Character Focus: Danicka Raburnus

Hello everyone! I hope you had a great weekend.

This Mother’s Day my kids wrote me poems and stories, drew me pictures, cards, and books. My son even made me a coaster to hold my drink. And my husband? He and my children got me character art commissioned for my favourite Pathfinder Society character!

I’ve never had character art for a character of mine before. My kids and I have drawn pictures of some of our characters on occasion. And sure, a picture here or there might inspire us to make a character similar in appearance. But custom professional art? Unheard of! So it was with great shock and surprise I awoke to discover my family had somehow procured gorgeous art of my beloved -1 PFS character. 

Clearly I have a wonderful family and am beyond spoiled. Today I’m going to share that art with you!

Introducing Danicka Raburnus and her vicious dog, Prickles!

Danicka-and-Prickles
Danicka Raburnus and Prickles. Original characters of mine for the Pathfinder Society Organized Play program. Art by the amazing Joe Nittoly

Danicka Raburnus was my very first Pathfinder Society character. My -1. I had played Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons, and other RPGs for a long time before making Danicka, but she was the first character meant for organized play. She marked my entry into the Pathfinder Society, and was the first in a series of wonderful characters, delightful roleplaying, and exciting adventures.

Danicka is… far from perfect. When it came time to create Danicka I wanted to do something different. Everyone has characters who are attractive, intelligent, healthy, brave, and so on. People who are special. Heroes. They’re not all perfect, and many have a flaw or two, but they usually have quite a few redeeming qualities. I’ve got plenty, myself. So when it came time to make Danicka I wanted to create a character who was different than those I’d made before. Someone who wasn’t a hero. Who wasn’t special. Someone hopelessly flawed and regrettably forgettable. Someone who wanted to be special, who wanted to be the hero, but just wasn’t.

I have a soft spot for making, strong, independent, female characters. I love playing half-orcs and dwarves. I love bards, rogues, oracles, and sorcerers. Adaptable characters with a flaw or two, and a bit of a scoundrel’s streak.

So I went out of my way to make Danicka different.

I made her a wizard, which I rarely do. And I went out of my way to make her as unremarkable as possible. She has an archetype that prevents her from having a familiar or an arcane bond––qualities that make her feel inferior to her fellow wizards and spellcasters. She learned spells that are visually unremarkable. No fireballs or flashy magic for this girl! She was intelligent and wise, but too shy and nervous to speak her mind.

I never use complimentary words to describe her. I don’t call her pretty, or fit, or athletic, or slender. She’s not even skinny. She’s scrawny. Boney. Her hair is frazzled, limp, plain, or mousey. Her skin is not like porcelain, or alabaster. It’s pale, freckled, and ink-stained. Her clothes are nice but ill-fitting, out of fashion, and in dull colours. She doesn’t show off any skin, covering herself from neck to fingers and toes. She doesn’t even wear nice boots, just flimsy cotton shoes that flop and squelch wildly whenever they get wet. She wears a floppy hat on her head. She has poor vision and wears plain spectacles.

It’s not that these qualities are undesirable or unattractive. They’re not. It’s that I designed her to be average and blend in, and that I describe all of her qualities in as uncomplimentary a fashion as I can.

She shrieks in battle. Gets queasy. Stammers, stutters, whimpers, and whispers. Her efforts to make friends are awkward and almost always end in failure. She’s shy and meek. Easily scared (often terrified!). She faints on occasion (though never in a way or at a time that would hinder her mission or the game). She’s weak, awkward, and extraordinarily clumsy.

But amidst all those awkward and oddly endearing qualities, she’s a hero. Not outwardly. Certainly not obviously. But she’s a good person. She won’t take a life. Ever. And she won’t condone it from her allies. In fact, wanton violence, destruction, theft, and other illegal deeds are among the only things that she’ll speak out against. She’d rather remove an enemy from a fight than cause someone harm. I gave her merciful spell as a feat to ensure her few damage dealing spells aren’t lethal. She’ll stabilize unconscious enemies, hurl herself into danger to protect someone else, and is always the first person to offer healing potions to the wounded. She’s generous and kind. She won’t lie and always gives her enemies a chance to surrender.

So, who was Danicka? Where did she come from? And what make such an ordinary, meek woman want to be a hero?

Danicka was born to a hero. Her mother, Portia Raburnus, was a wizard of great renown who helped saved the city of Magnimar not just once, but on three occasions. Danicka has always wanted to be just like her mother, and grew up studying the arcane arts. Her mother passed away five years ago, right before Danicka began her formal training at the local magical academy, Stone of Seers. Danicka always keeps her mother’s arcane bonded item with her—a highly decorative quarterstaff that looks remarkably like a broom. She had hoped to use the broom as her own arcane bonded item, but could never manage to make it work.

Danicka did well in school, but despite her academic achievements she was constantly overlooked—for Danicka was ordinary looking, and incredibly shy. Regrettably forgettable. Most people don’t even remember Portia Raburnus had a daughter.

Danicka’s recently graduated and set out to finally prove herself brave and bold! A hero, like her mother! She marched right into the local Pathfinder Lodge and demanded a job. Unfortunately, her demand came out a nervous whisper and they hired her as a maid. But, sweeping the floors used by bolder souls with her mother’s broom isn’t enough for Danicka Raburnus! She’s going to prove herself one day! Maybe after she’s done cleaning up the common room…

Danicka is incredibly shy. She speaks rarely, and when she does its in a whisper. She’s constantly trying to work up the courage to be louder, to make friends, and to do something, but her attempts at friendship always come out in awkward stuttering bursts, and her attempts to speak her mind end up with her randomly yelling something (and then losing the courage to finish). She’s easily embarrassed and was bullied on occasion in school (when her classmates could be bothered to remember she was there).

Danicka studies hard and loves to learn new things. She knows she’s a young woman of many flaws and is trying desperately to change. She wants to be brave and bold, but has yet to break out of her shell and really be herself.

Mechanically, she’s a wizard with the exploiter wizard archetype that’s a member of the Silver Crusade faction of the Pathfinder Society. She took the traits tireless logic and volatile conduit. Her beginning feats were eschew materials and merciful spell, although she later added spell focus (enchantment). She’s knowledgable and speaks a wide array of languages. For her first exploiter exploit she chose energy shield, although she never had the opportunity to use it until many adventures had passed. Some of her most commonly prepared low-level spells are daze, detect magic, read magic, comprehend languages, mage armour, shield, sleep, and merciful ray of frost or merciful magic missile. In time she learned that outsiders and undead were a threat her non-lethal methods couldn’t handle, so she started carrying a lethal wand, a few lethal scrolls, and some holy water around to combat such irredeemable threats.

I had intended to keep her a wizard for the entirety of her career, but along the way, things changed. Danicka changed.

After Danicka’s first mission in the world of play-by-post gaming, she was invited to join an ongoing campaign run by the delightful and incredibly talented GM ShieldBug. For a wonderful seven scenarios she had the pleasure of playing in a consistent group of awesome players. Her companions were very different from Danicka. Some were weird, some were liars, some were scoundrels, and most were violent. They pushed her buttons, shoved her out of her comfort zone, tested her morals, and urged her to change. With them she found her backbone. She found courage. She faced peer-pressure and discovered that there were things worth fighting for, even if it meant standing up to your allies. She made friends. She made enemies. She made mistakes. She became a hero. She saved people and towns.

Mostly, she was embarrassed.

But it wasn’t only Danicka that changed. Her friends did, too. She made them better people. And they made her brave.

On one of her adventures she was forced to interact with terrifying, man-eating, Thuvian desert dog. Miraculously she bonded with it, though it terrified her to no end. Later in the scenario she was forced to face the dog in combat, and she managed to convince him to stand down. The mission came to an end and I was faced with a turning point. Move on? Or keep the dog?

Danicka kept the dog. She named him Prickles, for his spiky fur (matted with the blood of his enemies) and terrifying demeanour. Although I could have just bought a dog and remained a wizard, I chose to multiclass Danicka into druid. I selected another understated archetype (the wonderful wild whisperer!) that removed some of the flashier of the druids abilities and replaced it with investigator’s inspiration and talents. She began to take ranks in handle animal, and survival. She used her druid spell slots to prepare healing magic. She took the feat boon companion, and statted up Prickles as a wolf.

