Pathfinder Playtest Scenario #4: Frozen Oath

Pathfinder Playtest RulebookToday we’re going to look at the brand new Pathfinder PLAYTEST Society Scenario and tell you what we thought. Currently, there are four of them available as a free download on Paizo’s website: three that were released back in August, and one that was released a short time ago. (For more information on the first three scenarios check out this previous blog post. Each scenario is replayable. You may create your own characters for the intended tier (either created as level one for a tier one scenario, created as level five for a tier five scenario, or created as level ten for a tier ten scenario). Unlike regular Pathfinder Society Scenarios, you do not need to earn enough XP to reach higher levels for the Playtest. If you don’t want to make your own characters, you can also head over to Paizo’s website and download the Pregenerated Pathfinder Playtest characters for the three low level scenarios. For this new scenario, which is tier ten, there are no pregenerated characters. You’ll need to make your own. All you’ll need to run these four scenarios (other than your characters) is the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, the most recent update document which, at the time of posting this, is version 1.3, and the scenarios themselves. Each scenario is intended for groups of FOUR players (unlike regular PFS Scenarios which are intended for six) although each contains easy ways to scale up encounters for larger groups. Although you’ll find references to events in each that I liked or disliked, and comments about specific characters, these scenarios are not explored in detail. It’s not my intention to spoil the events in these scenarios, or give summaries and full reviews, but to share my opinions and provide recommendations. Once you’re done playing or GMing any one of these scenarios, be sure to head over to Paizo’s website and fill out a survey about your experiences. This will be used by the Paizo team to make the Pathfinder Playtest the best that it can be.

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Pathfinder Playtest 4 Frozen OathPathfinder Playtest Society Scenario #4: Frozen Oath is a Tier 10 adventure written by Ron Lundeen. As previously mentioned, you do not need to earn enough XP to reach level ten. Instead, you need only create your characters at level ten. The majority of this scenario takes place in Urjuk near the Crown of the World. It’s a harsh land of ice and snow, claimed by frost and taiga giants. The adventure begins in Turvik, a settlement in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, then moves quickly to the Path of Aganhei, and finally to Dvalinheim, a giant temple. For more information on the Crown of the World check out Pathfinder Adventure Path 51: The Hungry Storm (Jade Regent Book 3 of 6). For more information on the Lands of the Linnorm Kings check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Lands of the Linnorm Kings. This scenario utilizes Pathfinder Flip Mat: Basic Terrain Multi-PackPathfinder: Flip Mat: Tech Dungeon, and a custom map of Dvalinheim.

ogthup tom ventre
Ogthup by Tom Ventre.

This scenario begins in a meeting in Turvik with the delightful Venture-Captain Bjersig Torrsen and his husky Mahki. Bjersig is a deaf half-orc well trained in reading lips who made another recent appearance in Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-03: Death on the Ice. He’s an awesome VC and I was thrilled to find that he had his own art this time around. Bjersig informs the party that he recently deployed a team of goblin trial-pathfinders on a scouting mission to a giant temple called Dvalinheim. They returned with an object of interest — a few tiles taken from the site which show the giant temple has a connection to the Tian representation of Desna. Believing that this temple could be a site built by the founder of the Path of Aganhei he’s dispatching the PCs to investigate further. He even gives the group a map drawn by one of the goblins. So… yeah. It’s totally accurate (not). Chances are the first thing the group will do is visit the goblin artist to ask her what the heck the map means. Which leads us to our second awesome NPC: Ogthup the goblin. Honestly, chatting with this quirky (and wonderfully drawn) goblin was my favourite part of the scenario. From there the PCs set out to follow Ogthup’s directions to the temple. There’s a few battles along the way, but the bulk of this scenario takes place in Dvalinheim itself. There the group will have to explore the temple, deal with more than a few angry frost giants, and… well let’s leave that part a secret for now. Haha. I particularly enjoyed the monster statistics in this scenario. Many of the creatures have special reactions, and interesting attack forms that make them feel really unique. My personal favourite was the disperse ability of the air elemental. Overall, I thought this was a fun scenario with engaging (but minor) NPCs and interesting opponents. I give it four out of five stars.

Definitely worth a free download!

I hope you enjoyed taking a look at this playtest scenario. If you have a chance to play it, I’d love to hear what you thought!

