My family and I don’t often have the chance to attend conventions. We don’t usually get to play Pathfinder Society or Starfinder Society games in person. We play a lot via play-by-post (which is a ton of fun) and we play a lot in small family groups. But to actually play in a public venue? That’s a new experience for us.
So, when we discovered that there would be a convention just down the road from our home how could we say no?
I wasn’t sure my kids would behave. Would they remain focused in a noisy room? Would they sit still long enough to get a whole game in? My son’s a fidgeter, and he fiddles with everything, so I was more than a little skeptical. Would we drive our poor GM bonkers?
But, my kids wanted to go, and my husband wanted to go, and of course I wanted to go. So we went.
In the week leading up to RetroCon we decided to make new characters. We have plenty of PFS characters to choose from but my kids wanted to make some that actually matched the minis we own. My son picked out a snazzy little halfling mini and rolled up a gnome shifter to match it — with the new boar options from Wilderness Origins (more on Wilderness Origins in an upcoming blog post!). My daughter chose one of the only minis she personally owns and created a hunter (her first one!). Determined to make use of an adorable little badger mini she owns she selected one as her animal companion. Yes, you read that right. She finally made something that does not involve a rabbit! GASP! My husband made a dwarven warpriest of Cayden Cailean with a mini we picked up from the flea market this past summer. And I was determined to use of one of my painted minis — which means there aren’t many options! Haha. I’ve only painted minis once and, although I had intended to use the four minis I painted right away, none of them ever saw use. I hummed and hawed a bit until I picked up my wealthy looking noblewoman mini and I created an over-enthusiastic librarian who has spent her life reading about the world and was thrilled to finally go out and experience it.
We spent the morning packing and double checking our game time. My kids were practically bouncing off the walls in excitement (which is both a good and bad sign! Haha!). It’s a quick walk down the road, but the sidewalks are an icy, rough mess, so that slowed things down a bit. Luckily no one took a spill or got soaked. We had more than enough time to get settled and say some hellos before our GM arrived and the game got started.
Our GM was really great. He had my kids laughing a lot and was super patient. My kids weren’t the most attentive players, my son kept fixating on off-mission activities, and my son made some of the worst tactical decisions of his short PFS career. We probably drove the GM crazy. Haha. Anyway, my kids had a ton of fun. People were saved, villains were defeated, fish were thrown around, my daughter uttered the battle cry ‘nibble nibble,’ and my arcanist finally left the library.
And then we died.
Yup! Total party kill in the final fight. My kids were both in tears.
My son cheered up a bit when he won a special boon — he’s pretty sure he’s going to apply it to Fuzzzy (his forgetful wizard). My daughter didn’t win anything, but someone was walking around handing out bee folders which she assumed was a prize and happily claimed. She seriously loves this folder. She’s been cooing over it all evening.
By the time we were packed up and on our way home both of my kids decided that — despite having to suffer through their first character death, first PFS character death, and first TPK all in the same afternoon — they had fun. By the time they got home they were already discussing their next characters and when we would get to play next. (I guess we’ll be attending another Game Day in the future). It turned out to be a good first convention for them — tears and all.
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.
D&D Starter Set and the dice that come with it.
Dice from the D&D Starter Set
Contents of the D&D Starter Set
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.
Contents of the D&D Starter Set
Pre-generated characters from the D&D Starter Set
“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.”
D&D Player’s Handbook
Old Sorewing the Dragonborn
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!”
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.
Creating Argo Grey, the half-elf paladin of Kord.
Creating Eldeth Darkvein, the creepy dwarf warlock.
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.
Character sheets complete!
And… we’re ready!
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!
One of the play-by-post campaigns I am lucky enough to take part in is run by the wonderful GM Zek on Paizo’s messageboards. The campaign is called the Mantisbane Pact, and it takes place in Golarion, the world of Pathfinder. Mantisbane Pact involves an alliance of powerful monarchs and rightful rulers who come together to destroy the Red Mantis Assassins and their god, Achaekek. Our players would act as their agents, travel to Ilizmagorti (a city firmly in the grasp of the Red Mantis Assassins), and work to bring the entire organization crumbling down.
No pressure, right? Haha.
This awesome custom campaign was recruiting by application, meaning interested players would need to create a character and submit it for review. After a while the GM would select which players they wanted to play in the campaign. This is pretty common practise for online play-by-post campaigns, due to the high interest of players, and the length of the campaign. It’s important you find a team of characters and players who work well together. Unlike other campaigns I had applied for, The Mantisbane Pact asked interested players to create a short story for their characters as part of the selection process. My character, a smart-ass, jaded slayer name Kilarra Calvennis, was accepted alongside a team of other awesome PCs to undertake this mission. At various times throughout the adventure we also had the opportunity to write other vignettes and flashbacks, often from the perspective of our shaman, who can view moments from the past by using the Akashic Record.
Today I’m sharing with you the initial short story I wrote for my character, Kilarra. After today it will be available under the d20 Stories feature on our website. Enjoy!
Kilarra Calvennis stood in her boyfriend’s bedroom preparing for the worst betrayal of her life. She strapped on her armour slowly, fussing with the buckles with sweaty, shaking hands. She was nervous and excited, all at once.