Danicka spent the next while attempting to tame her vicious dog. I took great glee in role-played her fear of her own pet, and her worry that it will hurt someone. Prickles is clearly the alpha of the duo, but he usually listens to Danicka’s pleas. That said, out of fear, Danicka never tells Prickles to attack anyone. She’s too afraid she won’t be able to stop him from killing. Instead, she orders him to stay by her side. Mechanically, Prickles has the bodyguard archetype. He’s always on ‘defend’ and won’t enter a fight unless Danicka is hurt. However, if she’s hurt he flies into a rage and attacks whoever wounded her until they’re dead. Usually Danicka hurls herself between the enemy and her dog before they are devoured, but once or twice Prickles killed something––an event which filled Danicka with great regret. For his part, Prickles is used to his ‘pet’s’ panicked shrieks and mewling. But he’s incredibly territorial and won’t stand for anyone touching his ‘pet.’ Not even her allies. He’s a bit cantankerous, and won’t take ‘orders’ from anyone other than Danicka. And he only listens to Danicka if she begs.

All in all, they’re a comical pair, with my shy wizard desperately trying to handle her overwhelming pet.

On her most recent missions, Danicka’s had to bid her old friends farewell. She’s gone on new adventures with new teammates. Only Prickles has remained by her side. But, despite the distance, it’s her old friends that continue to drive her and inspire her. Mhazruk Kruhl and his terrifying familiar Needle, the burly Yaiho Crasher, the tap-dancing escaped-slave Forrest Glavo, the eccentric Arin Qualnoh blessed (or perhaps cursed) by the gods, and Brock Swiftread, a scoundrel if there ever was one. They’re the closest thing to family she’s ever had.

So here’s to Danicka and Prickles, and all the people and characters who have made her who she is. Here’s to the people who have GMed for her and played alongside her. The people who have put up with her panicked shrieks and bleeding heart. Here’s to my family, who brought one of my very favourite characters to life. And here’s to Joe Nittoly, the amazing artist who drew her. Thank you! Thank you! And thank you again! You’re the best!

And here’s to all of you, for taking the time to read about one of my favourite characters. Maybe I’ll see you around a PFS table one day.

Cheers!

Jessica

Heroes of Golarion

Hello adventurers! Today we’re taking a peek between the covers of Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of Golarion! This delightful softcover book from Paizo Inc. is packed with new character options from all around Golarion, sorted by location. The regions covered include Arcadia, Avistan, the Crown of the World, Casmaron, Iblydos, Garund, and Tian Xia. It also contains a lot of new options for occult-themed mythic heroes.

Heroes of Golarion - Nathanael James
Illustrated by Nathanael James. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

When I heard about Heroes of Golarion I was very excited. It immediately made it onto my (way too long) ‘wishlist.’ Why? For starters, this is the second-last Pathfinder Player Companion being released for Pathfinder First Edition –– a fact both sad and exciting! Second, I love the topic. I adore thematic character options, so seeing new archetypes, feats, traits, and so on from a ton of different regions is always enjoyable for me. But, it’s not so niche that I’ll have trouble getting to use the options inside. Third? Mythic rules! Now, I know not everyone is a fan of mythic rules. I like them, but even then, I don’t use them often. That said, I adore the occult classes. And you know what they’re lacking? Awesome mythic options! Sure, you could make something work with the current options, but it’s not going to be as great as it would be if you were a different class. And honestly? Of the mythic characters I’ve interacted with as a GM and a player, half of them are occult classes. Yeah. Poor things! Haha. So seeing some awesome mythic options for occult classes is pretty amazing. I’m thrilled it’s happening before Pathfinder First Edition comes to an end. And finally? Controversy! There are two sorcerer bloodlines in this book that I had already heard plenty about. I’ve heard people condemning them, and I’ve heard people praising them. Why? They both give the sorcerer the ability to use healing magic (or healing abilities). Now, I knew I would not be in the ‘sky-is-falling’/’it’s-broken’ group. I’m a pretty laid back player, and no, I don’t think letting a sorcerer get some ways to heal or healing spells is going to break my beloved game. But, I was curious to see how it was handled. Also? Pathfinder Second Edition has sorcerers that can heal. I like that these bloodlines act as a thematic bridge between First and Second Edition sorcerers. So how did I like the bloodlines? We’ll get to that in time! For now, let’s start at the beginning…

heroes-of-golarion-cover.jpgPathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of Golarion is a soft cover book that is 32 pages in length. As a book in the Player Companion line, it’s aimed at players, which means that you won’t find a ton of world lore or secrets inside. Instead you’ll find character options –– things like archetypes, feats, traits, spells, and more. Heroes of Golarion was developed by Eleanor Ferron and Luis Loza. Contributing authors include Saif Ansari, Alexander Augunas, Mara Lynn Butler, Michelle Jones, Avi Kool, and Alex Riggs. The cover features dramatic art by Setiawan Lie which depicts a cleric of Kazutal and a cloaked adventurer armed with both magic and blade, combatting a tzitzimitl –– an incredibly powerful undead from Bestiary 3. Interior artists include Nathanael James, Craig Maher, and Marcel Mercado.

Casmaron - Wyrwood
A wyrwood.

The front inside cover features a glimpse at some thematic documents from Golarion, including a recipe, travel documents, and other paperwork. All these documents are layered across each other, though, so you can’t read the full text on any. They’re intended for flavour, not player handouts or anything. Although interesting, it’s not useful.

After this is the table of contents, the rules index, and the introduction which contains a brief summary on Golarion, its continents, and other major regions. Each summary is a paragraph long and lists information on the region, it’s nations, and most common peoples.

Moving on from the introduction we come to our first region: Arcadia! This section contains two pages of new character options, and two pages on wyrwoods (which are most commonly found in Arcadia). Arcadian character options include four gun feats (all of which are useful), three jaguar-themed slayer talents intended for worshippers of the goddess Kazutal, and two legendary spirits for mediums from Valenhall (Adril, the Would-Be King, a Champion, and Father of Legends, a Marshal). Wyrwood options include two alternate race traits (check out experimental body), favoured class options, and eight new feats (my favourites were lifecrafting  and sword’s shadow).

Avistan - Unicorn Sorcerer
A unicorn bloodline sorcerer.

Up next are four pages of character options from Avistan and the Crown of the World. This section contains one archetype for bards, Speaker of the Palatine Eye. There’s some new options for mesmerists themed around exploring subterranean locations, including two new feats (I love them both), three new tricks, and three new bold stares. There’s five hilarious (and awesome!) feats for heroic goblins. I particularly enjoyed mental derail and piercing chant. Finally, there’s the frost shaman spirit, which is one of my very favourite character options in this book, and the unicorn bloodline. Yup! A sorcerer bloodline that grants you healing magic for your bloodline spells, and lets you heal a target of some hp whenever you cast a spell as your bloodline arcana! It’s amazing! Although some players argue it’s too powerful, or makes other healers less important, I think it’s going to be great fun. Plus, I love the theme! Who doesn’t like unicorns?

Heroes of Golarion - Psomeira - Nathanael James
Psomeira, a legendary spirit from Iblydos. Illustrated by Nathanael James. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Leaving behind Avistan we get to Casmaron. Here you’ll find two pages of character options from Casmaron, followed by another four pages of character options from Iblydos, an island in Casmaron. Casmaron character options include holy beast, a shifter archetype that focuses on combatting outsiders, and plague eater, a spiritualist archetype that is haunted by the restless dead killed by plague. Although I adore the plague eater, it’s very tightly focused on resisting and healing diseases, so I’m not sure how much use I’d actually get out of it. Other options include the peafowl shifter aspect, and four Vudrani phrenic amplifications for psychics. Iblydos character options include an oracle curse called god-meddled which can be either a help or a hinderance, two new legendary spirits for mediums (Kelksimides the Hierophant and Psomeira the Champion), and a lot of witch hexes and grand hexes that I loved. Beast’s gift, combat hypnosis, swine, and animal servant are all among my favourites. There’s also priest of the fallen, a spiritualist archetype that channels the phantoms of various hero-gods, and the medusa bloodrager bloodline that I really enjoyed.

Heroes of Golarion - BeastSpeaker- Marcel Mercado
A Tekritanin Beast Speaker. Illustrated by Marcel Mercado. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc. 

