August New Releases

Hello, and welcome back to d20diairies! August 2019 is a crazy month for d20 releases, so buckle up! We’re in for one exciting ride!


Dungeons & Dragons

Although there’s no big D&D releases this month, highlights from last month include the first two releases in the Young Adventurer’s Guide line: Monsters & Creatures and Warriors & Weapons! Both of my kids are huge fans of these books. For more information check out our review on the Young Adventurer’s Guides here.


Pathfinder

Last month marked the finale of the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path with Pathfinder Adventure Path 144: Midwives to Death by John Compton. This was the final Pathfinder First Edition adventure to be released. But, as First Edition comes to an end, Second Edition begins. And WOW, there is a LOT of Pathfinder Second Edition products coming out this month!

First and foremost: The Core Rulebook (also available in a Deluxe Edition). This massive 638 page tome contains (almost) everything you need to get started playing Pathfinder Second Edition. With a highly intuitive gameplay system, and incredibly varied character development choices that can be made at every level, Pathfinder Second Edition is shaping up to be absolutely awesome. We’ve just finished reading the rules and can’t wait to get started playing some mini-adventures. GMs, like myself, will also need one other book to play: Bestiary! The Bestiary (also available in a Deluxe Edition) is 357 pages long and contains over 400 creatures with dynamic and diverse abilities. Coming out later this month is another hardcover I’m particularly excited for, Pathfinder Lost Omens World Guide, which advances Golarion’s timeline ten years and shows us what’s happening throughout ten mega-regions of the Inner Sea Region. There’s plenty of changes coming, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us.

The start of this month saw the launch of the first Pathfinder Second Edition Adventure Path: Age of Ashes! The first volume, Pathfinder Adventure Path 145: Hellknight Hill, is written by Amanda Hamon, while the second volume, Pathfinder Adventure Path 146: Cult of Cinders, is written by Eleanor Ferron. The first stand-alone Second Edition Adventure, The Fall of Plaguestone, is written by Jason Bulmahn.

Other Pathfinder Second Edition releases include Pathfinder GM Screens (available in landscape or portrait), Pathfinder Character Sheet PackPathfinder Combat Pad, and Pathfinder Condition Cards.

Maps this month include Pathfinder Flip-Tiles: Urban Sewers Expansion, Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Hamlet, and Pathfinder Flip-Mat: The Fall of Plaguestone. Fans looking for a deluxe gaming experience can check out Dwarven Forge’s Plague Stone series of terrain, which just went up for pre-sale.

Finally, this month brings us five Pathfinder Society Scenarios! Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-00: Origin of the Open Road, written by Ron Lundeen, is an introductory adventure that takes place in Quantium and is intended for level five pregenerated characters. Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-01: The Absalom Initiation, written by Lyz Liddell, is a repeatable scenario designed for Tiers 1–4 that takes place in Absalom. Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-02: The Mosquito Witch, written by Eleanor Ferron, is a Tier 1–4 scenario that tasks the PCs with tracking down a cryptid in the River Kingdoms. Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-03: Escaping the Grave, written by Adrian Ng, is a Tier 1–4 scenario that sends the PCs on a rescue mission to the Gravelands. Finally, Pathfinder Society Quest 1A: Sandstone Secret, written by Linda Zayas-Palmer, is a short, one-hour repeatable quest that takes place in Osirion.


Third Party (Pathfinder 2e) Releases

It may be new, but there’s already plenty of exciting Third Party Publisher releases for Pathfinder Second Edition. Although we haven’t had a chance to read many, below are a few we’re particularly excited for.

Everybody Games

Everybody Games has two issues of their ‘Files for Everybody’ line out. Issue 1: Nashi, by Alex Augunas, brings raccoon-folk to Second Edition, while Issue 2: Acrobatics Feats, by Dustin Knight, contains ten new General Acrobatics Skill feats.

Fat Goblin Games

Fat Goblin Games has two great looking products already out. Fellow Travellers: Animal Companions by Taylor Hubler contains over fifty new animal companions, while Game Changer: Alchemical Tools by Matt Roth contains over one hundred new or expanded alchemical tools from levels one through twenty.

Rusted Iron Games

Rusted Iron Games recently launched Tombstone, a gritty alternate history wild west setting compatible with Pathfinder Second Edition rules that pits PCs against monsters, magic, and The Blight, a terrifying infection from beyond the stars. A mixture of western, fantasy, and occult horror, it’s shaping up to be a fun and quirky twist on RPGs. Current releases in this line include Ancestries of Tombstone: Chupacabra by Joshua Hennington, Ancestries of Tombstone: Jackalope by Jacob W. Michaels, and Ancestries of Tombstone: Rougarou by Dennis Muldoon, all of which are available on DriveThruRPG. Upcoming releases include more ancestries, and class feats. My daughter has decided to make at least five jackalope characters — one for each heritage — so my PDF is proving well worth the money.


Starfinder

Although Pathfinder Second Edition is drawing a lot of attention, the Starfinder team is not to be outdone! This month’s releases include Starfinder Adventure Path 18: Assault on the Crucible (finale to the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path!), Starfinder Adventure Path 19: Fate of the Fifth (beginning of the Attack of the Swarm! Adventure Path!), and Starfinder RPG: Alien Archive 3, which contains over 100 new aliens, and over a dozen playable races.

