They’re obsessively browsing the Dwarven Forge website, and watching their many youtube videos. My son takes every opportunity to bring it up, attempting to convince me I should buy him some for his birthday, or for my birthday, or maybe my husband’s Christmas gift.
So when my son asked if he could download the free Dungeon of Doom Adventure a while back, I let him. And when he asked me over and over if I had read it yet, I pushed it up a little higher on my to-read list.
You see, I like Dwarven Forge, but when it comes to adventures, I tend to prefer a sweeping story over a classic dungeon. And the Dungeon of Doom adventure? Seemed like one big deadly dungeon.
Which it is. But, turns out, it’s also awesome! Haha.
I finally got around to reading the adventure and was pleasantly surprised. Every encounter area is well planned, well executed, and exceptionally creative –– all things I expect from Dwarven Forge. There’s some basic plot hooks to get the adventure moving, but not much else. On the surface, at least. There’s much more going on in this dungeon delve than anticipated, as the PCs will uncover as they adventure.
If they survive.
Dungeon of Doom is packed full of layered, multi-stage traps and puzzles that work to create a deadly challenge for the PCs. It’s smart, clever, and surprisingly funny! There’s a wide array of NPCs you can meet and interact with in the dungeon, from ghostly spirits, to chatty gargoyles and, my personal favourite, a talking door. The PCs have plenty of secrets and history to uncover through their exploration, and a lot of powerful treasure to claim. But, as previously mentioned, this is definitely a deadly dungeon! For starters, the dungeon itself drains your PCs life force, making taking a long rest impossible. PCs will need to complete the entire dungeon with relative speed or they’ll run out of resources. In addition, characters that die have their souls trapped within the dungeon and rise as an undead spirit known as a maerghast. Not a desirable end! Along the way the PCs will need to collect magical artifacts known as glyphstones, which are powerful semi-intelligent artifacts which affect the PCs personality and behaviour, but grants them potent magical powers –– some of which can allow players to heal or gain the effects of taking a long rest. But, the greatest challenge is definitely the dungeon itself. As I previously mentioned the encounter rooms are packed full of well-utilized, challenging puzzles and traps which I absolutely adored. It’s deadly, but a lot of fun.
The Dungeon of Doom Adventure is a free download here, and is intended for characters between the levels of 1 and 10. Each challenge is written for three difficulty levels, based on your party’s APL (average party level). APL 1–4, APL 5–7, and APL 8–10, with the variable numbers (DCs, Damage, and so on) separated by a slash. For example DC 12/14/16 or 1d8/2d8/3d8 damage. It’s easy to understand and efficient. Monsters are instead listed on a chart, with the composition of each encounter being determined by your party’s APL. Level 1 parties might face off against a quasit while a level 10 party might face a nalfeshnee in the same location. The adventure is written for 5e Dungeons and Dragons, but has rules in the back for running it for the Pathfinder RPG (which is awesome!). Those of you interested in investing in Dwarven Forge’s Dungeon of Doom products can buy the pieces needed to make the Dungeon of Doom on a room by room basis on their website, while the adventure contains detailed build guides to show you how to set it all up. You can also watch Dungeon of Doom played or see a run-down of the rooms on youtube.
Dungeon of Doom is a deviously deadly dungeon full of interesting puzzles and traps, perfectly suited to challenge players of a variety of levels. I found it absolutely inspiring! I highly recommend you give it read!
Welcome back to Cauldron, home of the The Shackled City Adventure Path! When we last left off our heroic musicians were investigating a series of missing person cases which recently culminated in the abduction of four children from a local orphanage. Fate led to our characters taking the rescue of these people upon themselves! They’ve tracked down the kidnappers, and discovered an underground complex run by slavers. They’ll have to work fast if they want to save their fellow citizens before they’re sold!
The Shackled City Adventure Path is available for purchase in its entirety here. The first volume, Life’s Bazaar, is available for purchase here.
Our eccentric heroes are all members of ‘Dinorabbit,’ a musical band that changes its name frequently and was most previously known as ‘Boople Snoot.’ The band’s lead singer and song-writer is Falco Rhiavadi, a foppish noble bastard of mixed Tien descent whose father was devoured by a dragon when he was just a boy. A well-groomed, handsome man with an easy smile and a winning personality, Falco’s a black sheep among his family. Mechanically Falco is an oracle of life whose familiar is a jealous and demanding thrush named Ruby. Falco is played by my husband.