Up next? Six pages on Garund! Here you’ll find new gun options and ammunition for characters from Alkenstar, an investigator archetype called the Holomog demolitionist that focuses on destroying your surroundings and creating difficult terrain, eight new vigilante talents, six new arcanist exploits that focus on primal magic, and five new shifter aspects (elephant, giant wasp, horse, lion, and snapping turtle). There’s also the sphinx bloodrager bloodline, which I enjoyed, and two feats that allow characters to gain an intelligent magical beast as an animal companion. Along with these feats are five options for magical beast companions: basilisk, behir, bulette, death worm, and sun falcon. Tough decision, but I like the basilisk and sun falcon best.

With that we reach our final destination: Tian Xia. Here you’ll find four pages of character options, two of which are dedicated to new kineticist options! Of the new kineticist wild talents, eleven are utility wild talents, and only four are infusions (three substance and one form). These options are themed around clockworks, toxins, wind, and amplifying your race’s natural abilities. Although plenty of them are cool it’s the bolt form infusion and the various clockwork utility wild talents that I liked the best. But, there’s more than just kineticist options in Tian Xia. In these four pages you’ll also find a wide variety of alchemist discoveries themed around calligraphy and drawing with specially prepared magical inks. My favourite is living pigments, which lets the creatures you draw come to life! There’s also the spirit eater, a medium archetype, and the phoenix sorcerer bloodline! This thematic bloodline lets you do all sorts of cool things, like surround yourself in fire, grow wings of flame, and even come back to life! Perhaps its niftiest ability is it’s bloodline arcana, which allows your fire spells to heal your targets instead of harming them. Of course, these purifying flames don’t heal as well as they could burn…  I love it!

Although that’s the end of our whirlwind tour of Golarion, that’s not the end of this book. Heroes of Golarion wraps up with one page of rules for occult mythic characters, and three pages of new mythic path abilities. These path abilities are all useful to, or themed around, the various occult classes and abilities. Although many are specific to a certain mythic path, some are universal, and can be chosen by characters following any mythic path. Although there are plenty of cool options for all the occult classes, it’s the mythic abilities intended for kineticists that I like best.

And that’s it! The end of Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of Golarion! This book is packed full of cool new character options from around Golarion. In the end, it’s the frost shaman spirit, medusa bloodrager bloodline, and the phoenix and unicorn sorcerer bloodlines that I enjoyed the most. They’re all definitely going to see use in my house! And honestly? I don’t see why some players were worried over the sorcerer bloodlines. They’re going to be great fun.

But, even more than the character options, it’s the new mythic path abilities and supplementary rules that made this book worth the money for me. Although brief, these new options allow occult characters to make use of mythic paths as effectively as the other character classes can––an incredibly important addition to Pathfinder First Edition, that I’m relieved got to see print before Second Edition rolls around and it’s too late.

Those of you that participate in the Pathfinder Society Organized Play community will be happy to know that Heroes of Golarion is already sanctioned for use, with nearly all of the content in this player companion legal for PFS play! For more information, check out the Additional Resources on Paizo’s website. (And yes, for those of you excited or worried, both sorcerer bloodlines are legal for play. It’s going to be great!).

Thanks for checking out d20diaries! I hope that taking a peek at what’s inside this Player’s Companion helped you decide if this is the right book for you. There’s plenty  of great books out there (and I know I’m not the only one who can’t afford them all!).

Shop smart!

Jessica

 

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Kingmaker

It’s rare we take the time to talk about RPGs and other games that are crowdfunding, but today we’re making an exception! Why?

Kingmaker!

Next year marks the tenth anniversary of Kingmaker, a six-part Pathfinder Adventure Path by Paizo Inc. This incredibly popular campaign was recently made into a computer game, by Owlcat Games (for more information check out this blog post). As with many of the popular Pathfinder adventure paths, Kingmaker has been out of print for quite a while. Although you can still find it kicking around on amazon, eBay, and other sites, it is not cheap!

Although Kingmaker’s not my favourite adventure path (sandbox-style campaigns aren’t my preference), I’ve always enjoyed reading and GMing Kingmaker. My copies of the adventures are more than a little dog-eared and worn. They’re riddled with highlighter and post-it notes, and I have multiple notebooks full of hand-written events and expansions for the campaign. Sadly, none of my campaigns ended up making it to the end. I’m cursed! Haha.

To celebrate Kingmaker’s tenth anniversary, Paizo Inc. is releasing an anniversary edition of the Kingmaker Adventure Path for Pathfinder Second Edition! Like previous anniversary editions, the campaign will be updated, enhanced, and expanded upon. Unlike previous anniversary editions, this book is huge. Seriously huge. And you know what? It has the potential to be even bigger.

Today Paizo Inc. began a crowdfunding campaign for Kingmaker 10th Anniversary Edition. There are two primary products you can purchase. The Kingmaker Adventure Path for Pathfinder Second Edition (which will be a minimum of 576 pages long!) and the Kingmaker Companion Guide, which contains information on two of the characters from the Kingmaker computer game (the gnome Jubilost and the halfling Linzi), and brings them to the table with stats, information, kingdom roles, and quests. Backers get both a print and PDF copy of the books, which are due out next year. In addition, there are some cool add-ons for this campaign. Among these are dice, hero tokens, a pin, and the Forest Kingdom PDF by Legendary Games. The most exciting add-on? The Bestiary! Kingmaker Bestiary takes all of the Second Edition creatures and NPC stat blocks and recreates them for Pathfinder First Edition or 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons! The Bestiary volumes will also contain notes and information on how to run the Kingmaker Adventure Path in First Edition Pathfinder or Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. Stretch goals include a Kingmaker Pawn Box (which I would love to get my hands on), flip-mats, and expansions to the Kingmaker Companion Guide. In addition, the Kingmaker Adventure Path will feature more and more content as the various funding goals are met.

Colour me intrigued!

For more information on the Kingmaker 10th Anniversary Adventure Path check out the video below, or head on over to the crowdfunding campaign on Game On Table Top.

Enjoy!

Jessica

The Wayfinders: Part Three: Danger in the Drift

Last year I shared my family’s experiences creating their first Starfinder characters. We had a lot of fun making a kooky crew, and tried them out a bit before deciding they would join the Starfinder Society. There were some changes that needed to be made. Tucker was a halfling, which would have to change, but otherwise the transition went smoothly. Then we sat down and played Into the Unknown. Life got busy. We moved on to play Starfinder Scenario #1-03: Yesteryear’s Truth, which was great fun (for details check out this blog post).

But, my kids have WAY too many characters and not enough focus.

I’m a fan of creating a character and playing them through consistently right to the end. I want to play them every week. I want them to accomplish something amazing over the course of a long campaign. And when their story is done I want to know what happened to them. Did they retire? Get married? Ascend to godhood? Go insane? When their story’s complete I’m ready to make a new character and start all over again.

But, my kids? My kids love making new characters. They like hopping from story to story. But they also don’t like letting characters go. They want to play them all at the same time. There’s tons of them. An unattainable goal if I ever heard one! Haha.

In short? We rarely have time to take our Wayfinders for a spin.

The other day my daughter informed me that she wanted to create her own adventure. This isn’t the first time. She’s GMed for us before and brutally slaughtered us all. It’s partly because she doesn’t have much experience determining appropriate CRs, but it’s also because she’s incredibly lucky. Too lucky. It’s great when she’s a fellow PC but when she’s the GM? Look out! Monsters have awesome aim, enemies are so stealthy they might as well be invisible, and no opponent ever fails a saving throw. It’s not that she’s cheating! We don’t use GM screens in my house so we can all see her rolls, and I help her every step of the way. She’s just that damned lucky.

So when she said she wanted to GM something everyone groaned.

She looked so sad.

“Oh, no! She’s going to kill us again!” my son wailed.

“Be nice!” I scolded my son. Then I whispered to my husband, “She totally is…”

But, I smiled at my daughter and said, “That sounds exciting. Let’s do it.” Because it is exciting. Of course I want my kids to want to imagine, create, and GM.

So my daughter and I went to my room and peered at my bookshelf. Making a one-shot would mean everyone would create more characters, which we didn’t really have time for at the moment, so I suggested she create a mini adventure for Starfinder. Our Wayfinders were in the middle of a journey through the Drift from the radioactive planet Elytrio to Absalom Station. The timing couldn’t be better!

