Pathfinder Society Scenarios: The Daughters’ Due and Corpses in Kalsgard

Today we’re going to take a look at two of the most recent Pathfinder Society Scenarios that are currently available for purchase, and let you know we thought. 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. That said, if you want to avoid even minor spoilers then I recommend clicking on a different article.  Whether you intend to use these scenarios in home games of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, sanctioned scenarios for use with the Pathfinder Society Organized Play, or just want to read a nifty new adventure, we’ve got you covered! So let’s get cracking!

10-18 - The Daughters' DuePathfinder Society Scenario #10-18: The Daughters’ Due is a Tier 5-9 adventure written by Thurston Hillman. It begins in the Blakros Museum and quickly moves to Shadow Absalom. In addition to the Core Rulebook it includes content from the Advanced Player’s GuideUltimate Equipment, and Ultimate WildernessIt features creatures from BestiaryBestiary 2, and Bestiary 5 (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario). It utilizes Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Carnival, and Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Slum Quarter, and a half-page custom map that will look very familiar to some players. For more information on the Shadow Plane check out The Inner Sea World Guide and Planar Adventures, and for more information on Shadow Absalom check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Distant Realms.

Daughter's Due - Chalos Visanda - Illustration by Leonardo Santanna
Chalos Visanda from #10-18: The Daughters’ Due. Illustration by Leonardo Santanna. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

This adventure tasks the PCs with investigating four missing relics from the Blakros Museum which it’s curator, Nigel Aldain, insists were destroyed or stolen by Pathfinders during their many missions within the Blakros Museum over the years. His boss, Lady Hamaria Blakros, has invited the PCs to her museum to investigate or refute these claims. After this quick mystery the PCs can give their report to Hamaria and even pass judgement on Nigel himself — a turn of events that I’m sure many players will take a perverse joy in. Haha. From there the PCs head into Shadow Absalom, to track down the missing relics and retrieve them from the true thieves. PCs who have played in any of the Blakros-themed Pathfinder Society Scenarios over the years (there’s lots!) will find this mission more relevant and entertaining than those who haven’t. It’s particularly closely tied to the events of Pathfinder Society Scenario #2–11: The Penumbral AccordsPCs who have the “Acquainted with Aslynn” boon from Pathfinder Society #5-09: The Traitor’s Lodge and #7-09: The Blakros Connection have a chance to have a slightly different experience than players who haven’t, although its minor.

Start to finish, this scenario was an absolute joy! The investigations in the beginning of the scenario are interesting. There’s a wide variety of fun social encounters and quirky characters to interact with. The battles were challenging and dynamic, with one of them having the potential to be avoided with clever skill use. Best of all, this scenario includes multiple ways in which the PCs can make important decisions which will come to influence the Pathfinder Society in the future. Overall, I thought this was an excellent scenario that’s going to be a ton of fun to play. It brings the Blakros/Onyx Alliance storyline to a nice ‘conclusion’ for First Edition, which is clearly going to be picked up again in Second Edition. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here!

10-19 - Corpses in KalsgardPathfinder Society Scenario #10-19: Corpses in Kalsgard is a Tier 5-9 Adventure written by Alex Riggs. It begins in Iceferry but primarily takes place in Kalsgard, a major city in the Land of the Linnorm Kings. For more information on these locations check out The Inner Sea World GuidePathfinder Campaign Setting: Lands of the Linnorm Kings and Pathfinder Adventure Path 50: Night of Frozen Shadows (Jade Regent 2 of 6). In addition to the Core RulebookCorpses in Kalsgard includes content from the Advanced Class Guide and Advanced Player’s Guide. It features creatures and monster templates from BestiaryHorror Adventures, and Pathfinder Adventure Path 81: Shifting Sands (Mummy’s Mask 3 of 6) (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario). It utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: City Streets, Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Necropolis, Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Thieves’ Guild, and a custom full-page map. This mission is of particular importance to gnomes, followers of Nivi Rhombodazzle, and any characters who have an interest ensuring the dead are treated with respect, and deaths are properly investigated.

Corpses in Kalsgard - ElluxShost - Illustration by Hannah Boving
Ellux Shost, one of the gnomes PCs will have a chance to interact with during their investigation. Illustration by Hannah Boving. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

This adventure tasks the PCs with investigating a series of deaths in Kalsgard, all of which occurred in gnomes and were attributed to the Bleaching. Of course, the local priestess of Nivi Rhombodazzle, Quil Tabberdash refutes these claims. Venture-Captain Bjersig Torrsen and his husky Mahki dispatch the PCs to Kalsgard to meet up with Quil and get to the bottom of this mystery! PCs will have a chance to quickly check out a series of crime scenes, dead bodies, and petition neighbours and witnesses for information. As the mystery unravels the PCs will have a chance to follow two different avenues of inquiry with each resulting in a different encounter and event. To make matters even more exciting this is all happening on a backdrop of political turmoil in Kalsgard, and canny PCs can even pick up clues that this mission has a connection to an organization and Adventure Path I’ll leave unnamed. This scenario is a great little mystery that should move at a rapid pace. There’s lots of fun NPCs to interact with. Most are brief witness statements, but Quil is an absolute delight. I’ll leave the other NPCs and villains unmentioned to help prevent too many spoilers, but I will say I enjoyed them all. There’s quite a few fights in this one (although one will be excluded depending on your PCs actions), but it’s the final encounter that will likely prove most challenging.  Particularly as the composition of the fight depends upon your PCs actions throughout the scenario. This means that some groups will find it difficult and others… less so. Although this could prove problematic, I think it’s a nice change of pace. I’d be interested to see how this plays out at game tables throughout the Organized Play Community. Overall I thought this was a fun and quirky murder mystery that made an effort to shake things up a bit. I particularly enjoyed that the PCs actions can alter the events and battles in this scenario. I give it four out of five stars.

Thanks for joining us today! We’ll see you again soon!

Jessica

Mists of Akuma: Trade War

Hello, and welcome to d20diaries! Today we’re taking a look at a dark and dramatic adventure path filled with political intrigue and horrifying monsters. Trade War for the Mists of Akuma campaign setting.


What is Mists of Akuma?

Mists of Akuma is an Eastern fantasy noir steampunk campaign setting that’s compatible with fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons. Created by Mike Myler and published by Storm Bunny Studios, Mists of Akuma is based in a fictional nation called Soburin which is very closely based on Japanese culture of… oh, the Sengoku period of the 16th century if I had to guess (but I’m no expert). Soburin’s many prefectures are locked in a tenuous peace, torn between tradition and new technology, and beset on all sides by the terrifying Mists of Akuma, which corrupt everything they touch. Capable of transforming the land into a poisoned wasteland, peaceful dead into undead monstrosities, helpful spirits into foul oni, family heirlooms into cunning living objects, and people into terrifying monsters, the Mists of Akuma are a malignant evil. The Mists of Akuma campaign setting also features a wide variety of new character options, rules, technological items, magical objects, and creatures.

It’s a sorrowful, rich setting that pays close attention to eastern traditions and culture, and brings it into an exciting fictional fantasy world. Manners, honour, and lack of, all play a part, as do kami, oni, and a variety of other Japanese myths and traditions. Mists of Akuma is a setting bursting with creativity, intrigue, mythology, and tragedy that fills a niche all it’s own. For more information on the Mists of Akuma campaign setting you can visit Storm Bunny Studios. To pick up a copy of Mists of Akuma you can visit the Open Gaming Store, Paizo, and Drive Thru RPG. There’s also a few FREE primers available. I highly recommend picking up Mists of Akuma: Soburin Primer  for a glimpse at the world of Soburin and the Mists of Akuma campaign setting, Mists of Akuma: Primer for a sampling of character options, and Mists of Akuma: Tsukumogami for a collection of new creatures (objects transformed into fell beasts by the corrupting Mists of Akuma).

Mists of Akuma
Mists of Akuma by Mike Myler and Storm Bunny Studios

But, enough about the campaign setting. Let’s talk Trade War.


Trade War

Mists of Akuma: Trade War is a 375-page adventure for the Mists of Akuma campaign setting written by Mike Myler, along with Christopher Rippee, Andrew Engelbrite, and Dirk van de Rijt. Intended for 4-6 players, Trade War should bring characters from levels three all the way to level twelve or so. Although Trade War contains everything you need to play the adventure path, I highly recommend picking up the Mists of Akuma campaign setting or downloading the free primers mentioned above. They really enrich the adventure and your players understanding of their world and the beings in it.

Mists of Akuma - Trade War
Trade War: A Mists of Akuma Adventure Path

Trade War is a campaign focused on politics, intrigue, and tragedy, with it’s true plot is hidden under layers of other stories and adventures. Players uncover threads of the mystery and its villains right from the beginning of the adventure path, with time weaving these seemingly disparate tales into a wonderful, layered story. The adventures are all open ended, providing information on a variety of paths your players might choose to follow instead of just assuming one ‘ending’ occurs. There’s plenty of important NPCs to interact with — both allies and enemies — and monsters to battle, with the lines between good and evil becoming increasingly blurred. Alliances can be forged, loyalties swayed, promises betrayed, and throughout it all your PCs will need to make difficult choices. For doing the right thing isn’t always easy — if you can even determine what the ‘right thing’ is.  These tough decisions, moral dilemmas, and pyrrhic victories are truly a highlight of the adventure path.

Before we get any further into this review it’s important to note that not all of the content of Trade War is new. In fact, Trade War consists of six previously released adventure modules bound together with new adventures, side quests, and connections, all culminating in a brand new, epic conclusion. And when I say ‘epic’ I truly do mean it. The final adventure is exceptionally well done.

The six previously published adventures contained in Trade War are Scourge of Róbai Shita TempleFeud Primordial, Fangs of Revenge, Curse of the Scorpion Samurai, Yai Sovereign of Storms, and Revenge of the Pale Master. The finale is entitled Hone-Noroi Keep Ascends. There are also two side trek adventures (Golden Carp and Cursed Well of Itami) which have varying difficulty levels and are intended to be inserted by the GM when they need to get the players back on track (or whenever they feel is most dramatic). There’s also a series of five ‘Connections,’ which are basically a collection of short social and combat encounters which occur on the journey between adventures and all tie in with the various ongoing plots and events of the adventure path. In addition to these adventures and connections, Trade War contains a bit of important information on the Mists of Akuma campaign setting, some new rules, a wide array of new character options, a player handout, and a character sheet. Finally, Trade War contains some quick and simple instructions for those GMs who want to run Trade War without the steampunk components. 

Because Trade War is a mystery I won’t get into the plot just yet. Instead, information on the adventure’s storyline and various adventures will all be contained at the end of this blog post after a large spoiler warning. So, without spoilers, what do I think about Trade War?

For starters, Mists of Akuma is a really great, atmospheric setting. I love it. Trade War is grand campaign that’s much more layered than it originally appears. Despite it’s rather tightly constructed meta-plot it leaves a lot of room for players to make their own decisions, managing to continue the events of the adventure path no matter how honourable or disreputable your players turn out to be. It’s got a lot of climatic moments, dynamic battles, moral dilemmas, betrayals, and surprises. All of the scripted social encounters matter, playing a role in either the meta-plot, current adventure, or foreshadowing other important events. Many NPCs — both ally and enemy — have chances to make return appearances, and players will often be surprised at the role some of the people they meet will come to have. There’s a variety of factions your players could ally themselves with throughout the course of the adventure, all of which are very different.

