War for the Crown: Player’s Guide

Well, it may be a little late (okay, more than a little), but the War for the Crown Player’s Guide has finally been released by Paizo. Meant to go with their War for the Crown Adventure Path, which takes place in the nation of Taldor, this player’s guide is a free download on their website. The War for the Crown Adventure Path is already underway, with volume one, Crownfall, released in February, and volume two, Songbird, Scion, Saboteur, released this month. The other four volumes have yet to be released.

Now, I’m not sure about all of you, but I’ve been supremely excited for the War for the Crown Adventure Path. However, purchasing that lovely little book isn’t in the cards right now, so I was ready to pounce on the Player’s Guide the moment it launched. And I waited…. And waited…. And waited….

But, now that it’s here! Was it worth the wait?

Uh, yeah, obviously. It’s awesome and it’s free.

Want more details? On it!

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War for the Crown Adventure Path, Volume One of Six, Crownfall

Like the Adventure Path Player’s Guides before it, this one is filled with all the information you need to create a character well-suited to the (War for the Crown) Adventure Path, and invested in its major plots and purpose. It contains advice and compiled lists of which classes and archetypes are best suited to the campaign.  It briefly describes the region that the Adventure Path will be taking place in (Taldor, in this instance), as well as the culture or cultures found there. It describes each races place in the region, and gives advice on which obscure races are more common there (I was pleasantly surprised to find Taldor contains a LOT!). It also releases a series of traits specific to the Adventure Path (called Campaign Traits), of which each character is expected to have one.

There was plenty of wonderfully, interesting information in this little guide, and I actually got a really great feel for Taldor from it. Not a clichéd stereotype of the nation, either. An actual feel for the place. It left me happily inspired. Although there’s lots of neat tidbits we could discuss here, I’m not going to go into details. It’s free! You might as well download it yourselves.

My favourite parts of the Player’s Guide were quite unexpected. The first was a wonderfully illustrated map of Taldor. It’s just… beautiful. I love it!

And the second? We finally got a good, clear view of Princess Eutropia Stavian, eldest daughter and only living child of Grand Prince Stavian III, ruler of Taldor. Who? The War for the Crown Adventure Path was not given its name without cause! The players are going to be acting as spies/diplomats/agents of Princess Eutropia herself as she maneuvers through a budding civil war in order to claim Taldor’s throne for herself. And her opponents? Not nearly as awesome as she is! Holy smokes! I knew a bit about her from campaign spoilers, namely that she wanted to change Taldor for the better, she supports reform, she wants to ensure that women could inherit (as currently in Taldor only men can), and wants to claim the throne for herself. I’m not sure what I expected, but the Princess Eutropia we got was not it! In a good way! She’s AMAZING. From her stats to her backstory, from her public attitude to her inner turmoil, and especially THAT ART, she literally blew me away. Never mind who her opponents are, I’m in, hands down. Call it! I support the Princess!

Seriously! Look her up.

But, it’s a Player’s Guide! It’s not about our patrons, or our country. Not at its core. At its beating heart the Player’s Guide is a free tool to help players like us make characters who will work well within the Adventure Path they’re going to commit to. It should inspire us to make characters, entice us with ideas, provide us with some cool traits, and let us go crazy. And this one did.

So after reading the guide, what would I make?

A good question!

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War for the Crown Adventure Path, Volume Two of Six, Songbird, Scion, Saboteur

There’s plenty of character concepts you could run with for this campaign, and a ton of classes that would work. Rogues and bards (from the Core Rulebook or the Core Rulebook (Pocket Edition)) as well as investigators (from the Advanced Class Guide or the Advanced Class Guide (Pocket Edition)) are the most obvious options, and probably the best suited to the campaign. But, I’m not one for optimization. I won’t play something just because it’s going to be the best or the most useful. It’s characters and quirkiness that I tend to enjoy most. So, I gave all the classes a lot of thought. I quickly narrowed it down to four classes that I was inspired to make. Yes, bard was one of them. I LOVE bards. Absolutely, positively, my favourite class. And although I’ve made plenty of bards, they all seem doomed to have their campaigns crash and burn and die. So sad. Which means that bard is once again a strong contender for class choice. I also adore occultists, and making one who utilizes ancient relics of Taldor sounds like a ton of fun. The third option I’m contemplating is the mesmerist. I recently had a chance to test one (finally) as a player for a Pathfinder Society Scenario and I just had a ball. I think mesmerist’s would be a great choice for this campaign. Both the occultist and mesmerist are from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Occult Adventures.