But, they were SFS characters… We decided to play the entire scenario off the books, using the stats for our characters but leaving our actual SFS characters entirely untouched. And while we were at it? Tucker might as well be a halfling again (in appearance).

My daughter thought about the Drift a bit, pulled down the Alien Archive, and got browsing. She stopped on creatures she took a liking to and we chatted about them, brainstorming ideas together. Some she liked and some she didn’t. She wrote down notes in her little Pokemon notebook. When she hit the end of the book she narrowed down her ideas and made some more notes and drawings. An hour later we were picking out miniatures and prepping the table. It was game time!

I started off the session by reminding everyone what we were up to. Where we’d been, where we were going, and who we were with.

Our crew consists of four Starfinder Agents that belong to the Wayfinders Faction. Hoponisa (Hops for short), is a ysoki technomancer from the dark side of Verces who loves to dance. She’s on a mission to find herself the ‘perfect mate’ and is handy both in the pilot’s chair, the engineering bay, and at a computer console. She has a robot rabbit dubbed ‘Snowball’ who is a glorified computer with some minor mobility that she crafted herself, then wrapped in fuzzy faux fur for ultimate cuddle-ability. It’s also her spell cache. Hops has been a Starfinder for a long time and is the person who recruited the rest of the crew into the Starfinder Society (before that they were mercenaries who did work for the Starfinders on a regular basis). Together, the gang travels the Vast, deploying drift beacons for credits at the behest of the Wayfinders. After discovering new planets, collecting data on their environments, and deploying drift beacons, the group prepares a report on the planet for the Wayfinders, which allows the spacefaring faction to better prepare proper Starfinder teams for further exploration on these locations.

Hops and the crew of the Pegasus Class ship, Infinity, have gone on plenty of missions together. Led by their Captain Aya, a wise, enigmatic kasatha mystic who believes that every life is precious, they’ve charted planets and discovered new places. Their roles on the starship change a lot, with the rest of the crew rotating between pilot, engineer, science officer, and gunner as the mood strikes them. Aya and Hops are joined by Tucker Aetherfoot, a ysoki (originally a halfling) operative with the daredevil speciality who’s nimble, acrobatic, and full of boundless energy. He wears a t-shirt with a shirren design on it (to represent his long-time friendship with the shirren Vishkesh), and wears a racing helmet with a rose-tinted visor and stylized mouse ears on the side (which was given to him by Hops as a birthday gift). Tucker’s insatiably curious, and runs a blog in his spare time about his experiences exploring the Vast. He’s a devout Desnan from Absalom Station, prone to dancing when he’s idle too long. …Even in the middle of a mission. Lastly, there’s Vishkesh, a shirren mechanic with a little flying spy drone named Rijin. Rijin is trained to help Vishkesh with repairing starships, and is also outfitted with a flare thrower. He’s a chipper little thing, with a bubbly artificial personality. Vishkesh has a fondness to caring for (and rescuing) larval shirren, and currently has a dozen dangling off of him in their protective canisters at all times. Vishkesh is the proud owner of a pig stuffed animal — a rare creature he’s never seen in in the flesh! He’s also from Absalom Station, and is a long time friend of Tucker’s. Vishkesh worships Hylax.

When they joined the Starfinders the crew of Infinity decided they needed a helping hand. They hired two rookies to assist them and round out their crew: Gizdara, a half-orc technomancer who’s a whiz with computers, and Diggs Drifthopper, a burly ‘rabbitfolk’ whose planet was conquered by the Vesk years ago. Diggs was forced into the military, but was recently allowed his freedom and was looking for work. He’s good with a gun, but not much else (which he can’t use in SFS play, as a non-combatant hireling, haha). Still, my daughter insisted on hiring him because he was destined to be Hops’ mate. (Uhhh… Okay? Haha). Diggs’ job is mostly to watch the ship while we’re away from it.

There’s one other person on their ship at the moment: the Membrane Ghibrani Klarima who they were bringing from her home planet of Elytrio to join the Starfinder Society. For now she was a passenger, but the group was teaching her everything they could of the universe as they travelled the Drift.

Travel aboard the Infinity
The crew of Infinity soars through the Drift!

With the recap out of the way my daughter took over, explaining that we had been in the Drift for a few weeks. All of a sudden the alarm blared and there was a strange flash of red light nearing the ship. LAVA!

Wait, what? How could there be lava in space?

My daughter gleefully asked for a Computers check from our Science Officer — Vishkesh at the moment — revealing that a piece of the Elemental Plane of Fire had been torn off and stranded in the Drift (quite recently by the look of it)! We were about to do some more research on this phenomenon when there was a burst of light. Lava and powerful heat blasts from the shard of the Plane of Fire was flying at our ship! Our pilot, Hops (which I was running on behalf of my daughter since she was GMing), flew like a pro, dodging lava balls, and super heated waves of energy. But a few moments later Vishkesh identified that our air lock had been opened. Something was on the ship!

We turned for the elevator only have it DING pleasantly.

As the doors opened Captain Aya ordered Hops, Diggs, and Gizdara to remain at their posts. Gizadara took over as Science Officer while Diggs took on the role of gunner and blasted through the hunks of rock flying at our ship. Vishkesh, Rijin, Aya, and Tucker leapt to their feet — too late!

A trio of fire elementals roared off the lift and slammed into the kasathan captain — the nearest target.

“The elementals are so angry! They must be lost and confused!” my son (Vishkesh) pointed out. Unfortunately, his understanding did little to calm the creatures. The fire elementals tore into Aya and scored multiple critical hits — curse my daughter’s luck! Haha. My kashathan mystic went down before she even had a turn.

Captain down!!
Captain down!

“Sorry, Mom!” my daughter said a little guiltily.

“It’s alright, baby. Aya will be fine.”

The battle continued, and wow was it a tough one! The fire elementals tore into Tucker while Aya slowly recovered on the ground with her SP. By the time she rejoined the fight her healing magic was sorely needed! Tucker was hanging on by a thread and Vishkesh was in big trouble! Not long afterwards the group rallied and took down the last of the exceptionally lucky elementals. But not before Tucker suffered some luck of his own — bad luck!

Crit Fail for Tucker
A critical fail for poor Tucker!

With the fire elementals defeated Vishkesh hurried to the airlock to get it locked down while Aya healed the wounds of her crew. Hops flew us out of the range of the planar anomaly and the journey returned to normal.

For a time…

Not much further away we came upon a strange group of asteroids that looked like they were all part of some kind of large complex — a metallic castle of some sort. It was clearly another broken planar shard torn from another world and deposited in the Drift by Drift Travel. Hesitantly, the group scanned the planar wreckage and detected signs of life. Not wanting to leave anyone stranded in the Drift, Aya ordered the ship to investigate the asteroids.

They flew past chunks of reddish rock, through space strewn with shards of glittering metal. Suddenly they saw a ship! It looked like a hunk of junk cobbled together from — well, junk! They turned on the comms to hail the ship only to be fired upon!

Battle stations!

Hops sailed the ship through space, dodging meteors and make-shift torpedoes, Vishkesh boosted the ships guns, Tucker fired upon the enemy, and Aya encouraged her crew. Although the battle shouldn’t have been challenging, it was — once again my daughter’s good luck conspired to destroy us.

Suddenly Vishkesh noticed incoming projectiles from somewhere other than the ship! One of the chunks of broken castle was inhabited! They fired cannons at the Infinity. Cannons that held… goblins in weird globs of goo! The goblin bombs splattered against the hull of Infinity! Unfortunately for the goblins our ship’s shields were too tough for them to penetrate! Most splattered on impact like giant bugs! But, armed as they were with sharp implements and hacking kits, it’s likely the goblins would have attempted to breach the hull or hack into the air locks to gain entry had our shields been depleted.

Suddenly a voice crackled over the intercom. “AHA! You smart-heads are good! You foil our goo-guns good! But we goblin pirates! Goblins attack and goblins snack! Or…. goblins want to snack! We hungry! Hand over your food and we let you go!”

Snowball Easter Bunny Chocolate Soop
Image discovered on Pinterest and chosen to represent Snowball in my home game. Art by Canadian artist DaCosta! under the studio name Chocolate Soop. Click here to check out their website.

