters I come up with a character concept first, then I browse through all the different classes and archetypes that I think might work for them and take notes on which ones I like, why, and how that class choice would affect my character concept. Sereia was no different. As I went through arcanist and a bunch of other casting classes, I decided two extra important things: she would have poor charisma and use a trident. Arcanists sort of need charisma, so I had a bit of an issue. In addition, both of my children had chosen ranged options, and I knew we’d be in need of a melee fighter of some sort. In the end, I decided to make Sereia a magus. It blended my arcane magic with some decent combat capabilities in a way that I enjoy. In addition, I don’t have a magus in PFS play (although I do have a ranged magus in a different play-by-post), so I was excited to get the chance to use one. Arcanist will have to wait for another time. Again. (Poor arcanist!). I decided to give her the hexcrafter archetype.  The hexes would which would give her some fun ranged options and, in terms of flavour, Sereia believes herself to be cursed. I liked the idea of reflecting that in her class choices. (The magus and the hexcrafter can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Magic).

Blood of the Sea
Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Sea includes class options and racial traits for a wide variety of aquatic races, including the aquatic elf.

Sereia is smart and strong. She’s nimble — though not nearly as much as her companions — and is relatively healthy. She’s impulsive, and prone to acting before thinking. She’s unused to interacting with surface races. Her final statistics are Str 16 / Dex 14 / Con 12 / Int 16 / Wis 10 / Cha 8. As an aquatic elf she’s amphibious, has a base speed of 30 feet, and a swim speed of thirty feet. She’s a naturally gifted arcane caster, and has keen senses. She took the deep sea dweller alternate race trait which gives her dark vision and cold resistance at the expense of low-light vision and her elven immunities. She speaks Aquan, Common, Celestial, and Elven. As a magus she has an arcane pool, spellbook, cantrips, and the spell combat ability. Her archetype adds a variety of curse spells to her spell list, although at the moment she only has brand in her spellbook. At higher levels she’ll also gain access to a variety of witch hexes. The level one spells I chose to add to her spellbook include colour spray, grease, hydraulic push, obscuring mist, shield, and shocking grasp.

I had such a wide array of skills I wanted Sereia to be able to use that I had a hard time narrowing it down. In the end I invested skill ranks into disable device, knowledge (arcana), linguistics, perception, spellcraft, and swim. At her next level up she will diversify a lot, spreading out her ranks to a wide variety of new skills. I chose to give her criminal (disable device) and observant (perception) for her traits, and arcane strike for her feat. In addition to basic adventuring gear I bought her a trident, darts, a few vials of acid, leather armour, and thieve’s tools.

Sereia is a calm and proud aquatic elf with blue skin, long white hair, and a wiry frame. Constantly hot and feeling like typical surfacer clothes are suffocating her, Sereia wears as little clothes as possible to remain ‘decent’ in public. Typically this consists of tiny, tight shorts, a crop top, a belt, sandals and a backpack. While on missions she adds leather armour. She wears golden earrings, and an elaborate golden hair piece — ancient Azlanti relics she scavenged herself on an expedition made before she was cursed. She also wears a thick necklace of shell and coral which her sister made her many years ago. In her hands she carries an elaborate trident.

Sereia is descended from a long line of aquatic elf explorers who ply ancient, sunken ruins in search of relics. The exploration of these locations, and the handling and care of the treasures and lore found within is considered a great honour. However, her people take great pride in knowing when a dangerous ruin, or powerful artifact should be left untouched, and unsullied. Insatiably curious, Sereia revelled in the joy of discovery, and earned a place of respect among her people. For a time. For Sereia’s greatest strength was also her weakness. She was too curious. Too ambitious. Too bold. And it was her downfall. When her exploration team discovered a ruin marked with ominous sigils, they labelled it taboo. Off limits. But Sereia forged ahead. She discovered a strange pearl on an altar, literally pulsing with magical energy. Where others would have backed down, she reached out… and touched it.

Her world fell apart.

The pearl transported her to a strange place where the seafloor was hard, and the oceans were hot air that burned and cracked her skin. She could breathe — thank the gods! — but swimming was off limits with water nowhere in sight. She learned to walk, an exhausting experience, for never before had her body felt so heavy. 

And there, on the surface of Golarion, Sereia faced a harsh reality. She had been reckless. She had broken taboos. She had been banished by her own foolishness. Even if she found her way home, she would not be welcome. Not without penance. She needed a great offering for her people. An ancient relic that belonged under the waves, which she could return to her people with pride. And so she set out to acquire such a prize, and — impossibly — find her way home.

Sereia is calm, proud, ambitious, and bold. She’s insatiably curious, and deeply interested in relics, history, and exploration. Since her recklessness brought her to the surface, Sereia believes herself to be cursed by her ancestors or her people’s gods. She was distant and aloof for a very long time, and still seems to be among strangers.  She tries to temper her recklessness and curiosity by ponderously thinking things through. A strategy much harder to use since she befriended her strange new friends.

Sereia joined the Pathfinder Society as an excavator and a scholar. She went on missions, but made few friends. She was aloof, and distant. Her fellow agents found her strange — particularly her habit of eating everything raw. She never sought companionship, but in time, it found her. 