And lastly? The vigilante, of course! I feel that vigilante’s are a hard class to play. Not mechanically, but to actually use. At their heart they’re linked to one area or region (which not a ton of campaigns are) and they rely on keeping your two identities secret (which could be a challenge among certain parties, and even among players). Although I’ve been interested in them since their release in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Intrigue, I haven’t had opportunity to play one before. And War for the Crown seems like the PERFECT time. Honestly! Is there ever going to be a better chance than this campaign? I highly doubt it. How can I resist?

So, although mesmerist is a close runner-up, I’d play a vigilante for War for the Crown. But what kind? One that I’ve desperately wanted to play since it’s publication is the magical child. Yeah, yeah. It’s cheesy, I know. But my favourite show growing up was Sailor Moon. This archetype is literally my childhood dreams all rolled up into a spectacular little package! So, obviously I want to make one. But, it’s not the only vigilante archetype I’m interested in. The warlock is also cool. With the ability to hurl magical bolts or wield them in melee combat and up to sixth level spells at your disposal, I think this archetype would be a ton of fun. And finally, the psychometrist! This class gains the ability to use the focus powers of the occultist class, with implements you designed yourself. You get to be an master inventor, who utilizes awesome gadgets. How cool is that? All three archetypes are from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Intrigue.

In the end, it was the psychometrist that won me over. I’d probably play a clever woman… The daughter of an inventor or craftsman. She was married to a ‘like-minded’ man before her father’s death so that she could inherit her father’s business and home (through her husband). Unfortunately, her husband wasn’t as ‘like-minded’ as they thought. He sold the business, took over the house, and was generally a big jerk. Infuriated, she lobbied for change and reformation, making a public spectacle of herself, and gaining the support of many of the lower classes (or at least causing them to talk). In order to shut her up, she was given a government job tending to the plights of the commoners. It was office work, reading official requests for assistance and sorting them by priority and importance. Unfortunately, the department she was supposed to pass on her recommendations to, turned out to be completely un-staffed. It existed only on paper. Her job was useless! A sham! And her reputation? Ruined! Or was it? Using the complaints as a guide, and her father’s inventions (with a few modifications of her own), she took to the streets to help those in need. She would save Taldor one person at a time!

How about you? What character concepts and builds would YOU like to play for War for the Crown? I’d love to hear them!

Until then,

Get reading! You’ve got a free Player’s Guide to download!

Jessica



Update: All of the issues of War for the Crown are now available!

War for the Crown: Book One: Crownfall

War for the Crown: Book 2: Songbird, Scion, Saboteur

War for the Crown: Book Three: Twilight Child

War for the Crown: Book Four: City in the Lion’s Eye

War for the Crown: Book Five: The Reaper’s Right Hand

War for the Crown: Book Six: The Six-Legend Soul

Unleash the Wilds!

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Wilderness

There’s been exciting changes to the Pathfinder Society Organized Play this past week. On Wednesday, Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Wilderness became legal for play. So crack out your books, and calculating statistics, it’s time to make some Shifters! In addition to the Shifter class, there’s a ton of wilderness themed archetypes that became usable. Around 80 archetypes from the book are now considered legal, and nine of them are not (blighted defiler, blighted myrmidon, fiendflesh shifter, flood walker, rageshaper, raging cannibal, verdant grappler, wildborn and wild soul). Happily, all three of my favourites, the oozemorph, the season sage and the viking, made it into PFS. Nearly all of the familiar and animal companion options were made legal, as were all of the animal tricks (excluding mark territory). All but three of the spells were added to the additional resources document (with forest’s sense, grasping vine, and vine strike being the spells left out of play), making around fifty new spells up for grabs. Feats had nearly as good luck, with around a hundred feats sanctioned for play and only ten being left out (Cultivate Magic Plants, Expert Cartographer, Expert Explorer, Expert Salvager, Hide Worker, Mutated Shape, Natural Poison Antitoxin, Sproutling, Wild Growth Hex, and Wood Crafter are still not allowed). Nearly all of the miscellaneous character rules like discoveries and rage powers were made legal. All in all it’s an exciting, vast collection of new player options for us to tinker with. For full details on what’s become legal from Ultimate Wilderness for PFS Organized Play, check out the Additional Resources document on Paizo’s website and scroll down to the bottom.

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The sigil of the Scarab Sages, a faction of the Pathfinder Society whose relevance is coming to an end.