Aya sighed in a rare show of impatience. “All lives are precious…” It sounded like she was reminding herself of this, instead of teaching the others as was typical. “We came here to lend aid to any stranded in the Drift. Surrender, Goblin Pirates, and we will forgive your attack. We have food to spare and tools to repair your Drift Engines. …If you have any.”

The goblin pirate laughed. “AHA! We win! We no shoot and you give us food! Yes! Come! Come to our home and give us many many food!”

“…” Aya decided it was best not to argue with a goblin. “Yes. Exactly. We’re coming in for a landing.” Looking at Hops she ordered. “Hops, take us down.”

“Yes, Captain!”

The gang flew their ship to the strange broken castle and landed — as best as they could. Floated nearby was a better description. After a space walk, Aya, Vishkesh, Tucker, and Rijin set out to meet the goblins. They were greeted by a snivelling, friendly little goblin — not the goblin pirate from before — and given a tour. The castle was hollow and without gravity except around its outer walls. Along these outside walls were small rooms that had both air and gravity — an anomaly the goblins couldn’t quite explain. Up near the broken ceiling (and any holes in the walls) there was a massive makeshift net — to prevent any goblins from accidentally drifting off into space.

On the tour the group discovered that the goblins weren’t just hungry, they were completely out of food! No wonder they had attacked!

But, the goblin had a plan. “Oh, you look so fat and not starving! Oh! Yum! Uh… Yum to your food! Not yum to you!” The goblin laughed, but Tucker was a little nervous. “We have much money to give you! Yes! Lots of shinies! Came here to steal shinies from castle, but ship broke! And shinies not good to eat! Nope! We have tried!” the goblin nodded. “Our King has shinies! You go see him and kill him and take them! And his pet! Must kill it too! Very smart it is. Smarter than King I think!” The goblin nods. “Then you take shinies and give us many many food! Yes! YES! Good plan! See?”

Rijin Jessica Madorran
Image discovered on Pinterest to represent Rijin in our home game. Art by Jessica Madorran. Check out her website for more information.

“Did some of you want to come with us?” Vishkesh asked.

Tucker groaned. “Oh, I don’t like that plan…”

The goblins around all cheered. “Yes! Oh, give us ride! But first take shinies! You take for food! And if you not want we take it and use it to buy more food when you get to… where you go! Me not care! Me want FOOD!”

With a sigh the group headed up to bargain with the King. “All lives are precious,” Aya reminded everyone. “This need not come to a fight.

Unfortunately, Aya was wrong. It did come down to a fight. The quartet faced off against the goblin king and his (definitely smarter than him) tashtari pet. For once my daughter’s luck didn’t trump our own and we made quick work of the angry pair. With the shinies and a ton of goblins in tow, the group reboarded the Infinity for the longest, most irritating trip they would ever endure.

Words of wisdom: Never let a pack of starving goblins on your space ship!


Our family had a lot of fun playing my daughter’s Starfinder adventure. Best of all? My daughter was happy she didn’t kill everyone. (Yay!)

Space goblins and fire elementals are from Starfinder: Alien Archive while tashtari are from Starfinder: Alien Archive 2. Pawns for all the mentioned creatures are available in Alien Archive Pawn Box and Alien Archive 2 Pawn Box. The statistics we used for the goblin spaceship came from Starfinder: Core Rulebook.

Thanks for joining us today! I hope you enjoyed hearing about my daughters adventures in GMing as much as we enjoyed playing it.

Jessica

 

Heroes from the Fringe

Hello adventurers! Today we’re taking a peek between the covers of Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes from the Fringe! This delightful softcover book from Paizo Inc. focuses on a variety of non-human cultures and societies. The races explored in this book are dwarves, elves, gnomes, half-elves, half-orcs, and halflings — each of which has multiple heritages and cultures examined. There are also a few paragraphs on Tian ratfolk and the merfolk and sahuagin of Outsea.

Cover

Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes from the Fringe is a soft cover book that is 32 pages in length. As a book in the Player Companion line, it’s aimed at players, which means that you won’t find a ton of world lore or secrets inside. Instead you’ll find character options — things like archetypes, feats, traits, spells, and more. The cover features dynamic art by Setiawan Fajareka which depicts the Iconic swashbuckler Jirelle and the Iconic bloodrager Crowe battling a pack of yetis in a snowy mountain pass. Why does a book about non-human races show a picture of a human on the cover? I don’t know! Technically there are a few traits in this book which could be taken by humans from specific regions, but none of them are meant for Shoanti characters. Whatever the reasoning, the art looks cool so I’m not complaining.

The front inside cover features artwork of a single mundane cultural item from each race along with a short paragraph of flavourful information on each object. There’s an Ekujae wand (elf), Sandkin holy symbol of Sarenrae (half-orc), First World gnome mask (gnome), Pahmet axe (dwarf), shoreborn trident (half-elf), and — my personal favourite — the Segada pouch (halfling).

Heroes of the Fringe - Intro - Alyssa McCarthy
Illustrated by Alyssa McCarthy. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

After this is the table of contents, the rules index, and the introduction which contains nine new traits tied to specific regions and cultures. Many of these traits can be taken by a variety of races. I really enjoy ‘mechanical expert’ for characters from Alkenstar and ‘resourceful scavenger’ for characters from Numeria, but it was ‘cliff strider’ for characters from Arcadia that was my favourite. This trait allows you to climb five feet without provoking an attack of opportunity for your movement as a move action, even if you don’t have a climb speed. Awesome! I’m always a fan of characters who can climb, so it’s a trait that’s sure to see some use. Next time I make and Arcadian, anyway. …Okay, so it might take me a while to get around to using that one. Haha.

Heroes of the Fringe - Dwarf - Priscilla Kim
Pahmet psammokinetic. Illustrated by Priscilla Kim. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Moving on from the introduction we come to six pages on dwarves. Six dwarven heritages are explored: desert dwarves, Mwangi dwarves, Ouat Caste dwarves, Pahmet dwarves, Paraheen dwarves, and Sky Citadel dwarves. Each of these heritages also discusses which already printed alternate race traits they’re likely to select, and comes with a single new alternate race trait. I most enjoyed reading about desert dwarves and Mwangi dwarves, but it was the alternate race traits for desert dwarves (‘desert delver’) and Pahmet dwarves (‘death’s end’) that I liked the most.  After the heritages there are new character options intended for dwarves of some of these cultures (although most of these options can also be taken by non-dwarves). There are two archetypes, seven weapons, and nine feats. The ‘psammokinetic’ is a lawful, monk-like sand kineticist common among the Pahmet dwarves. Believing the desert can burn away their imperfections, a ‘psammokinetic’ lives an ascetic life in the desert. Capable of bending sand, earth, and super-hot air to their wills, they also gain access to some ki powers which they can use to empower their kinetic blasts, bolster their AC, and increase the speed. I love this archetype. Of course, I also love dwarves and kineticists, so that’s not too surprising. The ‘symbol striker’ is a bloodrager archetype common among Sky Citadel dwarves. Capable of using rune-based magic they can place spell runes on their weapons, or rune traps on the battlefield. They also have useful and thematic spell-like abilities and treat linguistics as a class skill. The new dwarven weapons are the axe gauntlet (available either heavy or light), giant sticker (a polearm), pellet bow (available either heavy or light), ram hammer (a one-handed weapon), and sphinx hammer (a two-handed weapon). Of the new feats its the ‘cloak of stone’ feat tree and ‘hammer throw’ feat tree that I liked best.

Mwangi Dwarf
A fire-breathing Mwangi dwarf.

ElfThe next six pages are all about elves. There are six heritages discussed, each with it’s own list of applicable alternate race traits and a new alternate race trait. Elven heritages include aquatic, Ekujae, Forlorn, Jininese, Spiresworn, and Snowcaster. I most enjoyed reading about the Jininese and Spiresworn elves. There are three archetypes in this section, but unlike the dwarven ones these are for elves only. The ‘calamity caller’ is a warpriest archetype intended for Ekujae elves that can call down the fury of nature and natural disasters at will but does not gain the focus weapon or sacred weapon abilities (this is my favourite elf archetype). The ‘twilight speaker’ is a skald archetype intended for Snowcaster worshippers of Findeladlara that grants access to some nifty raging songs  (improved devotion, song of understanding, and song of secrecy). The ‘warrior poet’ is a samurai archetype intended for Jininese elves which is a graceful, lightly armoured combatant that dances across the battlefield. All three are very cool! Other elven character options include the ‘Order of the Songbird’ samurai order which values beauty, art, and life; two new sanctuary-themed bardic masterpieces (Findeladlara’s refuge and hymn of sacred lands), and three new magical items crafted by the Spiresworn elves (northern star ioun stone, southern star ioun stone, and farspear).

