We carved pumpkins last week with my sister. My daughter carved a rabbit, and my son a cat. Or, more accurately, I carved a rabbit, and my sister carved a cat while my children bossed us around. Both of my kids shrieked when they had to put their hands inside and scoop out the pumpkin’s innards. Mostly they poked at it with a spoon. In fact, my kids didn’t do much at all. But, we had fun! We drew on some more pumpkins at home yesterday. Again, my daughter made a rabbit. My son went with a classic jack-o-lantern face.
This morning I packed up my kids costumes, and sent them off to school. They’ll have a party this morning, change into their costumes after lunch, and spend the afternoon at a school dance and haunted house. They’re absolutely over the moon. My son’s going to be a red dragon for Halloween. And my daughter? One guess.
Yup. A rabbit.
She might be obsessed.
My kids can’t wait to head out trick or treating.
To celebrate I’m taking a look at my five favourite Horror Adventures!
*cue the ominous theme music*
We’re starting off small with Starfinder Society Scenario #1-04: Cries from the Drift by Joe Pasini! This delightful little adventure is intended for Tier 1-4, features one starship battle, and tasks the player’s characters with exploring a derelict ship, uncovering what became of it’s crew (Spoiler Alert: NOTHING GOOD), and collecting the valuable intel they were carrying. This scenario does a great job of setting an ominous atmosphere right from the moment you step foot on the ship, and, with a solid GM, can be quite suspenseful. It’s got some surprises, so I won’t go into too much detail, but I will say that this adventures features some body horror, so it’s not for the faint of heart!
Up Next? The Strange Aeons Adventure Path! Strange Aeons is a six part series of adventures that will have your characters questioning their past, their allies, and their sanity! Strongly inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft, it’s spooky, macabre, and downright strange. With alien, unknowable entities, crazed cultists, and a whole heck of a lot of weird! I LOVE this adventure path. Seriously. Love it.
Strange Aeons begins with your characters waking up in an insane asylum with no idea who they are or how they got there. Oh, also, there’s some strange monster performing invasive surgery on someone else right outside your cell. Not the way you want to wake up! After your daring breakout you’ll have to explore the asylum, battle strange, shape-changing creatures, and find a way to escape — without being devoured by the… things outside. From there? Well, let’s just keep that under wraps for now. This is one of those campaigns where being in the dark is half the fun!
Next we leave behind the psychological terror, and head into some classic gothic horror! Curse of Strahd! This hardcover adventure path for Dungeons and Dragons takes place in the Ravenloft campaign setting’s country of Borovia and will take characters from levels one through ten. It’s a spooky, atmospheric, delightful piece of horror that features the vampire Count Strahd von Zarovich himself! Play it with a good DM and you’re guaranteed to get chills! This campaign has some tough fights, and was the winner of THREE Ennies in 2016: Winner (Gold): Best Adventure, Winner (Gold): Best Art/Cover, and Winner (Silver): Product of the Year. Special player options are available to download here, untagged maps are available here, and some special notes for DMs are available here.
From Dungeons and Dragons, we skip back over to Pathfinder, with the Carrion Crown Adventure Path! Carrion Crown is a six part gothic horror campaign that is like a tour de force of classic horror beasts! The first volume, Haunting of Harrowstone, tasks the players with investigating a haunted prison, while later volumes feature carrion golems, werewolves, foul cults, strange beings, vampires, undead, liches, and more! The best part? You don’t always have to kill these beasts. Some have the potential to be allies (if you’re brave enough)! The plot? Stop the Whispering Way from freeing the Lich King Tar-Baphon! I ADORE this campaign!
So what’s my very favourite horror adventure? Carnival of Tears by Tim Hitchcock and Nicolas Logue! First of, let me point out this is a dark, gory, violent, disturbing adventure. Second, I loved it. Carnival of Tears (more properly known as GameMastery Module E1: Carnival of Tears) is a 3.5 adventure from Paizo Publishing intended for fifth level characters that takes place in the desperate little town of Falcon’s Hollow. Man, that place has gone through a lot! So what better way to relax than with a winter carnival? Right? WRONG! When dark fey take over the carnival they twist it into a nightmare, and use powerful illusions to hide the truth from the citizens. The PCs need to stop the fey, save what townsfolk they can, and try their best to survive the night! I find this scenario is particularly effective when played in a town the player’s have grown fond of (even if that means you don’t play in Falcon’s Hollow), and when they’re forced to help deal with the aftermath of the so-called Carnival of Tears. Just awesome. The horror!
And that’s it!
Or is it..?
There’s one last thing I want to talk about: the future! The horror adventure I most want to play (and read), but haven’t.
Signal of Screams!