On a related note, another major announcement was made last week. The storyline of the Scarab Sages Faction has officially come to an end, although characters are still allowed to keep their Pathfinder Society Characters in the faction and continue earning their season goals. In it’s place we get a new faction, Concordance. As the only ‘nature’ or ‘wilderness’ themed faction, this group was a long time coming. The two main members of the group we’ve been introduced to so far were met quite a long time ago, with the janni Jamila being introduced back in the third PFS scenario ever published, #03: Murder on the Silken Caravan, and the gnome Falbis being introduced in scenario #3-05: Tide of Twilight. The actual leader of the group, Ashasar, was introduced in scenarios #8-12: Caught in the Eclipse, and #8-24: Raid on the Cloudborne Keep. The Concordance was first utilized in the Tyranny of Winds Trilogy, which includes scenarios #8-08: The Sandstorm Prophecy, #8-10: Secrets of the Endless Sky, and #8-12: Caught in the Eclipse.

 

Now, I mentioned that The Concordance is a ‘nature’ themed Faction, but this isn’t strictly true. They’re not some ring of tree-hugging druids, or animal-loving rangers. They’re concerned with keeping the elements, and the elemental planes, in balance. Although they’re typically involved in affairs on the elemental planes themselves, a group of the Concordance has recently established itself on the material plane, upon realizing that its home to many extra-planar rifts, wild magic, elemental surges and the like. More properly known as the Concordance of Elements, this group is ancient and diverse. Honestly, I think they sound awesome.

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The sigil of The Concordance of Elements, a new Faction joining the Pathfinder Society.

The Concordance wasn’t released on it’s own. It was also released with a society scenario which features the organization, and offers Pathfinders who play in it the chance to join the faction after playing it through to its completion (without cost or penalty). That’s pretty neat! Very rarely do you get the chance to test out a faction in this way, without committing.

 

The scenario itself, #9-14: Down the Verdant Path, was a lot of fun. I won’t get into the plot line too much, but know that it involves a bleached gnome, the First World of the Fey, and unnatural weather. Down the Verdant Path makes spectacular use of NPCs, both allies and enemies, and in addition to starring new characters it also features all three of the above-mentioned members of the Concordance Faction (Jamila, Falbis and Ashashar). They did a splendid job of bringing these characters to life in an engaging, fun way. Down the Verdant Path is a splendid tier 1-5 scenario, which I can’t wait to play in.

With who?

A member of the Concordance, of course! As to WHAT I’ll make her, I’m not quite sure. I’m contemplating an elf druid of some kind. I never make elves. Haha.

What are you waiting for? Unleash the WILD!

Thanks for joining us on d20 Diaries.

Jessica

 

Pathfinder Playtest: Actions! Reactions! And a Glass Cannon!

As you may have heard, Pathfinder recently announced that in August they’ll be releasing the beta version of Pathfinder’s Second Edition ruleset. For the first few months these rules will be available for a free download on Paizo’s website, and feedback will be collected from us, the players. Known as Pathfinder Playtest, this news has stirred up a lot of excitement. As mentioned in my previous post on the matter, I’m excited for the new edition, but also afraid. It’s not that I worry about the rules–I know I’ll like them–but I worry about the investment. I have no intention of leaving behind 1e, especially in regards to the Pathfinder Society. Although I know I’ll switch over to 2e eventually, the cost that’s going to be involved when 2e officially launches is going to prevent me from making the transition immediately.

Pathfinder is slowly releasing some spoilers and details on their blog of the new Playtest rules, and has an extensive FAQ section dedicated to the game already. So what do we know? For starters, alchemist will be one of the classes released with the original core classes in the first book. Also, goblins will be among the core ancestries up for offer, which is exciting! Who doesn’t love goblins? Wait! Ancestries? What’s that? It’s a new name for races, which will influence your character as it always has. In addition to ancestry and class, your character will also be influenced by a third category called your Background. I’m not sure what this is exactly, as details haven’t launched yet, but it sounds like having a theme from Starfinder. There’s also plenty of other little things that have been hinted at, but the only things that have been spoilered in any kind of detail is the action system.

You know all that work you put into learning which actions are standard, move, swift and free actions? Ignore that! Instead, everything costs one Action. During each round, every player gets three actions. Want to attack three times? Go for it! Draw a potion, move and administer it to someone else? Sure! Move and attack twice? Yup! Open a door, move through, shut a door? Yup! Three actions. Do what you will. Those of you choosing to attack multiple times take a cumulative -5 penalty on those additional attacks (so the second attack is at a -5 penalty and the third is at a -10). The only exception mentioned so far in regards to the ‘one Action’ rule is spells. Most spells will cost 2 Actions, some can be cast as 1 Action, and some will be cast at variable Action costs, which will increase the spell’s effectiveness. Every character also gets a single Reaction that they can take between the start of their turn and the start of their next turn. In addition to attacks of opportunity, each class has special Reactions they can take, like a fighter readying a shield against an attack in order to reduce its damage. So far I like this concept. It’s effective and uncomplicated. But will it work? After hearing it in action on the Glass Cannon Podcast special where they tried out Pathfinder Playtest alongside Jason Bulmahn and Erik Mona, I think it’s going to be great. This podcast was a lot of fun to listen to, and featured a lot of cool glimpses at the new rules.

