This Mother’s Day my kids wrote me poems and stories, drew me pictures, cards, and books. My son even made me a coaster to hold my drink. And my husband? He and my children got me character art commissioned for my favourite Pathfinder Society character!
I’ve never had character art for a character of mine before. My kids and I have drawn pictures of some of our characters on occasion. And sure, a picture here or there might inspire us to make a character similar in appearance. But custom professional art? Unheard of! So it was with great shock and surprise I awoke to discover my family had somehow procured gorgeous art of my beloved -1 PFS character.
Clearly I have a wonderful family and am beyond spoiled. Today I’m going to share that art with you!
Introducing Danicka Raburnus and her vicious dog, Prickles!
Danicka Raburnus was my very first Pathfinder Society character. My -1. I had played Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons, and other RPGs for a long time before making Danicka, but she was the first character meant for organized play. She marked my entry into the Pathfinder Society, and was the first in a series of wonderful characters, delightful roleplaying, and exciting adventures.
Danicka is… far from perfect. When it came time to create Danicka I wanted to do something different. Everyone has characters who are attractive, intelligent, healthy, brave, and so on. People who are special. Heroes. They’re not all perfect, and many have a flaw or two, but they usually have quite a few redeeming qualities. I’ve got plenty, myself. So when it came time to make Danicka I wanted to create a character who was different than those I’d made before. Someone who wasn’t a hero. Who wasn’t special. Someone hopelessly flawed and regrettably forgettable. Someone who wanted to be special, who wanted to be the hero, but just wasn’t.
I have a soft spot for making, strong, independent, female characters. I love playing half-orcs and dwarves. I love bards, rogues, oracles, and sorcerers. Adaptable characters with a flaw or two, and a bit of a scoundrel’s streak.
So I went out of my way to make Danicka different.
I made her a wizard, which I rarely do. And I went out of my way to make her as unremarkable as possible. She has an archetype that prevents her from having a familiar or an arcane bond––qualities that make her feel inferior to her fellow wizards and spellcasters. She learned spells that are visually unremarkable. No fireballs or flashy magic for this girl! She was intelligent and wise, but too shy and nervous to speak her mind.
I never use complimentary words to describe her. I don’t call her pretty, or fit, or athletic, or slender. She’s not even skinny. She’s scrawny. Boney. Her hair is frazzled, limp, plain, or mousey. Her skin is not like porcelain, or alabaster. It’s pale, freckled, and ink-stained. Her clothes are nice but ill-fitting, out of fashion, and in dull colours. She doesn’t show off any skin, covering herself from neck to fingers and toes. She doesn’t even wear nice boots, just flimsy cotton shoes that flop and squelch wildly whenever they get wet. She wears a floppy hat on her head. She has poor vision and wears plain spectacles.
It’s not that these qualities are undesirable or unattractive. They’re not. It’s that I designed her to be average and blend in, and that I describe all of her qualities in as uncomplimentary a fashion as I can.
She shrieks in battle. Gets queasy. Stammers, stutters, whimpers, and whispers. Her efforts to make friends are awkward and almost always end in failure. She’s shy and meek. Easily scared (often terrified!). She faints on occasion (though never in a way or at a time that would hinder her mission or the game). She’s weak, awkward, and extraordinarily clumsy.
But amidst all those awkward and oddly endearing qualities, she’s a hero. Not outwardly. Certainly not obviously. But she’s a good person. She won’t take a life. Ever. And she won’t condone it from her allies. In fact, wanton violence, destruction, theft, and other illegal deeds are among the only things that she’ll speak out against. She’d rather remove an enemy from a fight than cause someone harm. I gave her merciful spell as a feat to ensure her few damage dealing spells aren’t lethal. She’ll stabilize unconscious enemies, hurl herself into danger to protect someone else, and is always the first person to offer healing potions to the wounded. She’s generous and kind. She won’t lie and always gives her enemies a chance to surrender.
So, who was Danicka? Where did she come from? And what make such an ordinary, meek woman want to be a hero?
Danicka was born to a hero. Her mother, Portia Raburnus, was a wizard of great renown who helped saved the city of Magnimar not just once, but on three occasions. Danicka has always wanted to be just like her mother, and grew up studying the arcane arts. Her mother passed away five years ago, right before Danicka began her formal training at the local magical academy, Stone of Seers. Danicka always keeps her mother’s arcane bonded item with her—a highly decorative quarterstaff that looks remarkably like a broom. She had hoped to use the broom as her own arcane bonded item, but could never manage to make it work.
Danicka did well in school, but despite her academic achievements she was constantly overlooked—for Danicka was ordinary looking, and incredibly shy. Regrettably forgettable. Most people don’t even remember Portia Raburnus had a daughter.
Danicka’s recently graduated and set out to finally prove herself brave and bold! A hero, like her mother! She marched right into the local Pathfinder Lodge and demanded a job. Unfortunately, her demand came out a nervous whisper and they hired her as a maid. But, sweeping the floors used by bolder souls with her mother’s broom isn’t enough for Danicka Raburnus! She’s going to prove herself one day! Maybe after she’s done cleaning up the common room…
Danicka is incredibly shy. She speaks rarely, and when she does its in a whisper. She’s constantly trying to work up the courage to be louder, to make friends, and to do something, but her attempts at friendship always come out in awkward stuttering bursts, and her attempts to speak her mind end up with her randomly yelling something (and then losing the courage to finish). She’s easily embarrassed and was bullied on occasion in school (when her classmates could be bothered to remember she was there).
Danicka studies hard and loves to learn new things. She knows she’s a young woman of many flaws and is trying desperately to change. She wants to be brave and bold, but has yet to break out of her shell and really be herself.
Mechanically, she’s a wizard with the exploiter wizard archetype that’s a member of the Silver Crusade faction of the Pathfinder Society. She took the traits tireless logic and volatile conduit. Her beginning feats were eschew materials and merciful spell, although she later added spell focus (enchantment). She’s knowledgable and speaks a wide array of languages. For her first exploiter exploit she chose energy shield, although she never had the opportunity to use it until many adventures had passed. Some of her most commonly prepared low-level spells are daze, detect magic, read magic, comprehend languages, mage armour, shield, sleep, and merciful ray of frost or merciful magic missile. In time she learned that outsiders and undead were a threat her non-lethal methods couldn’t handle, so she started carrying a lethal wand, a few lethal scrolls, and some holy water around to combat such irredeemable threats.
I had intended to keep her a wizard for the entirety of her career, but along the way, things changed. Danicka changed.
After Danicka’s first mission in the world of play-by-post gaming, she was invited to join an ongoing campaign run by the delightful and incredibly talented GM ShieldBug. For a wonderful seven scenarios she had the pleasure of playing in a consistent group of awesome players. Her companions were very different from Danicka. Some were weird, some were liars, some were scoundrels, and most were violent. They pushed her buttons, shoved her out of her comfort zone, tested her morals, and urged her to change. With them she found her backbone. She found courage. She faced peer-pressure and discovered that there were things worth fighting for, even if it meant standing up to your allies. She made friends. She made enemies. She made mistakes. She became a hero. She saved people and towns.
Mostly, she was embarrassed.
But it wasn’t only Danicka that changed. Her friends did, too. She made them better people. And they made her brave.
On one of her adventures she was forced to interact with terrifying, man-eating, Thuvian desert dog. Miraculously she bonded with it, though it terrified her to no end. Later in the scenario she was forced to face the dog in combat, and she managed to convince him to stand down. The mission came to an end and I was faced with a turning point. Move on? Or keep the dog?
Danicka kept the dog. She named him Prickles, for his spiky fur (matted with the blood of his enemies) and terrifying demeanour. Although I could have just bought a dog and remained a wizard, I chose to multiclass Danicka into druid. I selected another understated archetype (the wonderful wild whisperer!) that removed some of the flashier of the druids abilities and replaced it with investigator’s inspiration and talents. She began to take ranks in handle animal, and survival. She used her druid spell slots to prepare healing magic. She took the feat boon companion, and statted up Prickles as a wolf.
Danicka spent the next while attempting to tame her vicious dog. I took great glee in role-played her fear of her own pet, and her worry that it will hurt someone. Prickles is clearly the alpha of the duo, but he usually listens to Danicka’s pleas. That said, out of fear, Danicka never tells Prickles to attack anyone. She’s too afraid she won’t be able to stop him from killing. Instead, she orders him to stay by her side. Mechanically, Prickles has the bodyguard archetype. He’s always on ‘defend’ and won’t enter a fight unless Danicka is hurt. However, if she’s hurt he flies into a rage and attacks whoever wounded her until they’re dead. Usually Danicka hurls herself between the enemy and her dog before they are devoured, but once or twice Prickles killed something––an event which filled Danicka with great regret. For his part, Prickles is used to his ‘pet’s’ panicked shrieks and mewling. But he’s incredibly territorial and won’t stand for anyone touching his ‘pet.’ Not even her allies. He’s a bit cantankerous, and won’t take ‘orders’ from anyone other than Danicka. And he only listens to Danicka if she begs.
All in all, they’re a comical pair, with my shy wizard desperately trying to handle her overwhelming pet.
On her most recent missions, Danicka’s had to bid her old friends farewell. She’s gone on new adventures with new teammates. Only Prickles has remained by her side. But, despite the distance, it’s her old friends that continue to drive her and inspire her. Mhazruk Kruhl and his terrifying familiar Needle, the burly Yaiho Crasher, the tap-dancing escaped-slave Forrest Glavo, the eccentric Arin Qualnoh blessed (or perhaps cursed) by the gods, and Brock Swiftread, a scoundrel if there ever was one. They’re the closest thing to family she’s ever had.
So here’s to Danicka and Prickles, and all the people and characters who have made her who she is. Here’s to the people who have GMed for her and played alongside her. The people who have put up with her panicked shrieks and bleeding heart. Here’s to my family, who brought one of my very favourite characters to life. And here’s to Joe Nittoly, the amazing artist who drew her. Thank you! Thank you! And thank you again! You’re the best!
And here’s to all of you, for taking the time to read about one of my favourite characters. Maybe I’ll see you around a PFS table one day.
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! If none of this sounds familiar you can read this blog post first, which details our characters, or continue on with this article to read a quick summary and jump right into the action! You can also check out our previous adventures in Shackled City: Part One, Shackled City: Part Two: A Mystery!, and Shackled City: Part Three: Jzadirune.
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 two NPCs: Patch, the half-orc janitor, and Keygan Ghelve, a local locksmith.
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.
Keygan Ghelve is a gnome locksmith and competitor of Aeris’. He’s also the reason people are going missing! Months ago strange creatures came up from Keygan’s basement — which leads to the abandoned gnomish enclave of Jzadirune — and kidnapped his rat familiar! They forced Keygan to forge them a set of skeleton keys that can open the locks he’d installed in Cauldron, and a list of all his customers. In the months since, skulks and dark creepers have used his home as a way station, heading out into the city, abducting people from their homes, and dragging them back underground through his basement. Keygan feels guilty, but he’s more worried over his rat than anything! The members of Dinorabbit followed clues that led to Keygan’s shop and discovered his role in the abductions. Although Aeris wanted to turn him in to the guard, the Falco and Mick insisted he come with them if he wanted to save his rat. He’d need to help rescue the kidnapped citizens of Cauldron and undo the damage he’s facilitated.
Aeris decided that after that she’d still have him arrested. She’s a stickler for the rules. …Usually.