However, all that open-ended storytelling does come with a downside. This is a rather loosely scripted campaign, with plenty of decisions for GMs to make, NPCs for GMs to create, and plenty of downtime for GMs to fill. While many GMs will be thrilled with this, I do prefer my adventures have a tighter narrative. Why your characters are travelling from one region to another between adventures is left for GMs to determine in most instances and, although the journey and ‘Connections’ themselves are filled with engaging encounters, the motivations behind the journeys are lacking (until the later adventures). In addition to this, many of the adventures utilize the same opening plot hook: a bengoshi told you to. Bengoshi in Mists of Akuma are essentially government officials who have the power to deputize citizens into performing tasks on their behalf. Refusal is met with execution. Obviously “do this because I said so or you die” is not really an engaging motivator. Although for some of these adventures it makes sense that a bengoshi would hire your PCs, at other times it’s unnecessary. There’s plenty of other PCs who could have acted as quest givers and, in many instances, the plot of the adventure itself or a few social encounters could have done a better job.

As previously mentioned, many of the battles are dynamic and complex. Although thrilling and rewarding, they aren’t easy to run. If you’re a beginner GM this is not the campaign for you to start with. Trade War has a lot of cool new creatures, some of which can transform into more powerful forms. Overall, the battles in this adventure path are challenging, memorable, and very well-crafted.

Mists of Akuma is not for the feint of heart. There are strong themes of tragedy, decay, corruption, and sorrow. There’s also some rather gross, horrific depictions (particularly in the finale), and body horror (as the Mists of Akuma can transform even your PCs into terrifying monsters). Although I thoroughly enjoyed the atmospheric, mature tone, it’s not for everyone. And certainly not a child-friendly or family campaign.

Mists of Akuma utilizes many Japanese terms throughout its length, which I really enjoyed. Particularly for names of people, locations, monsters, weapons, and titles. That said, I found that some terms are used but not explained, so I had to stop and look them up. In a few instances the Japanese version of an English loan word is used, instead of just using the English word, which was both jarring and a strange choice. I’m a fan of using culturally appropriate terms and naming conventions whenever possible, but in my opinion Trade War took it a bit too far. It hindered my comprehension of the material on more than a few occasions, which in turn made it less useful for me as a GM and less enjoyable for me as a reader. This adventure would have greatly benefitted from a glossary.

All in all I thought this was a wonderful, challenging, dramatic campaign that mature players are going to really enjoy. It’s set in an atmospheric fantasy world filled with tragedy, desperation, and corruption, wherein players get to make important, complicated decisions — and live with the consequences.  I really enjoyed Mists of Akuma: Trade War.


SPOILERS

 

Be warned! The following section contains information on the plot and component adventures of Trade War. If you don’t want any spoilers, stop reading!

Trade War‘s metaplot involves an ancient necromancer called the Pale Master, whose minions are working to bring him back into the world of the living. Fortunately for the world of Soburin, a powerful figure (who I won’t mention by name to prevent too many spoilers) has foreseen the return of the Pale Master and set events into motion that they hope will allow the people of Soburin to have a future. It’s the machinations of both the Pale Master and this other figure that drive the events of the Trade War adventure path. Set amongst this turmoil is a variety of other groups and factions which become embroiled in the growing conflict, either as allies, enemies, minions, pawns, or victims. PCs will have the chance to interact with members of all of the above mentioned groups on multiple occasions and forge relationships with them as they see fit (for good or ill).

Throughout this adventure PCs will face off against scheming humanoids, dark magic, ancient evil, corrupting fog, terrifying oni, powerful demons, unquiet spirits, animated dead, ninja, samurai, dragons, and even the undead army of a necromancer.

Trade War begins with Scourge of Robai Shita Temple, an adventure for third level characters. Tasked by a bengoshi to investigate the village of Shibai, PCs will need to determine why the village —  which was mystically protected from the Mists of Akuma — has suddenly become overrun by the mists, the monsters that stalk within it, and a powerful wind demon named Fukō. This mystery is fun and pretty free-form, although I think having a bengoshi give your PCs their task is unnecessary. The various NPCs (or even just the events of this adventures) could have motivated the PCs just as easily. I particularly enjoyed the interactions with another group hired to protect the town, the boisterous Mubō Brothers. My only complaint is that there are a lot of battles with tsukumogami in this one (a bit too many, in my opinion).

From there your PCs travel East over the course of the winter, having a variety of adventures on their journey. Some important events in the adventure path are foreshadowed with social encounters, which was nice to see, and important rumours are already flying. I particularly enjoyed the encounters with the elemental oni Kumo-Rui, an ice-themed spider-like monster who has brought about an unnaturally cold winter. In this section the PCs also meet another bengoshi, Akia the Iron Shell, who tasks them with tracking down an oni-touched sorcerer who has formed his own cult and bringing her anything of value in his possession. This task is trickier than it seems, continuing on into the next adventure, Feud Primordial. It should be noted that the inclusion of Akia the Iron Shell is one I support, as she is important to the ongoing plot line and the next adventure, and it makes sense for her to hire the PCs in order to see her goals accomplished.

Feud Primordial is intended for fifth level characters, and begins with the PCs already in the middle of tracking down a cult-leader. Unfortunately, he has way too many possessions for the PCs to easily carry, making them unable to bring everything back to Akia the Iron Shell. They need to determine what’s valuable and sell the rest. Unfortunately, turns out the object Akia most wanted — in fact the whole reason she sent you after the cult-leader — was to fetch a specific object that was valuable to her, but not actually valuable. An object PCs have either sold (most likely) or was stolen from them (less likely). Furious, the bengoshi sends your PCs back out to hunt down the missing object. This adventure leads the PCs to a town where a murderer stalks the streets, and eventually casts them as pawns locked in a power struggle between two incredibly powerful ancient beings.

After finally appeasing Akia the Iron Shell the PCs accept work as a caravan guard and travel north. Along the journey they get involved in some interesting events, my favourite of which involves a corpse-eating oni.

In time the PCs arrive in Samon, home of the Tazuki Rail Company, where they become embroiled in the events of the next adventure, Fangs of Revenge. Once again, they’re hired by a bengoshi, although this time they’re asked to investigate a growing unrest among the labourers of Samon, discover the leader of the workers growing rebellion, and put and end to their uprising before it begins. This leads to a complex web of intrigue and a large cast of interesting characters. PCs will soon discover that there’s more going on in Samon that meets the eye as they clash with shapeshifting snake-folk, and dark rituals.

Leaving Samon behind the group travels south, working as guards for two different groups at different times. By now they’re likely catching wind of a smuggling operation that’s apart of this campaigns meta-plot, although they won’t necessary understand all the movers and shakers behind it. The PCs actions will continue to affect how a few factions see them later in the campaign.

The next adventure, Curse of the Scorpion Samurai, is intended for 7th-level characters and begins when the PCs are hired by a bengoshi from Fuson prefecture to sneak into Fuson, investigate a series of grisly murders, and lay a trap for the killer using his intended victims as bait. But their enemy, the Scorpion Samurai, was once a local folk hero with a tragic past. PCs will need to be exceptionally canny to prevent the people of Shinjitsu from informing the Scorpion Samurai of their presence lest they go from the hunters to the hunted.

From Fuson prefecture the PCs take a mountainous journey at the behest of a poor woman.  Although their mission does not reach its conclusion, they do make some important discoveries related to a series of black torii gates that have been popping up throughout Soburin since the start of Trade War.

The next adventure, Yai Sovereign of Storms, is intended for 8th-level characters and takes place in a mountainous region of the GMs choosing, likely the same mountains that PCs were just travelling through. The PCs find themselves ambushed by a fearsome oni bengoshi who wants to hire them (this marks the second instance where I thought using a bengoshi quest giver was particularly important to the story). Xiqzoxix has heard of the PCs recent exploits and needs their aid to oust a powerful storm demon who usurped the throne from the previous warlord that ruled the oni city of Tsukisasu. Unfortunately, the storm demon is a hate-filled beast who gets more powerful by the day. PCs will need to sneak into the city of monsters in disguise, undo the storm demons magic circles, and defeat him before he becomes too powerful. In the end they’ll get to decide who will rule in the storm demons place — the original oni warlord or Xiqzoxix himself.

Leaving the magically hidden city of Tsukisasu behind the PCs suddenly find themselves in a forest near a newly laid rail track. In this series of connections they’ll have to battle an enemy atop a moving train, punish the oni behind the corrupted black torii gates, and discover that the various factions of Soburin are preparing for war.

Revenge of the Pale Master begins in the city of Kizaki immediately before the annual Festival of Falling Hawks. Intended for 8 – 10th level characters, this adventure once again sets the PCs on the trail of an infamous murderer. This time the murderer has come back from the dead to sacrifice six children whose relatives he tried to sacrifice in life exactly ten years ago. Although the local government has already placed three of these children in protective custody, the other three were kidnapped and need to be rescued. Except… that’s not really what’s going on at all. Haha. This adventure is full of twists, surprises, and betrayals. Whether the PCs ever figure out what’s really going on is entirely up to them. Revenge of the Pale Master is my favourite adventure in Trade War.

Which brings us to the all new finale to Trade War: Hone-Noroi Keep Ascends. In this adventure intended for 12th level characters the Pale Master’s bone tower rises from the earth and towers above Soburin, disappearing into the clouds. Undead march from the tower, the land becomes tainted, and dark magic is seen roiling in the skies. Villagers are evacuated by the government and the various factions met in this adventure path put their brewing war on hold to combat this ancient evil. The PCs may be able to ally with one or more of these armies and gain advantages (and disadvantages) based on how they treated the various groups. Some may be trusted allies, while others may be bitter enemies. Together with these armies your PCs will assault the Pale Master’s undead armies, storm the tower, ascend to the top, and defeat the Pale Master. It’s a gross and horrific gauntlet that’s packed full of challenging encounters and foul enemies. Such a great conclusion to this campaign!

Although that’s the end of the adventure path there are two more adventures in this book. Each is a short side quest intended for varying level difficulties. The first, Cursed Well of Itami, is best played at 5th level, and fits well between Feud Primordial and Fangs of Revenge. In it the PCs find themselves in a village whose well has been corrupted and now holds only blood and other vile substances. PCs need to descend into the well — and the hidden chambers connected to it — in order to cleanse the well and save the town. The second adventure, which is my favourite of the side quests, is Golden Carp. Intended for 7th-level characters, this adventure fits well between either Fangs of Revenge and Curse of the Scorpion Samurai or between Curse of the Scorpion Samurai and Yai Sovereign of Storms. In this adventure the PCs find a magical golden carp who begs them to prevent a noblewoman from catching him in her fishing net. If they choose to save the little fish from the woman — who’s actually an oni in disguise — they discover it is a powerful dragon on a pilgrimage back to its home. The dragon must undertake the journey in the humble form of a carp once every century in order to maintain is powers. They’ll need to protect the fish on it’s trip up to it’s mountain shrine without physically interfering in its journey.

Which brings us to the end of Mists of Akuma: Trade War!