She was about to undertake a test—one of many she would have to pass in order to become a Red Mantis Assassin. The target was her father. He wouldn’t die—this wasn’t an official assassination. It was just a break in. A simple test of skill, stealth and loyalty. Get into her father’s office without being seen, knock him unconscious, remove all the documents in his office, and slip away without being caught.
She could do this. She knew she could. So why were her hands shaking? And why was her heart fluttering like a panicked bird trapped in her chest?
Kilarra sighed. Her father deserved everything that was coming to him. He was one of the many corrupt nobles that dealt in lies and bribes. Just one among hundreds, but his methods sickened her. She had rebelled against him and against her country. She tried to bring about change, first with words, and then more drastic measures. None of it worked. In the end it wasn’t her father that had changed, or Taldor… It was her. And it wasn’t for the better. She did more harm than her father ever had.
“It’s his fault,” she reminded herself aloud. Her voice shook, but she continued. “He deserves this. He brought it on himself.”
She slipped her hands into her black and red leather gloves, grabbed her helmet off her boyfriend’s bureau and left the room.
Bastien grinned at her. “You look beautiful, love,” he said.
Kilarra smiled. If her father was everything wrong in the world, Bastien was everything right. He was her beloved. Her mentor. Her life. He pulled her up from the life of gangs and crime that her father had driven her to and stood her back up. He gave her purpose. He gave her love. He was intoxicating. So when Bastien confided in her that he was an assassin, she accepted that. And when he asked her to worship his strange mantis-god, she prayed with him. And when he said that she was gifted and that he wanted to train her to be like him, she was proud.
She would do anything for him.
“I’m ready,” she replied.
Bastien nodded. “You are.”
She kissed him goodbye, slipped her red, mantis shaped helmet over her head and crept out the window onto the roof. If she had to rob her father to prove herself to Bastien, she would do so gladly.
The trip to her father’s office was short and uneventful. She kept to the shadows and stayed quiet. She slipped in through an open window on the third floor and crept down the dark halls with ease. There was a light around the edges of her father’s office door. He was in there, just as Bastien said he would be. She reached for the doorknob and hesitated.
This would change everything. Whatever happened between her and her father… Whatever he discovered and whatever she did… There was no going back. After tonight Bastien would take her to train among his fellow Red Mantis Assassins. He would train her to kill.
She never wanted to kill anyone. She still didn’t. But the thought of letting Bastien down made her sick to her stomach. She didn’t want to disappoint him. Not after everything he had done for her. She wanted to make him proud. She would make him proud. No matter what.
Kilarra took a deep breath and turned the doorknob. She cracked the door open and glanced inside. Her father was at his desk, back to her, clutching something at his chest. She moved in silently and shut the door.
He didn’t notice her. He didn’t hear her coming. But something about the way he was twitching in his chair put her on edge…. And the smell… Smelt like…
Kilarra inched across the room, hands shaking, afraid of what she would see.
Her father jerked erratically and fell from his chair, landing in a heap on the floor. A letter opener protruded from his chest.
“Dad!” she exclaimed.
He flinched when he saw her and tried to scream, but the blood in his mouth made it come out a wet gurgle. She tore her helmet off, and tossed it aside. It’s black insectile eyes watched her accusingly from across the room.
Her father’s eyes widened. He gurgled again, trying to speak, but she couldn’t make out what he was saying.
Pain exploded across the back of her head. She fell to the ground in a heap. Her ears rang and her vision blurred. She reached a shaky hand to her head. It was wet. And something was in her hair… She looked at her fingertips and saw they were covered in blood.
The killer was still here. How could she have been so stupid?
Kilarra crawled forward, but the blow she’d taken to the head had been fierce. Her arms were shaking and she couldn’t focus.
Behind her she heard laughter. It was familiar, but… wrong. Cold and cruel where it had once been warm.
“Ba- Bas- tien..?” she whimpered.
“I thought you’d be harder to take down than that! Didn’t you learn anything from me?”
It wasn’t him. It couldn’t be. He loved her.
There was motion beside her, and then pain. The man who sounded like Bastien kicked her so hard in the chest her whole body was lifted off the ground. She fell on her back, her head cracked against the floor with a wet crunch.
And there above her, smiling, was Bastien.
“Why?” she whimpered.
“Sorry, love,” he replied. “But I’ve always loved playing games.”
He struck her again, knocking her unconscious as a tear streamed down her bloody, swollen face.
When she woke up Bastien was gone, but she wasn’t alone. The guards had found her, bloody and beaten, clutching a bloody letter opener in one hand and her fathers coin purse in the other. Her gear was missing. Her father was dead. Bastien was gone.
She would have done anything for him. Anything.
He took everything from her but her life.
Six Years Later…
Kilarra stepped out of prison and into the busy, sunlit streets of Oppara for the first time in six years. She looked around, and took a deep breath. Slowly, a smile spread across her scarred face. Gods, freedom smelt good.
As she opened her eyes her smile slipped. A woman in a military uniform stood in front of her. She was middle-aged, blonde, clean-cut.
