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?
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!
Big changes were just announced for Pathfinder today. The release of Pathfinder’s Second Edition.
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.
Today is the official start date for OutPost I, an online play-by-post Pathfinder convention hosted on Paizo’s message boards and a few other websites. As mentioned in a previous post, my whole family is taking part, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.
OutPost is hosting a wide variety of games, including Pathfinder, Starfinder and the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. My husband is playing in one scenario as his Pathfinder Society character Enzo Jeggare (a Chelaxian occultist who specializes in conjuring creatures), alongside my children, who will be playing Bunny Paras (a kitsune druid), Paras (Bunny Paras’ parasaurolophus animal companion), and Senton (an Ulfen ranger better known as Mr. Ice). These characters were first introduced on d20 Diaries, here. I’ll be joining them, as well, with my uncaring kitsune kineticist, Everbloom. They’ll be trying their hand at the classic scenario, Black Waters, from Season Zero! Run by one of my favourite GMs I’ve had the pleasure of playing alongside on Paizo’s Messageboards, I’m sure GM Shieldbug’s going to give us a great game.
My children and I are playing in a second scenario together, as well. Lady Naysha (an oracle of whimsy who looks like a child) alongside her stuffed rabbit, Miss Whiskers, is setting out with a very forgetful old wizard, Fuzzzy, and his pet owl, Bobby. Bobby’s a clever little bird who helps keep Fuzzzy on task. I’ll be joining them with my dwarven fighter, Juno Berik, a self-centred woman who believes she’s far more important than she’s given credit for. They’re going to be tackling a complicated maze underneath Absalom City on the search for a lost minotaur prince, Nuar Spiritskin, in another classic PFS Scenario, #45: Delirium’s Tangle.
I’m playing another Pathfinder Scenario with my beloved half-orc monk, Kenza Bloodborn. As a member of the Scarab Sages, whose faction stories are coming to an end, I’m excited to see this stoic, warrior tackle a Scarab Sage-centric mission. Taking place in the Thuvian city of Merab, Kenza’s going to be delving into haunted ruins on the hunt for a mysterious spirit that even now seeks her master’s jewels… That’s right, she’s participating in Scenario #9-04: The Unseen Inclusion! As I only own one Season Nine Scenario, I have no idea what’s down the road for her.
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 is going to be participating in SFS #1-03: Yesteryear’s Truth. I’m also using OutPost as an opportunity to try out two Starfinder classes I’ve yet to have a chance to test. I’ve created a proud, smooth-talking ysoki xenoseeker envoy by the name of Aurora Vim (Rora, for short) who will be giving SFS #1-02: Fugitive on the Red Planet a try with a whopping three other ysoki! Apparently those furry little fellows are popular! I’ve also made a curious but awkward shirrin spacefarer operative, Zez’ka, whose keen to head off on her first mission, SFS #1-04: Cries from the Drift.
However these adventures turn out, my family and I are happy to be participating. It can be really difficult to find games for children to play via play-by-post, especially ones as young as mine, so being able to sign them up not only together, but alongside myself and my husband is a really great experience. Both of them are having a ton of fun already, especially my daughter. She asks me every few hours if she can have another turn yet, and is always giggling as she contemplates what she’s going to post.
Updates on our experiences throughout OutPost won’t be up for some time. Due to the slow pace of play-by-post games, these short scenarios will take a long time to play out. However, further details on the various Starfinder Society Scenario’s currently out for purchase will be coming later this week.
So, if you’re going to be participating in OutPost, be sure to check into your games and get posting! Let us know what you’ll be playing in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.
And for everyone else? Enjoy the start of your week!
Mine came with a minor blizzard. So much for spring! Haha.
As the snow starts to melt, and our long, long, long, winter finally looks like its coming to an end, there’s plenty going on around my house this week. In addition to pulling out sunglasses, splash pants, and rubber boots, that is…
To start with, a play-by-post campaign of Legacy of Fire that I’m involved in just lost a player, and my kids were accepted as a replacement. They spent a few days after school brainstorming and planning, and together we put their characters onto the Paizo website. They loved picking out their avatars, and saying hello on the discussion board. So what are they bringing to the table?
A pair of gnome siblings who travel the world as their whims take them. They have a particular fondness for the desert, and have recently been wandering the wilds of Katapesh. My son is a sorcerer with the elemental bloodline (water). Studious and curious, Min Bunnisbeldar is a blue-haired gnome who obsessively studies and researches magical techniques and theories. Along with his elemental ray bloodline talent, colour spray is his go-to method of attack. But, his intelligence might be his greatest weapon. Min’s sister, Rab-rab, shortened her last name to Bunnis. She has a pet jackrabbit (not surprising at all, if you know my daughter’s love of rabbits), and is childish and whimsical. Rab-rab is an air kineticist who can push her enemies back with her air blasts. She loves to explore, and fly kites, using her aerokinesis to keep it aloft even when there’s no breeze. Min and Rab-rab hope to bring some excitement and optimism to the campaign when they get to join in a few weeks.
In other news, Paizo updated their website. Although I was expecting some minor maintenance, it turns out they launched an entire new site design. Ironically, I was just thinking the other day they their site was super useful and easy to navigate, but was looking decidedly old fashioned. Well, that’s no longer the case! The site looks gorgeous, and it’s much, much easier to see the current new releases. It’s bold, and works great. There are some down-sides, of course. The ‘My Campaign’ tab, which you’ll rely on constantly if you’re involved in play-by-post gaming, has vanished. There are other ways to navigate to your campaigns, thankfully, but none are as fast or efficient. Fortunately, I hear they’re working on bringing the ‘My Campaign’ function back. There were some complaints that the font hurt people’s eyes or was too small. Personally, I liked it, but the majority has spoken and the font size for the message boards was increased dramatically. I think it’s obnoxiously large, myself, and hopefully they can strike a balance in the future. Honestly, my biggest problem is the black bar on the top of the page. I find that if you look at it and then proceed onto one of the white pages–like the messageboards–you get afterimages across your eyes, which makes it hard to read and gives me a headache. All in all, I’m happy with the changes, and am excited to see how the site gets tweaked in the coming weeks.
At home, my family and I have been slowly playing through our first Starfinder adventure, Into the Unknown. Soon, I’ll be sharing our character designs and our experiences here, on d20 Diaries.
In Pathfinder news, my kids have both been working on writing an adventure in their free time. My son’s involves buried treasure, and is intended to be played by pirates, while my daughters involves a mysterious island. In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing their adventures, and our characters created for them, with you, so stay tuned!
Lastly, my son filmed a youtube video about a dungeon he made. It’s our first d20 Diaries video, so we’re pretty excited. He’s thrilled with the outcome. So if you want to see what a six-year-old D&D player gets up to in his free time watch, The Temple of Snakes, below, or check out d20diaries on Youtube! We’d love to hear what you think.
Today we’re going to be taking a look at one of the wonderful new Pathfinder books I purchased: Blood of the Beast!
Blood of the Beast is a Pathfinder Player Companion compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. This means it’s a thin, soft-cover book with plenty of new options intended for players creating characters. More specifically, this volume focuses on some of the anthropomorphic (‘animal-people’) races of Golarion.
The races detailed in Blood of the Beast include catfolk, grippli, kitsune, nagaji, ratfolk, tengu and vanara. Although each of these races was originally introduced in Pathfinder’s Advanced Race Guide, Blood of the Beast introduces further information about each race, as well as new favoured class options, archetypes, feats and spells. Most of these options are compatible with other races, which means this book will give you a lot more bang for your buck than expected. Each race contains four pages worth of information, making the entire book 32 pages long.
Blood of the Beast opens with a map of the Inner Sea showcasing the areas that each of the featured races are most commonly found. This was surprisingly enlightening. Although I expected grippli to be found in the Mwangi Expanse, tengu to be found in the Shackles, and Nagaji to be found in Jalmeray, many of the other race’s territories were unexpected. Especially when it came to ratfolk!
Following this is the Introduction, which gives us a new trait for each of the races, as well as a reference list for easily finding the options in this book by type (archetypes, feats, and other options). I liked most of the traits, although some are considerably less useful than others. Although the catfolk trait, Adherent of Ancient Osirion, is really cool, my favourite turned out to be the grippli trait, Jungle Native, turned out to be my favourite. In addition to making survival a class skill, this trait also grants you a +1 trait bonus on saving throws against disease and poison, and a +1 trait bonus on initiative checks made in jungle terrain! This is one solid Region trait!
After the Introduction we dive right into the races! Up first was the Catfolk! Although I know plenty of people who love catfolk, they’ve never been my cup of tea. Probably because my sister-in-law plays only catfolk, so they’re a pretty common sight around my game table. That being said, catfolk are cool, so I was excited to see what this chapter had to offer! Catfolk options in this book include nine favoured class options, three archetypes, three feats, a vigilante course (for use with the wildsoul vigilante archetype from Ultimate Intrigue), and three spells. Although I expected the Senedipity Shaman archetype to be my favourite catfolk option, it turns out I was most impressed with the Prowler At World’s End, an archetype for bloodrager. Based on the premise that “ancient catfolk legends claim their kind was created to protect the world from the sinister forces that exist at the world’s fringes,” these bloodragers commune with powerful predatory nature spirits who take on the forms of lions, cheetahs, and leopards. This allows the bloodrager to use the medium’s spirit and spirit surge abilities. At later levels these bloodragers can also assume the forms of these great cats while bloodraging, and can cast spells while transformed this way. Honestly, I’ve never been particularly interested in being a medium, since it’s the most complicated class I’ve ever read, but this archetype really makes me want to give this medium-inspired Prowler At World’s End a try! Other highlights of the catfolk chapter are the Graceful Athlete feat, and the Curse of Befouled Fortune spell.
