Today we’re going to take a look at two of the most recent Pathfinder Society Scenarios that are currently available for purchase, and let you know we thought. 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. Whether you intend to use these scenarios in home games of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, sanctioned scenarios for use with the Pathfinder Society Organized Play, or just want to read a nifty new adventure, we’ve got you covered! So let’s get cracking!
This adventure tasks the PCs with finding and exploring a Darklands cavern that was the original home of Round Mountain. The PCs need to conduct a survey of the area, collect what historical artifacts they can, and convince any possible residents to leave, before a magical ritual returns Round Mountain –– and the creatures taking refuge in it –– back to its original location. In a lot of ways, I love this adventure. Its an easy read, has a really cool premise, and has a creative location to explore. I really like that this adventure is on a timer and has a lot at stake, but I don’t think it quite got the timing right. There’s plenty of promising ideas and details in the adventure, but I don’t think many were explored fully, resulting in either a missed opportunity or a lot of GM improvisation, depending on the situation. This scenario is very heavy on skill checks, and would have benefited from some further social aspects. I like the enemies the PCs come across, and I really enjoy the finale. I have a few more vague GM related comments to make on this one, but it contains more spoilers than I am comfortable letting slip without hiding it behind a spoiler tag. The following link is for GMs only. For everyone else, let me finish by saying I enjoyed this scenario, but I think it’s got a bit of kinks to work out. I give it three out of five stars.
This adventure tasks the PCs with tracking down the traitor Phlegos Dulm and bringing him in alive. This is a really fun, challenging, entertaining scenario, with great enemy tactics and placement, map layout, and story. I adore the scripted dialogue in this one, and the social encounters! So great! Slaver’s End allows for multiple ways to approach and overcome the encounters, and gives characters the chance to make decisions that could have further ramifications outside this scenario. I absolutely loved this adventure and can’t wait to play it! Really great job! I give this scenario five out of five stars.
Illustration by Tadas Sidlauskas. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.
Illustration by Teresa Guido. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.
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!
The Shackled City Adventure Path is available for purchase in its entirety here. The first volume, Life’s Bazaar, is available for purchase here.
Our eccentric heroes are all members of ‘Dinorabbit,’ a musical band that changes its name frequently and was most previously known as ‘Boople Snoot.’ The band’s lead singer and song-writer is Falco Rhiavadi, a foppish noble bastard of mixed Tien descent whose father was devoured by a dragon when he was just a boy. A well-groomed, handsome man with an easy smile and a winning personality, Falco’s a black sheep among his family. Mechanically Falco is an oracle of life whose familiar is a jealous and demanding thrush named Ruby. Falco is played by my husband.
Mick Frimfrocket is a gnome with dark blue skin, bright pink hair that stands straight up on his head, and light blue eyes with flecks of red around his pupils. He’s energetic, bold, and loves nothing more than a good laugh! Mick acts as the band’s pianist and creative director. He’s the driving force behind the 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.
Our eclectic crew of musicians, janitors, and locksmiths, stood in an empty forge which had clearly been the site of a slaughter. Our heroes had battled enemy hobgoblins and goblins only moments before 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.
The group spent a moment catching their breath, whispered a few prayers for the people they had saved, then turned their attention to their surroundings.
“…Right!” my son decreed.
We opened the right door and found ourselves in a cross shaped hallway with a variety of doors. There was the echo of muffled conversation in the air, with at least one of these nearby rooms inhabited. Warily, Aeris led the way forward. But as she reached the intersection she cursed! There were a pair of hobgoblin guards on watch at both ends of the hall! The pulled out their bows and grinned.
“Meal time, boys!” one of them bellowed. The muffled voices from the nearby rooms took up the call.
“Uh-oh,” my husband remarked.
Rabbity shot a blast of water at the nearest guard and leapt off Panthy.
“Eat the next person you see come out of there!” she commanded her panther as she gestured at the nearby door.