“Who wants to know?”
“Officer Landau. Agent of the Crown.”
“I didn’t do it,” Kilarra replied.
“Do what?”the woman asked.
“Whatever it is you think I did.”
Officer Landau smiled. “I think you’re the woman who spent six years of her life serving jail time for killing her father. The same woman who spouted tales of mantis headed assassins for years.”
Kilarra sighed. “And what? You want to hear it again? You want to laugh? I’m out now. A free woman. ”
The officer smirked. “Yes, convenient, isn’t it? Serving only six years of a life-time sentence.”
Kilarra’s frown deepened. Landau was right. Officially she was being let out for good behaviour, but that was clearly a lie. Kilarra hadn’t been good in prison. First she had cried, and then she had yelled, and then she fell in with a bad crowd all over again—or rather, she made her own bad crowd. “Leave me alone,” she growled.
The woman raised an eyebrow. “Why? So you can track down who hired the Red Mantis Assassins and beat them bloody? So you can hunt down your mom, or your grandmother or you brother or any number of other potential suspects and wind up back in the prison you just left by days end?”
Kilarra repressed a frown. That was exactly what she had been planning to do. She plastered a smile across her face and fluttered her eyelashes sweetly. “I’m reformed.”
“Whoever hired you did so for power, or money, or some other petty reason. You weren’t the target, you were the scape goat. It wasn’t personal for them. But this person—this guy you were with. Bastien. He made it personal, didn’t he? Isn’t that who you should be getting revenge against? The man who betrayed you?”
Bastien. The sound of his name sent a wave of anger surging through her. If she ever saw him again she would cram his stupid mantis helmet down his throat. Focus…”Did one too many blows to the head make you deaf, Officer Landau? I said I’m reformed. I’m not going to kill anyone. I’m not searching for vengeance. And I’m not talking to you.”
“That’s too bad. See, I’m recruiting for a special assignment. Grand Prince Stavian the Third has entered into an agreement with—“
“Spare me the politics. It’s boring.”
Officer Landau continued as if she hadn’t been interrupted by a dirty ex-con, but Kilarra could tell her smile had turned cold. “It’s called the Mantisbane Pact, and its purpose is to send agents to kill the Red Mantis Assassins, destroy their organization and assassinate their god.”
Kilarra froze. “Achaekek…” she breathed.
The soldier smiled. “Got your attention, have I?”
“You’re looking for people to assassinate a god?” She burst out laughing. This woman was clearly mad. “How’s that working out for you?”
“Finding brave enough—”
“Crazy enough, you mean.”
“Driven enough volunteers who might actually be able to get the job done is… difficult. Which is why I’m here.”
Officer Landau grit her teeth. “I’m giving you the opportunity to apply for the team. There’s no guarantee you’ll get in. There’s other volunteers just as driven—”
“As you. Now are you in or can I wash my hands of you?”
Kilarra smiled. “Well with a sales pitch like that, how can I refuse? Where do I sign up?”
“Pack a bag. The applicants sail for Kyonin tomorrow.”
Want to read more about Kilarra? Be on the look out for more vignettes and flashbacks in the coming weeks!
Today we’re talking about a Kickstarter I’m super excited for: Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion which just launched this morning! I’ve already made my pledge (although my children are urging me to give more) and today we’re doing our part to make this book a reality!
So what is Realms of Atrothia?
In short, Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion is a high quality hardcover d20 book that offers players a rich new campaign setting, imaginative character options, and exciting game mechanics to play around with. It’s Pathfinder First Edition compatible, and scheduled to be released this fall. Realms of Atrothia is the brain child of my brother, Kris Leonard. Kris is the founder of Sunburst Games, an independant Tabletop RPG company focused on Pathfinder Compatible content for the next generation.
I’ve had the opportunity to create plenty of content for this amazing book already, which has been an awesome (and time consuming!) experience. Even more exciting, my daughter’s rabbitfolk race will be featured as a new primary race in Realms of Atrothia! She’s over the moon with this development!
Want more details? Read on for more information straight from the source: Sunburst Games mastermind: Kris Leonard!
“Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion is a hardcover book that will surely be the newest addition to any Tabletop Gamer’s library. With an expected release in fall 2019, our Kickstarter just launched this morning. Building upon the legacy of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and the existing d20 game system which is over 35 years in the making, Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion includes all new game mechanics, and player options.
Featuring the Realms Campaign Setting, the Ascended system for running a game beyond 20th level, and expanded player content, including new archetypes, base classes, feats, gear, magic items, races, and spells, Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion is sure to capture the imaginations of Players, and GMs alike.
You can adventure through a whole new world with lost civilizations, unexplored jungles, and political intrigue abound. Dine with the Hegemony of Kalmarune’s vampire aristocracy. Contend with the Trennian Empire’s claim of national superiority through widespread use of black powder. Push back the ever-expanding armies from the forsaken lands of Xer-Kol whose fanatical peoples serve the whims of the god of corruption bound within their borders. The Realms of Atrothia await.”
Awesome! But, what will we actually be getting?