She met a grippli as curious as she was, who made no effort to reel in her excitement and urges. She met a vanara with a respect for the natural world as deep as her own. And she met a ratfolk who didn’t seem to care he had no place in the world. They befriended her. Changed her. Inspired her. And, in time, she changed them. She sponsored their entry into the Pathfinder Society, and now they work together as a single, very strange, team. With their help, the ancient relic Sereia needs in order to return home has never been closer. 

And she’s never wanted it less. 

For, what need was there to earn a prize to return home, when she had a family right here in Absalom?


My husband went last. He usually does. It takes him a long time to decide not only on what he’s going to be, but also to come up with some engaging, fun quirks that will keep him interested in his character. In his original character pitch he decided to make a nimble ratfolk shifter name Lomo who chews on everything (including magical objects). He’s stayed very close to that concept. He’s a shifter with the mouse aspect (which will look like a rat in play). (Ratfolk are from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide, while the shifter is available in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Wilderness). He’s incredibly nimble. He’s also quite cunning, intelligent, and hardy. His final statistics are Str 10 / Dex 18 / Con 12 / Int 13 / Wis 14 / Cha 10.

s-l300
The shifter class can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Wilderness.

As a ratfolk, Lomo is slow, but has darkvision. He’s good with rats, and enjoys tinkering with stuff. He gave up his swarming racial trait to instead have bulging cheek pouches that he likes to hide tasty bits and bobs in. As a shifter he has sharp retractable claws, wild empathy, and (as previously mentioned) the mouse minor aspect, which gives him evasion. He chose the feat weapon finesse, and intends to take shifter’s edge feat tree in the future. He’s a nimble, scrappy shifter, not a bruiser.

Lomo invested skill ranks into acrobatics, climb, knowledge (nature), perception, and stealth. For traits he chose ratfolk avenger, a trait from Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea Races which gives him +1 damage against enemies he’s seen attack his companions. He’s very protective of his friends! He also chose sacred touch.

Lomo is a rough looking ratfolk with thick gray fur, bright beady eyes, and soft ears. His cheeks bulge out, as if filled with something, and he nibbles on the end of a fancy looking stick. His long hairless tail is crooked from a magical mishap suffered long ago. 

Lomo is the eldest son of a powerful and well-respected wizard. His father once took great pride in passing on his magical teachings and excellence to Lomo, who proved completely and totally ungifted in the arcane arts. Disappointed in his son’s failure, Lomo’s father gave up on him, and began training Lomo’s younger brother instead. Jealous, Lomo spent his nights sneaking into his father’s arcane laboratory and library, desperately trying to make the various wands and magical devices work. He failed. A lot. In frustration he gnawed on the objects he failed to activate. A horrible trait which eventually became habitual. To this day Lomo’s constantly chewing on things — including valuable magical objects. One night he found himself chewing on a powerful artifact of his fathers, which crumbled to pieces in his mouth. Horrified and unable to fix it, Lomo set off to find someone who could. 

He left with his friend, Croak, and eventually became companions with Pinesong and Sereia. When Sereia offered to sponsor their entry into the Pathfinders, the trio took her up on her offer. Now the group works together. He’s become very protective of them and, whenever they’re hurt, he tends to shriek “OH, NO YOU DIDN’T!” and go a little… feral.

Lomo desperately wants to be a member of the Dark Archives, but keeps getting turned down. They won’t let him anywhere near the relics. Still, he’s hopeful he’ll not only get in, but he’ll come to lead them one day! Despite his troubles with the Dark Archive, Lomo’s a good Pathfinder Agent. He’s nosy, curious, and good at getting into places he shouldn’t.

Lomo is a nimble, scrappy ratfolk who is constantly gnawing on things — particularly magical objects. He’s greedy,  nosy, and a little self-centred — but not obviously so. He tries to be friendly, but it always comes off a bit desperate and awkward. He’s the street-wise member of the group. Lomo knows how the world works and how to get by in it.


And that’s our quirky crew! Together they would do…. stuff! But, that’s not it. In the contest we could choose to write a song for bonus points, which we did. Songs and poetry are not my forte. I love to sing (badly), play the piano (I’m not very good), and dance (with my family). And yes, a lot of the time I burst into spontaneous songs made up off the top of my head. But that doesn’t mean they’re any good. They’re usually jokes, or lullabies, or just a song about my kids, or what we’re doing. Writing a song is outside of my comfort zone. But, we went for it. My son wanted to add jokes into the song, and my daughter wanted it to have a lot of animal sounds (since we were nearly all animal people of one kind or another). And I just… sort of tried to put it together.

Our song’s a mess. Which is exactly how it should be. It’s a song written by Croak the grippli, and sung by the whole team. But, like any group of friends, a song’s not just a song. It’s interspersed with conversation, heckling, and a fair amount of confusion! It’s a song, but it’s also them singing it. Enjoying it. And messing it up. It’s a work in progress that will never be perfect. And even if it could be, they wouldn’t want it that way.