The second featured race in this book are Gripplis. Grippli are small frog people who live in jungles. These colourful little fellows are a quirky race, but I’ve never personally played one. My son does, and he loves it, but frogs aren’t really my thing. That being said, the options presented for grippli are my favourite in the entire book! Next time I have a chance, I’m definitely making a grippli. There’s nine favoured class options in this chapter, three archetypes, two feats and three spells. All three of these archetypes are awesome! Fiend Keeper is a medium archetype that allows you to contain evil spirits within yourself and, through your good deeds, cleanse the spirit until it is no longer evil. Done through the generations, it is an honour to be a fiend keeper among grippli tribes. Warpainter is a skald archetype which allows you to ceremonially paint your allies faces in order to imbue them with your magical songs. Later, spells and rage powers can also be imbued into your allies with this ability. However, my favourite grippli archetype is the Poison Darter! This ranger archetype allows you to concoct debilitating poisons which get better over time, grants you poison use, and allows you to take some rogue talents or alchemist discoveries in place of a combat style. It also grants you sneak attack–when attacking with a blowgun! Cool! As for other options, I really enjoyed the Cunning Killer feat, and the Batrachian Surge spell.
Up next is Kitsune. For the record, kitsune are my favourite non-core race in Pathfinder, so I expected to be irrationally in love with this chapter. Which is why I was so surprised that the previous chapter on grippli turned out to be my favourite! That being said, kitsune didn’t disappoint. This chapter contains four alternate race traits, nine favoured class options, three advanced versatile performances, one archetype, three feats, two spells, three vigilante social talents and three vigilante talents. To start with, each of the four alernate race traits are very cool. Keen Kitsune lets you shift around the kitsune bonus ability score from Charisma to Intelligence. Multilingual shakes up the kitsune starting languages and allows you to choose any languages you want with a high intelligence score. Skilled gives kitsune an extra skill point every level. My favourite, Superior Shapeshifter, gives you the feat fox shape which allows you to take on the form of a normal fox, in addition to the form of a specific humanoid via change shape. Among their favoured class options is another neat option which can be taken by kitsune of any class, that allows them to gain the Magical Tail feat every six times it’s taken. I’m a big fan of that feat, so I’m thrilled to see this option surface! In a similar vein, the sorcerer archetype Nine-Tailed Heir lets the kitsune gain the Magical Tail feat four times through the course of its 20 levels, in exchange for the bloodline spells known. If you’re a fan of that feat, like me, you might finally get to be a kitsune with the whole nine tails! Though not overpowered, it’s more than a fair trade. Martial Performance turned out to be my favourite Advanced Versatile Performance option available, while the feats Shapechanging Savage and Startling Shapechange really tickled my fancy. Coupled with the shape changing themed feats found in the Pathfinder Player Companion: Dragon Empires Primer, they get even better! If you’re into the Vigilante class, be sure to check out the Obscurity, Brutal Maneuver and Deceitful Trick talents.
Nagaji are up next in Blood of the Beasts, which is very exciting. For some reason I’ve been hooked on these guys since their brief introduction in the Advanced Race Guide, and their links to the Naga’s of Kaer Maga, which (thanks to Pathfinder Chronicles: City of Strangers), is my favourite city in all of Golarion. The nagaji article featured eight favoured class options, two naga bloodlines (one for bloodrager and one for sorcerer), two feats, one archetype, three mesmerist tricks and a whopping five spells. Both of the Naga bloodlines turned out to be interesting, although I liked the sorcerer one slightly more. With the ability to turn invisible, increased effectiveness with charm abilities, and the ability to cast spells with somatic components even when your hands are full by gyrating your body like a snake, this bloodline sounds like a blast! The First Mother’s Fang cavalier archetype allows you to ride a large constrictor snake and allows you to become a master of martial and politic pursuits. Personally, I think it’s the mesmerist abilities that are the coolest part of the nagaji entry. Be sure to check out the feat Venemous Stare, and the trick Break Stupor. For spells, be sure to check out Greater Hypnotism, and all of the Naga Shape spells!
If you’ve read the article on my blog ‘Vermin, vermin, everywhere…‘ you’ll know that vermin are not my favourite thing. So, it should come as no surprise to you that ratfolk are not at the top of my list for races I was excited for in this book. Still, with an open mind I delved into the ratfolk chapter. And was more than pleasantly surprised! This chapter contains ten favoured class options, three archetypes, five feats, and a psychic discipline. Like the much beloved grippli chapter, I thoroughly enjoyed every one of the ratfolk archetypes. Opportunist is an awesome fighter archetype that makes you a master at using bombs, alchemical weapons and dirty tricks. Swarm Monger is a druid archetype that lets you influence vermin, turn your companion and eventually yourself into a swarm. Finally, my personal favourite, the Scavenger archetype for investigators lets you make clockwork gadgets instead of extracts, allows you to enhance, hinder or repair mechanical devices, and even craft constructs. To read about a Scavenger in action, check out my character Nix in my blog post ‘Iron Gods: Character Focus: Haji and Nix,’ or read about her continuing adventures in the Iron Gods Adventure Path starting with ‘Iron Gods: Part One: Into the Weeping Pond.’ For feats, be sure to check out Cooperative Swarmer and Underfoot. Lastly, be sure to check out the Warp psychic discipline which allows your ratfolk to sense the weak points in reality, and open portals through which they can manipulate objects, teleport, and turn aside blows. For a bit of awesome flavour, listen to the last line of text describing the warp discipline: “Ancient practitioners […] even claimed that the art once allowed ratfolk to guide great caravans to the stars.” That’s right. Now you know why the ysoki are found on nearly every planet in the Starfinder’s Pact Worlds. Awesome!
With only two races left to explore, we’ve come to the chapter on tengu. Much like ratfolk, although a lot of people love tengu, I’ve never really been one of them. Despite this, I was excited for reading about tengu and hoped that I’d find something I’d love. This chapter has ten favoured class options, three archetypes, two feats and three spells. Although I was most excited to read about the Jinx Witch archetype for witches, it’s the Courser swashbuckler archetype that really excited me. This archetype takes the already nimble swashbuckler and ramps it up a notch, focusing on speed, agile maneuvers, spring attacks, and some cool deeds including the ability to run along walls, and leap incredible distances. Got a character who’s a big old liar? Be sure to check out the feats Empty Threats and Lovable Scoundrel. As for spells, check out fumblestep.
Last up? Vanara! These wonderfully fun monkey-people come with two alternate racial traits, twelve favoured class options, five feats, one archetype, some fighter advanced weapon training options, one unchained summoner eidolon subtype, and a bevy of unchained monk options. Now, I love Vanara, but I have to say this chapter was less useful than the others for one reason: nearly all of the options in this chapter requires you to own other supplementary books that many of us don’t own. While this is expected with Pathfinder’s many, many books in print, to have three quarters of the chapter require these books is unfortunate. All five of the feats offered for vanara are meditation feats, rules for which you’ll need to check out Pathfinder Player Companion: Faiths & Philosophies. Fighter Advanced Weapon Training options are found in Pathfinder Player Companion: Weapon Master’s Handbook (but it looks like enough details are presented in this volume for you to get by without it),. Lastly, all of the monk and summoner options require you to make unchained characters with the rules found within Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Pathfinder Unchained. To those of us who don’t own these supplementary books, that leaves only the alternate racial traits, favoured class options, and the archetype usable. On the plus side, the Fortune-Finder archetype for rangers is pretty cool. These expert explorers adapt themselves to fight against any enemy in any terrain, and can traverse any terrain, even magically impeding ones, without difficulty.
And that’s it! We’re at the end of Blood of the Beast! Overall, I really liked this little supplement book. If you’re a player with interest in any of the more bestial races of Golarion, I highly suggest you pick it up!
When we left our eccentric heroes, Nix, Haji and his ugly rat Rothmhar had returned from the tunnels beneath the toxic Weeping Pond to purchase cold iron weapons–perfect for smashing gremlin skulls–and to return a few corpses to Joram Kyte (leader of the local Temple of Brigh) for a reward.
Nix was a small woman, just over five feet tall, but she was strong and fit. She had piercing golden eyes, and long, tangled orange hair that she whore pulled back in a ponytail. A manic smile was permanently set on her lips, and no matter what life threw at her, she never let it get her down. She had only one arm, the other had been torn off by a volatile piece of broken machinery she found in the junkyard. In its place was a mechanical one she had built herself. It was a black marvel of engineering. Her finest creation! And that was saying something! For Nix was an inventor, first and foremost, handy with mechanical and clockwork contraptions, as well as with alchemical substances and magical potions.