Packed with over 25 new playable races, Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion features an expansive array of racial options including Alternative Racial Traits, Favored Class Bonuses, Racial Archetypes, and Racial Feats. Including fully re-balanced Legacy Races already seen in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, as well as new Primary Races such as the Anithrope, Caitsith, Giantborn, Half-Troll, Hecavus, Immortis, Lupine, Minotaur, Rabbitfolk, Tortoisefolk, and Volaris. If that’s not enough, get ready for dozens of Monstrous Races, such as Cyclops, Dracolyte, Gargoyle, Harpy, Oni, Medusa, Moonbeast, Pixie, Sphinx, Treant, and Yeti! These are powerful races which are modified for play at 1st character level, but cannot reach full strength without pursuing the Exemplar Primary Class for one or more levels.
New heroes have arrived with Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion. Featuring seven new Primary Classes including Artificer, Erudite, Esoteric, Exemplar, Knight, Priest, and Spellsword, as well as dozens of new Class Archetypes for both the Legacy Classes already seen in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the Primary Classes. In addition they’re introducing a new kind of archetype: Universal Archetypes, which can be taken by any class.
Get ready for a whole new world of adventure! Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion includes a new Campaign Setting, the World of Atrothia. Featuring over 25 new deities, including the redeemed knight Davros, and the corrupter Xeronoth, and more than 50 regions to explore, such as the undead aristocracy of the Hegemony of Kalmarune, the pinnacle of prosperity that is Palisade, and the unexplored reaches of the Mogen Wildlands.
New Equipment, Spells, and Game Mechanics
But, that’s not all! There’s new equipment, magic items, spells, and feats for characters of all kinds. There’s also new game mechanics, including the Ascended System, which allows for high level play past 20th level, and ascending to godhood!
To learn more about Sunburst Games, Realms of Atrothia, and their products be sure to check out their website: SunburstGames.com! Want to support the Kickstarter, see some awesome artwork, or find out more? Click here! You’ll be happy you did!
Thanks for joining us today. We hope you enjoy taking a look at Realms of Atrothia!
Ai the Golden Blade, CG Female Human Exemplar
Sir Lucius Ironfell IX, LG Male Immortis Knight
Metzal Tzalamas, CN Male Giantborn Esoteric
Rosie Rightfoot, LG Female Rabbitfolk Priest
Galdar Kelitos, LN Male Theopian Minotaur Spellsword
Wow, it has been AGES since we’ve have a chance to write a new campaign update! Fear not, fellow readers, our campaigns haven’t come to an unfortunate end. They’re trekking along slowly, in between school, work, and everyday life. So where are we heading today?
When we last left off our heroic musicians were investigating a series of missing person cases which recently culminated in the abduction of four children from a local orphanage. Fate led to our characters taking the rescue of these people upon themselves! If none of this sounds familiar you can read this blog post first, which details our characters, or continue on with this article to jump right into the action! You can also check out our previous adventures in Shackled City: Part One and Shackled City: Part Two: A Mystery!
The Shackled City Adventure Path is available for purchase in its entirety here. The first volume, Life’s Bazaar, is available for purchase here.
Our eccentric heroes are all members of ‘Dinorabbit,’ a musical band that changes its name frequently and was most previously known as ‘Boople Snoot.’ The band’s lead singer and song-writer is Falco Rhiavadi, a foppish noble bastard of mixed Tien descent whose father was devoured by a dragon when he 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 bands constant name changes, and over-the-top performances. Mick was born in Jzadirune but was brought to the city of Cauldron to escape the Vanishing. Orphaned by the mysterious events and with few memories of those early years, Mick was raised in the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same orphanage that recently had four children kidnpapped right from their beds! Determined to save those little scamps, Mick was very excited to take up this missing person’s case and follow it to its conclusion — particularly when he realized that it led to his one-time home. Mechanically Mick is a monk / bard (prankster) who attacks with wild kicks while playing his piano in battle. He’s played by my seven-year old son.
Rabbity Castalle is a rabbitfolk waitress who works at the Tipped Tankard Tavern. A dancer and singer for the band Dinorabbit, Rabbity also has a pet panther named Panthy. She’s lucky, nimble, and quick, but a little skittish. One of her co-workers is one of the people who was recently abducted, so she’s very keen to solve this mystery and return him home. Rabbity is a hydrokineticist played by my six-year old daughter, using the rabbitfolk race. Rabbitfolk are a Pathfinder Compatible race created by my daughter (with some help) which will soon be published in the upcoming Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion by Sunburst Games (Kickstarter coming in February!)
The final member of our party is Aeris Caldyra, a local locksmith who was cajoled by her roommate, Rabbity, to join the band as a percussionist and set designer. With few friends to call her own, Aeris relented to the rabbitfolk’s request and is the least talented member of the band. The last worshipper of Alseta in Cauldron, with more than a few secrets and regrets, Aeris is a suli bloodrager with a chip on her shoulder. Always one to lend a hand, like her Grandfather Marzio once would have done, Aeris is determined to rescue the missing citizens of Cauldron. Aeris is my character for the Shackled City Adventure Path.