My favourite thing I learned from the podcast? Initiative is no longer a single score. Instead, what you roll for initiative is determined by what you’re doing. For example, if you’re looking around and keeping alert it will run off of your Perception. If you’re slinking around and hiding at the time, Stealth will be what you’re rolling. And if you’re checking out the terrain and looking for tracks, you’ll roll Survival for your initiative. It’s a neat way to run initiative that sounds like a lot of fun.

For further details on Pathfinder Playtest check out Paizo’s website, blog post, or the podcast mentioned above.

What’s surprised me more than the new rules we’ve heard about is the variety of attitudes I’ve seen on the Paizo Messageboards about it. Some people are thrilled, which is what I expected, and some people are worried–also expected. Some are upset. One GM was so angry he immediately dropped every game he was GMing, leaving dozens of players in the lurch! Seriously!? How unprofessional can you be? Luckily, the wonderful community of players on the Paizo Messageboards leapt to the rescue and are managing replacement GMs as we speak. My character leaps for joy and thanks her lucky stars.

Since the announcement of Pathfinder Playtest, the news has settled. The shock has faded. And we’ve received a glimpse at the new rules and how play works.  So how do I feel now? Excited. I can’t wait until we get to learn more about the new system.

And you? How are you feeling about Pathfinder Playtest and the upcoming Pathfinder 2e?

I’d love to hear your opinions!

Jessica

Starfinder Society Scenarios

I love the Starfinder Roleplaying Game (Starfinder Core Rulebook). But, I also didn’t want to leap right into Starfinder with my own custom adventures. I wanted to try it out as a player first. Obviously, there’s not many options right now. There’s the Starfinder Adventure Path: Dead Suns (Part One: Incident at Absalom Station), which looks great, but I didn’t want to lock my family into a long campaign with their first characters. I wanted to do something short. Something that got started right away. That hopped right into the action!

So I turned to the Starfinder Society.

The Starfinder Society is a lot like the Pathfinder Society, but in space. It’s a world-wide organized play campaign where anyone can make a character and play a single short adventure (usually four hours in length). The adventures are called scenarios and available as PDF downloads on Paizo’s website for only a few dollars each (usually $4.99 American). These scenarios are short, action packed, and fun. There’s other rules you’ll need to know for playing in the Starfinder Society, all of which are available as a free download on their website, here. In addition to special rules, you should also know a bit about the setting, and the recent achievements of the Starfinder Society. Paizo’s website says it better than I ever could:

“The gods have mysteriously spirited Golarion away to an unknown location and refuse to answer questions about it. In its place, the cultures of that world have evolved and spread throughout the solar system, especially to a vast space platform called Absalom Station. Gifted access to a hyperspace dimension by an ascended AI deity, the residents of the system suddenly find themselves with the ability to travel faster than light, and the race is on to explore and colonize potentially millions of worlds. But there are horrors out there in the darkness…”

“The Starfinder Society is on the brink of ruin, having had to resort of mercenaries to maintain their hold on claimed planetoids, stellar regions, and archeological sites. After training to join a new cadre of Starfinders, it is up to you as a member of the Starfinder Society to help restore the organization. The Starfinder Society, with memories of the Scoured Stars incident still fresh, embarks on the quest to rebuild and discover the truth of what happened in the inaugural season: Year of Scoured Stars!”

Playing in the Starfinder Society is a blast, and I highly recommend it either in person, or online via play-by-post (which is my preferred method), but you don’t have to use these Starfinder Society Scenarios for organized play alone. These scenarios also make great mini-adventures for playing at home in a more casual setting. I’ve continually been impressed with their quality, and the continuity of the scenarios. When used together they’re already beginning to tell a longer, more important story than they do on their own.

Today we’re going to take a look at the Starfinder Society Scenarios that are currently available for purchase, and let you know our favourites. Although you’ll find references to events in each that I liked or disliked, and comments about specific characters, these scenarios are not explored in detail. It’s not my intention to spoil the events in these scenarios, or give summaries and full reviews, but to share my opinions and provide recommendations. That said, if you want to avoid even minor spoilers I recommend you check out a different article. So sit back, and get ready to enter the Drift!

