May New Releases

Well, another month has come and gone, which means there’s a whole bunch of new and awesome products coming out from Paizo. But first, it should be noted that today’s your last day to pre-order physical copies of the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn, and the Flip-mat multipack. If you intend to pick up a copy of any of them, now’s your last chance. Free copies of the PDF will be available in late August.

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The Pathfinder Society’s Glyph of the Open Road

Two new Pathfinder Society Scenarios were recently released, Scenario #9-18: Scourge of the Farheavens is a tier 1-5 scenario that sends the players all the way to Iobaria, which promises to be a blast. This is definitely the scenario I’m most excited for, and I hope to pick it up soon. The second PFS release is Scenario #9-19: Clash in the Kaimuko Wood, is a tier 5-9 scenario that takes place on the border of Kwanlai and Tianjing in Tian Xia. Involving abyssal corruption, this adventure continues events in Scenario #9-12: Shrine of the Sacred Tempest, and directly contributes to the ongoing storyline of the Silver Crusades.

Near the end of May there’ll be two more scenarios for us to sink our teeth into. Scenario #9-20:  Fury of the Final Blade is a tier 7-11 scenario that sees the Liberty’s Edge faction leader, Colson Maldris, up to some shifty underhanded shenanigans, involving Andoran’s corrupt elite, the Grey Gardeners of Galt, and the soul-trapping guillotines they’re known for. Turning to the Pathfinders for aid Maldris set out to lay the groundwork for a rescue plan–only to end up captured himself. This awesome-sounding scenario leaves the fate of Colson Maldris in your players hands, and directly affects the Liberty’s Edge faction’s ongoing plot. Finally, we have Scenario #9-21: In the Grandmaster’s Name, which is a tier 3-7 adventure that lets your players pose as intercepted agents of Grandmaster Torch, and perform some underhanded espionage in Druma. I don’t know about you, but I’m super excited for this mission, as my whole family loves the Grandmaster (or rather, some love him, and some love to hate him!).

There’s two new awesome pawn collections coming out soon, the Ruins of Azlanti Pawn Collection, which contains just over 100 pawns from the Ruins of Azlant Adventure Path (including minis from Part One: The Lost Outpost, Part Two: Into the Shattered Continent , Part Three:: The Flooded Cathedral, Part Four: City in the Deep, Part Five: Tower of the Drowned Dead and Part Six: Beyond the Veiled Past). The second is the Starfinder Pact Worlds Pawn Collection, which features over 200 pawns, including creatures and starships. As I’ve recently come to own Pact Worlds, I can assure you these pawns have a ton of cool artwork. I can’t wait to see how they look.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path: War for the Crown Part 4 of 6: City in the Lion’s Eye

The very intriguing War for the Crown Adventure Path continues this month with Part Four: City in the Lion’s Eye. Previous releases include Part One: Crownfall, Part Two: Songbird, Scion, Saboteur, and Part Three: Twilight Child. We’ve talked plenty on d20diaries about the War for the Crown, so if you’d like to learn more, click away: Preview: War for the Crown, Paizo New Releases, War for the Crown: Player’s Guide and April Blooms and d20 News.

While last month brought us the delightfully dark Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Nidal, Land of Shadows, this month brings us a Player Companion that looks like it’s handy for everyone. Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Ancients, looks like it’s going to focus on both unlocking the powers of your own ancestry, and on the remnants of ancient civilizations. I’m particularly curious about the Azlanti ioun kineticist archetype, and the Jistkan artificers. But, we’ll have to wait to find out more.

There’s two new Pocket Editions out: Ultimate Magic and Bestiary 4; and a whopping four play-mats. Two of the Play-mats are brand new: Starfinder Flip-mat: Starship: Sunrise Maiden, and Pathfinder Flip-mat: Carnival. The other two are reprints from the Pathfinder Flip-mat Classics line: Darklands and Battlefield. Both are popular mats which are pretty heavily used in Pathfinder Society Scenarios.

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Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Ancients

But, the most exciting new release? The Jungle of Despair pre-painted plastic minis! Like the rest of the randomized Pathfinder Battles minis, they come in four-figure boosters (with one large and three medium minis inside). You can also buy a brick (which is eight booster boxes) or a case (which contains four bricks).