Although that’s the last of our PCs, that’s not the last of our party. The members of Dinorabbit are also travelling with two NPCs: Patch, the half-orc janitor, and Keygan Ghelve, a local locksmith.
Patch is a big, stuttering, fool who works at the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same place he was raised. Patch recently got recruited to the Last Laugh Thieve’s Guild and was asked to watch over an orphan named Terrem. Unfortunately, Terrem was kidnapped on the very evening that Patch went out to meet with with the guild. Distraught over the boy’s disappearance, Patch was pressured by Falco and Mick into helping them rescue the kids. And so, the poor one-eyed janitor finds himself heading into danger.
Keygan Ghelve is a gnome locksmith and competitor of Aeris’. He’s also the reason people are going missing! Months ago strange creatures came up from Keygan’s basement — which leads to the abandoned gnomish enclave of Jzadirune — and kidnapped his rat familiar! They forced Keygan to forge them a set of skeleton keys that can open the locks he’d installed in Cauldron, and a list of all his customers. In the months since, skulks and dark creepers have used his home as a way station, heading out into the city, abducting people from their homes, and dragging them back underground through his basement. Keygan feel guilty, but he’s more worried over his rat than anything! The members of Dinorabbit followed clues that led to Keygan’s shop and discovered his role in the abductions. Although Aeris wanted to turn him in to the guard, the Falco and Mick insisted he come with them if he wanted to save his rat. He’d need to help rescue the kidnapped citizens of Cauldron and undo the damage he’s facilitated.
Aeris decided that after that she’d still have him arrested. She’s a stickler for the rules. …Usually.
And so our eclectic team of musicians, janitors, and locksmiths, descends through hidden passageways into the long-abandoned gnomish enclave of Jzadirune, on the trail of subterranean kidnappers!
Aeris and Falco led the way, with Mick, Rabbity, and Panthy travelling in the middle of the group. Patch and Keygan took up the rear, while the cowardly locksmith strongly debating running away when no one was looking.
They stepped foot into Jzadirune and explored a strange room where they heard birds chirping, gnomes laughing, and felt a breeze blowing on their skin. Massive masks hung on the walls. As they moved into to illusion-draped room to look around they discovered two strange doors –- like giant gears that roll into the walls, these were the ‘Doors with Teeth’ divinations had led them to! (See the riddle for more information). My children were thrilled! Beyond thrilled. They had obsessed over that riddle for days. But, seeing a glimmer of light coming from the cracks around one of the doors, Aeris and Mick went to peek inside, while Falco moved deeper into the room.
Suddenly the masks on the wall began to sing, welcoming them to Jzadirune and warning them against pilfering. Although my kids loved it, and asked me to sing the song to them over and over and over, it wasn’t so great for their characters. The illusory song caused the figures beyond the lit door to notice the heroes. Quickly camouflaging themselves, the skulks vanished. They lay in wait to ambush the PCs, but after only one round of battle they ran off, deeper into Jzadirune through makeshift, rough tunnels that had been drilled through the walls.
Our heroes gave chase, engaging in a series of skirmishes against a pair of skulks. Eventually they came to a room with a strange mechanical construct in it, clearly the source of the roughly drilled tunnels. There a dark creeper ordered the construct to attack the intruders, in gnome. Mick laughed and told it to stop. The pair argued and bickered, giving the construct contrary orders until the creeper gave up and fled. Mick was thrilled with his new, neat, half-broken construct, and the group was off again, charging blindly through the tunnels, deeper into Jzadirune.
One battle into this place and they were already super lost! Haha.
Our explorations continued over a whopping eight play sessions and over fifteen hours of gameplay! That’s a LOT, particularly when you take into account that half of our party is children under eight years old. I find that my kids are easily bored by long encounter-heavy dungeons, so I did my best to make it interesting. I combined multiple similar battles into one encounter, turning them into dynamic, constantly moving skirmishes. Other encounters we skipped completely, removing many of the extra enemies that served no immediate story purpose, like vermin. Those encounters that remained were a lot of fun, typically taking place in the most exciting and dynamic of Jzadirune’s rooms. Favourite locations included the previously mentioned giggling masks room, the theatre where you can watch illusory plays, the throne room where you could interact with an illusory gnomish king and learn hints as to what befell Jzadirune, and the underground forest. Since my son’s character spent his early years living in Jzadirune, I made sure to give him plenty of information and history he could discover. No empty room was just empty, there were hints to the room’s purpose and inhabitants, memories he might distantly recall, and places he’s been. His favourite discoveries included a door that had his family’s name on it, and a bedroom that contained a child’s bed and a long-discarded stuffed animal he’s pretty sure was once his. Finally, we played up the personalities and interactions of the NPCs Keygan and Patch, which everyone really enjoyed. Even Aeris was happy to see Keygan reunited with his beloved rat familiar, Starbrow.
