News from PaizoCon

There has been plenty of exciting news and sneak peeks from PaizoCon this year and, although PaizoCon hasn’t quite come to an end, we’re taking the time to share our favourite bits of news, spoilers, and previews with the world.


Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

The revamped and reimagined Pathfinder Adventure Card Game launched at PaizoCon 2019, which has been a long time coming. By all accounts the game looks great and plays well, with streamlined rules, a customizable play experience, and a focus on story. Interested readers can pick up a copy of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Core Set and the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path from either of the links or direct from Paizo. For more information on the products you can also check out this blog post. Finally, for those of you interested, the rules for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Core Set are now a free download on Paizo’s website! What a pleasant surprise!

 


Pathfinder First Edition

Pathfinder First Edition may be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t exciting bits of news and spoilers dropped at PaizoCon. So what was my favourite bit of information about? Midwives to Death!

Midwives to Death is the final volume of the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path, as well as the final First Edition Adventure Path. The events of this campaign bring big changes to the world of Golarion, which will be seen in Pathfinder Second Edition. This information isn’t new. But what I didn’t know? Instead of the usual backmatter in this volume, all the Paizo developers were given two pages of space to create whatever they wanted to for First Edition. Two pages each to leave their final mark on the game. The last Pathfinder First Edition content! These 28 pages are filled with new creatures, archetypes, prestige classes, and character options. For example, Erik Mona created updated stats for Ostog the Unslain, and Owen K.C. Stephens gave the dwarven god Angradd some love with a paladin code and devotions. I am absurdly excited to see what the Paizo team has come up with. What a great send off!

Iomedae by Ekaterina Burmak
Art courtesy of Paizo Inc. Illustrated by Ekaterina Burmak

Pathfinder Second Edition

There was a LOT of information, sneak peeks, and spoilers dropped about Pathfinder Second Edition over the weekend, and in the weeks leading up to it. Recently a new map of the Inner Sea was released, complete with some new nations and newly organized geographical and cultural regions. Notable new additions include New Thassilon, Oprak, Ravounel, and the Sarkoris Scar. During PaizoCon, more information was given on these regions and their organization.

Inner Sea Map - Cartography by Rob McCaleb
Inner Sea Region of Golarion. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc. Cartography by Rob McCaleb.

Most of the spoilers regarding Pathfinder Second Edition were unveiled at PaizoCon’s Preview Banquet. The page layout for the new books all looks absolutely gorgeous, which is really exciting and so reassuring. Attendees were also given spoiler cards which contained a single spoiler on it for Second Edition. 100 spoilers were given out, with the promise of more if all of the spoilers are collected on Paizo’s message boards. You can also follow the spoilers on Twitter with #MyPathfinderSpoiler.

Perhaps one of the most exciting previews to come out during the Paizo Preview Banquet, in regards to Second Edition, is the announcement of the Lost Omens Character Guide and Lost Omens Gods and Magic!

Lost Omens Character Guide is a 136 page hardcover book that is the second release in the Lost Omens World Guide series, scheduled for release in October 2019. It will contain a ton of new character options, including new heritage and ancestry feats for every entry in the Core Rulebook, five factions with archetypes and other benefits of membership, templates to make faction specific monsters, and three new ancestries for player characters: hobgoblins, leshy, and lizardfolk! Honestly, it looks like an incredibly useful book, similar to the Advanced Player’s Guide, but with direct ties to the Lost Omens campaign setting included. Definitely going on my must-have list!

Lost Omens Gods & Magic is a 128 page hardcover book that is the third release in the Lost Omens World Guide series, scheduled for release in January 2020. It will contain information on the gods of the Inner Sea Region, as well as an index covering important information on the hordes of deities of Golarion, updated to Second Edition. There’s new domains, spells, feats, and other options to help players of all classes customize their characters. It looks awesome!

Aeon Tower - Illustration by Ainur Salimova
An aeon tower. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc. Illustrated by Ainur Salimova.

But, my favourite spoilers for Second Edition weren’t revealed at the preview banquet at all, instead they were revealed at a panel on the upcoming adventure paths. Sure, Age of Ashes sounds cool, and I’m thrilled to have dragons be the big-bad’s in that series, but the next one? Extinction Curse? That one’s really got me excited! The Adventure Path takes place on the Isle of Kortos, occasionally known as  Starstone Isle, but doesn’t venture into Absalom proper. The PCs are all members of a travelling circus ready for their debut performance in a small town. Unfortunately, right before the performance begins the ringmaster turns up dead! The PCs need to take control, act as ringmaster, do their performances, ensure the show goes off without a hitch, and solve the ringmaster’s murder all at the same time! Throughout the campaign the circus travels with you, which will really help to shake up the social aspects of the campaign (both within and outside of your circus troupe). The Extinction Curse Adventure Path involves the history of Absalom and the Isle of Kortos, the legacy of Aroden, Aeon Towers, and troglodytes from the darklands. An added bonus? One of the volumes is called ‘Siege of Dinosaurs,’ and is written by Kate Baker. It sounds amazing! Haha. My son’s already planning his upcoming character for this one.

 


Pathfinder Society Organized Play

PaizoCon marks the debut of the new Pathfinder Society logo, which looks awesome, and some minor details about the upcoming season of Organized Play. But, my favourite sneak Peeks for the Pathfinder Society were actually released before PaizoCon, on Paizo’s blog. They’ve announced that the factions of the Pathfinder Society will be shaken up, with none of the old factions remaining in Pathfinder Second Edition. Instead of being outside organizations that work through the Pathfinder Society, the new factions are groups of like-minded individuals within the Pathfinder Society. As Tonya Woldridge said during the PaizoCon banquet, “Everyone is Grand Lodge now. We are bringing back our core values of ‘Explore, Report, Cooperate.’ ” The first season of Second Edition Pathfinder Society will be the Year of the Open Road.

This is an awesome change, that I can’t wait to see it take effect. There will be four major factions, whose stories will continue throughout each season of the Pathfinder Society Organized Play Program, as well as two minor factions. Minor factions will have special missions during the year they are released, but will not receive much attention in later seasons. However, these minor factions will still remain open for play and will not be retired. In addition, new minor factions will be added as the stories evolve. Although these factions are all new, most are lead by familiar faces. So far two factions have been announced. Horizon Hunters, a major faction led by Venture-Captain Calisro Benarry whose focus is on exploration, discovery, and the fame of its members. And Radiant Oath, a minor faction led by Valais Durant, a Pathfinder who has really been through the wringer! Haha. This faction has a focus on compassion, kindness, and redemption. Although they combat evil, they’re not as rigid or innately devout as the Silver Crusade faction of the previous Pathfinder Society. Instead, they hope to inspire small acts of kindness in all Pathfinders.


Starfinder

I love Starfinder. And there were some cool new spoilers revealed this weekend. My favourites include new details on the upcoming Alien Archive 3, which releases in August 2019. It includes 19 new playable races including turtlefolk, otterfolk, sapient bug swarms known as spathinae, sapient raptors, and Starfinder Society fan favourite: the morlamaw! There’s also tons of new monsters including the giant space tardigrade and the skittermander hunting stridermanders of Vesk-6. Finally, there’s creature companion rules which can let you have pets, mounts, and more! My kids and I have been hoping for rules for pets for a long time, so we’re absolutely thrilled!

Also exciting is the Character Operations Manual, which releases in November and includes three new character classes (the biohacker, vanguard, and witchwarper), themes, archetypes, alternate racial abilities for all core and legacy races, and two new roles for starship combat, including the magic officer! This is going to be one useful book.

On the Adventure Path front, there was plenty of information on Attack of the Swarm!, a military focused adventure path that pits the PCs and their fellow soldiers against the overwhelming menace of the insectile swarm. Following Attack of the Swarm! is a six-part adventure path that focuses on conspiracy theories, and ever-deepening mysteries that revolve around the unseen – aliens like reptoids and grey that walk among us, hidden from sight. This adventure path is called The Threefold Conspiracy and begins in February 2020. I’m very curious to see where this Adventure Path leads!

Starfinder Beginner Box
Starfinder Beginner Box. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Starfinder Society Organized Play 

Before PaizoCon it was announced that the next season of Starfinder Organized play would be the Year of a Thousand Bites! This season has a focus on the Pact Worlds and the effect that the Starfinder’s recent exploits and decisions have had upon the Society, and their home. It’s also rumoured to involve Lao Shu Po, often known as Grandmother Rat. The Year of a Thousand Bites launches a Origins with #2-00: Fate of the Scoured God.

But, as the Year of Scoured Stars comes to an end, so to do the missions of the current First Seekers, Luwazi Elsebo and Jadnura. And, when a First Seeker’s missions is accomplished, they step down, leaving an opening for a new First Seeker to take their place. That doesn’t mean we’ll be saying goodbye to Luwazi or Jadnura. They’ll still be around, as will their faction and followers. But, that does mean a new First Seeker will be elected. And who will it be? One of us. PCs who have achieved a certain amount of reputation within the Second Seeker (Luwazi Elsebo) faction were given the opportunity to acquire a boon that instructed them to send an email with detailed information about their character to the Starfinder Society Organized Play team. These characters have been examined and four of the team’s favourites will be introduced in a special scenario, #2-07. Said to be similar to #1-01: The Commencement, this mission will allow players to meet the potential candidates, perform minor tasks for them, and learn about their platforms and goals. Shortly after it releases in September a poll will go up on Paizo’s blog, that allows players to vote for their favourite candidate. The winner will become the next First Seeker, and their goals will influence the storyline for Year Three. Which is amazing! I can’t wait to see them!