Whatever you’re interested in, there’s a lot of neat stuff coming out this month. Far more than I could indulge in, that’s for sure! It’s the two pawn collections that I’m most interested in getting my hands on. That and the Scourge of the Farheavens PFS scenario. What about you? What are you most excited for from Paizo’s upcoming products? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Jessica

New Starfinder Society Scenarios: Ashes of Discovery & On the Trail of History

Today we’re going to take a look at the two most recent Starfinder 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 I recommend you check out a different article. Whether you intend to use them in home games of the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, sanctioned scenarios for use with the Starfinder Society Organized Play, or just want to read a nifty new adventure, we’ve got you covered! So sit back, and get ready to explore the Pact Worlds!

Scenario # 1-12: Ashes of Discovery is a Tier 1-4 adventure which takes place on an abandoned outpost in Near Space. It has the repeatable tag and features starship combat. As a repeatable scenario, this adventure can be played once with every character (as opposed to once per player), which is AWESOME and makes it easier to get some much needed experience for low level characters. In addition, it features randomized mechanical and story elements, which means that each time you play it will be slightly (or very) different. These randomized elements include what special abilities the enemies have, the atmosphere of the planet, attitudes and cultural quirks of the locals, what corporation the colony once belonged to, and much, much more. I was super impressed with how completely these randomized elements could change the scenario. I fully intend to play this one through with every character I ever make for SFS play. The only difficulty? With a scenario this randomized it’s really up to the GM to sell the environments, characters, and atmosphere. With a GM not willing to put their all into running this delightful scenario, it could fall flat.

So what’s this scenario about? Recently a corporation discovered records of a long abandoned outpost they haven’t had contact with in centuries. They’ve hired to Starfinders to head on down to the planet–cleverly named Colony-753–and have a look see. Your Starfinder will get to explore an unknown planet, deal with hazards and wildlife, befriend the locals and survive a bit of wild weather. Basically, this scenario is a wonderful example of what being a Starfinder is all about! It features Guidance, an AI created from the memories and knowledge of previous Starfinders. Unlike the other repeatable scenario (#1-01: The Commencement, which also happens to be Guidance’s first appearance), this one really lived up to my expectations. It was wonderful. Overall, I highly recommend Ashes of Discovery. I give it five out of five stars.

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Besmaran whelp from SFS #1-12: Ashes of Discovery. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Scenario #1-13: On the Trail of History is a Tier 3-6 adventure which takes place on an unchartered planet in the Vast known as Icefront, or Izalraan to the natives. It has the Faction (Second Seekers [Luwazi Elsebo] scenario tag and features starship combat. In addition to being of great importance to the Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsebo) faction, this scenario also contributes to the ongoing year of the Scoured Stars storyline. Following a lead discovered in Scenario #1-11: In Pursuit of the Scoured Past, First Seeker Elsebo sends the Starfinders on an expedition to a planet that could have a connection to the Scoured Stars incident. Tasked with finding out whatever they can about the planet, and a relic believed to have landed there, the group must deal with a strange environment, and dangerous locals. Unlike similar scenarios, this adventure features a whole lot more than you’d expect, the mysterious introduction of what’s sure to be an important part of the Scoured Stars plot line, and some delightful moral dilemmas. Those of you who have played through #1-05: The First Mandate, will find that one of your boons might earn you an extra hint or two. Overall, this was an awesome scenario, that was very different from those that have come before. I give it five out of five stars.

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A mysterious ship… Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.
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A Starfinder Society Agent from the Starfinder Society Guild Guide. Art Courtesy of Paizo Inc.

And that’s all for today! Thanks for joining us on our exploration of the wonderful new scenario’s available this month. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about them as much as I have. Both scenarios look like a ton of fun, and I can’t wait until I have a chance to run them for my family, or play them myself. My son’s been super curious about the mystery of the Scoured Stars incident, so I can’t wait to tell him about what’s waiting for him down the line.