My kids had a great time uncovering the mystery of Jzadirune and determining what caused it to become abandoned. And, while my daughter is happy that we’re finally leaving that spooky place behind, my son is a little sad about it. He’s decided that Mick Frimfrocket will reclaim this place once its done. He has big plans to clean it up, make it safe, and use it as a home and base of operations. Maybe he’ll even turn it into an orphanage. Whatever he decides to do, he’s loath to hide the signs of its previous inhabitants. He wants to keep every mural, nameplate, and bed. Preserve every memory he can of the gnomes who once lived and died here. It’s all he has left of his family.
In the end our characters discovered that Jzadirune was laid low by a curse that affected their magical objects, causing their users to vanish completely. Those few gnomes who survived the terrifying experience were children. The kidnappers had been using Jzadirune’s ruins as a base of operations, digging tunnels with old broken constructs through the walls to avoid traps and complex doors. And, although they battled the skulks and their dark creeper minions, my players never found any signs of the kidnapped citizens of Cauldron. What they did find was a door. The door led to a platform that, with the flick of a switch, descended down a shaft into the darkness. When the doors opened they found themselves someplace else. Someplace new. A place of dwarven construction, made from malachite.
My son and daughter gasped in shock!
“MOM! MOM! The riddle! The riddle says something about that mal-kite! We are almost there!”
My son read the riddle a few more times and double checked the notes that he keeps in his detective’s notebook (which is a copy of Detective Murdoch’s notebook from Murdoch Mysteries). “Hmmm… Yup! Those kidnappers must have been working for a duergar! He’s the true culprit!”
My daughter clapped her hands in glee. “Yes! We are almost there! I have to save my good friend Griffin who I work with! He was supposed to be married! His girlfriend is so sad she cries everyday! We must hurry! He could DIE!” She says the word ‘die’ with such drama. It’s adorable.
“And think of the children!” I joked.
My kids nodded. “YEAH! THE CHILDREN!” They were not joking. In fact, they were very, very, serious.
But, by then the weekend was over. It was time to get ready for bed, and prepare for the next week of school. The children would have to wait. But, you can bet that we’ll be playing again next weekend, when we begin our exploration of the Malachite Fortress.
Thanks for joining us, everyone! I hope you enjoyed getting to hear a bit about our crazy adventures. We’ll see you again soon!
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 Number 97 from Paizo Publishing’s website here.
Wednesday night on Starfinder Wednesday Dan and the gang over at Paizo talked about the Character Operations Manual Playtest, where you can take three new Starfinder classes for a test drive. This week was the final of three episodes streaming over the past month that took an in depth look at these three classes: the biohacker, the witchwarper, and the vanguard. So which was up last?
Host Dan Tharp welcomed special guests Owen K.C. Stephens and Joe Pasini to the show. Joe wrote the vanguard. Although this was his first time on the show he seemed comfortable and did a great job! Really enjoyable to watch!
To kick things off Dan asked Owen and Joe about the Starfinder Operations Manual Playtest. How has it been going? What sort of feedback have they been getting? What’s good and bad and so on. Owen admitted that it is both productive and frustrating. Obviously when you put creative content out there that you think is great and ask people to find it’s flaws and problem areas, they’re going to do that. And find flaws the playtesters have! Haha. But, in a good way. All these problems that have been identified are areas the team is excited to tackle and improve upon. Most exciting, Owen said that even the negative feedback has still been positive. Turns out fans really like the concepts of the three character classes — the biohacker, the witchwarper, and the vanguard — and are excited to see them in play. All in all, the folks at Paizo appreciate the time everyone has spent on this playtest and look forward to hearing more from us.
As an outsider, it sounds like they have some polishing and tweaking to do, but nothing too major.
For those of you who haven’t provided feedback to Paizo’s messageboards or surveys yet, you’ve still got time. The Starfinder Operations Manual Playtest closes on January 16th. Be sure to get your responses in by then!
From there the conversation shifted onto the vanguard. This was Joe Pasini’s first time developing a class, and I think he did a really great job. But, when asked his thoughts on writing classes he laughed and replied “Can’t say I recommend it.”
The gang clarified that writing classes is among the hardest things you can do in a d20 game, as this is the primary way in which the players are going to interact with your game. They have to be great, so your game can shine. Writing and developing them can be stressful.
The vanguard is mechanically different than anything they’ve done before, so they want it to play differently. It should feel different than a soldier and a solarian (which are the two nearest comparable classes), but it should still be as effective. Vanguard’s don’t do as much damage as those other full BAB combatants, but they target EAC, so they nearly always hit their enemies. But, at its core, its the vanguards resilience that makes them special.
Joe explained that when they were creating ideas for new classes, very early on they decided they wanted a constitution based tank type of character. It was Joe who suggested tying that to the idea of entropy. Further meetings helped focus the class down to its inspirations and final concept. And that’s when Joe got to step in, stare at some blank paper, and try to make it work.
In the end, vanguards became a class that stand strong on the front lines, protect their companions, take hits and become empowered because of them. They don’t mind getting hit, because it lets them use their abilities more effectively. They’re a class that’s just really cool and different. Both tactically and mechanically.
During the interview, Joe explained that one of the things he’s most excited for about the vanguard is how it can create a lot of different kinds of characters. It’s inspiration was very broad — including Captain America, the Juggernaut, the Terminator, David Dunn (from the film Unbreakable), and many more. All these kinds of characters and more can be expressed as vanguards. Later in the episode, spurred on by viewer questions, they even chatted about barathu and contemplative vanguards. (Which are awesome!)