Scenario #1-00: Claim to Salvation is a Tier 3-4 adventure which is unlike any of the other scenarios. In this special scenario you don’t play your own Starfinder Society character. Instead, you play one of the level four pre-generated iconic characters. These characters are mercenaries hired by the Starfinder Society only a few months after the Scoured Stars incident decimated their ranks. These mercenaries are tasked with exploring the surface of a ‘fake-moon’ known as Salvation, for the purpose of determining if the site is worth further exploration, or is a dud that needs shelving. As one of the very first scenarios released, this adventure has some great supplementary rules notes and cheat sheets included within it for ease of play, which is a really awesome addition. This adventure is really fun, and has a cast of colourful characters, both allies and enemies, which are a blast to interact with. The starship battle in this adventure is really unique and kooky. Plus, it’s got goblins in it! Who doesn’t want to see goblins in space?!? Despite that this was a really fun adventure, there are two major downsides for me. The first, is that you need to use pre-generated characters if you’re playing it in the Starfiner Society, as mentioned above. And the second? You’re only exploring the surface of Salvation and determining if the site is worth further exploration. Exploration of the interior continues in another adventure, #1-09: Live Exploration Extreme!, and I strongly believe it will continue on in at least another scenario or two further down the line. That means that when you reach the end of this scenario you’re likely to feel as a player like its unfinished. Although I’m definitely going to use this scenario with my family as part of an ongoing campaign, I’m unlikely to play it in the Starfinder Society. Pre-generated characters aren’t really my thing. Overall, I give this scenario three out of five stars. However, if you enjoy using pre-generated characters, or, if you’re going to use it in a home campaign, I’d increase it to four out of five stars.

Starfinder Society Quests: Into the Unknown is the next adventure we’re going to take a peek at. This tier 1 scenario is awesome! For starters, Into the Unknown is a free download. So click the link and get downloading. Its a repeatable adventure, which means that if you’re playing it in the Starfinder Society you can play it once for each character (as opposed to only once as a player). That’s a very  important thing when there’s so few scenarios to choose from. Like Claim to Salvation, Into the Unknown has some wonderful cheat sheets and extra rules listed, which makes it awesome for beginner players and GMs. As a quest, it’s formatted a bit different than the other scenarios. Instead of being one four hour long adventure, its a connected series of five short one-hour long adventures. Each of these short quests forms one cohesive, wonderful adventure that feels much grander in scope than your typical scenario. These quests are meant to be played in order, and intelligence gathered in the first four quests can provide you with an advantage in the final quest. The adventure itself has got a bit of everything in it: fun social interactions, local combat, and starship battles. My kids loved roleplaying with Julzakama and the ysoki family who own the Vat Garden in the first quest, ‘Salvation.’ The Vat Garden encounter also had some tricky environmental effects that made it unique. I loved the ‘Boarding’ quest, but did have a few qualms with it. There’s no mention of any bodies, which is unfortunate. Also, this scene could really benefit from an ominous, atmospheric opening description. I loved the battle in ‘Salvage,’ although this scene also could have benefitted from a scripted description of the wreck. There’s a total of two different starship battles in these quests, both of which are very different. I would have loved to learn more about the crew of the Lawblight, though. For such a cool ship with a lot of build-up, we don’t even learn the name of the captain! Events in this scenario tie into later adventures, including #1-02: Yesteryear’s Truth. In addition, there’s further hints that this scenario will tie into other unwritten scenarios in the future. All in all, Into the Unknown is one of my very favourite scenarios, and I give it five out of five stars. I highly recommend it as the first scenario for new players to try.

Up next is scenario #1-01: The Commencement. This is a repeatable scenario that does not feature any starship battles. This scenario is intended as an introduction to the Starfinder Society and its major factions. As brand new Starfinders, you’ll need to complete a task for each of the faction leaders. These tasks are fun, but quite minor. Some of them are… silly. That being said I enjoyed the silliest one a lot. (Star Sugar Heartlove!!!, here’s looking at you!). I found there was a bit too much rolling and math during the Acquisitives mission, which bogged down gameplay quite a bit. The Wayfinder and Exo-Guardian missions were great fun, while the Dataphiles task allowed characters with a lot of skills to shine. One of the best parts of this scenario is its adaptability. Multiple parts of this scenario are chosen randomly each time you play, which is just awesome in a repeatable scenario. From vehicle statistics, to enemy abilities, and even alien appearances and motives, although the tasks don’t change, the details do, which will make for a fresh experience every time. Conceptually, I like that they give fresh agents minor tasks, but in practise it feels… underwhelming. Not very exciting. For that reason, although this is a great first adventure for Starfinder Society characters, and a wonderful introduction to the factions, I don’t recommend it be your first Starfinder experience. If you’re new to Starfinder, play Into the Unknown instead. This adventure features events that tie into other adventures, as well as characters that continue to play a role in the Year of Scoured Stars. I give it three out of five stars.

