As the Pathfinder Playtest keeps chugging along, this week brings us new surveys and new rules updates! The new surveys are open for the next chapter of Doomsday Dawn: The Mirrored Moon which reunites your players with their primary PCs for this mini adventure path. And the rules updates? There’s a lot of them! Thirteen new pages of rules, plus a separate pdf with a bunch of new content on… wait for it… archetypes! (Pardon me while I squeal with glee!)
So, what exactly is new this update?
To start with the penalty for being untrained in a skill is greater. While it used to be equal to your level minus two it is not equal to your level minus four. Although it might seem lame, I like this change. Now those people who have taken the time to become trained in a skill actually feel better at it than those who didn’t. Before it was kind of a toss up.
The next major change is the DC chart. They’ve shuffled around the DCs a bit, and fine-tuned it. This also effects the DCs across all skills and throughout Doomsday Dawn and the Pathfinder Playtest Scenarios. Yeah. This change is sweeping! I’m curious to see how it plays out.
There’s also… the ten minute rest! What? Yup! First of all, identifying magical objects no longer takes an hour, it only takes ten minutes. FINALLY. This was one of my major pet peeves from the Playtest so I’m thrilled they changed it. Ten is more manageable. Repairing items? Also ten minutes. And finally, they’ve added a new way to use the medicine skill. You can now use it to treat wounds. This takes — you guessed it — ten minutes and can heal up to six people (yourself included) of some of their wounds. This means that there are now ways to heal yourself and your party without relying on magic. In addition, it makes taking a ten minute break after a fight a standard, organic thing to do. You fight, you win. Yay! You bandage your wounds. While the healer does that the mage identifies a magical item and the fighter repairs his shield. It fits. You know? This I can get behind.
There have been some nice changes to classes. Alchemist’s are no longer double-dinged on resonance when using infused items that they give to their companions. Monks finally have simple weapon proficiency so they can actually use a ranged weapon. Thank goodness! Rangers have some new 1st level feat options, and Rogues no longer need to be Dexterity based. Instead they have a trio of techniques they can choose from at level one. Sorcerers no longer have to take their later bloodline feats, which makes them feel less restrictive.
Death and Dying rules have been adjusted again, with the inclusion of a new condition ‘wounded.’ For the full details you’ll have to give the pdf a read, but I think this method is meant to make it a bit harder to survive than the last updates made it, but still easier than the original Playtest rules. I’m curious to see how it plays out.
There’s other smaller changes and clarifications. Its been confirmed that shields can never take two dents at once. Its also been pointed out that your spell roll is not used for your spell attack rolls. Instead you use your proficiency modifier and Dexterity or Strength as normal. I was really happy that the spell roll was used for your spell attack rolls, but I can see why that’s not the case. Still, I think it’s and unfortunate clarification. I rather liked being a mage who could naturally aim their spells. (Sad! Haha).
That’s all of the big changes, but there’s also a second document. This contains updated rules for all of the multiclassing archetypes, changes some of them (fighter: here’s looking at you!), and adds a bunch of new ones. Oh, yeah! There are now multi class options for every base class. Very exciting!
In other news, Pathfinder Kingmaker the video game has now officially launched. For those of you who don’t know, Pathfinder Kingmaker is a computer RPG with a wide variety of NPC allies for your character to befriend (and the ability to create your own allies!). The game looks AMAZING. It’s currently available to purchase on GOG and Steam. For more information on the game check out our recent blog post: here. Already playing? Let me know what you think! I’d love to hear all about it!
The Pathfinder Playtest is changing again. That’s right, it’s time for some more rules updates!
This week marks the second set of changes to the Pathfinder Playtest rules. Be sure to head over to Paizo’s website and download version 1.2. But that’s not all! You’ll also need to download the new character sheet! It’s been edited to conform with the new rules, and been shuffled around a bit. I rather like the new layout.
This update document is eight pages long, with the last page dedicated to the open game license and other fine print. It includes all of the updates to Pathfinder Playtest (from the first and second updates). This means that you only need to have the most recent version of the update document, not all of them. Any new additions to the update document are in bold. Although it sounds simple, it’s actually quite hard to differentiate between regular text and bold text in the document, so look closely! Rules updates are split into four types of rule changes: New Rules Updates, Critical Updates, Other Updates, and Doomsday Dawn Updates. Despite being ranked by importance, it’s imperative you begin to use all of the new rules immediately.
As for the rules themselves, we won’t get into specifics. The document is free and does a better job of explaining things than I ever could. The biggest changes you will notice this time around are with signature skills. They’re gone. Poof. Vanished. No longer does your class restrict which skills you can become Master or Legendary with. Instead, anyone can become Master or Legendary in whatever they want — if you’re willing to invest in that skill of course. I’m a big fan of this change, so I’m happy they went this route. This change affects a lot of other aspects of the game. Some feats are now irrelevant, and others were modified. The text throughout the book has to change a lot. There’s other skill changes you’ll notice as well. Each class is automatically trained in a certain skill, and many classes have more skills they’re trained in to start with. More nice updates, if you ask me!
There’s some other fun changes. Bards now have a feat that lets them gain 10th level spells. The range on their soothe spell has also been changed to 30 feet. Some of the spells granted by domains are different now. And the barbarian animal totem can now use weapons — as long as they’re NOT raging. There’s some other barbarian updates as well, so be sure to read closely!
This is just a taste of the changes. There’s a lot more updates. Changes will continue to occur over time so your feedback is incredibly important.
Feedback? What feedback?!
Surveys. When you’re done playing any part of Doomsday Dawn, the Pathfinder Playtest Society Scenarios, or just playing in general, head on over to Paizo’s website and fill out one of Paizo’s many surveys. Paizo goes through that feedback and makes changes. That’s right! Constantly over this next year they’ll be combing through your survey responses and adapting their rules for the playtest. It sounds like these changes will occur approximately bi-weekly, but don’t quote me on that. Not only do your responses provide Paizo with a large pool of data that they can use to decide the future of the game, it also lets them find out all kinds of nifty little bits of information.