Signal of Screams is a three-part adventure path for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game that starts at level seven. It begins with your PCs on vacation at a luxury resort on an asteroid when suddenly the staff and guests begin to get violent! They’ll need to protect themselves and the uninfected guests. But, what if they’re not immune to the madness? I can’t wait to find out!
OutPost marked my first PFS convention. It was also my husband and children’s first foray into play-by-post gaming, and their second adventure in the Pathfinder Society, so it was pretty exciting for us! My husband signed up for one game, while my children each signed up for two. And me? Well, I signed up for a lot. Three for Starfinder and three for Pathfinder. Plus the Solstice Scar Special.
All of the scenarios were a blast, and we had the wonderful luck to play alongside some awesome GMs and players. All told, not counting specials, OutPost hosted fourteen games of Core Pathfinder Society Scenarios, fifty-seven games of Classic/Standard Pathfinder Society scenarios, eleven games of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, and twenty-four games of Starfinder. That makes for nearly a hundred games!
So, what did we play?
I’ll tell you!
My husband, children and I all signed up for an old classic: Scenario #06: Black Waters. From season zero, this adventure is intended for tier 1-2 and 4-5, and was written by Tim and Eileen Connors back before Pathfinder had it’s own rules set. It was being run by one of my favourite GMs I’ve had the pleasure of playing alongside on Paizo’s Messageboards, GM Shieldbug, who gave us a great game. Seriously. It was such a wonderful experience, my kids and husband are now thoroughly spoiled. I warned them after we finished this scenario to lower their expectations for whatever scenario they signed up to next, because not all GMs are as awesome as Shieldbug. They didn’t believe me at the time, but for the record, they do now. If you happen to be lucky enough to join a game he’s running, I highly recommend leaping at the opportunity. You won’t regret it.
Black Waters takes place in the Beldrin’s Bluff district of Absalom. Once a neighbourhood full of the wealthy elite, this area was devastated by an earthquake a decade or so ago, which killed many, and sent an entire chunk of the cliffs the neighbourhood was built upon, tumbling into the sea. Included in this devastation was a school for the city’s elite called the Tri-Towers Yard, which collapsed into an ancient underground necropolis. As the buildings are destroyed, black foul water rose up from below, drowning all those who weren’t crushed. The Tri-Towers yard was sealed up, and no one has been allowed inside–or into the necropolis–since. Lucky for us, the Pathfinders have finally been granted clearance, presuming they treat the site with respect.
My husband played Enzo Jeggare, a well-groomed, Chelaxian nobleman with pale skin, black hair, grey eyes, and a fabulous moustache. He’s a handsome, if lanky, gentleman with a reputation as a philanthropist and a conjurer. He enjoys fine wine, fine company, and ancient magical objects. Enzo is a secretive man, which gives him an air of mystery. Though well-practised in the art of evasion, he’s an awkward liar. He is never without his Devil Deck—a beautifully illustrated harrow deck adorned with images of devils and infernal symbolism—and a worn-out dog figurine that he can occasionally be seen speaking to. Enzo’s an occultist who specializes in conjuring creatures. He used his esteemed family’s political connections to gain membership into the Dark Archive’s faction of the Pathfinders, and is hopeful that handling other objects of power will allow him to access other magical abilities.
My daughter played a two-tailed kitsune druid (saurian shaman) with pink fur and eyes by the name of Bunny Paras. She is always accompanied by her pink and yellow pet parasaurolophus, called Paras, and adores rabbits. She and Paras run a rabbit farm–although they are sold only as pets, and are not for eating! Bunny Paras is a vegetarian, and a good healer. Paras loves to sing and dance, and is very, very loud.
My son is playing Senton, a pale Ulfen ranger better known as Mr. Ice. He is always shivering with cold, and has constantly chattering teeth. He wears warm winter clothes in every weather, including a big furry hat on his head, and a fur cloak and boots. He has a black patch on his cheek from some old frost bite, a big bushy beard, and a full moustache. Under his hat his hair is grey and his eyes are blue. He likes to fight with his short swords and his fine longbow. Senton works on Bunny Paras’ rabbit farm as a guard. He often lays traps to protect the farm.
But, this kooky trio wasn’t the only Pathfinders on the case. I played my wood kineticist, Everbloom, a wild and curious kitsune who grew up alone in the wilds and views life and death as just another fascinating part of existence. Her fur is an orangy-brown, with bits of leaves and flower petals constantly tangled in its length. Everbloom’s easily fascinated by people and places, and just as easily bores of them. More than a little aloof and uncaring, Everbloom comes off as way nicer than she actually is.
The final character was Tera Fosham, a veiled ifrit oracle with clouded vision whose healing touch and blessings were invaluable on this adventure.