Scenario #1-02: Fugitive on the Red Planet is a tier 1-4 adventure that doesn’t feature any starship battles. This scenario sends you to the Mars-like planet of Akiton on the trail of an ex-Starfinder who stole an artifact from the Society. This is a another fun adventure. I like the encounters, both social and combat, but the scenario itself was very ‘on the rails.’ Now, this isn’t surprising for SFS or PFS scenarios, and it doesn’t feel like it’s constraining, but it is worth noting. I was impressed that the investigation in Maro has an effect later in the scenario. I really enjoyed the inclusion of AbadarCorp in this scenario, and that there were repercussions or benefits based on your interactions with them. I also liked that infamy repercussions were built right into the module, which is a nice early example that evil actions don’t work out for your characters in the long run. The final battle’s location was wonderfully varied, and the inclusion of the mine carts made it very dynamic. Overall, I really enjoyed this scenario and give it four out of five stars.

Scenario #1-03: Yesteryear’s Truth is a tier 1-4 adventure that contains one starship battle. This mission is of particular importance to the Wayfinders faction and sends you to explore a newly discovered planet. I found that the starship battle was too long, but a slower launch rate of the combat drones, or less hp for each drone would fix that easily. I really loved the premise of this adventure. It’s very much a ‘first contact’ situation, and I thought it followed through on this wonderfully. As expected for a scenario of this kind, social skills are very important to the mission, which could be hard for some groups. That being said, they have plenty of chances to make friends with both types of locals, and the module can progress as scheduled even if they fail to do so. Finally, I loved the history this scenario lets you uncover, and that your actions can affect the planet’s future. This scenario features a planet that was first mentioned in Into the Unknown, and introduces Winks, a character who will later be met again in Scenario #1-04: Cries from the Drift. I give it five out of five stars.

Scenario #1-04: Cries from the Drift is a tier 1-4 adventure that sends the players to investigate a missing Starfinder ship. It contains one starship battle. This mission is of particular importance to the Exo-Guardians faction and is highly likely to link to further missions regarding Sangoro’s Bulwark. I thoroughly loved this scenario, but be warned, this one is NOT for the squeamish. It features body horror, gore and suspense. Because this scenario really benefits from all players being surprised, I won’t be saying anything else about the events contained within. What I will say is that it connects to lots of other adventures. It name-drops Winks, from scenario #1-03: Yesteryear’s Truth. It also introduces a starfinder team known as the Manta Corps, who will make a further appearance in scenario #1-08: Sanctuary of Drowned Delight. This social encounter is a fun way to let players brag about their accomplishments. There’s some fun goodies hidden in this scenario for players who’ve already experienced scenario #1-01: The Commencement, including the return of Zigvigix and his warehouse. It also features tie-ins to a not-yet-released scenario that involves a Strawberry Machine Cake concert. I give this scenario five out of five stars, but remember: it’s not for everyone!

Scenario #1-05: The First Mandate is a tier 1-4 adventure that tasks your players with impressing dignitaries and contacts who are important to the Starfinder Society. It is of particular importance to members of the Acquisitives faction, and the Second Seekers faction. There are no starship battles in this scenario. This scenario introduces six really important NPCs, including Luwazi Elsebo, leader of the Starfinder Society. It also introduces Royo, a ysoki Forum member, and Naiaj, a gnome bleachling Venture-Captain. All three of these characters were fun to interact with, detailed, and are certain to make plenty more appearances as the Starfinder Society continues. There’s also two other important NPCs of note, Iteration-177, an android Aspis Consortium member, and Zo!, an Eoxian media mogul. Despite the premise of this adventure, it doesn’t all come down to social skills. There’s plenty of combat to go around and the NPCs varied interests mean that even the most awkward characters have a chance of impressing someone. The NPCs represent a wide variety of races, which was really refreshing. The social encounters themselves are a lot of fun, and the rules introduced to measure the players success aren’t overly complicated. In addition to the intangible benefits of impressing the dignitaries, there’s also visible, mechanical benefits that occur in the scenario, which are sure to make players pleased. I felt that the investigation part of this scenario was really well done. The clues were subtle, and it didn’t beat you over the head with details, which was really refreshing. The final battle allowed for multiple different approaches, methods and tactics, all of which look to be a lot of fun. So far two other scenarios are connected to this one, including #1-06: Night in Nightarch, and #1-09: Live Exploration Extreme! Although I wasn’t sure I’d like this scenario from it’s premise, I ended up really loving it. I give it five out of five stars.