Until next time,

Jessica

Space Rabbits and Radioactive Robots

Just the other day we took a look inside the covers of the Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Alien Archive. I shared some of my favourite creatures, spoke about what the book contains, and touched on the easy and adaptable monster and NPC creation process. My children and I tested out the creation system, and today, we’re going to share what they made in order to emphasize just how fun and easy it is.

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The creatures featured today are for use with the Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook.

Now, it should be noted, that my children are young. My daughter turned six last month, while my son turned seven last month. This means that if they can do it, you can do it.

Now, where to start?

The first step is the concept and CR. My daughter immediately decided to make a colossal rabbit which flies through space, firing laser beams from her eyes, breathing fire from her nose, and feeding off the electrical energy of space storms, starships, asteroids, and even other living beings. It’s quite big and strong, so she’s hoping to make it a CR 10 or so. And my son? He made radioactive robots! As their creators and their societies were destroyed by nuclear war, some of the robots survived the devastation. Damaged from the blast and the centuries that have passed since, these robots have broken chassis, exposed wiring, and scratched and dented frames. Their solar panels no longer work, but they absorbed a huge amount of radiation, and function on nuclear power, instead. He’s aiming for a lower powered monster, making it CR 3.

The next step is to choose the creature’s array, which is its role in combat. Although my daughter strongly debated changing around her concept to make her space rabbits spellcasters, in the end she stuck to her original concept, and made her space rabbits a combatant. My son chose the same. Once you know your array you check out the associated charts and get all of your statistics for the creature. We wrote these down, and got ready for the next step: selecting a creature type. My daughter’s space rabbits were going to be magical beasts, and didn’t need a subtype. This means they’ll be getting dark vision, low-light vision, +2 to Fortitude and Reflex saving throws, and +1 on attack rolls. Meanwhile, my son’s radioactive robots were going to be constructs, which grants his monster a -2 to all its saving throws, a +1 to its attack rolls, and some snazzy traits including darkvision and construct traits. They would also have the technological subtype, which didn’t add any new abilities.

The next step is adding a class graft, which neither of my children’s creations needed. Skipping this step meant we would next be adding any any other templates they desired, which they also both decided against.

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Creatures featured today were created with the rules found inside the Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Alien Archive.

The next step they found the most fun: selecting special abilities and your creature’s attack forms. Their array and CR will determine how many abilities they can choose. In addition, some abilities are free. It should also be noted that this number is a guideline, and can be altered as necessary to make your monster concept come to life. The special abilities you can select include things like feats, universal monster abilities, and statistic increases. You can also select abilities that show up in other stat blocks.

So what did they choose? Well, our space rabbits already have darkvision and low-light vision from being a magical beast, but my daughter was very intrigued with the idea of giving them blindsight (voltage), which would allow them to detect and see electrical fields to a range of 60 feet. If she did choose to add this, it would count as one special ability. Attacks are necessary to the creature, so the natural attacks it would receive (a piercing bite and laser beam eyes) would be free of charge. Other free abilities creatures receive is anything that they require to survive in their environments. For our space rabbits this means they need immunity to cold and a vacuum, as well as the no breath ability. Because of her CR she’d get a third immunity, so my daughter chose electricity.

Which brings us to our second special ability! Space rabbits would get a breath weapon which shoots out a super heated blast of energy–fired from their nose, of course! She also contemplated taking the swallow whole ability, but was undecided. This would be their third ability, if she chose to select it. And lastly, they’d need a supernatural fly speed so that they can move around in space. Luckily, movement speeds (within reason) are also free. That left her with three abilities. Her chart suggested having two, but, as mentioned, you can go over within reason (or under, for that matter). There was one other ability my daughter thought they needed: the ability to land upon and leave planets safely. After all, how could they escape a planet’s gravity with only a 60 ft. move speed…? We left my daughter to mull this over, and moved on to help my son.

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Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Alien Archive 2, due out in October,is currently available for preorder!