In contrast to his girlfriend’s slight frame, Haji was large even for a half-orc. He had a muscular, lean body honed from a lifetime’s worth of hard labour. He had olive green skin, long black hair and a long black beard weighted down by the stones and gems braided into its length. Like Nix, Haji was not quite whole. One of his eyes was green and alert, but the other was missing entirely, plucked out long ago by his cruel one-time master. In its place was a glittering gem, and surrounding the gaping eye-socket was a massive triangular brand. On his shoulder sat Rothmhar, his hideously ugly, hairless rat. Rocky plates of stone covered the top of the cunning rat’s head and back, while sharp, spikes of stone grew out of his skin on his shoulders and back legs. It looked painful, but Rothmhar didn’t seem to mind. Haji and Rothmhar were inseparable, for through communion with Rothmhar’s limitless consciousness, Haji was granted access to powerful magic. Rothmhar was his saviour. His friend. His god.
It was a bit of a trek from the Temple of Brigh to the Foundry. Nix and Haji walked past the base of Black Hill, which was completely empty and abandoned where it should be bustling and overflowing with smiths, and labourers. The barren hill was a forlorn sight, but they didn’t stop to linger over it. They continued on, into the square just outside of the town hall. There was a crowd gathered outside, jostling and yelling, while Dolga Freddert stood outside on the front step of the building, waving her arms for calm and quiet. None of the other town councillors stood with her.
The crowd roared at the old dwarf woman, demanding to know what was being done to fix the flame that should be blazing atop Black Hill.
“Now, now,” Dolga replied loudly. “Investigators are looking into that as we speak…”
Nix burst out laughing. “Ha! Poor, old, bird!”
Haji eyed Dolga, then the crowd with his one good eye. Deciding revealing himself would not help matters, he grumbled. “Let’s get out of here.”
Dolga caught sight of them, and her eyes widened slightly. She waved her hand at them surreptitiously, shooing them away with a motion.
Clearly, she agreed.
Haji nodded at her, and turned to leave.
Nix chuckled as they walked away. “Did you hear that? We’re investigators. We should get paid.”
“We are getting paid,” Haji reminded her with a smile.
“We should get paid more.” Nix corrected with a wide grin.
They headed down the road and over a little stone bridge that led across the stream. They passed by ‘Tempting Tonics,’ a healers shop run by a half-elf woman that dealt in medicines and magical healing potions. There was a massive crowd outside, and a line running down the road. Most of the people clutched at their heads, or moaned in pain, while a few rolled around on the ground and wept.
“Damn,” Nix replied. “A lot of people have been getting those headaches lately.”
Haji groaned, remembering the pain of the one he had upon his return to Torch. “Be happy you haven’t had one yet. They hurt like you wouldn’t believe.”
“I guess so!” Nix replied with a chuckle. “Everyone’s whining like babies! Look at them!”
Too wrapped up in their pain, none of the crowd noticed Nix pointing at them rudely with her mechanical arm.
Further down the road they passed by the General Store, which was run by a pretty red-headed woman with a mass of curly hair, and then onto the Foundry. The Foundry was a trio of buildings all owed by Councilman Khonnir Baine, a smith and a good friend of Haji’s. Though all three buildings were termed ‘The Foundry,’ each served a different purpose. One was his personal residence where he lived his his adopted daughter Val, the second was a popular tavern, and the third was a literal foundry, where smiths employed by Khonnir could ply their trade for a steady income. Since Khonnir’s disappearance in the tunnels under Torch, the operations of the Foundry fell to young Val, who decided to close both the tavern and the smithy until her father returned home.
Although the tavern did appear closed for business, as expected, it looked like the Foundry’s workshop was open. There was a clanging sound coming from inside–the familiar ring of a hammer on metal–and smoke billowing out of one of the chimneys. Peering inside, they discovered a woman working at one of the forges. She didn’t notice them, but after watching her for a moment Haji and Nix moved on.
Outside of her home stood Val Baine, beating the dust out of a rug with all the strength her little arms could muster. The house looked whole, clearly the damage caused by the rampaging robot the other day had been properly repaired. Haji nodded with satisfaction.
At the sight of Haji, Val smiled brightly. “Haji, you’re back!” She dropped her switch and hurried over to the big half-orc, giving him a hug. “Any news?”
Haji pulled away from Val and smiled gently, shaking his head. The gems and stones braided into his hair and beard jingled at the movement. “We haven’t found Khonnir among the dead. There’s signs that he made it through the caverns and into the metal ruins where he first found the robot. We’ll know more soon.”
Val nods. “I see… Well, there’s still hope, right?”
Haji smiled kindly, but Nix smirked. “Yeah, sure kid,” she replied without conviction, clearly humouring the child.
The distinction was lost on Val, who smiled brightly. “I’ll fetch your dinner! We’re having aurochs stew!”
As little Val scampered off into her kitchen to fill some bowls up with food, Haji and Nix headed into the Foundry Tavern to have a drink. Nix ate with enthusiasm, while Haji gorged himself on food and liquor. He had gone most of his life without steady meals, and had the habit of eating all he could whenever he could, just in case.
Stuffed to bursting they thanked Val and assured her they would return tomorrow after their next foray under Torch. Then they stumbled out of the Foundry and headed off down the road, to the dingy old warehouse that served as Nix’s workshop and home. Haji and Nix settled down to bed together, with Rothmhar nearby.
Morning broke with Nix growling in pain.
“OW!” Clutching at her head she rolled around for while. “OW! OW! DAMNIT! It DOES hurt like crazy!”
Despite her headache she rolled out of bed and got dressed, then headed to her workbench. She brewed herself a concoction that she hoped would cure her headache. Although it failed to do so, it did lessen the pain. Then she tossed on her work goggles and got to work crafting her gadgets for the day.
Haji watch her for a while then stretched and pulled out his bag of rocks. Rothmhar scurried up to his side, although the rocky formations that had pierced his skin yesterday were gone, leaving him hairless and sickly looking. Haji sifted through a bag of stones and gems a pulled out the agate they had discovered yesterday, along with an older agate he had found a few weeks ago. One he popped into his own mouth, and swallowed! The other he placed in Rothmhar’s mouth. Rothmhar did the same, swallowing the stone, only to start violently convulsing and frothing at the mouth. The spit and foam-like saliva engulfed the entire rat and then hardened, into a strange sort of cocoon that looked remarkably like the rock he had swallowed. There, on Nix’s dirty bedroll, Haji sat in silent communication with Rothmhar’s spiritual consciousness, connecting with magical powers beyond his understanding.
An hour later, the rocky cocoon cracked and broke open. Rothmhar scurried out, his hairless flesh covered in new spiky, rocky protrusions that featured swirling lines in yellow, red, and grey. As Haji opened his eye, Nix growled in pain. Her goggles were on the work-bench and her new mechanical gadgets were strapped to her belt. She cradled her head in her hands.
“Can we go now?” she hissed.
The streets were empty this morning. They should be busy with smiths on their way to Black Hill, and labourers hauling carts and tools. As they hurried through the streets to the Temple of Brigh, they saw a group of people already lined up outside ‘Tempting Tonics,’ clutching their heads in pain. Further down the road they came across a trio of townsfolk–apprentice smiths, by the look of them–who stood around gossiping and complaining about Torch’s recent troubles.
The woman among them crossed her arms. “The Technic League is behind the problems in town!” she spat. “One of their agents put out the Torch so we’ll all go broke and they can take this place over for free once we starve!”
A tired looking man among them shook his head angrily. “And the damned council ain’t doing a thing about it!”
Deciding they didn’t want to have anything to do with that conversation, Haji and Nix walked right passed.
“What do you think?” Nix asked Haji with a distracted grimace.
Haji shrugged. “I don’t know.” He never had cared much for gossip and politics.
Nix hissed in pain, then grunted. “It’s kind of heavy handed for the Technic League, ain’t it? I mean, the Torch is all they want from this town. Why take over the town if the only thing they wanted was broken? It’s like… dumb.”
Haji considers this, then nods. “I suppose.”
“I bet they’ve got spies in town, though.” Nix adds.
“Really?” Haji asks in surprise. He’d never thought about it before. The Technic League wasn’t really his concern. He didn’t care about gadgets and the metal ruins that the Technic League horded. Not like Nix did.
“Of course!” She exclaimed. “I mean, why not?”
“Well with an argument like that…” Haji joked.
Nix hissed in pain and clutched at her head. “Shut up,” she groaned. After a moment she added, “I feel like my brain got kicked by a horse.”
Haji chuckled, then suddenly fell silent. They was a small group of people outside the Chapel of the Wanderer–a tiny chapel run by an elf who took care of all the funerals in Torch. They people stood whispering and wondering over who had died while the elven gravedigger, Mylan Radli, dug graves not far away. There were six of them. One for each of the bodies Haji and Nix had hauled up from the tunnels.
Not far past the graveyard they reached the Temple of Brigh. Haji took Nix by the arm. “We’re here. Come on.”
The main chapel was quiet. Joram sat nearby, with his hands clasped in prayer. At the sound of their footsteps echoing in the chapel, he held up a hand for them to wait. At the end of his prayers he sighed in relief.
“There!” he remarked happily. “Cursed headaches! Praise Brigh for her aid.” Turning to the group he smiled. “Sorry, how can I– OH! Hello Haji, Nix.” Joram nodded at them.