At the moment, you can fill out surveys on a variety of adventures. Each of the Pathfinder Society Scenarios has it’s own trio of surveys: player survey, GM survey, and general feedback survey. Doomsday Dawn originally launched with access to three surveys, all for the first part of the adventure: The Lost Star. (Again, a player survey, GM survey, and general feedback survey). Surveys are now also available for the second adventure in Doomsday Dawn: In Pale Mountain’s Shadow, and the third adventure in Doomsday Dawn: Affair at Sombefell Hall. Further surveys for the later adventures in Doomsday Dawn will be released in the future. There’s also some general feedback surveys available. Soon you can expect to see new surveys on more general topics.
Now, if you haven’t filled out your previous survey on the Lost Star, or In Pale Mountains Shadow, don’t worry! It’s not too late. All of the surveys will be available until the end of the year, and will be revisited by the Paizo team regularly. You haven’t missed your chance to contribute.
Let us know what you think of the new changes in the comments!
The Pathfinder Playtest is ever evolving. You download (or purchase) the rulebook, make your characters, and play. Maybe you play one of the adventures from Doomsday Dawn, maybe you play all of Doomsday Dawn. Maybe you play one of the Pathfinder Playtest Society Scenarios (#1: Rose Street Revenge, #2: Raiders of Shrieking Peak, #3: Arclord’s Envy). And maybe you play a custom adventure. When you’re done you fill out one of Paizo’s many surveys. Paizo goes through that feedback and makes changes. That’s right! Constantly over this next year they’ll be combing through your survey responses and adapting their rules for the playtest. It sounds like these changes will occur approximately monthly, but don’t quote me on that. We’ll have to wait and see. What is certain, is that their first update to the Pathfinder Playtest rulebook is already here.
So what’s different?
First off, head over to Paizo’s website and download the update document. Then give it a read. The update document is five pages long (the final page is the OGL), and is split into four types of rule changes: New Rules Updates, Critical Updates, Other Updates, and Doomsday Dawn Updates. Despite being ranked by importance, it’s imperative you begin to use all of the new rules immediately.
As for the rules themselves, we won’t get into specifics. The document is free and does a better job of explaining things than I ever could. The biggest changes you will notice are to death, dying, and the rules surrounding it. No longer can you be dying while conscious, which is wonderful. The updates make use of the slowed condition, which I think is going to be an improvement. We’ll have to see how that plays out. Another major update includes some alchemist changes. For starters, your special alchemist abilities (Quick Alchemy and Advanced Alchemy) no longer specify that they must be used with common formula, so if you unlock an uncommon formula throughout the course of your adventures you can still use it with your special abilities. In addition, they gain training in one extra skill, and the number of formula that alchemist’s start with has been clarified. Turns out the number is eight. Four from your formula book and four from the alchemical crafting feat. (Note to self, update my daughter and my alchemists…). Also, all classes are proficient with unarmored defence (which means you’ll still get a bonus to AC even if you’re unarmored). Bards gain an extra spell known to start, druids get training in one less skill, rangers can choose Strength or Dexterity as their key ability score, stabilize has been changed, bastard swords deal slashing damage (they were erroneously listed as piercing damage, haha), recognize spell has been adjusted (to fix counter spelling), and don’t worry: the bag of holding has been fixed! This is just a taste of the changes. There’s a lot more updates. Four whole pages worth! So put on your thinking caps and get reading. (Wow, I really hope they put out an updated copy of the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook that includes these changes. Once they put out a second update document, referencing it for changes is going to be painful! Haha).
Changes will continue to occur over time so your feedback is incredibly important. Not only does it provide Paizo with a large pool of data that they can use to decide the future of the game, it also lets them find out all kinds of nifty little bits of information. For example: most played race so far? Human. Most worshipped deity? Cayden Cailean. Class that died the most? Cleric. Number of people who chose to worship Asmodeus? Three. Not three percent. Nope. Just three.
At the moment, you can fill out surveys on a variety of adventures. Each of the Pathfinder Society Scenarios has it’s own trio of surveys: player survey, GM survey, and general feedback survey. Doomsday Dawn originally launched with access to three surveys, all for the first part of the adventure: The Lost Star. (Again, a player survey, GM survey, and general feedback survey). Just the other day they released a second trio, all for the second adventure in Doomsday Dawn: In Pale Mountain’s Shadow. It is incredibly important that if you complete the survey on In Pale Mountain’s Shadow you us the new, updated rules! Further surveys for the later adventures in Doomsday Dawn will be released in the future.
Now, if you haven’t filled out your previous survey on the Lost Star, don’t worry! It’s not too late. All of the surveys will be available until the end of the year, and will be revisited by the Paizo team regularly. You haven’t missed your chance to contribute.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, my daughter and I have to select some extra formula for our alchemists.
With the release of Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, we’re more than a little busy around my house. I took some time to learn the new rules and play around with the character creation process. I made myself three different characters to use via play-by-post. One is a gnomish bard by the name of Amberly Tam, a musical Pathfinder who will have the pleasure of playing through the three PFS Playtest Scenarios. The second is a half-elven esoteric scion alchemist who desperately longs to be a member of the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, like her father and grandfather before her. Her name is Neferet Velaketra, and she’s going to be playing through Doomsday Dawn. My final character is a dwarven mind quake survivor cleric who worships the goddess Desna. Her name is Joliryn Starsoul, and she’s more than a little… controversial among her kin. In addition to loving the open sky, a desperate desire to take flight and travel the stars, and her devotion to Desna, Joliryn has unwavering faith that her ancestor’s Quest for Sky is incomplete! After all, they still live underground. And really, when it comes down to it, surely they’re meant to be among the stars! (She’s more than a little eccentric!). Joliryn is also going to be playing through Doomsday Dawn.
Once I had the hang of making characters I took the time to teach my family, by walking them through making their first character. And that is the topic of our blog today.
My family has every intention of playing through Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn and all three (eventually all four) of the Pathfinder Playtest Society Scenarios. That means we’re going to be using and testing a lot of characters. But, the first adventure we knew we would be playing was Doomsday Dawn. So with out digital copies of the Playtest Rulebook and Doomsday Dawn in hand, we got to work.