A super wonderful amazing song…

Everyone:
Croak! Croak! Oo! Oo! Ee!
We like swamps and we like trees!
Whee! Wahoo! Sniffle scrounge!
We like to play and we like to lounge!

Croak: “Wait! What? I don’t like to lounge! That’s boring!”
Lomo: “Nothing wrong with sitting still once in a while, Croak.”
Sereia: “Sniffle? Is someone sick?”
Croak: “Nope! That’s Lomo! His nose twitches like crazy.”
Lomo: “Hey! I’m not some hound dog, ya’ know!”
Pinesong: “Mmm… Treeeees… Oh, yeah! I love a good climb!”
Sereia: “Oh, dear. I’m not sure I can climb a tree. My limbs are far too heavy to — “
Croak: “Come on! Back to the song guys!”

Everyone:
Boing! Boing! Ribbit! Croak! Croak! Croak!
Time to splash and time to soak!
Nibble Nibble! Whisper! Sing!
We love adventure! What will the tomorrow bring?

Sereia: “We should call ourselves the Children of the Waves.”
Croak: “Waves? The swamp doesn’t have waves! Let’s call ourselves the Bog Jumpers!”
Sereia: “Bog? Ugh, that water’s filthy.”
Pinesong: “It’s not filthy! Bog’s are a very important eco-system, you know.”
Lomo: “Yeah, yeah. For bugs and junk, maybe. Let’s call ourselves The Rat Kings!”
Croak: “Kings? I want to be Queens!”
Sereia: “Rat Queens? That’s taken already, dear.”
Pinesong: “Aaaaand, cue the finale!”

Everyone:
Chitter, chatter! Talk, talk, talk!
We swim, we climb, we dance and walk!
We’re all different. We’re not the same.
But we’re all friends!

Croak: “Something, something… aim?”
Pinesong: “That’s not it! Think of something else… tame? blame?”
Sereia: “I don’t like any of those words. Let’s think positive.”
Lomo: “Pfft! Songs don’t have to rhyme! Conformity’s lame.”
Croak: “That did rhyme.”
Lomo: “Nope. Definitely didn’t.”
Sereia: “It certainly did.”
Pinesong: “I’ve got it! Everybody smile!?”

Frieeeeeeeends!

Croak: “Wow! Great job! That was an awesome ending!
Sereia: “The end is where we’re supposed to stop talking, dear.”
Croak: “Stop? Aww, shucks! I’ll stop when —“
Lomo: *nibble nibble*
Sereia: “Are you chewing on a stick?” *GASP* “Spit that wand out this instant!”
Lomo: “Hey, if it ain’t meant for chewing, its shouldn’t taste this good.”
Sereia: “No respect for history…”

(Note: The Rat Queens are an amazing fantasy comic book series which you should definitely read! It is by far my favourite comic book currently in print. Scratch that. It’s my favourite comic book EVER. So good! Be forewarned: it is not intended for children. The Rat Queens begins with Rat Queens: Volume 1: Sass & Sorcery.)


Despite singing about naming our group, they’re perpetually nameless. I highly doubt they’ll ever agree on a name for themselves.

So what’s this weird, wacky, nameless team up to?

We were lucky enough that a fellow play-by-poster offered to run us through our inaugural mission as Pathfinders! We’ll be starting Heroes for Highdelve online on Paizo’s website soon.

At the request of our GM, and in order to better link ourselves to the plot line of Heroes for Highdelve, each of us decided on a reason we were heading there, and something that we were seeking. Shockingly (not) my daughter managed to make hers include rabbits.

One day, Croak found a toy store that sold stuffed rabbits. Croak thought they were beautiful! So she bought one! But, she had trouble deciding which one was the prettiest so she bought a lot! She put them in her waterproof bag — so they wouldn’t get wet — and went about her business in town with Lomo. She danced and played, and climbed on roofs and wagons — and got scolded by the people who owned those things. Then she reached for a rabbit toy to play with it. BUT IT WAS GONE! Somewhere along the way Croak had put down the bag! She looked everywhere for it  and asked all kinds of people. Eventually she realized she had left it on top of a carriage! Croak tried to track down the carriage, but it was too fast! Adventure awaits! Croak has been following the wagon’s trail and tracked it to Highdelve. She hopes to find the carriage and get back her bag of stuffed rabbits! Who know what will happen along the way!

Pinesong recently helped out at an animal shelter, where he found homes for a variety of animals. Happy he was so helpful, Pinesong went out around town to check on the pets. Unfortunately, one of the people he sold some pigs to turned out to be a merchant who was on his way to Highdelve to sell the pigs to a butcher shop! Pinesong knows that people tend to eat meat, but those pigs were NOT for eating! They were for lovng! Pinesong has set out to stop the salesman from selling the pigs at the fair in Highdelve! (Or, to at least ensure they get sold to someone who won’t eat them!)