 

 

Year 2 - Year of a Thousand Bytes
Logo for season two of Starfinder Society Organized Play: Year of a Thousand Bites. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Wayfinder #19

Finally, with PaizoCon comes the launch of another Wayfinder fanzine. Made by fans for fans, this year’s issue is entitled ‘Destination: Absalom Station‘ and features a ton of new Starfinder content. Wayfinder #19 is a free download on Paizo’s website and is always an entertaining and useful read. This year’s issue is especially exciting for my family, as not only did I get an article and two themes into the fanzine, but each of my children (aged seven and eight) created their own monsters which were printed in Wayfinder #19s Alien Archive. So if you want some giant space rabbits to nibble on your PCs, and broken radioactive robots to stumble around the Ghost Levels of Absalom Station and Elytrio, (or just want to see what some creative kids can create!) be sure to give it a download. And even if not? Download it anyway! It’s free and full of awesome content!

We’ll take a closer look at Wayfinder #19 in a day or so.

Wayfinder #19 Cover
Wayfinder #19. Cover by Tyler Clark and Dionisis Milonas

Thanks for joining us! Got a favourite moment from PaizoCon, awesome sneak peek from PaizoCon I missed, or a #MyPathfinderSpoiler? Let us know about it in the comments!

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.

Review: Tyrant’s Grasp: The Dead Roads!

Today we’re taking an in depth look at the first book in the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path! This survival horror campaign pits the players against the return of the Whispering Tyrant, the lich-king Tar-Baphon, who was defeated and sealed away long ago. Tyrant’s Grasp will be the final Pathfinder 1st Edition Adventure Path released, before the switch is made over to Pathfinder 2nd Edition in August. Intended to take characters from levels 1 to 17, Tyrant’s Grasp is six volumes long.

Tyrant's Grasp - Player's GuideA wonderful Player’s Guide for Tyrant’s Grasp is available as a free download on Paizo’s website here. The Player’s Guide gives players a relatively spoiler-free way to properly prepare for and integrate their characters into the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path. I highly recommend checking it out!

The Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path begins with Pathfinder Adventure Path: The Dead Roads (Tyrant’s Grasp 1 of 6). Written by Ron Lundeen, The Dead Roads is an adventure intended for first level characters, which should bring PCs up to level five by its conclusion. This adventure begins when the PCs awaken already defeated in the Boneyard, a land where the dead go to be judged. There’s just one problem… They’re not quite dead. Trapped inside a tomb that doesn’t belong to them, they’ll need to escape, figure out what happened to them, and find a way to return home. But, how could one possibly escape the land of the dead?

Let me start by saying that The Dead Roads — and the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path — is not for everyone. Terrible tragedies will occur, and you won’t always be able to prevent them. These events are bound to have a lasting effect on your characters, so players should be prepared to consider and role-play the marks left by the trials you face. Often you’ll be in dire situations with limited resources, so players will need to be resourceful to survive. Plenty of the imagery and events in this adventure are dark, morbid, and sorrowful. It’s definitely a horror campaign — though not your typical horror. It’s suspenseful survival horror, with a good deal of body horror in the first book, as well.  The Dead Roads contains imagery that is inappropriate for children and some adult gamers will even consider an image or two disturbing. It’s definitely not a campaign I could play with my family.

That said, I loved The Dead Roads. Absolutely, positively, adored it.

The Dead Roads Cover

For starters, it looks great. From cover to cover it’s a wonderful, high quality book filled with nice maps, and beautiful, dark artwork. The cover depicts Mictena (a catrina psychopomp the PCs are destined to interact with) in the foreground. Behind her is an image of Seelah (the Iconic paladin) and Yoon (the iconic kineticist) battling ostovites. Both images are by Igor Grechanyi. There’s a lovely map of The Gravelands (Lastwall and parts of Ustalav) on the inside cover. There’s a ton of artwork throughout the book — of enemies, allies, and characters who could become either. I particularly enjoyed the art for Prince Uspid and Mictena. Colulus was the most disconcerting image in the book. If any image is going to bug a squeamish player it’ll be that one. There’s a few characters that I wish had art but don’t (which is expected! Art’s not cheap and there’s only so much space!). Ayuki, in particular, would have been nice to see, as well as the jitterbone creature in the bestiary. The maps, all drawn by Matthias Rothenaicher, are really nice. They look great, of course, but they’re also well thought out, executed, and each has a unique feel to it. I particularly enjoyed ‘Roslar’s Tomb’ and ‘Deathbower.’ I wish that the maps of the various Dead Roads locations were given a bit more space, though. Squishing three multi-floor maps for three different locations onto one page is good for page count, but makes some of the maps difficult to read. Part of the eastern end of the ‘Palace of Teeth’ is nearly lost in the creases of the binding, while the entrance to ‘Salishara’s Scriptorium’ is hidden in the creases. If both of those maps were a few grid squares further to the left that would have been less of a problem. Finally, flipping back and forth  between the map page and the various locations depicted in it (which is spread out over 28 pages) is a bit irritating. Have a bookmark or post-it note handy and try not to tear your pages. Much to my surprise there was also two player handouts which represent puzzles the group comes across. I’m really glad they’re depicted instead of just described. They’re necessary and a really nice touch.

Maps in the Crease
Part of the maps lost in the creases.

The Dead Roads starts with a bang (HA!) and doesn’t let up. The entire opening has the feel of an ominous, suspenseful mystery. Your PCs don’t know where they are, how they got there, or what’s going on. Their locations hide clues to both their situation and the history of wider events, which the PCs may or may not be able to uncover. In time they will discover the answers to some of their questions, just as they realize it’s tied to an even bigger mystery.

There’s a lot of wonderful social encounters and NPCs in this adventure. Number Three, Barple Stonebreaker, Prince Uspid, Queen Carnassial, Kishokish and his portrait, Ayuki, Salighara, Berthold, the wyrwoods, Mrs. Pedipalp, Aydie, Reedreaper, Mictena — there’s just so many great interactions in this adventure! Among them, three particularly stand out amongst the crowd: interacting with the townsfolk of Roslar’s Coffer is poignant and amazing; speaking with Barzahk the Passage; and — my personal favourite characters — Umble and Thoot! This pair of friendly psychopomps are the best!

Many of the creatures and NPCs you come across don’t look friendly — which doesn’t mean they aren’t friendly. Of course, it doesn’t mean they are friendly, either. Which I love! Appearances have no bearing on what a creature acts like and I appreciate that this adventure used that so effectively. It’s bound to throw players for a bit of a loop and make them feel… off-kilter. Which is great!

There’s a lot of challenging encounters in this adventure and plenty of unique monsters to face off against. I particularly enjoyed that so many can end in ways other than violence. But, don’t let that last sentence lull you into a false sense of security! There’s a lot of combat encounters in this book that cannot be avoided.

And the ending! Oh, the ending! I love it! I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book in this Adventure Path! I have a feeling Eulogy for Roslar’s Coffer is going to be just as good.


And now it’s time for a warning:

We’ve got more to say about this adventure, but it’ll come with spoilers! Don’t want to read them? Skip on past this next section until you see the large words ‘SPOILERS OVER.’ Got it? Good! See you on the other side where we’ll talk about the extra content in this book!


SPOILERS

The Dead Roads adventure is split into four major parts: Awake in Roslar’s Tomb, Among the Dead, Walking the Dead Roads, and Deathbower. One of these parts Walking the Dead Roads is particularly dense and is made up of three major locations: The Palace of Teeth, Nine-Eaves, and Salighara’s Scriptorium. All told The Dead Roads adventure is 52 pages in length with six pages afterwards dedicated to three NPCs: Mictena, Mrs. Pedipalp, and Reedreaper. All three of these are enemies the PCs will come across, but only one of them has to stay that way. The PCs have a chance to convince the other two to step aside without violence (although it’s extremely hard to accomplish for one of those two!).

Through this adventure the PCs will get to interact with psychopomps, a type of outsider native to the Boneyard who work to ensure that the processing of souls is done accurately and efficiently. Typically functioning as guides for the souls of the deceased, the psychopomps are confused over what to do about the mysterious PCs. Some will help them along their way (especially the delightful Umble and Thoot!) , and others with hinder them — particularly Mictena, a catrina psychopomp obsessed with putting the PCs spirits properly to rest. Through a good thorough death, of course! Psychopomps aren’t the only enemies and NPCs the players will interact with. The Boneyard is a huge realm, and there’s plenty of creatures living/stranded/invading there. Other major groups of enemies include fey, vermin, sakhil, and nightmarish beings from the Dimension of Dreams.

Fittingly, The Dead Roads begins with death. Lots of it. The entire town of Roslar’s Coffer has been destroyed in one terrifying instant. Including the PCs. I’ll leave the details out of this article, but suffice to say this will have a lasting effect on your players and their characters. Any family, friends, and companions — pets included — that lived in Roslar’s Coffer are dead. Although it might be tempting to warn some players about this in advance, that also will ruin some of the surprise and likely result in players purposely making no personal connections to the town of Roslar’s Coffer — which would be a mistake in my opinion. Every GM will need to judge their players accordingly, and perhaps provide them with some hints and warnings while they build their characters and backstories. In my opinion this event is handled incredibly well throughout this adventure, and I highly recommend allowing players to make a character with personal connections to Roslar’s Coffer. It adds so much to the story. However, it is important to inform PCs that if they have animal companions, mounts, or they are a wizard with a familiar, they will not have access to their pet at the start of the campaign. Player’s who have read the Tyrant’s Grasp Player’s Guide will already be aware of this, although they won’t (accurately) know why.

Happily, the player’s experience doesn’t begin with the death of Roslar’s Coffer. Instead, Part One: Awake in Roslar’s Tomb begins with the PCs waking up in a stone coffin. Literally entombed they need to push their way out of the stone box and into a cold, dark, mausoleum. It’s a great opening. Players and characters alike are bound to be curious what has happened and where they are. Players begin with any gear they had that could reasonably fit in a coffin with them. Any familiars who share a soul with your PCs (a shaman or witch familiar) will be in a coffin of their own, while all other companions are not present (as they are dead). Eidolons and phantoms can be summoned back normally, although all other familiars and companions will need to be replaced at a later time.