“Yeah, yeah,” Nix remarked. “Can you make my headache go away like that?”
Joram smiled kindly. “Of course, my dear. Brigh can make many of our ills a thing of the past–for a tithe, of course.”
Haji quickly covered Nix’s insults with the sound of his jingling coin purse. He gave Joram some coins and the old man prayed over Nix. After a moment, she sighed happily.
“Oh, yeah, that’s the stuff.”
“Money well spent,” Haji assured Joram as the old priest slipped the coin into an elaborate clockwork tithe box.
“Of course,” Joram replied. “Now, come. Sit.” He gestured at the nearby pews.
As Haji and Nix took a seat, Joram continued. “You did good yesterday. We managed to identify the dead and that matters. Some of these folks have people who care.” He nodded solemnly. “The halflings you found were the first group to go into those tunnels. They were brothers. Their Mamm’s none too pleased, but is happy to get to bury her boys.”
“The half-eaten man was one of them thugs from the second expedition. The group that Parda, the half-orc you found, went into the tunnels with. The man had a foul faith, but Parda was well-liked. She was a local brawler who fought for coin on occasion. Folks will be sad to see her go.” Joram nodded sagely. “The cold man–Gerrol Sondor was his name–he went with Khonnir on the final expedition. He was a popular fellow. Recently got engaged to Emelie Otterbie. You know the Otterbie’s, don’t you?”
Haji and Nix returned his gaze blankly.
“No?” Haji eventually replied.
“They run Torch’s Guildhouse,” Joram explained. “Which means those fancy new weapons on your hip,” he gestured at their cold iron weapons, “Probably came from one of their smithy’s. Anyway, poor Emilie’s distraught. Very grateful to you, of course, but… Devastated. And rightly so, of course. When you get a chance, stop by the Guildhouse and see her father–Arceus Otterbie. He wants to make you each a masterwork weapon as a reward. You’ll need to let him know what you want.”
Nix smiled widely, but Haji nodded respectfully.
Turning to Haji, Joram remarked, “Good eye on the infection, my boy! You saved us all a world of hurt!”
Haji laughed. “I guess so!”
Joram handed over a coffer to Haji. “This is from the Council to you, for returning the dead to us. Fifty gold per body.”
Haji accepted the coffer, but Nix yanked it out of his hands and began to count the coins.
Joram nodded at Haji and offered him a handshake. “Be well. Careful you don’t make yourself one of the dead, yeah?”
“Yeah,” he replied grimly.
“You off now?” Joram asked.
“Yeah,” Haji replied again.
Joram nodded and stood, then used his magical rod to augment his magic, as he cast a spell upon Haji, Nix and Rothmhar.
With a nod and a thanks, Haji stood and left the Temple, with Nix and Rothmhar at his side.
“The old man was right,” Nix pointed out. “Fifty gold per body!” She let out a whistle. “Momma’s going to brew some explosives tonight!”
As short while later they arrived at the Weeping Pond. It was dark and placid like always. Clearly toxic. It stunk like chemicals and made their throats itch and eyes water, even through Joram’s spell. They entered the slimy water and set off together for the underwater tunnels. Nothing attacked them this time, which was a welcome relief. As they dragged themselves out of the water, weighted down by their wet clothes, they found the tunnels as they had left them. At least until they reached the skulk caverns. There, in place of one of the rubble mounds, was a rack filled with drying meat. Skulk meat. Clearly, Sef had no qualms about eating her dead. As they passed by the meat, a voice spoke to them. (Skulks can be found in Pathfinder: Bestiary 2).
“You came back.” Sef remarked, appearing nearby.
“We have returned,” Haji announced loudly. His voice echoed around the cavern ominously. Holding up his cold iron falchion, he smiled. “This is Cutter! He’ll take care of the gremlins for you.”
Nix’s jaw dropped. “What?!? You named your sword? Damnit! I want to name my weapon!” With a smile she stroked her chin in thought. “Damn… Now, I’m on the spot! My morningstar is called… Gremlin Crusher! For now. I reserve the right to change it later!”
Haji grinned, then sheathed his sword.
Sef raised an eyebrow. After a moment of silence she pointed down another tunnel. “There. You go. Kill gremlins.”
Haji and Nix nodded at the skulk woman and headed off down the tunnel. With the aptly named Cutter and Gremlin Crusher in their hands, they entered the lair of the gremlins. The tunnels narrowed, then the ceiling lowered. Soon, they were travelling through tunnels only three feet wide and four feet tall. Nix had to crouch to pass through, but Haji was nearly doubled over completely. Despite the discomfort, it was oddly familiar. Haji had spent most of his life toiling underground in cramped tunnels. This was no different. Although, admittedly, he was bigger now than he had been under his Master’s firm hand.
They came to a small ledge, and then the tunnel began to branch, winding off in different directions into a maze of gremlin warrens. The floor in each tunnel was clear, but in each cavern it was cluttered with debris, knick-knacks, scrap and random household objects, clearly stolen from the city of Torch above.
“Guess these are the same gremlins that terrorize the town,” Haji remarked.
“Delightful,” Nix replied with a grin.
Suddenly, they heard a clattering from a nearby cavern. Following the noise as best as they could, they came upon a little gremlin. The lean, bat-eared horror muttered as it rifled through a collection of mismatched cutlery.
They tried to sneak up on it, but after only a step into the room they had made such a clatter that the gremlin turned on them and let out a loud shriek displaying a mouth full of needle-like teeth and glowing, orange eyes. From further down the cramped tunnels, other voices called back.
“Well, crap!” Nix remarked. She stomped into the cavern and swung her morningstar at the noisy little thing. The gremlin nimbly dodged out of the way and yammered at her some more. It pulled out a little sword and stabbed at her, piercing her in the leg.
“Ow!” Nix growled at it. “That hurt! Kind of…” With a shrug she called out to Haji, “I mean, it’s not life threatening or anything… But it could be if the damned thing hit me enough!”
Haji shook his head at his girlfriend as he stomped into the room. Stooped over he swung his falchion at the gremlin, striking only air, and then wall. His sword shuddered in his hands.
The gremlin waggled it’s hands at the half-orc and laughed, clearly taunting him. (These gremlins are jinkins, which can be found in Pathfinder: Bestiary 2)
Suddenly, Nix’s morningstar crushed the little gremlin’s head, causing it to fall to the ground, dead.
“Ha!” she exclaimed happily. “Take THAT!” Looking at her morningstar she told it, “I named you well!”
Haji turned to the entrance to the cavern. “Well, Cutter’s going to have plenty of time to do his job. There’s more coming…”
As he finished speaking, a trio of gremlins burst into the cave, screaming loudly and waving their little swords at the group. One of them loaded bolts into a tiny crossbow.
The battle was a long one, with more and more reinforcements appearing in waves. Soon the commotion drew a particularly well-armed (and armoured!) gremlin into the fray, who wielded a small sized warhammer that proved painful, indeed! Nix suffered a lot of tiny wounds from the little gremlins, but as the infuriatingly hard to hit gremlin-boss fell, she let out a whoop of pride. Victory was close!
Or she thought it was, anyway.
And then the last little gremlin disappeared.
“Seriously!?” She exclaimed.
“Come on!” Haji ordered. “They can’t teleport far! We can find him!”
Haji tore off down the tunnels, digging quickly through each cave in the hopes of finding the last cowardly gremlin. Unfortunately, half the caverns were filled with traps, which proved…painful. As another rack of sharpened blades cut into Haji’s back, Nix tried to squish past him.
“Maybe I should go first,” she remarked. With their pace slowed by Nix’s trapfinding, the duo eventually discovered the last gremlin, still wounded from battle, hiding in a tiny crevice. The battle was quick this time. The gremlin had nowhere left to run.
After catching their breath, and a minor celebration, Haji frowned. “This place is a maze. We’ll have to go through it carefully to make sure we got them all.”
Nix nodded. “True enough. But, who knows? Maybe they’ll have some good stuff in all this junk.” She gestured at the stolen knick-knacks and scrap littering the cavern floors.
Haji considered this. “Maybe…”
They spent the next few hours sifting through junk, and crawling their way through cramped tunnels and caverns. Happily, they did find some ‘good stuff.’ They shoved armour and weapons of various sizes and qualities into their backpacks greedily. Nix pocketed an alchemical concoction she had never brewed before–liquid ice–as well as a smokestick and a sunrod. There were a few silverdisks among the junk, which gleamed beautifully in the light from Nix’s fire beetle glands. And a pair of scrolls that Nix slipped into her pockets.
They also found their first technological object… A strange pen-like device that had no discernible purpose.
“WOW! LOOK AT THIS!” Nix cried happily as she examined the odd little rod.
“What’s it do?” Haji asked.
“I HAVE NO IDEA!” Nix replied, practically yelling with excitement.
Haji shook his head and chuckled at Nix’s enthusiasm. “Alright, alright.” He replied after a moment. “Let’s go see Sef. She promised us a reward.”
Nix nodded absently, too busy trying to figure out what the device did to pay much attention to her surroundings.
When they found Sef she cocked her head at them
“Kill gremlins?” she asked.
Haji nodded. “Yes. They’re all dead.”