Sereia has recently been searching for a coral idol of Gozreh which was fished up out of a ruin off the coast of Andoran by an elderly fisherman. The idol was sold a few times before it got in the hands of an antiquities smuggler by the name of Jacobi. Always a few steps behind the idol, Sereia hopes to catch up the the smuggler in Highdelve so she can acquire the idol before it is sold. And, if she’s too late, she’s hopeful she can at least get the name of the person Jacobi sold the relic to.

While Lomo’s in Highdelve with his friends, he hopes to find a magical craftsman capable of fixing his father’s artifact. Having been let down before, he’s not hopeful.

Unbeknownst to Lomo his father’s artifact is, and always has been, a fake. It can’t be fixed, because it was never magical in the first place. And if it was? Well, obviously it would have taken something stronger than his teeth to break it. If only Lomo had paid a bit more attention to his father’s lessons…


NOW that’s it. The end.

Or, is it the beginning?

Either way, we’ve had a blast.

Thanks for joining us on d20diaries. I hope you have the opportunity to find a gaming group as great and fun-loving as I have.

All the best,

Jessica

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Character Focus: Doomsday Dawn

With the release of Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, we’re more than a little busy around my house. I took some time to learn the new rules and play around with the character creation process. I made myself three different characters to use via play-by-post. One is a gnomish bard by the name of Amberly Tam, a musical Pathfinder who will have the pleasure of playing through the three PFS Playtest Scenarios. The second is a half-elven esoteric scion alchemist who desperately longs to be a member of the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, like her father and grandfather before her. Her name is Neferet Velaketra, and she’s going to be playing through Doomsday Dawn. My final character is a dwarven mind quake survivor cleric who worships the goddess Desna. Her name is Joliryn Starsoul, and she’s more than a little… controversial among her kin. In addition to loving the open sky, a desperate desire to take flight and travel the stars, and her devotion to Desna, Joliryn has unwavering faith that her ancestor’s Quest for Sky is incomplete! After all, they still live underground. And really, when it comes down to it, surely they’re meant to be among the stars! (She’s more than a little eccentric!). Joliryn is also going to be playing through Doomsday Dawn.

Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook
Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook. Also available as a free download on Paizo’s website.

Once I had the hang of making characters I took the time to teach my family, by walking them through making their first character. And that is the topic of our blog today.

My family has every intention of playing through Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn and all three (eventually all four) of the Pathfinder Playtest Society Scenarios. That means we’re going to be using and testing a lot of characters. But, the first adventure we knew we would be playing was Doomsday Dawn. So with out digital copies of the Playtest Rulebook and Doomsday Dawn in hand, we got to work.

My daughter went first. She had been the most excited for the new rules. She sat beside me while it downloaded literally bouncing in glee. Unfortunately, we had download problems, so as we watched the estimated download time got from 2 minutes, to ten minutes, to four hours, to a day and a half, I told her to go on and play. The download didn’t actually take that long. I tried a bunch of different things, fiddled with it for an hour, and eventually it decided that really, the download would only take another hour. Still, that’s a brutal download time! Especially since it can download for most people in under a minute. Painful! When it finally worked my daughter was right beside me asking to see all the new pictures. Therefore, she got the honour of first character choice.

Deciding a race was easy. She was tempted to make a gnome, but a moment later saw the goblin entry and she was sold. She adores playing goblins. In fact, she has a goblin fighter who rules a tribe known as the ‘Smartheads.’ (You be smart or you be dead!) Admittedly allowing her to GM the goblin characters once on the way to school sent our run of We Be Goblins so far off track we never bothered trying to get it back on the road. Instead we revel in its absurdity.

So, a goblin she would be! Named Samantha! But what kind? She picked out the ‘rough rider’ ancestry feat, which gave her the ‘ride’ feat, and a +1 bonus on Nature checks made to handle goblin dogs or wolves. She decided that she would purchase a pet goblin dog, and learn to ride it into battle! She decided to be chaotic good, and that she had blue skin. Therefore she would name her goblin dog ‘Bloois.’ She would have to pick the goblin renegade background, of course. That granted her the quick repair feat and Criminal Lore as a trained skill. But what class? She glanced at only a few before she decided on being an alchemist. She finalized her ability scores and ended up with Str 10 / Dex 16 / Con 12 / Int 16 / Wis 12 / Cha 12. Happy with that, she applied her class. She had great fun ticking off all the little ‘trained’ boxes, particularly in regard to her skills. She chose to be trained in acrobatics, crafting, medicine, nature, and survival. In addition to gaining ‘advanced alchemy,’ and ‘studied resonance,’ she also got a formula book, in which she chose to learn the formulas for minor elixir of life, acid, cheetah’s elixir, and tanglefoot bags. Then we had to pick out her alchemist feat. We started to read through them, but the moment we hit ‘Alchemical Familiar’ (which is the first feat, by the way) she shrieked:

“THAT’S IT! I WILL MAKE A RABBIT FROM MY ALCHEMY! IT WILL BE NAMED BLOO-EY!”

She was very excited. And so Samantha, Blooey and Bloois would set out into the world of… shopping!