Our eclectic team of musicians, janitors, and locksmiths, descended through hidden passageways, into the long-abandoned gnomish enclave of Jzadirune, on the trail of subterranean kidnappers! In time they discovered that the kidnappers had been using Jzadirune’s ruins as a base of operations. Although our heroes battled the skulks and their dark creeper minions, my players never found any signs of the kidnapped citizens of Cauldron.
What they did find was a door. The door led to a platform that, with the flick of a switch, descended down a shaft into the darkness. When the doors opened they found themselves someplace else. Someplace new. A place of dwarven construction, made from malachite.
My son and daughter gasped in shock!
“MOM! MOM! The riddle! The riddle says something about that mal-kite! We are almost there!”
My son read the riddle a few more times and double checked the notes that he keeps in his detective’s notebook (which is a copy of Detective Murdoch’s notebook from Murdoch Mysteries). “Hmmm… Yup! Those kidnappers must have been working for a duergar! He’s the true culprit!”
My daughter clapped her hands in glee. “Yes! We are almost there! I have to save my good friend Griffin who I work with! He was supposed to be married! His girlfriend is so sad she cries everyday! We must hurry! He could DIE!” She says the word ‘die’ with such drama. It’s adorable.
Aeris and Falco led the way, with Mick, Rabbity, and Panthy travelling in the middle of the group. Patch and Keygan took up the rear, with the cowardly locksmith strongly debating running away when no one was looking.
Our heroes entered the main hall of the fortress only to realize that the strange stone sculpture in the middle of the room was actually an earth elemental known as a stone spike! The beast slammed into Aeris, causing heavy damage and surprising the party. The battle was over in just two rounds, with Aeris and Rabbity dealing heavy damage to the brute — Aeris bloodraging with her longsword and Rabbity with her water blasts. Mick inspired the group with his wonderful piano music. Falco and Patch had poor luck, not landing a single blow against the creature. And Keygan? Well, he didn’t even try to help. He just lingered at the back near the elevator, ready to flee if the party died.
The battle with the stone creature drew forth an ogre from a nearby chamber. The brute stunk like garbage and wielded a filth encrusted falchion which he swung around clumsily.
“More carrion for my larder!” the brute bellowed. “Very nice!”
“Carrion?!” My son exclaimed. “I know that word! I am not carrion!” He waved his arms around and pointed at the offending miniature ogre on the table. “I am a SINGER! Face the wrath of Mick Frimfrocket!!!”
Unbeknownst to my players the ogre was Xukasus, the fortress majordomo. The ogre was actually an otyugh, polymorphed into the form of an ogre long ago and his room, which was just off of this entry hall, was a massive heap of sewage, gore, and garbage. As the smell trickled out into the entry hall Keygan and Rabbity gagged. By the start of this fight Aeris was already heavily wounded from battling the stone spike. Falco gave her what healing he could and then she strode off, ready to intercept the ogre and protect her fellow bandmates. The battle was a tough one, with Mick urging Keygan to get into the fight and help. The gnome begrudgingly obliged, getting up close and sending a colour spray at the ogre!
Which didn’t work.
Keygan was nearly chopped in half by a falchion for his trouble, and tossed into the ogre’s bedroom for snacking on later.
Aeris too, nearly fell, but Falco and Mick managed to keep her standing long enough with their magic that she took down the disgusting ogre. The group rescued Keygan, healed everyone back up to full hp, and searched the entry hall for anything of interest. After some hesitation they searched the ogre’s room as well. They spotted an iron chest in a massive pile of dung. They debated some more, then decided that whatever look was in that chest could stay there. They didn’t want it that bed. Not if poop was involved!
Which is too bad! It had a good deal of treasure in it. Haha.
Mick used his magic to clean everyone up, and then the group looked around. They discovered two secret passages, chose one at random, and continued on. They found themselves in a dead end hallway, which led to another secret door and a secret armoury filled with racks of armour and weapons. The group took it all — being in a band didn’t earn them much income! — and gave the construct some big sacks of gear to carry. Then they continued on again, finding themselves in a hot, stuffy forge.
There they finally found their first citizens of Cauldron! The dwarf, Sondor Ironfold, worked ceaselessly at a forge alongside three goblins. Nearby two other halfling victims, Jeneer Everdawn and the rogue Maple, sat in the corner putting together chainmail suits one link at a time. Four hobgoblins stood watch in this chamber.
As the group entered the room Panthy growled, low in her throat, and Rabbity launched a blast of water at the nearest hobgoblin. “Get ’em, team!” she called out.
The battle had begun!
This fight was a long one, with plenty of characters on both sides of the fight. The PCs and their allies fought the goblins and hobgoblins in relatively tight quarters, with the dwarf prisoner giving some goblins a few swings of her hammer, and the halfling prisoner Maple giving a hobgoblin a knife to the back. Only Aeris ended up getting hit with any frequency — due to her position on the front lines, not a lack of armour — but even then she only took a total of eight damage through the entire encounter. All our others heroes came out of it unscathed.
When the hall fell silent except for the crackle of flames my kids took it upon themselves to explain to the prisoners that they were about to be rescued by Dinorabbit — the coolest band in Cauldron! Maple was thrilled. Jeneer was clearly delirious with fear. And Sondor was… sad, quite frankly. She dropped her hammer to the ground and cried. They thought it was relief, at first, but it soon became clear Sondor was in mourning. She and her husband had been kidnapped together, but her husband had been sold as a slave four weeks ago. She knew she would never see him again.
My kids were quiet for a moment. It was the first time that they realized they might not be able to save everyone. People had been going missing from Cauldron for a few months. If their captures were slavers, surely Sondor’s husband wasn’t the only one who had already been sold…
My husband pulled out his list of missing people and put a little checkmark beside Maple, Sondor, and Jeneer. Then he crossed out Sondor’s husband, Lorthan. The look on my kids faces when that poor guy’s name got crossed off was a strange mix of solemnity and determination. It’s not a look I see on them often. Or ever, really.
“We’re going to get these people to safety right now!” My son / Mick announced.
My daughter shook her head. As Rabbity she said: “No! I’m not leaving here without Griffin! He is my friend and his fiancé cries too much with him gone!”
Mick grinned and pointed at Keygan. “He’s going to do it! Keygan! You get your wish! You have your rat back, and now your job is to bring these people into the elevator, up through Jzadirune, and back to Cauldron. Bring them to the Church of Adabar. That lady named…” My son paused. “I forget her name.”
“JENYA will help you! Now GO! Save people and redeem yourself!” My son pointed around grandly used his ‘serious hero’ voice.
“Yeah! And bring these bags of loot up with you!” Rabbity added practically. “Then the construct can help us fight again!”
Keygan, of course, needed no further encouragement. He groaned in relief, grabbed some bags, and left without even a goodbye. The newly liberated citizens of Cauldron followed after him, with Maple and Sondor lending a hand with the loot.
Our heroes stood alone in the forge for a few moments.
“Aww!” My daughter suddenly exclaimed. “We should have taken the stuff from these dead hobgoblins before sending Keygan away! Now we have to carry it!”
The group took what gear they could from the bodies, and explored the room. There were two doors leading deeper into the complex. My kids started to argue over which door to open, which is a sure sign that they’re getting tired. We paused the game there, with promises to play again soon. After all, they still had people to save!
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’s website here.
We haven’t talked about Pathfinder Second Edition in a while. Neither have the folks over at Paizo. Or, at least, not publicly. That’s because the Development Team has been hard at work sifting through survey data, making changes to the game, and generally working their asses off to make Pathfinder Second Edition the best RPG that it can be.
But, this past Pathfinder Friday on Paizo’s twitch stream, we finally got some news! Jason Bulmahn, Director of Game Design, sat down with Host and Marketing Manager Dan Tharp to talk about the future of Pathfinder.
His first topic of conversation?
Feedback surveys on the PF2 Playtest are going to be open until December 31st at midnight. That’s right! You’ve still got time to give them your feedback, answer their questions, and give Paizo the data they need to continue improving the next version of Pathfinder. Be sure to get your surveys done before the New Year!
But, even though they’re still accepting feedback, and sifting through our responses, the development team is already working on improving the game, and revising everything. Word is they’re halfway done editing the book, with another quarter that they hope to get done over the holidays. (Yes, they brought home more work). The whole development team deserves a huge round of applause. Keep up the good work! (And take a breather while you’re at it!).
Now, as I mentioned, they’re still accepting feedback, and they still testing and retesting everything they can. They’ve made some changes, but they’re not done yet — not by a long shot! In addition, some of the things they’ve changed are likely to change again. But they’re making progress. And Jason decided to share some of that progress with us.
The Top Five Things That You Can Look Forward To for Pathfinder Second Edition!
#5 –Polish and Flavour. Jason admitted that a lot of the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook was technically sound, but dry. It lacked pizazz! They intend to change that. The development team is trying their best to inject as much flavour into the rulebook as they can! Thank goodness! Haha. Sneak peeks Jason mentioned included calling the various rogue specializations a ‘Rogue’s Racket’ and that Wizards get to create their own graduate thesis to represent their specialization in magic. Awesome! I can’t wait to see what else they bring to the table.
#4–Jason rewrote Chapter 1. This new introduction to the game is said to be an engaging narrative which is meant to be as entertaining and easy to understand as possible. It even includes a sample build and an example of play. Awesome!
#3 – GM Resources. The folks at Paizo are trying to make GMing as easy as possible. The table of DCs, which were overly complicated, are now streamlined into a simple chart. Conditions are undergoing some changes, as well. Some were removed, others were changed, and they even added a new one: Doomed! Essentially, Doomed lowers your dying threshold. This is a condition players will want to get rid of ASAP!
#2 – Resonance. They got rid of it completely. Pardon me while I dance in glee.
#1 – Proficiency. Although the system makes sense and was met with positive feedback, many players said that they didn’t feel like the numbers involved allowed for enough variance between the proficiencies, so they’re being changed! Untrained will remain +0 (and does not add your level), Trained skills will be at +2 plus level, Expert at +4 plus level, Master +6 plus level, and Legendary +8 plus level. Here’s hoping they’ve got the math right this time around!
Other mentioned changes include allowing the three different alignments for paladins, making spellcasters and spells more powerful, adding ‘Fail Forward’ rules (which is when even on a failed roll your PCs progress, but with some kind of penalty or downside caused by their failure), and more! I don’t know about you, but I’m exciting to see what Pathfinder Second Edition will become!
Well, last night’s Starfinder Wednesday pre-recorded episode was an absolute delight! But, before we get into that, lets take a peek at what happened the week before. (Admittedly, the holidays have left me a little behind!).
Last week on Starfinder Wednesday Dan and the gang over at Paizo talked about the Character Operations Manual Playtest, where you can take three new Starfinder classes for a test drive. This week was the second of three episodes streaming over the next month that will take an in depth look at these three classes: the biohacker, the witchwarper, and the vanguard. So which is up second?
Host Dan Tharp welcomed special guests Amanda Hamon Kunz and Owen K.C. Stephens. Amanda wrote the first draft of the witchwarper and, although it was a team effort, this class has her personal touch all over it!
So what is the witchwarper? For starters, it’s based around the ‘Infinite Worlds’ theory, which posits that there are an unlimited number of realities where different decisions made by its intelligent life-forms has led to alternate realities slightly different than our own. The witchwarper can see into these alternate realities and temporarily bring aspects of them into our own reality. By drawing on these other worlds they can change circumstances to their benefit, affecting themselves, their allies, their enemies, and their surroundings. Mechanically, this means that they can alter the battlefield, provide buffs and debuffs, and casts spells. As they grow in power, they gain new ways to use their powers on the world around them. They have the same number of spells per day and spells known as mystics and technomancers, and their spell list will be comparable in length when the final version is released.
