Wayfinder, a free magazine made by fans of Paizo’s popular roleplaying games, has just announced their topic of their next issue. Wayfinder #20 will be all about the Diaspora, an asteroid belt in the Starfinder RPG.
Everyone is welcome to create and submit an article to the fanzine, no previous experience required. Submissions can contain a wide array of content, from advice, fiction, poetry and songs, to aliens, enemies and allies, and new rules content. So whether you want to make some themes, monsters, or nifty places to explore, now’s your chance.
UPDATE: For the latest news from PaizoCon click here!
PaizoCon 2019 is officially underway!
PaizoCon 2019 is being held at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in SeaTac, Washington over Memorial Day weekend. At PaizoCon you can meet your favorite Paizo artists, authors, designers, developers, editors, and personalities. You can also play games at the Pathfinder and Starfinder Society organized play tables, attend panels, seminars, and workshops, get some snazzy sneak-peeks, and (of course) buy stuff! The Guests of Honor for PaizoCon 2019 are Liane Merciel (author of Pathfinder Tales: Hellknight), Wayne Reynolds (freelance illustrator whose work includes every Pathfinder RPG hardcover release and the Pathfinder Iconics), and The Glass Cannon Podcast (weekly live-play podcasters who play Pathfinder and Starfinder. I’ve previously written about them here).
Can’t make it? Neither can I! But, that doesn’t mean you’ll be left out. Know Direction will be streaming live from PaizoCon on Paizo’s twitch channel, with their full schedule posted below.
Friday, May 24th
Welcome to PaizoCon (9:00 am – 9:45 am)
Ask the Paizo GMs (10:00 am – 11:00 am)
Secrets of Golarion (11:00 am – 12:00 pm)
Dungeon Design Dissection (12:00 pm – 1:00 pm)
Organized Play Q&A: Starfinder (1:30 – 2:30 pm)
World Building with Liane Merciel (2:45 pm – 3:45 pm)
Moving on from the Playtest (4:00 pm – 5:00 pm)
Saturday, May 25th
Starfinder Adventure Path Q&A (10:30 am – 11:30 am)
Let Players Ruin Your Story, Not Your Game (12:00 pm – 1:00 pm)
Dwarven Forge, creators of high quality dungeon and gaming terrain, recently launched a new video series entitled ‘Build of the Month.’ Once a month the folks over at Dwarven Forge post a video on youtube showing off a build created with their products, then post a fully detailed description of the room for gamers to check out free on their website. It’s hoped that these encounter areas inspire gamers to create new builds, traps, and puzzles for their players, while showcasing the versatility of Dwarven Forge.
The first ‘Build of the Month,’ Urge to Dirge is a multi-stage, musical trap room that my kids and I think is amazing. Haha. Urge to Dirge makes use of pieces from three Dwarven Forge Sets: Starter Dungeon, Passages-Intersections, and Double Doors. To see the build in action, check out the video below. To get the full build instructions and encounter details click here.
As the month wears on PaizoCon is creeping closer. Registration to attend PaizoCon began just over a month ago and this past week event submission began.
PaizoCon 2019 will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in SeaTac, Washington over Memorial Day weekend (which is May 24–27). At PaizoCon you can meet your favorite Paizo artists, authors, designers, developers, editors, and personalities. You can also play games at the Pathfinder and Starfinder Society organized play tables, attend panels, seminars, and workshops, get some snazzy sneak-peeks, and (of course) buy stuff! This PaizoCon will also mark the relaunch of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (which has been getting an overhaul) and their new Adventure Path: Curse of the Crimson Throne. The Starfinder team apparently has some secrets to share, and Pathfinder Second Edition is sure to be a hot topic, as well.
The Guests of Honor for PaizoCon 2019 are Liane Merciel (author of Pathfinder Tales: Hellknight), Wayne Reynolds (freelance illustrator whose work includes every Pathfinder RPG hardcover release and the Pathfinder Iconics), and The Glass Cannon Podcast (weekly live-play podcasters who play Pathfinder and Starfinder. I’ve previously written about them here).
In addition to the wonderful events that Paizo employees are going to host, everyone else out there — fans, artists, authors, gamers, third party publishers and so on — are all welcome to host their own events! This is an opportunity to host a seminar, run a game, or just book a table. Whoever you are and whatever you’re hoping to do, now is the time to sign up! By signing up in advance you allow the team running PaizoCon to ensure they have time and space available for you. This also allows PaizoCon attendees to sign up for your events in advance (Very important!).
For more information on how to submit an event for PaizoCon 2019 you can click this handy link that will take you to the appropriate part of Paizo’s website! Event submission closes on March 1st.
Curious about pricing to buy tickets to PaizoCon 2019? Look no further!
4-Day Badges are $75.00
4-Day Kid’s Badges are $40.00
PaizoCon Preview Banquet Tickets are $45.00 and include an exclusive commemorative item available only to attendees at the Preview Banquet and through auctions or prizes at select charity events.
Purchasing a 4-Day Badge (regular) and a Preview Banquet ticket together are $110 ($10 savings)
In related news, the Organized Play Foundation (OPF) has put out the call for volunteers for some of the year’s most popular conventions. So if you’re going to PaizoCon, Origins, Gen Con, UK Games Expo or PAX Unplugged and want to volunteer to lend a hand, now is the time to sign up! Paizo is looking for volunteers for Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Pathfinder Society Adventure Card Guild, Pathfinder Society Academy, Starfinder Society, and Pathfinder Society version 2. Volunteers are rewarded with some awesome swag, although what you receive will vary based on which convention you’re volunteering for, and how much of your time you volunteer. To register as a volunteer head on over to the OPF Convention Volunteer Page and fill out the appropriate questionnaires.
For my birthday yesterday my family gifted me a wonderful book I’ve been itching to get my hands on: Starfinder Alien Archive 2! And what better way to celebrate than to share it with all of you? So today we’re taking a deep dive into the latest Alien Archive! Ready?
Alien Archive 2 is an awesome supplement book for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game. This book has a hardcover, and is 159 pages in length. It’s got an American cover price of $39.99, which means that if you’re Canadian (like myself), you’re looking at a cost of around forty-five to fifty dollars for the book online, or up to sixty in your local game store. It’s currently on sale for around $32 Canadian on that handy link I posted, so I highly recommend picking it up cheap while you can.
At it’s core, Alien Archive 2 is a book of monsters. You’ll find a ton of creatures to fight and ally with inside this book, as well as some new player races. The book is easy to use, adaptable, and well organized. It also has some new character options, like new spells, equipment, and feats, scattered amongst the monster entries.
The Alien Archive features lovely cover art by Remko Troost which depicts a glitch gremlin, a mi-go, and a trox. The inside front and back covers feature an image of the Pact Worlds. After that we come to the table of contents. Alien Archive 2 has sixty-five distinct monster entries inside it, many of which have more than one stat block or variation of that creature, making the actual number of foes inside larger than it seems (around one hundred and twenty-six by my count). Of these, sixteen are playable as character races. There are also three starships, and twenty-six template grafts.