All the best,

Jessica

 

Character Focus: Doomsday Dawn

With the release of Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, we’re more than a little busy around my house. I took some time to learn the new rules and play around with the character creation process. I made myself three different characters to use via play-by-post. One is a gnomish bard by the name of Amberly Tam, a musical Pathfinder who will have the pleasure of playing through the three PFS Playtest Scenarios. The second is a half-elven esoteric scion alchemist who desperately longs to be a member of the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, like her father and grandfather before her. Her name is Neferet Velaketra, and she’s going to be playing through Doomsday Dawn. My final character is a dwarven mind quake survivor cleric who worships the goddess Desna. Her name is Joliryn Starsoul, and she’s more than a little… controversial among her kin. In addition to loving the open sky, a desperate desire to take flight and travel the stars, and her devotion to Desna, Joliryn has unwavering faith that her ancestor’s Quest for Sky is incomplete! After all, they still live underground. And really, when it comes down to it, surely they’re meant to be among the stars! (She’s more than a little eccentric!). Joliryn is also going to be playing through Doomsday Dawn.

Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook
Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook. Also available as a free download on Paizo’s website.

Once I had the hang of making characters I took the time to teach my family, by walking them through making their first character. And that is the topic of our blog today.

My family has every intention of playing through Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn and all three (eventually all four) of the Pathfinder Playtest Society Scenarios. That means we’re going to be using and testing a lot of characters. But, the first adventure we knew we would be playing was Doomsday Dawn. So with out digital copies of the Playtest Rulebook and Doomsday Dawn in hand, we got to work.

My daughter went first. She had been the most excited for the new rules. She sat beside me while it downloaded literally bouncing in glee. Unfortunately, we had download problems, so as we watched the estimated download time got from 2 minutes, to ten minutes, to four hours, to a day and a half, I told her to go on and play. The download didn’t actually take that long. I tried a bunch of different things, fiddled with it for an hour, and eventually it decided that really, the download would only take another hour. Still, that’s a brutal download time! Especially since it can download for most people in under a minute. Painful! When it finally worked my daughter was right beside me asking to see all the new pictures. Therefore, she got the honour of first character choice.

Deciding a race was easy. She was tempted to make a gnome, but a moment later saw the goblin entry and she was sold. She adores playing goblins. In fact, she has a goblin fighter who rules a tribe known as the ‘Smartheads.’ (You be smart or you be dead!) Admittedly allowing her to GM the goblin characters once on the way to school sent our run of We Be Goblins so far off track we never bothered trying to get it back on the road. Instead we revel in its absurdity.

So, a goblin she would be! Named Samantha! But what kind? She picked out the ‘rough rider’ ancestry feat, which gave her the ‘ride’ feat, and a +1 bonus on Nature checks made to handle goblin dogs or wolves. She decided that she would purchase a pet goblin dog, and learn to ride it into battle! She decided to be chaotic good, and that she had blue skin. Therefore she would name her goblin dog ‘Bloois.’ She would have to pick the goblin renegade background, of course. That granted her the quick repair feat and Criminal Lore as a trained skill. But what class? She glanced at only a few before she decided on being an alchemist. She finalized her ability scores and ended up with Str 10 / Dex 16 / Con 12 / Int 16 / Wis 12 / Cha 12. Happy with that, she applied her class. She had great fun ticking off all the little ‘trained’ boxes, particularly in regard to her skills. She chose to be trained in acrobatics, crafting, medicine, nature, and survival. In addition to gaining ‘advanced alchemy,’ and ‘studied resonance,’ she also got a formula book, in which she chose to learn the formulas for minor elixir of life, acid, cheetah’s elixir, and tanglefoot bags. Then we had to pick out her alchemist feat. We started to read through them, but the moment we hit ‘Alchemical Familiar’ (which is the first feat, by the way) she shrieked:

“THAT’S IT! I WILL MAKE A RABBIT FROM MY ALCHEMY! IT WILL BE NAMED BLOO-EY!”

She was very excited. And so Samantha, Blooey and Bloois would set out into the world of… shopping!

She bought a gauntlet — which would allow her to keep her hands free for both controlling her mount and crafting alchemical substances in a fight. She also bought a blowgun and some darts to go with it. She’d need alchemist’s tools, of course, and riding tack for her goblin dog. Necessities like a backpack, belt pouch, bedroll, rope, tent and so on. She also invested in a lot of caltrops, which she was determined to have fun with. Lastly, she bought a chain shirt. She was good to go.