Also on the topic of magic, it was revealed that there are going to be plenty of new spells released in the upcoming Character Operations Manual. Some spells will be available for all casting classes, others will be available for only two of the three, and a fair amount will be class specific. I can’t wait to see what the folks at Paizo have up their sleeves!
Finally, Amanda and Owen announced that the Starfinder Beginner Box is now available for Preorder. It’s scheduled to be released in April 2019.
But, when asked about the origins of Starfinder, both Owen and Robert agreed that it went back way, way further. To the ages of Pulp Fiction, and to the classic Dungeons and Dragons adventure Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. They emphasized that combining science fiction and fantasy is not new. People have been doing it long before them. And, of course, there’s plenty of other influences from science fiction we could all name.
Although there was lots of other interesting topics discussed, I particularly enjoyed hearing about the early days of planning, when they were trying to decide if making a Science Fantasy game even made sense, or if it could be approximated within Pathfinder itself. Was Starfinder a separate entity influenced by Pathfinder? Or was is Pathfinder taken into space? What would make those concepts different? And if they did create Starfinder as its own entity, would it be in a whole new universe? Or would Golarion’s Solar System still fit? How could they even make that work?
What would it look and feel like?
I also really enjoyed getting to hear about the balance they decided to aim for, and how they went about it. What would they carry forward from Pathfinder and what would they create new? What races and monsters, and places would stay the same? What was the right balance between updated and entirely new content? And how could they make old races and places fit in with their new universe?
How did Starfinder become what we know it as today?
There was also some great conversation about the core concepts of Starfinder and how they came to be. Things like cosmology, the Pact Worlds, the Drift, The Gap, and Absalom Station.
Really great stuff! If you haven’t given it a watch yet, I highly suggest you do! Also, you’ll get to see Owen accidentally (or perhaps purposely) mention Alien Archive 3, which is in the works! Robert ended on a more detailed but equally tantalizing note, mentioning that they’re hoping to create more content that has to do the Near Space, the Vast, and the places you might find in it. Awesome!
Want to learn more about the witchwarper? Download your free copy of the Character Operations Manual Playtest PDF on Paizo’s website right now! You can also tune into Paizo’s twitch channel on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. PST for ‘Starfinder Wednesday.’ Next week’s show is going to focus on the Vanguard! It’s sure to be a great show!
Today we’re going to be taking a look at Starfinder: Pact Worlds! This is one of the few Starfinder sourcebooks that’s available for purchase. It’s a hardcover book that focuses entirely on the setting of the Starfinder Roleplaying Game: the Pact Worlds. Information on the Pact Worlds first appeared in the Starfinder Rulebook, but this book expands it. A LOT. It features a multiple page description of each planet in the Pact Worlds solar system, a new theme for each, and a wealth of other information on the setting itself.
This article isn’t meant to be a thorough review or critique of Starfinder: Pact Worlds. It won’t replace the book (nor would I want it to!). It’s a quick breakdown of what’s found inside, and what I liked best in each chapter. It’s a collection of my favourites parts of the book, and some highlights. It’s here so that fellow gamers and fans can take a look and get a real feel for what they’ll get out of the book. Hopefully it helps you decide whether this product is right for you.
So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Starfinder: Pact Worlds is a hardcover sourcebook 215 pages in length. It features awesome cover art by Remko Troost which depicts Raia (the iconic lashunta technomancer), Altronus (the iconic kasatha solarian), and Keskodai (the iconic shirren mystic) battling a tyrannosaurus-like alien on the planet Castrovel. The inside covers feature a nice image of the Pact World System (which is not to scale). Following that is the table of contents and the introduction: Welcome to the Pact Worlds. The introduction is four pages long and provides a lot of useful setting information. It talks about the mysterious Gap, the history of the Pact Worlds, as well as the system’s government, economy, culture, and universal time. There’s also quite a bit of information about the Stewards, which is a peace-keeping organization that enforces law and order through the Pact Worlds. They are independent of all planets, and technically serve the Pact Council, but their allegiance is first and foremost to the Pact Worlds themselves. The Stewards are free to refuse orders that violate the Pact or its citizens. I particularly enjoyed hearing more about this group.
After the introductions we get into Chapter 1: Worlds. This section features an eight to ten page write up of each world in the Pact Worlds system (I use the term ‘world’ loosely). Each entry starts with a small image of the planet as seen upon approach and a gorgeous image of a settlement or location within that world. The entries feature information on each world’s geography, climate, residents, society, potential conflicts and threats, and a large number of notable locations found there. There’s also detailed information on at least one settlement, a map of that world (or region/space station/etc.), an image of an inhabitant (sometimes a general citizen, but other times an important figure), and a brand new character theme (complete with artwork). The artwork is consistently spectacular, and the maps are incredibly useful. The write-ups are surprisingly thorough — particularly considering the difficulty inherent in trying to describe an entire world in ten pages. That said, I found reading them in sequence difficult, as the locations on one planet started to get mixed up with the locations on other planets after I’d read a few different entries. And the themes? Really cool!
The first planet this chapter focuses on isn’t a planet at all. It’s the sun. The centre of the Pact Worlds. I loved this entry. It was unique and wildly imaginative. I particularly enjoyed the Burning Archipelago, a region made up of massive bubbles of unknown origin which contain climate-controlled, habitable areas. These islands within the sun are connected by a sort of energy tether, which special ships called linecrawlers can traverse. Obviously, Sarenrae’s faith is common here, and in addition to regular residents of the Pact Worlds one can also find fire elementals, salamanders, and other more exotic creatures. My favourite location on the Sun was the Floating Gardens of Verdeon, although I am very curious about what secrets the lashunta of Asanatown are hiding… The theme for the sun is called Solar Disciple, which represents characters who either honour or worship the life-giving light, heat, and energy of the sun. It grants +1 Wisdom, makes Perception a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about the sun, light, and sun-based religions. At sixth level they gain a bonus on Will saving throws against compulsions, at twelfth level they can channel fire damage dealt to them into their next fire-based attacks, and at eighteenth level they can meditate in the sunlight to regain resolve. Very cool!
The second planet examined (and closest to the sun) is the machine world of Aballon. Here androids, robots known as anacites, artificial intelligences, and innumerable other mechanical creations live, work, and toil as one. Every being has a place and a use in this world, and the governing Insight Array seeks to make life here efficient and purposeful. The only areas outside the reach of their Megaplexes are the ancient cities of the First Ones — the unknown beings who created the first anacites. I ADORED reading about the society of the anacites who make Aballon home. My favourite locations include Preceptum XIII, a megaplex run by a senile advanced intelligence; and Infinity, a holy site where anacites bathe in molten lead by day, and sit in contemplation in the cooled, hardened lead by night. Aballon’s theme is the Roboticist, which is my son’s favourite theme in this book. It grants +1 Intelligence, makes Engineering a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to identify technological creatures. At sixth level they can create technological equipment of a higher level than normal, at twelfth level they can repair constructs and starships more effectively, and at eighteenth level they can examine discovered technology to regain resolve.
Up next is my daughter’s favourite planet: Castrovel! A land of steaming jungles, lush forests, eco-friendly cities, and nature preserves. This is the homeward of lashuntas (who live on the continent of Asana), formians (who live in The Colonies), and elves (who live in Sovyrian). Its fourth major continent is Ukulam, a nature preserve of immense size. My favourite locations include the Ocean of Mists (which is exactly what is sounds like), the continent of Ukulam, the elven settlement of Cordona, and Telasia: the Portal Grove, a magical transportation hub claimed by the green dragon Urvosk. The theme for Castrovel is called Wild Warden, which represents characters who live in the wilds. It grants +1 Wisdom, makes Survival a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about animals, plants, and vermin. At sixth level they are effective at using non-lethal damage with lethal weapons against animals, plants and vermin, and providing first aid to such creature with Life Science. At twelfth level they become master foragers, and at eighteenth level they can meditate in a natural setting to regain resolve. This is by far my daughter’s favourite theme.
The next planet in the Pact Worlds isn’t a planet at all, but a space station. That’s right! It’s Absalom Station! Home of the Starstone, the Starfinders, centre of Drift travel, and located in the place Golarion once stood. Chances are if you’re reading this you know at least a bit about Absalom Station. If there’s a capital of the Pact Worlds, this is it! Be sure to check out my favourite locations in Absalom: Eyeswide Agency (a group of psychic ‘holistic detectives.’ Dirk Gently, anyone?!?), Fardock (a mysterious magical arch that’s likely to kill you), Rig House (lair of the Lowrigger Gang), and the Ghost Levels of the Spike, which contain strange eco-systems, dangerous criminals, and the machinery that keeps Absalom running! The theme for Absalom Station is called Corporate Agent, which represents characters who work for mega corporations. It grants +1 Charisma, makes Diplomacy a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about corporations and their executives. At sixth level they can quickly gather information from their contacts, at twelfth level they can use their connections to influence people, and at eighteenth level they can study and negotiate to the benefit of their company to regain resolve. Although this theme is neat, it’s not really one that caught me eye.
Leaving Absalom Station behind, we come to the desert world of Akiton, a dying planet where only the desperate still live. The native humans of Akiton have deep red skin and are known as hylki. Other races prominent on Akiton include contemplatives, shobhad, ysoki and, my personal favourite: ikeshti. There are a lot of cool places on this Mars-like planet, but my favourites are Ashok (a psychic amplifier located in a crater and populated by contemplatives), Bounty (a failed terraforming experiment that worked too well), Five Tines Fortress (an ancient flying citadel that was transformed into an amusement park by enterprising ysoki), the Utopia of Tivik (an abandoned company town that features its founder’s face everywhere), and Ka, Pillar of the Sky (the tallest mountain in the Pact Worlds and a mysterious holy site to the shobhad-neh). The theme for Akiton is called Gladiator, which represents… exactly what it says it does. Haha. It grants +1 Constitution, makes Intimidate a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about entertainment combat, fighting styles, and gladiatorial traditions. At sixth level they become famous, at twelfth level they can convince others to let them carry their weapons even where they’re not allowed, and at eighteenth level they can defeat a significant enemy in front of an audience to regain resolve.
Up next? Verces. Now, when I first read the Starfinder Core Rulebook of all the planets that were introduced it was Verces that most interested me. I couldn’t quite place why, but it definitely had me intrigued. Suffice to say I was really excited to learn more about this highly civilized, tidally locked world. I was not disappointed! Half of Verces is a sun-scorched desert, while the other half is a dark, frozen wasteland. The area between these regions forms a central ring known as the Ring of Nations, which is a series of cities all built side-by-side. The locals are known as verthani, and they have bulging mouse-like black eyes, elongated arms, and (many have) a plethora of augmentations. Other races commonly found here include humans, kasatha, rhyphorians, shirren, strix, and ysoki. Of the many cool locations, I recommend checking out Fastness of the Ordered Mind (a monastic temple in the cold of Darkside with surprising thematic ties to the religion of Zon-Kuthon), The River of Returning Joys (a massive travelling caravan festival that constantly journeys through the Ring of Nations), Lempro (a tiny independent nation inhabited by bloodless creatures called intis who adore riddles), and the Oasis Temples (planar breaches to the First World where fey we once worshipped in temples and lush plant-life grows). The theme for Verces is called Cyberborn, which represents characters who are augmented. It grants +1 Intelligence, makes Computers a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about cybernetic augmentations, procedures, and experts. At sixth level they can use their augmentations to regain stamina, at twelfth level they gain electricity resistance and improve their augmentations countermeasures, and at eighteenth level they can perform an amazing task with one of their augmentations to regain resolve. This is by far my husband’s favourite theme in the book!