After the table of contents we reach the introduction. This is where we learn how the races are oriented, and how to read a stat block. While most of this is basic information that only a player new to d20 games will need to read, some of the information is quite important. Of course, all of this will be business as usual for owners of the first Alien Archive.
Each of the stat blocks inside the Alien Archive is sorted into one of three categories: combatants (which excels in physical combat), experts (who are most effective with skills), and spellcasters (who rely on spells or spell-like abilities). These categories are represented by an icon in the left margin. These images are easy to distinguish and provide a quick and easy way for GMs to realize the role each monster plays in combat, which makes it super easy to find the type of creatures your looking for, or to quickly discern a creature’s tactics.
Every one of the bestiary entries in this book is two side-by-side pages long. These entries include information on the creature, where they’re found, their use throughout the Pact Worlds, and their society — if they have one. Many of the entries include more than one stat block on a theme. For example, the Forman entry gives us stats for a CR 7 taskmaster, along with a CR 10 myrmarch. Similarly, the akata entry features the both the akata and the void zombie, which are controlled by its parasitic offspring. Some entries include many stat-blocks (such as the herd animals, predators, and dinosaurs) or include simple grafts that can be added to a featured creature to make it into other versions (such as metallic and outer dragons). Many of the archive entries introduce new gear, rules, or consumables. My personal favourites include the arquand horns found on the arquand gazelle’s entry, the glass skin of the glass serpent, and the apocalypse solarian weapon crystals from the living apocalypse.
After this we come to the meat of the book: the aliens archive itself. There are a ton of cool creatures in this book, and even some that I wasn’t sure I’d like on first perusal, I ended up really enjoying. Some of my favourites you should check out include the squox, a CR 1/3 or 1 creature which is utterly adorable and makes a fabulous pet. I also adored the adaptable entries on dinosaurs, herd animals, and predators, each of which comes with a sample stat block for a creature of each size, followed by simple rules for how to make an innumerable combination of custom creatures of those types. It’s simple, incredibly useful, and has awesome art. LOVE IT. Glitch gremlins were a fun low level challenge I also really enjoyed, as were the akatas, which I’m thrilled to see included. For a great high-level challenge check out the calecor and the living apocalypse.
Mixed amongst the monster entries are sixteen playable races. Each entry features two different CR stat blocks representative of their race, a bunch of interesting information on their societies and home worlds, and a side bar which include the rules for playing them as a race. Although many of these were ‘humanoid shaped’, with arms and hands or some sort, there were some which were not, most notably the mollusk-like embri, and the silicon-based quorlu. This was just awesome to see, and I really enjoyed it! Some of the races and monsters from old Golarion were up for selection, including aasimar, tieflings, ghorans, hobgoblins, orcs, and trox, but many were brand new. I honestly loved a TON of these races, but my favourite new additions are damai, osharu, pahtra, and the wolf-like vlaka.
Curious about the playable races available in this book? Well, look no further! The Alien Archive includes:
Aasimar: celestial blooded humanoids you’ll find under ‘planar scion’
Bolida: armoured burrowing arthropods with a wide array of senses
Damai: pale, scrappy humanoids forced to hide underground from the colossi they share their world with
Embri: masked, mollusk like aberrations with a rigid social order secretly controlled by the forces of hell
Ghoran: delicious plant beings from Golarion who have terraformed their own planet-paradise and genetically split into two subraces: oaklings and saplings
Hobgoblin: tall, war-mongering, militaristic humanoids with faces similar in appearance to goblins
Kanabo: a red-skinned oni, which is a type of evil spirit given a physical form
Orc: strong humanoids conditioned as slave labour by the drow of Apostae
Osharu: slug-like creatures that view religion and science as intertwined
Pahtra: asexual cat-like humanoids that adore music and battle
Phentomite: agile humanoids acclimated to thin atmospheres and high altitudes that live on a broken planet
Quorlu: silicon based quadrupeds with tentacle arms and eyestalks capable of digging through earth and stone
Tiefling: fiendish blooded humanoids you’ll find under ‘planar scion’
Trox: large, chitinous, gentle humanoids that have been magically transformed since their time on Golarion
Uplifted Bear: intelligent, bipedal bears that you’ll find under ‘bear’
Vlaka: wolf-life humanoids from a dying world often born deaf or blind
Past the statistics for all those snazzy new aliens we come to the Appendixes, of which there are eleven. Appendix One contains two pages of creature subtype grafts and Appendix Two contains two and a half pages of environmental grafts. Appendix Three contains rules for the polymorphing creatures. This section is around seven pages long and frankly, feels quite complicated to me. Definitely not something my kids could use. Appendix Four contains all of the universal creature special abilities. Appendix Five, Six, and Seven are very short, sorting the creatures in the Alien Archive 2 by CR, type, and terrain. Appendix Eight lists the template grafts and the pages they can be found on, while Appendix Nine lists the new character options and gear and the pages they can be found on. Appendix Ten contains a chart of average vital statistics for all playable races from Alien Archive, Alien Archive 2, and for the Legacy Races from the Starfinder Core Rulebook. Finally, Appendix Eleven is a list of the playable races and their page numbers.
That’s it. We’ve come to the end of the Alien Archive 2.
And what did I think?
In short: I loved it. Alien Archive 2 is packed full of a wide array of monsters and cool races. Many of the stat blocks are highly adaptable, there’s plenty of new templates and grafts that help with monster creation, summon spells, and polymorph. There’s content in here for players and GMs. I’m supremely happy to own Alien Archive 2, and highly recommend it to fans of Starfinder!
Want a sneak peek at some of the playable races? Check out the image below! Got a favourite creature from Alien Archive 2? let me know in the comments!
We’re starting simple, with a collection of mundane equipment that can make Valentine’s special for even the lowliest level one character! Prepare yourself for the day with a grooming kit and some perfume/cologne. Head out for a lovely carriage ride, or to see a show. Read poetry (if you’re literate), or serenade that special someone with a musical instrument. For dinner, set the mood with a candle and candlestick, and be sure to bring a bottle of wine and some chocolates. All of these items are available in Pathfinder: Ultimate Equipment
But, for those of us who are higher than level one, chances are you’ve got some cash to burn! Let’s take a look at some pricier options! Unless otherwise listed, all of the items below are from either the Core Rulebook or Ultimate Equipment.
Still trying to catch the eye of that special someone? Be sure to get your armour and weapons glamered. Up your game with a circlet of persuasion, headband of alluring charisma, or a headband of seduction. Really put in the effort with a Zonzon Doll of Forgiveness (Inner Sea Gods) tailored just for them! Or skip the effort completely and invest in a staff of charming, or eyes of charming.
Trouble Hanging on? Love keep slipping through your fingers? Be sure to invest in some tanglefoot bags, silk rope, an elixir of love, philter of love (Advanced Player’s Guide), or a harp of charming.
Got someone you’d do anything for? Invest in an allying weapon, martyr’s tear and a ring of friend shield.
Can’t bear to be separated? Pick up a bracelet of friends.
Worried about all that romance (and enchantments) clouding your mind? A cap of the free thinker should help keep your head on straight! While the Liberator’s Rod will give you a second chance to see to the heart of the matter.