Now, like the other playtest classes, vanguard is not without its flaws. Owen has pointed out that from playtest feedback they’ve discovered that vanguards sometimes have trouble getting into combat and could use a method to speed themselves up. In addition, they have nothing to spend their entropy points on at first level. Owen and Joe mused about creating a way to use entropy points to gain a speed burst (either short or long term) in order to fill both design gaps.
Much to my surprise and excitement, a creation of my daughter’s was mentioned in the episode, as well as her desire for animal companions. While we were watching she squealed in glee so loud we had to rewatch the mention just to hear what they said about her. And then she asked us to rewatch it some more. Haha. It made her night! Scratch that. It made her month. Probably longer.
“I was reading through [Starfinder Wednesday Fan Club message board] and saw someone posted that their daughter has a rabbit companion that they have strapped to their hoverdrone that follows them around. I thought that was so cool,” said Joe Pasini.
“That’s so awesome,” Dan Tharp agreed.
“And they’re asking about animal companion rules and I think that that would be cool. Some kind of alien companion rules.”
Surprisingly, Owen lavished praise on the idea in a way that insinuated they might already have such a thing in the works — or at least planned for the future. Here’s hoping it comes out with the Player Operations Manual! Haha. But, alas! Owen would offer no further spoilers!
Right near the end Joe brought up my daughter’s drone-wearing rabbit again, saying he’d like to hear more about it. Not just the rabbit, but cool concepts and ideas that are different. He explained that he loves that all the new classes are Starfinder classes. They’re not Pathfinder classes ported over to the new game. They’re different and unique, and they allow players to tell new kinds of stories.
And he’s right.
They’re varied and wonderful, and adaptable. They allow us to make something cool, while forcing us to think a little deeper. Not just the new classes. All of the Starfinder classes.
I really enjoyed last night’s episode. If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend you do. Joe and Owen were great guests, and they offered wonderful insight into making not only the vanguard, but classes as a whole. Just wonderful stuff! Starfinder Wednesday streams live on Paizo’s twitch channel every Wednesday at 4 p.m. PST. You can also watch already aired episodes on their Twitch stream, or watch partial episodes on their youtube channel. For more information on the Character Operations Manual Playest and to download the new classes check out StarfinderPlaytest.com.
Before we sign off, my seven year old daughter would like to share some information about her now famous (at least in her opinion) drone-wearing rabbit.
“Hugs is a skittermander with fluffy pink and brown fur and a happy smile. She loves people and animals, even if they are ugly or maybe mean bad guys. And she loves making friends. She’s a mechanic, and an ace pilot, and she has a pet rabbit named Bun-Bun. To keep Bun-Bun safe Hugs made a hoverdrone which Bun-Bun wears like a backpack! It looks like Bun-Bun is a tiny pilot flying the hoverdrone and firing its weapons! Haha! But, Hugs controls the hover drone with her own AI, like all drones, and Bun-Bun is just along for the ride. Luckily, Bun-Bun really likes flying. Right now Hugs is teaching Bun-Bun to be her co-pilot! She has trained her to click a button on command. Hugs shouts:
“Bun-Bun! Do the thing!”
And Bun-Bun clicks a button. But, Bun-Bun can’t tell the buttons apart or anything, so he never clicks the right one! He always messes it up and its always very funny! But, Hugs thinks he is a great co-pilot. He just needs some more practise!”
This morning brings a bunch of huge smiles to the faces around my house as Wayfinder Fanzine announces the authors whose articles will be published in their upcoming magazine: Wayfinder 19.
Wayfinder is full of fan-created content for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and is a free download on Paizo’s website. Over the years they’ve made an astounding 18 issues of Wayfinder, as well as a Bestiary! Nearly every issue has a theme, with this latest one being Fey and the First World. But, the next one coming up really breaks the mold! In fact, it’s not Pathfinder at all. It’s the Starfinder Roleplaying Game! This coming Wayfinder fanzine focuses on Absalom Station.
As some of you may have heard my kids and I all submitted articles to this coming issue and are proud to say we all had something accepted! My kids are literally screaming in glee and jumping up and down. I’m so proud of them. What a huge achievement for a pair of young kids.
And yes, my daughter’s involves rabbits. She’s desperately hoping hers gets some adorable artwork. Haha.
There’s a long time to wait before Wayfinder 19 releases. Art has to be made and edits have to happen, not to mention the ton of other work that the folks over at Wayfinder have to get done. It’s such a huge undertaking, and I know that my family is always happy to see the results. We adore the Wayfinder fanzine.
So join me in congratulating my kids and all the other authors whose pieces will be showcased in this next issue.
And more importantly, we’d like to offer a huge thank you to the people who work hard every year to make the Wayfinder fanzine a thing of beauty, creativity, and awesome gaming material. They should be beyond proud.
For a full listing of which authors works were accepted, check out the announcement here.