I taught her how to add up all of her modifiers and what ‘trained,’ ‘untrained’ and so on meant for her stats, and she got right to work filling out all the rest of the sheet by herself. She did an awesome job! Honestly, she probably learned and understood the character creation process better than anyone else I’ve taught so far. She’s six, so that’s more than a little impressive. Haha.

We settled in to make her familiars stats in finished in under five minutes. It was super simple! Honestly, the rules for familiars were so streamlined, but adaptable, that it was a joy. Great job, Paizo! I approve!

And we were done! All told, Making Samantha, Blooey and Bloois took about two hours from start to finish, with gear taking about a third of that.

As I moved on to help her brother with his character she drew me a picture of her character and their pets, and then a wonderful little sign. I’ve taken a picture of it so I could share it with all of you.

We Be (Good) Goblins

Safe to say she’s excited about the inclusion of goblins as a core race.

She’s not the only one. My son’s just as excited but, since his sister already snagged goblins, he decided to go with his favourite race: the eccentric gnome.

My son’s gnome is named Zan. He’s a neutral good druid with a deep love for nature. My son is a budding environmentalist, so he took great care acting out his love of nature, the environment and animals the entire time that we played. He even hopped up from his chair to chant out his spells and wave his arms around like a leaf on the wind. For his ancestry feat he chose ‘animal accomplice,’ which lets him befriend an animal as a familiar. He choose a tiny badger and named him ‘Badger.’ Not only does Badger speak and understand druidic, he can also fly. My son is overjoyed. He finalized his ability scores as Str 8 / Dex 12 / Con 14 / Int 12 / Wis 18 / Cha 14.

As a druid he’s a primal spellcaster. He’s a prepared caster, so for our first adventure he chose to prepare the cantrips disrupt undead, produce flame, stabilize, and tanglefoot. For level one spells he chose to prepare heal and heal. Solid choices! And boy, oh boy, did we end up really needing those heal spells! Such a lifesaver. That said, produce flame turned out to be his go-to attack method of choice. He loved it.

As a druid, Zan has wild empathy, and also got to join a druidic order. My son had a tough time deciding between the Animal and Leaf orders. In the end, he went with Leaf. This granted him an anathema, and training in diplomacy. He gained a spell pool with a single spell power: goodberry. Which was AWESOME. He loved it. We loved it. It was great. He also got the druid feat: ‘Leshy Familiar.’ He was thrilled. But that raised the question: can you have more than one familiar? it was possible, clearly. My son had done it accidentally. But was it allowed? It states under animal companion that you can only have one, but it does not say that under familiar. Familiar’s have the minion trait, so we read up on that, but it didn’t limit it to one, either. After a great deal of digging we turned up nothing that forbade it, so I let him make a vine leshy and away we went. He gave his vine fleshy the ability to fly, climb, and speak and understand druidic. My son was positively thrilled. Literally over the moon.

He chose to be trained in crafting, medicine, nature, survival, and thievery, and then got to work buying his gear. In addition to standard adventuring supplies he invested in a sickle, leather armour, primal focus, artisan’s tools, thieve’s tools, and a basic crafting book which would allow him to make any mundane gear during his downtime. It was very important to my son that his druid be self-sufficient!

Then we rolled up his familiars — again, a simple process — and he was done. Zan, Badger and Leshy were ready to their adventures!

Overall, it took my son about the same amount of time to make his character as it did my daughter. He caught on about as fast as his sister, but where she gleefully ticked off the boxes and did her own math, he complained until his little sister finished filling out the math for him. Cheeky thing. Haha.

Finally, it was time to help out my husband. Knowing we were sorely lacking a melee combatant, he decided to make a dwarf by the name of Toran Goldbrew. He’s a strong fellow, with final ability scores of Str 18 / Dex 14 / Con 14 / Int 12 / Wis 12 / Cha 8. Sadly that meant his resonance would be a big old zero. Haha. Fortunately, he had nothing to spend resonance on anyway, so it worked out alright for him.

As a dwarf Toran gained the unburdened ability and one ancestry feat. My husband wavered between a few of them, but ended up choosing weapon familiarity so he could wield a dwarven waraxe. He chose the background ‘Pathfinder Hopeful’ which granted him the feat ‘extra lore.’ That left him trained in Pathfinder Lore and Sports Lore! Haha. Toran’s a blast.