But enough about romance! Some character’s love life in general! So if you’re the kind of adventure who would rather preserve life than end it, pick up a merciful metamagic rod or a merciful weapon. Then try out some benevolent armour.
Broken Hearted? Share your pain with a heartseeker, seeking or stalking weapon. They’ll regret tossing you to the curb!
My personal choice for the most romantic in-game gift? Boots of the winterlands! It’s quite cold where I live. Haha.
But love isn’t all about stuff! Up next we’re taking a look at the gods of Pathfinder, some loving, some possessive, and some plain evil! All of the gods listed below can be found in Inner Sea Gods, although some are in other sources, as well.
If you’re going to make a character interested in love you’re definitely going to want to take a look at Shelyn, The Eternal Rose, the popular goddess of love, beauty and art. If you’re a dwarf you’ll instead check out Bolka, The Golden Gift, goddess of beauty, desire, love and the goddess responsible for making arranged marriages blossom into loving relationships (Dwarves of Golarion). For a less obvious faith, take a look at Hembad, the Wise Grandfather, an empyreal lord of connections, matchmaking and synergy. Contrariwise, Naderi is the heartbroken goddess of love, romantic tragedy, suicide and drowning (Inner Sea Faiths, Faiths of Balance).
Looking to tackle a more physical aspect of love? Calistria, The Savoured Sting, is the most popular choice. She’s the elven goddess of lust, revenge and trickery. Or take Arshea, the Spirit of Abandon, for a spin! He’s the androgynous empyreal lord of freedom, physical beauty and sexuality. Try going the opposite direction and take a look at Lymneiris, The Auroral Tower, an angel interested in prostitution, rites of passage, and virginity (both of whom are featured in Chronicle of the Righteous and Heaven Unleashed). Take a walk on the darker side of sex with Ardad Lili, the infernal Whore Queen of seduction, snakes and women (Princes of Darkness) or with the Green Mother, a divine fey interested in carnivorous plants, intrigue and seduction (The First World, Realm of the Fey).
Want to worship a god worried less about romance, and more about family? Erastil, god of family, community, farming, hunting and trade, is the most well-known option. Although plenty of others exist. For dwarves there’s Folgrit, the Watchful Mother, goddess of children, hearths and mothers (Dwarves of Golarion). For giants there’s Bergelmir, Mother of Memories and goddess of elders, family and genealogy (Giants Revisited). Orcs can pay homage to Dretha, goddess of birth, fertility and tribes. Feronia is a lesser known demi-goddess of flame and fertility. Svarozic is an empyreal lord interested in parenthood, ingenuity and progress. And lastly, Shei is an empyreal lord interested in life and self-actualization.
But love isn’t always good. Love of all kinds can be twisted into something foul. If you’re looking to take a look at the darker sides of love, lust and obsession, check out these horrible devils, demons, daemons and other foul beings: Belial, Archdevil of adultery, deception and desire (Princes of Darkness); Slandrais, a daemonic harbinger interested in lechery, love potions and obsession (Horsemen of the Apocalypse); Zaigasnar, a daemonic harbinger interested in body modification, destructive vanity and pins (Horsemen of the Apocalypse), Nocticula, demon lord of assassins, darkness, and lust (Lords of Chaos, Demons Revisited); her brother Socothbenoth, demon lord of perversion, pride, sexual gratification and taboos (Lords of Chaos); Zepar, an infernal duke of abduction, rape and transformation; Zaebos, an infernal duke of arrogance, nobility and sexual perversion; and Verex, the orc god of lust, pillage, and plunder.
Lastly, we’re going to take a look at a few adventures that are the perfect fit for Valentine’s Day.
My personal favourite is Realm of the Fellnight Queen! This Pathfinder adventure module is intended for level seven characters and was written by Neil Spicer as his winning entry in RPG Superstar 2009. This wonderfully written adventure begins as the players attend a wedding ceremony for a friend. The wedding itself is a blast, with activities for the players to participate in, a great cast of colourful NPCs for them to interact with, and a feast in addition to the wedding. But soon a love-spurned gnome crashes the wedding with his beloved bees at the behest of his mistress, Queen Rhoswen. The players will have to save not only the wedding, but the entire town from the Fellnight Queen’s machinations by heading deep into the forest and entering her extra-planar realm! This adventure is just a blast to play! I highly recommend it!
For adventure’s about familial love, I recommend playing Racing the Snake or Final Resting Place. Both are 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons adventures published in Dungeon Magazine. Racing the Snake is by John Simcoe and is found in Volume 105. It’s intended for level six characters, and has the PCs hired by a nobleman to protect his beloved daughter from assassins–with a twist! While she travels secretly to her wedding in the capital, the PCs get to impersonate her and lead her assassins and enemies on a wild-goose chase until she’s safe and sound! This adventure has interesting encounters and really tips the regular format on it’s head! Final Resting Place is written by Michael Kortes and is found in Volume 122. It’s intended for level three characters, and has the PCs hired by the daughter of a famous adventurer who recently perished on an exploratory mission underground. Knowing her father is dead, but unable to come to grips with it without his body, the PCs are sent underground to the site of his last mission, in order to return his body to his daughter for a proper burial. This adventure is one of my all-time favourite 3.5 adventures and is a TON of fun.
But what about all those lover’s scorned out there? I’d suggest giving Curse of the Riven Sky or Clash of the Kingslayers a whirl. Both are larger than life, awesome level ten Pathfinder modules that are driven in one way or another by the heartbroken, the betrayed, and the angry lovers out there! And best of all? As your player’s discover the motivations and history of the NPCs involved, they’ll question their cause, enemies and allies in a way they haven’t had to before. Both are definitely worth a whirl! Curse of the Riven Sky is written by Monte Cook, while Clash of the Kingslayers is written by Leandra Christine Schneider (and currently on sale for only two dollars American).
Want to worry less about morality and more about destroying something beautiful and having a BLAST? Take We B4 Goblins for a whirl! This FREE Pathfinder adventure makes the player’s all goblins fresh out of their whelping cages, and sets them loose on some super fun rites of passage which culminates in an attack on a halfling wedding! Smash the cake, terrorize the guests and work out all your anger on the happy couple! The goblins are crashing the party!
Romantic love isn’t the only kind that causes pain and heartbreak. These next two adventures revolve around what happens when family is taken from us. Murder in Oakbridge is a murder mystery printed in Dungeon Magazine volume 129, written by Uri Kurlianchik and intended for level five characters. Wingclipper’s Revenge was printed in Dungeon Magazine volume 132 and pits the PCs against the perils of the fey (and man!). It was was written by Christopher Wissel and is intended for level four characters.
We’ve got one final Valentine’s Day treat for you today… An adventure path that is all about the relationships you forge with your companions and fellow players… The Jade Regent Adventure Path (starting with Jade Regent Part 1 – The Brinewall Legacy)! With rules for how to befriend and woo each member of the caravan, and updates in every volume for what items, events and places have meaning to each NPC, this adventure path is the first (and only) one that pays loving attention to the side characters right from the start of the campaign, to the end. If you want to get in on a game where relationships matter, give Jade Regent a try. The player’s guide is available as a free download, here.