Next to Verces is Idari, the amazing and beautiful homeship of the kasathans. Be sure to check out the Culinarium (a very fine cooking academy), the Red Corridors (where rebel kasathans are exiled to), and the Sholar Adat (where a section of deceased kasathans brains are ritually preserved and used to access their knowledge and memories! Awesome!). The theme for the Idari is called Tempered Pilgrim, which represents characters who are undertaking the traditional kasathan walkabout known as the Tempering. It grants +1 Charisma, makes Culture a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about cultural customs, and learn languages. At sixth level they are quick to make friends, at twelfth level they can take ten on checks to recall knowledge, and at eighteenth level they can participate in a cultural tradition significantly different than their own to regain resolve.
After that? The Diaspora, a massive asteroid belt made when the sarcesian homeworld was destroyed by Eox. It should be noted that sarcesians are one of my very favourite Pact Worlds races so I’m totally biased to love this place. In addition to sarcesians you can find a lot of space pirates, miners, and dwarves is the Diaspora. By far the coolest location in Diaspora is the River Between, a river that magically flows from one asteroid to another through space. Awesome. Other places worth checking out include The Forgotten King (an asteroid that looks like a 12 mile in diameter human skull made from some kind of ceramic and covered in strange runes), Havinak’s Vortex (a dangerous gravitational phenomenon which contains a protean space station), The Hum (a ship graveyard located around a strange section of space that creates a subsonic hum which causes ships to break and people to become erratic), Heorrhahd (a Dwarven Star Citadel), Nisis (an icy planetoid where sarcesians live in underwater bubble cities), and Songbird Station (a gorgeous Shelynite temple and concert hall). The theme for the Diaspora is called Space Pirate, which is intended for scoundrels who operate on the wrong side of the law. It grants +1 Dexterity, makes Bluff a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about black markets, smugglers, and space pirates. At sixth level they become better at hiding and hiding objects on themselves, at twelfth level they become better at fighting with a small arm and a one handed weapon, and at eighteenth level they can lead a raid or ambush in order to rob someone to regain resolve.
Right next-door to the Diaspora is the toxic planet of Eox, home to the undead. Some of the coolest locations on this dangerous world include Exantius (a new settlement created for non-elebrian undead who are tired of being oppressed), Grim Reach (a ghostly town full of phantoms from the past), Halls of the Living (a subterranean city maintained for the living in order to host reality television shows and cruel competitions), Remembrance Rock (an area littered with tombs and monuments to those lost during the death of Eox), and the Spiral Basilica (a Pharasmin temple). The theme for Eox is called Death-Touched and it is definitely one of my favourites! This theme is for characters who are mortal, but have long lived on Eox, or suffered through an event which could have tainted them with negative energy, or unlife. It grants +1 Constitution, makes Perception a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about undead and negative energy. For an added bonus you also use Perception to identify such creatures and effects, instead of Mysticism. At sixth level they gain a bonus on saving throws against a variety of conditions and effects, at twelfth level they become resistant to the cold, and at eighteenth level they can draw upon souls of the recently killed to regain resolve. Awesome!
Leaving behind the world of the dead we next visit Triaxus, a world with incredibly long seasons (it’s currently winter) inhabited by dragons, dragonkin, and a type of trimorphic elves called rhyphorians. Other races found there include elves, half-elves, and gnomes. I love this place! Who doesn’t? Some of the coolest places on the planet include Grenloch Lacuna Beach (a balmy beach resort and luxury vacation spot which is actually an elaborate virtual reality), Meruchia and Nusova (a pair of flying citadels), and the Sephorian Archipelago (a secret research facility). The theme for the Triaxus is called Dragonblood, which represents characters who have dragon blood coursing through their veins. It grants +1 Charisma, makes Culture a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about dragons and their culture. At sixth level they can terrify their enemies, at twelfth level they gain variable energy resistance, and at eighteenth level they can catalogue their wealth to regain resolve. This theme is awesome, and super thematic! I can’t wait to give it a try.
Up next is the ringed gas giant Liavara and it’s many moons, each with its own races and cultures. Here the mysterious Dreamers sing riddles of the future while swimming through golden clouds, and outposts of foreign gas miners plunder the planet’s natural resources. Roselight is Liavara’s major city, which floats the the skies and monitors the mining interests who seek to obtain Liavara’s valuable gases. My personal favourite locations are Etroas (an ancient city on the moon Melos whose citizens all vanished in a mysterious religious event known as the Taking), and Bhalakosti Excursions (a dangerous tourism company on the moon Osoro that brings adrenaline junkies into poisonous jungles for survival safaris — a Vesk hotspot!). The theme for Liavara is called Dream Prophet, which represents characters who can connect with the Dreamers and their songs. It grants +1 Wisdom, makes Mysticism a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to identify spells, and know about arcane symbolism and traditions. At sixth level they can cast augury, at twelfth level they can reroll a specific type of d20 roll twice per day, and at eighteenth level after failing a check that they rerolled they can meditate on the nature of prophecy to regain resolve. Although this is a cool theme, it’s not something I would play. It’s just not my cup of tea.
Beyond Liavara is another gas giant, Bretheda, a stormy planet with blue and purple clouds, surrounded by a large number of moons. Nicknamed ‘the Cradle,’ this planet is home to a ton of races, including the jellyfish-like barathu, haan, kalo, maraquoi, and urogs. There’s also a sizeable population of kasatha and lashunta. This article is particularly dense but, that said, it only had a few locations that really caught my interest. Be sure to check out Yashu-Indiri (a lifeless moon where a strange cult builds shrines to forgotten, dead, and lost deities — including many from Golarion), and the Grand Inza on the moon of Kalo-Mahoi (an underwater resort-city of luxury shopping centres). The theme for the Bretheda is called Biotechnician, which represents characters who have installed biological augmentations in themselves. It grants +1 Intelligence, makes Medicine a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about biotech augmentations. At sixth level they can use their connections to get a discount on biotech augmentations, at twelfth level they can install extra augmentations in themselves, and at eighteenth level they can deactivate an installed biotech augmentation to regain resolve. Interesting!
Apostae is up next — an atmosphere-less planetoid inhabited by demon-worshipping drow. Safe to say it’s not a nice place to live. Other unfortunates who toil under the thumb of the drow houses and their weapons corporations are half-orcs, orcs, mongrelmen, and troglodytes. There are a lot of cool places on Apostae, including Crater Town (an independent settlement founded in an icy crater by a half-orc), Nightarch (a city built around a mysterious gate that leads to the planet’s interior), and Wrecker’s Field (a scrapyard). The theme for the Apostae is my absolute favourite in the book and is called Xenoarchaeologist, which represents characters who explore the ruins of lost civilizations. It grants +1 Intelligence, makes Engineering a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to identify rare and alien technology. At sixth level they become adept at noticing traps, at twelfth level they are masters of translating foreign languages, and at eighteenth level they can document an artifact from an unknown or ancient culture to regain resolve. This is AWESOME! Count me in!
The final planet in the Pact Worlds is Aucturn, a toxic, shifting, organic world believed by cultists to be the womb of a Great Old One. This place is nasty! It causes mutations, madness, sickness, and worse. It’s very Lovecraftian, featuring gugs, cultists, shogoth, the Dominion of the Black, and so on. Here, nothing is illegal or taboo, and even the darkest urges can be indulged. There are a lot of interesting (and gross!) locations on Aucturn, but my favourites turned out to be Amniek (a city led by a group of midwives who are trying to birth a foul godling from the nearby Gravid Mound), Citadel of the Black (a massive, half-full settlement ruled by Carsai the King, high priest of Nyarlathotep), Endless Throat (an organic feeling hole in the ground that has no end), The Fury Place (a forest filled with a mist that drives people to rage — curiously records show it once caused lust, and before that lethargy), and Master’s Maze (a man-made maze of canyons that can only be solved from within). The theme for Aucturn is called Cultist, which actually represents a character who is an ex-cultist (or at least says they are…). It grants +1 Constitution, makes Disguise a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about secretive religions and cults. At sixth level they become adept at infiltrating and impersonating members of a cult, at twelfth level they can reroll a saving throw against diseases, drugs, and poisons, and at eighteenth level they can speak about your time in a cult to regain resolve.
With the last of the gazetteers on the planets of the Pact Worlds behind us we’ve already gone through over half of the book. Up next is Chapter Two: Starships. This section begins with some information on the Drift, and then launches into a small array of new starship options. The most interesting options are created for the Xenowarden’s biomechanical ships, but there’s also a few mainstream options like launch tubes, and a brig. I think the Aballonian data net is also really cool. There’s two new starship weapon special properties: burrowing and spore. After that there’s a trio of three new premade ships for different organizations. Three each for Aballonian ships, Hellknight ships, Iomedaean ships, Vercite ships and, my personal favourite: Xenowarden ships. The artwork for the Iomedaean Cathedralships is particularly gorgeous.
Up next is Chapter Three: Supporting Cast! This section starts with a few sentences of information on a bunch of different factions and organizations, including AbadarCorp, Android Abolitionist Front, Augmented, Corpse Fleet, Knights of Golarion, Starfinder Society, Stewards, and the Xenowardens. After this there is a wide array of NPC stat blocks tied to a theme. Each theme is two pages long, has three different stat blocks of different classes and challenge ratings associated with it, a paragraph of ideas on how you could use (and alter) these stat blocks, and some sample encounters to run with the stat blocks. The themes explored in this section are cultists, free captains, hellknights, mercenaries, security forces, and street gangs.
Up next is the final chapter in the book: Chapter Four: Character Options. This section starts with six new archetypes. The Arcanamirium Sage, who is an expert at using magical items; the Divine Champion, who serves a deity and can unlock divine powers; Skyfire Centurion, warriors who forge a bond with their teammates; Star Knight, a highly adaptable class that can represent warriors of holy or unholy orders (including hellknights); Starfinder Data Jockey, who is an expert with computers and data retrieval; and Steward Officer, a diplomatic peace-keeping military officer. I really liked the Divine Champion and the Star Knight, but I think the Data Jockey is likely to see the most use. It’s awesome.
After the archetypes there eight new feats (including the highly adaptable divine blessing), four pages of new weapons and weapon fusions, two pages of new armour and armour upgrades, two pages of technological items, two pages of magic items, two pages hybrid items, and four pages of new spells (check out control atmosphere!).
The last seven pages of the book turned out to be my favourite. They introduced six new Pact Worlds races. What can I say? I’m a sucker for playable aliens! The races include the shapeshifting astrozoans, who have no known history and look like blobby starfish (if they tried to stand). Also, they have eyeballs for elbows and knees! Cool. There’s also winged strix (a familiar face from Golarion), and bantrids who — let’s face it — look like giant noses. These quirky fellows roll around on a sort of ball they have on their base and (ironically) have no sense of smell. The borais are living races who either refused to die (despite dying) or were tainted by negative energy or undeath before they died. These people came back and are now a unique form of undead. There’s also khizars, the awesome plant-people of Castrovel and my favourite of the new races. The final race? SROs, which are basically robots that are fully sentient. My daughter ADORES them.