Sef faltered for a moment, then smiled. “Dead? Good.”
Haji narrowed his eyes. Clearly Sef had been hoping they would be a little worse for wear after their encounters with the gremlins. The skulk probably wanted to take advantage of their wounds and kill them. Not now, of course. Now she looked… scared of them. Wary.
Haji grinned. Good.
“You promised us safe passage,” Haji reminded her. “And information.”
“Yes, yes. And a treasure.” Sef crossed her arms defensively and nodded. “You will get it. She paused only for a moment, then sighed. “You look for others? Yes?”
Haji nodded. “Yes.”
“Many others came. We kill lots. But not all. But no our fault. We…” Sef paused, clearly trying to find the right words. “Job? Paid! We paid to kill.”
Haji look surprised. “What? You were paid to kill?” He frowned. Who would do that?
Sef nodded. “Yes. My people not live here long. Lived… lower. Deeper caves. It was good, but our leader brought us closer to the bright. To these tunnels. She was… magic. Used magic to get us here, from the hole that leads below.”
Sef gestured at the deep hole in the cavern with no visible bottom. “We battled the gremlins. Did well for a time. And then the woman came. With… purple? Yes, purple hair. She came with orcs and rat-men. They killed our leader, and many skulks. More than you.” Sef spits bitterly. “I became leader, then. Spoke with woman. She paid us to kill all others who came here. All others. Then she left with her people. Went into the metal tunnels. The danger ones.”
Sef gestured at the metal wall with the circular hole in it. “Not those ones. The others. In the gremlin caves.
Haji nodded. He and Nix had discovered another metal wall in the gremlin caves, but it was sealed shut. They hadn’t found a way inside.
“And the other people?” Haji asked. “Did you spare any?”
Sef nodded. “We try kill all. But sometimes skulks die. Hid from some people, and fled from others. Your people took our payment. A few passed through my territory, into metal tunnels there.”
This time she gestured at the nearby metal wall with the circular entrance.
“Then screams.” she continued. “Lots screams. Metal tunnels are dangerous. Kill those we did not.”
“All of them? You know for sure everyone died?” Haji demanded.
Sef shook her head ‘no.’ “You leave?”
Haji shook his head in return. “No. We’re heading into the metal tunnels. We need to find someone.”
Sef shrugged. “Then you die. Angry dead live inside. And metal men do worse than dead.”
Nix scoffed. “Like that would keep me away. Now what about this treasure?”
Sef nodded and handed Nix a bag of silverdisks.
Nix’s eyes widened and she smiled brightly. “Well, hellooooooo, beautiful!”
“There this also,” Sef said, handing over five strange cards of flexible, smooth material. They were white, with a long brown stripe on the bottom end. A few of them had faded images of faces on them, long since worn to a suggestion of features. “Junk. But the purple haired woman asked for such junk. Means… not junk. Has purpose.”
Nix took the strange striped cards with even more excitement than the silverdisks. “What are these MADE OF?”
Haji resisted the urge to chuckle at his absurd girlfriend, and instead gave Sef a stern look. “Thank you.” He told her. “And remember. Safe passage.”
Cowed by Haji’s strength–for the moment–Sef nodded deferentially. “Safe passage.”
“Yeah, thanks,” Nix muttered absently. Grabbing Haji’s hand she urged him, “Come on, let’s go!”
Haji let Nix guide him away to the massive metal wall. A circular opening pierced the wall about five feet off the ground. Haji peered through the opening, into the metal halls.
“Ready?” He asked Nix.
Nix laughed. “Oh, honey, I was made for this.” She smiled brightly, golden eyes glittering with excitement.
Haji chuckled. But as he gazed into the dark, metal ruins, he turned grim.
Had Khonnir survived? Was he alive in there?
Would they survive?
“No time like the present!” Nix remarked. She nimbly climbed up the wall and rolled up into the opening in the metal wall.
With a grunt, Haji followed.
Together they took their first steps into the ancient metal ruins below Torch…
With the passing of Family Day here in Canada, and a wonderfully lazy long weekend over and done, it’s time to get back to work, and back to school!
So welcome back to d20 Diaries!
There’s a ton of new releases kicking around Paizo’s Pathfinder and Starfinder lines, and we’re going to look at my favourites today. So sit back, enjoy, and get ready to wish your wallets had a bit more money in them! I know I will… Haha.
There’s three great new Pathfinder products I’m dying to get my hands on! First up is a book we’ve already taken a look at here on d20 Diaries, War for the Crown: Part One: Crownfall. This is part one of a new Adventure Path which takes place in Taldor and looks AWESOME. All of the reviews I’ve read of it have been great, and I literally cannot wait to get my hands on it! I hear that the Player’s Guide is in editing, and won’t be out for another week or two.
The second release is something I’ve been waiting for since I got my hands on Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 6. That’s right! The Pathfinder Pawns: Bestiary 6 Box! There’s plenty of awesome pawns in this collection, including monkey goblins, mockinfey, a ton of new daemons and demons, enough dragons and golems to make any GM cackle madly, and–my personal favourite–the ever creepy sakhils. The icing on the (fabulous) cake? A total of six Archdevils and three Great Old ones! I hope your PCs have some mythic tiers under their belts… Currently, The Pathfinder Pawns: Bestiary 6 Box is only available on Paizo’s website, but I’ll be sure to update this post as soon as it appears on Amazon.
Finally, we’re going to talk about a surprising addition: Inner Sea Taverns. I have quite a few of the ‘Inner Sea’ supplments, and the ‘Of Golarion’ line. Some of them I’m thrilled with, while others see little use around my house. I wasn’t sure where I would fall with this one. It’s about taverns, after all! But, after reading the previews and reviews, I’m actually keen to get my hands on it. This book takes a look at six unique taverns throughout the Inner Sea, including the Whispering Stone in Wati (which will be sure to see use for anyone running Mummy’s Mask: Part One: The Half-Dead City ); Runoff in Starfall, where even taking a sip of your drink is dangerous (perfect for Iron Gods: Part 5: Palace of Fallen Stars!); Formidably Maid in Port Peril (which is where Skull & Shackles: Part 1: The Wormwood Mutiny begins!); and–the one I’m most excited for–Aeylinth Vineyard, a sophisticated treetop wine bar in Kyonin! In addition to detailing these very different establishments, it’s owners and some notable patrons, Inner Sea Taverns also includes rules for barfights and some new pub games. It sounds like a ton of fun!
And with that we blast off into space! As a new product, Starfinder has a ton going on right now, but we’re going to take a look at two products that just hit shelves, and one that’s coming soon!
The final product we’re going to salivate over is coming out next month: Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Pact Worlds! As previously mentioned on d20 Diaries, Pact Worlds is much more than a book about Starfinder’s campaign setting. Yes, it contains details on all of the major planets of the Pact Worlds. And yes, it has all kinds of awesome details on those planet’s inhabitants, settlements and environments! But it also contains new playable races, new themes, new ships, new archetypes, and new gear, spells and feats! In short, despite being a book about the setting of Starfinder, it’s got a ton of new class options for everyone. I can’t wait!
Thanks for checking out some of Paizo’s new releases with us!
We’re starting simple, with a collection of mundane equipment that can make Valentine’s special for even the lowliest level one character! Prepare yourself for the day with a grooming kit and some perfume/cologne. Head out for a lovely carriage ride, or to see a show. Read poetry (if you’re literate), or serenade that special someone with a musical instrument. For dinner, set the mood with a candle and candlestick, and be sure to bring a bottle of wine and some chocolates. All of these items are available in Pathfinder: Ultimate Equipment
But, for those of us who are higher than level one, chances are you’ve got some cash to burn! Let’s take a look at some pricier options! Unless otherwise listed, all of the items below are from either the Core Rulebook or Ultimate Equipment.
Still trying to catch the eye of that special someone? Be sure to get your armour and weapons glamered. Up your game with a circlet of persuasion, headband of alluring charisma, or a headband of seduction. Really put in the effort with a Zonzon Doll of Forgiveness (Inner Sea Gods) tailored just for them! Or skip the effort completely and invest in a staff of charming, or eyes of charming.
Trouble Hanging on? Love keep slipping through your fingers? Be sure to invest in some tanglefoot bags, silk rope, an elixir of love, philter of love (Advanced Player’s Guide), or a harp of charming.
Got someone you’d do anything for? Invest in an allying weapon, martyr’s tear and a ring of friend shield.
Can’t bear to be separated? Pick up a bracelet of friends.
Worried about all that romance (and enchantments) clouding your mind? A cap of the free thinker should help keep your head on straight! While the Liberator’s Rod will give you a second chance to see to the heart of the matter.
But enough about romance! Some character’s love life in general! So if you’re the kind of adventure who would rather preserve life than end it, pick up a merciful metamagic rod or a merciful weapon. Then try out some benevolent armour.
Broken Hearted? Share your pain with a heartseeker, seeking or stalking weapon. They’ll regret tossing you to the curb!
My personal choice for the most romantic in-game gift? Boots of the winterlands! It’s quite cold where I live. Haha.
But love isn’t all about stuff! Up next we’re taking a look at the gods of Pathfinder, some loving, some possessive, and some plain evil! All of the gods listed below can be found in Inner Sea Gods, although some are in other sources, as well.