That’s all we’ve got for you today!
No matter who you are, and what kind of love (or lack of) you’re celebrating today, I hope you enjoyed taking a look at the many ways you can spread the love with Pathfinder!
The Starfinder Roleplaying Game launched a while ago, and unsurprisingly there’s a LOT of supplementary products already out on the market. Today, we’re going to take a look at these awesome (and not so awesome) products!
To start off with, The Starfinder Core Rulebook (for more details on the Starfinder Core Rulebook, check out my blog post about it here). You want it. You need it. This book is NOT optional. It’s got everything you need to play! Or does it? The only thing it’s missing?
Monsters! Which brings us to our second necessary product, the Starfinder: Alien Archive. This is the book where you’ll find a ton of monsters, new player races and, most importantly, simple rules for making MORE monsters and races. If you’re going to run a game of Starfinder, you NEED the Alien Archive.
But there’s another product you can already pick up about monsters in Starfinder. And this one’s FREE. Starfinder: First Contact is a short PDF of some Starfinder monsters, available as a free download on Paizo’s website. You can also purchase it in print for five dollars on their website, but I’m pretty partial to free, myself.
So you’ve got your game, and you’ve got you’re monsters. For books, this is all that’s necessary. However, Paizo just announced a third hardcover book in their line-up which is available for pre-order (and is expected out next month): The Pact Worlds! If you enjoyed the campaign setting chapter in the Starfinder Core Rulebook, then Starfinder: Pact Worlds is for you! This book contains details on all of the major planets of the Pact Worlds, new playable races, new themes, new ships, new archetypes, and new gear, spells and feats! In short, despite being a book about the setting of Starfinder, it’s got a ton of new class options for everyone. This book isn’t necessary, but I know I’m DEFINITELY adding it to my collection.
Once you’ve got your books, you need something to actually play on. Starfinder uses two grid types, one for player battles, exploration and so forth, and one for starship battles. For starship battles, they have only one flip-mat for sale, but it’s awesome. It’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s good with dry and wet erase markers, as well as permanent markers, and it’s double sided. Starfinder Flip-Mat: Basic Starfield is a must-have play mat for the Starfinder game.
For standard play, though, there are a ton of options. Now, chances are, if you’ve played Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons or any other d20 games you have a play mat already. My personal favourite, Pathfinder Flip Mat: Basic Terrain Multi-Pack, is a great choice for a wide variety of terrain types. Starfinder has launched another new basic flip-mat, which is a great addition to your game (and my favourite of the new Starfinder mats), Starfinder Flip-Mat: Basic Terrain. One side is a windswept desert or badlands style terrain, while the other is a metallic, grey terrain type. In addition to basic mats, Starfinder has launched a couple REALLY beautiful flip-mats. In general, although they’re lovely, and easy to use, I tend to stick with the basic mats for budgeting purposes. But if you’re interested, there’s the Starfinder Flip-Mat: Cantina, which features a high-end dance-club scene on one side, and a grungy, dive-bar on the other. The Starfinder Flip-Mat: Starship features a sleek exploratory starship on one side, and a more utilitarian ship on the other side which would work great as a military ship, a freighter, or a derelict ship. The last map I haven’t been able to find on amazon, which means you’ll have to order direct from Paizo’s website (which if you’re Canadian, like, means the shipping fees are a nightmare). That being said, the Starfinder Flip-mat: Urban Sprawl is gorgeous. One side is a sleek, futuristic city or parkscape, while the other side is a grungy, dystopian slum. There are plenty of other maps on the horizon, which we’ll be sure to keep our eyes out for.
You’ve got your books, and you’ve got your play-mat, but what the heck are you going to put on it? Paizo has a few paintable resin miniatures available on their website, Navasi the human envoy, Iseph the android operative, and Keskodai the shirren mystic. They’re nice figures, and I’d expect the other iconics to be released in the future. But, for the cost and time investment, paintable minis aren’t for me. What I’d suggest instead is the Starfinder Core Rulebook Pawn Collection which comes with a hundred awesome minis perfect for player characters and humanoid enemies, as well as a large assortment of ship pawns. You are going to get a TON of use out of this collection! In addition, I highly recommend the Starfinder Pawns: Alien Archive which has 300 pawns inside, in a collection of monsters, humanoids and even a few ships. These two pawn collections will give you a ton of minis to work with, and should be al you need for a long time to come. The only other thing you’ll need to go with them is a set of bases. They’re compatible with the Pathfinder Pawn bases, so if you have some at home already, you won’t need to buy more, but if you don’t you can pick Starfinder Pawns: Base Assortment from amazon or from Paizo’s website here.
In addition to the necessities, which we’ve gone over, there’s a collection of other, less useful, supplementary products available. There’s a helpful Starfinder GM Screen (which has gorgeous artwork on one side and a collection of very important information for the GM on the other), Starfinder Player Character Folio (which is a very detailed character sheet), and Starfinder Combat Pad (to help make combat organization quicker and easier). But what I’d recommend is the Starfinder: Condition Cards, which put all of the conditions in Starfinder on handy cards which can be given out to players, or used by the GM for easy reference. They also feature some snazzy artwork of space goblins on each condition to make them more interesting.
But, if long adventure paths aren’t your thing, you can also check out the Starfinder Society. Much like the Pathfinder Society, this is a world-wide gaming community where you make a character, bring them to your local game store, convention, or take them online on Paizo’s message boards, and play a short 4 hour scenario together. If you’re not interested in actually joining these games, you can always purchase the PDFs for a few dollars each and run them at home with your regular Starfinder rules. I’m a big fan of these short scenarios, and for my family, this was how we decided to test out the Starfinder Roleplaying Game.
Currently there are eight scenarios available for purchase, with new ones coming out regularly. I highly recommend picking up Into the Unknown, which is a series of short 1 hour mini-quests that form a continuing story-line and is available as a free PDF download on Paizo’s website. It’s great fun, and has a great introduction to starship combat rules, which makes it a spectacular first-time adventure for everyone. In addition, the plot-line’s great. I also highly recommend Scenario #1-03: Yesteryear’s Truth, which can be used as a sequel to Into the Unknown, as well as Scenario #1-04: Cries from the Drift, and Scenario #1-08: Sanctuary of Drowned Delight. All three have a great balance of social encounters, combat encounters, and starship encounters. They’re AWESOME.
Now, for those of you who have to deal with vermin way worse than mice… say rats or cockroaches or something else horrible, you might be thinking: “Auww, a mouse! How cute!”
No! Not cute!
Dirty, filthy, sneaky little mice. In my KITCHEN.
So while my kitchen has been taken over by an abundance of glue-traps (admittedly, it might be overkill), we’re going to take a look at VERMIN.
Pardon me while I suppress a shiver!
Now, I don’t just mean insectile vermin, or the vermin creature-type, I mean vermin of all kinds. And the most likely way you’re going to interact with these creepy, crawlies? Battle.