Thanks for joining us today. I hope you enjoyed checking out the dark fantasy world of Mists of Akuma as much as I have.

Jessica

Shackled City: Part Five: This Place is the Pits!

Welcome back to Cauldron, home of the The Shackled City Adventure Path! When we last left off our heroic musicians were investigating a series of missing person cases which recently culminated in the abduction of four children from a local orphanage. Fate led to our characters taking the rescue of these people upon themselves! They’ve tracked down the kidnappers, and discovered an underground complex run by slavers. They’ll have to work fast if they want to save their fellow citizens before they’re sold!

If none of this sounds familiar you can read this blog post, which details our characters, or continue on with this article to hear a quick summary and jump right into the action! You can also check out our previous adventures in Shackled City: Part OneShackled City: Part Two: A Mystery!Shackled City: Part Three: Jzadirune, and Shackled City: Part Four: Enter the Malachite Fortress.

The Shackled City Adventure Path is available for purchase in its entirety here. The first volume, Life’s Bazaar, is available for purchase here.

shackled city adventure path d20diaries
The Shackled City Adventure Path is a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons Adventure originally printed in Dungeon Magazine by Paizo Publishing.

The Heroes

Our eccentric heroes are all members of ‘Dinorabbit,’ a musical band that changes its name frequently and was most previously known as ‘Boople Snoot.’ The band’s lead singer and song-writer is Falco Rhiavadi, a foppish noble bastard of mixed Tien descent whose father was devoured by a dragon when he was just a boy. A well-groomed, handsome man with an easy smile and a winning personality, Falco’s a black sheep among his family. Mechanically Falco is an oracle of life whose familiar is a jealous and demanding thrush named Ruby. Falco is played by my husband.

Mick Frimfrocket is a gnome with dark blue skin, bright pink hair that stands straight up on his head, and light blue eyes with flecks of red around his pupils. He’s energetic, bold, and loves nothing more than a good laugh! Mick acts as the band’s pianist and creative director. He’s the driving force behind the band’s constant name changes, and over-the-top performances. Mick was born in Jzadirune but was brought to the city of Cauldron to escape the Vanishing. Orphaned by the mysterious events and with few memories of those early years, Mick was raised in the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same orphanage that recently had four children kidnpapped right from their beds! Determined to save those little scamps, Mick was very excited to take up this missing person’s case and follow it to its conclusion — particularly when he realized that it led to his one-time home. Mechanically Mick is a monk / bard (prankster) who attacks with wild kicks while playing his piano in battle. Partway through exploring Jzadirune he came into possession of a broken magical construct. He’s played by my seven-year old son.

Rabbity Castalle is a rabbitfolk waitress who works at the Tipped Tankard Tavern. A dancer and singer for the band Dinorabbit, Rabbity also has a pet panther named Panthy. She’s lucky, nimble, and quick, but a little skittish. One of her co-workers is one of the people who was recently abducted, so she’s very keen to solve this mystery and return him home. Rabbity is a hydrokineticist played by my six-year old daughter, using the rabbitfolk race. Rabbitfolk are a Pathfinder Compatible race created by my daughter (with some help) which will soon be published in the upcoming Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion by Sunburst Games (Kickstarter coming in February!)

The final member of our party is Aeris Caldyra, a local locksmith who was cajoled by her roommate, Rabbity, to join the band as a percussionist and set designer. With few friends to call her own, Aeris relented to the rabbitfolk’s request and is the least talented member of the band. The last worshipper of Alseta in Cauldron, with more than a few secrets and regrets, Aeris is a suli bloodrager with a chip on her shoulder. Always one to lend a hand, like her Grandfather Marzio once would have done, Aeris is determined to rescue the missing citizens of Cauldron. Aeris is my character for the Shackled City Adventure Path.

Although that’s the last of our PCs, that’s not the last of our party. The members of Dinorabbit are also travelling with a half-orc janitor named Patch! Patch is a big, stuttering, fool who works at the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same place he was raised. Patch recently got recruited to the Last Laugh Thieve’s Guild and was asked to watch over an orphan named Terrem. Unfortunately, Terrem was kidnapped on the very evening that Patch went out to meet with with the guild. Distraught over the boy’s disappearance, Patch was pressured by Falco and Mick into helping them rescue the kids. And so, the poor one-eyed janitor finds himself heading into danger.

shackled city jzadirune group
The team!

The Adventure

Our eclectic crew of musicians, janitors, and locksmiths, stood in an empty forge which had clearly been the site of a slaughter. Our heroes had battled enemy hobgoblins and goblins only moments before in an effort to free three citizens of Cauldron who had been labouring here. With the battle won they sent their travelling companion, Keygan Ghelve, off with the freed prisoners. It was his job to bring them back up to the city and see them safely to the Church of Adabar.

The group spent a moment catching their breath, whispered a few prayers for the people they had saved, then turned their attention to their surroundings.

“…Right!” my son decreed.

We opened the right door and found ourselves in a cross shaped hallway with a variety of doors. There was the echo of muffled conversation in the air, with at least one of these nearby rooms inhabited. Warily, Aeris led the way forward. But as she reached the intersection she cursed! There were a pair of hobgoblin guards on watch at both ends of the hall! The pulled out their bows and grinned.

“Meal time, boys!” one of them bellowed. The muffled voices from the nearby rooms took up the call.

“Uh-oh,” my husband remarked.

Rabbity shot a blast of water at the nearest guard and leapt off Panthy.

“Eat the next person you see come out of there!” she commanded her panther as she gestured at the nearby door.

Panthy growled and prepared to fight. Meanwhile the guards pulled out their bows and fired arrows at our heroes. Aeris took a few hits, but Rabbity’s quick reflexes saved her from injury. Aeris moved to step forward only to have the ground fall out beneath her feet! Pit trap! She launched herself across the pit and came up in a roll, landing on the far side. With a backward glance she called out, “Watch your step!” Then she lunged forward and moved right up beside the hobgoblins. Finding their bows useless in close quarters they snarled at her.

“This won’t save your friends!”

“We’ll see,” Aeris replied defiantly.

Back on he other side of the pit Mick stood in the centre of the room and cast a magic spell, summoning his grand piano right into the hall. Then he began to play a happy little tune. As he played he danced, kicking his legs wildly. Falco pulled out a tanglefoot bag and tossed it at the guards on the other side of the intersection.

“Patch! Get in here! Are there any more traps?”

“I d-d-don’t know!” Patch stammered nervously. “I’ll ch-check!” He hurried into the room and looked around. “Yup! M-m-m-more pits right beh-h-hind us.”

“Where?”

“Here and there and w-w-well… Everywhere!”

“Don’t moooooove!” Mick sang. “Got it! Hold your grounnnnd, hold your grounnnnd, watch your steeeeeeep!”

“Aww man!” shouted Rabbity. “This place is the PITS!”

My daughter grinned. “Get it, Mom? Pits! And there are pit traps around us! Hahahahahaha! That’s so funny.”

I laughed.

malachite fortress - shackled city - this place is the pits - d20diaries
“This place is the PITS!” (Room M22 with surrounding guard and bunkrooms).

Suddenly a door beside Rabbity opened. Panthy launched herself at the offending door-opener, clamping down on their neck with her jaws and tearing at them with sharp claws.

“I hope that’s a bad guy,” my daughter remarked a little too late.

Luckily it was an enemy. But, even as they fell to the panther, more hobgoblin soldiers gathered in the room behind him. Hobgoblins crowded into the side hallways from the other nearby rooms, trying to get at at the intruders. A pair lunged at Mick only to get a kick to the face for their trouble. Rabbity splashed away with her water blasts from the centre of the group. Panthy fought with tooth and claw, and Patch leaped over the hidden pit and moved into melee with the southern archers. Luckily, as much as the odds were against them, only so many hobgoblins could engage the group at once. The battle was long and fierce, but soon our heroes thinned the enemies ranks until only a pair of hobgoblins remained. Aeris, bloodied and out of breath from taking on the northern guards, leapt back over the pit and helped her companions finish off the stragglers.

They waited for a while…. Out of breath and wounded… Weapons clutched in hand…

“What are we waiting for?” Rabbity asked the others quietly.

“Heroes always wait dramatically,” Mick answered wisely.

Rabbity waited another moment…  “But it’s boring.”

“Heroes deal with it anyway,” Mick replied.

Aeris, who hates wasting time, checked out the side rooms, searching enemies and chambers for useful gear. They found a cache of healing potions in a nearby guardroom and drank what they could. Patch leaped back over the hidden pit trap and told the group.

“There’s v-v-voices on the other side. D-d-doesn’t sound like pris-s-soners.”

“We go the other way, then,” Rabbity announced. “We need to find Griffin before he gets SOLD!”

At Rabbity’s insistence the group crossed the northern pit trap and entered the far northern room.

malachite fortress - book - shackled city - d20diaires

It lead to a grand square chamber with a massive chain-draped statue in the centre of the room.

“If that attacks me, I’ll be angry!” Mick exclaimed. “You go first, Aeris.”

“My hero,” Aeris replied with a roll of her eyes. She drew her longsword and moved forward, but the statue never moved. …The chains did! They thrashed and lashed at Aeris! She parried the chains and backed up. “Get out of its reach!”

The gang hurried back out of the hall and attacked it from afar. Being mostly immobile and draped all over a statue, the chains proved little trouble. All it took was time.

The band continued on, finding two secret passages and pair of grand double doors. One of the secret doors they discovered led back to the original entry hall, so they returned to the statue chamber. They pushed open the double door to find a massive bridge. Falco created some magical lights and sent them across the bridge. They illuminated a rough stone cavern that stretched farther than they could see. Far below the bridge was an underground river.

“Hmmm…” Mick grumbled. “The riddle said we would find the kids in the Malachite Hold. That place over there is just… rock.”

“It probably leads to the Darklands,” Falco announced. “It stands to reason. They need to sell their slaves to someone, and there’s no other settlements nearby. Not that would buy slaves, that is.”

Rabbity twitched her nose. “I do NOT want to go to the Darklands…. Let’s turn around. We need to finish exploring the fortress.”

“Agreed.” replied Aeris. She ushered everyone inside, shut the doors, and barred them. Then she listened at the second secret door. “Sounds quiet.”

“I think that prisoners would be noisy. They would cry and stuff,” my daughter pointed out. “And we missed some rooms back near the forge where we found those prisoners.”

“Oh, yeah! I want to go back that way! I had a good feeling about that forge-door!”

My husband, who clearly wondered what was behind the secret door right in front of him, chuckled. “Alright, alright. We’ll go there next.” As the gang got ready to retrace their steps and continue their exploration, we tidied up and got the kids ready for bed. Saving the prisoners would have to wait for another day.

Thanks for joining us, everyone! I hope you enjoyed getting to hear a bit about our crazy adventures. We’ll see you again soon!

Jessica

life's bazaar d20diaries shackled city beholder
Life’s Bazaar is the first adventure in the Shackled City Adventure Path.

Behind the Screen

The Shackled City Adventure Path is a difficult to get your hands on adventure path published in eleven separate Dungeon Magazines, or available in hardcover from Amazon here or from Paizo Publishing’s website here. The first adventure, Life’s Bazaar is available in Dungeon Magazine #97 from Paizo Publishing’s website here.