So what class would Toran be? Barbarian, of course! This granted him the ‘rage’ ability (which you can use an unlimited number of time per day, by the way), a totem, and a class feat. He loved the idea of barbarian totems and ended up having a tough time choosing one. In the end he went with the giant totem, which gave him the snazzy ‘titan mauler’ ability. This lets him use a large weapon in battle (among other things). This also determines his anathema — which is turning down a challenge of strength, in case you’re curious. For his barbarian feat he chose ‘sudden charge,’ which is a two action ability that lets him take two move actions and a strike! Very handy!

When it came time to choose his trained skills he decided upon acrobatics, athletics, crafting and intimidation. Along with his large dwarven waraxe — which once belonged to his ancestor who they say was a dwarf ‘larger than life’ — Toran purchased darts and a breastplate. In addition to basic adventuring gear he bought a grappling hook, and artisan’s tools. Then it was time to fill in all the final math on his sheet. Switching to the new method turned out to be confusing for him, but as I tried to explain it my daughter cut me off.

“No, Mom! I will teach Dad!”

And she did.

It was absolutely adorable.

With our characters made we set out to play Doomsday Dawn. Unfortunately, Toran Goldbrew didn’t survive. There was a perfect point to have him brought back to life, though, which we took advantage of (Praise Pharasma!) But, with his character technically dead and being remade for the next time he’s used, my husband decided to make some changes. He’s no longer have the giant totem. Instead, he would use the spirit totem. Death proved a little traumatizing.

Sounds fair.

Overall, we had a great time making our characters. The creation system was easy to use and allowed for a lot of customization. My husband particularly liked the ancestry traits, and that each class offers different paths of specialization. My daughter was thrilled to see goblins as a core race. And my son? Familiars! He loves them.

I hope you enjoyed taking a peek into the creation processes of my family’s first Pathfinder Playtest Characters. We certainly had fun making them

Have you made characters of your own? Let me know about them in the comments!

Until then!

Jessica

 

Free RPG Day 2018

Saturday, June 17th was Free RPG Day 2018.

Did you participate?

We sure did!

Free RPG Day 2018 d20diaries

My husband, my children and I headed out for a trip to our local game shop. There’s a few places you can go in Winnipeg for RPG products, but our shop of choice is Game Knight Games and Cool Stuff. It’s a bit of a trek to get there, two buses and at least an hour and a half of travel time for us, but it has a great selection of RPGs, board games, miniatures, and collectible card games. They also have a spacious game space. It’s a wonderful store. The buses were accommodating, and we made good time. In no time at all we headed inside and perused the goodies on offer. There was quite a selection! Over ten books to choose from, but with only one per customer. Luckily, there were four of us.

There were two products we knew we wanted to bring home with us: ‘Skitter Shot,’ a Level 2 adventure for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game written by Jason Keeley; and ‘We Be 5upergoblins,’ a Level 6 adventure for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, written by Crystal Frasier. But the other two? We had no idea. Something new.

Deciding we should pick out our purchases before picking up our free RPG books, we spread out around the store to browse.

For Father’s Day, we wanted to get my husband a book of his choice, so we set him loose on the store. He ended up choosing Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Ancients. Those of you who follow this blog will know that I’ve been dying to get my hands on this awesome new release, so we were very pleased with his decision. Haha.

My kids also got a small budget of five dollars to spend on themselves. Not much, I know, but they accepted the challenge with enthusiasm. My daughter fell in love with a set of pink dice, which was too expensive. As she agonized over the cost and attempted to convince me she would empty out her piggy bank (which contains about two dollars) to make up the difference, my son browsed the boxed minis. All too expensive, of course. So, the three of us moved on to the singles cabinet. They looked over the plastic pre-painted minis, and squealed over all the expensive ones. They each found a mini they liked, but we moved on too keep browsing. In the end, they pooled their budget and picked out three boxes of unpainted miniatures. Pathfinder Goblin Pyros (89002), Dragoth (Dark Heaven Bones, 77201) and Shadow Hound (Dark Heaven Bones, 77366) which is a lovely clear purple colour.

With our purchases in hand we headed over to peruse the Free RPG books up for offer. As already mentioned, there were a lot of cool choices, most of which we didn’t know anything about. Exciting!