To kick things off we’re looking at a classic: the dire rat. I know, I know, you’ve fought a ton. But if you haven’t? Do it! These nasty little blighters are a staple for low level d20 games of all kinds, and for good reason! They’re a decent challenge for their lowly CR 1/3, and due to their horrible hygiene, they’re likely a player’s first interaction with diseases, as well. Love them or hate, you’ve gotta take them down!
A few of my other favourite vermin include giant leeches (so gross!) and the tick swarm. Giant leeches have the ability to attach themselves to their victims and drain the blood right out of them–except this bad boy’s the size of a grown man. At a CR 2, they’re still a low-level threat. And the tick swarm? The opposite. The tick swarm is a whopping CR 9 monster that’s immune to weapon damage in addition to the typical swarm immunities. These little buggers are diseased, and possess a cool ability: cling. Even after fleeing the swarm’s area a bunch of ticks still cling onto the PCs, draining their blood. This causes the PC to take swarm damage each round even after running away. They’re going to hate these things!
There’s another new vermin out there that I love, and it’s creature type? Undead! Cause the only thing worse than finally killing that cockroach? When it comes back to life! Check out the exoskeleton! An exoskeleton is the corpse of an insect, given unlife by necromancy. Sort of like a skeleton bug. Minus the skeleton. As an acquired template the exoskeleton can be added onto any corporeal vermin that has an exoskeleton, so prep the beetles, centipedes and spiders! Bring on the exoskeletons!
But vermin aren’t always the enemy, right? What about those of us you who want to make nice with the little guys? Well, look no further!
Want to let out your inner vermin? Play a ratfolk! These sneaky little fellows are a fun player race, who excel in tight spaces. They’re nimble, smart, and are naturally good at creating alchemical substances, and using magical devices. They’ve got some cool race specific archetypes and feats, but my favourite thing to make with a ratfolk? A witch! Seriously! Imagine them brewing their noxious substances, hurling hexes and cackling their furry little heads off! So great!
But what if alignment’s not an issue? Well, if you’re alright with letting a load of villainy into your games you can crack out the classic wererat. Or better yet? Be an entothrope! A what?
An entothrope! Introduced in Bestiary 6, the entothrope is lycanthropy with BUGS! And my personal favourite? The weremantis! With wicked claws, mandibles, and the ability to lunge and make sudden strikes, these guys are a blast!
Now, there’s also some awesome class options for those of us you who want to dabble with vermin without being one. The most obvious way is with your pets. My favourite vermin familiar is the moth. Why? Honestly? I HATE moths. I have a terrible fear of moths. Eww! Yeah, yeah, I know they’re not THAT bad… Looking for a good animal companion? Pick up a giant cockroach (also EWWW!). Both options are from Ultimate Wilderness.
And my all time favourite vermin themed character option?
The swarm monger druid!
These guys have to choose an urban companion–centipede, cat, rat, raven or spider–and can make them multiply into a swarm a few times a day for a few minutes at a time. They gain the ability to influence vermin, bonuses on saving throws against disease and poison, the ability to be healed by consuming rotten food, and, my personal favourite, the ability to transform themselves into a shifting swarm of vermin. Neat!
Not up for a full-body commitment?
There’s a lot of cool items and spells that you can pick up, so I’ll only name my very favourites. First up? Pipes of the warren guardian, a magical musical instrument that can be played once a day to summon a bunch of dire rats to fight for you. And the spell? Vomit swarm! Cause… just… GROSS!
And what are we finishing off the day with?
Urban Decay! A 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons adventure intended for 2nd level characters that pits the players against a group of wererats operating out of the sewers who attempt to conquer the city above with rats, and plagues of disease. This is an awesome little adventure that’s a perfect way for me to work out my anger at something generally mouse-shaped. Take THAT rats mouse-stand-ins!
That’s all for today!
See you next time,
Interested in anything you read about today? Want to know where it came from? Look no further!
Have any of you seen the film Kubo and the Two Strings? I watched it with my children and husband recently, and was literally amazed by it.
Kubo is wonderful stop-motion movie that follows a boy named Kubo on a journey to protect himself from the dreaded Moon King. But Kubo is no ordinary boy. Kubo can make magic happen by playing his samisen. On his journey he’s accompanied by an origami samurai, a talking monkey, and a samurai beetle who has amnesia.
It’s a samurai film and a fantasy film, lovingly made with puppets and gorgeous scenery. Not only was it a joy to look at, the story was well-developed, the characters were lovable (or terrifying) and everyone was… well-rounded. Whole, believable people. No one thought they were the villain, not everyone got along, and not everything came down to killing things. It was a touching tale, and admittedly I was sobbing my face off near the end, but at the same time, it was heartwarming and hopeful.
Although an American movie, Kubo is clearly a Japanese story, and a ton of research went into making it as historically accurate as possible–considering the story, haha. For those of you who haven’t given this movie a chance, I STRONGLY recommend you do.
Watching Kubo made me want to play some of the awesome adventures I have kicking around my house that have an Eastern feel to them, but since I have way too many campaigns on the go as it is, today we’re going to celebrate them on d20 Diaries! Presenting my five favourite d20 adventures that are inspired by Eastern cultures. Whether they’ve got samurai, ninja, monasteries of contemplative warrior monks seeking enlightenment, or a fusion of many places and cultures, these adventures celebrate, embrace, emulate or are inspired by the Far East!
So sit back, and enjoy!
The Winding Way
The first adventure we’re taking a look at is The Winding Way. Written by Nicholas Logue, and Published by Paizo in Dungeon Magazine Volume 117, The Winding Way is a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons adventure intended for 14th level characters. Although it was written for a ‘neutral’ campaign setting and is meant to be dropped into any fantasy world, The Winding Way is clearly inspired by contemplative warrior monks like the Shaolin of China. That being said, it’s a horror adventure first and foremost, so don’t expect to be achieving enlightenment, or making friends with this one.
The Winding Way takes place at a secluded temple monastery which was built on the slopes of Darkmoon Mountain. During construction the Master, Marik Draven, discovered an ancient stone door, sealed for untold generations. Marik and his students were unable to decipher much of the text, but what they did translate was ominous: words like death, darkness and plague. Marik halted construction of his temple and meditated in contemplation. Eventually he decided that the door should be left untouched, and that his temple would be built around and above it. In addition to being a school for martial arts and enlightenment, the Temple of the Winding Way would become a guardian of this unholy doorway, ensuring it remained sealed for all time.
But it was not to last. Out of jealousy and greed, a rebuffed student sought to steal the riches of the temple for himself, and discovered the graven door. He picked the locks, disabled the door’s defences, and opened it, sealing the fate of those within the temple. For death was behind the door, and its spread is unstoppable!
This adventure has the PCs explore the Temple of the Winding Way for a variety of reasons, only to find that everyone inside has been turned into undead monstrosities. In order to put an end to this evil, they’ll have to defeat a wide variety of undead including bhuts, dread wraiths, forsaken shells, vampires and–my personal favourite–a pennaggolan monk! That’s right, an undead monk that’s going to use unarmed strike to fight with his own lungs and entrails. It’s going to be AWESOME! In addition, they’ll have to pass through the trials of the Winding Way itself, not all of which can be accomplished with brute strength or agility, and discover the source of the undead plague.