Other Starfinder releases include Starfinder Pawns: Tech Terrain and Starfinder Flip-Mat: Ice World. Starfinder Society Scenarios include #2-05: Meeting of Queens, a Tier 1–4 scenario written by Kiel Howell that involves the formians of Castrovel, and Starfinder Society Scenario #2-06: The Stumbling Society, Part One: Sangoro’s Lament, a Tier 5–8 scenario written by Mike Kimmel that delves into abandoned Exo-Guardian’s fortress of Sangoro’s Bulwark.


WizKids

And finally, WizKids! This month saw the launch of the Pathfinder Battles: Legendary Adventures Preview Pack, an 8 miniature sneak peak of the upcoming Pathfinder Battles: Legendary Adventures miniatures. Later this month D&D: Icons of the Realms: Baldur’s Gate: Descent in Avernus is scheduled to launch! This set of random booster boxes features 45 different plastic pre-painted miniatures.


And that’s what we’re touching on this month! Got a favourite release? I’d love to hear about it!

Happy shopping!

Jessica

Review: Tyrant’s Grasp: The Dead Roads!

Today we’re taking an in depth look at the first book in the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path! This survival horror campaign pits the players against the return of the Whispering Tyrant, the lich-king Tar-Baphon, who was defeated and sealed away long ago. Tyrant’s Grasp will be the final Pathfinder 1st Edition Adventure Path released, before the switch is made over to Pathfinder 2nd Edition in August. Intended to take characters from levels 1 to 17, Tyrant’s Grasp is six volumes long.

Tyrant's Grasp - Player's GuideA wonderful Player’s Guide for Tyrant’s Grasp is available as a free download on Paizo’s website here. The Player’s Guide gives players a relatively spoiler-free way to properly prepare for and integrate their characters into the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path. I highly recommend checking it out!

The Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path begins with Pathfinder Adventure Path: The Dead Roads (Tyrant’s Grasp 1 of 6). Written by Ron Lundeen, The Dead Roads is an adventure intended for first level characters, which should bring PCs up to level five by its conclusion. This adventure begins when the PCs awaken already defeated in the Boneyard, a land where the dead go to be judged. There’s just one problem… They’re not quite dead. Trapped inside a tomb that doesn’t belong to them, they’ll need to escape, figure out what happened to them, and find a way to return home. But, how could one possibly escape the land of the dead?

Let me start by saying that The Dead Roads — and the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path — is not for everyone. Terrible tragedies will occur, and you won’t always be able to prevent them. These events are bound to have a lasting effect on your characters, so players should be prepared to consider and role-play the marks left by the trials you face. Often you’ll be in dire situations with limited resources, so players will need to be resourceful to survive. Plenty of the imagery and events in this adventure are dark, morbid, and sorrowful. It’s definitely a horror campaign — though not your typical horror. It’s suspenseful survival horror, with a good deal of body horror in the first book, as well.  The Dead Roads contains imagery that is inappropriate for children and some adult gamers will even consider an image or two disturbing. It’s definitely not a campaign I could play with my family.

That said, I loved The Dead Roads. Absolutely, positively, adored it.

The Dead Roads Cover

For starters, it looks great. From cover to cover it’s a wonderful, high quality book filled with nice maps, and beautiful, dark artwork. The cover depicts Mictena (a catrina psychopomp the PCs are destined to interact with) in the foreground. Behind her is an image of Seelah (the Iconic paladin) and Yoon (the iconic kineticist) battling ostovites. Both images are by Igor Grechanyi. There’s a lovely map of The Gravelands (Lastwall and parts of Ustalav) on the inside cover. There’s a ton of artwork throughout the book — of enemies, allies, and characters who could become either. I particularly enjoyed the art for Prince Uspid and Mictena. Colulus was the most disconcerting image in the book. If any image is going to bug a squeamish player it’ll be that one. There’s a few characters that I wish had art but don’t (which is expected! Art’s not cheap and there’s only so much space!). Ayuki, in particular, would have been nice to see, as well as the jitterbone creature in the bestiary. The maps, all drawn by Matthias Rothenaicher, are really nice. They look great, of course, but they’re also well thought out, executed, and each has a unique feel to it. I particularly enjoyed ‘Roslar’s Tomb’ and ‘Deathbower.’ I wish that the maps of the various Dead Roads locations were given a bit more space, though. Squishing three multi-floor maps for three different locations onto one page is good for page count, but makes some of the maps difficult to read. Part of the eastern end of the ‘Palace of Teeth’ is nearly lost in the creases of the binding, while the entrance to ‘Salishara’s Scriptorium’ is hidden in the creases. If both of those maps were a few grid squares further to the left that would have been less of a problem. Finally, flipping back and forth  between the map page and the various locations depicted in it (which is spread out over 28 pages) is a bit irritating. Have a bookmark or post-it note handy and try not to tear your pages. Much to my surprise there was also two player handouts which represent puzzles the group comes across. I’m really glad they’re depicted instead of just described. They’re necessary and a really nice touch.