Boroi, a playable race from Starfinder: Pact Worlds
SRO, a playable race from Starfinder: Pact Worlds
Bantrid, a playable race from Starfinder: Pact Worlds
And that’s it! The end of Starfinder: Pact Worlds. I hope you enjoyed taking a closer look at the book with me today, and that this helped you decide whether Pact Worlds is right for you. I know I love it!
Ysoki Arcanamirium Sage from Starfinder: Pact Worlds
Kasatha Idari Pilgrim from Starfinder: Pact Worlds
Android Security from Starfinder: Pact Worlds
Verthani Cyberborn from Starfinder: Pact Worlds. Art by Pixeloid Studios
My family and I entered a contest a few weeks ago. Hosted by the overly generous Hmm on Paizo’s message boards, she was going to give away all the boons necessary to create a mermaid in PFS play. There were a few ways to enter — for yourself with a mermaid character concept, for a group of friends with a team created from the other boons she was giving away, or by nominating someone else who you thought deserved to win. My family and I entered together, and were lucky enough to be chosen as one of the winners.
I’ve mentioned this contest before on my blog, and I promised that when our characters were complete I would share them with the world.
That time is now! (Finally! Haha.)
My family and I wanted to make a quartet of characters who are (and were) universally considered outcasts among their people and Golarion at large. They’re weird, and different. But what’s strange for one culture isn’t strange for others, and it’s those very oddities that the others embraced and connected with. After all, who cares if the vanara has unnaturally large eyes, if he’s hanging out with a grippli? These guys are friends, companions, and (in many ways) family. They don’t have the same interests, and they don’t always get along. But, hey? What family does?
My daughter was the first person to create her character. She’s always the first person to do so. Admittedly, I would beat her to it, except I always wait to see what my kids want to make before creating my own character.
My daughter made a grippli named Croak. In her original character pitch she had said she was gong to make an energetic, poisonous grippli who fought with a blowgun. She was going to be a ranger with the poison darter archetype (rangers can be found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook, grippli can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide, and the poison darter archetype for rangers can be found in Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Beast). When it came time to make her character and actually get her down on paper, she stuck to it. But, she also added to it. In addition to being a poison darter, she’s chosen to be a skirmisher, which is an archetype for rangers which sacrifices their spellcasting in order to use some nifty tricks a few times each day that can benefit yourself and your companions. This won’t have an effect on her character now, but in the future it definitely will! (The skirmisher archetype for rangers can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player’s Guide).
Croak is incredibly nimble, and rather wise. She’s decent with people and animals, and pretty healthy. She’s not one for book learning, and she’s physically weak. Her final stats are Str 8 / Dex 18 / Con 12 / Int 10 / Wis 16 / Cha 13. As a grippli she’s small, has dark vision, a base speed of 30 feet and a climb speed of 20 feet. She has the ability to camouflage herself while in a swamp, and has no problem travelling in such environments. She speaks Common and Grippli. She was sorely tempted to take the toxic skin variant racial trait, but decided against it. Croak loves to swim, so my daughter didn’t think it made since to give up swamp stride. As a ranger she has the track ability, which she’s excited for. However, she does not have a favoured enemy or wild empathy. These are both abilities she gave up for her archetype. Instead she has poison use, and she secretes a paralytic toxin from her skin which she can use to poison her weapons a few times each day. At higher levels she’ll give up her combat style for rogue talents and give up her hunter’s bond ability for sneak attack that only works with a blowgun.
Now, you might be saying, blowgun? Really? They’re not very good. Well, too bad! My daughter thinks they’re the coolest. She bought a toy one for herself the other day at the local dollar store. I warned her they were tricky to use, but she insisted, and she’s been practising ever since. By now she can get the foam dart to sort of fall out of the blowgun and land on the floor. This is a great improvement from her first few attempts which resulted in the dart moving slightly and staying inside the blowgun. Haha. Admittedly, I’m not much better. As an out of shape asthmatic I can make the dart fly no more than five feet. I’m quite proud of this, actually, as I expected to do much, much worse. (Hooray for low expectations!).
Croak decided to use her favoured class bonus on a special grippli ranger option: she gets a +1 bonus on swim checks. When this bonus hits +8 she also gains a swim speed of 15 feet. She finds this very exciting. She chose to put her skills into acrobatics, climb, diplomacy, perception, perform (song), and swim. She’s also naturally good at stealth and survival, but she did not invest ranks into those skills yet. Perhaps in the future. For traits she chose insider knowledge, which gives her a +1 on diplomacy checks and made diplomacy a class skill. She also chose reckless, which gives her a +1 on acrobatics checks and made acrobatics a class skill. (Insider knowledge can be found in the Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Guide, while Reckless can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Campaign). All things considered, acrobatics turned out to be her best skill, which is just how she wanted it. For her feat she chose agile tongue. This grippli feat allows her to use her tongue to lift light objects, make sleight of hand checks, and perform steal and disarm maneuvers. It also lets her make melee touch attacks, but that won’t have any benefit for her right now. (Agile tongue can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide).
When it came time to buy her equipment, my daughter certainly took her time! Haha. She bought a blowgun with a ton of blowgun darts, a net, and a pair of poisoned sand tubes. But for her melee weapon? Oh, it took forever! Melee is not going to be Croak’s forte. She’s intended to be a close range combatant who stays mobile, and hinders her foes. Her strength score is poor, but she still wanted to be able to have a melee weapon for those times she she gets locked down. The problem? My daughter has no idea what most weapons actually are. She can read their names and statistics, but rarely does she actually know what they look like. There are some she knows, of course: longsword, short sword, dagger, gauntlet, cestus, scimitar, sickle, whip, spear, quarterstaff, net, blowgun, bow, crossbow and darts. She also sort of knows what a sling is. Or rather, she knows what it is, but she likes slingshots better, so she insists the sling is a slingshot. Not the case, of course, but hey, she’s six. It’s a slingshot! As a ranger she had proficiency in a lot of weapons she didn’t recognize, so we spent some time looking up pictures of each weapon, and even watched some videos of how you use each one in battle. In the end, she chose a light flail for her weapon. She became so enamoured with this dangerous weapon that the same day she was at our local dollar store and bought a blowgun, she also bought a little toy flail that’s perfectly sized for her. She’s been hard at work learning how to swing it without whacking herself in the head. For her armour, she picked out a reinforced tunic. In addition to basic adventuring gear she bought a sunrod, a healing potion, and a few vials of acid.
So who is Croak? What’s she like?
Croak is a beautifully coloured grippli, with bright pink and purple skin. Her big, yellow eyes are so bright they practically glow. Her big wide mouth is always curved up in a happy smile. She wears a bright yellow tunic with a belt made of vines. She has a blowgun on her belt, along with a LOT of darts, some vials, and a light flail. She wears a backpack which she’s drawn on with chalk to make look fancy (it mostly looks messy). She taps her toes while she waits, wiggles her fingers, and flicks her tongue around. She never seems to stop moving.
Croak’s a hyperactive, bouncy little thing that’s constantly moving and talking. She’s impulsive, impatient, and finds it difficult to settle. She loves to climb, swim, and play. She’s a very mobile and acrobatic fighter, cartwheeling, dancing, and diving across the battlefield. This makes her a big target. But, she doesn’t mind! They’ll never catch her! Especially once she’s tangled them up in a net, or poisoned them!
Croak is the funny member of the team. She is naive, and boundlessly optimistic. She looks on the bright side of everything, even if she has to get pretty creative to find that bright side! She’s the team member who keeps everyone moving, and brings a smile on a dour day. She’s their spirit.
Croak grew up in a tribe of grippli who lived in the Mushfens of Varisia. Life there was hard! It required patience, and relied on stealth and camouflage. Croak did not fit in. She was bright, chipper, and NOISY! Plus, she never sat still. After a particularly disastrous fishing expedition involving sixteen butterflies, a rubber ball, a fishing net, and seven very upset grippli, Croak was cast out from her tribe.
It sucked! She was very upset!
She travelled a lot after that, and had a lot of trouble fitting in. Lots of people thought she was WEIRD. But, in time, she made new friends. They didn’t mind that she never sat still. After all, they were always travelling anyway! And Croak never slowed them down. They didn’t mind that she squirmed around and bounced through the battlefield. She was a very distracting target! They didn’t mind that she talked all the time. They didn’t even mind her singing! Well, okay, maybe they minded her singing. She couldn’t really be sure when she was singing, after all. She was rather loud.
Croak loves to explore nature with her friend Pinesong Rippleroot. She loves to go swimming with her friend Sereia. And she loves to make discoveries in cities with her friend Lomo.
With my daughter’s character made, we sat down to work on my son’s: Pinesong Rippleroot.
In his original character pitch, my son decided to make an eco-conscious vanara druid with a stumpy tail and hair growth issues. He kept his character concept the same, but while creating his backstory he decided he would have a pet pig. While we explored the druid class and its archetypes together, we also checked out some similarly themed classes, including the shaman, and nature-themed oracles, sorcerers, and witches. Although he loved the idea of a lot of the druid’s abilities, he fell in love with the idea of using his pig as a spirit animal. He debated for a time, but in the end decided that Pinesong Rippleroot would be a shaman. (Vanara can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide. Shamans can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Class Guide, sorcerers can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook, while oracles and witches can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player’s Guide).
Pinesong is incredibly wise and nimble. He’s surprisingly charismatic and friendly. His final statistics are Str 10 / Dex 16 / Con 10 / Int 10 / Wis 16 / Cha 14. As a vanara, he has a thirty foot base speed, 20 foot climb speed, and low-light vision. He’s nimble, and gains a +2 bonus on his stealth and acrobatics checks. Pinesong gave up his prehensile tail ability and instead chose risky troublemaker, which lets him roll twice on his use magic device checks. He speaks Common and Vanaran. As a shaman he forms a bond with a single spirit, which grants him magic spells, abilities, hexes, and other benefits. He also has a magical spirit animal who acts as a conduit between himself and his spirit. My son immediately decided to select the nature spirit. This would grant him some nifty plant and animal themed spells and abilities. Right now it lets him use the spell charm animal as his spirit magic spell, and create little hindering storms around his enemies with the storm burst ability. It also allows his spirit animal (a pig named Cutie Pie) the ability to move through any undergrowth and natural difficult terrain without penalty or harm. Shamans are prepared casters, so for his first adventure he chose to prepare daze, detect magic, stabilize, cure light wounds, and goodberry.
My son chose to invest his skill ranks into acrobatics, climb, knowledge (nature), survival, and use magic device. He’s also naturally good at stealth. There’s a lot more skills he wants to invest in at higher levels, including handle animal, knowledge (arcana), and spellcraft. For traits he selected dangerously curious, which gave him a +1 bonus in use magic device and made it a class skill, as well as reckless (that’s a pretty popular trait in my house!). (Dangerously curious can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Campaign and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player’s Guide). For feats he chose weapon finesse.
When it came time to buy his gear my son knew exactly what he wanted. Pinesong adores fancy, complicated objects, which my son wanted to reflect in his gear choices. He purchased a light crossbow and lamellar cuirass. (Lamellar cuirass can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Equipment and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Combat). Of course, Pinesong also tries to make his own gear — and does a horrible job at it. He uses hand carved wooden stakes for his melee weapon, and wears a braided belt of grass and vines. For his other gear he invested in some basic adventuring equipment, a vial of acid and a flask of holy water.
Pinesong Rippleroot is a chubby, vanara with a bulging tummy, thin white fur, and a short stubby tail. His eyes are much too big, which makes them look like they’re bulging out of his head, but his smile is wide and happy. His hair on the top of his head is styled into an outlandish hair do! It looks very odd! With every breeze his fur moves around, showing off his many bald spots.