Up next is four pages on gnomes and although there’s less content, it’s no less exciting. In fact, many of my favourite character options and both of my children’s favourite character options are for gnomes. There are three gnomish heritages discussed in this section with each getting two new alternate race traits instead of one: Bleachlings, First World gnomes, and Segada gnomes. I don’t know much about Segada gnomes (or Segada at all) so it was my favourite gnomish heritage to read about. There’s only one archetype up for offer, but it was my daughter’s absolute favourite. ‘First World Caller’ is a wizard archetype that grants your familiar the fey-creature template and later grants them fairy wings. ‘First World Callers’ can summon fey creatures with summon monster spells, and can warp the world around them. My daughter can’t wait to use this ability to make an area completely without gravity. Haha. She’s really excited and is planning on making her next Pathfinder Society character a gnome wizard (first world caller). Likely in conjunction with the ‘spark of the uncanny’ feat from Pathfinder Player Companion: Wilderness Origins that gives your familiar the ability to speak. Other gnome options include the ‘whimsy’ emotional focus for phantoms (which is a ton of fun!), ‘bleaching’ psychic discipline, three new spells (pernicious pranksters is my favourite), and one new bardic masterpiece (wildsoul aria). Perhaps one of my favourite parts about the gnome chapter is a delightful piece of artwork that shows a bleachling spiritualist being teased by his whimsical phantom. Look closer and you’ll realize that the phantom isn’t the spirit of a dead gnome, but the spirit of the bleachling’s old self. His joy literally died. I love it! Haha.

Bleachling Spiritualist
A bleachling spiritualist with his whimsy phantom. But wait! Those two look awfully similar…

Half-elves are up next, followed by half-orcs. Both of these chapters have a lot in common. They’re both four pages long, both feature a vigilante archetype, and they both look at five different heritages. More than that, each of these heritages is one that has already been printed in Pathfinder Player Companion: Bastards of Golarion. Each has a paragraph of information on it and one alternate race trait. After that each has one feat. This feat and the rest of the character options are new additions.

The half-elf heritages examined are shoreborn (with the trait ‘child of the sea’ and the feat ‘gifts from the sea’), darkborn (with the trait ‘thinblood resistance’ and feat ‘strength in defeat’), wildborn (with the trait ‘jungle affinity’ and feat ‘sense allies’), spireborn (with the trait ‘Mordant envoy’ and feat ‘pinch time’), and snowborn (with the trait ‘cold-honed’ and feat ‘twilight words’). Other half-elf character options include the ‘half-elf double scion’ vigilante archetype which allows you to appear as a different half of your heritage (elf or human) in each identity, two new pieces of equipment (I love the poisoner’s buckler!), two magic items (seashell diving mask and soothing stole), two feats (be sure to check out ‘citystep’!), and two spells (false age and mark of spite).

Half-orc heritages discussed are gloomkin (with the trait ‘evader’ and feat ‘unraveler of secrets’), sandkin (with the trait ‘burning assurance’ and feat ‘dawn’s blessing’), rainkin (with the trait ‘warded skin’ and feat ‘great expectations’), cragkin (with the trait ‘cliffside charger’ and feat ‘precipice strike’), and frostkin (with the trait ‘unflinching valor’ and feat ‘frozen skin’). Unlike half-elf, there are two half-orc archetypes up for offer. The ‘ferocious hunter’ vigilante archetype allows a half-orc to pass for human in his social identity and then appears as a proud half-orc in his vigilante identity. ‘Terror weaver’ is a psychic archetype which is sort of like a scary enchanter. I think it would be a lot of fun. Finally, there are two half-orc feats: ‘lead by example’ and ‘solitary survivor.’

Terror Weaver - half-orc psychic
A half-orc terror weaver.

Halflings are next, but they have a very short (and not very exciting) chapter. Two heritages are included, each of which has two alternate race traits. Segadan halflings (with the traits ‘festive’ and ‘small quarter ally’) and Song’o halflings (with the traits ‘danger detection’ and ‘evasive nomad’). After this there’s four new magical items (check out the scatter sling!) and a series of four sling equipment tricks.

The last two pages of the book discuss a few other unique cultures. The ratfolk of Tian Xia are getting some love with a very cool ninja archetype called the ‘gunpowder bombardier’ and two new ninja tricks. And the residents of Outsea — both merfolk and sahuagin — get some new options. Merfolk have the alternate race trait ‘unexpected ally’ while sahuagin have the alternate race traits ‘sahuagin song’ and ‘stoic defender.’ There’s also a new combat style called ‘sahuagin blood frenzy’ which includes three feats.

And that’s it! The end of Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes from the Fringe! I’m a huge fan of learning about other cultures (real or imaginary), so I really loved getting to see details on and character options for a lot of non-human societies. It’s brief, but fun. Unfortunately, I do have one complaint about the book I’ve yet to mention: cover quality. My copy of Heroes from the Fringe has a cover that’s a tiny bit smaller on one side than the pages inside the book, which means the pages are going to get the heck beat out of them in a short time — particularly when my children flip through it. It’s not a big size difference, but it’s enough of a difference to be irritating. I’m sure if I complained I could send it back for a new copy, but I’m way too easygoing to go to all that effort for a  few millimetres. Haha. Even with the slightly shrunken cover it’s a good book and I’m happy to have it on my shelf.

Thanks for checking out d20diaries! I hope that taking a peek at what’s inside this Player’s Companion helped you decide if this is the right book for you. There’s plenty  of great books out there (and I know I’m not the only one who can’t afford them all!).

Shop smart!

Jessica

 

Shackled City: Part Nine: Return to Cauldron

It’s been a while since we talked about my family’s current home campaign, Shackled City. We haven’t stopped playing — far from it. But we’ve been so busy lately it’s hard to find the time to play anything at all, let alone write about it. So while I have a free moment let me welcome you back to Cauldron, home of the The Shackled City Adventure Path!

When we last left off our heroic musicians had finally returned home to Cauldron. They had saved a lot of people and brought down an underground slave ring, but they were ill at ease. Someone else knew about the slavers and had done nothing. Who were they? And what about the people they had failed to save? The people who were sold to unknown parties before our heroes were even hired to find them… Were they gone forever? Could four kooky members of an up and coming band possibly brave the Darklands to track them down? No! Surely they couldn’t do anything so foolish! ….Or could they…?

If none of this sounds familiar you can read this blog post, which details our characters, or continue on with this article to hear a quick summary and jump right into the action! You can also check out our previous adventures in Shackled City: Part OneShackled City: Part Two: A Mystery!Shackled City: Part Three: Jzadirune, Shackled City: Part Four: Enter the Malachite Fortress, Shackled City: Part Five: This Place is the Pits!, Shackled City: Part Six: KazmojenShackled City: Part Seven: Bad Luck, and Shackled City: Part Eight: Reunion.

The Shackled City Adventure Path is available for purchase in its entirety here. The first volume, Life’s Bazaar, is available for purchase here.

shackled city adventure path d20diaries


The Heroes

Our eccentric heroes are all members of ‘Dinorabbit,’ a musical band that changes its name frequently and was most previously known as ‘Boople Snoot.’ The band’s lead singer and song-writer is Falco Rhiavadi, a foppish noble bastard of mixed Tien descent whose father was devoured by a dragon when Falco was just a boy. A well-groomed, handsome man with an easy smile and a winning personality, Falco’s a black sheep among his family. Mechanically, Falco is an oracle of life whose familiar is a jealous and demanding thrush named Ruby. Falco is played by my husband.