Soon, the PCs will discover they’re in someone else’s tomb — Ervin Roslar, Knight of Ozem and hero of the Shining Crusade. The same man that Roslar’s Coffer is named after, in fact. Interesting! As they navigate the tomb they’ll find strange creatures, animated bones (sort of…), a trapped spirit, and a tribe of mites. They’ll also discover that Ervin Roslar may have had a few secrets of his own, although it’s unlikely they’ll unravel his history completely. This section of the adventure is a suspenseful series of explorations, mysteries, tantalizing clues, and challenging combats. It’s going to be a ton of fun to both run and play.

Part Two: Among the Dead begins when the PCs exit Roslar’s Tomb to find themselves face to face with a pair of spooky looking (and absolutely delightful) psychopomps: Umble and Thoot! Seriously, they’re awesome. This quirky pair give the PCs some answers to their most pressing questions and explains that not only are the PCs dead and not dead at the same time — weird! — the rest of Roslar’s Coffer is well and truly dead. They ask the PCs to lend them a hand in convincing the spirits of the dead of Roslar’s Coffer that they are, in fact, dead. These poor fellows need a hand moving everyone on to the afterlife in a calm and orderly fashion! The PCs get to travel to a phantom version of Roslar’s Coffer where they interact with all the people in town — now dead. This is an amazing section of the adventure. Short and poignant, the GM has a chance to show the PCs what has happened to all their family and friends. They’ll need to convince loved ones to move on, and will have a chance to say goodbye. If they have any pets they’ll find them here as well. The adventure itself provides rules for interacting with these spirits, how to convince them to move on, and some tactics that will let them do it in a timely fashion — namely convincing the town leaders of their death. Some PCs will want to stay behind and die along with their family, others won’t have personal connections to the townsfolk, and others still will want to ‘save’ some of these spirits and attempt to return them back to life. There’s plenty of guidance in this book for handling PCs of every kind. After accepting their death the people of Roslar’s Coffer — even familial loved ones — want answers for what happened to them. The PCs are uniquely positioned to uncover this. And, of course, any spirits who can’t be convinced to move on (including those your PCs may want to bring back) will deteriorate in time until they become undead ghosts and other malevolent entities. Umble and Thoot can explain this to the group and ensure no PCs attempt anything so foolhardy. Also in this section the PCs are first introduced to the antagonist of this adventure, Mictena. Overall, this section of the book is among my very favourites. It’s exceptionally well handled and sure to be an emotional experience for players and characters alike. It’s a truly unique roleplaying opportunity. I’m not an overly emotional person, but I’m quite certain that if I was playing this with any character who had even a modest amount of family or friends in Roslar’s Coffer, under an even remotely talented GM, I would cry — in a good way! It has the potential to really tug at the heartstrings.

Part Three: Walking the Dead Roads begins after the PCs have helped the people of Roslar’s Coffer accept their death. Umble and Thoot, who are grateful and believe that since the PCs are only slightly dead they’re not truly dead at all, offer the PCs a way out of the Boneyard. The Dead Roads. They explain that this secret path is only ever trod by psychopomps and gatekeepers, the beings who watch over what amounts to traveller’s checkpoints along the road. Capable of leading anywhere, the PCs can use the Dead Roads to get home to Roslar’s Coffer (so they can figure out what’s happened) by taking a certain path. They’ll need to stop at the three checkpoints along the way and get stamped by that location’s master. Convincing them to grant the stamp should be the hardest part of the journey. Unbeknownst to Umble and Thoot, politics and turmoil have overtaken the three waystations, making each location more dangerous than expected. These locations may be visited in any order, although they are presented in order of difficulty (which is also how I recommend playing them).

The Palace of Teeth is a small castle ruled over Queen Carnassial and her court of tooth fairies. Not long ago her son, Prince Uspid, led a coup against her, and the two factions have been locked in a stalemate ever since. Although Queen Carnassial is the only one with the authority to stamp the PCs (at least until her death) it’s Prince Uspid the PCs are destined to meet first. They’ll need to navigate, bargain, and battle their way through bickering fey factions. They might even get to keep all their teeth…. This location is simultaneously goofy in a crazed sort of way and disconcerting. Although the Palace of Teeth was once a beautiful castle it’s undergone a rather morbid makeover since the fey moved in. The place is creepy and it’s denizens literally want to yank your teeth out. That can make bargaining… weird. Haha. I love the art for both the tooth fairy monarchs (particularly Prince Uspid!) and the stained glass angel. But, in my opinion, the creepiest encounter involves a pair of soulbound dolls in the midst of acting out a rather bloody play about dentistry. They attempt to make the PCs their next patients, using deep slumber and some particularly creepy statements. It’s awesome! Haha. The Palace of Teeth is my favourite location on in part three.

Nine-Eaves is a three storey manor owned by an old shoki psychopomp with a fondness for games and puzzles. Unfortunately, Kishokish’s manor has been invaded by sahkil and he’s now a prisoner in his own home. They PCs will need to free him if they want to get his stamp. Luckily they’re not without allies. An animated portrait created to pose riddles to visitors can lend the PCs a hand — if they can solve his puzzles! There are three puzzles total, and each one solved can earn the PCs information and advice. They’ll need to traverse the house as they seek answers, battling vermin, sahkil, and an unfettered phantom named Ayuki. I really enjoyed the puzzle aspects of this location.

Salighara’s Scriptorium was created by Salighara, a reclusive viduus psychopomp who is studying the Dimension of Dreams and oversees a crew of wyrwood scribes. Mictena attempted to convince Salighara to kill the PCs on her behalf, but was rebuffed. Mictena then offered the same deal to Salighara’s assistant, a plump woman named Mrs. Pedipalp (actually an aranea from a nightmarish section of the Dimension of Dreams). Happy to take the powerful psychopomp up on her offer, Mrs. Pedipalp has ousted Salighara from her own scriptorium and remade the building in her own image. Now a dark place of nightmares and horror, the PCs will need to set things right. This is definitely the most horror-themed location in The Dead Roads, with traps, haunts, and horrifying enemies. Colulus, a flayed ettercap and long-time minion of Mrs. Pedipalp is by far the most horrifying. But, even the Scriptorium is not without potential allies. PCs get to meet Salighara, some upset wyrwoods, and a ratling named Berthold. Mrs. Pedipalp herself is a great opponent — a capable liar, powerful spellcaster, and nightmarish foe all wrapped up in a kindly looking package. I particularly like her tactics. That said, it’s likely Colulus who will give parties the most trouble.

After receiving their stamps the PCs can finally traverse the rest of the Dead Roads and return to the land of the living — not! Mictena refuses to let them go! She magically relocated her domain, Deathbower, right onto the Dead Roads so that she and her dangerous shabti gardeners can kill your PCs properly. Which brings us to the final section of the Dead Roads adventure, Part Four: Deathbower. I love this location and its map. I love the inhabitants — gardeners, friends, and foes. And I love Mictena herself. Despite being an enemy of your PCs she’s not a bad being. She’s a psychopomp just doing what she thinks is right. Which is cool! Although some of the hazards and enemies in this glorious garden must be confronted head on, some characters can be swayed and may even join you for a while. Reedreaper is a particularly interesting character, although it’s unlikely he sticks around long enough to play much of a role. Even Mictena can be talked down — theoretically. The chances your PCs will be able to roll high enough are incredibly slim, but it could happen. Which I really like.

After leaving Deathbower behind the PCs find themselves back on the Dead Roads and greeted by an incredibly powerful psychopomp, Barzahk the Passage, a demigod and master of the Dead Roads. This enigmatic figure whisks the PCs off to their home in a matter of moments, giving them a bit of time to ask him any questions they might have. I thought this was a great moment and a wonderful way to end the adventure.

SPOILERS OVER


In addition to The Dead Roads adventure, this volume contains two articles intended for both GMs and players, one article solely for the GM, a campaign outline, and a bestiary containing five new creatures.

Tools of the BoneyardThe first article, Tools of the Boneyard, is written by Matt Morris. In it you’ll find new gear and character options aimed at dealing with the dead. There is one alchemical remedy, one alchemical tool, and two alchemical weapons — bone burn is my favourite, so be sure to check it out! There are two new special materials useful for crafting — cryptstone can be used for ammunition and weapons, while spiresteel can be used for ammunition, weapons, and armour. Finally, there are five new magic items: crypt rod, grim helm, harbinger’s scythe, Lady’s Mercy, and Momument’s Truth. Although I enjoyed a lot of the items, it’s the character options that I found were most exciting. Graveslinger is a gunslinger archetype that specializes in combatting incorporeal undead. Soul Shepherd is a monk archetype that calm incorporeal undead and haunts with a touch. They also gain some otherworldly resistances and interesting ways to use their ki. Reaper is a new oracle mystery which I really enjoyed. Tightly themed and flavourful it’s capable of both killing the living and destroying undead. There are also six new barbarian rage powers including the psychopomp totem powers.

shabti-1.jpg
Thrilled to see shabti get some attention!

The second player friendly article is written by Mikhail Rekun and entitled The Half-Dead. This section talks about four races that have a strong connection to death and the undead. In addition to providing details and character options for dhampir, duskwalkers, and shabti, it also talks about the new subtype of creatures, mortics. Dhampir appear alongside two magical items, duswalkers have access to five new feats, and shabti have access to five new feats. I was particularly excited to see shabti included.

The next article, To Exceed Their Grasp, is written by Crystal Frasier and intended for GMs only. This article discusses some of the important concepts, characters, and events of the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path and the role they play in the overarching story. It also contains a timeline. This is incredibly useful for GMs an will likely be referenced throughout the entire Adventure Path.