Maps in the Crease
Part of the maps lost in the creases.

The Dead Roads starts with a bang (HA!) and doesn’t let up. The entire opening has the feel of an ominous, suspenseful mystery. Your PCs don’t know where they are, how they got there, or what’s going on. Their locations hide clues to both their situation and the history of wider events, which the PCs may or may not be able to uncover. In time they will discover the answers to some of their questions, just as they realize it’s tied to an even bigger mystery.

There’s a lot of wonderful social encounters and NPCs in this adventure. Number Three, Barple Stonebreaker, Prince Uspid, Queen Carnassial, Kishokish and his portrait, Ayuki, Salighara, Berthold, the wyrwoods, Mrs. Pedipalp, Aydie, Reedreaper, Mictena — there’s just so many great interactions in this adventure! Among them, three particularly stand out amongst the crowd: interacting with the townsfolk of Roslar’s Coffer is poignant and amazing; speaking with Barzahk the Passage; and — my personal favourite characters — Umble and Thoot! This pair of friendly psychopomps are the best!

Many of the creatures and NPCs you come across don’t look friendly — which doesn’t mean they aren’t friendly. Of course, it doesn’t mean they are friendly, either. Which I love! Appearances have no bearing on what a creature acts like and I appreciate that this adventure used that so effectively. It’s bound to throw players for a bit of a loop and make them feel… off-kilter. Which is great!

There’s a lot of challenging encounters in this adventure and plenty of unique monsters to face off against. I particularly enjoyed that so many can end in ways other than violence. But, don’t let that last sentence lull you into a false sense of security! There’s a lot of combat encounters in this book that cannot be avoided.

And the ending! Oh, the ending! I love it! I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book in this Adventure Path! I have a feeling Eulogy for Roslar’s Coffer is going to be just as good.


And now it’s time for a warning:

We’ve got more to say about this adventure, but it’ll come with spoilers! Don’t want to read them? Skip on past this next section until you see the large words ‘SPOILERS OVER.’ Got it? Good! See you on the other side where we’ll talk about the extra content in this book!


SPOILERS

The Dead Roads adventure is split into four major parts: Awake in Roslar’s Tomb, Among the Dead, Walking the Dead Roads, and Deathbower. One of these parts Walking the Dead Roads is particularly dense and is made up of three major locations: The Palace of Teeth, Nine-Eaves, and Salighara’s Scriptorium. All told The Dead Roads adventure is 52 pages in length with six pages afterwards dedicated to three NPCs: Mictena, Mrs. Pedipalp, and Reedreaper. All three of these are enemies the PCs will come across, but only one of them has to stay that way. The PCs have a chance to convince the other two to step aside without violence (although it’s extremely hard to accomplish for one of those two!).

Through this adventure the PCs will get to interact with psychopomps, a type of outsider native to the Boneyard who work to ensure that the processing of souls is done accurately and efficiently. Typically functioning as guides for the souls of the deceased, the psychopomps are confused over what to do about the mysterious PCs. Some will help them along their way (especially the delightful Umble and Thoot!) , and others with hinder them — particularly Mictena, a catrina psychopomp obsessed with putting the PCs spirits properly to rest. Through a good thorough death, of course! Psychopomps aren’t the only enemies and NPCs the players will interact with. The Boneyard is a huge realm, and there’s plenty of creatures living/stranded/invading there. Other major groups of enemies include fey, vermin, sakhil, and nightmarish beings from the Dimension of Dreams.

Fittingly, The Dead Roads begins with death. Lots of it. The entire town of Roslar’s Coffer has been destroyed in one terrifying instant. Including the PCs. I’ll leave the details out of this article, but suffice to say this will have a lasting effect on your players and their characters. Any family, friends, and companions — pets included — that lived in Roslar’s Coffer are dead. Although it might be tempting to warn some players about this in advance, that also will ruin some of the surprise and likely result in players purposely making no personal connections to the town of Roslar’s Coffer — which would be a mistake in my opinion. Every GM will need to judge their players accordingly, and perhaps provide them with some hints and warnings while they build their characters and backstories. In my opinion this event is handled incredibly well throughout this adventure, and I highly recommend allowing players to make a character with personal connections to Roslar’s Coffer. It adds so much to the story. However, it is important to inform PCs that if they have animal companions, mounts, or they are a wizard with a familiar, they will not have access to their pet at the start of the campaign. Player’s who have read the Tyrant’s Grasp Player’s Guide will already be aware of this, although they won’t (accurately) know why.

Happily, the player’s experience doesn’t begin with the death of Roslar’s Coffer. Instead, Part One: Awake in Roslar’s Tomb begins with the PCs waking up in a stone coffin. Literally entombed they need to push their way out of the stone box and into a cold, dark, mausoleum. It’s a great opening. Players and characters alike are bound to be curious what has happened and where they are. Players begin with any gear they had that could reasonably fit in a coffin with them. Any familiars who share a soul with your PCs (a shaman or witch familiar) will be in a coffin of their own, while all other companions are not present (as they are dead). Eidolons and phantoms can be summoned back normally, although all other familiars and companions will need to be replaced at a later time.