The Quest for Perfection
The second adventure we’re taking a look at today is actually a three-part trilogy of Pathfinder Society Scenarios entitled the Quest for Perfection. All three scenarios are Tiers 1-5. Scenario #3-09: The Quest for Perfection Part 1: The Edge of Heaven is written by Jerall Toi, and takes place in Tian Xia, a continent on Golarion strongly inspired by Chinese cultures. This adventure tasks the Pathfinders with travelling through the Wall of Heaven, the tallest mountain range on Golarion, on a journey to reach the Clouded Path Monastery and obtain an ancient relic, the Braid of a Hundred Masters, from the monastery. The trip is dangerous, and has a lot of wonderfully designed encounters where terrain plays a huge part. In addition to the perils of the mountain itself, the players are clearly on a pilgrimage trail, and there’s a lot of neat shrines, and other monuments along their journey. Upon reaching the monastery itself, they find it the lair of violent yetis who make excellent use of their surroundings. Their leader throws relics and nearby objects at the group including foo lion statues (of which there’s a picture)! In addition to enemies, the group can also meet a former monk of the monastery, currently a statue capable of tactile telepathy, who can share much of the history of the monastery with the group. After obtaining the Braid of a Hundred Masters, the Pathfinders discover it’s powers have gone dormant, which leads us into part two.
Scenario #3-11: The Quest for Perfection Part 2: On Hostile Waters is written by Benjamin Bruck, and sets the Pathfinders on a quest to reactivate the Braid of a Hundred Masters by bringing to the last remaining descendant of its rightful owner, a woman from the town of Nesting Swallow by the name of Je Tsun. The journey is a long one, down the Tuunma River and into the Sea of Eels. The river is surrounded on all sides by political turmoil, as it passes through the warring successor states of Lingshen, Po Li and Quain. In addition to the dangers of the river, and banditry, the players have to defend the Braid from soldiers and naval ships from Lingshen who desire to claim its power for themselves.
Scenario #3-13: The Quest for Perfection Part 3: Defenders of Nesting Swallow is written by Sean McGowan, and finally sees the Pathfinders arrive in the small town of Nesting Swallow, only to discover it has been under attack from tengu bandits. Je Tsun agrees to aid them in reactivating the Braid of a Hundred Masters–and will even let them keep it–if they can defend Nesting Swallow from the villains who prey upon them. The rest of the adventure allows the players to organize the defence of the town, train the villagers, and set up barricades or whatever else the group might think of. When the bandits finally come, they get to see how their work has paid off (or not!) as the villagers and the Pathfinders fight alongside one another to drive off the bandits. Wave after wave attacks the town, and whether anyone survives is up to your players. In the end, the bandit leader himself joins the battle, the tengu samurai mounted atop his axe beak mount: Khwankonu! This is the adventure’s finale, and is a ton of fun! If Je Tsun lives she makes good on her word and reignites the magic of the Braid, bestowing it upon the Pathfinders for saving her village.
This is a wonderful, atmospheric adventure that has the players explore the frozen wastes of Kisarimuke, with the purpose of finding the Amata Goten–the legendary Palace of Plenty–which was said to be a magical palace that once was connected to the city of Okabaimura. After making the journey through Kisarimuke, the group can explore the ruins of Okabaimura, a sombre, mysterious experience. Events in the ruins can give the group clues as to the nature of the Palace of Plenty, and how to get there, but it does so in a very subtle, wonderful way. After eventually finding the way to Amata Goten, the players find a beautiful palace, lush with greenery, that is frozen in time. Within are spirits and ghosts, and many more mysteries. I’ll refrain from giving anything else away about this adventure. But, I will say that I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful this adventure hints at the backstory, and the stories and lives of the ghosts and spirits within it, without just giving away information. It’s subtlety is spectacular.
The Ruby Pheonix Tournament
The fourth adventure we’re looking at is The Ruby Phoenix Tournament, a Pathfinder adventure written by Tim Hitchcock and intended for 11th level characters. This adventure brings us back to the Wall of Heaven on the continent of Tian Xia. Here, on the island of Xielan, a prestigious fighting tournament takes place, which allows the winners to claim any one object from the treasury of Hao Jin, the Ruby Pheonix. This tournament attracts combatants from all over the world, including from nations inspired by real-world Japan, China, India and many more. The matches the players are going to engage in are varied, with the terrain often playing an important part in the battles. Some places the players might find themselves fighting in are: flooded mud pools, hot coals, atop multiple towers and rope bridges, and even fighting horizontally on the side of a cliff (literally standing on the cliff face with slippers of spider-climb)! Your players are bound to be continually surprised. In addition to the tournament battles, the players can join in extra matches and challenges. But as the tournament proceeds it becomes clear that something is wrong. From entrants being poisoned and assassins attacking, the players will have to work fast to figure out who’s trying to put an end to the Ruby Pheonix Tournament and stop them, before it’s too late!
Although this adventure has a simple premise, I HIGHLY recommend it. It’s a great, exciting adventure that can be a ton of fun!
Tide of Honor
The final adventure we’re talking about today is my very, very favourite. Jade Regent Part 5 – Tide of Honor by Tito Leati. Now, the Jade Regent is a Pathfinder campaign where the last three books take place in Minkai, Paizo’s Japanese inspired nation in Tian Xia, but volume five of the series is my all time favourite. This adventure was clearly written with such LOVE and RESPECT. It’s honestly astounding how clearly that shows in the final product. But enough about the writing, what about the adventure?!
Tide of Honor has the PCs arrive in Minkai with their friend Ameiko Kaijitsu, true heir to the Imperial Throne of Minkai. …But they have no army! Minkai is currently ruled by the Jade Regent, a vicious tyrant who claimed the throne by murdering the emperor. In order to overthrow the Jade Regent the players are going to need allies. A LOT of them. The players single out an honourable Ronin and his small band of masterless samurai as a likely ally, knowing that they were expelled from the capital and are opposed to the Jade Regent. If the players can make contact with the ronin and ally with them, they will gain not only a number of trained warriors, but also allies who know the country, and may be able to help the group get other allies–or at least in contact with them. The leader of the ronin, Hirabashi Jiro attempts to test the PCs character and, if he finds them trustworthy, gives them a task. There is a group of bandits terrorizing the villagers and farmers of the region, but as they operate in two units, the ronin do not have enough warriors to defeat both groups at once. If the players can attack and conquer the bandit fortress, then Jiro and his men can take out the raiders before they harm any innocents. This opening battle is very adaptable and mobile, featuring a lot of ways the players can go about attacking, and organic ways in which the inhabitants respond to attacks. This encounter can benefit a LOT from good planning and scouting, and it’s a great location. To make it better? If the players can defeat the bandits, not only does Jiro agree to join your cause, but he also sets up the fortress as a base of operations for your group and your allies. This fortress is YOURS.