Pinesong wears a belt he fashioned himself from a braided vines and grass. There’s a wooden stake hooked onto it, and a belt pouch. On his back is a crossbow and a backpack, and over his chest he wears some odd looking armour made of little squares that he thought was fascinating! He does not wear pants or shoes.
Pinesong was always a strange vanara. He was born hairless, with massive, bulging eyes, and a short stunted tail. The other vanara thought he was hideously deformed! As he grew it didn’t get any better. His hair never grew in, his tail never got longer, and his eyes? Well, they got bigger, but that just creeped everyone out more. Eventually, the tribe could take it no more and Pinesong (whose birthname is Bug-eye Manycurse) was abandoned. He was still a child then, but he took to life in the forests with enthusiasm. The birds never complained or called him ugly. The bugs never screamed when he came to play with them. The animals became his friends, and the wilds his home. He was happy, and free. In time, Pinesong’s hair did grow in. It’s very thin, and a good breeze shows off his many bald spots, but he’s very proud of it. He keeps it long and refuses to trim it, worried that it won’t grow back. He brushes it all the time and styles it in outlandish hair-dos. His tail is still too short, and never really grew in. He’s also quite chubby and big for a vanara, with a bulging tummy, and a wide, happy, face.
Eventually, Pinesong reached the edge of the woods and found something amazing! A TOWN. They had homes made from dead trees, and could shape the earth into little cute rectangles for making things! Apparently they were called bricks and they were not for throwing. Pinesong was fascinated! He moved in right away, but still finds the ways of the city strange. He doesn’t understand why they get mad when he sleeps on rooftops. Or why they greet him with shrieks and screams. His concepts of ownership are, admittedly, in need of some work. They offered him a home at this place with barred windows, but he got bored so he left. They didn’t like that very much. He loves trying to build beautiful things like the city folk do, but he’s horrible at it. His inventions always malfunction and break, usually causing him to hurt himself. A minor price to pay for mastering a craft!
In time, Pinesong made some great friends. There was a grippli who was delightfully exciting! She thought his big eyes were beautiful, which made him blush all the way to the tips of his wonderfully styled fur. There was an elf who could breathe water! A feat he’d like to accomplish one day! And there was a ratfolk who knew the many intricacies of city life which so eluded him.
One day he found a little pig who was being chased by naughty children with sticks! Pinesong swooped in to save the pig, and he hasn’t left his side since. He’s decided to call the pig ‘Cutie Pie.’ Pinesong loves his curly little tail and his happy squeals. Pinesong was very surprised to find that Cutie Pie is magical! When he asks Cutie Pie for magical power, nature listens, and the magic flows up into Cutie Pie and into Pinesong. It’s pretty cool!
Despite his newfound fascination with city-life, Pinesong cares deeply for the natural world. He wants to protect the many animals, plants, and delicate eco-systems of Golarion. He has a soft spot for lost things, foundlings, and orphans of all kinds. He’s a happy fellow, with a jolly, screeching laugh. He’s a bit oblivious to the intricacies of society, and the cultures around him, but loves learning about such things. He’s constantly trying to make friends, even though most people are creeped out or irritated by him. Despite his goofy demeanour, Pinesong is uncommonly wise, and his group of friends often turn to him for advice, comfort, healing, and guidance.
When I sit down to make characters I come up with a character concept first, then I browse through all the different classes and archetypes that I think might work for them and take notes on which ones I like, why, and how that class choice would affect my character concept. Sereia was no different. As I went through arcanist and a bunch of other casting classes, I decided two extra important things: she would have poor charisma and use a trident. Arcanists sort of need charisma, so I had a bit of an issue. In addition, both of my children had chosen ranged options, and I knew we’d be in need of a melee fighter of some sort. In the end, I decided to make Sereia a magus. It blended my arcane magic with some decent combat capabilities in a way that I enjoy. In addition, I don’t have a magus in PFS play (although I do have a ranged magus in a different play-by-post), so I was excited to get the chance to use one. Arcanist will have to wait for another time. Again. (Poor arcanist!). I decided to give her the hexcrafter archetype. The hexes would which would give her some fun ranged options and, in terms of flavour, Sereia believes herself to be cursed. I liked the idea of reflecting that in her class choices. (The magus and the hexcrafter can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Magic).
Sereia is smart and strong. She’s nimble — though not nearly as much as her companions — and is relatively healthy. She’s impulsive, and prone to acting before thinking. She’s unused to interacting with surface races. Her final statistics are Str 16 / Dex 14 / Con 12 / Int 16 / Wis 10 / Cha 8. As an aquatic elf she’s amphibious, has a base speed of 30 feet, and a swim speed of thirty feet. She’s a naturally gifted arcane caster, and has keen senses. She took the deep sea dweller alternate race trait which gives her dark vision and cold resistance at the expense of low-light vision and her elven immunities. She speaks Aquan, Common, Celestial, and Elven. As a magus she has an arcane pool, spellbook, cantrips, and the spell combat ability. Her archetype adds a variety of curse spells to her spell list, although at the moment she only has brand in her spellbook. At higher levels she’ll also gain access to a variety of witch hexes. The level one spells I chose to add to her spellbook include colour spray, grease, hydraulic push, obscuring mist, shield, and shocking grasp.
I had such a wide array of skills I wanted Sereia to be able to use that I had a hard time narrowing it down. In the end I invested skill ranks into disable device, knowledge (arcana), linguistics, perception, spellcraft, and swim. At her next level up she will diversify a lot, spreading out her ranks to a wide variety of new skills. I chose to give her criminal (disable device) and observant (perception) for her traits, and arcane strike for her feat. In addition to basic adventuring gear I bought her a trident, darts, a few vials of acid, leather armour, and thieve’s tools.
Sereia is a calm and proud aquatic elf with blue skin, long white hair, and a wiry frame. Constantly hot and feeling like typical surfacer clothes are suffocating her, Sereia wears as little clothes as possible to remain ‘decent’ in public. Typically this consists of tiny, tight shorts, a crop top, a belt, sandals and a backpack. While on missions she adds leather armour. She wears golden earrings, and an elaborate golden hair piece — ancient Azlanti relics she scavenged herself on an expedition made before she was cursed. She also wears a thick necklace of shell and coral which her sister made her many years ago. In her hands she carries an elaborate trident.
Sereia is descended from a long line of aquatic elf explorers who ply ancient, sunken ruins in search of relics. The exploration of these locations, and the handling and care of the treasures and lore found within is considered a great honour. However, her people take great pride in knowing when a dangerous ruin, or powerful artifact should be left untouched, and unsullied. Insatiably curious, Sereia revelled in the joy of discovery, and earned a place of respect among her people. For a time. For Sereia’s greatest strength was also her weakness. She was too curious. Too ambitious. Too bold. And it was her downfall. When her exploration team discovered a ruin marked with ominous sigils, they labelled it taboo. Off limits. But Sereia forged ahead. She discovered a strange pearl on an altar, literally pulsing with magical energy. Where others would have backed down, she reached out… and touched it.
Her world fell apart.
The pearl transported her to a strange place where the seafloor was hard, and the oceans were hot air that burned and cracked her skin. She could breathe — thank the gods! — but swimming was off limits with water nowhere in sight. She learned to walk, an exhausting experience, for never before had her body felt so heavy.
And there, on the surface of Golarion, Sereia faced a harsh reality. She had been reckless. She had broken taboos. She had been banished by her own foolishness. Even if she found her way home, she would not be welcome. Not without penance. She needed a great offering for her people. An ancient relic that belonged under the waves, which she could return to her people with pride. And so she set out to acquire such a prize, and — impossibly — find her way home.
Sereia is calm, proud, ambitious, and bold. She’s insatiably curious, and deeply interested in relics, history, and exploration. Since her recklessness brought her to the surface, Sereia believes herself to be cursed by her ancestors or her people’s gods. She was distant and aloof for a very long time, and still seems to be among strangers.She tries to temper her recklessness and curiosity by ponderously thinking things through. A strategy much harder to use since she befriended her strange new friends.
Sereia joined the Pathfinder Society as an excavator and a scholar. She went on missions, but made few friends. She was aloof, and distant. Her fellow agents found her strange — particularly her habit of eating everything raw. She never sought companionship, but in time, it found her.
She met a grippli as curious as she was, who made no effort to reel in her excitement and urges. She met a vanara with a respect for the natural world as deep as her own. And she met a ratfolk who didn’t seem to care he had no place in the world. They befriended her. Changed her. Inspired her. And, in time, she changed them. She sponsored their entry into the Pathfinder Society, and now they work together as a single, very strange, team. With their help, the ancient relic Sereia needs in order to return home has never been closer.
And she’s never wanted it less.
For, what need was there to earn a prize to return home, when she had a family right here in Absalom?
My husband went last. He usually does. It takes him a long time to decide not only on what he’s going to be, but also to come up with some engaging, fun quirks that will keep him interested in his character. In his original character pitch he decided to make a nimble ratfolk shifter name Lomo who chews on everything (including magical objects). He’s stayed very close to that concept. He’s a shifter with the mouse aspect (which will look like a rat in play). (Ratfolk are from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide, while the shifter is available in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Wilderness). He’s incredibly nimble. He’s also quite cunning, intelligent, and hardy. His final statistics are Str 10 / Dex 18 / Con 12 / Int 13 / Wis 14 / Cha 10.
As a ratfolk, Lomo is slow, but has darkvision. He’s good with rats, and enjoys tinkering with stuff. He gave up his swarming racial trait to instead have bulging cheek pouches that he likes to hide tasty bits and bobs in. As a shifter he has sharp retractable claws, wild empathy, and (as previously mentioned) the mouse minor aspect, which gives him evasion. He chose the feat weapon finesse, and intends to take shifter’s edge feat tree in the future. He’s a nimble, scrappy shifter, not a bruiser.
Lomo invested skill ranks into acrobatics, climb, knowledge (nature), perception, and stealth. For traits he chose ratfolk avenger, a trait from Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea Races which gives him +1 damage against enemies he’s seen attack his companions. He’s very protective of his friends! He also chose sacred touch.
Lomo is a rough looking ratfolk with thick gray fur, bright beady eyes, and soft ears. His cheeks bulge out, as if filled with something, and he nibbles on the end of a fancy looking stick. His long hairless tail is crooked from a magical mishap suffered long ago.
Lomo is the eldest son of a powerful and well-respected wizard. His father once took great pride in passing on his magical teachings and excellence to Lomo, who proved completely and totally ungifted in the arcane arts. Disappointed in his son’s failure, Lomo’s father gave up on him, and began training Lomo’s younger brother instead. Jealous, Lomo spent his nights sneaking into his father’s arcane laboratory and library, desperately trying to make the various wands and magical devices work. He failed. A lot. In frustration he gnawed on the objects he failed to activate. A horrible trait which eventually became habitual. To this day Lomo’s constantly chewing on things — including valuable magical objects. One night he found himself chewing on a powerful artifact of his fathers, which crumbled to pieces in his mouth. Horrified and unable to fix it, Lomo set off to find someone who could.
He left with his friend, Croak, and eventually became companions with Pinesong and Sereia. When Sereia offered to sponsor their entry into the Pathfinders, the trio took her up on her offer. Now the group works together. He’s become very protective of them and, whenever they’re hurt, he tends to shriek “OH, NO YOU DIDN’T!” and go a little… feral.