Despite being a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Path, we’re running this campaign with Pathfinder (both the campaign setting and the ruleset). Our characters utilize content from many sources, some of which are listed below.

The shaman and the bloodrager classes, as well as the bloodrager archetype spelleater, can all be found in the Advanced Class Guide. The urban bloodrager archetype can be found in Heroes of the Streets. The Kineticist class can be found in Occult Adventures. The monk and bard are base classes found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook (or in a convenient travel-sized edition: Core Rulebook (Pocket Edition)  while the prankster archetype for bards can be found in the Advanced Race Guide.

Shackled City: Part Four: Enter the Malachite Fortress

Today we’re heading back into Cauldron, home of the The Shackled City Adventure Path!

shackled city adventure path d20diaries
The Shackled City Adventure Path is a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons Adventure originally printed in Dungeon Magazine by Paizo Publishing.

When we last left off our heroic musicians were investigating a series of missing person cases which recently culminated in the abduction of four children from a local orphanage. Fate led to our characters taking the rescue of these people upon themselves! If none of this sounds familiar you can read this blog post first, which details our characters, or continue on with this article to read a quick summary and jump right into the action! You can also check out our previous adventures in Shackled City: Part OneShackled City: Part Two: A Mystery!, and Shackled City: Part Three: Jzadirune.

The Shackled City Adventure Path is available for purchase in its entirety here. The first volume, Life’s Bazaar, is available for purchase here.


The Heroes

Our eccentric heroes are all members of ‘Dinorabbit,’ a musical band that changes its name frequently and was most previously known as ‘Boople Snoot.’ The band’s lead singer and song-writer is Falco Rhiavadi, a foppish noble bastard of mixed Tien descent whose father was devoured by a dragon when he was just a boy. A well-groomed, handsome man with an easy smile and a winning personality, Falco’s a black sheep among his family. Mechanically Falco is an oracle of life whose familiar is a jealous and demanding thrush named Ruby. Falco is played by my husband.

Mick Frimfrocket is a gnome with dark blue skin, bright pink hair that stands straight up on his head, and light blue eyes with flecks of red around his pupils. He’s energetic, bold, and loves nothing more than a good laugh! Mick acts as the band’s pianist and creative director. He’s the driving force behind the band’s constant name changes, and over-the-top performances. Mick was born in Jzadirune but was brought to the city of Cauldron to escape the Vanishing. Orphaned by the mysterious events and with few memories of those early years, Mick was raised in the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same orphanage that recently had four children kidnpapped right from their beds! Determined to save those little scamps, Mick was very excited to take up this missing person’s case and follow it to its conclusion — particularly when he realized that it led to his one-time home. Mechanically Mick is a monk / bard (prankster) who attacks with wild kicks while playing his piano in battle. Partway through exploring Jzadirune he came into possession of a broken magical construct. He’s played by my seven-year old son.

Rabbity Castalle is a rabbitfolk waitress who works at the Tipped Tankard Tavern. A dancer and singer for the band Dinorabbit, Rabbity also has a pet panther named Panthy. She’s lucky, nimble, and quick, but a little skittish. One of her co-workers is one of the people who was recently abducted, so she’s very keen to solve this mystery and return him home. Rabbity is a hydrokineticist played by my six-year old daughter, using the rabbitfolk race. Rabbitfolk are a Pathfinder Compatible race created by my daughter (with some help) which will soon be published in the upcoming Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion by Sunburst Games (Kickstarter coming in February!)

The final member of our party is Aeris Caldyra, a local locksmith who was cajoled by her roommate, Rabbity, to join the band as a percussionist and set designer. With few friends to call her own, Aeris relented to the rabbitfolk’s request and is the least talented member of the band. The last worshipper of Alseta in Cauldron, with more than a few secrets and regrets, Aeris is a suli bloodrager with a chip on her shoulder. Always one to lend a hand, like her Grandfather Marzio once would have done, Aeris is determined to rescue the missing citizens of Cauldron. Aeris is my character for the Shackled City Adventure Path.

Although that’s the last of our PCs, that’s not the last of our party. The members of Dinorabbit are also travelling with two NPCs: Patch, the half-orc janitor, and Keygan Ghelve, a local locksmith.

Patch is a big, stuttering, fool who works at the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same place he was raised. Patch recently got recruited to the Last Laugh Thieve’s Guild and was asked to watch over an orphan named Terrem. Unfortunately, Terrem was kidnapped on the very evening that Patch went out to meet with with the guild. Distraught over the boy’s disappearance, Patch was pressured by Falco and Mick into helping them rescue the kids. And so, the poor one-eyed janitor finds himself heading into danger.

Keygan Ghelve is a gnome locksmith and competitor of Aeris’. He’s also the reason people are going missing! Months ago strange creatures came up from Keygan’s basement — which leads to the abandoned gnomish enclave of Jzadirune — and kidnapped his rat familiar! They forced Keygan to forge them a set of skeleton keys that can open the locks he’d installed in Cauldron, and a list of all his customers. In the months since, skulks and dark creepers have used his home as a way station, heading out into the city, abducting people from their homes, and dragging them back underground through his basement. Keygan feels guilty, but he’s more worried over his rat than anything! The members of Dinorabbit followed clues that led to Keygan’s shop and discovered his role in the abductions. Although Aeris wanted to turn him in to the guard, the Falco and Mick insisted he come with them if he wanted to save his rat. He’d need to help rescue the kidnapped citizens of Cauldron and undo the damage he’s facilitated.

Aeris decided that after that she’d still have him arrested. She’s a stickler for the rules. …Usually.

mick frimfrocket construct shackled city
Mick Frimfrocket with his construct. Aeris and Patch can be see in the background.

The Adventure

Our eclectic team of musicians, janitors, and locksmiths, descended through hidden passageways, into the long-abandoned gnomish enclave of Jzadirune, on the trail of subterranean kidnappers! In time they discovered that the kidnappers had been using Jzadirune’s ruins as a base of operations. Although our heroes battled the skulks and their dark creeper minions, my players never found any signs of the kidnapped citizens of Cauldron.

What they did find was a door. The door led to a platform that, with the flick of a switch, descended down a shaft into the darkness. When the doors opened they found themselves someplace else. Someplace new. A place of dwarven construction, made from malachite.

My son and daughter gasped in shock!

“MOM! MOM! The riddle! The riddle says something about that mal-kite! We are almost there!”

My son read the riddle a few more times and double checked the notes that he keeps in his detective’s notebook (which is a copy of Detective Murdoch’s notebook from Murdoch Mysteries). “Hmmm… Yup! Those kidnappers must have been working for a duergar! He’s the true culprit!”

My daughter clapped her hands in glee. “Yes! We are almost there! I have to save my good friend Griffin who I work with! He was supposed to be married! His girlfriend is so sad she cries everyday! We must hurry! He could DIE!” She says the word ‘die’ with such drama. It’s adorable.

Aeris and Falco led the way, with Mick, Rabbity, and Panthy travelling in the middle of the group. Patch and Keygan took up the rear, with the cowardly locksmith strongly debating running away when no one was looking.

shackled city team
The team!

Our heroes entered the main hall of the fortress only to realize that the strange stone sculpture in the middle of the room was actually an earth elemental known as a stone spike! The beast slammed into Aeris, causing heavy damage and surprising the party. The battle was over in just two rounds, with Aeris and Rabbity dealing heavy damage to the brute — Aeris bloodraging with her longsword and Rabbity with her water blasts.  Mick inspired the group with his wonderful piano music. Falco and Patch had poor luck, not landing a single blow against the creature. And Keygan? Well, he didn’t even try to help. He just lingered at the back near the elevator, ready to flee if the party died.

The battle with the stone creature drew forth an ogre from a nearby chamber. The brute stunk like garbage and wielded a filth encrusted falchion which he swung around clumsily.

“More carrion for my larder!” the brute bellowed. “Very nice!”

“Carrion?!” My son exclaimed. “I know that word! I am not carrion!” He waved his arms around and pointed at the offending miniature ogre on the table. “I am a SINGER! Face the wrath of Mick Frimfrocket!!!”

Unbeknownst to my players the ogre was Xukasus, the fortress majordomo. The ogre was actually an otyugh, polymorphed into the form of an ogre long ago and his room, which was just off of this entry hall, was a massive heap of sewage, gore, and garbage. As the smell trickled out into the entry hall Keygan and Rabbity gagged. By the start of this fight Aeris was already heavily wounded from battling the stone spike. Falco gave her what healing he could and then she strode off, ready to intercept the ogre and protect her fellow bandmates. The battle was a tough one, with Mick urging Keygan to get into the fight and help. The gnome begrudgingly obliged, getting up close and sending a colour spray at the ogre!

Which didn’t work.

Keygan was nearly chopped in half by a falchion for his trouble, and tossed into the ogre’s bedroom for snacking on later.

(…Whoops!)

Aeris too, nearly fell, but Falco and Mick managed to keep her standing long enough with their magic that she took down the disgusting ogre. The group rescued Keygan, healed everyone back up to full hp, and searched the entry hall for anything of interest. After some hesitation they searched the ogre’s room as well. They spotted an iron chest in a massive pile of dung. They debated some more, then decided that whatever look was in that chest could stay there. They didn’t want it that bed. Not if poop was involved!

Which is too bad! It had a good deal of treasure in it. Haha.

malachite fortress - book - shackled city - d20diaires

Mick used his magic to clean everyone up, and then the group looked around. They discovered two secret passages, chose one at random, and continued on. They found themselves in a dead end hallway, which led to another secret door and a secret armoury filled with racks of armour and weapons. The group took it all — being in a band didn’t earn them much income! — and gave the construct some big sacks of gear to carry. Then they continued on again, finding themselves in a hot, stuffy forge.

There they finally found their first citizens of Cauldron! The dwarf, Sondor Ironfold, worked ceaselessly at a forge alongside three goblins. Nearby two other halfling victims, Jeneer Everdawn and the rogue Maple, sat in the corner putting together chainmail suits one link at a time. Four hobgoblins stood watch in this chamber.

As the group entered the room Panthy growled, low in her throat, and Rabbity launched a blast of water at the nearest hobgoblin. “Get ’em, team!” she called out.

The battle had begun!

This fight was a long one, with plenty of characters on both sides of the fight. The PCs and their allies fought the goblins and hobgoblins in relatively tight quarters, with the dwarf prisoner giving some goblins a few swings of her hammer, and the halfling prisoner Maple giving a hobgoblin a knife to the back. Only Aeris ended up getting hit with any frequency — due to her position on the front lines, not a lack of armour — but even then she only took a total of eight damage through the entire encounter. All our others heroes came out of it unscathed.

When the hall fell silent except for the crackle of flames my kids took it upon themselves to explain to the prisoners that they were about to be rescued by Dinorabbit — the coolest band in Cauldron! Maple was thrilled. Jeneer was clearly delirious with fear. And Sondor was… sad, quite frankly. She dropped her hammer to the ground and cried. They thought it was relief, at first, but it soon became clear Sondor was in mourning. She and her husband had been kidnapped together, but her husband had been sold as a slave four weeks ago. She knew she would never see him again.