Scenario #1-06: Night in Nightarch is a tier 3-6 scenario that grants your players leave to track down a missing weapons shipment from a drow thief. The best part? She’s on a planet of drow. Yeah. Take a second and imagine that. Yikes! This scenario doesn’t feature any starship battles. I absolutely love the premise of this scenario. It’s got some fun NPCs to interact with, awesome drow artwork, and does a great job of setting an atmospheric tone with only a few short sentences. I really enjoyed that the mission was on a timeframe, and the quick mechanics that were used to speed up/determine time. The office levels were well-detailed and organic. It had character, which was really nice. There were multiple ways to go about one of the encounters, which is nice. The outcome of the battle doesn’t change too much from one to the other, but its nice to have the option. I even loved the little details hidden here and there, like the advertisements–particularly the one featuring Zo!’s reality tv show. I give this scenario four out of five stars.

Scenario #1-07: The Solar Sortie is a tier 1-4 adventure that sends the players undercover on Brilliance, a solar satellite owned by the Arch Energy Consortium, for the purpose of recovering classified information. To this end, the players must earn the friendship of Envar Tamm, the ‘boss’s’ hard-partying son. This scenario could contain one starship battle. This scenario is fun and quirky. It requires subterfuge, social skills and computer skills to succeed, but is not without combat. Because of the skills required, its not a scenario for everyone, but it did a great job of making all kinds of characters useful. Envar himself is a great NPC who’s going to be a blast to play at the table. This scenario features a character introduced in #1-01: The Commencement, and can be affected by your players experiences in #1-02: Fugitive on the Red Planet. I give this adventure four out of five stars.

Scenario #1-08: Sanctuary of Drowned Delight is a tier 3-6 adventure that has your players investigate an old Starfinder Lodge on an aquatic planet. In addition to determining if the Lodge is salvageable, they also need to make contact with the first group who was sent on this mission, the Manta Corps, who were introduced in #1-04: Cries from the Drift. This mission is of particular importance to the Wayfinders faction. It does not contain any starship battles. This scenario is location based, which is to say that they are given a single location to explore, and can do so in any fashion and order they desire. In addition to room-based encounters and there are also event-based encounters, which are a lot of fun. In addition to getting to explore a great location on a new planet, players will get to meet and interact with a new alien race. This is a great adventure for players who love to role-play social encounters. It also features investigation elements which are wonderfully subtle. This scenario reintroduced us to Fitch and the Master of Stars, which is the same ship visited in #1-01: The Commencement. This scenario is just… AWESOME! I give this scenario five out of five stars.

The last adventure we’re going to take a look at today is Scenario #1-09: Live Exploration Extreme! This is a tier 1-4 adventure which is a direct sequel to #1-00: Salvation’s End. It also has ties to #1-05: The First Mandate, and features Zo!, who was met in that scenario. It is the first (likely of multiple) scenarios that will delve into the fake-moon, Salvation. The catch? In the aftermath of the Scoured Stars incident, The Starfinders had to rely on mercenaries, investors and powerful organizations in order to keep operational. One such investor was Zo!, a undead Eoxian media mogul. He provided the Starfinders with a vast amount of funding, on the condition that if any important discoveries were made on those sites the Starfinders would cease investigation immediately, until Zo! and his camera crew were ready to document the findings and turn it into a new reality television special. That’s right! You don’t just get to explore an awesome ruin and make amazing discoveries, you have to do it alongside a film crew while impressing a live studio audience! It does an awesome job of playing up this quirky experience, including pulling characters aside to ask prying questions, and having the studio audience vote on how some situations should play out. This adventure is populated with a ton of entertaining characters. From the crew, to Zo!, and the people met while exploring Salvation, this is a scenario that’s overflowing with fun, engaging, social encounters. It’s full of personality, and I guarantee you’ve never played anything like it before. Aside from the wonderful ‘reality t.v.’ schtick it’s got going for it, the adventure itself–the things you find in Salvation–are really, really surprising. Honestly. Wow! I cannot wait for the investigation into Salvation to continue in another scenario, and I strongly hope that Zo! and his camera crew will be along with us for the ride. This scenario is one of my very favourites. I give it five out of five stars.

And that’s it! The first eleven Starfinder Society scenarios, specials and quests for your perusal. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to play through them all. But when it comes down to it, which ones were my very, very, favourites? Which ones blew my mind?

Into the Unknown, Sanctuary of Drowned Delights, and Live Exploration Extreme!

What about you? If you’ve got a favourite Starfinder scenario let us know in the comments below! Have experiences playing or GMing these adventures that you want to share? Do so! We’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for checking out d20 Diaries!

Until next time,

Jessica

 

Pathfinder: Second Edition

Whoah!