After some deliberation and discussion, Jiro can give the group a list of important political players and potential allies throughout the nation: the ninja clans of Enganoka, the merchants of Minkai who can be contacted by the geisha of Sakakabe, and the samurai of a cruel daimyo! But success isn’t as easy as simply meeting these groups, the players will have to earn their trust, and prove themselves worthy. But, if they can? The players will have an army at their disposal, one which will help them take on the Jade Regent himself and restore the throne to its rightful heir!
But the Jade Regent has many spies, and will not let the players operate without opposition! I hope you’re ready for some fearsome Oni!
And that’s all for us today! I hope you enjoyed taking a look at some of my favourite Eastern styled adventures! What are yours? Did I miss any you think deserve to be on my list?
Welcome to d20 Diaries! Today we’re taking a look at my husband and mine’s first session of Iron Gods! Iron Gods is a six-part adventure path by Paizo Publishing that fuses technology and fantasy into one awesome Pathfinder campaign. The first volume, Fires of Creation, is written by Neil Spicer, and is intended to bring characters from levels one to four. The Iron Gods Player’s Guide is a free download on Paizo’s website, here. For further information on the Iron Gods campaign, check out my blog post ‘Iron Gods Adventure Path,’ and for information on our characters, check out my blog post ‘Iron Gods: Character Focus: Haji and Nix.’ If you’re going to play Iron Gods yourself, I highly recommend picking up the Iron Gods Pawn Collection, which has a ton of unique pawns for use in the campaign.
Our story begins with Haji returning to Torch after a week spent mining in the surrounding foothills. He strode into town tall and proud, olive skin slick with sweat, and long black hair and beard weighted down by the stones and gems braided into its length. He carried his trusty shovel over his shoulder and wore a heavy backpack. Beside him scurried Rothmhar, a hideously ugly, hairless rat with rocky protrusions sticking up out of his flesh.
Haji strode through town, watching the citizens with his one green eye. The other eye was nothing but a large glittering gem resting in an empty eye socket and encircled by a massive triangular brand. Despite his poor vision, Haji noticed the garbage piling up in the streets, the over-crowded bars and and the unusual amount of idle citizens. Haji popped by his tiny shack in the junkyard to drop off his gear, then visited his friend, Junkmaster Garritt Burrwaddle. After paying him a few shiny stones as rent he set off to visit his girlfriend, Nix.
Nix’s home was a small one-room warehouse crowded with a mess of scrap, cluttered worktables and unfinished projects. When Haji arrived, Nix was tinkering with an unfinished device–a gun that had more in common with a hunk of junk than a proper firearm. She wore massive work goggles over her eyes and was wielding a screwdriver with her large mechanical arm. After a short reunion, Nix exclaimed with a smile:
“Took you long enough, freak! Let’s go!”
“Go? Go where?”
“Go where? What?! Oh, boy, are YOU in for a surprise! Come on!”
Nix led Haji through Torch, then up the Black Hill where Haji was surprised to discover no smiths, and no labourers. And worst of all? No violet flame. The lifeblood of Torch had died. Without the violet flame atop Black Hill, the town’s economy would flounder, and they would no longer be able to pay tribute to the oppressive Technic League.
“See? What the hell, right?” Nix prodded. “When it went out people were freaking out. Screaming and crying! Haha! They’re still freaking out! It’s been… like… four days or something.”
Surmounting the hill, Haji and Nix went to check out the former site of the flame. Now little more than depression in the earth filled with a strange, rippling, black fluid, that swirled with a prismatic sheen. It smelt weird–burning wildflowers, crude oil, vinegar, citrus, even vanilla on occasion. Nix scooped some up in a bucket and carried to home to test in her alchemy lab.
“Whoah! What are you going to do with that?” Haji asked with worry. “Don’t eat it! That stuff will mess you up!”
Nix only laughed.
The next few days were busy. Nix tinkered in her lab, Haji sifted through the junkyard, did a bit of mining and stuffed himself to bursting at the local taverns. And Torch? Things weren’t looking so well for our little town.
Massive headaches plagued its citizens. Tunnels were discovered underneath Torch, where more than a few groups of adventurers had gone missing plumbing their depths. Khonnir Baine, a friend of Haji’s and one of Torch’s Councilmen entered the tunnels and returned with a disabled automaton. After speaking with the rest of the Council he headed back below ground, and hasn’t been heard from since. The Council posted a staggering reward for the rescue of Khonnir–4,000 gold! And another 4,000 gold to whoever can get the violet flame burning again.
Worried for Khonnir, Haji picked up Nix, and together they went to the Foundry to visit Khonnir’s daughter, Val. The place was closed, but as they approached they heard a scream and a lot of loud crashing noises.
“Val?!” Haji called out. He took off at a run for the Baine’s home. “This way, Nix!”
As they turned the corner a metal monstrosity came crashing out of the front door with a jerky, staggering gait. As wood splinters showered the front steps, the five-foot tall, three-legged robot reached for the house and began tearing it apart with its four-fingered hands. The automaton was a wreck. Although it’s spider-like legs allowed it to maneuver across the ground with ease, the rest of the body was in poor repair. Parts of its chassis was missing, revealing technological components and delicate circuitry within. It’s head was lop-sided, and each movement made a loud and tortured grinding noise.
From inside the house, Haji heard Val scream.
Haji growled and charged at the robot with his shovel. “I’m coming, Val!”
From behind him, Nix smiled. “Whoah! This thing is amazing! Look at it move!”
“Take it down, Nix!” Haji ordered.
Nix laughed. Pulling a clockwork device from her belt she gave it a twist, causing thin protrusions like a spider’s leg to extend from its centre. Nix placed the device against her collarbone, where the thin filaments punctured her skin. Suddenly a crackling aura of electricity sparked to life around her. A moment later it disappeared, but she could feel it around her. The air was alive with power.
“With pleasure, babe.”
Haji fought the robot with his shovel, putting his muscles to good use, while Nix drew her morningstar and beat at the robot. Although it took the pair a while to take the mechanical marvel down, they were relatively unscathed from the battle. Haji hurried off into the house, worried over Val, while Nix stayed outside and began disabling the robot for scrap.
At the sight of Haji, Val burst out from her hiding place under a table and gave the intimidating half-orc a big hug. Haji laughed with relief.
In time, he calmed Val down and learned that the rumours were true, Khonnir Baine was missing. With hopeful eyes, Val asked Haji if he was going to save her father, and Haji assured her he would. In gratitude, Val offered Haji and Nix the use of the Foundry Tavern as a base of operations while they explored the tunnels beneath Torch. She promised them clean bedrolls on the floor, and hearty meals cooked for them whenever they desired. With more heartfelt pleas from the child to save her father, Haji went back outside to see Nix.
Poking her head up from the robots inner workings, Nix smiled widely. “Give me a hand hauling this back home! There’s all kinds of great stuff in here!”
Haji laughed. “Want to go to those deadly tunnels under Torch to find Khonnir with me?”
“Pfft! Heck yeah!”
As they dragged a broken metal automaton down the street, Nix pointed out, “Hey, we should go to the Town Hall first so we get paid for it. Isn’t there a reward for saving him?”
With their priorities set straight, Haji and Nix dropped the robot’s carcass off in Nix’s workshop and traipsed through Torch to the town hall.