My kids were quiet for a moment. It was the first time that they realized they might not be able to save everyone. People had been going missing from Cauldron for a few months. If their captures were slavers, surely Sondor’s husband wasn’t the only one who had already been sold…

My husband pulled out his list of missing people and put a little checkmark beside Maple, Sondor, and Jeneer. Then he crossed out Sondor’s husband, Lorthan. The look on my kids faces when that poor guy’s name got crossed off was a strange mix of solemnity and determination. It’s not a look I see on them often. Or ever, really.

“We’re going to get these people to safety right now!” My son / Mick announced.

My daughter shook her head. As Rabbity she said: “No! I’m not leaving here without Griffin! He is my friend and his fiancé cries too much with him gone!”

Mick grinned and pointed at Keygan. “He’s going to do it! Keygan! You get your wish! You have your rat back, and now your job is to bring these people into the elevator, up through Jzadirune, and back to Cauldron. Bring them to the Church of Adabar. That lady named…” My son paused. “I forget her name.”

“Jenya Urikas?”

“JENYA will help you! Now GO! Save people and redeem yourself!” My son pointed around grandly used his ‘serious hero’ voice.

“Yeah! And bring these bags of loot up with you!” Rabbity added practically. “Then the construct can help us fight again!”

Keygan, of course, needed no further encouragement. He groaned in relief, grabbed some bags, and left without even a goodbye. The newly liberated citizens of Cauldron followed after him, with Maple and Sondor lending a hand with the loot.

Our heroes stood alone in the forge for a few moments.

“Aww!” My daughter suddenly exclaimed. “We should have taken the stuff from these dead hobgoblins before sending Keygan away! Now we have to carry it!”

I laughed.

The group took what gear they could from the bodies, and explored the room. There were two doors leading deeper into the complex. My kids started to argue over which door to open, which is a sure sign that they’re getting tired. We paused the game there, with promises to play again soon. After all, they still had people to save!

Thanks for joining us, everyone! I hope you enjoyed getting to hear a bit about our crazy adventures. We’ll see you again soon!

Jessica

life's bazaar d20diaries shackled city beholder
Life’s Bazaar is the first adventure in the Shackled City Adventure Path.

Behind the Screen

The Shackled City Adventure Path is a difficult to get your hands on adventure path published in eleven separate Dungeon Magazines, or available in hardcover from Amazon here or from Paizo Publishing’s website here. The first adventure, Life’s Bazaar is available in Dungeon Magazine #97 from Paizo’s website here.

Despite being a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Path, we’re running this campaign in Pathfinder (both the campaign setting and the rules). Our characters utilize the following: The shaman and the bloodrager classes, as well as the bloodrager archetype spelleater, can all be found in the Advanced Class Guide. The urban bloodrager archetype can be found in Heroes of the Streets. The Kineticist class can be found in Occult Adventures. The monk and bard are base classes found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook (or in a convenient travel-sized edition: Core Rulebook (Pocket Edition)  while the prankster archetype for bards can be found in the Advanced Race Guide.

Tails of Equestria: The Pet Predicament

A few weeks ago I wrote a review on a delightful kids RPG called Tails of Equestria: The Storytelling Game. We delved into game mechanics, character creation, and general fun factor. I also touched on an adventure — The Pet Predicament — and promised that I would share further details on the adventure in the future.

Well buckle in folks, cause the future is now!

Today, much to my daughter’s delight, we’re talking The Pet Predicament!

Tails of Equestria: Storytelling Game is an easy to understand pen and paper roleplaying game featuring the world and characters of the hit TV show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The game is aimed at children, but is definitely fun for the whole family. For more details on the game and how it works, click here!

my litte pony tails of equestria storytelling game

At the back of Tails of Equestria: The Storytelling Game you’ll find a starter adventure called The Pet Predicament. Intended for level 1 ponies, its the perfect first adventure for this game. Yes, seriously. And, it’s not a short or cheap adventure, either! It’s forty pages in length if you count the stat blocks it comes with. My family played through the adventure in two short sessions, though my kids were so engrossed they wanted to play it in one.

In a practical sense, this adventure is incredibly important. It provides a first adventure for players to use, and teaches them how a game should be run by example. For experienced players it also serves to alter our preconceptions about RPGs, and really shake things up. Tails of Equestria isn’t the same kind of RPG as Pathfinder or D&D. It downplays battle, and really encourages players to use creative thinking, kindness, teamwork, and roleplaying to overcome obstacles. This game requires a different mindset than other RPGs. Happily it’s a mindset that kids and young players will naturally settle into and flourish.

So what is The Pet Predicament? I mentioned it was the perfect starter adventure for this game and I meant it. It’s well written, easy to GM, engaging, and fun. There’s plenty of opportunity for Scuffles, but just as many chances for players to completely avoid Scuffles with Tests and Challenges. It features the Mane Six (main characters) from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic as initial NPCs, and features plenty of other cameos along the way.

adventure - the pet predicament - d20diaries

Our adventure begins, innocently enough, in Ponyville’s market. There your PCs (short for Pony Characters in Tails of Equestria) are grocery shopping and have a chance to describe all the things they’ve been buying. This is a great opportunity for your players to talk about their characters, and decide how they know each other.

My family decided to play a strange family of ponies. I played Soothing Heart, an over-prepared earth pony mother who carries saddlebags filled with everything her little fillies might need (including snacks, first aid supplies, cleaning supplies, and protective gear for a wide variety of weather). She’s tough, caring, loyal, and determined, with the Healing Touch talent. But, her vision is poor, and she needs glasses to see. Also, since I was also going to be the Storyteller, Soothing Heart is a bit of a follower, allowing her little fillies to explore the world while she minds them from afar. My/her husband is Nugget, a unicorn with a spectacular hairdo and the beginnings of a beard. He’s clever,  charming, and a talented magic-user. More than anything, Nugget is an artist with an obsession for magical creatures. If he sees one he can’t resist stopping to draw it — a dangerous habit! My daughter created a pegasus called Bunna who is kind, happy, and adores animals. She can even speak to mammals! Bunna is a seamstress who specializes in hand sewing stuffed animals. She particularly adores rabbits. Unfortunately, she has a terrible fear of… caterpillars! Eeeek! The horror! Finally, my son created Flying Recall, a mystery loving pegasus with special pony senses who always trusts his gut. He’s a friendly, funny fellow, who is a little bit too silly.

characters - tails of equestria - d20diaires

My kids had great fun describing their many, many purchases in the market, with my son buying healthy snacks and my daughter buying a massive rabbit shaped cake. Soon, my daughter (the PC who bought the tastiest treats or, in my case, loves rabbits the most) felt her grocery bag getting heavier and heavier… Bunna looked down to realize there was an adorable little rabbit in her bag eating all of her cake! My daughter squealed in absolute delight while my son looked at the picture of the rabbit and exclaimed: “Oh, no! Not THAT rabbit! THAT rabbit is trouble!”

And my son couldn’t have been more right! Angel is Fluttershy’s rabbit, and he’s horribly behaved. Kids are sure to have a blast roleplaying with this little guy. My daughter’s attempts to befriend the rabbit led to it growling, glaring at her, and crossing his arms in irritation. Soon she just decided to let him enjoy the cake which is when my kids (and I’m sure many more) let out their second squeal of glee: Fluttershy herself appears looking for her ‘little Angel.’ Impressed with your ability to handle the rabbit — cue my daughter’s proud smile — Fluttershy asks your PCs for a favour. She and her friends (yes, those friends) have to go on an important trip, but they promised they would give their pets a pampering party! They really can’t delay their mission, but they don’t want to let their pets down, either. They need someone really special to come over and pet-sit!

My kids literally threw their arms up into the air and were begging to be the petsitters before Fluttershy could even get the offer out. They were SO in. Haha. Not a surprise! It’s likely that any kids who has seen the show will be absolutely thrilled at this turn of events. Getting to meet such famous characters is enough to make many kids squeal in glee, and finding themselves the caretakers of all six of their pets? I don’t think I’ve ever met a kid who doesn’t love animals!

Fluttershy asks the PCs to show up at her house the next morning and trots away leaving your PCs with the rest of the day to spend as they see fit. It’s assumed that you finish checking out the market and then skip to the scene at Fluttershy’s house, but both of my kids play a lot of complex RPGs, so they had other plans. Especially when you take into account that Flying Recall loves a good mystery! The pair of them spent time investigating the identities of the Mane Six and their pets, figuring out what each animal enjoyed doing, and what each loved to eat. My kids were counting on fingers, trying to remember the pets from the tv show, guessing what those kinds of animals would like in real life, and rolling dice to ask around for gossip, and recall obscure bits of information. They had a blast! I rewarded their efforts with lots of helpful information and they spent time picking up items in the market that they thought would be of use in petsitting. A juicy bone and a ball for Applejack’s dog, the fanciest and most expensive cat treats they could find for Rarity’s spoiled cat, and so on.

ponyville market - tails of equestria - d20diaries

When they were ready to move on our PCs headed over to Fluttershy’s house — with my kids wearing incredibly proud smiles on their faces. They got to meet each member of the Mane Six, each of the pets they would be babysitting, and ask any questions they had. I casually dropped a lot of information on my kids in this scene while roleplaying, most importantly about all the pets and what they like or don’t like. The information is easy to come by for GMs, but players will need to rely on their memories, note-taking, or rolling a Mind Check to get everything down. Surprisingly my kids were obsessively dedicated petsitters, and remembered every little detail all on their own. My husband was more concerned with matters like: ‘Where’s the food?’ ‘Where are you going?’ and ‘When will you be back?’

Nugget learned that the Mane Six were off to solve a mystery. Ponies throughout Equestria were being magically turned into statuettes! They always turned back to normal after a while, but it was very jarring. So the Mane Six were heading out to investigate. Their mission would take them into the dangerous Badlands to the south.

Nugget decided that sounded very dangerous, and he would much rather stay behind and pet-sit. My kids agreed.

The Mane Six bid everyone farewell and left. We were alone in Fluttershy’s house with a whopping six pets to care for. All very different. Some easy to tend to and some not. Both my son and daughter got super into this part of the adventure. They did their best to take care of the animals, find and feed them their favourite things, pamper and play with them, and so on. They carefully decided who would be best suited to caring for each pet, and excitedly tried to recall every bit of information they could. They fed Owlowiscious (Twilight Sparkle’s wise owl) chocolate mice and tickled him just behind his ear feathers. They gave Winona (Applejack’s playful dog) the bone they had bought for her, played ball, and patted her tummy. They were absurdly happy to see Winona enjoy the bone they bought him. They gave Gummy (Pinkie Pie’s toothless baby alligator) fish cakes and played Snaps. They brushed and groomed Opalescence (Rarity’s fat, spoiled cat) while feeding her the most expensive cat treats money could buy (which they had already bought a lot of!). They took Tank (Rainbow Dash’s helicopter flying turtle) out for a fly and fed him lettuce. My kids had such a blast with this part of the adventure! They were exchanging high fives and shouting out ‘great job’ and other congratulations at the table. It was just a giant ball of feel-good fun.

And then my daughter tried to handle Angel, the fluffy little rabbit menace. They knew it would be tough. They got him the perfect carrots, gently fluffed his tail, and offered him cuddles. Shockingly, my daughter managed to control the rabbit for a while, but in time he got out of hand. Carrots were met with growls, tail fluffing with glares, and cuddles with fierce little punches from fluffy paws. He was a terror!

pets - pet predicament - tails of equestria

Which is the point!