Mick Frimfrocket is a gnome with dark blue skin, bright pink hair that stands straight up on his head, and light blue eyes with flecks of red around his pupils. He’s energetic, bold, and loves nothing more than a good laugh! Mick acts as the band’s pianist and creative director. He’s the driving force behind the band’s constant name changes, and over-the-top performances. Mick was born in Jzadirune but was brought to the city of Cauldron to escape the Vanishing. Orphaned by the mysterious events and with few memories of those early years, Mick was raised in the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same orphanage that recently had four children kidnpapped right from their beds! Determined to save those little scamps, Mick was very excited to take up this missing person’s case and follow it to its conclusion — particularly when he realized that it led to his one-time home. Mechanically Mick is a monk / bard (prankster) who attacks with wild kicks while playing his piano in battle. Partway through exploring Jzadirune he came into possession of a broken magical construct. He’s played by my seven-year old son.
Rabbity Castalle is a rabbitfolk waitress who works at the Tipped Tankard Tavern. A dancer and singer for the band Dinorabbit, Rabbity also has a pet panther named Panthy. She’s lucky, nimble, and quick, but a little skittish. One of her co-workers is one of the people who was recently abducted, so she’s very keen to solve this mystery and return him home. Rabbity is a hydrokineticist played by my six-year old daughter, using the rabbitfolk race. Rabbitfolk are a Pathfinder Compatible race created by my daughter (with some help) which will soon be published in the upcoming Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion by Sunburst Games (Kickstarter coming in February!)
The final member of our party is Aeris Caldyra, a local locksmith who was cajoled by her roommate, Rabbity, to join the band as a percussionist and set designer. With few friends to call her own, Aeris relented to the rabbitfolk’s request and is the least talented member of the band. The last worshipper of Alseta in Cauldron, with more than a few secrets and regrets, Aeris is a suli bloodrager with a chip on her shoulder. Always one to lend a hand, like her Grandfather Marzio once would have done, Aeris is determined to rescue the missing citizens of Cauldron. Aeris is my character for the Shackled City Adventure Path.
Although that’s the last of our PCs, that’s not the last of our party. The members of Dinorabbit are also travelling with a half-orc janitor named Patch! Patch is a big, stuttering, fool who works at the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same place he was raised. Patch recently got recruited to the Last Laugh Thieve’s Guild and was asked to watch over an orphan named Terrem. Unfortunately, Terrem was kidnapped on the very evening that Patch went out to meet with with the guild. Distraught over the boy’s disappearance, Patch was pressured by Falco and Mick into helping them rescue the kids. And so, the poor one-eyed janitor finds himself heading into danger.
Our eclectic crew of musicians, janitors, and locksmiths, stood in an empty forge which had clearly been the site of a slaughter. Our heroes had battled enemy hobgoblins and goblins only moments before in an effort to free three citizens of Cauldron who had been labouring here. With the battle won they sent their travelling companion, Keygan Ghelve, off with the freed prisoners. It was his job to bring them back up to the city and see them safely to the Church of Adabar.
The group spent a moment catching their breath, whispered a few prayers for the people they had saved, then turned their attention to their surroundings.
“…Right!” my son decreed.
We opened the right door and found ourselves in a cross shaped hallway with a variety of doors. There was the echo of muffled conversation in the air, with at least one of these nearby rooms inhabited. Warily, Aeris led the way forward. But as she reached the intersection she cursed! There were a pair of hobgoblin guards on watch at both ends of the hall! The pulled out their bows and grinned.
“Meal time, boys!” one of them bellowed. The muffled voices from the nearby rooms took up the call.
“Uh-oh,” my husband remarked.
Rabbity shot a blast of water at the nearest guard and leapt off Panthy.
“Eat the next person you see come out of there!” she commanded her panther as she gestured at the nearby door.
Panthy growled and prepared to fight. Meanwhile the guards pulled out their bows and fired arrows at our heroes. Aeris took a few hits, but Rabbity’s quick reflexes saved her from injury. Aeris moved to step forward only to have the ground fall out beneath her feet! Pit trap! She launched herself across the pit and came up in a roll, landing on the far side. With a backward glance she called out, “Watch your step!” Then she lunged forward and moved right up beside the hobgoblins. Finding their bows useless in close quarters they snarled at her.