My daughter went first. She had been the most excited for the new rules. She sat beside me while it downloaded literally bouncing in glee. Unfortunately, we had download problems, so as we watched the estimated download time got from 2 minutes, to ten minutes, to four hours, to a day and a half, I told her to go on and play. The download didn’t actually take that long. I tried a bunch of different things, fiddled with it for an hour, and eventually it decided that really, the download would only take another hour. Still, that’s a brutal download time! Especially since it can download for most people in under a minute. Painful! When it finally worked my daughter was right beside me asking to see all the new pictures. Therefore, she got the honour of first character choice.
Deciding a race was easy. She was tempted to make a gnome, but a moment later saw the goblin entry and she was sold. She adores playing goblins. In fact, she has a goblin fighter who rules a tribe known as the ‘Smartheads.’ (You be smart or you be dead!) Admittedly allowing her to GM the goblin characters once on the way to school sent our run of We Be Goblins so far off track we never bothered trying to get it back on the road. Instead we revel in its absurdity.
So, a goblin she would be! Named Samantha! But what kind? She picked out the ‘rough rider’ ancestry feat, which gave her the ‘ride’ feat, and a +1 bonus on Nature checks made to handle goblin dogs or wolves. She decided that she would purchase a pet goblin dog, and learn to ride it into battle! She decided to be chaotic good, and that she had blue skin. Therefore she would name her goblin dog ‘Bloois.’ She would have to pick the goblin renegade background, of course. That granted her the quick repair feat and Criminal Lore as a trained skill. But what class? She glanced at only a few before she decided on being an alchemist. She finalized her ability scores and ended up with Str 10 / Dex 16 / Con 12 / Int 16 / Wis 12 / Cha 12. Happy with that, she applied her class. She had great fun ticking off all the little ‘trained’ boxes, particularly in regard to her skills. She chose to be trained in acrobatics, crafting, medicine, nature, and survival. In addition to gaining ‘advanced alchemy,’ and ‘studied resonance,’ she also got a formula book, in which she chose to learn the formulas for minor elixir of life, acid, cheetah’s elixir, and tanglefoot bags. Then we had to pick out her alchemist feat. We started to read through them, but the moment we hit ‘Alchemical Familiar’ (which is the first feat, by the way) she shrieked:
“THAT’S IT! I WILL MAKE A RABBIT FROM MY ALCHEMY! IT WILL BE NAMED BLOO-EY!”
She was very excited. And so Samantha, Blooey and Bloois would set out into the world of… shopping!
She bought a gauntlet — which would allow her to keep her hands free for both controlling her mount and crafting alchemical substances in a fight. She also bought a blowgun and some darts to go with it. She’d need alchemist’s tools, of course, and riding tack for her goblin dog. Necessities like a backpack, belt pouch, bedroll, rope, tent and so on. She also invested in a lot of caltrops, which she was determined to have fun with. Lastly, she bought a chain shirt. She was good to go.
I taught her how to add up all of her modifiers and what ‘trained,’ ‘untrained’ and so on meant for her stats, and she got right to work filling out all the rest of the sheet by herself. She did an awesome job! Honestly, she probably learned and understood the character creation process better than anyone else I’ve taught so far. She’s six, so that’s more than a little impressive. Haha.
We settled in to make her familiars stats in finished in under five minutes. It was super simple! Honestly, the rules for familiars were so streamlined, but adaptable, that it was a joy. Great job, Paizo! I approve!
And we were done! All told, Making Samantha, Blooey and Bloois took about two hours from start to finish, with gear taking about a third of that.
As I moved on to help her brother with his character she drew me a picture of her character and their pets, and then a wonderful little sign. I’ve taken a picture of it so I could share it with all of you.
Safe to say she’s excited about the inclusion of goblins as a core race.
She’s not the only one. My son’s just as excited but, since his sister already snagged goblins, he decided to go with his favourite race: the eccentric gnome.
My son’s gnome is named Zan. He’s a neutral good druid with a deep love for nature. My son is a budding environmentalist, so he took great care acting out his love of nature, the environment and animals the entire time that we played. He even hopped up from his chair to chant out his spells and wave his arms around like a leaf on the wind. For his ancestry feat he chose ‘animal accomplice,’ which lets him befriend an animal as a familiar. He choose a tiny badger and named him ‘Badger.’ Not only does Badger speak and understand druidic, he can also fly. My son is overjoyed. He finalized his ability scores as Str 8 / Dex 12 / Con 14 / Int 12 / Wis 18 / Cha 14.
As a druid he’s a primal spellcaster. He’s a prepared caster, so for our first adventure he chose to prepare the cantrips disrupt undead, produce flame, stabilize, and tanglefoot. For level one spells he chose to prepare heal and heal. Solid choices! And boy, oh boy, did we end up really needing those heal spells! Such a lifesaver. That said, produce flame turned out to be his go-to attack method of choice. He loved it.
As a druid, Zan has wild empathy, and also got to join a druidic order. My son had a tough time deciding between the Animal and Leaf orders. In the end, he went with Leaf. This granted him an anathema, and training in diplomacy. He gained a spell pool with a single spell power: goodberry. Which was AWESOME. He loved it. We loved it. It was great. He also got the druid feat: ‘Leshy Familiar.’ He was thrilled. But that raised the question: can you have more than one familiar? it was possible, clearly. My son had done it accidentally. But was it allowed? It states under animal companion that you can only have one, but it does not say that under familiar. Familiar’s have the minion trait, so we read up on that, but it didn’t limit it to one, either. After a great deal of digging we turned up nothing that forbade it, so I let him make a vine leshy and away we went. He gave his vine fleshy the ability to fly, climb, and speak and understand druidic. My son was positively thrilled. Literally over the moon.
He chose to be trained in crafting, medicine, nature, survival, and thievery, and then got to work buying his gear. In addition to standard adventuring supplies he invested in a sickle, leather armour, primal focus, artisan’s tools, thieve’s tools, and a basic crafting book which would allow him to make any mundane gear during his downtime. It was very important to my son that his druid be self-sufficient!
Then we rolled up his familiars — again, a simple process — and he was done. Zan, Badger and Leshy were ready to their adventures!
Overall, it took my son about the same amount of time to make his character as it did my daughter. He caught on about as fast as his sister, but where she gleefully ticked off the boxes and did her own math, he complained until his little sister finished filling out the math for him. Cheeky thing. Haha.