Angel causes such a commotion he knocks all the books off the bookshelf, some of which land on Tank. Tank’s helicopter motor starts up and shoots him right through a window and into the sky. Worried for Tank, Winona hops through the broken window after him. Owolwiscious screeches in panic at the commotion — he had previously been napping — and flies up the chimney in a cloud of soot. Gummy starts to sneeze and ends up biting Opalescence, who leaps into the air, clings to the curtains with her claws, and brings the whole curtain rod down at you! Your PCs have a chance to dodge the curtains, but fate is not with them. If they fail a Body Check they get tangled in the curtains, and if they pass they instead get knocked into a cupboard as it falls over.

“AHHH!” My kids shrieked. “The pets!”

“Tank flew right out the window!” my son exclaimed with wide eyes.

“And the cat got bit by a crocodile!” my daughter added. “That bunny is so naughty! Oh… but he is very cute… I forgive him!”

“We need to save them!” my son pointed out.

Only then did they realize they were stuck. Really stuck.

By the time we all extricated ourselves with our skills from curtains and cupboards, the pets were gone. All of them.

We headed outside to investigate. Flying Recall searched around for clues — he loves a good mystery — while Bunna asked around for eye-witness accounts from the nearby mammals. In time they discovered that each pet had wandered off on their own — most into the nearby Everfree Forest. They immediately decided we had to get them back. But who was most in need of rescue? And which clues should they follow first?

From here we get to the bulk of the adventure: finding and rescuing all six pets. This will present your players with all kinds of obstacles, Tests, and Challenges. Following the trails and clues in some cases is difficult, with failure causing new challenges and mishaps that range from falling into a marshy pool or getting tangled in clinging thorns, to stepping on a cragadile, getting surrounded by timberwolves, and even meeting the mysterious zebra mystic known as Zecora. Surprisingly, my kids didn’t fail a single tracking Check, and never faced any of the mishaps. Rescuing each pet will take creative thinking and teamwork but exactly how each task is accomplished is incredibly open ended, which really allows your group of PCs to use their own unique approach to get things done. The order they choose to rescue the pets in is entirely up to them.

Once your players manage to rescue a pet they need to keep it happy. Each animal has a few paragraphs written about how they act after being rescued, and how your players can affect their behaviour. Some pets are helpful, others silly, and some (here’s looking at you Angel) are a giant pain in the butt! Managing these rescued pets becomes a fun part of the rest of the adventure, even as they distract you from (or help to) rescue the others.

My kids decided that finding Gummy was most important. They had tracked his footprints to a fast-moving stream and easily determined that the alligator was so small he wouldn’t be able to fight the current. Knowing that if they didn’t follow him right away they might never find him at all, they raced off downstream. They discovered a boat nearby, which some of us rode in, but my son didn’t trust the boat. Instead he insisted on racing along the riverbank. The stream leads to a large lake where they spotted a big bird flying through the air with a baby alligator clamped onto his tail feathers. Gummy is at risk of falling, and the bird looks in pain. There’s plenty of ways to go about rescuing the alligator, but with two pegasus in the party my kids decided to fly up there and get the job done themselves. Bunna held onto Gummy, and Flying Recall tried to pry his mouth open while telling him silly jokes. From the ground, Nugget steadied Gummy with his telekinesis, and Soothing Heart prepped a snack and some first aid supplies. They freed the bird without harm, and got Gummy down safe. …only to have him chomp onto Flying Recall! (Gummy sure does love to bite!). Soothing Heart fed Gummy food (thus freeing Flying Recall) while Bunna made Gummy a special stuffed animal. When it was ready she gave it to him to chew on, and then Flying Recall carried Gummy back to the cottage.

After a few minutes of checking the trails and clues again, its clear that all the rest of the pets entered the spooky Everfree Forest. Spotting a plume of smoke that they were sure would dissipate if they delayed any longer, they hurried into the forest after it. But, the forest is dense and travel through it is hard. Flying Recall flew up above the canopy to keep an eye on the smoke and lead the team toward their goal.

img_4301

Tank had crash landed in a canyon dotted with caves and got his aviation goggles tangled on a tree branch. When my kids saw him dangling from a stick halfway down a canyon with a clearly broken helicopter rotor on his back they panicked! After much shrieks Bunna and Flying Recall flew to the rescue — only to discover that this canyon was home to a massive quarray eel that swallowed Flying Recall whole. My son panicked. Seriously. We reminded him that there’s no such thing as death in Tails of Equestria, and I described the strange soft squishy insides of the eel he finds himself in. That’s when my son exclaimed: “I USE MY TOKENS OF FRIENDSHIP TO REROLL SO I DODGE!!! NOW!!” My daughter decided this was a great plan, so the group gave up some Tokens of Friendship, we rewound the action, and Flying Recall managed to dodge the jaws of the quarray eel.

Now, this wasn’t necessary. PCs who find themselves swallowed whole only need wait on their friends to come up with a plan to rescue them. Jokes, smoke, sneezing, and many other options could work, all depending on what Talents your PCs have and what they come up with. Even if they all get too close to the eel and get swallowed, gameplay doesn’t end. In this case Tank’s rotor puffs up once more, sending him careening relatively safely to the cave ground. There the little loyal turtle waddles up to the eel — he’s much too small for the eel to care about eating — and gives the eel’s tail a solid chomp. The eel reels in pain and spits out any swallowed ponies, leaving Tank to slowly wander back out of the cave to give a proud little nod to the ponies he’s saved. Coolest turtle ever.

In my game, our heroic pegasi both carefully stayed out of the quarray eel’s way after the timely dodge, and delicately untangled Tank with some steadying help from Nugget’s telekinesis.

With Tank safe we headed out after Winona, whose barks and whimpers we could hear from afar. We found her tied up outside the den of some diamond dogs, which my kids knew (from watching the show) like to capture ponies and force them to work in their diamond mines. The goal here is to rescue Winona without getting noticed by the diamond dogs. For most groups its incredibly unlikely to happen, and you’ll then need to parley or otherwise deal with the diamond dogs themselves once they arrive on the scene to investigate the noise. But, super paranoid, Bunna snuck close to Winona and used her ability to speak with mammals and her Charm to good use, telling Winona to stay silent. After a few checks she rescued Winona and we all snuck off without the diamond dogs any wiser.

Next we followed a trail of sooty feathers which lead us to Owlowiscious. Much to my kids surprise they found him flying over and over again into a tree, which was right in the middle of a patch of blue flowers. My kids, who are avid RPG players, were immediately suspicious. They both looked at each other and said: “Trap.”

Both deduced it had something to do with the flowers, with one deciding they were cursed and the other insisting their pollen or smell must make you stupid. Turns out they were both right. The flower’s pollen puts a curse on anyone who sniffs it, which makes something happen that the victim would hate. For Owlowiscious that turned out to be losing his intelligence. Now dumb as a post, the poor owl was smashing himself silly by flying into the same tree over and over.

With no knowledge of the flowers abilities but feeling like they were to blame my kids gave this one a bit of a think. Unbeknownst to them the key here is teamwork. You can solve this any way your group wants, as long as everyone helps. Everyone. In the end Soothing Heart gave Bunna and Flying Recall some protective clothing, Nugget steadied the owl with telekinesis, and both Pegasus flew up there to grab him, being careful not to breathe at all. Mission accomplished!

Unfortunately, even after rescue the bird was still stupid. Luckily, Soothing Heart’s first aid training came in handy. She figured to what was wrong and used her ponlybalm to take away the harmful effects of the curse. But, that wouldn’t be permanent. They’d need to find a way to cure her for good, which would require a visit to the zebra mystic Zecora. Deciding that rescuing the pets was more important, they treated the owl as best as they could and moved on, determined to rescue Opalescence, the pampered cat next.

The cat we found stuck at the bottom of a magic well. Poor Opalescence was yowling in fear, shivering cold, and exhausted. As they approached words appeared on the well, a poem that hinted that if you threw what you loved and would miss into the well, it would return the cat. My kids did not like this. But, they wanted the cat. So my son threw in something he would miss — not his magnifying glass! He would miss that too much, but something else. His notepad. The water in the well rose and the cat floated closer. Following his lead my husband tossed in his art book, which caused the water level to rise a lot. Bunna made a new stuffed animal and threw it into the well, causing the water to rise. But there was a lot of way left to go, and my son soon discovered that no one could give something twice. Soothing Heart would have to throw in something she would really miss. So she took off her necklace — one of a pair which Nugget had given to his wife and daughter — and threw it into the well.

And my daughter freaked out. Holy cow! She suddenly broke down in tears shouting “We don’t match!!”

Did not see that coming. Apparently this necklace meant a lot to her. So, I told her to explain that to the well, and maybe it would make you another deal. Meanwhile, my son grumbled it was just a necklace and saved the cat, which was way more important that jewelry.

Now, it is expected that some folks might not want to give up some of their favourite items forever. The adventure has a few ways in it for your PCs to convince the well to return their items to them. In the end my daughter befriended it, and promised to visit the lonely well once a week. Satisfied, the well returned everything the gang had given it. Bunna let it keep the stuffed animal for company.

Relieved (and no longer sad), my daughter led the group away from the magic well.

We had one pet left to save: Angel.

My kids had decided to save her for last knowing that she would be a handful to manage. They didn’t want her messing up their other rescue missions! But, with all the pets free and safe (in varying degrees of happiness), they set out after the troublesome rabbit.

“I’ve got this!” My daughter told us. “Bunny, prepare to be cuddled!”

The trail led them to a dark cave.

“Trap,” my kids decided.

“Dangerous monster!” my son guessed.

“Spider webs,” my daughter guessed.

“Oh, wait! Please no more cave eels….” my son remarked with a groan.

Nugget made his unicorn horn glow a pleasant green colour and led the way inside. There we found a monstrous magical bear called an Ursa that was cuddling and rocking Angel like a baby. And… cooing at her? My kids were pretty sure the Ursa was singing Angel a lullaby. Angel, for his part, was wearing a diaper and struggling as much as he could for freedom. He glared, he flailed, he punched, and he nibbled. But still, the Ursa would not let it go.

For most groups this will be the most challenging pet to rescue. If they attempt to take Angel by force or trickery the Ursa will cry and wail, drawing its mother home from her hunting trip early. (Yup! This massive bear is actually a baby called an Ursa Minor). The Ursa mother (Ursa Major) will also return if your PCs take too long to rescue Angel or make too much noice. Clever PCs will choose that moment to flee, while adventurous souls might get into a Scuffle which is sure to end with the Ursa Minor (or Major) the victor. Any ponies knocked unconscious from such a Scuffle will likely find themselves the Ursa Minor’s new toy, and will then need to come up with a clever plan to escape.

The best way to free Angel is with kindness. Luckily for us, my daughter found another amazing use for her stuffed-animal-crafting Talent. She headed outside, made up a beautiful new rabbit stuffed animal and offered it to the Ursa in place of angel. She even described how she would give it a little voice box so the new stuffed animal made happy noises. In order to ensure maximum success she used some Tokens of Friendship to automatically pass the Check. The Ursa Minor was delighted.

The real trouble came with Nugget.