Mick Frimfrocket is a gnome with dark blue skin, bright pink hair that stands straight up on his head, and light blue eyes with flecks of red around his pupils. He’s energetic, bold, and loves nothing more than a good laugh! Mick acts as the band’s pianist and creative director. He’s the driving force behind the band’s constant name changes, and over-the-top performances. Mick was born in the gnomish enclave of Jzadirune but was brought to the city of Cauldron to escape the Vanishing. Orphaned by the mysterious events and with few memories of those early years, Mick was raised in the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same orphanage that recently had four children kidnpapped right from their beds! Determined to save those little scamps, Mick was very excited to take up this missing person’s case and follow it to its conclusion — particularly when he realized that it led through his one-time home. Mechanically Mick is a monk / bard (prankster) who attacks with wild kicks while playing his piano in battle. Partway through exploring Jzadirune he came into possession of a broken magical construct. He’s played by my seven-year old son.

Rabbity Castalle is a rabbitfolk waitress who works at the Tipped Tankard Tavern. A dancer and singer for the band Dinorabbit, Rabbity also has a pet panther named Panthy. She’s lucky, nimble, and quick, but a little skittish. A co-workers of hers, Griffin Malek, was one of the recently abducted people, so she was very keen to solve this mystery and return him home. Rabbity is a hydrokineticist played by my six-year old daughter, using the rabbitfolk race. Rabbitfolk are a Pathfinder Compatible race created by my daughter (with some help) which will one day be published in the upcoming Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion by Sunburst Games. Rabbity recently ‘befriended’ (she thinks) a vicious howler named Prickles. What could go wrong?!

The final member of our party is Aeris Caldyra, a local locksmith who was cajoled by her roommate, Rabbity, to join the band as a percussionist and set designer. With few friends to call her own, Aeris relented to the rabbitfolk’s request and is the least talented member of the band. The last worshipper of Alseta in Cauldron, with more than a few secrets and regrets, Aeris is a suli bloodrager with a chip on her shoulder. Always one to lend a hand, like her Grandfather Marzio once would have done, Aeris was determined to rescue the missing citizens of Cauldron. Aeris is my character for the Shackled City Adventure Path.


shackled city cauldron
The jungle city of Cauldron, located in the bowl of a dormant volcano.

The members of Dinorabbit and their newly liberated Cauldronites arrived in Cauldron to little fanfare. They brought the people they had freed from slavery to the Church of Abadar — the group who had hired them to find four missing orphans — and spoke with it’s current leader, Jenya Urikas. The authorities were called and the group had just enough time to ask about Terrem Karatys, one of the four children they had been tasked to save. Terrem had been free by our heroes only a few moments before a monstrous beholder had appeared and stole him away again. They admitted their failings to the Priestess, who looked confused.

“Oh? You didn’t save Terrem? Well, he is here safe and sound. He arrived on our doorstep before any others.” She counted out the coins she owed the group for saving three of the four children and handed it to them with a smile. “A pleasure doing business with you.”

My family was more than a little confused. Why would a beholder go to the trouble of stealing an orphaned kid that they had saved from slavery just to bring the kid home? And this beholder… He wasn’t the only one interested in Terrem. The Last Laugh Thieve’s Guild also wanted the boy. In fact, they had gone as far as tasking the orphanage’s janitor, Patch, with keeping an eye on him. Strange… Our heroes tried to speak with Terrem, but the boy would say nothing.

Suddenly the town guard arrived and everyone — victims, heroes, and even some priests — were brought to the Garrison for questioning. The PCs were interviewed over and over by the authorities. The guards looked for holes in their story. Incongruities that might show they had something to do with the kidnappings… They were lectured on the legality and dangers of vigilanteism. Informed that the entirety of Jzadirune and the Malachite Fortress were off limits — it was an active crime scene, after all. The poor musicians were so busy they barely had a moment to stop and breathe. After a few days they received one last warning from Terseon Skellerang, Captain of Cauldron’s city watch, and were sent on their way.

On the way out they ran into Krylscar Endercott, a town guard who was among those that had been abducted from his home by dark folk and then saved by Dinorabbit. Although he was badly wounded when they found him, he grinned at the sight of them and asked for a blade. The stubborn fool was a big help in getting everyone home safe. They chatted with him a bit, and bid him farewell.

cauldron.jpg

Upon re-entering the city for the first time in days they were shocked to discover that although their deeds were well known, their identities were not. A heinous crime! While Aeris returned to work at her locksmith shop, the rest of the band spent some time spreading word of their triumphs and of an upcoming performance — which they had yet to schedule. The next few days were marked with frivolities — writing, practising, performing, rumourmongering, and so on. Falco took these responsibilities very seriously, intent on milking their newfound fame for all it was worth.

Rabbity discovered that Griffin, the friend she had worked so hard to save, was out of a job. He had been replaced as bartender and was now stuck waiting tables. Also, Rabbity had been fired. She hadn’t been into work in nearly a week and left no word as to why, so that wasn’t too much of a surprise. Still, my daughter was a little insulted. She also worried about her pet howler, Prickles, who was currently locked inside the Malachite Fortress, hopefully not killing (or being killed by) the investigating city guards. Deciding they needed to sneak into Jzadirune and save him before he got into trouble, Rabbity concocted a plan. She looked into the people who they hadn’t saved and picked out one whose home was close to Jzadirune — 52 Ash Avenue, the home of skinner Rikaldo Veskar. Rikaldo had a tiny, blood-stained, stinky home that had been abandoned 37 nights. Knowing that he had been sold to unknown buyers in the Darklands and wouldn’t be returning, my daughter set out to purchase the building from the city. She sought guidance from her friend Ruphus Laro at the Church of Abadar and determined the steps to take to buy the building. It cost more than she had, but she managed to convince the group it was important. They pooled their money and bought the house. Then Rabbity asked Falco to start using his stone shape spells to tunnel out a passage from their new junky home to Jzadirune. With some luck and planning they’d be able to get to Prickles before he killed anyone. Hopefully….

Mick was equally busy. He spent a lot of time trying to figure out how he could legally get his hands on Jzadirune. Deciding he needed help he sought professional guidance from the Church of Abadar, just as Rabbity had. With their legal advice he put together a plan to legally acquire the underground complex. And so he set out to track down the original ownership paperwork, and the living descendants of Jzadirune’s founders. There weren’t many of them. Only six. So Mick set out to barter with them over ownership, in the hopes they would turn it over to him. Hopefully, when all is said and done, he could legally claim the property from the city.

Aeris spent her time working, patrolling the town, and looking for a sign that matched the mysterious Kingfisher symbol they had discovered on a letter written to the slaver Kazmojen. She discovered nothing.

There was plenty the group did together, as well. They visited the orphanage, Church of Abadar, and all the other people they had saved, double checking they were safe, healthy, and reintegrating back into society. Patch was fine and back at work. Apparently he had managed to keep his affiliations with the Last Laugh Thieve’s Guild a secret. The orphans were a little traumatized — all except for Terrem who seemed unconcerned over the entire ordeal.

Krylscar had returned home to find his parents hadn’t even been looking for him. Turns out they thought he had robbed them and fled the city — the jerks! He was trying to find himself a new place to live, but not having any luck. At work everyone treats him like a weirdo and he’s angry that they never saved him. In fact, he was generally an angry guy. Still, he had friends. He remained close with his pal Griffin, and often showed up to hang out with the members of Dinorabbit. They knew he wasn’t some shifty loser. They knew he was a good guy. (My family really grew to like this guy! Haha).

Jasper and Jeneer had gone back to work like nothing had happened. Jasper teaches math at Bluecrater Academy, and Jeneer is a jeweller’s apprentice. The group saw Maple, a suspected member of the Alleybashers gang, on the streets from time to time, but she never stayed to chat. And Coryston Pike, the retired adventurer, made it home, but hadn’t been seen around town since.

But, not everyone had recovered. Sondor (the dwarven cartwright), Deven Myrlzal (a teenage human lamplighter), and Irruth Mercadi (a chandler), were all traumatized by their experiences. They wouldn’t talk. They just sat still, scared, and sad. Currently they were at the Church of Abadar, but they would need to head home soon. As Priestess Jenya Urikas plainly pointed out, the Church of Abadar was not in the business of charity.