“This won’t save your friends!”
“We’ll see,” Aeris replied defiantly.
Back on he other side of the pit Mick stood in the centre of the room and cast a magic spell, summoning his grand piano right into the hall. Then he began to play a happy little tune. As he played he danced, kicking his legs wildly. Falco pulled out a tanglefoot bag and tossed it at the guards on the other side of the intersection.
“Patch! Get in here! Are there any more traps?”
“I d-d-don’t know!” Patch stammered nervously. “I’ll ch-check!” He hurried into the room and looked around. “Yup! M-m-m-more pits right beh-h-hind us.”
“Here and there and w-w-well… Everywhere!”
“Don’t moooooove!” Mick sang. “Got it! Hold your grounnnnd, hold your grounnnnd, watch your steeeeeeep!”
“Aww man!” shouted Rabbity. “This place is the PITS!”
My daughter grinned. “Get it, Mom? Pits! And there are pit traps around us! Hahahahahaha! That’s so funny.”
Suddenly a door beside Rabbity opened. Panthy launched herself at the offending door-opener, clamping down on their neck with her jaws and tearing at them with sharp claws.
“I hope that’s a bad guy,” my daughter remarked a little too late.
Luckily it was an enemy. But, even as they fell to the panther, more hobgoblin soldiers gathered in the room behind him. Hobgoblins crowded into the side hallways from the other nearby rooms, trying to get at at the intruders. A pair lunged at Mick only to get a kick to the face for their trouble. Rabbity splashed away with her water blasts from the centre of the group. Panthy fought with tooth and claw, and Patch leaped over the hidden pit and moved into melee with the southern archers. Luckily, as much as the odds were against them, only so many hobgoblins could engage the group at once. The battle was long and fierce, but soon our heroes thinned the enemies ranks until only a pair of hobgoblins remained. Aeris, bloodied and out of breath from taking on the northern guards, leapt back over the pit and helped her companions finish off the stragglers.
They waited for a while…. Out of breath and wounded… Weapons clutched in hand…
“What are we waiting for?” Rabbity asked the others quietly.
Aeris, who hates wasting time, checked out the side rooms, searching enemies and chambers for useful gear. They found a cache of healing potions in a nearby guardroom and drank what they could. Patch leaped back over the hidden pit trap and told the group.
“There’s v-v-voices on the other side. D-d-doesn’t sound like pris-s-soners.”
“We go the other way, then,” Rabbity announced. “We need to find Griffin before he gets SOLD!”
At Rabbity’s insistence the group crossed the northern pit trap and entered the far northern room.
It lead to a grand square chamber with a massive chain-draped statue in the centre of the room.
“If that attacks me, I’ll be angry!” Mick exclaimed. “You go first, Aeris.”
“My hero,” Aeris replied with a roll of her eyes. She drew her longsword and moved forward, but the statue never moved. …The chains did! They thrashed and lashed at Aeris! She parried the chains and backed up. “Get out of its reach!”
The gang hurried back out of the hall and attacked it from afar. Being mostly immobile and draped all over a statue, the chains proved little trouble. All it took was time.
The band continued on, finding two secret passages and pair of grand double doors. One of the secret doors they discovered led back to the original entry hall, so they returned to the statue chamber. They pushed open the double door to find a massive bridge. Falco created some magical lights and sent them across the bridge. They illuminated a rough stone cavern that stretched farther than they could see. Far below the bridge was an underground river.
“Hmmm…” Mick grumbled. “The riddle said we would find the kids in the Malachite Hold. That place over there is just… rock.”
“It probably leads to the Darklands,” Falco announced. “It stands to reason. They need to sell their slaves to someone, and there’s no other settlements nearby. Not that would buy slaves, that is.”
Rabbity twitched her nose. “I do NOT want to go to the Darklands…. Let’s turn around. We need to finish exploring the fortress.”
“Agreed.” replied Aeris. She ushered everyone inside, shut the doors, and barred them. Then she listened at the second secret door. “Sounds quiet.”
“I think that prisoners would be noisy. They would cry and stuff,” my daughter pointed out. “And we missed some rooms back near the forge where we found those prisoners.”