My six-year old daughter immediately scampered over to the table and swept up Skitter Shot! While I grabbed We Be 5upergoblins! This left my son and my husband a bevy of books to browse. In the end, my husband settled on a book for Numenéra, which he had heard good things about. My son fell in love with the maps inside a Dungeon Crawl Classics book, so he hugged it close, I paid for our products and left.

We took a walk down the road for lunch to eat at a local Mexican restaurant called Carlos and Murphy’s, which everyone enjoyed, and then headed home for the best part: reading them. In short: they were awesome!

Dungeon Crawl Classics, by Goodman Games, came with basic rules and character details for making characters of up to second level, as well as character creation rules and two different adventures. One for level 0, entitled ‘The Portal Under the Stars,’ and one for level 2 entitled ‘Man-Bait for the Soul Stealer.’ This game has a definite old-school D&D feel to it. Also, it’s SUPER deadly. You roll up a bunch of meek peasants and hopefully one of them will survive long enough to reach level 1 where they can choose a class. The random character creation rules were quite fun, and the adventures were entertaining. My son loved all the black and white artwork in this book — of which there was a lot! He also loved the maps. All in all, it’s not my cup of tea, but as a family we liked the system — especially my son. He’s super excited to get to put it on his bookshelf, instead of mine. For the full rulebook, pick up: Dungeon Crawl Classics .

‘Ashes of the Sea’ is a complete adventure for the Numenera Corebook, which uses the Cypher System and is published by Monte Cook Games. The adventure is written by Sean K. Reynolds. Chances are, both of those names are familiar to you. Haha. In addition to containing the adventure, it also contains details on the setting, some of the rules, a mini-bestiary, a link to a collection of pre-generated characters. It also comes with a nifty coupon that could earn you a second free adventure if you purchase a Numenéra sourcebook from the same store you got the Free book from. A pretty solid pay off! We really enjoyed the Cypher System, although it will certainly take some getting used to. I also like that the focus of the game is discovery. Not battle or influence. Discovery. I feel like it’s going to be very character and role play driven. I can’t wait to give it a try.

PZO9500-12We Be 5upergoblins!‘ is a level 6 Pathfinder Module written by Crystal Frasier. It’s the fifth instalment in the much beloved ‘We Be Goblins’ series. It should go without saying — but I’ll say it anyway — that this adventure was AWESOME. Hilarious. Entertaining. I burst out laughing many times while reading it. It’s just a ton of fun! It’s also sanctioned for Pathfinder Society Play, which is an extra bonus, and comes with four regenerated goblins: Chuffy Lickwound, Mogmurch, Poog of Zarongel, and Reta Bigbad. So what’s up this time around? These crazy goblins explore the wonderful world of Bagland. It’s awesome, I promise. My kids particularly enjoyed the character ‘Golgum the Tall.’ And the ending? So good! If you didn’t get your hands on this amazing product, don’t worry. You’ll be able to download it for free on Paizo’s website in two weeks or so, and can purchase a physical copy for around five dollars American.

PZO9500-13The last book we got out hands on was ‘Skitter Shot,’ which is a level two module for the Starfinder RPG written by Jason Keeley. It’s sanctioned for use in the Starfinder Society, and even gives you a boon which can (with a lot of work) allow you to unlock Skittermanders as playable race! AWESOME! But, enough about the boons, what’s up with the book? This delightful adventure lets your players take on the role of four adorable and enthusiastic skittermanders who work on a salvage ship with their vesk boss. Unfortunately, their boss went out to scavenge what he could from an abandoned luxury liner, and hasn’t returned! Lucky that skittermanders love to help! The pregenerated characters are really fun to play and sufficiently unique. The adventure was a lot of fun. So fun, in fact, that we played it today.

The verdict?

It’s a BLAST. I highly recommend it.

If you weren’t able to get a copy on Free RPG Day, a free download will be available in another few weeks on Paizo’s website. Keep your eyes open!

The products we purchased were great. My kids love their new minis, and Blood of the Ancients was as great as my husband and I hoped. I’ll be dedicating an entire post to it later this week.

I hope a lot of you got out to Free RPG Day! If you did, I’d love to hear what kind of products you got your hands on, and what you thought of them.

Happy gaming!

Jessica