She bought a gauntlet — which would allow her to keep her hands free for both controlling her mount and crafting alchemical substances in a fight. She also bought a blowgun and some darts to go with it. She’d need alchemist’s tools, of course, and riding tack for her goblin dog. Necessities like a backpack, belt pouch, bedroll, rope, tent and so on. She also invested in a lot of caltrops, which she was determined to have fun with. Lastly, she bought a chain shirt. She was good to go.

I taught her how to add up all of her modifiers and what ‘trained,’ ‘untrained’ and so on meant for her stats, and she got right to work filling out all the rest of the sheet by herself. She did an awesome job! Honestly, she probably learned and understood the character creation process better than anyone else I’ve taught so far. She’s six, so that’s more than a little impressive. Haha.

We settled in to make her familiars stats in finished in under five minutes. It was super simple! Honestly, the rules for familiars were so streamlined, but adaptable, that it was a joy. Great job, Paizo! I approve!

And we were done! All told, Making Samantha, Blooey and Bloois took about two hours from start to finish, with gear taking about a third of that.

As I moved on to help her brother with his character she drew me a picture of her character and their pets, and then a wonderful little sign. I’ve taken a picture of it so I could share it with all of you.

We Be (Good) Goblins

Safe to say she’s excited about the inclusion of goblins as a core race.

She’s not the only one. My son’s just as excited but, since his sister already snagged goblins, he decided to go with his favourite race: the eccentric gnome.

My son’s gnome is named Zan. He’s a neutral good druid with a deep love for nature. My son is a budding environmentalist, so he took great care acting out his love of nature, the environment and animals the entire time that we played. He even hopped up from his chair to chant out his spells and wave his arms around like a leaf on the wind. For his ancestry feat he chose ‘animal accomplice,’ which lets him befriend an animal as a familiar. He choose a tiny badger and named him ‘Badger.’ Not only does Badger speak and understand druidic, he can also fly. My son is overjoyed. He finalized his ability scores as Str 8 / Dex 12 / Con 14 / Int 12 / Wis 18 / Cha 14.

As a druid he’s a primal spellcaster. He’s a prepared caster, so for our first adventure he chose to prepare the cantrips disrupt undead, produce flame, stabilize, and tanglefoot. For level one spells he chose to prepare heal and heal. Solid choices! And boy, oh boy, did we end up really needing those heal spells! Such a lifesaver. That said, produce flame turned out to be his go-to attack method of choice. He loved it.

As a druid, Zan has wild empathy, and also got to join a druidic order. My son had a tough time deciding between the Animal and Leaf orders. In the end, he went with Leaf. This granted him an anathema, and training in diplomacy. He gained a spell pool with a single spell power: goodberry. Which was AWESOME. He loved it. We loved it. It was great. He also got the druid feat: ‘Leshy Familiar.’ He was thrilled. But that raised the question: can you have more than one familiar? it was possible, clearly. My son had done it accidentally. But was it allowed? It states under animal companion that you can only have one, but it does not say that under familiar. Familiar’s have the minion trait, so we read up on that, but it didn’t limit it to one, either. After a great deal of digging we turned up nothing that forbade it, so I let him make a vine leshy and away we went. He gave his vine fleshy the ability to fly, climb, and speak and understand druidic. My son was positively thrilled. Literally over the moon.

He chose to be trained in crafting, medicine, nature, survival, and thievery, and then got to work buying his gear. In addition to standard adventuring supplies he invested in a sickle, leather armour, primal focus, artisan’s tools, thieve’s tools, and a basic crafting book which would allow him to make any mundane gear during his downtime. It was very important to my son that his druid be self-sufficient!

Then we rolled up his familiars — again, a simple process — and he was done. Zan, Badger and Leshy were ready to their adventures!

Overall, it took my son about the same amount of time to make his character as it did my daughter. He caught on about as fast as his sister, but where she gleefully ticked off the boxes and did her own math, he complained until his little sister finished filling out the math for him. Cheeky thing. Haha.

Finally, it was time to help out my husband. Knowing we were sorely lacking a melee combatant, he decided to make a dwarf by the name of Toran Goldbrew. He’s a strong fellow, with final ability scores of Str 18 / Dex 14 / Con 14 / Int 12 / Wis 12 / Cha 8. Sadly that meant his resonance would be a big old zero. Haha. Fortunately, he had nothing to spend resonance on anyway, so it worked out alright for him.

As a dwarf Toran gained the unburdened ability and one ancestry feat. My husband wavered between a few of them, but ended up choosing weapon familiarity so he could wield a dwarven waraxe. He chose the background ‘Pathfinder Hopeful’ which granted him the feat ‘extra lore.’ That left him trained in Pathfinder Lore and Sports Lore! Haha. Toran’s a blast.

So what class would Toran be? Barbarian, of course! This granted him the ‘rage’ ability (which you can use an unlimited number of time per day, by the way), a totem, and a class feat. He loved the idea of barbarian totems and ended up having a tough time choosing one. In the end he went with the giant totem, which gave him the snazzy ‘titan mauler’ ability. This lets him use a large weapon in battle (among other things). This also determines his anathema — which is turning down a challenge of strength, in case you’re curious. For his barbarian feat he chose ‘sudden charge,’ which is a two action ability that lets him take two move actions and a strike! Very handy!