Together, these five Pathfinders enjoyed some awesome roleplaying with their venture captain (Drandle Dreng), at a fancy dinner party held alongside Absalom’s nobility, and with the caretaker of the Tri-Towers Yard, who is equal parts sad, deluded, and gifted. Possibly insane. I’ll leave that up for debate! From there they investigated the haunted classrooms, and foul black waters of the estate. Battling off monstrous bugs and undead, they descended into the ancient necropolis to discover its secrets. Along the way, they made some amazing discoveries, and even saved a little girl. The frail–but still alive–Junia Dacilane. Junia reappears a decade down the road in the Pathfinder Society Scenario #7-05: School of Spirits (which is a delight), and can even be found in the Pathfinder Society Pawn Collection, which I only recently discovered and am itching to get my hands on!
Want to follow along with their adventures? Check out the complete gameplay for our group here.
My children were so excited to play in OutPost that they created a second character each for the occasion, a pair of twenty-five year olds who couldn’t be more different. Lady Naysha is an oracle of whimsy who stumbled in the First World through a fairy ring, and came back over a decade later looking like not a day had passed. A few years have passed since then, but she still doesn’t look a day over twelve. Lady Naysha has a child-like enthusiasm and innocence about her. She believes her stuffed rabbit, Miss Whiskers, is the source of her powers (which is entirely false, by the way), and can all upon her fairy friend to play tricks on her enemies. Contrariwise, my son made a paladin of Iomedae who is brave, bold and true! Unfortunately, he died fighting in the Worldwound. Iomedae took pity on him and granted him a second life, but he was reincarnated as an old man, with horrible memory problems. Unable to even remember his name, he calls himself Fuzzzy, and he relies on his pet owl, Bobby, to keep him on track. For full details on my Lady Naysha and Fuzzzy, check out my blog post OutPost Commences.
I joined them, with my dwarven fighter, Juno Berik, a self-centred woman who believes she’s far more important than she’s given credit for. Together with some other quirky characters, they entered a complicated maze underneath Absalom City to search for a lost minotaur prince, Nuar Spiritskin, in another classic PFS Scenario, #45: Delirium’s Tangle. This is a tier 1-5 scenario written by Crystal Frasier. Personally, I find this is a difficult scenario to run by play-by-post, as navigating a maze is always tricky in person, never mind over message boards. When it could take an entire day for a team to roll a single perception or survival check–which could be done in seconds in person–there’s a high probability the game will get bogged down. Fortunately, our GM was wonderful at streamlining the navigation process. In fact, this scenario finished first out of all the games I played! As poor navigators, the sheer number of pit traps we endured (and by endured I mean fell into over and over again) was painful (literally), and has left permanent mental scarring on Juno. Fuzzzy was also traumatized by the event–for about a minute before he promptly forgot about it. The fights and secret chambers were interesting, and left my kids hungry for more information on the maze and its connecting chambers. The final battle was interesting, as was the wrap-up roleplaying. All in all, we had a lot of fun, although this one certainly left a lot of unanswered questions.
You can read our complete gameplay experience here, if you’re interested.
In the time since, Lady Naysha’s begun Scenario #5-08: The Confirmation, alongside my husband’s character, Toban Tangletop (check out the ongoing gameplay here). Fuzzzy’s moved on to combat the Master of the Fallen Fortress (a free download on Paizo’s website, by the way) and rescue a lost Pathfinder (check out the ongoing gameplay here). And, Juno’s decided to tell the Aspis Consortium where to shove it, in Scenario #4-07: Severing Ties. Currently being as boorish and mean as she can be, she’s in Riddleport, happily dragging the Aspis Consortium’s name through the mud. This scenario’s about to begin a two-week break while some of the participants go on vacation, but you can check out it’s progress so far, here.
The Unseen Inclusion
I was positively thrilled to bring my beloved half-orc monk, Kenza Bloodborn, through Scenario #9-04: The Unseen Inclusion. Why? Well, as a member of the Scarab Sages, whose faction stories have come to an end, I wanted to see my stoic warrior tackle a Scarab Sage-centric mission. Taking place in the Thuvian city of Merab, Kenza delved into haunted ruins on the hunt for a mysterious spirit that even now seeks her master’s jewels… Part dungeon delve and part investigation, I had no idea what to expect with this scenario when I signed up for it, but I ended up having a blast. She had plenty of opportunities to hurl herself into danger to protect her allies, and nearly died on more than one occasion. You can check out the complete gamplay here.
In the time since, Kenza’s journeyed to Absalom for the first time, in order to pay her respect to the centre of her order. There, she’s been called on by Venture Captain Drandle Dreng, on a mission of great importance… Fetching him a bottle of wine. Fortunately, this mission is a lot more than it seems at first, leading the group through hidden chambers, abandoned homes, conspiracies and secrets, and even into Absalom’s Temple of the Fallen. That’s right, she’s playing through a super quick run of Scenario #6-10: The Wounded Wisp. Check out her adventure so far, here.