If you’re going to make a character interested in love you’re definitely going to want to take a look at Shelyn, The Eternal Rose, the popular goddess of love, beauty and art. If you’re a dwarf you’ll instead check out Bolka, The Golden Gift, goddess of beauty, desire, love and the goddess responsible for making arranged marriages blossom into loving relationships (Dwarves of Golarion). For a less obvious faith, take a look at Hembad, the Wise Grandfather, an empyreal lord of connections, matchmaking and synergy. Contrariwise, Naderi is the heartbroken goddess of love, romantic tragedy, suicide and drowning (Inner Sea Faiths, Faiths of Balance).
Looking to tackle a more physical aspect of love? Calistria, The Savoured Sting, is the most popular choice. She’s the elven goddess of lust, revenge and trickery. Or take Arshea, the Spirit of Abandon, for a spin! He’s the androgynous empyreal lord of freedom, physical beauty and sexuality. Try going the opposite direction and take a look at Lymneiris, The Auroral Tower, an angel interested in prostitution, rites of passage, and virginity (both of whom are featured in Chronicle of the Righteous and Heaven Unleashed). Take a walk on the darker side of sex with Ardad Lili, the infernal Whore Queen of seduction, snakes and women (Princes of Darkness) or with the Green Mother, a divine fey interested in carnivorous plants, intrigue and seduction (The First World, Realm of the Fey).
Want to worship a god worried less about romance, and more about family? Erastil, god of family, community, farming, hunting and trade, is the most well-known option. Although plenty of others exist. For dwarves there’s Folgrit, the Watchful Mother, goddess of children, hearths and mothers (Dwarves of Golarion). For giants there’s Bergelmir, Mother of Memories and goddess of elders, family and genealogy (Giants Revisited). Orcs can pay homage to Dretha, goddess of birth, fertility and tribes. Feronia is a lesser known demi-goddess of flame and fertility. Svarozic is an empyreal lord interested in parenthood, ingenuity and progress. And lastly, Shei is an empyreal lord interested in life and self-actualization.
But love isn’t always good. Love of all kinds can be twisted into something foul. If you’re looking to take a look at the darker sides of love, lust and obsession, check out these horrible devils, demons, daemons and other foul beings: Belial, Archdevil of adultery, deception and desire (Princes of Darkness); Slandrais, a daemonic harbinger interested in lechery, love potions and obsession (Horsemen of the Apocalypse); Zaigasnar, a daemonic harbinger interested in body modification, destructive vanity and pins (Horsemen of the Apocalypse), Nocticula, demon lord of assassins, darkness, and lust (Lords of Chaos, Demons Revisited); her brother Socothbenoth, demon lord of perversion, pride, sexual gratification and taboos (Lords of Chaos); Zepar, an infernal duke of abduction, rape and transformation; Zaebos, an infernal duke of arrogance, nobility and sexual perversion; and Verex, the orc god of lust, pillage, and plunder.
Lastly, we’re going to take a look at a few adventures that are the perfect fit for Valentine’s Day.
My personal favourite is Realm of the Fellnight Queen! This Pathfinder adventure module is intended for level seven characters and was written by Neil Spicer as his winning entry in RPG Superstar 2009. This wonderfully written adventure begins as the players attend a wedding ceremony for a friend. The wedding itself is a blast, with activities for the players to participate in, a great cast of colourful NPCs for them to interact with, and a feast in addition to the wedding. But soon a love-spurned gnome crashes the wedding with his beloved bees at the behest of his mistress, Queen Rhoswen. The players will have to save not only the wedding, but the entire town from the Fellnight Queen’s machinations by heading deep into the forest and entering her extra-planar realm! This adventure is just a blast to play! I highly recommend it!
For adventure’s about familial love, I recommend playing Racing the Snake or Final Resting Place. Both are 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons adventures published in Dungeon Magazine. Racing the Snake is by John Simcoe and is found in Volume 105. It’s intended for level six characters, and has the PCs hired by a nobleman to protect his beloved daughter from assassins–with a twist! While she travels secretly to her wedding in the capital, the PCs get to impersonate her and lead her assassins and enemies on a wild-goose chase until she’s safe and sound! This adventure has interesting encounters and really tips the regular format on it’s head! Final Resting Place is written by Michael Kortes and is found in Volume 122. It’s intended for level three characters, and has the PCs hired by the daughter of a famous adventurer who recently perished on an exploratory mission underground. Knowing her father is dead, but unable to come to grips with it without his body, the PCs are sent underground to the site of his last mission, in order to return his body to his daughter for a proper burial. This adventure is one of my all-time favourite 3.5 adventures and is a TON of fun.
But what about all those lover’s scorned out there? I’d suggest giving Curse of the Riven Sky or Clash of the Kingslayers a whirl. Both are larger than life, awesome level ten Pathfinder modules that are driven in one way or another by the heartbroken, the betrayed, and the angry lovers out there! And best of all? As your player’s discover the motivations and history of the NPCs involved, they’ll question their cause, enemies and allies in a way they haven’t had to before. Both are definitely worth a whirl! Curse of the Riven Sky is written by Monte Cook, while Clash of the Kingslayers is written by Leandra Christine Schneider (and currently on sale for only two dollars American).
Want to worry less about morality and more about destroying something beautiful and having a BLAST? Take We B4 Goblins for a whirl! This FREE Pathfinder adventure makes the player’s all goblins fresh out of their whelping cages, and sets them loose on some super fun rites of passage which culminates in an attack on a halfling wedding! Smash the cake, terrorize the guests and work out all your anger on the happy couple! The goblins are crashing the party!
Romantic love isn’t the only kind that causes pain and heartbreak. These next two adventures revolve around what happens when family is taken from us. Murder in Oakbridge is a murder mystery printed in Dungeon Magazine volume 129, written by Uri Kurlianchik and intended for level five characters. Wingclipper’s Revenge was printed in Dungeon Magazine volume 132 and pits the PCs against the perils of the fey (and man!). It was was written by Christopher Wissel and is intended for level four characters.
We’ve got one final Valentine’s Day treat for you today… An adventure path that is all about the relationships you forge with your companions and fellow players… The Jade Regent Adventure Path (starting with Jade Regent Part 1 – The Brinewall Legacy)! With rules for how to befriend and woo each member of the caravan, and updates in every volume for what items, events and places have meaning to each NPC, this adventure path is the first (and only) one that pays loving attention to the side characters right from the start of the campaign, to the end. If you want to get in on a game where relationships matter, give Jade Regent a try. The player’s guide is available as a free download, here.
That’s all we’ve got for you today!
No matter who you are, and what kind of love (or lack of) you’re celebrating today, I hope you enjoyed taking a look at the many ways you can spread the love with Pathfinder!
Today on d20 Diaries we’re heading back to Torch, for more of the Iron Gods adventure path!
Iron Gods is a six-part adventure path by Paizo Publishing that fuses technology and fantasy into one awesome Pathfinder campaign. The first volume, Fires of Creation, is written by Neil Spicer, and is intended to bring characters from levels one to four. The Iron Gods Player’s Guide is a free download on Paizo’s website, here. For further information on the Iron Gods campaign, check out my blog post ‘Iron Gods Adventure Path,’ for information on our characters, check out my blog post ‘Iron Gods: Character Focus: Haji and Nix,’ and for information on our first play session, check out my blog post ‘Iron Gods: Part One: Into the Weeping Pond.’ If you’re going to play Iron Gods yourself, I highly recommend picking up the Iron Gods Pawn Collection, which has a ton of unique pawns for use in the campaign.
When we left our eccentric heroes, Nix, Haji and his ugly rat Rothmhar had returned from the tunnels beneath the toxic Weeping Pond to nurse their wounds until Nix’s eyesight returned. The next few hours were touch and go, but in the end they both recovered and spent the night together in Nix’s home. It was a small one-room warehouse crowded with a mess of scrap, cluttered worktables and unfinished projects.
Nix was up early, brewing some new alchemical acid and tinkering with her tiny magical gadgets. She wore massive goggles over her golden eyes, and her tangled orange hair was pulled back in a pony-tail. Despite having only one real arm and one mechanical arm, Nix was confident working with tiny mechanical parts, breakable glassware and volatile chemicals. She smiled brightly while working, a sign (perhaps) that she was not as sane as most women. But then, where was the fun in that?
Nearby, Haji sat on the stone floor, legs crossed. He was large even for a half-orc, with olive green skin, and long black hair and beard weighted down by the stones and gems braided into its length. Like Nix, Haji was not quite whole. One of his eyes was green and alert, but the other was missing entirely, plucked out long ago by his cruel one-time master. In its place was a glittering gem, and surrounding the gaping eye-socket was a massive triangular brand. Before him sat Rothmhar, his hideously ugly, hairless rat. Haji sifted through a bag of stones and gems a pulled out a few choice pieces. One he popped into his own mouth, and swallowed! The other he placed in Rothmhar’s mouth. Rothmhar did the same, swallowing the stone, only to start violently convulsing and frothing at the mouth. The spit and foam-like saliva engulfed the entire rat and then hardened, into a strange sort of cocoon that looked remarkably like the rock he had swallowed. There, on Nix’s oil-stained floor, Haji sat in silent communication with Rothmhar’s spiritual consciousness, connecting with magical powers beyond his understanding.