“Oh, yeah! I want to go back that way! I had a good feeling about that forge-door!”
My husband, who clearly wondered what was behind the secret door right in front of him, chuckled. “Alright, alright. We’ll go there next.” As the gang got ready to retrace their steps and continue their exploration, we tidied up and got the kids ready for bed. Saving the prisoners would have to wait for another day.
Thanks for joining us, everyone! I hope you enjoyed getting to hear a bit about our crazy adventures. We’ll see you again soon!
Behind the Screen
The Shackled City Adventure Path is a difficult to get your hands on adventure path published in eleven separate Dungeon Magazines, or available in hardcover from Amazon here or from Paizo Publishing’s website here. The first adventure, Life’s Bazaar is available in Dungeon Magazine #97 from Paizo Publishing’s website here.
Despite being a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Path, we’re running this campaign with Pathfinder (both the campaign setting and the ruleset). Our characters utilize content from many sources, some of which are listed below.
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!
Now, for those of you who have to deal with vermin way worse than mice… say rats or cockroaches or something else horrible, you might be thinking: “Auww, a mouse! How cute!”
No! Not cute!
Dirty, filthy, sneaky little mice. In my KITCHEN.
So while my kitchen has been taken over by an abundance of glue-traps (admittedly, it might be overkill), we’re going to take a look at VERMIN.
Pardon me while I suppress a shiver!
Now, I don’t just mean insectile vermin, or the vermin creature-type, I mean vermin of all kinds. And the most likely way you’re going to interact with these creepy, crawlies? Battle.
To kick things off we’re looking at a classic: the dire rat. I know, I know, you’ve fought a ton. But if you haven’t? Do it! These nasty little blighters are a staple for low level d20 games of all kinds, and for good reason! They’re a decent challenge for their lowly CR 1/3, and due to their horrible hygiene, they’re likely a player’s first interaction with diseases, as well. Love them or hate, you’ve gotta take them down!
A few of my other favourite vermin include giant leeches (so gross!) and the tick swarm. Giant leeches have the ability to attach themselves to their victims and drain the blood right out of them–except this bad boy’s the size of a grown man. At a CR 2, they’re still a low-level threat. And the tick swarm? The opposite. The tick swarm is a whopping CR 9 monster that’s immune to weapon damage in addition to the typical swarm immunities. These little buggers are diseased, and possess a cool ability: cling. Even after fleeing the swarm’s area a bunch of ticks still cling onto the PCs, draining their blood. This causes the PC to take swarm damage each round even after running away. They’re going to hate these things!
There’s another new vermin out there that I love, and it’s creature type? Undead! Cause the only thing worse than finally killing that cockroach? When it comes back to life! Check out the exoskeleton! An exoskeleton is the corpse of an insect, given unlife by necromancy. Sort of like a skeleton bug. Minus the skeleton. As an acquired template the exoskeleton can be added onto any corporeal vermin that has an exoskeleton, so prep the beetles, centipedes and spiders! Bring on the exoskeletons!
But vermin aren’t always the enemy, right? What about those of us you who want to make nice with the little guys? Well, look no further!
Want to let out your inner vermin? Play a ratfolk! These sneaky little fellows are a fun player race, who excel in tight spaces. They’re nimble, smart, and are naturally good at creating alchemical substances, and using magical devices. They’ve got some cool race specific archetypes and feats, but my favourite thing to make with a ratfolk? A witch! Seriously! Imagine them brewing their noxious substances, hurling hexes and cackling their furry little heads off! So great!
But what if alignment’s not an issue? Well, if you’re alright with letting a load of villainy into your games you can crack out the classic wererat. Or better yet? Be an entothrope! A what?
An entothrope! Introduced in Bestiary 6, the entothrope is lycanthropy with BUGS! And my personal favourite? The weremantis! With wicked claws, mandibles, and the ability to lunge and make sudden strikes, these guys are a blast!
Now, there’s also some awesome class options for those of us you who want to dabble with vermin without being one. The most obvious way is with your pets. My favourite vermin familiar is the moth. Why? Honestly? I HATE moths. I have a terrible fear of moths. Eww! Yeah, yeah, I know they’re not THAT bad… Looking for a good animal companion? Pick up a giant cockroach (also EWWW!). Both options are from Ultimate Wilderness.
And my all time favourite vermin themed character option?