When it came time to choose his trained skills he decided upon acrobatics, athletics, crafting and intimidation. Along with his large dwarven waraxe — which once belonged to his ancestor who they say was a dwarf ‘larger than life’ — Toran purchased darts and a breastplate. In addition to basic adventuring gear he bought a grappling hook, and artisan’s tools. Then it was time to fill in all the final math on his sheet. Switching to the new method turned out to be confusing for him, but as I tried to explain it my daughter cut me off.

“No, Mom! I will teach Dad!”

And she did.

It was absolutely adorable.

With our characters made we set out to play Doomsday Dawn. Unfortunately, Toran Goldbrew didn’t survive. There was a perfect point to have him brought back to life, though, which we took advantage of (Praise Pharasma!) But, with his character technically dead and being remade for the next time he’s used, my husband decided to make some changes. He’s no longer have the giant totem. Instead, he would use the spirit totem. Death proved a little traumatizing.

Sounds fair.

Overall, we had a great time making our characters. The creation system was easy to use and allowed for a lot of customization. My husband particularly liked the ancestry traits, and that each class offers different paths of specialization. My daughter was thrilled to see goblins as a core race. And my son? Familiars! He loves them.

I hope you enjoyed taking a peek into the creation processes of my family’s first Pathfinder Playtest Characters. We certainly had fun making them

Have you made characters of your own? Let me know about them in the comments!

Until then!

Jessica

 

Character Focus: The Tangletops

Hello everyone!

GiftsWe just finished up a wonderfully busy long weekend! In addition to celebrating Canada Day, playing The Shackled City Adventure Path, and Heroscapes, we also celebrated my wedding anniversary. After nine years of marriage and eleven years together, my husband and I couldn’t be happier. Wow, it’s passed in a flash! Curious what I got for my anniversary? Jewelry, flowers, something romantic? Nope! Something way better! My husband and kids got me The Shannara Chronicles: Season 1 (which is awesome so far), the Iron Gods Dice Set, and a the Pathfinder Battles: Iconic Heroes Set 5. Can you say ‘spoiled’? As for my husband, my kids and I picked him up a Magic The Gathering Fat Pack for Dominaria! There were all kinds of goodies in there!  I’m curious to see what he makes from it.

But, enough about my family. Today we’re going to talk about another family: the Tangletops!

Who?

So glad you asked!

During the recent OutPost convention my children made their second Pathfinder Society characters. My husband didn’t. He wasn’t sure how much he would enjoy play-by-post gaming, so he waited. But, AFTER OutPost? Ah! He wanted more. My husband made a total of three characters after that, two of which he really enjoys, and one of which he decided needs some work. One of the ones that really clicked was a strange gnome by the name of Toban Tangletop.

Toban is an experienced gnome with an eclectic past. He’s travelled the world, and tried his hand at nearly everything he could. In time, he came to worship Shelyn, the goddess of art, beauty and love. He also developed a complete and total obsession… with food. Toban became a chef who creates art through fantastic meals. He drew on his vast experiences to make fusion food, drawing on traditions throughout Golarion. Toban is always looking for rare ingredients and new recipes. Toban enjoys cooking for friends and strangers alike. He is not shy and is prone to approaching strangers and cooking them a meal unlike any other! Toban is adventurous in his cooking and willing to try new exotic foods. Because of this Toban has developed a strong stomach. Every meal and tasty treat he creates is a holy communion with his goddess, Shelyn.

Toban is short even for a gnome. He is barely over 3 feet tall and weighs 37 pounds. Toban has a rather large bottom lip that flaps when he speaks. He has black hair and a wildly long moustache. When Toban is in thought he often taps a finger on the bottom of his lip which makes a popping sound. He wears flamboyant leather clothes and a spectacularly over-the-top tophat which clashes with the rest of his clothes. He carries his cooking supplies with him wherever he goes.

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Read more about inquisitors, as well as five other base classes, in the Advanced Player’s Guide.

Mechanically, Toban is a gnome inquisitor of Shelyn who works for the Grand Lodge Faction. He selected the protection domain. He uses his divinely gifted magic to heal wounds, and understand foreign languages. He’s quite old, but uses his vast experience of the world to his advantage, so he chose ‘breadth of experience’ as his first feat, which is honestly one that we LOVE in my household. To better represent his adventuresome eating habits he took ‘resilient’ as a trait. He also took ‘weathered emissary’ to help him in learning new languages.

Toban’s a knowledgable fellow, and an amazing chef. But, he strongly cares about using fresh ingredients, so he’s also good at perception and survival. Although he tries to make friends, his eccentricity can sometimes get in the way.

In battle, Toban always to gives humanoids a chance to surrender and repent, believing that death ends all chances for that person to create beauty. A tragedy! When forced into battle he uses a fine glaive, or his cooking knife. He can also hurl globs of acid at his enemies. He carries acid vials, holy water, and smokesticks, wears studded leather armour. He also carries plenty of healing scrolls, and recently picked up a healing wand. His wayfinder hangs around his neck, while his backpack is overflowing with cooking equipment.