Finally, it was time to help out my husband. Knowing we were sorely lacking a melee combatant, he decided to make a dwarf by the name of Toran Goldbrew. He’s a strong fellow, with final ability scores of Str 18 / Dex 14 / Con 14 / Int 12 / Wis 12 / Cha 8. Sadly that meant his resonance would be a big old zero. Haha. Fortunately, he had nothing to spend resonance on anyway, so it worked out alright for him.
As a dwarf Toran gained the unburdened ability and one ancestry feat. My husband wavered between a few of them, but ended up choosing weapon familiarity so he could wield a dwarven waraxe. He chose the background ‘Pathfinder Hopeful’ which granted him the feat ‘extra lore.’ That left him trained in Pathfinder Lore and Sports Lore! Haha. Toran’s a blast.
So what class would Toran be? Barbarian, of course! This granted him the ‘rage’ ability (which you can use an unlimited number of time per day, by the way), a totem, and a class feat. He loved the idea of barbarian totems and ended up having a tough time choosing one. In the end he went with the giant totem, which gave him the snazzy ‘titan mauler’ ability. This lets him use a large weapon in battle (among other things). This also determines his anathema — which is turning down a challenge of strength, in case you’re curious. For his barbarian feat he chose ‘sudden charge,’ which is a two action ability that lets him take two move actions and a strike! Very handy!
When it came time to choose his trained skills he decided upon acrobatics, athletics, crafting and intimidation. Along with his large dwarven waraxe — which once belonged to his ancestor who they say was a dwarf ‘larger than life’ — Toran purchased darts and a breastplate. In addition to basic adventuring gear he bought a grappling hook, and artisan’s tools. Then it was time to fill in all the final math on his sheet. Switching to the new method turned out to be confusing for him, but as I tried to explain it my daughter cut me off.
“No, Mom! I will teach Dad!”
And she did.
It was absolutely adorable.
With our characters made we set out to play Doomsday Dawn. Unfortunately, Toran Goldbrew didn’t survive. There was a perfect point to have him brought back to life, though, which we took advantage of (Praise Pharasma!) But, with his character technically dead and being remade for the next time he’s used, my husband decided to make some changes. He’s no longer have the giant totem. Instead, he would use the spirit totem. Death proved a little traumatizing.
Overall, we had a great time making our characters. The creation system was easy to use and allowed for a lot of customization. My husband particularly liked the ancestry traits, and that each class offers different paths of specialization. My daughter was thrilled to see goblins as a core race. And my son? Familiars! He loves them.
I hope you enjoyed taking a peek into the creation processes of my family’s first Pathfinder Playtest Characters. We certainly had fun making them
Have you made characters of your own? Let me know about them in the comments!
Today on d20 Diaries the end is nigh! That’s right! We’re talking about Doomsday Dawn!
Pathfinder Playtest released a short time ago, and alongside it they launched a few adventures. There are three Pathfinder Society Playtest Scenarios out, which we’ll talk about later this week. But, the main playtest experience is an adventure called Doomsday Dawn. All four of these adventures are a free download on Paizo’s website.
More accurately, Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn is a series of linked adventures which, played all in a row, make a comprehensive storyline. It’s like a mini-adventure path. With a few differences. For starters, this is created for Pathfinder Playtest, not the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. It’s intended not only to introduce players to the new Pathfinder rules, but also to playtest certain aspects of those rules. As such, each mini-adventure is focused on a different aspect of gameplay. Once you’ve finished a section of the adventure you’re invited to head over to Paizo’s website and fill out a survey about your experience. While you’re there, I highly recommend picking up the maps for this adventure: Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack. It contains two different flip-mats which feature the four major maps of this adventure. Other maps found throughout are more generic and can be drawn on a blank mat (Pathfinder: Flip Mat: Bigger Basic), or created with other flip-mats and map products you might have at home.
There’s a few other important things to note. Doomsday Dawn takes place over a long time. A decade to be exact! And it takes it characters all throughout the Inner Sea. Most importantly: this adventure is not always played with the same characters. That is to say, you’ll make a group of ‘Primary’ characters, who will play three parts of this adventure together: parts 1, 4 and 7. For the other four parts you will play different heroes who do tasks related to the primary character’s ongoing story. Each of these side groups will be created for a specific purpose and are only used once. These characters will play parts 2, 3, 5, and 6. Intrigued? Then read on!
Doomsday Dawn tells the story of the Aucturn Enigma, which was first introduced in the module Entombed With The Pharaohs, and was also featured in the module The Pact Stone Pyramid, both of which came out before Pathfinder had its own official rules set. No idea what that is? No worries. Neither do your characters. Basically this adventure involves Ancient Osirion, the Dominion of the Black, the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, The Night Heralds, the planet Aucturn, and nothing short of the end of the world. Yup, the stakes are high! For more information on Osirion, you can check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Osirion, Legacy of Pharoahs.
In the year 4718 A.R. (later this year) the celestial bodies will align allowing the Dominion of the Black an opportunity to merge the planet Aucturn with that of Golarion. If this happens life as we know it will end. This doomsday is only possible with objects of power from Ancient Osirion which were put in place long ago in preparation for this time. A group of evil cultists called the Night Heralds seek to bring this end into being, while another group, the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, seeks to stop them. That’s where your many different characters come in.
The first part of Doomsday Dawn is entitled The Lost Star and is intended to introduce new players and GMs to the rules of Pathfinder Playtest. During this adventure you’ll get the hang of encounter mode, and generally get a handle on the new rules. The Lost Star is played by your primary characters, who will begin at level one. They will follow all of the regular character creation rules as detailed in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, except for their background, which will be chosen from the special backgrounds presented at the start of Doomsday Dawn. These special backgrounds include: Budding Osirionologist, Esoteric Scion, Family Friend, Goblin Renegade, Mind Quake Survivor, and Pathfinder Hopeful. Each of these backgrounds is much more specific than the generic backgrounds in the Playtest Rulebook, and is meant to not only tie your primary character to adventure’s story, but also provide them with lore skills that will be of use. There are no other special considerations you need to take into account when making your characters, although it is recommended your primary characters form a balanced party from a wide variety of ancestries, classes and backgrounds.