The swarm monger druid!
These guys have to choose an urban companion–centipede, cat, rat, raven or spider–and can make them multiply into a swarm a few times a day for a few minutes at a time. They gain the ability to influence vermin, bonuses on saving throws against disease and poison, the ability to be healed by consuming rotten food, and, my personal favourite, the ability to transform themselves into a shifting swarm of vermin. Neat!
Not up for a full-body commitment?
There’s a lot of cool items and spells that you can pick up, so I’ll only name my very favourites. First up? Pipes of the warren guardian, a magical musical instrument that can be played once a day to summon a bunch of dire rats to fight for you. And the spell? Vomit swarm! Cause… just… GROSS!
And what are we finishing off the day with?
Urban Decay! A 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons adventure intended for 2nd level characters that pits the players against a group of wererats operating out of the sewers who attempt to conquer the city above with rats, and plagues of disease. This is an awesome little adventure that’s a perfect way for me to work out my anger at something generally mouse-shaped. Take THAT rats mouse-stand-ins!
That’s all for today!
See you next time,
Interested in anything you read about today? Want to know where it came from? Look no further!
Have any of you seen the film Kubo and the Two Strings? I watched it with my children and husband recently, and was literally amazed by it.
Kubo is wonderful stop-motion movie that follows a boy named Kubo on a journey to protect himself from the dreaded Moon King. But Kubo is no ordinary boy. Kubo can make magic happen by playing his samisen. On his journey he’s accompanied by an origami samurai, a talking monkey, and a samurai beetle who has amnesia.
It’s a samurai film and a fantasy film, lovingly made with puppets and gorgeous scenery. Not only was it a joy to look at, the story was well-developed, the characters were lovable (or terrifying) and everyone was… well-rounded. Whole, believable people. No one thought they were the villain, not everyone got along, and not everything came down to killing things. It was a touching tale, and admittedly I was sobbing my face off near the end, but at the same time, it was heartwarming and hopeful.
Although an American movie, Kubo is clearly a Japanese story, and a ton of research went into making it as historically accurate as possible–considering the story, haha. For those of you who haven’t given this movie a chance, I STRONGLY recommend you do.
Watching Kubo made me want to play some of the awesome adventures I have kicking around my house that have an Eastern feel to them, but since I have way too many campaigns on the go as it is, today we’re going to celebrate them on d20 Diaries! Presenting my five favourite d20 adventures that are inspired by Eastern cultures. Whether they’ve got samurai, ninja, monasteries of contemplative warrior monks seeking enlightenment, or a fusion of many places and cultures, these adventures celebrate, embrace, emulate or are inspired by the Far East!
So sit back, and enjoy!
The Winding Way
The first adventure we’re taking a look at is The Winding Way. Written by Nicholas Logue, and Published by Paizo in Dungeon Magazine Volume 117, The Winding Way is a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons adventure intended for 14th level characters. Although it was written for a ‘neutral’ campaign setting and is meant to be dropped into any fantasy world, The Winding Way is clearly inspired by contemplative warrior monks like the Shaolin of China. That being said, it’s a horror adventure first and foremost, so don’t expect to be achieving enlightenment, or making friends with this one.
The Winding Way takes place at a secluded temple monastery which was built on the slopes of Darkmoon Mountain. During construction the Master, Marik Draven, discovered an ancient stone door, sealed for untold generations. Marik and his students were unable to decipher much of the text, but what they did translate was ominous: words like death, darkness and plague. Marik halted construction of his temple and meditated in contemplation. Eventually he decided that the door should be left untouched, and that his temple would be built around and above it. In addition to being a school for martial arts and enlightenment, the Temple of the Winding Way would become a guardian of this unholy doorway, ensuring it remained sealed for all time.
But it was not to last. Out of jealousy and greed, a rebuffed student sought to steal the riches of the temple for himself, and discovered the graven door. He picked the locks, disabled the door’s defences, and opened it, sealing the fate of those within the temple. For death was behind the door, and its spread is unstoppable!
This adventure has the PCs explore the Temple of the Winding Way for a variety of reasons, only to find that everyone inside has been turned into undead monstrosities. In order to put an end to this evil, they’ll have to defeat a wide variety of undead including bhuts, dread wraiths, forsaken shells, vampires and–my personal favourite–a pennaggolan monk! That’s right, an undead monk that’s going to use unarmed strike to fight with his own lungs and entrails. It’s going to be AWESOME! In addition, they’ll have to pass through the trials of the Winding Way itself, not all of which can be accomplished with brute strength or agility, and discover the source of the undead plague.