So far, Toban has completed a single scenario: #5-08: The Confirmation. He’s currently working his way through #7-10: The Consortium Compact, alongside “Scaredy’ Sir Lansle Eine, Lady Naysha, and a few other colourful characters.

But, perhaps the strangest thing about Toban, is his family.


My daughter had the chance to play alongside Toban during his confirmation with her character, Lady Naysha. She thought he was hilarious! A day or so earlier she had been begging me to let her make a third Pathfinder Society character so she could play more play-by-posts, and I had relented. She’d been stewing over character ideas for days. She was pretty sure she wanted to play someone who could be a melee character, which is a role my daughter very, very, VERY rarely tries to fill. Fighter? Barbarian? Monk? She couldn’t decide.

That night we watched some Bleach on Netflix and my daughter saw Ururu fight for the first time. No idea what I’m talking about? You can see a short video of it on youtube here.

My daughter thought it was amazing.

“Mom! That little girl is just like me!”

She held up her tiny little fists and showed me her ‘fighting stance.’ Then threw a little punch that would flatten a fly — if my daughter had better aim — but not much else. When she tries to punch my daughter also lets out a little squeak of effort, which makes her ‘fierce’ attempts at battle the cutest and funniest thing you’ll see. It should be noted, she’s the same proportions as Ururu, tall and skinny with slender little arms and tiny fists.

“I’m just a little girl, Mom. But, I am pretty strong you know!”

She threw a few more punches accompanied by some squeaks.

I smiled.

After the episode was over my daughter announced quite proudly that she had figured out what she was going to make. It would be a little girl fighter, just like her and Ururu. A little girl who fought with her fists and was a monk. Except she wasn’t a girl! She was a girl gnome! She would be Toban’s sister, and she would act like a shy, scared little girl. Until battle! Then she’d say something like ‘Please don’t hurt me! I am just a little girl’ before punching them in the stomach really hard! “She is not a weak little girl, Mom! She is strong! And also a big LIAR! She will try to trick people all the time!”

My daughter then showed us a demonstration of her character’s fighting style, which involves some fine little punches and a lot of squeaking.

Very proud of herself, we pulled out the rulebooks and got to work.

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Monks can be found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook, along withall the rules you need to play Pathfinder!

She decided that her character would be named Rosie. Rosie Tangletop. She would be Toban’s sister. Even though she is a gnome, she looks like a little girl. She has brown hair done up in pig tails, big brown eyes and a big happy smile. She wears a little pink cotton dress, stretchy little shorts, and comfy shoes. She keeps her eyebrows trimmed to better help her blend in with human children. She’s tall for a gnome and very slender and frail looking. She acts shy and meek. She would be a monk, of course.

After some reading and planning, she decided that Rosie carries no weapons at all. Instead, she gave her ‘throw anything’ as her monk bonus feat. She also invested in some vials of acid and a holy water. For her regular feat she ended up settling on weapon focus (unarmed strike). Rosie’s good at physical skills — acrobatics, climb, and stealth — as well as bluff. She’s hoping to invest in disguise at her next level up, but couldn’t afford to from the start. Why? Well, Rosie would use those skills to become trained in Handle Animal and Profession Cook!

Rosie picked up a love of cooking from her brother and, even though she doesn’t worship Shelyn (or any god for that matter), she is a well-trained chef who makes artistic culinary creations. She’s prone to making the food she’s served ‘better’ by pulling out her cooking tools and ingredients at the dinner table and spontaneously making a custom sauce to enhance the meals she’s been served. Then she cleans up and shares her additions with everyone else present.

As for handle animal? My daughter loves rabbits. She decided that Rosie had a pet rabbit that she purchased from an animal breeder and fellow Pathfinder, Bunny Paras. Rosie named the rabbit Lily, and keeps her in a familiar satchel when on missions. She took the trait ‘animal friend’ which gives Rosie a bonus on will saves as long as she keeps her rabbit nearby, and made handle animal a class skill.

Rosie also took the trait ‘loyalty’ and the alternate race trait ‘vivacious’ which helps her recover faster at the expense of the gnome spell-like abilities.

All in all, Rosie Tangletop is a sneaky little thing. She looks meek, but she packs quite a punch. She’s currently working her way through Scenario #6-10: The Wounded Wisp. She’s has great fun cooking in the middle of the Wounded Wisp — which earned her a job offer as a chef. She also was one of the only people who managed to harm the choker they faced in the cellar. Archers and melee fighters missed, and there was poor little Rosie, squeaking in ‘fear’ at the back of the group. She picked a wine bottle off the shelf, and tossed it, sending it end over end towards the monster, past companions, and down the hall. And scored a critical hit! Which dealt MAX damage. My daughter has never laughed so hard after an attack roll in her life. She was absolutely thrilled with herself. Rosie’s bottle tossing saved the day. She’s also shadow-boxed with an illusion, followed clues, solved mysteries and discovered secret chambers. All without having to break her ‘child’ persona. She’s had an absolute blast, and her first adventure’s not even over yet!