Soon, the PCs will discover they’re in someone else’s tomb — Ervin Roslar, Knight of Ozem and hero of the Shining Crusade. The same man that Roslar’s Coffer is named after, in fact. Interesting! As they navigate the tomb they’ll find strange creatures, animated bones (sort of…), a trapped spirit, and a tribe of mites. They’ll also discover that Ervin Roslar may have had a few secrets of his own, although it’s unlikely they’ll unravel his history completely. This section of the adventure is a suspenseful series of explorations, mysteries, tantalizing clues, and challenging combats. It’s going to be a ton of fun to both run and play.

Part Two: Among the Dead begins when the PCs exit Roslar’s Tomb to find themselves face to face with a pair of spooky looking (and absolutely delightful) psychopomps: Umble and Thoot! Seriously, they’re awesome. This quirky pair give the PCs some answers to their most pressing questions and explains that not only are the PCs dead and not dead at the same time — weird! — the rest of Roslar’s Coffer is well and truly dead. They ask the PCs to lend them a hand in convincing the spirits of the dead of Roslar’s Coffer that they are, in fact, dead. These poor fellows need a hand moving everyone on to the afterlife in a calm and orderly fashion! The PCs get to travel to a phantom version of Roslar’s Coffer where they interact with all the people in town — now dead. This is an amazing section of the adventure. Short and poignant, the GM has a chance to show the PCs what has happened to all their family and friends. They’ll need to convince loved ones to move on, and will have a chance to say goodbye. If they have any pets they’ll find them here as well. The adventure itself provides rules for interacting with these spirits, how to convince them to move on, and some tactics that will let them do it in a timely fashion — namely convincing the town leaders of their death. Some PCs will want to stay behind and die along with their family, others won’t have personal connections to the townsfolk, and others still will want to ‘save’ some of these spirits and attempt to return them back to life. There’s plenty of guidance in this book for handling PCs of every kind. After accepting their death the people of Roslar’s Coffer — even familial loved ones — want answers for what happened to them. The PCs are uniquely positioned to uncover this. And, of course, any spirits who can’t be convinced to move on (including those your PCs may want to bring back) will deteriorate in time until they become undead ghosts and other malevolent entities. Umble and Thoot can explain this to the group and ensure no PCs attempt anything so foolhardy. Also in this section the PCs are first introduced to the antagonist of this adventure, Mictena. Overall, this section of the book is among my very favourites. It’s exceptionally well handled and sure to be an emotional experience for players and characters alike. It’s a truly unique roleplaying opportunity. I’m not an overly emotional person, but I’m quite certain that if I was playing this with any character who had even a modest amount of family or friends in Roslar’s Coffer, under an even remotely talented GM, I would cry — in a good way! It has the potential to really tug at the heartstrings.

Part Three: Walking the Dead Roads begins after the PCs have helped the people of Roslar’s Coffer accept their death. Umble and Thoot, who are grateful and believe that since the PCs are only slightly dead they’re not truly dead at all, offer the PCs a way out of the Boneyard. The Dead Roads. They explain that this secret path is only ever trod by psychopomps and gatekeepers, the beings who watch over what amounts to traveller’s checkpoints along the road. Capable of leading anywhere, the PCs can use the Dead Roads to get home to Roslar’s Coffer (so they can figure out what’s happened) by taking a certain path. They’ll need to stop at the three checkpoints along the way and get stamped by that location’s master. Convincing them to grant the stamp should be the hardest part of the journey. Unbeknownst to Umble and Thoot, politics and turmoil have overtaken the three waystations, making each location more dangerous than expected. These locations may be visited in any order, although they are presented in order of difficulty (which is also how I recommend playing them).

The Palace of Teeth is a small castle ruled over Queen Carnassial and her court of tooth fairies. Not long ago her son, Prince Uspid, led a coup against her, and the two factions have been locked in a stalemate ever since. Although Queen Carnassial is the only one with the authority to stamp the PCs (at least until her death) it’s Prince Uspid the PCs are destined to meet first. They’ll need to navigate, bargain, and battle their way through bickering fey factions. They might even get to keep all their teeth…. This location is simultaneously goofy in a crazed sort of way and disconcerting. Although the Palace of Teeth was once a beautiful castle it’s undergone a rather morbid makeover since the fey moved in. The place is creepy and it’s denizens literally want to yank your teeth out. That can make bargaining… weird. Haha. I love the art for both the tooth fairy monarchs (particularly Prince Uspid!) and the stained glass angel. But, in my opinion, the creepiest encounter involves a pair of soulbound dolls in the midst of acting out a rather bloody play about dentistry. They attempt to make the PCs their next patients, using deep slumber and some particularly creepy statements. It’s awesome! Haha. The Palace of Teeth is my favourite location on in part three.