The Quest for Perfection
The second adventure we’re taking a look at today is actually a three-part trilogy of Pathfinder Society Scenarios entitled the Quest for Perfection. All three scenarios are Tiers 1-5. Scenario #3-09: The Quest for Perfection Part 1: The Edge of Heaven is written by Jerall Toi, and takes place in Tian Xia, a continent on Golarion strongly inspired by Chinese cultures. This adventure tasks the Pathfinders with travelling through the Wall of Heaven, the tallest mountain range on Golarion, on a journey to reach the Clouded Path Monastery and obtain an ancient relic, the Braid of a Hundred Masters, from the monastery. The trip is dangerous, and has a lot of wonderfully designed encounters where terrain plays a huge part. In addition to the perils of the mountain itself, the players are clearly on a pilgrimage trail, and there’s a lot of neat shrines, and other monuments along their journey. Upon reaching the monastery itself, they find it the lair of violent yetis who make excellent use of their surroundings. Their leader throws relics and nearby objects at the group including foo lion statues (of which there’s a picture)! In addition to enemies, the group can also meet a former monk of the monastery, currently a statue capable of tactile telepathy, who can share much of the history of the monastery with the group. After obtaining the Braid of a Hundred Masters, the Pathfinders discover it’s powers have gone dormant, which leads us into part two.
Scenario #3-11: The Quest for Perfection Part 2: On Hostile Waters is written by Benjamin Bruck, and sets the Pathfinders on a quest to reactivate the Braid of a Hundred Masters by bringing to the last remaining descendant of its rightful owner, a woman from the town of Nesting Swallow by the name of Je Tsun. The journey is a long one, down the Tuunma River and into the Sea of Eels. The river is surrounded on all sides by political turmoil, as it passes through the warring successor states of Lingshen, Po Li and Quain. In addition to the dangers of the river, and banditry, the players have to defend the Braid from soldiers and naval ships from Lingshen who desire to claim its power for themselves.
Scenario #3-13: The Quest for Perfection Part 3: Defenders of Nesting Swallow is written by Sean McGowan, and finally sees the Pathfinders arrive in the small town of Nesting Swallow, only to discover it has been under attack from tengu bandits. Je Tsun agrees to aid them in reactivating the Braid of a Hundred Masters–and will even let them keep it–if they can defend Nesting Swallow from the villains who prey upon them. The rest of the adventure allows the players to organize the defence of the town, train the villagers, and set up barricades or whatever else the group might think of. When the bandits finally come, they get to see how their work has paid off (or not!) as the villagers and the Pathfinders fight alongside one another to drive off the bandits. Wave after wave attacks the town, and whether anyone survives is up to your players. In the end, the bandit leader himself joins the battle, the tengu samurai mounted atop his axe beak mount: Khwankonu! This is the adventure’s finale, and is a ton of fun! If Je Tsun lives she makes good on her word and reignites the magic of the Braid, bestowing it upon the Pathfinders for saving her village.
This is a wonderful, atmospheric adventure that has the players explore the frozen wastes of Kisarimuke, with the purpose of finding the Amata Goten–the legendary Palace of Plenty–which was said to be a magical palace that once was connected to the city of Okabaimura. After making the journey through Kisarimuke, the group can explore the ruins of Okabaimura, a sombre, mysterious experience. Events in the ruins can give the group clues as to the nature of the Palace of Plenty, and how to get there, but it does so in a very subtle, wonderful way. After eventually finding the way to Amata Goten, the players find a beautiful palace, lush with greenery, that is frozen in time. Within are spirits and ghosts, and many more mysteries. I’ll refrain from giving anything else away about this adventure. But, I will say that I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful this adventure hints at the backstory, and the stories and lives of the ghosts and spirits within it, without just giving away information. It’s subtlety is spectacular.