Panthy growled and prepared to fight. Meanwhile the guards pulled out their bows and fired arrows at our heroes. Aeris took a few hits, but Rabbity’s quick reflexes saved her from injury. Aeris moved to step forward only to have the ground fall out beneath her feet! Pit trap! She launched herself across the pit and came up in a roll, landing on the far side. With a backward glance she called out, “Watch your step!” Then she lunged forward and moved right up beside the hobgoblins. Finding their bows useless in close quarters they snarled at her.
“This won’t save your friends!”
“We’ll see,” Aeris replied defiantly.
Back on he other side of the pit Mick stood in the centre of the room and cast a magic spell, summoning his grand piano right into the hall. Then he began to play a happy little tune. As he played he danced, kicking his legs wildly. Falco pulled out a tanglefoot bag and tossed it at the guards on the other side of the intersection.
“Patch! Get in here! Are there any more traps?”
“I d-d-don’t know!” Patch stammered nervously. “I’ll ch-check!” He hurried into the room and looked around. “Yup! M-m-m-more pits right beh-h-hind us.”
“Here and there and w-w-well… Everywhere!”
“Don’t moooooove!” Mick sang. “Got it! Hold your grounnnnd, hold your grounnnnd, watch your steeeeeeep!”
“Aww man!” shouted Rabbity. “This place is the PITS!”
My daughter grinned. “Get it, Mom? Pits! And there are pit traps around us! Hahahahahaha! That’s so funny.”
Suddenly a door beside Rabbity opened. Panthy launched herself at the offending door-opener, clamping down on their neck with her jaws and tearing at them with sharp claws.
“I hope that’s a bad guy,” my daughter remarked a little too late.
Luckily it was an enemy. But, even as they fell to the panther, more hobgoblin soldiers gathered in the room behind him. Hobgoblins crowded into the side hallways from the other nearby rooms, trying to get at at the intruders. A pair lunged at Mick only to get a kick to the face for their trouble. Rabbity splashed away with her water blasts from the centre of the group. Panthy fought with tooth and claw, and Patch leaped over the hidden pit and moved into melee with the southern archers. Luckily, as much as the odds were against them, only so many hobgoblins could engage the group at once. The battle was long and fierce, but soon our heroes thinned the enemies ranks until only a pair of hobgoblins remained. Aeris, bloodied and out of breath from taking on the northern guards, leapt back over the pit and helped her companions finish off the stragglers.
They waited for a while…. Out of breath and wounded… Weapons clutched in hand…
“What are we waiting for?” Rabbity asked the others quietly.
Aeris, who hates wasting time, checked out the side rooms, searching enemies and chambers for useful gear. They found a cache of healing potions in a nearby guardroom and drank what they could. Patch leaped back over the hidden pit trap and told the group.
“There’s v-v-voices on the other side. D-d-doesn’t sound like pris-s-soners.”
“We go the other way, then,” Rabbity announced. “We need to find Griffin before he gets SOLD!”
At Rabbity’s insistence the group crossed the northern pit trap and entered the far northern room.
It lead to a grand square chamber with a massive chain-draped statue in the centre of the room.
“If that attacks me, I’ll be angry!” Mick exclaimed. “You go first, Aeris.”
“My hero,” Aeris replied with a roll of her eyes. She drew her longsword and moved forward, but the statue never moved. …The chains did! They thrashed and lashed at Aeris! She parried the chains and backed up. “Get out of its reach!”
The gang hurried back out of the hall and attacked it from afar. Being mostly immobile and draped all over a statue, the chains proved little trouble. All it took was time.
The band continued on, finding two secret passages and pair of grand double doors. One of the secret doors they discovered led back to the original entry hall, so they returned to the statue chamber. They pushed open the double door to find a massive bridge. Falco created some magical lights and sent them across the bridge. They illuminated a rough stone cavern that stretched farther than they could see. Far below the bridge was an underground river.