Exciting news around here today… Sunburst Games first book was just released! That’s right! Realms of Atrothia: Legacy Races Revisited is available for purchase! Currently, you can order it on amazon, and in the coming days you’ll be able to purchase it from the OpenGamingStore as well!
Not sure what Sunburst Games is? In short, Sunburst Games is an independent Tabletop RPG company focused on Pathfinder Compatible content for the next generation. We’re continuing the legacy of First Edition Pathfinder into the future! The Sunburst Games team consists of my brother, Kris Leonard, and myself. Our products also showcase the wonderful artwork of Rigrena. Sunburst Games will be launching a Kickstarter for our first major release Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion this coming February! To find out more about Sunburst Games check out my previous blog post on the topic, visit our website: sunburstgames.com, or support us on Patreon!
Building upon the legacy of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and the existing d20 game system which is over 35 years in the making, Realms of Atrothia: Legacy Races Revisited includes a new look at 56 races suitable for play at 1st character level. Each race has been rebuilt using our own adaptation of the Race Point system first outlined in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide, aligning each to the same power level. From the kasatha to the kobold, all races are created equal, so no matter what your character concept, you will be sure to make your mark on the world!
Although the races you’ll find in Legacy Races Revisited are familiar, nearly all of them have received additional racial traits to bring them in line with the same power level. All races also feature two alternative racial traits, so you can get the most out of your character concept. Some races also list new character options beyond racial traits, such as proficiency with brand new weapons like the acrobat spear.
My personal favourite race options? Changeling, and Halfling! My children are a huge fan of the changes to the elemental races (Ifrit, Oread, Sylph, and Undine) and Goblins.
Keep in mind, all of these races are suitable for play at 1st character level, so some races which are usually considered to be one or more levels higher than normal, such as the drow noble, svirfneblin, or trox are not included. In their place, races which are in line with other revisited races appear, such as gnoll and lizardfolk. Want more races to choose from? Don’t worry, all your favorite races which pack a little more punch will make an appearance in Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion, alongside other monstrous races including gargoyle, medusa, moon-beast, oni, pixie, and treant, just to name a few. These normally off-limits races will take advantage of the new Exemplar Primary Class, so you can play all your favorites right from 1st character level!
Pick up a copy of Realms of Atrothia: Legacy Races Revisited today, available from these fine sources:
Earlier this week I mentioned that I was working on a special project with my brother called Realms of Atrothia by Sunburst Games. Today, I’m thrilled to bring you more information!
Sunburst Games is an independent Tabletop RPG company focused on Pathfinder Compatible content for the next generation. It’s founder is a bold, enthusiastic guy near and dear to my heart: my brother, Kris Leonard. In addition to independent work, Kris is a Freelance Author who has written two Pathfinder Society Scenarios: #6-13: Of Kirin and Kraken, and #9-10: Signs in Senghor, and has contributed to the newly released Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Construct Handbook. He’s a bombastic GM, a rules guru, and a creator of exciting content and original adventures. Sunburst Games is proud to have him as our Founder and Lead Developer!
Sunburst Games began with a simple vision: Continue a legacy. For over 35 years, Tabletop RPGs have inspired us to be something more than ourselves, to be heroes, villains, and sometimes even a little bit of both. They have forged friendships, made unforgettable memories, and even allowed the most timid among us to feel the freedom of being an outspoken, confident bard, or an unrelenting barbarian. Sunburst Games is proud to continue on this legacy, inspiring a whole new generation with limitless imagination.
Sunburst Games was established to ensure the legacy of d20 compatible RPGs, such as the 1st edition of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game can continue on for years to come. We aim to create original, exciting, and inspired products of only the highest quality, with stunning artwork, well-balanced character options, and unforgettable stories. Our first product, Realms of Atrothia: Legacy Races Revisited, will be available as a digital (.pdf) download! After this we’ll be releasing Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion which will be both a digital (.pdf) and a hard cover release. (Kickstarter on NOW!) With a successful launch, Sunburst Games will also release additional products to the line, including Realms of Atrothia: Bestiary, Realms of Atrothia: NPC Codex, and the first official full length Realms of Atrothia Campaign: Legacies of Corberus, an original adventure taking Players from 1st to 25th level!
Sunburst Games is more than a person. It’s a team. So when Kris wanted someone to help breathe life into his creations, and to enrich his world, he called me. And who am I? Well, we’ve talked about that before. Perhaps, ‘why would he call me’ is a better question. Short answer: he’s seen my work. I agreed to do some freelance work for Sunburst Games without hesitation, because I knew it would be something special. Something great. Something I’d be proud to be a part of.
And I am.
But that’s not all! We’ve teamed up with the amazing artist Rigrena, to bring the Realms of Atrothia to life!
Rigrena’s interest for games began when she made her first D&D character at the age of 10, which affected her artistic journey and inspired her to become a digital artist and an illustrator. Following her passions for gaming and art, she has been working in the gaming industry as a concept and 2D artist for almost 6 years. Thanks to her vibrant personality she brings a unique flair to the art she creates. Her work is absolutely gorgeous. You can follow Rigrena on Art Station, DeviantArt, and Twitter.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)