The Ruby Pheonix Tournament
The fourth adventure we’re looking at is The Ruby Phoenix Tournament, a Pathfinder adventure written by Tim Hitchcock and intended for 11th level characters. This adventure brings us back to the Wall of Heaven on the continent of Tian Xia. Here, on the island of Xielan, a prestigious fighting tournament takes place, which allows the winners to claim any one object from the treasury of Hao Jin, the Ruby Pheonix. This tournament attracts combatants from all over the world, including from nations inspired by real-world Japan, China, India and many more. The matches the players are going to engage in are varied, with the terrain often playing an important part in the battles. Some places the players might find themselves fighting in are: flooded mud pools, hot coals, atop multiple towers and rope bridges, and even fighting horizontally on the side of a cliff (literally standing on the cliff face with slippers of spider-climb)! Your players are bound to be continually surprised. In addition to the tournament battles, the players can join in extra matches and challenges. But as the tournament proceeds it becomes clear that something is wrong. From entrants being poisoned and assassins attacking, the players will have to work fast to figure out who’s trying to put an end to the Ruby Pheonix Tournament and stop them, before it’s too late!
Although this adventure has a simple premise, I HIGHLY recommend it. It’s a great, exciting adventure that can be a ton of fun!
Tide of Honor
The final adventure we’re talking about today is my very, very favourite. Jade Regent Part 5 – Tide of Honor by Tito Leati. Now, the Jade Regent is a Pathfinder campaign where the last three books take place in Minkai, Paizo’s Japanese inspired nation in Tian Xia, but volume five of the series is my all time favourite. This adventure was clearly written with such LOVE and RESPECT. It’s honestly astounding how clearly that shows in the final product. But enough about the writing, what about the adventure?!
Tide of Honor has the PCs arrive in Minkai with their friend Ameiko Kaijitsu, true heir to the Imperial Throne of Minkai. …But they have no army! Minkai is currently ruled by the Jade Regent, a vicious tyrant who claimed the throne by murdering the emperor. In order to overthrow the Jade Regent the players are going to need allies. A LOT of them. The players single out an honourable Ronin and his small band of masterless samurai as a likely ally, knowing that they were expelled from the capital and are opposed to the Jade Regent. If the players can make contact with the ronin and ally with them, they will gain not only a number of trained warriors, but also allies who know the country, and may be able to help the group get other allies–or at least in contact with them. The leader of the ronin, Hirabashi Jiro attempts to test the PCs character and, if he finds them trustworthy, gives them a task. There is a group of bandits terrorizing the villagers and farmers of the region, but as they operate in two units, the ronin do not have enough warriors to defeat both groups at once. If the players can attack and conquer the bandit fortress, then Jiro and his men can take out the raiders before they harm any innocents. This opening battle is very adaptable and mobile, featuring a lot of ways the players can go about attacking, and organic ways in which the inhabitants respond to attacks. This encounter can benefit a LOT from good planning and scouting, and it’s a great location. To make it better? If the players can defeat the bandits, not only does Jiro agree to join your cause, but he also sets up the fortress as a base of operations for your group and your allies. This fortress is YOURS.
After some deliberation and discussion, Jiro can give the group a list of important political players and potential allies throughout the nation: the ninja clans of Enganoka, the merchants of Minkai who can be contacted by the geisha of Sakakabe, and the samurai of a cruel daimyo! But success isn’t as easy as simply meeting these groups, the players will have to earn their trust, and prove themselves worthy. But, if they can? The players will have an army at their disposal, one which will help them take on the Jade Regent himself and restore the throne to its rightful heir!
But the Jade Regent has many spies, and will not let the players operate without opposition! I hope you’re ready for some fearsome Oni!
And that’s all for us today! I hope you enjoyed taking a look at some of my favourite Eastern styled adventures! What are yours? Did I miss any you think deserve to be on my list?
I watched a strange little documentary last night on Netflix called Dwarvenaut that follows a little company called Dwarven Forge. Dwarven Forge isn’t new, they’ve been around for twenty years, in fact, but their product is new to me. They make game terrain. But not just any terrain! Oh, no. They make AMAZING game terrain.
The pieces look awesome, are easy to build with, are super durable and come entirely painted. The downside? Price! These are super expensive. Take into account the exchange rate and the absurd cost of delivery (they’re American, and I’m Canadian), and WOW! That is SO outside my budget.