“Hmmm…” Mick grumbled. “The riddle said we would find the kids in the Malachite Hold. That place over there is just… rock.”
“It probably leads to the Darklands,” Falco announced. “It stands to reason. They need to sell their slaves to someone, and there’s no other settlements nearby. Not that would buy slaves, that is.”
Rabbity twitched her nose. “I do NOT want to go to the Darklands…. Let’s turn around. We need to finish exploring the fortress.”
“Agreed.” replied Aeris. She ushered everyone inside, shut the doors, and barred them. Then she listened at the second secret door. “Sounds quiet.”
“I think that prisoners would be noisy. They would cry and stuff,” my daughter pointed out. “And we missed some rooms back near the forge where we found those prisoners.”
“Oh, yeah! I want to go back that way! I had a good feeling about that forge-door!”
My husband, who clearly wondered what was behind the secret door right in front of him, chuckled. “Alright, alright. We’ll go there next.” As the gang got ready to retrace their steps and continue their exploration, we tidied up and got the kids ready for bed. Saving the prisoners would have to wait for another day.
Thanks for joining us, everyone! I hope you enjoyed getting to hear a bit about our crazy adventures. We’ll see you again soon!
Behind the Screen
The Shackled City Adventure Path is a difficult to get your hands on adventure path published in eleven separate Dungeon Magazines, or available in hardcover from Amazon here or from Paizo Publishing’s website here. The first adventure, Life’s Bazaar is available in Dungeon Magazine #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.
Another Friday has come and gone which means another episode of Pathfinder Friday! This week host Dan Tharp welcomed James Jacobs to the show to chat about the Darklands.
“We’re going to kick of 2019 and just blow the doors off the whole show,” Dan insisted James said.
James has been hard at work lately creating monsters for the upcoming Bestiary, and seemed happy to take a break to chat. The episode passed in a flash and, as always happens when James is on the show, I learned something new. (Multiple somethings, if I’m being honest! Haha).
So what are the Darklands?
“The Darklands are basically the underworld of our setting,” James Jacobs explained. “A new campaign setting that basicallylives downstairs from the one that we do most of our settings in.”
The Darklands are separated into three main sections. Nar’Voth, the region closest to the surface, is home to duergar, troglodytes, and derro (among others). Below that is Sekamina, home to the drow. Orv, the deepest layer, consists of massive magical caverns called Vaults, which were created long ago by the Vault Keepers. James explained that these Vault Keepers were actually a type of earth elemental called a xiomorn. Each of the Vaults of Orv is home to its own ecosystems and some are even large enough to hold entire nations. Orv is the perhaps the most mysterious of the layers of the Darklands, and a personal favourite of mine.
James took us on a tour of the Darklands, describing many important locations and their inhabitants. I particularly enjoyed hearing about the aboleths of the Sightless Sea and the spiralling current known as the Braid that they use to travel to the oceans on Golarion’s surface, the drow of Zirnakaynin, and the ancient serpentfolk empire that once stretched across all of Sekamina. James also talked about the origins of the drow and the derro, common themes among Darklands cultures, the caligni, and some of the more benevolent creatures you can find underground. He discussed some of the works that inspired and influenced his underground creations. Much to my surprise, James shared some wonderful information about Rovagug with viewers, and taught us a lesson about the Elemental Planes. It was awesome!
Perhaps my favourite quote of the episode happened near the end, when James summed up the Darklands in one sentence, calling it…
Pathfinder Friday streams live on Paizo’s twitch channel every Friday at 4 p.m. PST. You can also watch already aired episodes on their Twitch stream, or watch partial episodes on their youtube channel. Be sure to tune in next week when James Jacobs discusses the Varisian city of Magnimar, and the week after when the iconic rogue Merisiel will (tentatively) take centre stage.
I can’t wait!
Into the Darklands by James Jacobs and Greg A. Vaughan