Nine-Eaves is a three storey manor owned by an old shoki psychopomp with a fondness for games and puzzles. Unfortunately, Kishokish’s manor has been invaded by sahkil and he’s now a prisoner in his own home. They PCs will need to free him if they want to get his stamp. Luckily they’re not without allies. An animated portrait created to pose riddles to visitors can lend the PCs a hand — if they can solve his puzzles! There are three puzzles total, and each one solved can earn the PCs information and advice. They’ll need to traverse the house as they seek answers, battling vermin, sahkil, and an unfettered phantom named Ayuki. I really enjoyed the puzzle aspects of this location.

Salighara’s Scriptorium was created by Salighara, a reclusive viduus psychopomp who is studying the Dimension of Dreams and oversees a crew of wyrwood scribes. Mictena attempted to convince Salighara to kill the PCs on her behalf, but was rebuffed. Mictena then offered the same deal to Salighara’s assistant, a plump woman named Mrs. Pedipalp (actually an aranea from a nightmarish section of the Dimension of Dreams). Happy to take the powerful psychopomp up on her offer, Mrs. Pedipalp has ousted Salighara from her own scriptorium and remade the building in her own image. Now a dark place of nightmares and horror, the PCs will need to set things right. This is definitely the most horror-themed location in The Dead Roads, with traps, haunts, and horrifying enemies. Colulus, a flayed ettercap and long-time minion of Mrs. Pedipalp is by far the most horrifying. But, even the Scriptorium is not without potential allies. PCs get to meet Salighara, some upset wyrwoods, and a ratling named Berthold. Mrs. Pedipalp herself is a great opponent — a capable liar, powerful spellcaster, and nightmarish foe all wrapped up in a kindly looking package. I particularly like her tactics. That said, it’s likely Colulus who will give parties the most trouble.

After receiving their stamps the PCs can finally traverse the rest of the Dead Roads and return to the land of the living — not! Mictena refuses to let them go! She magically relocated her domain, Deathbower, right onto the Dead Roads so that she and her dangerous shabti gardeners can kill your PCs properly. Which brings us to the final section of the Dead Roads adventure, Part Four: Deathbower. I love this location and its map. I love the inhabitants — gardeners, friends, and foes. And I love Mictena herself. Despite being an enemy of your PCs she’s not a bad being. She’s a psychopomp just doing what she thinks is right. Which is cool! Although some of the hazards and enemies in this glorious garden must be confronted head on, some characters can be swayed and may even join you for a while. Reedreaper is a particularly interesting character, although it’s unlikely he sticks around long enough to play much of a role. Even Mictena can be talked down — theoretically. The chances your PCs will be able to roll high enough are incredibly slim, but it could happen. Which I really like.

After leaving Deathbower behind the PCs find themselves back on the Dead Roads and greeted by an incredibly powerful psychopomp, Barzahk the Passage, a demigod and master of the Dead Roads. This enigmatic figure whisks the PCs off to their home in a matter of moments, giving them a bit of time to ask him any questions they might have. I thought this was a great moment and a wonderful way to end the adventure.

SPOILERS OVER


In addition to The Dead Roads adventure, this volume contains two articles intended for both GMs and players, one article solely for the GM, a campaign outline, and a bestiary containing five new creatures.

Tools of the BoneyardThe first article, Tools of the Boneyard, is written by Matt Morris. In it you’ll find new gear and character options aimed at dealing with the dead. There is one alchemical remedy, one alchemical tool, and two alchemical weapons — bone burn is my favourite, so be sure to check it out! There are two new special materials useful for crafting — cryptstone can be used for ammunition and weapons, while spiresteel can be used for ammunition, weapons, and armour. Finally, there are five new magic items: crypt rod, grim helm, harbinger’s scythe, Lady’s Mercy, and Momument’s Truth. Although I enjoyed a lot of the items, it’s the character options that I found were most exciting. Graveslinger is a gunslinger archetype that specializes in combatting incorporeal undead. Soul Shepherd is a monk archetype that calm incorporeal undead and haunts with a touch. They also gain some otherworldly resistances and interesting ways to use their ki. Reaper is a new oracle mystery which I really enjoyed. Tightly themed and flavourful it’s capable of both killing the living and destroying undead. There are also six new barbarian rage powers including the psychopomp totem powers.

shabti-1.jpg
Thrilled to see shabti get some attention!

The second player friendly article is written by Mikhail Rekun and entitled The Half-Dead. This section talks about four races that have a strong connection to death and the undead. In addition to providing details and character options for dhampir, duskwalkers, and shabti, it also talks about the new subtype of creatures, mortics. Dhampir appear alongside two magical items, duswalkers have access to five new feats, and shabti have access to five new feats. I was particularly excited to see shabti included.

The next article, To Exceed Their Grasp, is written by Crystal Frasier and intended for GMs only. This article discusses some of the important concepts, characters, and events of the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path and the role they play in the overarching story. It also contains a timeline. This is incredibly useful for GMs an will likely be referenced throughout the entire Adventure Path.