Big changes were just announced for Pathfinder today. The release of Pathfinder’s Second Edition.

That’s right.

Whether that causes you to jump for joy or cringe in terror, it’s big news! What does it give me? Fear.

Now, thankfully, things won’t be happening right away, or all at once. On August 2nd Pathfinder’s launching their rules as a playtest. Called, Pathfinder Playtest, there’ll be a free copy of the new rulebook available as a download on their website, as well as a new deluxe adventure module, and a flip mat. All of these downloads can also be purchased in hard cover on their website. During the first few months after the release of Pathfinder Playtest you’re encouraged to try out the new ruleset and leave your feedback on their messageboards. Upon completion of the playtest they’ll launch Pathfinder Second Edition.

I rather like the playtest phase, and I am excited that there’s a free download of the rules that’s going to be available. So, thanks for that Paizo. But, honestly, I don’t want new rules. New rules means replacing rulebooks. It means a phasing out of the content I have at home. It means trying to get a handle on a new game. And mostly, it means more money. Money I don’t have to reinvest.

Now, let’s be clear. Pathfinder’s not perfect. Are there things that could be fixed? Yes. Streamlined? Yes. Does that mean I want it changed and altered? No. I stopped playing Dungeons and Dragons the moment they switched to 4th edition and took up Pathfinder instead. Why? Is it cause I hated 4th? No. I never even gave it a try. I stopped because I didn’t want to learn new rules, or buy another new Core Rulebook. I switched to Pathfinder, because I wouldn’t have to learn anything new. And I loved it. I worry that this switch will leave me behind.

I understand where they’re coming from. I understand that lots of players will be thrilled. Games and rules for d20 games are always evolving. Always getting better. I understand wanting to make Pathfinder the best it can be. I understand making it easier and more user-friendly for new gamers. And I certainly understand that after creating Starfinder, why wouldn’t they want to do the same to Pathfinder? I mean, at its core, Starfinder  ‘fixed’ and ‘improved’ a lot of the basic rules from the Pathfinder game into a ‘better’ version. After having done that, successfully, why wouldn’t they want to do the same for Pathfinder? I definitely get that.

And, I suppose, underneath my apprehension and fear, I am excited.

But what about the new rulebooks? They won’t be compatible with the old ones. What about all the wonderful books I own? I won’t forget about them. I won’t stop using them. It’s much more likely I stop buying new product. What about the Pathfinder Society? The classes? How compatible will Pathfinder Second Edition be with Pathfinder?

From a thorough reading of the information on Paizo’s website, I get the feeling that although adventures and monsters will be relatively easy to switch over to the new rules, it’s the character rules, and the basic rules themselves that will take more work. This won’t be something you just switch over. You’ll need the new rules for that.

As of August 2018 there will no longer be content published for Pathfinder (First Edition). Everything will be published for their new ruleset. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get the old books. The Pathfinder Pocket Editions will be kept in stock as long as people continue to purchase them, while PDF versions of their extensive Pathfinder collection will be available for the foreseeable future on their website.

As for Pathfinder Society? It sounds like the Pathfinder Society will continue on in two forms. Like the rulebooks, as of August all new scenarios will be to the Playtest/Second Edition ruleset. You’ll need new characters to play by the new rules. However, all of the ‘old’ scenarios will still be available for purchase, and can be run for credit with ‘old’ characters using the original ruleset. This is likely going to continue at conventions and via online play-by-post for a long time to come. Kind of like choosing between Core and Standard, now you’ll also have the addition of ‘Second’ (or whatever it’s going to be called…)

Pathfinder knows what they’re doing. And I love Pathfinder.

But when it comes down to it, what do I really think of the upcoming changes? What am I going to do?

I’m going to take a deep breath, and give it a try.

When Pathfinder Playtest comes out on August 2nd, I guarantee you I will download the rules. I will read the rules. And I will test out the rules.

In fact, I bet I’ll enjoy them.

But when Second launches will I buy the books again? Will I keep up with it?

In time? For sure. But right away?

 I honestly can’t say.

What I can say, is that I think they’re going about it the right way. This playtest will be invaluable for them, both for gaining valuable feedback, and for providing nervous gamers like me the chance to try out the rules for free, before we make up our minds. We get to give it a try before investing. And most importantly? Allowing and facilitating use of the old ruleset, for those of us who decide we don’t want to move on to a ‘bigger’ and ‘better’ Pathfinder.

Want to learn more about Pathfinder Playtest? Follow the link to Paizo’s website and give the FAQs a read for yourself.

Have an opinion? Want to let me know your thoughts on Pathfinder Playtest?

Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Jessica

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