Nugget who can’t help but draw magical beasts. Luckily they had charmed the Ursa Minor enough that Nugget got in a quick sketch before Ursa Major came home.

Once your players have rescued all the pets they can head back to Fluttershy’s cottage and clean up. But, my ponies had other plans. They headed deeper into the forest and used all their knowledge to find Zecora. A zebra healer who talks in rhyme. Rhyme! Oh, so hard to role-play! Haha. But, I did a pretty good job. My kids enjoyed it, anyway.

Now, Zecora is written into the adventure as one of the mishaps that can occur if your PCs get lost in the Everfree Forest, so rules for how to utilize her already appear in this adventure. First give your PCs a chance to Charm her — which mine all failed horribly at. Usually, this would mean she sends you away with some cryptic words of farewell, or your players use some Tokens of Friendship to reroll or auto-pass their failed Charm Check. But, my family had already used up all of their Tokens of Friendship. Instead they tried to reason with her. They explained whose pets they were caring for and presented the poor, incredibly dumb, Owlowiscious to Zecora. Being friends of the Mane Six, Zecora recognized the pets and offered to break the owl’s curse. If the PCs repaid her with two future favours. (Hello, future plot hooks!). My family all agreed and Owlowiscious was cured — and grateful! Everyone traded farewells and then headed back to Fluttershy’s cottage.

Which was a mess!

Everyone hurried to get it clean, worried that the Mane Six would come home to find the place trashed. Then they cleaned the pets, fed everyone, and got back to pampering them. Just as the pets settled down for a nap there was a knock at the door. Nugget opened it to find a little purple dragon. It was Spike, the devoted companion to Princess Twilight Sparkle. He looked really hurt.

“You’ve gotta help, guys! Twilight Sparkle and the other ponies are in big trouble! I’m the only one who escaped! They need help right now!” Spike exclaimed, right before falling over unconscious.

Which is where the adventure ends.

Sort of. After this there’s information on how your players can continue the adventure. If you want you can buy the official sequel, Tails of Equestria: The Curse of the Statuettes. But, the book also encourages GMs to make their own adventures, with the cliffhanger ending as the opening plothook. It offers plenty of questions and suggestions, then reminds GMs to tell their players to level up! Everypony is now level 2.

After the ending of The Pet Predicament there’s stat blocks for every creature featured in this adventure. The stat blocks are easy to read, with colourful pictures, descriptions, and tactics. Stat blocks included are the cragadile, diamond dog, mohawk, quarray eel, timberwolf, Ursa Minor, and Zecora. There’s also statistics for each of the Mane Six — cause you know one day kids are going to want those! Its nice of them to include official stat blocks for the show’s main characters right in the rulebook. Finally, there’s my favourite stat blocks: typical ponies. Here you’ll find one stat block for a typical earth pony, pegasus, and unicorn. There’s a description, stats, and a reminder to select one talent and one quirk for each pony you have your players run into. That’s what makes every pony special, after all! These three little stat blocks are super useful, since your players will often find themselves engaging in social interactions with other NPCs.

pony statistics - tails of equestria - d20diaires

And with that, The Pet Predicament comes to an end.

We found that this adventure was a delight to read, GM, and play. Everyone in my family had a blast (including my husband).  My kids adored getting to hang out with the pets, and were really invested in the story. The ending also had my kids hooked, as it leads directly into the Tails of Equestria: The Curse of the Statuettes adventure (which I may admit to having bought my daughter for her upcoming birthday).

If you’ve got kids who enjoy light-hearted RPGs or who love My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, I highly recommend picking up Tails of Equestria: The Storytelling Game and giving The Pet Predicament a try. Roleplaying Games of all kinds are really educational (teaching math, probability, reading, writing, problem solving, teamwork, kindness, empathy, and how to handle failure). In addition, they’re just really enjoyable for kids to play — either with friends or family. And this one plays so smoothly. It truly is a wonderful game.

Thanks for joining us today!

Enjoy!

Jessica

equestria - d20diaries

 

Dawn of Flame Adventure Path

Today we’re leaving our chilly Manitoba winter behind and turning up the heat! Gaze into the future with us as we check out the upcoming Starfinder Adventure Path: Dawn of Flame!

Dawn of Flame is a six part Adventure Path for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game which is currently available for pre-order. The first volume, Starfinder Adventure Path 13: Fire Starters (Dawn of Flame 1 of 6), comes out in February and is written by James L. Sutter. The entire campaign takes place around, on, and IN the Pact World’s sun, with a focus on the Burning Archipelago and the sun’s interior. The campaign should take characters from levels 1 all the way through to levels 12 or 13. In a recent interview on Starfinder Wednesday, Chris Simms explained that this Adventure Path is not as dark as the previous ones — putting it in direct contrast to the previous Starfinder Adventure Path, Signal of Screams (which begins with The Diaspora Strain). Much lighter in tone, Dawn of Flame is intended to get back to the heart of Starfinder — that space opera science fantasy mix of fun. This adventure path is full of mystery, surprises, and interesting discoveries. The further you delve into the mystery, the deeper into the sun you’ll travel, making your physical journey a mirror of your intellectual discoveries.

Which is awesome! As a mother of mystery-loving kids, I’m thrilled that this is a campaign my whole family can get excited about.

The Sun? How can I adventure there?!

A-ha! Good question! In a lot of ways the sun of the Pact Worlds is just like ours. It’s an incandescent ball of burning gas and plasma, with intense pressure and heat. Not very hospitable! But, because Starfinder is a science fantasy game, magic has allowed the folks over at Paizo to do a lot of cool things! The Pact Worlds sun has mystical connections (and magical portals) to both the Plane of Fire and the Positive Energy Plane. Plenty of strange beings live within the depths of the sun, such as the starship-sized flame whales that can be seen swimming and breaching through the sun’s plasma. Outsiders from the Elemental Plane of Fire are also known to live within the sun, including sentient beings such as efreet, and azers.

Upon the surface of the sun floats a settlement called the Burning Archipelago. Multiple districts make up this Pact Worlds Protectorate, each of which is contained within it’s own magical ‘bubble’ of unknown origin. These mysterious bubbles keep the neighbourhoods within protected from the harmful effects of the sun, and provide artificial environments that allow many forms of life to thrive. Although all of these bubbles are connected to one another via magical tunnels, only one bubble allows access from outside the Burning Archipelago. This entrance was originally discovered by devotees of Sarenrae (goddess of the sun) who noticed the mysteriously abandoned bubble settlements and attempted to fly as close to them as they could. Miraculously, they stumbled upon the entrance and claimed the settlement for their own. To this day the Church of Sarenrae has influence over most of the Burning Archipelago, including the only entrance. In the time since its founding, many people have come to the Burning Archipelago, including corporations, scientists, beings from the Plane of Fire, and citizens of the Pact Worlds. Each district has become home to different groups, communities, and industries, and serves different purposes. Each has its own security force, with the Sarenite Dawn Patrol, and the Pact Worlds Stewards acting as other over-arching police forces. Neighbourhoods of the Burning Archipelago include Asanatown, Chroma, Corona, Dawnshore, Fireside, Stellacuna, and Verdeon. The sun has many structures and life forms for its citizens to marvel over and study, and plenty of mysteries to unravel. For more information on the Pact Worlds Sun and its many secrets you can check out Starfinder: Pact Worlds.

the sun - burning archipelago - entrance - dawnshore
Entrance to the Burning Archipelago, as seen in Starfinder: Pact Worlds

Dawn of Flame

At its core, Dawn of Flame is about mystery and discovery. About unravelling secrets, and going places no one has gone before. Your characters will discover new settlements and people, strange creatures, and powerful enemies. After uncovering the machinations of a semi-divine being they’ll need to work fast to protect the sun from extraplanar conquest! The fate of the Pact Worlds Sun in is their hands!

Fire Starters

starfinder dawn of flame adventure path fire starters
Starfinder Adventure Path 13: Fire Starters (Dawn of Flame 1 of 6)

The Dawn of Flame Adventure Path begins in the Burning Archipelago, and involves Far Portal — a structure that, like the Burning Archipelago itself, is far older and more technologically advanced than anything in the Pact Worlds. It’s creator and purpose is a mystery, but it’s function is not. Far Portal is a magical portal to a particularly inhospitable region of the Plane of Fire. It hovers nearby, within sight of the Burning Archipelago, but rarely sees use. Although intrepid and foolhardy explorers sometimes enter it, none have ever returned. What’s more, nothing has come out of it. Ever. Until now! A ship flies out of Far Portal, chased by an astoundingly big flame whale. The portal soon disappears INTO the sun, and a massive psychic disturbance wracks the populace. These life-changing events lead our PCs to accept work for a local scientist, in an effort to help her figure out what’s going on. PCs will need to travel into Asanatown, a lashunta enclave in the Burning Archipelago, to contact another scientist who can help. Unfortunately, the psychic burst has hit the telepathic citizens of Asanatown hard. Tensions boil over, and chaos erupts in the district. Finding that scientist? Yeah, that’s the easy part…

Starfinder Adventure Path 13: Fire Starters (Dawn of Flame 1 of 6) is written by James L. Sutter and is intended for 1st-level characters. In addition to the adventure itself, this volume contains detailed information on the district of Asanatown (written by Jason Tondro) and the Church of Sarenrae and its worshippers (written by Patrick Brennan), including some new equipment common to her worshippers. The Alien Archive entries focus on extraplanar creatures, including ifrits and proteans, and is written by Leo Glass, Owen K.C. Stephens, and James L. Sutter. The Codex of Worlds introduces us to a “beautiful resort planet” with connections to the Plane of Water, and is written by Lacy Pellazar. Finally, the ship that will be showcased is a Sarenite vessel designed by Jason Keeley.

Soldiers of Brass

starfinder sadventure path dawn of flame soldiers of brass
Starfinder Adventure Path 14: Soldiers of Brass (Dawn of Flame 2 of 6)

Starfinder Adventure Path 14: Soldiers of Brass (Dawn of Flame 2 of 6) is written by Crystal Frasier and is intended for characters around level 3. By now your PCs work for the Deep Cultures Institute, which is a scientific corporation of dubious reputation that believes there are not only ancient archeological sites to discover within the sun, but living breathing people and cultures. Intent on unraveling the mysterious psychic burst that came from the Sun’s depths, they’ve turned to outside help to aid them. But, when important data is stolen from DCI your PCs will have to track down the thieves, retrieve the data, and figure out why they wanted it in the first place.

This adventure will take your players through Stellacuna, the district that is home to the Deep Cultures institute and other centres of learning, and Corona, a dangerous district that is home to many denizens of the Plane of Fire, and the infamous market known as the Brass Bazaar. Although no further information is currently available as to the other articles in this book, I imagine we’ll be treated to an in depth article on the district of Corona.

Brass Bazaar
The Brass Bazaar

Sun Divers

Sun Divers
Starfinder Adventure Path 15: Sun Divers (Dawn of Flame 3 of 6)

Starfinder Adventure Path #15: Sun Divers (Dawn of Flame 3 of 6) is written by Joe Pasini and is intended for 5th-level characters. During this part of the adventure path your characters will have discovered proof of a settlement within the sun’s depths, and have the coordinates to get there. The problem? A ship! Your PCs will need to track down the creators of an experimental ship known as a Sun Diver, and retrieve it from the shady folks who have it now. In addition to getting to explore the Verdeon district of the Burning Archipelago, they’ll get to take their  awesome new ship (that looks a lot like a pinecone!) beneath the surface of the sun, and explore an undiscovered city!