Tyrant's Grasp -Shining Crusade - Death of Arazni
The Death of Arazni (Herald of Aroden) during the Shining Crusade. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

The Bestiary is up next! It contains a random encounter chart, two interesting social encounters, and five new creatures written by Ron Lundeen, Kyle T. Raes, and Mike Welham. All of the monsters in this book have ties to death and the Boneyard and two of them are featured in The Dead Roads adventure. Bonewrought Willow is an ominous looking intelligent plant capable of growing in Boneyard. Attracted to light and more benevolent than it appears this is a great CR 3 creature I can’t wait to confront my players with. Kaicherak are nasty little fanged worm beasts with ties to Achaekek and a fondness for messily gorging themselves on blood. At CR 4 they are among the most powerful new creatures in the bestiary. Mortics are living beings with strong connections to negative energy which makes them sort of like living undead. There are two mortic stat blocks included in the bestiary — the ghoulish elf-like angheuvore (CR 2) and the incredibly flexible halfling-like jitterbone (CR 4). As previously mentioned, more information on mortics is also included in The Half-Dead article. The final creature is the tooth fairy monarch, a CR 3 version of the lowly tooth fairy.

The last article is a campaign outline, written by Crystal Frasier and Ron Lundeen, that briefly details the events of the upcoming volumes of the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path.  Not the sort of thing you want your players peeking at! The campaign outline is incredibly useful for GMs.

Which brings us to the end of  Pathfinder Adventure Path: The Dead Roads (Tyrant’s Grasp 1 of 6). Want more? So do I! Tyrant’s Grasp continues with Eulogy for Roslar’s Coffer (Tyrant’s Grasp 2 of 6) by Jason Keeley, Last Watch (Tyrant’s Grasp 3 of 6) by Larry Wilhelm, Gardens of Gallowspire (Tyrant’s Grasp 4 of 6) by Crystal Frasier, Borne by the Sun’s Grace (Tyrant’s Grasp 5 of 6) by Luis Loza, and Midwives to Death (Tyrant’s Grasp 6 of 6) by John Compton. You can also check out a previous blog post I wrote on the upcoming Tyrant’s Grasp volumes here.

Thanks for joining us today!

Jessica


EDIT: Check out the Tyrant’s Grasp trailer!

June New Releases!

Hey, guys! It’s that time again! A new month brings new releases!

There were plenty of fun releases last month, including two awesome pawn collections I’d love to get my hands on: Ruins of Azlant Pawn Collection and Starfinder Pact Worlds Pawn Collection. We were also treated to War for the Crown: Part 4 of 6: City in the Lion’s Eye, and the Pathfinder Players Companion: Blood of the Ancients. The Pathfinder Society Scenarios were solid, and the Starfinder Society Scenarios really knocked it out of the park. Amazing! And this month? Well, I think it’s looking just as exciting…

PZO1141First up, Pathfinder’s released a new hardcover book: Planar Adventures. I’ve been a huge fan of Pathfinder Chronicles: Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The Great Beyond since it’s release, so to see that the Planes are getting an entire hardcover complete with new archetypes, feats, spells, gear, monsters and three player races, is AWESOME!

Moving on from hardcovers into softcovers, we come to Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Distant Realms. Inside this book you’ll find details on six completely different planar cities, complete with maps, history, locations and the cities movers and shakers. Which six cities does it contain? I’m not sure about all of them, but I do know you can expect to find the city of Dis in Hell, the isle of Yulgamot on the Astral Plane, Basrakal (I have no idea where that will be…) and, my personal favourite, Shadow Absalom! Colour me intrigued!

We’ve also got two other awesome adventure path volumes coming out. War for the Crown, which has been spectacularly popular, is getting it’s second last instalment! That’s right! War for the Crown: Part 5 of 6: The Reaper’s Right Hand! And on the Starfinder front? The finale of it’s first adventure path! Dead Suns: Part 6 of 6: Empire of Bones! I cannot wait to get my hands on that bad boy!

PZO90131On the Flip-Mat front we have two to peruse this month. Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Bigger Village is a super-sized play mat which features a desert oasis village on one side, and a walled village on the other side. Both sides seem quite nice looking, and rather usable. The second flip-mat is a super popular mat reprinted. Which one? Flip Mat: Classics: Pub Crawl! One side features a street lined with taverns, while the other is an expanded Flip-Mat: Warehouse for a more cheap and grungy kind of bar. This one’s bound to see a ton of use in PFS play, so I’d get your hands on it while you can.

Near the end of this month we’ll have two new Pathfinder Society Scenarios, and two new Starfinder Society Scenarios  to dive into. PFS: #9-22: Grotto of the Deluged God is a tier 1-5 scenario that tasks your PCs with investigating a shipwreck and contributes to the ongoing storyline of the Concordance faction. Meanwhile, PFS: #9-23: The Ghol-Gan Heresy is a tier 7-11 scenario that lets you take on the Aspis Consortium alongside your grippli allies! In addition to continuing previous events in the Kaava Lands, this scenario also contributes to the ongoing storyline of the Exchange.

SFS: #1-16: Dreaming of the Future is an exciting scenario! A series of four one-hour long quests that task your players with investigating the prophetic visions of a Liavaran Dreamer. These quests take you far across the Pact Worlds, into the Diaspora, Aballon, Verces and, of course, Liavara. This scenario is for tiers 1-4, features starship combat, and is REPEATABLE. Awesome! SFS: 1-17: Reclaiming the Time-Lost Tear is a tier 5-8 scenario. Yup, you heard that right! Tier 5-8! Even more exciting? It continues the story of the Scoured Stars! Pardon me while I squeal in delight!