Tyrant's Grasp -Shining Crusade - Death of Arazni
The Death of Arazni (Herald of Aroden) during the Shining Crusade. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

The Bestiary is up next! It contains a random encounter chart, two interesting social encounters, and five new creatures written by Ron Lundeen, Kyle T. Raes, and Mike Welham. All of the monsters in this book have ties to death and the Boneyard and two of them are featured in The Dead Roads adventure. Bonewrought Willow is an ominous looking intelligent plant capable of growing in Boneyard. Attracted to light and more benevolent than it appears this is a great CR 3 creature I can’t wait to confront my players with. Kaicherak are nasty little fanged worm beasts with ties to Achaekek and a fondness for messily gorging themselves on blood. At CR 4 they are among the most powerful new creatures in the bestiary. Mortics are living beings with strong connections to negative energy which makes them sort of like living undead. There are two mortic stat blocks included in the bestiary — the ghoulish elf-like angheuvore (CR 2) and the incredibly flexible halfling-like jitterbone (CR 4). As previously mentioned, more information on mortics is also included in The Half-Dead article. The final creature is the tooth fairy monarch, a CR 3 version of the lowly tooth fairy.

The last article is a campaign outline, written by Crystal Frasier and Ron Lundeen, that briefly details the events of the upcoming volumes of the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path.  Not the sort of thing you want your players peeking at! The campaign outline is incredibly useful for GMs.

Which brings us to the end of  Pathfinder Adventure Path: The Dead Roads (Tyrant’s Grasp 1 of 6). Want more? So do I! Tyrant’s Grasp continues with Eulogy for Roslar’s Coffer (Tyrant’s Grasp 2 of 6) by Jason Keeley, Last Watch (Tyrant’s Grasp 3 of 6) by Larry Wilhelm, Gardens of Gallowspire (Tyrant’s Grasp 4 of 6) by Crystal Frasier, Borne by the Sun’s Grace (Tyrant’s Grasp 5 of 6) by Luis Loza, and Midwives to Death (Tyrant’s Grasp 6 of 6) by John Compton. You can also check out a previous blog post I wrote on the upcoming Tyrant’s Grasp volumes here.

Thanks for joining us today!

Jessica


EDIT: Check out the Tyrant’s Grasp trailer!

Wilderness Origins

Wilderness OriginsReady to get wild?

Today we’re taking a peek between the covers of Pathfinder Player Companion: Wilderness Origins! If you’ve been reading d20diaries since its beginning you’ll know that my family and I adore Ultimate Wilderness. My kids love the races introduced — particularly the adorable vine leshys — and my entire family enjoys the shifter class. In fact, each of us have at least two shifters. Needless to say we were excited to get our hands on Wilderness Origins. My husband was hoping for more shifter options, my kids were hoping for more vine leshy options, and I was… Well, I was just hoping someone in my family would find something inside the book that they’d make use of right away.

We were not disappointed.

Pathfinder Player Companion: Wilderness Origins 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. You’ll find archetypes, feats, traits, spells, and more! Wilderness Origins features amazing cover art by David Alvarez, which showcases the iconic shifter, Zova,  engaged in battle against an earth elemental.

Wilderness Origins - Plant Journal
The inside front over of Wilderness Origins.

The front inside cover features brief information on a few plants described in the book alongside some sketches. The entire page is presented as if they were entries in a scholar’s journal, which is a nice touch. Although no important information is contained here that can’t be found later in the book, it’s nicely showcased. Plants depicted include ambrosial lotus, cleanthistle, ghostblossom, and a ghoran seed. There’s also art of a gathlain’s wing and a leaf leshy.

After this is the table of contents, the rules index, and the introduction which contains eight new regional traits themed around different terrains. Each trait is printed alongside an example background for each terrain, that emphasize how you can embrace nature and your environment. Guerilla tactics and surefooted ascent are sure to be popular, but fruit merchant and strong stomach turned out to be my favourites. Environments covered by these traits include the desert, road, forest, jungle, mountain, swamp, tundra, and coast.

Moving on from the introduction we come to six pages of new shifter options. It features a whopping nine new shifter aspects, all of which are pretty cool. The new shifter aspects are boar, crocodile, dolphin, dragonfly, electric eel, mantis, octopus, scorpion, and spider. Electric eel is my favourite, but my son LOVES the boar aspect. He immediately made a gnomish boar shifter for Pathfinder Society Organized Play and was super excited to give it a shot. Unfortunately, we suffered a TPK that weekend and poor Sid’s career was cut short. Still, my son loved the character and made a ton of use out of the boar’s minor aspect, which gives you diehard as a bonus feat.

Wilderness Origins - Feyform Shifter
A half-orc feyform shifter from Wilderness Origins.

After the shifter aspects are three new archetypes, dragonblood shifter, feyform shifter, and swarm shifter. They’re all pretty self-explanatory, with the dragonblood shifter allowing  you to take on the aspects and forms of a variety of dragons, feyform shifter granting you some tricky defences and the ability to transform into fey beings, and swarm shifter allowing you to turn into a swarm of bugs. They’re all really cool, but dragonblood shifter turned out to be my favourite. My husband’s a big fan of the swarm shifter, though, and he’s not going to be the only one. It’s a really useful archetype which is sure to see a lot of play.

Also in the shifter chapter are thirteen new favoured class options, seven new feats (be sure to check out chimeric aspect, greater weapon shift, and raking claws), and my favourite new option for shifters: alternate natural attacks. Each shifter aspect currently released (new and old) has a list of alternate attack forms they can select in place of claw attacks. Bears have a bite attack, for example, while boars have a gore and a hoof. Any time you activate your shifter claws you can choose to take an alternate natural attack from your animal aspect options in place of one of your claw attacks. This changes the damage type and the way your natural attacks look, but otherwise functions as the shifter’s regular claw attacks. It’s a really nice option I’m happy to see available.

Up next are two pages on each of the races introduced in Ultimate Wilderness — gathlain, ghoran, and vine leshy. The new gathlain options include five alternate race traits (arboreal vitality, fey resilience, and whimsical outlook are my favourites), seven new feats (mighty boughs and strength of wood are my favourites), and one new archetype. Sworn of the Eldest is a Charisma-based inquisitor archetype that I really enjoyed. Particularly the magic of the Eldest ability, which swaps out teamwork feats for some extra spells and spells per day.

Ghoran options include four alternate race traits (check out intoxicating aroma and magical absorption), three feats (I love spell mirror), two new spells (pinecone bomb and woodland rune), and the new ninja archetype petal ninja, which lets you transform into a cloud of flower petals.

Wilderness Origins - Leshy - Nathanael James
Vine leshy verdivant. Illustration by Nathanael James. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Vine Leshy options include four alternate race traits (lashvine and writhing eye are awesome!), four new feats (we like bounteous body best), and the cavalier archetype verdivant. This turned out to be both my kids’ favourite archetype — which came as no surprise since they both love vine leshys. The verdivant archetype lets you to have a plant mount, and enables you create effloresces, which are explosive plant growths that can be used a number of times per day and have some cool effects. While one might form a wall of vines to prevent attacks of opportunity, others can make you walk on air, or even give you and your allies fast healing. Effloresce replaces the cavalier’s banner and tactician abilities.

Up next in Wilderness Origins are two pages themed around flowers. It starts by introducing four new magical plants, ambrosial lotus, cleanthistle, ghostblossom, and gravebane petals. All four are surprisingly useful, but I think I like the cleanthistle best. It’s a great plant to add into my family game of Iron Gods. There’s also five awesome new witch hexes. I honestly had a hard time picking my favourite. My daughter loves leshy summoning, my son loves verdant familiar, and heralding bloom is going to be really useful for some characters. In the end its the floating lotus and iceplant hexes I’m most likely to use. Floating lotus conjures a flower that you can stand on to walk over water or gain a bonus on jump checks while Iceplant makes the witch and her familiar’s flesh harden, granting them a natural armour bonus and and the effects of endure elements. Finally, there’s a new alchemist archetype in this section: perfumer. This alchemist creates atomized perfumes in place of potions, an can distill pheromones that augment your Charisma, diplomacy, and bluff checks in place of mutagens. Very cool!

The next two pages are entitled Wardens of the Wild and involve kami. There’s a new kami eidolon subtype for unchained summoners, ward aspects for hunters to make use of, and the new spiritualist archetype ward spiritualist. This archetype allows a spiritualist to purposesly seek out a kami to bond with, and grants them a ward implement which can either be an object or their own body. With their ward implement they can gain occultist focus powers. They can also merge their kami with their implement to empower their implement in battle. I’m a huge fan of both spiritualists and occultists, so I’m totally biased to love this archetype. Haha.

Wilderness Origins - Scorpion - Beatrice Pelagatti
Scorpion familiar. Illustration by Beatrice Pelagatti. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

The next four pages are packed full of options for our animalistic pals — animal companions, familiars, and mounts. It starts with two animal companion archetypes: apex species (which gives your companion benefits in certain terrains) and unexpected intellectual (which makes a vermin companion more intelligent). Then there’s three familiar archetypes: occult messenger, the super creepy parasite, and arcane amplifier (my personal favourite) which grants your familiar the ability to use some metamagic feats on touch spells they deliver. Following these are seven feats which can be taken by animal companions, familiars, and their owners. Three are relevant to familiars, three to animal companions, and one is relevant to both. I really like the animal companion feats curious companion and friendly face, but it was two familiar feats that turned out to be my favourite. Changeling familiar gives any familiar capable of changing shape the ability to transform into a child or teenager of their master’s race, while spark of the uncanny gives your familiar the ability to speak. Awesome! (My kids are absurdly excited for this one!) A few levels later you can swap it out for improved familiar. Next up are descriptions of five breeds of mounts along with a trait for each of them (these traits count towards their master’s total number of traits). Finally, there’s an expanded companion list for cavaliers paladins, and rangers.

The following two pages talk about the totem spirits of the Shoanti, with nine new totem rage powers geared at members of the Lyrune-Quah (moon clan), Shundar-Quah (spire clan), and any ancestor-revering character. There’s also a new shaman spirit, tribe.