But not everything’s about Pathfinder! I’m also involved in three wonderful Starfinder Society Scenarios. My primary SFS character, a bold, boastful vesk solarion with far more brawn than brains by the name of Julakesh Starfist participated in Scenario #1-03: Yesteryear’s Truth. We’ve already spoken about Julakesh earlier this week, but if you’ve missed it, check out my blog post Competitions and Compliments. If you’re interested in reading Julakesh’s experiences in Yesteryear’s Truth, the complete gameplay if found here. Want a summary? She discovered a new planet, engaged in amazing battles, attempted to befriend the planet’s natives, and made a lot of people laugh! Seriously, a ton of fun. Speaking of fun, Julakesh recently began a new adventure that’s tailor made for her: Scenario #1-07: The Solar Sortie. Or, it’s half made for her, anyway… Sent to retrieve information from a corporation that orbits the Sun, Julakesh gets to begin this infiltration by impersonating a gladiator! This pretty much consists of her being herself, in front of a large adoring crowd. Awesome! And all that other subtle espionage stuff? Well…. we’ll cross that bridge up (and mess it up horribly) when we get to it! Check out the start of out adventures, here! It’s been a ton of fun so far (and it’s only just begun).
Fugitive on the Red Planet
I also used OutPost as an opportunity to try out two Starfinder classes I had yet to have a chance to test. Firstly, I created a proud, smooth-talking ysoki xenoseeker envoy by the name of Aurora Vim (Rora, for short) who was tasked with finding a rogue Starfinder and retrieving an powerful object he stole from the Society in Scenario #1-02: Fugitive on the Red Planet. Her adventures took her to the grungy planet of Akiton alongside a haan, a human, and a whopping three other ysoki! Apparently those furry little fellows are popular! All in all this scenario was a lot of fun, and Rora really had a chance to shine throughout its length. It was completed quite quickly, and was hosted by a wonderfully humorous GM. You can check out the complete gameplay here.
Following her adventures on Akiton, Rora hopped a shuttle back to Absalom Station, where she’s been invited to attend a gala in honour of the First Seeker, Luwazi Elsebo. Scenario #1-05: First Mandate is right up her alley, and has seen her wheeling and dealing with a bunch of movers and shakers–including Zo!, who I’ve been dying for her to meet! This scenario is reaching its climax, but you can check out its progress so far, here.
Cries from the Drift
I also made a curious but awkward shirrin spacefarer operative, Zez’ka, who is prone to announcing her emotions to the world. She’s friendly, but super awkward, and honestly a blast to play. Unfortunately, Scenario #1-04: Cries from the Drift, is a horror scenario, which tossed my chipper shirren into the most traumatizing, suspenseful, and gory Starfinder Scenario to date. This adventure particularly benefits from having the element of surprise, so I won’t mention much more in the way of spoilers. What I will say is that if you’re uncomfortable with body horror, don’t play it. That being said, when played by play-by-post the suspense is lost, so it turned out to be a fun, romp despite the tone. For those of you who aren’t afraid of spoilers, our complete gameplay can be read here. In the time since, Zez’ka has joined a delightfully fun and carefree mission, which won’t possibly be as traumatizing for her as her previous one was! Right? Right…? Wrong. She’s currently engaged in Starfinder’s second horror scenario, Scenario #1-10: The Half-Alive Streets, which amuses me to no end. She’s currently oblivious to the dark turn this scenario’s going to take, and is currently having great fun making friends and shopping. You can check it out here.
The end to these Starfinder scenarios will mark the sixth games I’ve played in the SFS, which means I’ve reach a milestone on my Alien Archive Boon. No idea what that means?
Well, let me enlighten you!
For every Starfinder Society game you participate in as a player (not a GM) you can get your GM to sign your boon sheet, which is available here. When you have six games played you can apply this sheet to a new character to make them either a wrikreechee, or a ryphorian. Or, you can wait until you have twelve games played, and then apply it to a new character to make them a barathu. After applying it you can start a new boon, and begin earning new plays. Note, that there is a time limit on earning credit for this boon. After June 14th of this year they’ll be releasing a new boon in its place, which will let you unlock other races for play.
Now, of the current options, I think I’d get a kick out of a Barathu, but I won’t have a chance to earn that bad boy. I’ll be hitting six, which leaves the wrikreechee and ryphorians. And for me, the choice is clear! Ryphorians! I have honestly no idea what I’m going to make for her class, but its definitely going to be different than the others I’ve got! Soldier, perhaps? That’s a question for another day!
And that’s it!
OutPost and its associated adventures have come to an end–for this year. But, there’s plenty more adventures out there waiting to be played!