June’s releases are looking amazing! Got a favourite? Let us know!

Jessica

 

Gifts from the Stars!

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Starfinder Flip-Mat: Basic Starfield

It’s been a while, but I finally got my hands on a Starfinder flip-mat! Which one, you might be wondering? The most important one, of course! We’ve been using a hex grid at my house for starship combat while playing Starfinder, but it’s terrain from another game. Admittedly, brightly coloured grass, hills and some trees is not exactly an atmospheric location to be making fancy piloting maneuvers and firing our laser turrets. But, Starfinder Flip-Mat: Basic Starfield has come to the rescue! This mat is gorgeous, folds well, can handle markers, and has two different sides: one is black with white stars, while the other is more colourful. We’ve tested it out a few times and honestly, couldn’t me more thrilled.

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Contents from the Starfinder Pawns: Starfinder Core Pawn Collection. My kids and I had a blast unboxing it!

Which brings me to the next wonderful product I finally got my hands on: Starfinder Pawns: Starfinder Core Pawn Collection. Now, there’s other pawn collections out there for Starfinder: Starfinder Pawns: Alien Archive is another beauty, but I knew that if I only invested in one pawn collection, Starfinder Pawns: Starfinder Core Pawn Collection would be it. Why? For starters, it has ships. SHIPS. No longer will we fly around a random leucrotta or demon mini while travelling the stars! Oh, no! We’re upgrading to a gorgeous Idaran spaceship! Second? The races. With over ten different minis for each of the core Starfinder races, many of which contain multiples, this Pawn Collection has you set for player characters, NPCs and enemies of all kinds.

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My son’s favourite pawn from the set: The Thaumtech Omenbringer!

In addition to the core races represented, there’s also a mini or two for each of the legacy races, as well as a few select Starfinder races from other sources, including the haan, elebrian, grey, and contemplative. The icing on the amazing star-cake? A few drone minis for all those mechanics out there! My son adores all the ships inside, but his favourite turned out to be the Thaumtech Omenbringer, an ominous looking Eoxian ship made of bone and magically enforced steel.

2018-04-05 18.59.592018-04-05 18.59.38My daughter’s favourite was certainly more expected: the cutest and cleanest looking ysoki in the set: The ysoki Star Shaman. And myself? I’m actually a big fan of the stealth drone, which turned out to be a cute little dog-bot!

Come on! You know you want it! Haha.

 After sifting through the pawns with my kids and finding them a new home in a shoe box, we had a ton of fun picking out which minis would be our Starfinder characters. No longer will Hoponisa be using a kobold mini, nor will Vishkesh and his drone be represented by a kuo-toa and a stirge! We couldn’t be happier.

Do any of you own the Starfinder Core Rulebook: Pawn Collection? Got a favourite mini you want to share? Let us know!

We’ll see you in the Vast!

Jessica

Starfinder: Supplementary Products

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?

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Starfinder Core Rulebook

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.

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Starfinder Flip-Mat: Basic Starfield

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.

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Starfinder Pawns: Alien Archive

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.

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Starfinder Adventure Path: Incident at Absalom Station (Dead Suns 1 of 6)

The last Starfinder product we’re going to touch on today is adventures. Currently, there’s only one adventure path out for Starfinder: Dead Suns! The Dead Suns Adventure Path consists of six volumes, three of which are out now and three of which are available for pre-order. They are: Starfinder Adventure Path: Incident at Absalom Station (Dead Suns 1 of 6)Starfinder Adventure Path: Temple of the Twelve (Dead Suns 2 of 6)Starfinder Adventure Path: Splintered Worlds (Dead Suns 3 of 6)Starfinder Adventure Path: The Ruined Clouds (Dead Suns 4 of 6)Starfinder Adventure Path: The Thirteenth Gate (Dead Suns 5 of 6), and Starfinder Adventure Path: Empire of Bones ( Dead Suns 6 of 6). From what I’ve read so far of the Adventure Path, it’s great fun.

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.

Scenario #1-01: The Commencement provides a great introduction to all the factions of the Starfinder Society, but has your players performing minor tasks that aren’t very glamourous. If you’re planning on playing in the Starfinder Society I’d pick this one up, but otherwise I recommend passing on it. If you’re a fan of social encounters or mysteries I’d give Scenario #1-02: Fugitive on the Red Planet, Scenario #1-05: The First Mandate, or Scenario #1-07: The Solar Sortie a try, but keep in mind that none of them feature starship battles. Lastly, Scenario #1-06: A Night in Nightarch is a fun romp which sees the players attempt to reclaim a stolen weapons  shipment from a drow thief, though this is a slightly higher level adventure and is intended for levels 3-6.

Thanks for joining me for a look at the many Starfinder Products available! Be sure to check back in at d20 Diaries to read about new releases, and reviews on further products.

See you in the Drift!