When the group discovered that Keygan Ghelve had been arrested they went to visit him. My kids were a little upset about his fate. Did he really deserve to be arrested? Out of fear he had helped the kidnappers and slavers, but he had also fought alongside our heroes to free them again. Of course, he had done that only because the group had forced him to… In time they realized that Keygan’s fate was out of their hands. Instead they offered to take care of his rat familiar, Starbrow, and his home. It took some bargaining and a signed contract, but Keygan agreed to transfer ownership of his home and locksmith shop to the members of Dinorabbit on the condition they took care of Starbrow, they did not sell any of his paintings or his grandfather clock, and they didn’t bring their meddlesome pets into his home. When he was released from prison, ownership of his home and shop would revert to Keygan. Keygan was grateful, and they began to feel a little better about this whole ordeal.

In time they discovered a vandalism problem in Cauldron. Someone had been painting words on buildings in goblin. Things like “Murrd wrote this!” “Snurk smells like dung!” and “Drakthar has bat ears!” Luckily, Mick could speak goblin and was pretty sure the culprits were a gang of goblins. Which was absurd! Everyone knew no goblins lived in Cauldron! Determined to prove he wasn’t crazy, the group stayed up late a few nights, attempting to catch the vandals red-handed. Although they came close, the only thing they managed to earn was a scolding from the guards for suspicious behaviour. Whoops!

One day the group received a summons from the Mayor’s Office. They hurried over and were told that the mayor — Lord Mayor Severen Navalant — wanted to host a ceremony in honour of their deeds. Although it was clear he was hoping to use their newfound celebrity status to bolster the public’s opinion of him, the band didn’t mind. They wanted to do the same to him, after all. Together they made some plans and the party was scheduled, with Dinorabbit making a headlining performance. The Mayor also asked about their experiences under Cauldron and their opinions on what should be done about Jzadirune, the Malachite Fortress, and the passages to the Darklands. Mick took this opportunity to share his plans to acquire full ownership of Jzadirune while Rabbity petitioned for her ‘beloved’ new pet Prickles to be returned to her at once! The Mayor smiled and assured them he would take it under advisement. The group was skeptical he would, but had little choice but to accept him at his word.

The days leading up to the festival were hectic, with even Aeris practising as much as she could. They put on a lot of other performances, both big and small. My family was happiest to earn themselves a performance at both the Cusp of Sunrise (a fancy social club that was for the nobility) and the Coy Nixie (a fancy restaurant where they first began their adventure). Before they knew it the party was upon them. Much to their surprise the mayor named them ‘Champions of Cauldron’ — a position which he later assured them had no real responsibilities to go with it — rewarded them the deed to Jzadirune, and gave them a new task: putting an end to the goblin vandals that have been irritating the town! Both shocked and pleased at this turn of events, the gang agreed. Not that they were given a choice…. Haha. After the ceremony the party began, and my family had a blast describing their performances and songs. The night ended with fireworks, and a few angry scowls from Captain Skellerang.

The next day would see them busy again. Plans had to be made for Jzadirune and Prickles had to be liberated. The Lord Mayor’s secretary informed them that the Malachite Fortress would be turned into a guard post for the Town Guard so that the entrance to the Darklands could be properly protected. This, of course, meant that they would need to have engineers remodel the entrances to both Jzadirune and the Malachite Fortress a bit. Both the members of Dinorabbit and the Town Guard had to be able to access different parts of the complex without traipsing through the others space. I handed my kids a map of Jzadirune and asked them for their ideas. They also got to make plans for the engineers to fix up some of Jzadirunes broken walls and tunnels while they were at it — courtesy of a small grant provided to them by the Mayor’s Office. A surprise my kids found very exciting! Even more exciting? The group got to visit Jzadirune and Rabbity retrieved Prickles. Happily he did not try to devour her. Yet.

By the time Dinorabbit left Jzadirune and began to walk home they were greeted by rain. More than that. It was a downpour. Fall had come to Cauldron, which meant the rains would continue for a few weeks more, at least. It was misty out. Cool and dark. There was a chilling howl on the wind — like that of a wolf. On the side of Aeris’ locksmith shop was more goblin graffiti.

“Who builds town in volcano? Stupid humans!”

The gang sighed.

Tomorrow they would need to put aside their ambitions and get to work. The had a gang of vandals to catch.


Behind the Screen

The Shackled City Adventure Path is a difficult to get your hands on adventure path published in eleven separate Dungeon Magazines, or available in hardcover from Amazon here or from Paizo Publishing’s website here. The first adventure, Life’s Bazaar is available in Dungeon Magazine #97 from Paizo Publishing’s website here. A copy of the premade player handouts is available from Paizo here.

Despite being a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Path, we’re running this campaign with Pathfinder (both the campaign setting and the ruleset). Our characters utilize content from many sources, some of which are listed below.

The shaman and the bloodrager classes, as well as the bloodrager archetype spelleater, can all be found in the Advanced Class Guide. The urban bloodrager archetype can be found in Heroes of the Streets. The Kineticist class can be found in Occult Adventures. The monk and bard are base classes found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook (or in a convenient travel-sized edition: Core Rulebook (Pocket Edition)  while the prankster archetype for bards can be found in the Advanced Race Guide.

Oblivion Oath Premiere Tomorrow!

Last month Paizo announced a the launch of a liveplay campaign that will feature the new Pathfinder Second Edition ruleset! Launching on April 4th and featuring Paizo staff members, this liveplay will be our first glimpse at the newly updated Pathfinder Second Edition rules.

GMed by Paizo’s Director of Game Design, Jason Bulmahn, the liveplay is called Oblivion Oath and will air live on Paizo’s twitch stream every Thursday at Noon Pacific for one hour. Episodes will go up on Paizo’s Youtube Channel a few days later. Each week since the announcement the players have sat down with Dan Tharp, producer of the show, to describe their characters and answer questions. The final character reveal happened  last week and tomorrow marks the premiere of the Oblivion Oath campaign! Oblivion Oath will continue for an indetermined length of time.

Jason Bulmahn will be joined by four lucky Paizo Staffers, Gabe Waluconis (Paizo’s Project Manager) will be playing an Iruxi (lizardfolk) rogue named Zel. Katina Davis (from Paizo’s Customer Service Team) will be playing Zel’s best friend Mykah, a gnome wizard. Sara Marie (Customer Service and Community Manager) will be playing Carina Whisperbane, a runaway dwarf Redeemer Champion of Pharasma (Champion is the new term for Paladin, which can be of any good alignment. Paladins are LG Champions, Redeemers are NG Champions, and Liberators are CG Champions). And finally, Owen K.C. Stephens (Starfinder Design Lead) will be playing Qundle, a Celestial blooded goblin sorcerer capable of using divine magic and possessing a deep love of pickles. Unlike the previous Doomsday Dawn livestream, Oblivion Oath is meant to be a character driven liveplay that features the same players and characters week after week. Although it is sure to feature spoilers about the upcoming Second Edition rules, it’s not intended to teach viewers how to play Second Edition. It’s about story, and the characters helping to drive it.

Oblivian Oath
The characters of Oblivion Oath! From the left: Zel, Mykah, Carina Whisperbane, and Qundle. Illustrated by PxelSlayer. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc. 

Oblivion Oath takes place in Golarion in the year 4719, which makes it concurrent with the events of the final Pathfinder First Edition Adventure Path: Tyrant’s Grasp. Oblivion’s Oath is said to feature a glimpse at that AP, but not spoilers. Instead, it will be it’s own story.

“Four unlikely heroes set sail from the port of Vellumis aboard the Sleepy Sea Cat, a slow-moving barge sailing the waters of Lake Encarthan,” Jason Bulmahn revealed on Paizo’s blog. “Packed with travelers and cargo, Captain Heliana Ironeye assures everyone of a smooth journey north to Ustalav before turning south and making for the elven port of Greengold, but tensions aboard remain high. Terrifying rumors out of the west, combined with fires throughout the city have set folk on edge, and the barge contains more than a few eager to put Lastwall behind them. In the case of our heroes, that could not be more true…”

For more information on Oblivion Oath cast and characters check out Paizo’s Twitch Stream or Youtube Channel! A list of the current episodes it at the bottom of this post. Be sure to tune it to Paizo’s Twitch Stream weekly on Thursdays at Noon Pacific to watch Oblivion Oath live! The premiere is tomorrow!

We’ll see you there!

Jessica


Current Oblivion Oath Episodes:

Be sure to check out the premiere episode tomorrow on Twitch!