Wilderness Magic is up next, with five new arcanist exploits, three disaster themed spells, and the psychic archetype Magaambyan telepath, which blends druidic magic and wilderness themed powers with the psychic. Wild stride and wooden flesh are my favourite arcanist exploits, while flash flood — a sixth level spell on the druid, shaman, and sorcerer/wizard spell list — is my favourite spell.

Wilderness Origins - Fire Steed
The iconic kineticist Yoon riding a fire steed.

Similar to magic, the following two pages are all about elemental power — specifically fire. First up is the flame steed spell, which conjures a mount made of fire. Continuing this theme is a new archetype, the cinderlands adept, a fire-based kineticist that gains a loyal mount and is based on the Burn Riders of the Sklar-Quah (sun clan). Finally, there are eight new kineticist talents — one form infusion (elemental trap) and seven utility talents. My favourites included fire corridor and the fire steed tree. I’m a huge fan of both the Shoanti and kineticists, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover these new options.

By now there’s only a few pages left. Two pages of character options themed around the sea and sky. It starts with two more archetypes — a very interesting paladin archetype called champion of the cascade and esoteric starseeker, a psychic archetype based around Golarion’s constellations. Following this are two very cool (and disconcerting) oracle curses that have to do with decay: putrid and scourge. Finally, there’s three new ki powers: floating breath, racing current, and zephyr blow.

And that’s it! The end of Pathfinder Player Companion: Wilderness Origins! My whole family loves this player companion. It contains a lot of fun options for all our favourite parts of Ultimate Wilderness — shifters, gathlain, ghoran, and vine leshys — and pays some loving attention to the many different pets you can acquire. It’s rare that we get to make in-game use of a d20 book right after reading it, but this one immediately inspired us to create something new. It was well worth the investment for my family.

Thanks for joining us today! I hope you enjoyed taking a peek behind the covers of Wilderness Origins.

Until next time,

Jessica

 

Shackled City: Part Eight: Reunion

Welcome back to Cauldron, home of the The Shackled City Adventure Path! When we last left off our heroic musicians were investigating a series of missing person cases which recently culminated in the abduction of four children from a local orphanage. Fate led to our characters taking the rescue of these people upon themselves! Although they’ve defeated the kidnappers, and rescued the children, there’s plenty of other missing citizens of Cauldron to save. And their captors? Slavers! They’ll have to work fast if they want to save their fellow citizens before they’re sold!

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: Kazmojen, and Shackled City: Part Seven: Bad Luck.

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 Shackled City Adventure Path is a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons Adventure originally printed in Dungeon Magazine by Paizo Publishing.

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. 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!). 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 is determined to rescue the missing citizens of Cauldron. Aeris is my character for the Shackled City Adventure Path.

Although that’s the last of our PCs, that’s not the last of our party. The members of Dinorabbit are also travelling with a half-orc janitor named Patch, and an ex-guard named Krylscar Endercott! 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. Patch has gone from a meek coward to a stalwart companion. He’s currently acting as protector of all of the citizens we’ve liberated, keeping watch over them in a secure location while our heroes continue to forge ahead.

Krylscar was abducted from Cauldron over a month ago, and was only recently freed by the team. He was found unconscious in his cell, beaten by his captors for impertinence. When they healed him they discovered Krylscar was bloodied, but far from broken. He demanded gear, equipped himself, and insisted on helping the members of Dinorabbit explore the rest of the Malachite Complex. Occasionally helpful and always reckless, Krylscar is stubborn and brave.

the team
The Team!

The Adventure

Kneeling in the wreckage of their battle, Aeris gasped for breath. She and Falco had narrowly avoided being crushed to death and devoured by a mimic disguised as a gong in a well-stocked treasure vault. The gold had not been worth it. Not to them, anyway. Their teammates may think otherwise…

“WOW! Look at all this gold!” Rabbity exclaims. “Oh, gems! I LOVE gems! Can I have them all, guys?” Without waiting for an answer, Rabbity scooped up all of the gems and jewelry, and dumped them into her bag. “Thanks!”

“There’s a lot of neat things in here, Rabbity, not just gems,” Mick remarks. He was in the process of carefully examining everything, packing it up in trunks and bags, and then giving it to his magical, half-broken, construct to carry. He had packed up weapons, armour, and plenty of gold. With a cock of his head he picked up a crumpled piece of paper. “What’s this?”

At our gaming table, I handed my son a crumpled up piece of paper. He grinned, and unscrunched it, leaving him with a wrinkled letter. More than a little pleased with this turn of events, my son studied the letter carefully, then read it out loud.

son - mick - reading the note
My son reading the mysterious letter.

Kazmojen,

There’s such a thing as being too good at your job.

Lay off taking your product from Cauldron. You’re pushing your luck. Any more get snatched and you’ll find yourself the target of jealous competitors or offended do-gooders.

Don’t say I didn’t want you.

The letter was signed with an image of a stylized bird, which Rabbity recognized as a kingfisher.

Now, my kids adore player handouts. Everyone does, I know. But, my kids really get into them. They read, re-read, and re-read again the handouts. They search for clues in everything. This letter they worried over the words, the potential meaning behind them, the kingfisher, and even any pictures hidden in the paper crinkles. They keep notes and wild theories in a notebook and go back to compare new handouts to old ones. They’re obsessed with player handouts.

Which is awesome! No handout is ever under appreciated.

So when I handed them this letter they freaked (in a good way). It was a solid ten minutes of conspiracy theories and excitement before they settled enough that we could continue the game.

letter 1

When we were finally ready we moved on, backtracking through all the hallways and rooms we’d already explored until we only had two left. The first chamber was a fine bedroom, complete with nice wooden furniture, a chain wrapped iron trunk, food, refreshments, and …. infernal guardians!

A pair of quivering, nasty mounds of flesh surged to life as soon as Aeris opened the door.

Lemures!” she shouted. “They’re resistant to damage. You’ll need to hit them really hard to have any effect.”

“Or use silver,” Falco added. He pulled out his silver holy symbol of Shelyn and passed it to Mick. “Try this.”

Aeris rushed into battle and swung her sword, but her blade struck the lemure and bounced off their flesh. Not hard enough.

Rabbity peeked into the room and launched a blast of water at one lemure. Unfortunately, she rolled low and dealt only minor damage to the foul outsider.

With a shrug, Mick followed the others into the room and tossed the holy symbol right at the wounded lemure. Capable of turning anything into a lethal weapon, Mick was pleasantly surprised to see he not only hit, but he defeated the creature! With a critical hit he took down the lemure. It shuddered, quivered, and lost its form, turning into a nasty puddle of goo before being torn back to its home plane. All that was left behind was the shining holy symbol. “Ha!” My son shouted loudly as he jumped out of his seat and danced around the living room. “Don’t mess with Mick! Yeah! Dance party! WHOO!”

Falco stepped into the room, sure to stay near the back, and cast some hexes at the remaining lemure, lowering its defences. Krylscar hurried into the room to help Aeris combat the creature in melee. The pair both managed to trike, dealing some minor damage to the devils once DR was taken into account. But, it was a kinetic blast from Rabbity that slammed into the lemure with massive force that finally brought the creature down. My daughter joined my son in their victory dance.

lemure battle - malachite fortress - shackled city
Battling lemures.

They sifted through the room but were disappointed in its contents. The trunk contained the personal effects of someone short and prone to colourful attire, and plenty of shackles and chains. Deciding it must belong to that weaselly gnome-like slave merchant who fled when they fought Kazmojen and Prickles (in Part Six: Kazmojen), they discussed whether finding his things was good or bad.

“Hmmm… If his things are here maybe he hasn’t really ran away yet,” my daughter said.

“No,” my son disagreed. “I think he was so scared he left without any of his stuff. That means that he probably left without taking anymore slaves or anything with him.”

“We should chase him in case he has my friend Griffin!” my daughter decided.

“No! We should finish looking around in here for any more slaves. And Griffin.”

My husband had to weigh in with his opinion to settle the discussion and get us moving again. We continued through the Malachite Fortress, exploring the rooms we still hadn’t checked out. There was only one. The kitchen.

Preparing themselves for anther battle, everyone drew their weapons, and drank a scavenged potion or two. There were voices inside. Two chittering goblinoid voices, and an exasperated sounding man.

“Ugh,” the man’s voice groaned. “That’s a fork. I said I needed a spoon. A BIG SPOON.”

The goblinoid voices sounded like they were arguing some more.

“Hey!” Rabbity exclaimed. “That sounds like Griffin!”

Krylscar looked at Rabbity strangely. “You know Griffin?”

“Yeah!” exclaimed Rabbity. “He works at MY work. We are friends. His fiancé has been so sad since he was kidnapped that she NEVER stops crying. It is super annoying and super sad!”

Krylscar chucked. “Griffin’s been my friend since we were kids. Used to get into all kinds of scrapes. Until he settled down with that girl of his. Never saw him much, after that.” With a grim sort of look Krylscar nodded at the door. “Let’s do this.”

Rabbity and Krylscar opened the door, both leaping through and into the kitchen in a flash. Rabbity blasted one of the goblins with a wave of water before he even had time to react, while Krylscar stabbed the second.

At the sight of a pair of dying kitchen hands Griffin Malek screamed. And screamed. And screamed.

“It’s us, it’s us!” Rabbity said to him.

“AAAAAAAHHHHH! YOU JUST BARGED IN AND KILLED PEOPLE! Oh, I’m going to be in so much trouble!”

“What are you talking about, mate?” Krylscar asked. “You’re free. You’re welcome.”

“Kryl? You’re still alive?”

“Of course!” Krylscar replied. “Thought you were dead, though.”

“No, I bargained with Kazmojen to work as a cook. It earned me warm food and a bed. Plus, he promised he wouldn’t sell me. It’s a pretty sweet deal, by the way, so I’d appreciate you guys getting out of here before you mess it up!”