Lomo desperately wants to be a member of the Dark Archives, but keeps getting turned down. They won’t let him anywhere near the relics. Still, he’s hopeful he’ll not only get in, but he’ll come to lead them one day! Despite his troubles with the Dark Archive, Lomo’s a good Pathfinder Agent. He’s nosy, curious, and good at getting into places he shouldn’t.
Lomo is a nimble, scrappy ratfolk who is constantly gnawing on things — particularly magical objects. He’s greedy,nosy, and a little self-centred — but not obviously so. He tries to be friendly, but it always comes off a bit desperate and awkward. He’s the street-wise member of the group. Lomo knows how the world works and how to get by in it.
And that’s our quirky crew! Together they would do…. stuff! But, that’s not it. In the contest we could choose to write a song for bonus points, which we did. Songs and poetry are not my forte. I love to sing (badly), play the piano (I’m not very good), and dance (with my family). And yes, a lot of the time I burst into spontaneous songs made up off the top of my head. But that doesn’t mean they’re any good. They’re usually jokes, or lullabies, or just a song about my kids, or what we’re doing. Writing a song is outside of my comfort zone. But, we went for it. My son wanted to add jokes into the song, and my daughter wanted it to have a lot of animal sounds (since we were nearly all animal people of one kind or another). And I just… sort of tried to put it together.
Our song’s a mess. Which is exactly how it should be. It’s a song written by Croak the grippli, and sung by the whole team. But, like any group of friends, a song’s not just a song. It’s interspersed with conversation, heckling, and a fair amount of confusion! It’s a song, but it’s also them singing it. Enjoying it. And messing it up. It’s a work in progress that will never be perfect. And even if it could be, they wouldn’t want it that way.
A super wonderful amazing song…
Everyone: Croak! Croak! Oo! Oo! Ee! We like swamps and we like trees! Whee! Wahoo! Sniffle scrounge! We like to play and we like to lounge!
Croak: “Wait! What? I don’t like to lounge! That’s boring!” Lomo: “Nothing wrong with sitting still once in a while, Croak.” Sereia: “Sniffle? Is someone sick?” Croak: “Nope! That’s Lomo! His nose twitches like crazy.” Lomo: “Hey! I’m not some hound dog, ya’ know!” Pinesong: “Mmm… Treeeees… Oh, yeah! I love a good climb!” Sereia: “Oh, dear. I’m not sure I can climb a tree. My limbs are far too heavy to — “ Croak: “Come on! Back to the song guys!”
Everyone: Boing! Boing! Ribbit! Croak! Croak! Croak! Time to splash and time to soak! Nibble Nibble! Whisper! Sing! We love adventure! What will the tomorrow bring?
Sereia: “We should call ourselves the Children of the Waves.” Croak: “Waves? The swamp doesn’t have waves! Let’s call ourselves the Bog Jumpers!” Sereia: “Bog? Ugh, that water’s filthy.” Pinesong: “It’s not filthy! Bog’s are a very important eco-system, you know.” Lomo: “Yeah, yeah. For bugs and junk, maybe. Let’s call ourselves The Rat Kings!” Croak: “Kings? I want to be Queens!” Sereia: “Rat Queens? That’s taken already, dear.” Pinesong: “Aaaaand, cue the finale!”
Everyone: Chitter, chatter! Talk, talk, talk! We swim, we climb, we dance and walk! We’re all different. We’re not the same. But we’re all friends!
Croak: “Something, something… aim?” Pinesong: “That’s not it! Think of something else… tame? blame?” Sereia: “I don’t like any of those words. Let’s think positive.” Lomo: “Pfft! Songs don’t have to rhyme! Conformity’s lame.” Croak: “That did rhyme.” Lomo: “Nope. Definitely didn’t.” Sereia: “It certainly did.” Pinesong: “I’ve got it! Everybody smile!?”
Croak: “Wow! Great job! That was an awesome ending! Sereia: “The end is where we’re supposed to stop talking, dear.” Croak: “Stop? Aww, shucks! I’ll stop when —“ Lomo: *nibble nibble* Sereia: “Are you chewing on a stick?” *GASP* “Spit that wand out this instant!” Lomo: “Hey, if it ain’t meant for chewing, its shouldn’t taste this good.” Sereia: “No respect for history…”
(Note: The Rat Queens are an amazing fantasy comic book series which you should definitely read! It is by far my favourite comic book currently in print. Scratch that. It’s my favourite comic book EVER. So good! Be forewarned: it is not intended for children. The Rat Queens begins with Rat Queens: Volume 1: Sass & Sorcery.)
Despite singing about naming our group, they’re perpetually nameless. I highly doubt they’ll ever agree on a name for themselves.
So what’s this weird, wacky, nameless team up to?
We were lucky enough that a fellow play-by-poster offered to run us through our inaugural mission as Pathfinders! We’ll be starting Heroes for Highdelve online on Paizo’s website soon.
At the request of our GM, and in order to better link ourselves to the plot line of Heroes for Highdelve, each of us decided on a reason we were heading there, and something that we were seeking. Shockingly (not) my daughter managed to make hers include rabbits.
One day, Croak found a toy store that sold stuffed rabbits. Croak thought they were beautiful! So she bought one! But, she had trouble deciding which one was the prettiest so she bought a lot! She put them in her waterproof bag — so they wouldn’t get wet — and went about her business in town with Lomo. She danced and played, and climbed on roofs and wagons — and got scolded by the people who owned those things. Then she reached for a rabbit toy to play with it. BUT IT WAS GONE! Somewhere along the way Croak had put down the bag! She looked everywhere for itand asked all kinds of people. Eventually she realized she had left it on top of a carriage! Croak tried to track down the carriage, but it was too fast! Adventure awaits! Croak has been following the wagon’s trail and tracked it to Highdelve. She hopes to find the carriage and get back her bag of stuffed rabbits! Who know what will happen along the way!
Pinesong recently helped out at an animal shelter, where he found homes for a variety of animals. Happy he was so helpful, Pinesong went out around town to check on the pets. Unfortunately, one of the people he sold some pigs to turned out to be a merchant who was on his way to Highdelve to sell the pigs to a butcher shop! Pinesong knows that people tend to eat meat, but those pigs were NOT for eating! They were for lovng! Pinesong has set out to stop the salesman from selling the pigs at the fair in Highdelve! (Or, to at least ensure they get sold to someone who won’t eat them!)
Sereia has recently been searching for a coral idol of Gozreh which was fished up out of a ruin off the coast of Andoran by an elderly fisherman. The idol was sold a few times before it got in the hands of an antiquities smuggler by the name of Jacobi. Always a few steps behind the idol, Sereia hopes to catch up the the smuggler in Highdelve so she can acquire the idol before it is sold. And, if she’s too late, she’s hopeful she can at least get the name of the person Jacobi sold the relic to.
While Lomo’s in Highdelve with his friends, he hopes to find a magical craftsman capable of fixing his father’s artifact. Having been let down before, he’s not hopeful.
Unbeknownst to Lomo his father’s artifact is, and always has been, a fake. It can’t be fixed, because it was never magical in the first place. And if it was? Well, obviously it would have taken something stronger than his teeth to break it. If only Lomo had paid a bit more attention to his father’s lessons…
NOW that’s it. The end.
Or, is it the beginning?
Either way, we’ve had a blast.
Thanks for joining us on d20diaries. I hope you have the opportunity to find a gaming group as great and fun-loving as I have.
As mentioned this past Monday, today we’re going to be taking a look at one of the wonderful Pathfinder books I happen to own: Blood of the Sea!
Blood of the Sea is a Pathfinder Player Companion compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. This means it’s a thin, soft-cover book with plenty of new options intended for players creating characters. More specifically, this volume focuses on some of the aquatic races of Golarion, how you can use them in water and on land, and on underwater adventuring. This book goes hand in hand with Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Aquatic Adventures, which contains information on each of the oceans of Golarion, underwater combat, a host of new rules and some new character options.
The races detailed in Blood of the Sea include aquatic elves, cecaelias, gillmen, locathahs, merfolk, tritons, adaro, grindylow, and sahuagin. Statistics for playing these races as characters are including for all of these races except for aquatic elves, gillmen and merfolk. Aquatic elves, gillmen and merfolk can be found in a variety of sources, including the the Advanced Race Guide and Inner Sea Races. Gillmen can also be found in the Inner Sea World Guide, and the Inner Sea Monster Codex, while merfolk can also be found in the first Bestiary.
Blood of the Sea features dynamic cover art by Kiki Moch Rizky, which showcases Hakon, the iconic skald, battling an enraged cecaelia on the beach. The inside cover has a really useful map of Golarion with all of its oceans and seas labelled. I definitely read some I didn’t recognize, which is nice to see. The oceans include Abari, Antarkos, Arcadian, Embaral, and Okaiyo, while the seas depicted are Castrovin, Fever, Ivory, Inner, Shining, Songil, Steaming, and Valashmai. For more information on these major waterways you’ll need to check out Aquatic Adventures.
Up next is the table of contents and the introduction. Unlike most Pathfinder Player Companion introductions, this one does not contain any traits or character options. It does still contain a handy rules index, which lists all the new archetypes, feats, and other new rules options contained in the book, alphabetically by type with the page numbers so they can be found on for easy reference. After this we move right into the bulk of the book: aquatic races. The goodly races are presented first, each with two pages dedicated to them. Each contains information about the race in general, how they might come to be adventurers, and some new rules options which typically include statistics for playing them as a race, alternate race traits, favoured class options, feat, and archetypes. Villainous races are showcased afterwards, with two pages shared between then three of them.
Up first? Aquatic elves! Curious and respectful, these elves take it upon themselves to explore and protect underwater ruins — although they have the wisdom to leave the most dangerous ruins untouched. There’s some nifty artwork featuring an aquatic elf with a dagger that has a handle made from a conch shell, which looks pretty cool. As already mentioned, the statistics for playing an aquatic elf are not included in this book. Instead, there is a nice rogue archetype called ‘seeker of the lost‘ which I rather enjoyed. It focuses on exploring underwater ruins, disabling magical traps (which are some of the only kind to survive long periods of time underwater without deteriorating), and underwater combat. Although it’s not ground-breaking or anything, I rather like it. There are also three alternate race traits, and a total of nine favoured class options. ‘Deep sea dweller‘ allows aquatic elves to survive in the dark, depths of the ocean — sort of. It grants you dark vision and cold resistance at the cost of low-light vision and elven immunities. It does not, however, grant and protections from pressure. So it allows you to be in the lightless parts of the ocean, but not too far down. It’s my favourite of the race traits for sure! ‘Surface features‘ allows you to blend in with surface elves which, although useful, doesn’t really tickle my fancy. Why be a weird race and then choose to look like everyone else? Still, it’s sure to see use in play. It replaces keen senses. Lastly, ‘surfacer antagonist‘ is for all the aquatic elves out there who have been harmed by those nasty humans. (Ugh. Filthy land-lubbers. Am I right? lol). This trait grants you a +1 bonus on attack rolls against humans at the cost of elven magic. Yeah, against HUMANS. This trait is going to be really good in pretty much any adventure or campaign. I honestly can’t think of one where you don’t fight a human at some point. Despite it’s usefulness, ‘deep sea dweller’ beats it as my favourite character option for aquatic elves.