Further content in this volume includes an article on Noma (the newly discovered bubble-city) and on organized crime. Alien Archive entries are said to include creatures that live within the sun. Although the planet examined in the Codex of Worlds is still a mystery, the ship that will be detailed is going to be the Sun Diver.

The Blind City

Starfinder Adventure Path #16: The Blind City (Dawn of Flame 4 of 6) is written by Ron Lundeen and is intended for 7th-level characters. Your PCs time in the bubble-city of Noma has led to further discoveries, including an ancient magical tablet. Bringing the tablet back to the Burning Archipelago for translation causes a clash with the cult of Azathoth. If they’re lucky, your players will beat back the cultists and discover the coordinates to another mysterious location within the sun, known as Ezorod. The discoveries they make in this lightless (yes, you read that right: LIGHTLESS), foul dungeon will change their lives forever, and finally place the PCs on the trail of Dawn of Flame’s major villain.

Further content in this volume includes an article on various cults found in the Pact Worlds, and a bunch of new and weird techonological and magical equipment. The Alien Archives include new creatures from throughout the multiverse. Information on the Codex of Worlds and ship details have yet to be revealed.

Solar Strike

Starfinder Adventure Path #17: Solar Strike (Dawn of Flame 5 of 6) is written by Mark Moreland and intended for 9th-level characters. It begins with the PCs receiving a distress call from the peaceful citizens of settlement deep within the sun who are under attack by efreet invaders from the Plane of Fire. Your PCs will need to dive back below the surface of the sun to liberate the city of Kahlannal from their conquerers! Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident. It’s the start of an invasion…

Further content in this volume includes an article on the bubble-city of Kahlannal, and an article on the cultures of the Pact Worlds sun and other stars throughout the galaxy. Content of the Alien Archives, Codex of Worlds, and ships has yet to be announced.

Assault on the Crucible 

Starfinder Adventure Path #18: Assault on the Crucible (Dawn of Flame 6 of 6) is written by Jason Tondro and is intended for 11th-level characters. It is the final volume in the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path and should bring your PCs to level 12 or 13. In it, the efreet army, acting at the behest of a semi-divine being from the Plane of Fire known as Malikah, launches an assault on the Burning Archipelago from the depths of the Sun! Aware of this coming attack your PCs will have have to defend the city, bring the fight to the enemy at their hidden base, close the portals to the Plane of Fire, and return Far Portal to its home on the surface of the sun! Epic stuff!

Further content in this volume includes an article on continuing the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path past the story’s conclusion, and an article on Starfinder’s version of the Plane of Fire. The Alien Archive is said to contain creatures from the sun, the Plane of Fire, and elsewhere in the galaxy. Details on the Codex of Worlds and ship details have yet to be revealed.

An Ending

And with that we come to the end of the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path. Or rather, we come to the beginning. Next month the first volume of Dawn of Flame will be in our hands and we’ll get to create characters that can embark on this epic quest of discovery. Turns out the fate of the entire Pact Worlds hangs the in balance. No pressure! When asked if he had any further thoughts and themes that he wants Starfinder fans to come away from Dawn of Flame with, Chris Simms had this to say:

“There’s no place you can’t go.”

And he’s right! Starfinder is a game that allows us to go anywhere, explore anything, and become something greater than ourselves. It’s a world of advanced technology, alien species, and powerful magic. This fusion of big, bold ideas has led to a truly wonderful game. If you haven’t given it a try, I highly suggest you do!

Want more information on the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path, or to see awesome artwork from Fire Starters? Check out this past week’s episode of Starfinder Wednesday, featuring host Dan Tharp and special guest Chris Simms!

Enjoy!

Jessica


UPDATE: Check out the recently released Dawn of Flame Trailer!

Pathfinder Society Scenarios: ‘Treason’s Chains’ and ‘Mysteries Under Moonlight Part Two: The Howling Dance’

Today we’re going to take a look at two of the most recent Pathfinder Society Scenarios that are currently available for purchase, and let you know we thought. 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. That said, if you want to avoid even minor spoilers then I recommend clicking on a different article. Whether you intend to use them in home games of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, sanctioned scenarios for use with the Pathfinder Society Organized Play, or just want to read a nifty new adventure, we’ve got you covered! So let’s get cracking!

Pathfinder Society Scenario 10-06 - Treason's ChainsPathfinder Society Scenario #10-06: Treason’s Chains is a Tier 1-5 Adventure written by Adam Meyers. It takes place in Katapesh, a city (and nation) where commerce is king and coin can move mountains. For more information on Katapesh check out Dark Markets: A Guide To KatapeshLegacy Of Fire: Player’s Guide, or the Inner Sea World Guide. In addition to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook this scenario makes use of the Advanced Player’s Guide. It features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary, and the NPC Codex (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario) and utilizes Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Pub Crawl and two custom maps. This mission is of particular importance to members of the Liberty’s Edge faction. Characters (or players) who have played Pathfinder Society Scenario #3-03: The Ghenett Manor Gauntlet, #7-01: Between the Lines, #7-11: Ancient’s Anguish, or #7-12: Twisted Circle will have a personal (or at least passing) connection to some of the characters featured in this scenario. Finally, any players who have the special GM Boon ‘Goblin Patronage’ will want to give this scenario a whirl.

Katapesh is a strange place, and the city itself if home to not one, but four Pathfinder Lodges. The most senior Venture-Captain is Roderus who runs a lodge out of his inn and handles all missions that take place outside of the city. The most secure and respected Venture-Captain is Aurora Steelbloom, who runs the grandest lodge in the city at the ruins known as the Twilight Gate. Jurisdiction for the rest of the city is split between Venture-Captain Wulessa Yuul, and Venture-Captain Phlegos Dulm. Unfortunately, these two bicker and fight constantly. So, when the aged Venture-Captain Roderus decides its finally time for him to retire, he’s more than a little uneasy! How can he leave the fate of Pathfinders in Katapesh in the hands of a pair of agents who can’t even follow one of the three main Pathfinder creeds: COOPERATE? This adventure tasks the PCs with working at Roderus’ retirement party. They’ll have to serve drinks, entertain guests, clean up, keep order, and perform other menial tasks. Using their mundane duties as a cover they’ll need to spy on the Venture-Captains in question (Dulm and Yuul), ferret out the truth from rumours, and determine if these two Pathfinders can work together, or are trying to sabotage one another. If the PCs uncover any wrongdoing they’ll need to report to Roderus and delve deeper into the investigation, until the facts come to light and Roderus has enough peace of mind to retire. Players and GMs looking for more information on the featured Venture-Captains can check out Seekers of Secrets or (to a lesser extent) Dark Markets: A Guide To Katapesh.

This scenario had a lot going for it. It has a lot of fun, engaging social encounters that feature a ton of colourful characters. Zig and Yigrig Moneymaker were particular favourites of mine (as I suspect they will be for many players). Zig’s scripted examples of assistance he can lend during the opening retirement party are adorable. There’s a great dynamic evening battle featuring both allies and enemies which promises to be entertaining. Finally, the inclusion of Yigrig Moneymaker’s family is a great segue that can lead to goblins becoming a core race in Pathfinder Second Edition next year. Overall, I really enjoyed this scenario. I give it four out of five stars.

Pathfinder Society Scenario 10-07 - Mysteries Under Moonlight, Part 2, Howling DancePathfinder Society Scenario #10-07: Mysteries Under Moonlight Part Two: The Howling Dance is a Tier 3-7 adventure written by Crystal Malarsky (who also wrote Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-10: Tyranny of Winds Part Two: Secrets of the Endless Sky, Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-03: On the Border of War, and the young adult horror novel Ashwood). This scenario is a direct sequel to #10-05: Mysteries Under Moonlight Part One: Testament of Souls. It begins in the city of Magnimar, but quickly moves to the massive swamp known as the Mushfens. In addition to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebookit makes use of the Advanced Player’s Guide, and the GameMastery Guide. It features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: BestiaryBestiary 2, and Bestiary 5 (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario) and utilizes Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: WoodlandsPathfinder: Map Pack: Forest Dangers, and a gorgeous custom map.

In the previous adventure, Magnimar found its beloved monuments corrupted by some foul source. The PCs worked for Venture-Captain Shiela Heidmarch and the Varisian Council, made an enemy of the occult investigator Theodorus Ichonvarde, saved a servant of the goddess Ashava, discovered the identity of the being behind the corruption (whom we will call only by their name, Tulvhatha, to avoid too many spoilers), and the place they can be found (The Glade of Silver Sparks) which was once a holy site to Ashava. In addition, the PCs were likely granted a blessing, which can be granted to all characters participating in this adventure if they will allow him to do so. This adventure tasks the PCs with travelling through the Mushfens, confronting Tulvhatha, and doing what they can to cleanse the area of evil. Characters who have already played the first in this series of adventures will of course have more reason to participate in this one. But, characters who worship Ashava, have an interest in moonlight, dancing, or putting spirits to rest, or have connections to lycanthropy will all find something special to interest them in this scenario. On a similar note, if you have any characters who have a lot of fears, or who you would enjoying roleplaying their response to their fears at a table, I highly recommend you bring them! This is a spooky adventure, and embracing that atmosphere can be a lot of fun. One final note, if you happen to have a horrible fear of werewolves (like my daughter) or spirits this is NOT the scenario for you!

This scenario had an wonderful haunting tone to it. The environment was appropriately ominous, of course, but many of the encounters themselves often played into the horror theme. Not a gory sort of horror. More of a moody, hopeless, suspenseful sort of horror. I ADORED it. The scenario starts with some minor (but fun) roleplaying encounters. The blessing which your characters can accept is awesome! I adored the first major encounter of this scenario. In addition to bringing back another character from the first scenario in this series, it could cause some healthy discussion as to the fate of your opponents (depending upon the alignments we see on the player’s side of the table). There’s a delightful chase in this scenario, which has very clear repercussions for failure. I absolutely loved it! Although, it should be noted, I’m a sucker for a good, purposeful chase. The haunts in this scenario were exceptionally well-done. Particularly the one that plays upon your character’s fears. Embracing that horror theme with my characters is something I always enjoy as a player, so I can’t wait to toss one of my more expressive characters into this mission! And the final battle with the main villain was both memorable, flavourful, an mechanically difficult. Just awesome. But my favourite part? This scenario features the coolest wolf encounter in existence! It’s going to be so much fun! Overall I loved this scenario. Seriously. Loved it. I give it five out of five stars!

I hope you enjoyed taking a peek at this months newest Pathfinder Society Scenarios with me. I know I enjoyed reading them!

Until next time,

Jessica

Marko Horvatin, Yigrig
Yigrig Moneymaker, an enterprising goblin featured in Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-06: Treason’s Chains. Art by Marko Horvatin
Leonardo Santanna -Tulyhatha
The spookiest will-o-wisp you’ll ever lay eyes on! One of the enemies from Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-07: Mysteries Under Moonlight Part Two: The Howling Dance. Art by Leonardo Santanna.