An hour later, the rocky cocoon cracked and broke open. Rothmhar scurried out, his hairless flesh covered in new spiky, rocky protrusions. As Haji opened his eye, Nix smiled. Her goggles were on the work-bench and her new mechanical gadgets were strapped to belt.
“Ready to kick some ass?” she asked
Haji chuckled. “After breakfast. I’m starving.”
“Oh, yeah! That girl — “
“Val,” Haji corrected Nix.
“Yeah, her! That girl said she’d feed us! Let’s go!”
The duo hurried off to The Foundry, to score some free food off of Val Baine, the daughter of Haji’s friend and mentor, Khonnir, who had gone missing in the tunnels under Torch.
Val was happy to see them ready to set out again, but saddened they had yet to find news of her father.
Nix ate enthusiastically, and Haji stuffed himself to bursting. With most of his life spent only eating rarely, or not at all, Haji had learned to eat as much as he could, whenever he could in order to get by.
“If you keep feeding us, kid, Haji will need new pants,” Nix joked to Val.
After breakfast the duo headed out to the Temple of Brigh, to meet with Joram Kyte. Joram was the high priest of the temple, and a councillor. He had promised to cast protective magics on Haji, Nix and Rothmhar each day that they set out for the tunnels under Torch, in order to allow them to breathe water. He also served as the pair’s main point of contact with Torch’s council. It was Joram who would see the pair were paid for their efforts if they managed to save Khonnir Baine, or reignite the violet flame atop Torch’s Black Hill. While there, Haji asked after the identity of the half-orc woman’s body they had found, and the half-eaten man’s. Although Joram was no help in ascertaining who the half-eaten man was, he did know that the half-orc was a popular brawler by the name of Parda. Many people would miss her and he was certain that having her body recovered would go a long way to helping them grieve. With the promise of further rewards if the pair would return any dead bodies they found to the surface, Haji turned to find Nix gone.
Bored, Nix had moved on from the chapel to gawk at the mechanical wonders on sale at the temple’s storefront.
“Hey, look at this gun!” she exclaimed happily, waving around a technical marvel. “It’s so advanced! I think it shoots fire or something!” Checking the price tag she examined it’s structure, curious how she could make it herself for less coin…
Haji chuckled. “There’s an extra reward for us if we can return the deceased from the tunnels.”
“Yeah?” Nix asked with a smile. She put the gun down and followed Haji through town to the Weeping Pond. “Well, no time like the present!”
The Weeping Pond was dark and placid. It stunk like chemicals and made their throats itch and eyes water, even through Joram’s spell. They entered the slimy water and set off together for the underwater tunnels. Nothing attacked them this time, which was a welcome relief. As they dragged themselves out of the water, weighted down by their wet clothes, they found the tunnels as they had left them. The cut-up remains of the fire beetles were undisturbed, the half-orc’s body was still in the stalagmite carven, the foul frog-beast was dead on the shore, and the half-eaten man’s corpse was where they had left it.
“We can move the bodies later,” Haji announced. Noticing a partly-flooded tunnel leading east from the blindheim’s cavern, Haji entered the water. “Let’s keep exploring. I think this tunnel might lead back to the entrance.” He placed Rothmhar up onto his shoulder and gripped his trusty shovel in his hands.
With a shrug, Nix pulled out her morningstar and followed him.
The water quickly grew shallow, and after only a few turns in the tunnel the pair found themselves in a mold-slick cavern with three large foul-smelling mounds inside.
“It smells rank in here,” Nix complained. “What the heck kind of mold is this?”
“Oh, the mold isn’t the problem,” Haji replied. “The mold is harmless and totally natural. The stink is what it’s growing around. See? It’s growing over some corpses. Halflings, maybe? Kids?”
Nix shrugged. “Bodies are bodies. They’ll be worth coin, won’t they? Think they’ve got anything good on them?”
Nix and Haji approached the bodies only to have them twitch… Their mouths opened and a green sludge came pouring out, pooling on the ground. Then it sloshed it’s way towards them.
“Uhhh…” Haji muttered, holding his shovel out defensively. “That’s not normal.”
“Whoah! Those are the tiniest slime molds I’ve ever SEEN!” Nix exclaimed. “They’re usually… like… WAY bigger!”
As the slime molds (Bestiary 2) slammed their small, mold covered bodies against Nix and Haji, Nix gave one a hit with her morningstar.
“Just whack ’em, Haji!” She called out. “They’ll break like anything else.”
Taking Nix’s word for it, Haji swung his shovel at the green goop around his knees, slashing a line through it’s squishy form.
The battle was surprisingly long, with Haji and Nix suffering through some bad luck. Although Haji came out unscathed, Nix nearly fell unconscious. As the third and final slime mould exploded under Nix’s monrningstar, Haji looked around for any other signs of trouble.
Bloody, and breathing heavily, Nix activated one of her gadgets, causing a clockwork beetle to scurry it’s way from her belt over to her thigh, where it sprayed a magical antiseptic foam across her open wounds. After healing her, the beetle crumbled into tiny pieces. Nix scooped them up and tossed them into her bag.
Finding no other dangers in the cavern, Haji and Nix checked out the corpses.
“Definitely halflings,” Haji remarked. “Were there halfling adventurers sent down here before us?”
“Ha!” Nix laughed. “Like I know!”
“They’ve already been robbed. Except for…” Feeling something in one of their inner vest pockets, Haji rummaged around and pulled out a stone. “This! A lace agate! Wow, it’s beautiful! Polished and everything! Isn’t that nice, Rothmhar?!”
Nix burst out laughing. “You’re adorable, freak. You know that’d be worth good coin if you didn’t eat the damned things. No one wants to buy them after you’ve shit the things back out.”
Haji shrugged. “Doesn’t matter. They’re not up for sale, are they Rothmhar?”
The rock-spiked rat shook its head possessively and bared its teeth at Nix.
Nix smiled, as used to her boyfriend’s quirks (and freaky pets) as he was to hers. “There’s another tunnel here. You coming?”
Haji gave one last happy look at the new stone before putting it in his belt pouch. “That tunnel should take us back to the entrance.”
The pair headed off to discover Haji was correct. Unsurprisingly. As a trained miner he spent a lot of time underground. He was more at home in these caverns than he was in Torch. The group doubled back to the blindheim’s cavern, and turned the other direction, heading off down the only tunnel they had yet to explore.
It was dark, but Nix’s trio of fire beetle glands glowed brightly, lighting the way forward. Suddenly, Haji heard something–an echoing trio of thumps. Footsteps? Bare feet on stone, maybe? He raised his hand for Nix to stop.
“What?” Nix asked loudly.
Haji held up a hand for silence and they continues forward, cautiously…
The tunnel continued ahead, but to the left and right there appeared two side caverns. The one on the right was large, nearly thirty feet deep, while the one on the left was shallow–only ten feet or so. Both were filled with debris, scrap and bits of metal and wires. The large cavern had it strewn across the floor and mounded in the corners, while the small cavern had it heaped nearly up to the top.
“WHOAH!” Nix exclaimed with excitement, clearly forgetting to be quiet. “Look at all this SCRAP!” She dove into the large room, sifting through bits of wire and metal and shoving everything that would fit into her backpack. “There’s even some SILVERDISKS in here!”
“Oh, hey!” She suddenly remarked. “There’s some weird chalk drawings on the wall in here. A three-legged robot like the one we smashed topside, with… I don’t know, some weird spiny plants and scrawny four-armed dudes.”
Suddenly Haji cocked his head, clearly listening to something. Quietly, he said, “I hear… whispers. They’re distant, but coming from… here.” Haji looked at the small cavern blocked by debris. “There’s something past this junk,” he decided.
“Scrap,” Nix corrected. “Up and over?” she whispered. She stowed her morningstar and crept over quietly, making barely a sound.
Haji tried to follow her example, but his weight caused the debris wall to topple, and make a loud crashing noise.
“Smooth,” Nix remarked with a grin.
Haji shrugged. “It’s done.”
The pair drew their weapons and headed down the tunnel that had been hidden by debris. It opened up into a large room, wide enough that Nix’s lights would illuminate it, but so deep that neither her glowing glands, nor Haji’s darkness-piercing eye could see to the far end.
They were on a narrow ledge, just wide enough for them to walk single file comfortably, that was ten feet higher than the rest of the cavern. It wound around the cavern to the left, leading off into another tunnel, and to the south, where it backed up into another tunnel and then descended down to the cavern floor at a steep incline. The ceiling here was quite high–nearly thirty feet high–and free of stalagmites. There were a few heaping mounds of debris, fibrous cords and hides down on the cavern’s floor.
Nix looked around with curiosity, but Haji narrowed his eyes. He leaned over and whispered into Nix’s ear.
“I hear something at the base of the ramp. And also right…” Haji suddenly turned around and lunged at the open space behind him. “HERE!”
His shovel drove into something, causing a weird silver blood to splatter around and a surprised looking hairless humanoid to flicker into sight. It’s flesh was grey, but it was camouflaged to blend in with the stones around it. It wore no clothes, but had a short sword clutched in its hands. (Skulks are from Bestiary 2)
As Haji attacked the strange humanoid Nix drew one of the volatile chemicals she had brewed and lobbed it at the ramp, causing it to burst into flames. For a brief moment a humanoid was outlined in flames, and let out a cry of pain.