With the announcement of Gameday VII on play-by-post, my family and I have been trying to finagle our way into some scenarios together. One of the ones I managed to get them into involved the three of them. Having already played the scenario in question I had to sit this one out. My husband chose to be Toban. My daughter clapped her hands in glee and chose Rosie! This would mark their first scenario where the brother and sister duo would be on the same mission.

And my son?

“Sign me up with a Tangletop, Mom!”

“You don’t have a Tangletop, dear,” I reminded him.

“I will make one.” He assured me.

So we signed him up and he’s been plotting ever since.

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Read more about Shelyn and the other gods of Golarion in Inner Sea Gods!

He knew he would be a gnome — “A fun, happy one, Mom!” Shortly after he decided that Toban would be his big brother, and Rosie would be his twin sister. His character desperately wanted to be like his big brother, Toban. He tried to be a chef, but he was horrible at it! He does worship Shelyn, though.

With a bit more thought, my son decided he would be a painter who fought with an iron brush. He would be a bard, and when he casts spells he draws through the air with his paintbrush, while describing what he’s making. After a bit more thought, he decided he would instead be a skald. He’d never made one of those before. We did a bit more digging and he settled on being an urban skald.

With those decisions made we got down to work. He decided to name his gnome artist Jastrokan Tangletop. He would be a member of the Sovereign Court. He gave up a few of his gnomish racial traits to take ‘eternal hope’ which allows him to reroll a critical fail once a day, and gives him a bonus on saving throws against fear and despair. For spells he chose comprehend languages and silent image. He wanted the ability to understand anyone, and to make his paintings come to life! For cantrips he chose detect magic, resistance, sift and spark. For his trait he chose ‘simple disciple,’ which gives him a bonus on profession (painter), and unswaying love, which gives him a bonus on saving throws against charms and compulsions. As a skald he gains scribe scroll, which is replaced by extra performance for PFS play. For his other feat he selected prodigy, which makes him better at profession (painter) and perform (oratory). His archetype gives him ‘controlled inspired rage’ instead of the basic ‘inspired rage’ raging song the skalds get, which he’s quite excited about. With a whopping 12 rounds/day of music at his disposal, he’s thrilled to get to start instructionally painting his way through battle. It’s going to be hilarious!

When it came time to buy his gear, Jastrokan went a little overboard. He purchased a whopping 10 iron brushes for battle, two alchemists fire and a holy water. His other combat gear includes leather armour, and a buckler. He bought plenty of painting supplies, of course, and a spell component pouch. In addition to some standard gear (like backpack and a bedroll) he bought a pet songbird (a thrush), and a familiar satchel to keep him in.

With his character complete, my son and I got to work writing his backstory. Here’s what he had to say:

Jastrokan was born and raised in Sandpoint, with his parents and his twin sister, Rosie. Their older brother was a famous travelling chef. Rosie and Jastrokan always wanted to be just like their big brother, Toban, so they tried to cook, too! Rosie was great, but Jastrokan was terrible! And his food tasted gross! Instead, he painted pictures of his sister’s tasty food for signs. He realized he was pretty good at it! He started painting other things, and soon became a really good artist. He started worshipping Shelyn.

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You can find the skald, as well as nine other base classes, in the Advanced Class Guide!

Eventually he got bored. He started to travel, and paint all kinds of things. His favourite things to paint were places and things that people hadn’t seen for a long time. Ancient ruins, dangerous monsters, hard to reach wild places, and magical relics! What fun!

A while ago his parents died, so the Tangletop family had a reunion in Absalom. Jastrokan was sad, but was also happy to see his brother and sister. He found out Toban worked at a local church of Shelyn, and that both Toban and Rosie were Pathfinders. Jastrokan missed seeing them, and he did love seeing new things… So he joined up, too!

Jastrokan is a chipper little golden-eyed gnome with a wide, smiling face framed all around by fluffy red hair. He takes great pride in his appearance, and keeps his hair and beard will brushed. He wears a white button up shirt and two vests — one blue (worn buttoned up) and one orange (worn open). His pants are black and around his neck is a little blue ascot. On his feet are good sturdy walking shoes. He wears a backpack that is bulging with gear, and carries a whole bunch of paint brushes sticking out of his pockets and belt. His fingers are stained by different colours of paint. On one of his arms is a wooden buckler that has been painted with a beautiful picture of a sunset and birds. He also wears a satchel, from which peeks a colourful little songbird.

Jastrokan is kind, adventurous, and very curious. He is bold and bright!


With Jastrokan created and ready for adventure, the Tangletops are complete. At least until my daughter decides I should make a Tangletop of my own, I suppose… Haha. So where are the Tangletop’s off to first? They’re signed up to play Scenario #6-01: Trial by Machine in session two of the Gameday VII convention. Although, if I can find another game for them to play in session one, they might sneak an extra game in before hand!

I hope you had a great weekend, and you enjoyed taking a peek at the Tangletops. If you haven’t signed up for any Gameday VII games, and you’d like to, I recommend doing so soon. Games are filling up fast!

Best of luck,

Jessica

Dice Gift
Take a look at these bad boys! I love my new dice!