Next we come to cecaelias, which first appeared in Pathfinder as an enemy in Bestiary 3. I can honestly say that before reading this book they were not one of the races I ever thought I would want to play. They seem relatively impractical for a PC (being aquatic, and having tentacles), and I’m not big into octopi. It just wasn’t interesting to me. But, after reading the book, I’m probably the most excited for playing a cecaelia. For starters the artwork is awesome, and makes them a lot more relatable than the bestiary image. Their racial traits are fun looking. They have enough of the monster’s original abilities, while still being playable as a PC. They’re a powerful race, of course, at 23 RP, which puts them on par with grindylow, sahuagin, ogres, and svirfneblin. They have great flavour and cultural information. I adore that they’re super curious and social. They’re out to enjoy life, which is always fun to play. They come with three alternate race traits: ‘dextrous tentacles,’ ‘garrulous,’ and ‘tripping tentacles.’ They’re all pretty good, with ‘dextrous tentacles‘ allowing you to use your tentacles to hold and manipulate objects and increase the range of your tentacle sense ability (which gives you blindsight underwater) at the expense of being able to shoot an ink cloud; ‘garrulous‘ gives you a bonus on linguistics and diplomacy skill checks as well as allows you to learn two languages each time you invest a rank into linguistics at the expense of being able to shoot an ink cloud; lastly, ‘tripping tentacles‘ makes you really good at tripping your opponent but causes you to lose your tentacle sense ability. I like ‘garrulous‘ best, but I’m one of those players who enjoys learning a ton of languages, so I’m definitely biased. Haha. As for class options, they have only a single feat up for offer. That said, I like it, so its enough for me. The feat is ‘cecaelia focus tattoo’ which gives you a magical tattoo. Although you can have any number of tattoos, you can only activate one at a time. Once activated a tattoo functions for one hour. There are currently eight different tattoos which can increase your saves against poison or death effects, your stealth or survival skill checks, or the distance of your darkvision. Once you have the feat you can also choose to take another tattoo or increase the potency of one of your tattoos in place of a favoured class bonus, which is a pretty nifty option.
Leaving behind our tattooed cephalopods we get to a race I’ve liked since they were introduced ages ago: gillmen. I know, I know, having to submerge yourself in water or die a horrible death is tricky for a lot of campaigns, but what can I say? I like them! As mentioned previously, statistics for playing gillmen are not included this book. Instead, we get some nice flavour and cultural information (some of which is new), and a lot of class options. There’s the ‘hidden current‘ vigilante archetype which allows gillmen to take on the identity of a nonaquatic humanoid when they’re on land, and at higher levels can even let them magically travel between the land or sea. There’s also four feats, four alternate race traits, an four favoured class bonuses. Also? Awesome artwork! Its my favourite of the entire book. My favourite class options are the feats ‘surface survivor‘ (which makes playing gillmen more manageable) and ‘aphotic explorer,’ as well as the ‘venomkissed‘ alternate race trait.
Locathahs are up next, which is another one of those races I’ve never really felt an urge to play. That said, the flavour really sold it for me, and I think I’d enjoy creating one. My favourite part? They’re stinky and proud of it! Haha. Locathahs use their scent to communicate, even underwater, which is pretty cool. Locathah racial traits are a great conversion from their statistics from Bestiary 2, and the race comes in at 10 RP, which makes them approximately on par with the core races. There are also three feats here, all of which are a part of a combat style called ‘electric eel‘ that utilizes the ‘elemental fist‘ feat. I’ve mentioned in other blog posts that combat styles aren’t really my cup of tea, but I’m actually quite fond of this one. I recommend giving it a read. There are also five alternate race traits available for locathah characters, and six favoured class bonuses. I like all of the alternate race traits, but I think my favourites are ‘blunt head‘ which gives you a bite attack but reduces your swim speed, and ‘coastal emissary.‘ I also love ‘powerful smell,’ but its bound to irritate your companions. Haha.
Up next is merfolk. As mentioned, the statistics for merfolk are not provided in this book. Instead there’s a lot of music-themed class options and six favoured class bonuses. In fact, they have some of my very favourite class options in the entire book. For starters there the oracle archetype ‘ocean’s echo‘ which gives you a nice selection of sound-themed bonus spells, and the ability to use some bardic performances. I’m in! (It should be noted: I love bards). There’s also a new oracle curse which is bound to be a ton of fun: ‘song-bound,’ which compels you to sing loudly whenever you speak. Yes, always. How fun is that? I don’t know about you, but I would literally sing everything my character says (I’m an average singer at best, by the way). My kids love it, too. Lastly, there are two new masterpieces in this section, one of which can grant your companions a swim speed, and the other that can scare off trespassers. Both can be sung or played on a string instrument.
Tritons are the final goodly aquatic race in this book. Just over half of the entry is racial and cultural information, most of which is new (as far as I know, haha). Their racial traits are well done, but wow! Are they ever slow on land! Haha. They’re a great conversion from their statistics in Bestiary 2, and come out to a total of 11 RP which makes them approximately on par with the core races and locathahs. There’s a paladin archetype in this section called ‘kraken slayer‘ which looks interesting, but isn’t going to see much use in non-aquatic campaigns. There’s also two feats which work well together: ‘ally caller‘ which lets you use your innate spell-like ability to summon water elementals and dolphins two extra times per day (this feat can be taken multiple times) and ‘aquatic squires‘ which makes that same spell-like ability last 1 minute per level. Not amazing or anything, but fun and flavourful. I like it. All told, though, triton is my least favourite of the goodly races featured in this book.
With the good guys over and done we come to two pages entitled ‘Enemies of the Sea.’ Here we find statistics for playing adaros, grindylow, and sahuagin, as well as a paragraph of racial information on each. Grindylow and sahuagin are both 22 RP, putting them on par with the cecaelia, while adaro are a whopping 32 RP, which makes them among the toughest races you can choose, just under gargoyles and driders. I’ve always enjoyed adaros and grindylow, so I’m happy to see they were included.
Flipping the page we get to three pages on gear — most of which is mundane. Air breathing creatures can make use of artificial gills to survive underwater for a while, while aquatic creatures with slow base speeds like merfolk and tritons can make use of land limbs to improve their speed on land. There’s also a lot of practical gear like underwater paper, pens and compasses, as well as wall hooks. But, my personal favourite mundane bit of gear? Sponge suit! This is a mandatory purchase for the next gillman I make!
There are only four magical items, but they’re all quite useful. The ‘crystal helm‘ fills with water while on land and with air while underwater, allowing a PCs out of their environment the ability to breathe. The familiar bubble can keep your familiar breathing underwater, and shimmering kilt can turn an aquatic humanoid’s tail into legs. (No need to barter with evil cecealia witches anymore… Poor Ursula’s going to be unemployed). But, my personal favourite? The ‘cloak of eternal mist.’ In addition to making you character count as if they were submerged in water, it grants you a bonus to hide in fog and mist, and can grant you concealment when immobile. The best part? Its relatively affordable.
There are four spells on the next page. They are nicely thematic, but none of them blew me away. I think my favourite is ‘arid refuge,’ a spell that can help enable prolonged underwater adventures for land-bound characters by giving them a safe place to rest. Other spells include ‘instant clot,’ ‘silt sphere,’ and ‘suspend drowning.’
Leaving magic behind we get to four pages of aquatic class options that can be taken by most races. There’s a total of five class archetypes, one cavalier order (order of the eel) and one eidolon subtype (deepwater eidolon). I particularly like the ‘aquatic beastmaster‘ archetype for hunter, which contains a whole new array of water themed animals to use with the animal focus ability. I also really like that the ‘coral witch‘ witch archetype allows you to grow your familiar out of coral, an that the ‘keeper of the current‘ inquisitor archetype can track underwater by reading traces of eddies and currents. Very cool! The last two archetypes are ‘crashing wave‘ for the cleric (which has a very interesting form of channel energy that leaves neutrally aligned creatures unaffected) and the ‘tempest tamer‘ druid archetype (which taps into the powers of typhoons, whirlpools, and other storms).
After this is a very useful chapter on the challenges facing underwater creatures who find themselves on land, and ideas and methods for overcoming those challenges (both magical and mundane). I found these four pages a huge help. It not only urges you to think about some troubles you might not have thought of, but it also makes playing aquatic races in a land-based campaign a lot more… attainable. There were certainly some topics discussed that I’d never thought of. Not because it’s obscure or anything, but just… I don’t know. I never thought about it. Haha. For example, weight. If you’re used to being buoyant, walking on land would be hard. How would you act? Imagine how heavy your body would feel to you. Sounds exhausting! What about weather? It’s a lot different than the sway of the currents. And climate? In a lot of places the ocean is cold. How does someone used to that feel on land? What about little things, like seeing a fire or cooking your food? Or keeping up with your companions? This section also has some awesome artwork of a serious ranger on a horse looking off into the distance. Except he’s not just a ranger. He’s a merfolk ranger riding sidesaddle. It’s great. Haha.
Which bring us to the last part of the book. Two pages discussing how air-breathing creatures can adventure and travel on or under water. Like the chapter before it, this section brings up some interesting topics. It also works as a handy reference for spells and magical gear that are useful for underwater exploration. There’s also a small sidebar that lists the oceans of Golarion, a few of its seas, and gives you a one sentence description about that body of water. It’s super brief, but better than nothing. As previously mentioned, players looking for more information on Golarions major waterways should pick up a copy of Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Aquatic Adventures.
And that’s it! Then end.
This was a really fun, useful book that presented a lot of unique race and class options for players. I think it’s well-worth the investment. That said, due to its topic, it is quite niche. It’s not a book you’ll be able to use with every character or adventure you’re in. It’s quite focused: underwater races, and underwater class options. That said, this book invested a lot of effort into making underwater races playable on land indefinitely, and it succeeded. Some of the class options are just as usable above water as they are underwater — the ‘ocean’s echo‘ oracle archetype and the ‘tempest tamer‘ druid archetype are great examples of this. The rest, though, cleave pretty tightly to the waves. That said, there are plenty of places in Golarion where water is plentiful. The oceans, seas, and underwater, of course. There’s also the Shackles, Sodden Lands, and River Kingdoms, as well as many port towns, and the coasts throughout Golarion. There’s some settlements which are located both above and below the waves, like Acisazi (there’s at least one more, but I can’t recall its name at the moment… Hmmm… If you happen to remember it let me know in the comments!), and even Absalom has a the half-flooded district of the Puddles.
Those of you looking for adventures to play aquatic races or aquatic themed archetypes in should try the Pathfinder Modules: Plunder & Peril (which is a level four adventure that takes place in the Shackles), Ire of the Storm (which is a level one adventure that takes place in Sargava), River into Darkness (which is a level four GameMastery Module for 3.5 that takes place almost entirely along the Vanji River in the Mwangi Expanse), or — my personal favourites — Seers of the Drowned City (a level six adventure that takes place in a half-flooded ancient city in the Sodden Lands), and From Shore to Sea (a level six adventure that involves ancient Azlanti ruins and a super insular town on the coast of Cheliax). Those looking for a longer campaign should check out the Ruins of Azlant Adventure Path (which begins with Ruins of Azlant: Book One: The Lost Outpost), Skull and Shackles Adventure Path (which begins with Skull & Shackles: Book One: The Wormwood Mutiny), or even the Kingmaker Adventure Path (which begins begins with Kingmaker: Book One: Stolen Land). I know, I know, Kingmaker seems like an off choice. But, it takes place in the River Kingdoms (which has a whole lot of rivers), it’s encounters and adventure structure allow for regular resting (and taking a dunk in the nearest water source), and you can build your own town. Perfect for those high-maintenance aquatic races looking to make a unique mark on the world.