Jessica

 

Dwarven Forge

I watched a strange little documentary last night on Netflix called Dwarvenaut that follows a little company called Dwarven Forge. Dwarven Forge isn’t new, they’ve been around for twenty years, in fact, but their product is new to me. They make game terrain. But not just any terrain! Oh, no. They make AMAZING game terrain.

The pieces look awesome, are easy to build with, are super durable and come entirely painted. The downside? Price! These are super expensive. Take into account the exchange rate and the absurd cost of delivery (they’re American, and I’m Canadian), and WOW! That is SO outside my budget.

Still, they look amazing. It’s definitely going on my Christmas List. Or birthday list. Or, the ‘when I win the lottery’ list…

My daughter and I spent a bit of this morning checking out their website, watching the videos and tutorials, and generally geeking out over them. Her solution? Buy them for my son for his birthday! Haha. Way to get what you want, without giving up your own gift, my dear!

Cheeky little thing.

You can check out these nifty products on their website: Dwarven Forge. Let me know what you think!

Already own some Dawrven Forge products? Cool! Let me know how you like it in the comments below!

Until next time,

Dream big!

Jessica

Maps, Jzadirune and Laundry–Oh My!

Another weekend has come and gone, and this one was busy! Between swimming classes, birthday parties, errands, and the weekly trip to the laundromat, there wasn’t much time for other activities. We played some board games with my daughter, my son started work on an ambitious dinosaur puzzle, and I posted in the horde of play-by-post games I’m involved in.

My family and I had a bit of time to play Shackled City. Aeris, Mick, Falco and Rabbity headed deep underground through forgotten secret passages and stairwells with Patch and Keygan (very unenthusiastically) accompanying them. They stepped foot into Jzadirune and explored a strange room where they heard birds chirping, gnomes laughing, and felt a breeze blowing on their skin. Massive masks hung on the walls. As they moved into to illusion-draped room to look around they discovered two strange doors–like giant gears that roll into the walls, these were the Doors with Teeth. My children were thrilled! But seeing a glimmer of light coming from the cracks around one of the doors, Aeris and Mick went to peek inside, while Falco moved deeper into the room.

Suddenly the masks on the wall began to sing, welcoming them to Jzadirune and warning them against pilfering. Although my kids loved it, and asked me to sing the song to them over and over, it wasn’t so great for their characters. The illusory song caused the figures beyond the lit door to notice the heroes. Quickly camouflaging themselves, the skulks vanished. They lay in wait to ambush the PCs, but after only one round of battle they ran off, deeper into Jzadirune through makeshift, rough tunnels that had been drilled through the walls.

Our heroes gave chase, engaging in a series of skirmishes against a pair of skulks. Eventually they came to a room with a strange mechanical construct in it, clearly the source of the roughly drilled tunnels. There a dark creeper ordered the construct to attack the intruders, in gnome. Mick laughed and told it to stop. The pair argued and bickered, giving the construct contrary orders until the creeper gave up and fled. Mick was thrilled with his new, neat, half-broken construct, and the group was off again, charging blindly through the tunnels, deeper into Jzadirune.

One battle into this place and they’re already super lost! Haha. But by then we were out of time, so further exploration would have to wait. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

In other news, Pathfinder recently announced a new product coming out soon. A new style of flip map tiles, which honestly look awesome. Similar to their old flip-tiles, these are double-sided, can be used with dry erase markers, and connect wonderfully to one another. The differences are in size (these are a bit bigger, and are square), and in number (these have a whopping 42 tiles per pack, as compared to the old ones which had  18). The tiles look great, and I’m curious to see how they’ll look and handle in person. The map tiles are due out in April.

PZO9488The other exciting release is for a book called ‘Disciple’s Doctrine‘ Like the other ‘Faith’ books before it (Faiths of Balance, Faiths of Purity, Faiths of Corruption, Faiths & Philosophies, etc.), this book is a soft cover intended for players that takes a look at a dozen complex philosophies that are found throughout Golarion. Including the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, Magnimar’s mystery cults, and the Oracular Council of Po Li, this book is filled with a wide variety of doctrines. The one I’m most excited for? The Prophets of Kalistrade! FINALLY! What are they? I have no idea! What I do know? They’ve been name-dropped since way back in the first Pathfinder release, they’re important, they follow strange taboos, they wear white and gold, they wear gloves, and they like making money. Anything else? Nope! I’ve got no clue! I’ve been curious about this ‘faith’ for years, so I’m excited to find out. Like all the player intended soft covers, this book has a lot of traits, feats, spells and archetypes in it to make use of. I’m curious to see what it contains!

One final bit of excitement happened around my house this week. My husband decided he’d like to play a campaign with just me and him. So I named him the ones I have that he hasn’t played (not a very long list, haha) and he thought about it for a while. He narrowed it down quick, but was torn between Wrath of the Righteous and Iron Gods. So while he debates between two awesome campaigns, I’m going to crack out my first volume of each and give them a reread. It never hurts to be prepared!

That’s all for today. Thanks for checking in with us here at d20 Diaries. We’ll talk again soon.

Until next time,

Jessica