The Lost Star begins in Magnimar in the year 4707 AR, which is eleven years before Golarion’s present and a week or two before the start of Paizo’s first Pathfinder Adventure Path: Rise of the Runelords. It takes place in the Varisian city of Magnimar and involves a noblewoman by the name of Keleri Deverin. Keleri is a relative of Kendra Deverin, the mayor of Sandpoint. With the upcoming Swallowtail festival to to begin in Sandpoint soon, Keleri headed down into her family’s vaults to pick up a family heirloom known as the Star of Desna, in hopes of getting it blessed at the festival. Unfortunately, she found the vaults robbed by goblins. And one was left behind! She questioned the brute, only to discover that the little goblin’s tribe (the Mudchewers) had been conquered by a nasty hobgoblin by the name of Drakus the Taker. Poor little goblins! Sensing opportunity, Keleri sought outside help. She hired a group of adventurers — your Primary PCs — and sends them down into the sewers of Magnimar to both obtain the Star of Desna and, possibly, to forge an alliance with the remains of the Mudchewers. But unforeseen events are at work, and clues discovered under Magnimar will lead to greater adventures after this. The Lost Star makes use of one side of the flip-mats in the Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack.
My family has already had a chance to play The Lost Star. We found it great fun, although it was not without difficulty. We had a tough time with Drakus the Taker, having multiple characters fall unconscious, and one die. We also had some trouble with our alchemist running out of resonance in the first battle. She had to overspend her resonance for the rest of the adventure, which was dicey at best. On an upcoming playtest where I get to make a character, I’m going to make an alchemist of my own, to see how it works in other hands. About the same, I expect. Lastly, we had trouble identifying treasure. It takes an hour to identify a magical item and, since my family’s character’s weren’t forced to retreat and rest, that means they never had a chance to identify or utilize a single piece of treasure throughout the adventure. Obviously, this is disappointing. That said, it’s not the fault of the adventure, so much as a part of the Pathfinder Playtest rules itself. In addition, there are some ways for characters to shorten this timeframe down. Alternatively, this can be solved by your players retreating to rest, recover resources and study objects. However, I didn’t really find this adventure suited that tactic very well. It’s not so much that you don’t have the chance. You do, if you want to, but that my players had no reason to. They were comfortable pressing on.
All in all, I rather enjoyed the Lost Star. It’s a fun introduction to the game, with some very intriguing elements. My family particularly enjoyed the polluted fountain, and the glimpse of the future. In an effort not to spoil the adventure too much, I won’t say much more on the topic. Just know that we enjoyed it. In fact, my kids had so much fun, they turned the title of the adventure (Doomsday Dawn) into a song that they’ve been singing around the house. My daughter also made a delightful little sign that reads ‘We Be (GOOD) Goblins!’ She gleefully made a goblin as her primary character.
The second part of Doomsday Dawn is called ‘In Pale Mountain’s Shadow.’ It takes place two years after the end of the Lost Star. During that time, Keleri Deverin and the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye have been hard at work looking into the clues uncovered by the Primary characters during their foray into the goblin caves. They’ve recently learned of an Ancient Osiriani object of power called a countdown clock, which is counting down to a time when the world will come to an end. Believing that having one of these countdown clocks (there’s a lot of them) in their possession will give the Primary Characters and the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye an advantage in foiling the apocalypse, they have been hard at work attempting to track one down. Thankfully, they’ve succeeded. Unfortunately, there are others after the same countdown clock. In order to get at it in time the Esoteric Order will have to hire outside help. This is your second characters.
This second group is a team of adventurers or mercenaries who live in and around the recently liberated town of Kelmarane. Yes, you heard right. This adventure takes place in Katapesh, in between Legacy Of Fire: Book One: Howl Of The Carrion King, and Legacy Of Fire: Book 2: House Of The Beast. Legacy of Fire is one of my all time favourite Adventure Paths (as anyone whose visited my d20 Stories page may have noticed… Haha), so I was more than a little excited for this connection. My children are equally excited to play through this part of Doomsday Dawn, as they’re currently in a play-by-post Legacy of Fire campaign and are working their way up to liberating Kelmarane as we speak. (But that’s a story for another day!)
‘In Pale Mountain’s Shadow’ sees your new adventuring group hired by a noblewoman representing the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye. She tasks your PCs with travelling through the surrounding wilds, to the slopes of Pale Mountain, where they will enter through a back-door to the tomb of Tular Seft. They must retrieve the countdown clock before another enemy group does (The Night Heralds), and may keep anything else they find in the tomb. Oh, and they’ll be well paid, of course. This adventure features a lot of exploration mode and travel through the wilds, so at least one of your group members should be capable of navigating and surviving in the wilderness (two is better!). In addition, it is built to test out how terrain, hazards, and other difficulties affect battle. They’re interested in if such battles are still fun to play, or they drag out too long. They’re also interesting in seeing if the terrain makes battle too difficult. So once you’re done playing through this section be sure to give your feedback. It will directly help them hammer out this aspect of Pathfinder’s new ruleset.
The characters you will be making will be brand new fourth level characters made following all of the character creation and level up rules found in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook. In addition, three uncommon languages are available for your characters to select with their languages known: Auran, Gnoll, and Ancient Osiriani. Knowledge of these languages can open up new opportunities throughout the adventure, it is not necessary. As for gear, each character gets one 3rd-level item, two 2nd-level items, one 1st-level item, and 300 sp to spend on additional items.