Krylscar laughed. “Ah, you weasel! Always were the smart one!”

“I thought you’d be dead for sure!” Griffin replied.

Krylscar laughed some more. “Yeah, they said they’d eat me if I didn’t start behaving. I said I hoped they’d choke! HA!”

Griffin laughed for a moment, then paled. “I would have had to cook you.”

Krylscar paused, suddenly thinking it wasn’t that funny anymore…

“You don’t need to worry about Kazmojen. We killed him. And his guards,” Rabbity pointed out. “Like… lots of them.”

“Lots of them or all of them?”

“Lots!” Rabbity exclaimed happily.

“Not good enough!” Griffin replied, crossing his arms. “I’m not leaving.”

“All of them,” Falco corrected.

“Really?”

“Yes.”

The bickering continued for a while, until Griffin finally relented. “Well, alright. But if you get me killed I’ll curse you with my dying breath.”

The group met up with Patch and the other survivors. They double/triple checked the complex, then headed for the elevator. They rode it up to Jzadirune, and then continued, walking through the confusing tangle of hallways and rough tunnels, until they arrived in Keygan Ghelve’s home. With a wave of her hands, Rabbity opened the door, revealing the bright red sun, rising over Cauldron.

The prisoners shielded their eyes. Some wept, some cheered, and some stood stunned. The saddest amongst them were still in shock.

“Welcome home!” Rabbity exclaimed

With shaky, hesitant steps, the prisoners returned to the streets of Cauldron.

We wrapped up there and my kids hopped out of their chairs, dancing and jumping and singing in triumph. We had just completed ‘Life’s Bazaar,’ book one of the Shackled City Adventure Path. Reason to celebrate! Plus? They honestly felt like heroes.

“This was great, Mom!” my son said.

“Yeah, what’s next?” my daughter asked.

“Oh, you’ll have to wait and see,” I told them. “But you should give some thought to what you want to do over the next few days or weeks in Cauldron. Think about it, so you’re ready for the next time we play.”

“Okay!” they shouted. As they started chattering over their plans, my husband grinned.

“XP?”

Yes, you all get a level up.”

Cue the victory dance from my children.

We had a ton of fun playing ‘Life’s Bazaar.’ Next session we’re slowing things down a bit, and doing some roleplaying in Cauldron, before launching into the next chapter of the Shackled City Adventure Path: Drakthar’s Way.

Wish us luck!

Jessica

life's bazaar d20diaries shackled city beholder
Life’s Bazaar is the first adventure in the Shackled City Adventure Path.

Behind the Screen

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

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

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.

Shackled City: Part Seven: Bad Luck

Welcome back to Cauldron, home of the The Shackled City Adventure Path! When we last left off our heroic musicians were investigating a series of missing person cases which recently culminated in the abduction of four children from a local orphanage. Fate led to our characters taking the rescue of these people upon themselves! Although they’ve defeated down the kidnappers, and rescued the children, there’s plenty of other missing citizens of Cauldron to save. And their captors? Slavers! They’ll have to work fast if they want to save their fellow citizens before they’re sold!

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!, and Shackled City: Part Six: Kazmojen.

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 Shackled City Adventure Path is a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons Adventure originally printed in Dungeon Magazine by Paizo Publishing.

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 Jzadirune but was brought to the city of Cauldron to escape the Vanishing. Orphaned by the mysterious events and with few memories of those early years, Mick was raised in the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same orphanage that recently had four children kidnpapped right from their beds! Determined to save those little scamps, Mick was very excited to take up this missing person’s case and follow it to its conclusion — particularly when he realized that it led to his one-time home. Mechanically Mick is a monk / bard (prankster) who attacks with wild kicks while playing his piano in battle. Partway through exploring Jzadirune he came into possession of a broken magical construct. He’s played by my seven-year old son.

Rabbity Castalle is a rabbitfolk waitress who works at the Tipped Tankard Tavern. A dancer and singer for the band Dinorabbit, Rabbity also has a pet panther named Panthy. She’s lucky, nimble, and quick, but a little skittish. One of her co-workers is one of the people who was recently abducted, so she’s very keen to solve this mystery and return him home. Rabbity is a hydrokineticist played by my six-year old daughter, using the rabbitfolk race. Rabbitfolk are a Pathfinder Compatible race created by my daughter (with some help) which will soon be published in the upcoming Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion by Sunburst Games (Kickstarter coming in February!). 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 is determined to rescue the missing citizens of Cauldron. Aeris is my character for the Shackled City Adventure Path.

Although that’s the last of our PCs, that’s not the last of our party. The members of Dinorabbit are also travelling with a half-orc janitor named Patch! Patch is a big, stuttering, fool who works at the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same place he was raised. Patch recently got recruited to the Last Laugh Thieve’s Guild and was asked to watch over an orphan named Terrem. Unfortunately, Terrem was kidnapped on the very evening that Patch went out to meet with with the guild. Distraught over the boy’s disappearance, Patch was pressured by Falco and Mick into helping them rescue the kids. And so, the poor one-eyed janitor finds himself heading into danger.

gms needs - tea and dice
My favourite mug and dice! Dice are Pathfinder Iron Gods Dice Set by Q-Workshop. Mug is Critical Hit D20 Mug by ThinkGeek.

The Adventure

Leaving behind Patch to watch over the children, our eclectic crew of musicians headed  out onto a mysterious bridge, intent on saving as many people as they could. Falco casts a spell, sinding a trio or glowing orbs of light along the length of the bridge, then under it. The span was over thirty feet across, and below was a drop of nearly fifty feet into frigid, flowing water. They crossed in silence, finding themselves on a narrow landing. Ahead was a sturdy double door flanked by two massive statues of dwarven warriors. To both the left and the right the ledge continued, eventually ending at a smaller door. Unsure which way to go, Aeris approached the left doors.

Mick, followed by his stolen, unreliable, half-broken construct — whose primary job now was carrying sacks of loot — placed a hand on Aeris’ elbow. “Be careful of those statues. I have a bad feeling about this.

“I can put those fears to rest, I think,” Falco remarked grandly. Ruby, his colourful, demanding thrush sat perched upon his shoulder. He wove his hands around and cast another spell, causing his eyes to glow brightly. With his vision now capable of detecting magical auras he examined the statues. “They not animated constructs. No magical auras of any kind.” With a nod, he winked at Aeris. “You’ll be fine.”

“Unless they’re trapped,” Mick pointed out.

“Yes. Well, they’re not magically trapped,” Falco clarified.

“Maybe just the normal kind,” Mick worried.

Aeris sighed. “I can handle a few traps. Besides, we don’t have time for this.”  Aeris approached the far left door, looked around cautiously, and opened it.

No traps. Yet.

The door opened into a large guard post, with a set of stone bunkbeds, a table, and some chairs. Another two doors exited the room at the far side. Sleeping in two of the beds were a pair of hobgoblin guards. Two others sat at the table playing some kind of gambling game involving stones and a rough dice.

Aeris leapt into action, charging into the room and swinging her sword at the nearest hobgoblin. Unfortunately, she wasn’t fast enough! The hobgoblins shouted out a loud alarm, waking their sleeping brethren and surely alerting any other enemies nearby. Aware that the last time a hobgoblin shouted an alarm down here they ended up fighting wave after wave of guards, the members of Dinorabbit knew they had to end this quickly!

From outside the room, Rabbity smiled at Prickles. “You stay here, okay? I’ll go check it out.” Rabbity rode Panthy into the room, took a quick peek around, and urged Panthy up onto one of the stone bunkbed’s top beds. Prickles listened and stayed behind.

That’s where our good luck ended.

You see, this past session we had the worst luck. Absolutely, the worst. We constantly — all four of us — rolled critical misses. Yup! A whole lot of ones. And our enemies? Critical hits! SO many critical hits! Despite coming up against weaker enemies nearly the entire session, we barely survived. And you know what? We counted ourselves lucky! It was brutal! Haha.

Back in the guard room the hobgoblins launched into action. They found chinks in our armour, gaps in our defences, and took advantage of our distraction! In short, they dismantled us! And those two armoured hobgoblins? They scored a whopping three critical hits before Aeris and Falco brought them down. As for the two sleeping hobgoblins? They leapt out of bed, grabbed a weapon, and fought unarmored. We missed them over and over again until — finally — Rabbity got a streak of luck (really, it was a pair of average rolls, haha) and took down those two wily hobgoblins in one kinetic blast a piece.

Heavily wounded and more than a little discouraged, our heroes remained alert for further enemies. Thankfully none came.

malachite fortress - d20diaries - crop
The Malachite Fortress!

They took a moment to loot the room, heal what wounds they could, and then moved on. Through the other door they found some swords swinging right at their faces! Yup, there were enemies on the other side of that door, and they were more than prepared for our heroes! With crossed fingers we headed into battle…. only to face more bad luck! Two hobgoblin guards battled Aeris in tight quarters, while another hobgoblin — this one with only one arm — brought a burning hot iron near the face of a captive female human woman across the room.

Aeris tried to get into the room and past the hobgoblins — no luck! She tried to distract the one-armed torturer — no luck! She resorted to fighting her way past the hobgoblins — no luck! Curse their fine armour!

Really, it was curse my luck! I never rolled higher than a 2, and those were the good rolls! We’re a fan of using critical hit and miss cards in our sessions, so my constant 1s caused me to stab myself, exhaust myself, and lower my own AC due to clumsiness.

Perfect.

Aeris’ allies offered support from behind. Falco threw hexes to curse the enemies, Mick performed some inspiring music, and Rabbity… Well she didn’t help Aeris. Instead she shot kinetic blasts past Aeris, through the doorway, and past the guards, in an effort to hit the torturer in the back.

Which miraculously worked. It was our only good roll of the fight! Angry, the torturer turned and left the prisoner alone, turning his attention to… Aeris. Cause she was in the way. Haha.