Still, they look amazing. It’s definitely going on my Christmas List. Or birthday list. Or, the ‘when I win the lottery’ list…
My daughter and I spent a bit of this morning checking out their website, watching the videos and tutorials, and generally geeking out over them. Her solution? Buy them for my son for his birthday! Haha. Way to get what you want, without giving up your own gift, my dear!
Cheeky little thing.
You can check out these nifty products on their website: Dwarven Forge. Let me know what you think!
Already own some Dawrven Forge products? Cool! Let me know how you like it in the comments below!
Another weekend has come and gone, and this one was busy! Between swimming classes, birthday parties, errands, and the weekly trip to the laundromat, there wasn’t much time for other activities. We played some board games with my daughter, my son started work on an ambitious dinosaur puzzle, and I posted in the horde of play-by-post games I’m involved in.
My family and I had a bit of time to play Shackled City. Aeris, Mick, Falco and Rabbity headed deep underground through forgotten secret passages and stairwells with Patch and Keygan (very unenthusiastically) accompanying them. They stepped foot into Jzadirune and explored a strange room where they heard birds chirping, gnomes laughing, and felt a breeze blowing on their skin. Massive masks hung on the walls. As they moved into to illusion-draped room to look around they discovered two strange doors–like giant gears that roll into the walls, these were the Doors with Teeth. My children were thrilled! But seeing a glimmer of light coming from the cracks around one of the doors, Aeris and Mick went to peek inside, while Falco moved deeper into the room.
Suddenly the masks on the wall began to sing, welcoming them to Jzadirune and warning them against pilfering. Although my kids loved it, and asked me to sing the song to them over and over, it wasn’t so great for their characters. The illusory song caused the figures beyond the lit door to notice the heroes. Quickly camouflaging themselves, the skulks vanished. They lay in wait to ambush the PCs, but after only one round of battle they ran off, deeper into Jzadirune through makeshift, rough tunnels that had been drilled through the walls.
Our heroes gave chase, engaging in a series of skirmishes against a pair of skulks. Eventually they came to a room with a strange mechanical construct in it, clearly the source of the roughly drilled tunnels. There a dark creeper ordered the construct to attack the intruders, in gnome. Mick laughed and told it to stop. The pair argued and bickered, giving the construct contrary orders until the creeper gave up and fled. Mick was thrilled with his new, neat, half-broken construct, and the group was off again, charging blindly through the tunnels, deeper into Jzadirune.
One battle into this place and they’re already super lost! Haha. But by then we were out of time, so further exploration would have to wait. I can’t wait to see what happens next!
In other news, Pathfinder recently announced a new product coming out soon. A new style of flip map tiles, which honestly look awesome. Similar to their old flip-tiles, these are double-sided, can be used with dry erase markers, and connect wonderfully to one another. The differences are in size (these are a bit bigger, and are square), and in number (these have a whopping 42 tiles per pack, as compared to the old ones which had 18). The tiles look great, and I’m curious to see how they’ll look and handle in person. The map tiles are due out in April.
The other exciting release is for a book called ‘Disciple’s Doctrine‘ Like the other ‘Faith’ books before it (Faiths of Balance, Faiths of Purity, Faiths of Corruption, Faiths & Philosophies, etc.), this book is a soft cover intended for players that takes a look at a dozen complex philosophies that are found throughout Golarion. Including the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, Magnimar’s mystery cults, and the Oracular Council of Po Li, this book is filled with a wide variety of doctrines. The one I’m most excited for? The Prophets of Kalistrade! FINALLY! What are they? I have no idea! What I do know? They’ve been name-dropped since way back in the first Pathfinder release, they’re important, they follow strange taboos, they wear white and gold, they wear gloves, and they like making money. Anything else? Nope! I’ve got no clue! I’ve been curious about this ‘faith’ for years, so I’m excited to find out. Like all the player intended soft covers, this book has a lot of traits, feats, spells and archetypes in it to make use of. I’m curious to see what it contains!
One final bit of excitement happened around my house this week. My husband decided he’d like to play a campaign with just me and him. So I named him the ones I have that he hasn’t played (not a very long list, haha) and he thought about it for a while. He narrowed it down quick, but was torn between Wrath of the Righteous and Iron Gods. So while he debates between two awesome campaigns, I’m going to crack out my first volume of each and give them a reread. It never hurts to be prepared!
That’s all for today. Thanks for checking in with us here at d20 Diaries. We’ll talk again soon.