Overall, ‘In Pale Mountains Shadow’ looks like a lot of fun. It has an actual introduction, which Lost Star didn’t, and is a relief. The exploratory portion has interesting encounters which I think will play well at the table. These travel encounters all occur on maps you’ll be drawing yourself, or creating with your own map products at home. There are detailed instructions for drawing these maps, and feedback is desired if this was handled adequately in the surveys you’ll be filling out. After the exploration portion (which will likely take a single play session for my family), we get to the Tomb of Tular Seft himself. This portion of the adventure includes an image of a custom map which is not included in the Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack so you’ll have to draw it yourself. It’s an awesome looking tomb, with a lot of nifty features. It’s my kids favourite map in the entire Doomsday Dawn Adventure, for sure, and has them quite intrigued. The tomb also has some interesting role-playing opportunities which your group may or may not be able to capitalize on. At some point, your players are bound to run into their rivals — the Night Herald cultists who have been sent to acquire the countdown clock before you can. When this occurs is entirely up to your group and will vary from table to table. There’s even a chance they might slip in and out without ever meeting the Night Heralds (though the chances of that are infinitely slim). The battle looks tough, and like a lot of fun. Particularly because it allows your players to interact with the Night Heralds for the first time. It think it’s going to be a lot of fun. That said, this battle involves multiple different, complex, NPC stat blocks, and GMs should prepare accordingly. In fact, I think that this chapter is actually my favourite adventure within Doomsday Dawn. Whether that will be the case after running it at the table next week remains to be seen. Haha.
Our story continues in a few years later in part three of Doomsday Dawn: ‘Affair at Sombrefell Hall.’ The Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye has a been researching the strange cult known as the Night Heralds, and their plans to bring about the end of the world. Thanks to the efforts of mercenaries the Order has acquired a countdown clock, and have a timeline for the apparent coming end. They’ve discovered enemies, allies, and even discerned that this ‘doomsday’ involved the Dominion of the Black. They’ve gleaned all they can on their own, but now is the time to call on outside help. Your third group of characters will be a team hired by (or a part of) the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye who are sent to Ustalav to contact the foremost expert in the study of the Dominion of the Black, Dr. Verid Oscilar, and obtain his assistance in determining the plans of the Night Heralds. Upon arriving they discover that the good doctor is currently taking a break from teaching, and is relaxing at his personal manor in the countryside. Your characters will head to the manor, and try to obtain his help. Unfortunately for both your characters and Dr. Oscilar, the Night Heralds are more than aware of his expertise, and seek to make him one of their own. …Sort of. We’ll leave that a surprise for now. Haha. It doesn’t make use of any flip-mats, so be sure to have a blank map and your markers ready. You’ll be doing a lot of drawing!
This section of the adventure takes place in Ustalav during the events of the Pathfinder Adventure Path: Carrion Crown: Book One: Haunting of Harrowstone. That said, they take place in completely different parts of the country and aren’t going to have any effect on each other. It’s meant to be a survival horror adventure, which will feature a lot of combat against a lot of undead with minimal preparatory time in between. This is meant to test out the healing resources of a group that includes multiple healers against undead forces. GMs will need to track not only how long each battle takes, but also how much healing is used in each fight. Your group must include at least two clerics capable of channeling energy. The other members of the group must be characters capable of healing to some extent (which can include bard, druid, paladin, or a sorcerer that has divine spells and, to a lesser extent, the alchemist). These new characters will be level seven. They will follow all of the character creation and level up guidelines for characters found in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook. For gear, they will begin with one 6th-level item, two 5th-level items, one 4th-level item, two 3rd-level items, and 125 gp to spend as they see fit. One character in the group also starts with one +2 magic armor. Good luck deciding who gets that bit of treasure! Haha.
‘Affair at Sombrefell Hall’ is a dark, difficult adventure that takes place at an interesting location. It makes wonderful use of the locale, giving players a chance to explore well before the danger starts. This can give them some really interesting combat options once the battles do begin. The adventure itself begins with some interesting (and probably suspicious) social encounters, and some good old fashioned snooping around. I’m a fan of the survival horror genre in my d20 games, but, due to the nature of the playtest, this one is going to be particularly difficult. You’re going to take a lot of damage, use a lot of healing resources, and probably lose a party member or two. Hopefully, you all come out alive in the end. And, if not, at least some of you survive and secure the aid of Dr. Oscilar to enlighten your Primary Characters. Even if you don’t, you can continue Doomsday Dawn and move on to the next chapter. Perhaps the most important part of this section of the adventure is giving your players a glimpse of the evil that the Dominion of the Black is capable of. And man, oh man. They’re just so… evil! Haha.
Part four of the Doomsday Dawn, ‘Mirrored Moon,’ reunites your players with their Primary Characters. This are the same characters who played the Lost Star. They will be levelled up to 9th level, following all of the levelling rules from the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook. They begin with all of the gear they acquired during the Lost Star, plus they get to purchase one 8th-level item, two 7th-level items, one 6th-level item, and two 5th-level items. They also get 250 gp to spend on extra gear. These characters are now considered to be either agents or members of the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, and have been off doing tasks and missions together for the last few years. Currently, they’re in a section of the River Kingdoms known as Thicketfell, on the hunt for a mystical lake known as the Moonmere, where they hope to find ancient ruins that were once used by a villain (and possibly founder of the Night Heralds) named Ramlock. There, they will scour the ruins for information on what the coming apocalypse will bring, in order to stop it. Unfortunately, the Night Heralds are already there, and the trouble they’re up to could destroy a nation (at least). Finding the Moonmere will be the least of their troubles!
This adventure heavily uses exploration mode, and is meant to test out what kinds of challenges the characters can handle when they only get in one battle per day. The battles are difficult, so expect to go all out during each fight. That said, you’ll also very often have opportunities to scout out locations ahead of time, which should allow for some clever planning and preparations from players. This adventure makes use of one of the flip-mats from Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack, as well as three other flip-mats: Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Forest, Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Giant Lairs, and Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Hill Country. These maps aren’t necessary, and can easily be replaced by hand-drawings on a blank map. This adventure also makes use of a terrain hex map featuring the Thicketfell region, much like those used in the Kingmaker Adventure Path (which begins with Kingmaker: Part One: Stolen Land).
I’m not a huge fan of sandbox-style explorations like those found in Kingmaker. It’s just not my cup of tea. That’d not to say its not fun. It is. It’s just not my favourite genre for d20 games. I point this out for context. I’m heading into this one pretty sure that the actual exploration itself isn’t going to be my favourite part of this adventure (or Doomsday Dawn as a whole). Far from it. That said, I always try to put aside my biases, or at least point them out. I intend, as always, to head into playing this section of the adventure with an open mind. After giving it a thorough reading I can safely say that the Mirrored Moon has the most eclectic, enjoyable cast of NPCs found throughout the entirety of Doomsday Dawn, which is going to make it quite fun. Throughout the adventure there will be plenty of opportunities to explore, roleplay, forge alliances, and gain intelligence, which should make for an interesting adventure. The gnomish citizens of Korlabablin were a particular favourite of mine. All in all, I think this is going to be a fun, challenging adventure.