As the battle raged on Aeris was forced to retreat, and the hobgoblins filtered into the next room. This exposed the weaker party members to melee combat, but it also allowed more of them to attack the hobgoblins. In the end the members of Dinorabbit won the fight, but only due to greater numbers. And an angry howler who bit a hobgoblin’s head right off!

My daughter was very proud of Prickles. Until he leaped into the fray like a maniac and started eating the hobgoblins alive. The others backed up in worry. But, it wasn’t until Prickles approached the chained up human that Rabbity started to get nervous….

With great effort and distractions she managed to get the howler under control. Aeris quickly freed the woman — whose name was Coryston Pike — and helped her out of the room. They chatted with the poor woman for a short time — turned out she was an ex-adventurer — then brought her out to Patch. They repositioned the half-orc and his charges a bit, and asked them to wait. Mick called over his construct and searched through his sacks of loot. He pulled out a shortbow, arrows, quiver, short sword, and leather armour, and gave it to the woman. With well-practised hands she strapped on her armour and gear.

In a final parting, Falco asked Coryston, “How many others prisoners are there?”

Coryston looked grim. “Not nearly enough. Plenty were sold.” After a moment of thought she added, “No more than ten.”

My kids and husband checked their list of missing persons then frowned. If they only found ten more, lots would go unaccounted for. Rabbity hoped her friend, Griffin, would be among them.

Continuing on they found the cell block. Cell after cell was empty. Finally, near the end, they found a few prisoners. The first was a man who had been beaten unconscious. The second was a young man named Deven Myrzal who was huddled in the corner of his cell, terrified they were hobgoblins coming to eat him — as they had promised they would. The next cell had an equally scared and despondent woman named Irruth Mercadi. Rabbity tried to convince the pair that they were safe, but the sight of Prickles did little to help her cause.

Meanwhile, Aeris freed one more. Jasper Drundlesput, an obsessed mathematician who grinned at the sight of her.

“Ah, the odds! The odds indeed! Not in my favour, were they? And look! Here we are. Such a small chance of rescue! And YOU! Such a small chance of success! Smaller even, yes!”

Aeris gave her head a shake and continue checking the cells, while Mick bonded with the gnome. My son thought he was amazing. Haha.

And the rest of the cells? Empty. There were less than ten prisoners.

My daughter freaked out for a bit. Her friend wasn’t here! Was he sold already? She sure hoped not!

Falco healed the unconscious man and learned that his name was Krylscar Endercott, an ex-guard. The boisterous fellow demanded some gear and insisted on helping them out. With a shrug Mick sifted through the gear and gave him some armour and weapons. Falco and Aeris led the freed prisoners back out to Patch. Thus prepared, they continued on… Finding nothing. It was a dead end.

Mick pointed at the bare walls. “Check for secret doors! This place LOVES secret doors.” After only a few minutes they found one. It led to a strange shaped room with another construct in it! This one had big hammers for hands. The construct reached up and pushed on a lever. There was a loud grinding sound, but they couldn’t see what had happened.

Mick tried to command the construct like he did his own! …And it didn’t work. The construct tried to smash in his head.

“New plan!” Mick shouted as he ducked the hammer blows. “Break it!”

Easier said than done! The battle was tough, and just as they thought they had finally won the fight, Rabbity felt something whack against her ears! She look behind her, but only found a wall. Every turned and stared at the wall suspiciously… A few seconds later they saw a metal hammer swing right through the wall at Rabbity again!

Half of the group was super confused, but Mick grinned. “Illusion!” With a laugh he added, “That’s really clever!”

“It’s horrible!” Rabbity shouted.

Luckily, this construct turned out to be the only fight of the day where we didn’t have horrible luck. We had average luck. Which was a huge relief! Heavily wounded but alive, the group took a break.

“We should rest somewhere,” Mick said.

But Rabbity shook her head. “No! There could be more people here! And if we wait they might get sold! Or DEAD!” She said ‘dead’ with such drama. It was adorable.

With a begrudging nod, Mick agreed. “You’re right. Let’s go.”

Exploring the room they found another illusory wall hiding another room and lever. Nothing else. Curiously, they pulled the levers. A pair of blocks slid out of the way and disappeared into the wall revealing two more cell blocks. With a cheer of excitement, Mick and Rabbity hurried in.

The cells were empty.

Every one.

With a sigh and some frowns the group continued on. In time they found another secret door. Aeris stepped inside and the floor fell out from under her feet.

“Pit trap!” my son shouted with a laugh.

Aeris took a maximum damage — surprising no one — and clambered out. After some further healing the group moved on. With nowhere left to go they did a little backtracking and checked out some other doors. Eventually they discovered Kazmojen’s bedroom — which was disgusting. It was filled with mounds of bones, gore, and plenty of gross furnishings. Prickles wandered in and sat in a mound of mold that was clearly his bed. Deciding to let him relax there for a bit the gang continued on and discovered a hidden treasure chamber filled with gems, coins, armour, weapons, a massive gong, and a trio of treasure chests. My kids were very suspicious of the chests. One was bound in iron, one looked like it had a mouth and was covered in blood, and the third had a fancy dagger on the lid.

mimic - shackled city - malachite fortress
More bad luck!

“Mimic!” My son exclaimed. “That one with a mouth is BOUND to be a mimic! I know it!”

Aeris approached closer. She discovered the dagger chest was trapped, the iron one was locked, and the mouth chest….

Not a mimic!

But the gong behind the chest was!

“AHHHH! I DID NOT EXPECT THE GONG!” my son exclaimed. “But I should count as right anyway!”

The gong-mimic slammed into Aeris, (with a critical hit!) wrapped her up, and chomped on her. She fought and struggled, but couldn’t escape. “It’s like glue!” she told her companions. “Don’t touch it!” As the mimic kept gnawing on her she gave up trying to escape and instead pulled out a dagger, trying to wound the beast as much as she could before she died. The group tried their best to battle the beast from afar, but the mimic surged forward and slammed into Falco next (with another critical hit!). With both of them being crushed by the sticky mimic, it was up to Mick and Rabbity to claim victory.

critical fail 2Oh, look! More critical fails from our heroes!

In the end the group barely pulled through with both Falco and Aeris a turn away from death. Whew! We were lucky to survive!

Deciding we’d had enough bad luck for the night, we packed up our dice, markers, and papers. Whatever surprises were left for us in the Malachite Fortress would have to wait for another time.

Until then,

Jessica

life's bazaar d20diaries shackled city beholder
Life’s Bazaar is the first adventure in the Shackled City Adventure Path.

Behind the Screen

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

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

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.

Shackled City: Part Six: Kazmojen

Welcome back to Cauldron, home of the The Shackled City Adventure Path! When we last left off our heroic musicians were investigating a series of missing person cases which recently culminated in the abduction of four children from a local orphanage. Fate led to our characters taking the rescue of these people upon themselves! They’ve tracked down the kidnappers, and discovered an underground complex run by slavers. They’ll have to work fast if they want to save their fellow citizens before they’re sold!

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, and Shackled City: Part Five: This Place is the Pits!

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 Shackled City Adventure Path is a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons Adventure originally printed in Dungeon Magazine by Paizo Publishing.

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 Jzadirune but was brought to the city of Cauldron to escape the Vanishing. Orphaned by the mysterious events and with few memories of those early years, Mick was raised in the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same orphanage that recently had four children kidnpapped right from their beds! Determined to save those little scamps, Mick was very excited to take up this missing person’s case and follow it to its conclusion — particularly when he realized that it led to his one-time home. Mechanically Mick is a monk / bard (prankster) who attacks with wild kicks while playing his piano in battle. Partway through exploring Jzadirune he came into possession of a broken magical construct. He’s played by my seven-year old son.

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

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

Although that’s the last of our PCs, that’s not the last of our party. The members of Dinorabbit are also travelling with a half-orc janitor named Patch! Patch is a big, stuttering, fool who works at the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same place he was raised. Patch recently got recruited to the Last Laugh Thieve’s Guild and was asked to watch over an orphan named Terrem. Unfortunately, Terrem was kidnapped on the very evening that Patch went out to meet with with the guild. Distraught over the boy’s disappearance, Patch was pressured by Falco and Mick into helping them rescue the kids. And so, the poor one-eyed janitor finds himself heading into danger.

the team - malachite fortress
The team!

The Adventure

Our eclectic crew of musicians, janitors, and locksmiths, retraced their steps and re-entered the forge. Our heroes had battled enemy hobgoblins and goblins here two sessions ago in an effort to free three citizens of Cauldron who had been labouring here. With the battle won they sent their travelling companion, Keygan Ghelve, off with the freed prisoners. It was his job to bring them back up to the city and see them safely to the Church of Adabar.

In the time since they had taken down dozens of hobgoblin guards, but knew there could be more. Seeing nothing amiss Mick headed over to the door they had yet to peek through. He listened against it but couldn’t make out anything. Opening the door led to a large dining room lined with benches and tables. It was empty at the moment, but stray dishes on the tabletop and a distant murmuring told them that enemies were not far away. The group quickly did a sweep of the room, listening at all the various doors. Three were silent, one sounded like a kitchen, and the last was very noisy. My family discussed their options. Noise might mean trouble,  but the kitchen probably mean someone banging on a loud pot which could sound an alarm. And silence meant…

They weren’t sure.

Curious, my kids decided they should check out the quiet room first. They found a threadbare living room that slept at least three people, a pantry, and a larder. Nothing of interest. They moved towards the kitchen, when suddenly Panthy prickled up her ears. She wandered over to the noisy door and growled….

getting ready for game night - shackled city - malachite fortress
Game night!

“What is it, Panthy?” Rabbity asked. “You hear something?” Rabbity pricked her ears around. “I think… I think I hear a kid crying!”

“Well hurry up!” Mick exclaimed.

“Wait!” Falco proclaimed. He whispered something to his bird.

Ruby tweeted back melodically.