Although one of the nicest buildings in the town, it was quiet today. Only one Councillor, Dolga Freddert, was present in the offices. Dolga was well-respected around Torch, and had been around since the violet flame first arced up into the sky. She was there, experimenting with smelting, while the town of Torch sprung up around her. Unfortunately, neither Haji or Nix we particularly well-versed in local history. Both were more interested in their crafts than politics and local legends.
“What do you want?” Dolga asked from her cluttered office. Despite the dwarven woman’s old age, a massive adamantine warhammer was within reach of her desk.
“We’re going to rescue Khonnir Baine.” Haji replied.
Nix raised an eyebrow and smiled. “You paying?”
Dolga frowned. She gave the duo a thorough once over, then shrugged. “Why not. You won’t be the first to die down there, and I’m getting desperate. Come in then, and I’ll tell you what I know.”
Haji and Nix spoke with Dolga for a while, learning all they could about the tunnels below Torch, the previous groups who ventured there, and what was discovered within. Of particular note? The entrance to the tunnels is in the Weeping Pond. Underwater. Could be trouble! Haji and Nix bargained with Dolga, eventually earning the group a writ good for 20% off at all shops and stalls in Torch, and the promise that Joram Kyte, a Councillor and priest of Brigh, would cast a water breathing spell upon the duo whenever they desired. Armed with information and away to avoid drowning, Haji thanked Dolga for her time, and then left with Nix.
After a quick trip to the temple of Brigh to have Joram work his magic upon them, Haji and Nix arrived at the Weeping Pond. This placid-looking pond was devoid of life. No plants grew near its banks, no fish swam within it, and no animals ventured near it. The placid waters are toxic and stunk of sulphur and other chemicals. It was enough to make their nostrils burn and their eyes water.
Haji examined the surrounding terrain, and came up with a pretty good guess of where the tunnels were most likely to be located. Then the pair plunged into the poisonous pond. Visibility was horrible, and they stuck close together to avoid getting lost.
Suddenly, the water shifted around Haji, and what looked like a circular air bubble the size of a child sped straight toward him. As it slammed into his chest its touch burned like acid. It stuck to him–or it tried to–and Haji squirmed out of its grip. He swung his shovel at it, but the water made it difficult, and although he struck the strange gelatinous blob, he barely harmed it at all.
Seeing Haji flail around like a weirdo, Nix swam a bit closer to him, but couldn’t see the creature. Haji was on his own!
As the giant amoeba (Bestiary 2) surged at Haji, sizzling away part of his flesh with it’s touch, Haji screamed–a sign to Nix that something had hurt him, even if she couldn’t see it. Changing tactics, Haji stabbed at the creature with his shovel, jabbing its tip into the weird blob just as he would dig into the earth. By the time Nix joined the battle it was half-over, and the strange creature broke apart and died shortly after.
With no further enemies barring their way, Haji Nix and Rathmhar discovered the underground tunnels and made their way inside. Eventually they reached a stony, soot-scarred beach. The dark water continued on, past the beach and into the darkness. The air in this cavern still stunk, and the walls were thick with moisture. Upon the stone beach was a head-high ledge that opened the way to a low-ceilinged cave dotted with stalagmites and stalactites.
Haji and Nix clambered up out of the water and onto the stone beach. They discovered signs of the previous explorer’s passage: footprints and scuff marks leading up the ledge and into the cavern, as well as signs of an alchemical explosion. As they looked around, Haji noticed an approaching light just before a trio of giant beetles with glowing glands on their heads burst from a fissure in the wall over the water. The beetles looked ravenous, and surged across the water at Haji, Nix and Rathmhar. But Haji wasn’t taken by surprise. He smashed his shovel into one of the bugs, crushing its head before it had a chance to bite him. The other fire beetles (Bestiary or Bestiary Pocket Edition.) put up more of a fight, but not enough to be more than a hinderance. Nix set upon their corpses with glee, carving out their glowing glands to use as a light source.
With their macabre lantern prepared, Haji led the way up onto the ledge, and into the low-ceilinged cavern. Being over six and a half feet tell, Haji had to stoop quite low just to proceed, but Nix had less trouble, being only five foot four. The cavern was filled with stalagmites and stalactites, turning it into a forest of rough stone. As they creeped forward they discovered a body. Worried, Haji immediately fell to his knees… And was relieved to see it wasn’t Khonnir Baine. It was a half-orc woman who had clearly been robbed. She had wounds on her back… Knife, perhaps? Some kind of short blade? Whatever it was she hadn’t seen it coming. Unfortunately for the corpse, neither Haji nor Nix had any idea who she was. With a shrug they continued on, eventually entering a large cavern. Haji smiled and stretched, happy to be able to stand up straight.
The cavern continued straight ahead, with a pool of water on the left and a tunnel leading deeper into the caves on the right. Haji and Nix entered the cave warily, worried about whatever had killed the half-orc. Noticing a magical aura coming from in the water, they approached the pool only to come face to face with a pale white, frog beast.
Despite the warning, Nix only laughed. “Close ONE eye? Which one are you gonna use?”
But as the blindheim turned its red gaze onto Nix it wasn’t very funny anymore. She was blind. It bit her and tried to drag her into the pond, but she struggled. Haji beat it upside the head and Nix punched at it with her metal arm–striking nothing but air. This fight would be up to Haji!
The battle against the blindheim turned out to be the toughest fight the party faced so far, lasting a staggering seven full rounds before the creature was defeated. Bad luck plagued the party, with miss after miss from both Haji and the blinded Nix. Right before the battles end, Nix fell unconscious, and a furious Haji finally beat the blindheim’s head into paste before hurrying to Nix’s side.
“Nix! Can you hear me?”
Using magic granted to him by Rothmhar, Haji healed her wounds.
“Wow, this place SUCKS!” she remarked as she regained consciousness. “I mean it! It’s so overpopulated! How have these things not eaten each other by now?”
Haji laughed. “The blindness will pass in a few hours. Best to head back home for now. But first…”
Haji dove into the water and looked around for the source of the magical aura he had seen earlier. Finding it on a dead body, Haji dragged it to the surface.
“Don’t be Khonnir. Don’t be Khonnir.”
The body was mostly eaten… The armour and clothing were ruined. It looked male… It could be Khonnir… But the belt pouch on the hip finally gave him a clue. It contained gold, some healing potions–all of which could be Khonnir’s–and a silver holy symbol of a pick made from bones with a skull at its centre. Definitely NOT Khonnir’s.
Haji breathed a sigh of relief before returning to Nix’s side. Leaving the body (and the other one) behind, Haji helped Nix through the stalactite forest, back down the ledge and into the flooded tunnels. Tying themselves together to prevent being lost, they set off into the toxic Weeping Pond and finally climbed out stinky and soaking wet onto the beach in Torch.
Haji and Nix had survived their first foray into the tunnels.
Would they survive the next?
That’s up to the dice!
I hope you enjoyed our first experience with the Iron Gods Adventure Path! Tune in next time when we continue our foray below Torch with more from book one, Fires of Creation!