Part Five of Doomsday Dawn is entitled ‘Heroes of Undarin,’ and may turn out to be the most controversial part of the playtest adventures. Why? Well, in short, it keeps a secret from its players, which I honestly believe should be shared. More on this later, but for now, we’ll take a look at the adventure itself.
‘Heroes of Undarin’ takes place in the Worldwound, after the events of the Wrath of the Righteous Adventure Path (which begins with Wrath of the Righteous: Book 1: The Worldwound Incursion). It assumes that the Worldwound has been closed, the Fifth Crusade is winding down, but that demons still infest the region and are being slowly battled. It will probably take a decade or so to make the region safe for travellers again, so for now, it’s still a dangerous, post-apocalyptic type place, infested with demons and other evils. Your players will be making brand new level 12 characters who are all members of the Crusade. They’ve fought battles against demons many of times before and are well-prepared for this mission. They’re hardy, brave, self-sacrificing folks who won’t flee from a fight. They’re… hardened. To create them you’ll be following all of the standard character creation and levelling up rules found in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook. As for gear, there’s a specific list of magical items they’ll have access to. In addition, they’ll get 100 gp to spend on anything they want. Its highly suggested you create a balanced and diverse party. This adventure is intended to test the limits and capabilities of mid/high level characters.
So who the heck are these people, and what do a bunch of crusaders have to the with Doomsday Dawn? In short, your Primary Characters are in need of information housed in an ancient ruin in the region and your Crusaders have been tasked with escorting them to the site, and protecting them while they’re there. These Crusaders have no idea whats going on with the overall plot line, which will be a bit of a refreshing change of pace. Upon arrival, the Primary Characters descend into the ruins to discover the information they need isn’t mobile. It’s not a book or a tablet. It’s all over the walls. They’re going to have to copy it. Your Crusaders will have to defend the ruins from demonic intruders while the Primary Characters are out of sight doing whatever that entails. It’s a difficult and thankless job. Note that you will NOT be playing your Primary Characters during this adventure at all. Only the Crusaders.
Now, onto the potential controversy. Note that the next paragraph after this contains SPOILERS. If you don’t want to know, don’t read it. It should be noted that the adventure specifically asks that GMs not tell their players the following piece of information. I totally understand why this is, but I disagree with the necessity for secrecy. I can honestly say that if I ran this for my family, without telling them the secret, the session would end with everyone very angry and upset. My kids would literally be in tears. No joke. I’m a firm believer that games should be fun. Tears and anger? Not what we’re aiming for. Because of this, I have one further piece of information to share with our readers. If you don’t want to know, definitely skip the rest of this section on the ‘Heroes of Undarin’ and head on down to the nice big words I’ve added that say ‘Spoiler over.’
As mentioned, this adventure is meant to test the limits of mid/high level characters. Most specifically, its designed to determine how much is too much. Your characters will fight wave after wave of demons. And in the end? It’s entirely expected they’ll die. All of them. Dead. It’s been stated that knowledge of this tidbit will cause players to create characters who are purposely made to ‘survive’ which could throw off the results of this playtest. Throwing off this calibration will do no one any good. That said, I personally believe that if a player knows what they’re getting into, and what’s at stake, they’ll play fair. Roleplaying games are a game about trust, and I trust my players, just like players should trust their GMs. Sending players into a certain death scenario without their knowledge is a breach of that trust. Therefore, I’m telling you. And when my family plays, I’m telling them. Your characters will die. I suggest you embrace the spirit of that. Embrace that self-sacrifice during character creation. Embrace your death scene and make it epic! Don’t make characters made to ‘win.’ Winning isn’t fighting to the end. Winning, in this instance, is making sure that the playtest receives accurate results. It’s being an honest player. So make yourself a team of crusaders, and enjoy pushing them to their limits and beyond. And when your doomed character meets their end, be happy you’ve had a chance to ensure that mid/high level play during Pathfinder Second Edition will be of a fair and challenging difficulty.
The sixth (and second last) adventure in Doomsday Dawn is a definite change of pace. Entitled ‘Red Flags,’ this adventure is meant to test how fun and engaging social encounters, espionage, and skill based adventures can be at high levels of play. That’s not to say that there’s no combat in it. There is. But, that’s neither the point, nor the focus. The focus is on your skills, subtlety and guile. To that end you’ll make powerful level 14 characters who are members of the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye. Its recommended that they be characters whose role among the Order is to act as one of the following; archivist, diplomat, historian, researcher, spy, or something similar. Don’t make a character who’s geared towards combat. This is an interesting challenge that I’m very excited for. The gear they can utilize is a mix of gold, and specific magical objects, but it’s long, so I won’t write it all here.
These Agents of the Order are sent to a fancy gala on a volcanic island in the Shackles held by a white feathered tengu Free Captain by the name of Whark the Alabaster, the lord of Plumetown. They’re tasked with obtaining an important book from Whark’s treasury called The Last Theorem. Its hoped that the information contained in this book can help the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye (and your Primary Characters) stop the coming doomsday for good. The stakes are high! This adventure takes place after the end of the Skull and Shackles Adventure Path (which begins with Skull & Shackles: Book 1: The Wormwood Mutiny). It utilizes a neat custom map which is not included in the flip-mats. It looks like a lot of fun, but due to the nature of espionage style adventures, I’m going to refrain from saying any more on the matter than that.
Which brings us to the end. The climax. The final chapter of Doomsday Dawn. It’s called ‘When The Stars Go Dark‘ and it is a finale in every sense of the word. It will be played by your Primary Characters, although they’ll be levelled up all the way to 17th level. They’ll have a chance to stop the Night Heralds and the Dominion of the Black, thereby preventing an apocalypse that would destroy all of Golarion. Perhaps they’ll triumph. And perhaps they’ll fail. Whatever the outcome, this is one fun, challenging adventure. It takes place in the present time (for Golarion) on a demiplane known as Ramlock’s Hallow. The purpose of this final playtest is to have fun! They want to know if the game is still enjoyable and challenging at high levels. So get in the game, and have a blast! Oh, and try to save Golarion while you’re at it.