“Ha!” Nix exclaimed proudly. “I see ’em!”
With the element of surprise lost, the strange humanoids tried to flee, or fight, (or both!), but stood little chance. Luck was on Haji and Nix’s side (for a change)! Even when reinforcements snuck onto the scene, the gray-skinned sneaks all perished.
“Sneaky buggers!” Nix remarked. “Think this is what killed some of the others?”
Haji nodded. “Parda was stabbed in the back, and so was that half-eaten guy. Their wounds could match with these swords. I didn’t check the halflings for wounds, but I wouldn’t be surprised if these things had a hand in their death, as well.”
Nix shrugged as she examined their corpses. “Guess they don’t have many places to hide treasure, hey?” She laughed headed over to the scrap mounds while Haji collected their swords.
“These things are made with junk–not much even I could find use for,” Nix admitted. “I think they were being lived in. Like, huts or something. But it’s a sign there’s more around here, right? I mean, there’s got to be!”
Haji grunted noncommittally. They headed deeper into the cavern, listening warily for signs of further skulks. They found a massive pit so deep they couldn’t see to the bottom, two more tunnels, and a massive wall of pitted metal.
“WHOAH!” Nix exclaimed loudly. “DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS?!”
Haji nodded. “Numerian steel?”
Nix nodded her head rapidly in turn and ran her hands over the metal. “Glaucite! An iron and adamantine alloy that’s a pain in the ass to make, work with, AND break down. Steel’s better for nearly EVERYTHING, and it’s not really worth the effort to try to extract the adamantine from it, BUT, artifacts and ruins from the Rain of Stars are often made of this stuff! Behind this wall is probably, like… SOMETHING AWESOME! And COOL! And OLD!”
Haji raised an eyebrow. He had heard tales of the metal ruins hidden underground throughout Numeria. Ruins that had supposedly fallen from the stars, but he had never seen one before. Never confirmed their existence. And he had spent a LOT of time underground. He had little interest in the ruins themselves, but the metal? That might have interesting effects on Rothmhar… And Nix? She would love whatever they found inside.
“There’s an opening in the glaucite further down,” he pointed out, gesturing to a circular opening nearly five feet off the ground.
Nix hurried over and stood on her tip toes, peeking her eyes inside. “Oh, we HAVE to go in there!”
“We haven’t found Khonnir, yet.” Haji reminded her. “Or finished exploring these caverns. Let’s make sure it’s safe out here before heading into THAT deathtrap.”
Nix scrunched up her nose in distaste. “Why do you have to be so practical?” she asked. “FINE! Lead the way, party-pooper!”
Haji smiled, surprised that leading Nix away from the metal corridor had been so easy. She must still be hurt from the battle.
They backtracked a bit, heading up the ledge and down one of the tunnels.
“I think this will take us back to that other tunnel that led out of the debris room.” Haji remarked.
As they walked it got colder, and colder. Their breath made little clouds in the air and a rime of white frost coated the floors and walls.
“Why’s it so cold down?” Nix asked.
Haji shrugged. “I… I don’t know.”
The tunnel opened up into a larger one, shaped like a wedge, with a single other tunnel leading exiting it to the north, back to the debris room. The floor in the cold room was covered with a fine layer of brown dust, and a body slumped against the far wall.
“Oh!” Nix exclaimed. “I recognize this! It’s brown mold! It’s… like… mold that drains the heat from everything around it, making it cold and… stuff! Fire only makes it grow, even though I always thought that was bonkers! And…” she wracks her brain, trying to remember anything else useful. “I don’t think it can actually kill you, but it can take you pretty close.”
“That guy looks pretty dead to me,” Haji remarked.
“I see your point.”
Haji got out a rope and grappling hook from his backpack, tied them together and tossed them into the room. He snagged the body on the first try, and hauled it back out into the tunnel.
“Recognize him?” Nix asked as she poked at the cold corpse.
“Yes, actually.” Haji remarked with surprise. “He was a friend of Khonnir’s! I don’t know his name or anything but… Yes. I’m certain it’s him.”
“Well, this guy hasn’t been robbed yet,” Nix replied. “And he wasn’t poor either! His tools are way nicer than mine! There’s some empty vials on him, so he probably could afford to pay for potions, and look at his armour? Chain shirts like this cost a fortune!”
Haji nodded and began removing the armour. “I call dibs.”
Nix smirked. “Fine, but his tools and crossbow are mine.” Holding up the tiny crossbow in one hand she aimed it around. “This thing is bitching!”
After looting the body, Haji inspected it.
“I think you’re right. I don’t think the cold killed this guy. Look, he’s got stab wounds here and here…”
“From those grey sneaks?”
Haji nodded. “These ones are, yes. But these other two puncture wounds, they’re from a spear, and they’ve got a strange mold growing inside them.”
“MORE mold?” Nix asked. She rolled her eyes. “So he fled in here and, what? Bled to death?”
“Probably. And whoever stabbed him didn’t follow him in here to fetch his corpse.”
Nix nodded. “It’s not that brown mold in the wound, is it? Or the slime mold?” Nix peeked into the wounds then frowned.
Haji shook his head. “Worse. It’s russet mold. It’s sore of like… a fungal infection that gets inside you, and kills you from the inside out as it grows.” Pointing at the body he continued, “You see here, and here, there’s mold veining beneath the surface? That’s the infection. Once it kills you a plant guy bursts out of your body.”
“A plant guy?” Nix asked with doubt.
“Seriously!” Haji remarked. “It’s a vegepygmy. You know, a little plant man? They venerate the bodies they grow from as birth-corpses.” (Bestiary)
“That’s weird. So, what, this guy’s going to explode and out pops a plant dude?”
Haji nodded. “I think the cold halted the infection’s progress. But, once it warms up again? Yeah, probably. Not right away. It’ll take a half day or so, I think. Maybe longer.”
Nix grabbed the body. “So toss him back in!”
Together, Haji and Nix hoisted up the dead body and tossed it into the cold cavern.
“We can fetch him later and bring him to Joram. He should know a cleric who can cleanse the body.”
Form there they returned to the large cavern and took a trip down another tunnel, ending up on a ledge seven feet above the floor in a small cavern. Bits of scrap, wires and technological objects littered the floor here, and in the corner stood another large scrap mound. They looked around, but saw no sign of enemies. As they approached the ledge, a woman suddenly flicked into view, her perfect camouflage deactivating, and revealing her grey skin. The woman wore a ton of blades and knives strapped onto her body, and bore a sneer on her face. (Sef, leader of the skulks)
“I am Sef, leader of the skulks who claim caverns! YOU are in my territory. You killed my people! Not all…” the woman announced angrily in broken common. “I be kind and make you offer.”
Nix raised an eyebrow, but Haji nodded. “What’s the offer?”
“Safe passage through my caves–now and in future–if you do two things for me. Kill no further skulks. And go that way,” she pointed off into the distant tunnel. “Enter gremlin caves and kill them all. They are pests. Do this and I give you a strange treasure I have found in metal room.”
“We came here looking for the other people–“
“Other people are dead,” Sef cut in. “You not be if you do this for me.”
Haji frowned. “Gremlins? What can you tell us about them?”
“They are pests,” the woman repeated. “Cause trouble. Break things. Gone when try to catch them. Not gone like skulks. Actually gone.”
Haji nods. Clearly the woman didn’t have the vocabulary to articulate much further. “We can do this, but we need to leave and gets supplies first. Gremlins can be hard to harm. You will allow us back in without trouble?”
“I am Haji, and this is Nix. Remember us. SAFE PASSAGE.”
Sef scowled, but nodded. “Safe. Yes. Go now. Come back when you kill the gremlins.”
Haji nodded and led Nix back out of the chamber.
“Did you just get us a job as exterminators?”
Haji shrugs. “We’ll need cold iron weapons,” he points out, well aware of the nature of gremlins.
Nix nods. “Or explosives!”
“Come on. Lets get the bodies back to the surface and turn them in to Joram. We can stop by the marketplace afterwards.”
“Fine. But I want to dig through the junk room, first!”
Retreating back through the caverns, Haji and Rothmhar collected the various dead bodies while Nix rifled through the cavern full of scrap. Once finished they set out to bring the bodies back to Torch, tying themselves to the corpses one at a time and floating them back up to the surface through the Weeping Pond. By the time they were done the duo was exhausted. They lashed the bodies together and floated them downstream nearly all the way to the temple, then hired a cart for a copper to haul them the rest of the way through Torch.
Joram met them with great sorrow, but hurried off into the temple with the bodies the moment Haji mentioned that one of them was about to spawn a vegepygmy. With the promise of receiving their reward tomorrow, Haji and Nix headed out to the market to pawn a few bits of gear, purchase some cold iron weapons, and then head of to the Foundry for some hard-earned food.
They had made progress today, but tomorrow, there would be gremlins to deal with! Trouble was on the horizon!
I hope you enjoyed our second experience with the Iron Gods Adventure Path! Tune in next time when we continue our foray below Torch with more from book one, Fires of Creation