Mick drank a few defensive potions, Aeris drew her sword and Patch worried. When they were prepared, Falco quietly cracked open the door and peeked inside.

The room very large, with a raised stage in the back topped by three iron posts. Chains dangled from the top of the posts, ending at the manacled hands of three children. The kids from the orphanage! On the steps stood a strange figure in ill-fitting armour who looked like a mix between a dwarf and a troll. He clutched a fourth child by a chain around its neck and waved the kids face in front of another figure, this one a soft-looking gnomish fellow with blue skin, orange hair, and massive glasses.

“He’s good!” The troll-man bellowed.

“Oh, I don’t know about that Kazmojen!” the gnome-like creature argued. “I agreed I’d pay fifty gold for each child, but this one… This one is defective! There’s something about him I just can’t put my finger on.”

“Nonsense!” Kazmojen argued. “He’s got… spirit! Yes! Break him and he work harder than others. Forty-five!”

The gnome shook his head. “Oh, much too much work… And he spits!”

As if to punctuate this point the child spit in the gnome-like creature’s face. “I bite too!” he grinned.

Kazmojen yanked the child around by the chains clamped tight around his neck. Behind them a strange beast shifted. The quills that coated its back shook back and forth at the movement. The beast stretched its quadrupedal form and growled. It looked like some sort of quilled dog monster. A very large quilled dog monster.

While the trio argued over the cost of the kids, four other hobgoblins guarded the chamber. Two at a pair of double doors, one at a door across the room, and one at the door that Falco was peeking through.

“That’s Terrem they’re f-f-fighting over!” Patch whispered.

“The child that the Last Laugh Thieve’s Guild wanted you to protect?” Min asked back.

Patch nodded with worry.

“Ruby!” Falco whispered. “Do the thing!”

The bird fluttered into the room, chirping insults loudly in it’s sweet little voice. “HEY UGLY, OVER HERE!”

As the various ugly enemies turned to look at the offending bird, Rabbity shoved an invisibility potion in Panthy’s mouth with a clever grin. Then she pushed the door open hard so it smacked the hobgoblin on the other side in the back of the head. Rabbity clamped a hand over her mouth and giggled. Then she crouched down and whispered into the ear — she hoped — of her invisible panther.

Patch was too worried over the children — Terrem in particular — to wait any longer. He hurried into the room pointed at the people talking and stammered, “L-l-let the children g-g-go!”

Panthy slunk away from Rabbity — although what the panther was doing was a mystery. Mick stepped casually into the room and whistled a little tune. Then he made a funny face at the hobgoblin guard near the door. The guard let out a laugh. Then a giggle. With a confused look on his face he started laughing at the top of his lungs, then fell to the ground and laughed some more. Mick gave the hobgoblin a wink and casually stepped over him and into the room.

Aeris dashed into the room and held her sword out at the two slavers. “Leave the children or die!”

Falco stepped into the room and whacked the laughing hobgoblin in the head with his fine walking stick. Meanwhile, Ruby continued to taunt the hobgoblins. Rabbity managed to send a blast of water at another hobgoblin before the tall figure — Kazmojen — let out a loud laugh. He pointed at Patch. “You can’t have those three,” he said with a gesture at the crying chilling chained to the posts. “Them bought already. But you can have the biter. Forty-five gold!” Then he turned his hideous face on Aeris and pointed at her. “Kill.”

The dog-beast let out a loud howl and took a few paces forward.

“Now, now, Kazmojen. Kill HER you mean! Yes? Not kill me! Certainly not!” The little gnomish fellow hurried  up the steps to the back of the room and hid behind an iron post.

Finally the hobgoblins leapt into action. One tried to shoot down the irritating bird, while the others moved to attack Patch. He took a few heavy blows and already looked near death! The battle had barely even started! Clutching his daggers tightly Patch fought back against the hobgoblins, with Mick soon joining him.

facing off against kazmojen
The epic battle against Kazmojen, Prickles, and his minions! My daughter can be seen calculating the results of her rolls on the flip-mat.

Aeris swung her blade at Kazmojen, but struck only his sturdy armour. Seeing her outnumbered, Falco hurried over and placed a hex on the leader, lowering his AC. Suddenly Panthy leapt upon Kazmojen, biting, and clawing, and tearing! His armour deflected most of the blows, but Panthy’s teeth tore a hole in the back of his leg. Kazmojen roared in pain and anger, while Rabbity laugh.

Kazmojen pointed at the Panthy. “Prickles, KILL.”

Prickles looked from Aeris to Panthy, trying to decide which looked most tasty. Apparently deciding the panther was the winner, the dog-beast turned on Panthy.

“NO!” Rabbity exclaimed. She raced closer to the dog-beast, pointed at Kazmojen, and shouted, “KILL, Prickles! KILL MASTER!”

Kazmojen scowled at the rabbitfolk. Meanwhile, Prickles turned to consider this predicament. After a few moments he bit Kazmojen! The troll-man roared in outrage and swung his axe at Rabbity, but the nimble little kineticist dodged backwards. Taking advantage of his distraction Terrem yanked his chain away from Kazmojen’s grasp and made a break for it, running across the hall an out of the main doors.

“I’m out of here!”the strange gnomish fellow exclaimed. Then he, too, turned and fled. One of the guards fled with him.

The battle raged on. Mick and Patch took down the hobgoblin guards with daggers and wild kicks. Falco kept up his hexes, lowering Kazmojen’s defences and foiling his aim. Rabbity shot water blasts at Kazmojen from afar, while Aeris fought him in melee with her sword. It was a tough fight! Patch went down halfway through and, with no time to go heal the poor fellow, all they could do was hope he would survive. Kazmojen turned most of his attention to Aeris, nearly knocking her unconscious multiple times. If not for Falco’s constant healing near the end of the fight she would have died.

A short while after Terrem fled they heard his scream. A deep, gravelly voice told him “YOU SHOULD NOT BE HERE, TERREM KARATYS.”

Mick dashed over to the main doors and whipped them open, hurrying off to help Terrem. He caught a glimpse of a massive floating head, covered with eyestalks and a huge central eye.

A beholder!

“COME TERREM! I SHALL RETURN YOU TO YOUR HOME.”

There was a sudden flicker of magic, and the beholder and Terrem both vanished.

“B… Be… BEHOLDER!” Mick stammered in shock. “He… Kid… OH, NO!”

By the time Mick rejoined the fight, Kazmojen had fallen and Prickles was eating him.

Exhausted and bleeding from dozens of wounds, Aeris dropped her sword and fell to her knees. Falco and Mick quickly gave her and Patch what healing they could. They drank the rest of their potion reserves and searched the room in the hopes of finding more. Aeris freed the children, while Patch gave them all hugs.

“Terrem?” Falco asked Mick.

Mick shook his head. “Kidnapped by a beholder,” he whispered.

“What? Why would — Huh?” After a moment of shock Falco shook his head and hurried over to the other exit. He peered through the door and saw a bridge, but no signs of the gnome.

“We have to hurry and follow that weaselly guy! He might be about to leave with some slaves.” Mick urged.

Falco walked over to the children. “What’s that way?” he asked them.

Most were too scared to reply, but one of the children, a dwarven boy named Deakon, found his voice. “Cells! That’s where they kept us! Over the bridge and through the door. There’s a whole hallway lined with cells. I… I don’t know how many had people in them, but at least some did. I could hear them.”

Falco thanked Deakon, then beckoned Patch over. “We need to hurry and free everyone else. Patch, you’re in charge of the children. Wait here and wait for my signal. When its safe you can cross the bridge after us. We’ll keep it up as we explore, all right? Hopefully we can keep you guys safe, but if not, it’s up to you to flee with the kids. Get them back to the church.”

Patch nodded with a look of determination in his eye. He tried to stammer out an affirmation, but couldn’t find the words. Instead he nodded again. Then he kept Deakon and the two silent girls close.

Rabbity stood over the quilled dog. “Can we keep him?” she asked the others.

Aeris shook her head. “Rabbity, that’s… that’s not a dog. You can’t keep it as a pet. It’s a howler. They’re foul creature from the Abyss that feed on fear.”

Rabbity shook her head. “What? Nonsense! We’re going to be the best of friends! Aren’t we, Prickles?”

Prickles looked at Rabbity a moment. He growled… then stopped. He stretched his legs and back, and growled.

“We can’t keep it Rabbity,” Aeris repeated. “In fact, we should probably kill it.”

“Nuh-uh! He’s my friend! And he’s coming with us.” Rabbity hopped on top of Panthy, adjusted her saddle, and  loped off towards the door and bridge.

Prickles watched the rabbitfolk go. Then he looked long and hard at Aeris with eyes that showed far more intelligence than a normal animal. He growled at her.

Aeris adjusted her stance and clutched her blade tightly. Howlers were fierce opponents…

Prickles growled some more, then snorted in derision. It turned from her and followed Rabbity out onto the bridge.

“Well, shit.” Aeris remarked.

And so, having ‘befriended’ a howler, Rabbity, Mick, Aeris, and Falco continue hurried across the bridge, intent on saving what people they could.

As I packed up our gear and calculated experience, my daughter grinned. “Prickles is going to be my best friend.”

I tried to explain just how horrible a howler was. Even pulled out its picture.

My daughter just grinned. “Aww, cutie!”

“It’s not cute at all,” I retorted.

“Yes, it is! And we will be best friends! And Panthy, too!”

Faced with her chipper smile, I laughed. If she wanted to try to befriend a howler, I wouldn’t stop her. It had been raised to be a guard dog. And Rabbity was both great with animals, and diplomatic. Perhaps she could control it. But, control wouldn’t keep a howler alive or content. They lived to sow terror, and kill.

Rabbity would have her hands full.

How could it go wrong?! Right?

Wish her luck!

Jessica

life's bazaar d20diaries shackled city beholder
Life’s Bazaar is the first adventure in the Shackled City Adventure Path.

Behind the Screen

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

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

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.