The adventure itself is complex. I can say for certain that my kids will pretty much have no idea what’s going on. Haha. For them it will be more of a ‘point them at the bad guys and they’ll fight’ kind of scenario. That said, they’ll still enjoy it. Those of you who understand what’s going on will obviously get a lot more out of it than that. There’s a good variety of encounters, and getting to the end will involve more than just muscles. You’ll need to put on your thinking caps. I particuarly enjoyed the flavourful encounter with the Ashen Man.
I don’t want to give away too much more about this adventure. But, I will say, that I think it’s an epic conclusion to the Doomsday Dawn.
It’s definitely a different style of ‘campaign’ than I expected. It’s longer, and more… disjointed. That said, it’s a lot of fun, and an imperative aspect of the Playtest. This adventure allows the folks over at Paizo to test out the aspects of the game they need help to calibrate. It allows all of you to have a say in the final product, while simultaneously helping them fine-tune the game balance.
I highly recommend that players interested in the Playetst find a group and play through Doomsday Dawn together. It’s my hope that this article can help people get excited about Doomsday Dawn, and head into it with appropriate expectations.
I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on both the Playtest and your experiences playing Doomsday Dawn. If you’ve had a chance to play, be sure to leave a comment and let me know how it went!
For some of you this might be irrelevant. Others, a little scary.
I’m getting up first thing in the morning and heading over to Paizo’s website to download my free copy of everything Pathfinder Playtest. I’ll read it within a day or two, and soon be testing out the character creation process. I’ll be teaching it to my kids by the start of next week, and trying my hand at GMing an adventure for them shortly after. I’ll download the Playtest PFS scenarios as soon as they launch next week, and have reviews up on them within a day or two. When Gameday comes I’ll have a chance to try the game out as a player. Afterwards, I hope to have a chance to play again. Then there’s surveys to fill out and feedback to give, so that Paizo can make this next version of Pathfinder the best that it can be.
So what’s first?
Everything is be available on the Pathfinder Playtest landing page, so head there first and see what there is on offer. Want it all? Click ‘Download All.’ Easy!
But, what exactly is there to download?
The first thing you’ll want to download is the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook. This is a short version of the rules which give you all the information you need to know in order to play Pathfinder Playtest, GM it, create and level up characters. Now, as the Playtest, this is not a full Rulebook. It’s not what you’ll see when Pathfinder Second Edition launches next year. It’s a streamlined Rulebook with everything you need to know to try out the game. To try running the game. And to make a wide variety of characters. This is the major download. Read it. Enjoy it. Give it a shot. Make characters. Try new things. Share it with your family and friends. Help them make characters.
After this you should download Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn. This adventure is actually a series of short, multi-encounter adventures which are linked over a decade of time to tell one epic story. Ancient Osirion features a wide variety of magical clocks which have been counting down through millennia. Previously a mystery, these Countdown Clocks will soon reach 0, at a time when Golarion will line up with the foul planet of Aucturn and allow the horrifying and mysterious Dominion of Black to surge across the world. Your players will travel throughout Golarion over a decade in order to understand the Countdown Clocks, defeat the Dominion of Black, and save Golarion! These mini-adventures are designed to show off and test a wide variety of game mechanics and adventure styles.
I’m thrilled for the Doomsday Dawn, particularly because I first read about the Countdown Clocks back when the The Pact Stone Pyramid was released before Pathfinder had its own rules set. I found the clocks so intriguing I made a whole campaign around it (which was pretty awesome if I do say so myself!). Unfortunately, that was one of the games that fell apart through the years (multiple pregnancies from both a player and myself were the joyous reason that campaign never got played through to its conclusion). I’m thrilled to see what the Paizo team does with it!
Those of you who will be GMing also need to download the Pathfinder Playtest Bestiary (link not available at the time of posting) which contains all the monster rules you’ll need to run the Doomsday Dawn. You’ll likely also want to download the Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack. This contains digital downloads of four major encounter areas in the Doomsday Dawn Adventure. These maps are said to include a burnt-out crypt, a ruined temple, a wizard’s tower, and an astronomer’s underground laboratory. I have high hopes for these maps, so I can’t wait to see them.
On August 7th Paizo releases three Pathfinder Society Scenarios for the Pathfinder Playtest (all of which are free). The first, Pathfinder Society Playtest #1: The Rose Street Revenge, is a series of four tier 1 quests that task the PCs with investigating a series of murders perpetrated by the Rose Street Killer, who has been targeting recently freed slaves. They’ll get to ally with kobolds, explore the Puddles, and… do some other exciting stuff that I’m not yet privy to! Haha. This scenario is written by Leo Glass, Thurston Hillman, Joe Pasini, and Linda Zayas-Palmer, so you know it’s going to be awesome!
Pathfinder Playtest Scenario #2: Raiders of Shrieking Peak is a tier 5 scenario written by Luis Loza. Recently, the Pathfinders discovered an Iomedean artifact that was being shipped overland from Diobel to Absalom. Unfortunately the caravan transporting it was attacked and its up to your PCs to find the thieves, and retrieve the relic. It sounds like this scenario is intended to have multiple ways to achieve your goals, which should allow both combat heavy groups, and diplomatic groups to try out different aspects of the game. The only art I’ve seen for this scenario so far features a harpy, so I’m very intrigued! (Fans of my Legacy of Fire novelization will know I’m a huge fan of harpies as potentially dangerous NPCs. Undrella was awesome!)
Pathfinder Society Playtest #3: Arclord’s Envy is a tier 5 scenario written by Liz Lydell which I am most excited for. It takes place in NEX, which is a place I’ve never had a chance to play in before, and is a mystery investigation that I know pretty much nothing about! It said to reflect the location wonderfully, and have some flexibility, which ensures that the mystery is different each time you play. This is particularly important since all of the PFS scenarios are replayable.
Well, I’m off now. I’ve got to download the Playtest materials myself, after all. Here’s hoping the website doesn’t crash…