So what did our radioactive robots need? Well, unlike the rabbits, they didn’t need any special abilities to survive in their environment, nor did they need a fancy move speed. Just walking was fine. As a construct, they would already have plenty of immunities and snazzy traits, so he didn’t want to add to that. The robot’s natural attacks would be a slam attack. Originally this would have done bludgeoning damage, but my son adores the idea of them broken and crackling with electricity, so he decided it does bludgeoning and electricity damage. He also gave it the arc critical ability. To represent that the robots are already broken open and damaged, he gave them a weakness: vulnerable to critical hits. The first special ability he knew he wanted to give them was an aura of radiation. Due to their minor CR, it would only be low level radiation, which he thought was a little disappointing–especially since they would be found on a radiated planet and the PCs would likely already have their armour’s environmental protections up (which would make them immune to low levels of radiation). We decided to revisit the radiation levels later, and continue on with planning. For their ranged attack, he decided that they would shoot out a beam of their internal nuclear energy–an attack against EAC which would deal fire damage. He wants them to explode upon destruction, so we gave them the self-destruct special ability, but we were torn on whether to make it deal fire or electricity damage–fire to represent their minor nuclear explosion, and electricity to represent their sparking, glitching exposed wiring. In the end we decided to make it deal fire. There was one other thing he wanted to make his robots do: spark with electricity when touched in melee combat. We decided that this would do only minor damage, just a single zap of damage to anyone touching them with a manufactured or natural melee attack. And that was it! He was happy.

From there we chose which skills each creature would be best with, a simple step which was over in a flash. Then you select spells and spell-like ability–if your monster has a spell casting class graft or a special ability which grants them casting. Neither of our creatures did, so all that was left was to put it together and check it over.

So how did it turn out? Take a peek for yourself.


GALACTIC RABBIT

CR 10                  XP 9,600
N Colossal magical beast
Init +5; Senses blindsense (electicity) 60 ft., darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +24

DEFENSE           HP 165
EAC 23; KAC 25
Fort +14; Ref +14; Will +9
Immune cold, electricity, vacuum

OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft., fly 60 ft. (Su, good); thermal flight (speed 6; maneuverability good (turn 1))
Melee bite +21 (2d8+18 P plus swallow whole)
Ranged eye lasers +19 (3d4+10 F)
Offensive Abilities breath weapon (70 ft. cone, 11d6 F, DC 17, usable every 1d4 rounds), swallow whole (1d6+15 F, EAC 23, KAC 21, 41 HP)
Space 30 ft.; Reach 20 ft.

STATISTICS
Str +8; Dex +5; Con +3; Int –2; Wis +2; Cha +0
Skills Acrobatics +24, Intimidate +19, Survival +19
Languages Sylvan (can’t speak any language)
Other Abilities no breath, thermal flight

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Eye Lasers (Ex): Galactic rabbits can fire laser beams from their eyes at a range of 120 feet. Despite having two eyes, both laser beams must be directed at the same target, and function as a single attack.

Thermal Flight (Su): Galactic rabbits can use the thermal energy stored in their stomachs to achieve incredible bursts of speed for a short time. This enables them to land upon and take off from planets without difficulty, and reach speeds equivalent to that of a spaceship. A galactic rabbit cannot activate thermal flight if they have used their breath weapon within four rounds. Once activated, the galactic rabbit gains shields as if it were a starship (20 shields, split evenly between its four quadrants), and a fly speed of 6 hexes (good maneuverability). This flight speed lasts for a number of minutes equal to the galactic rabbits CR (10 minutes for adult galactic rabbits). After activating thermal flight, galactic rabbits no longer have enough thermal energy to utilize their breath weapon, or thermal flight for 24 hours.

ECOLOGY
Environment space
Organization solitary, pair, or herd (2 galactic rabbits with 2–6 galactic bunnies)

GALACTIC BUNNY
CR 4                    XP 1,200
N Large magical beast
Init +5; Senses blindsense (electicity) 60 ft., darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +15

DEFENSE           HP 50
EAC 16; KAC 18
Fort +8; Ref +8; Will +3
Immune cold, electricity, vacuum

OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft., fly 40 ft. (Su, average); thermal flight (speed 4; maneuverability average (turn 2))
Melee bite +12 (1d6+9 P plus swallow whole)
Ranged eye lasers +9 (1d4+4 F)
Offensive Abilities breath weapon (40 ft. cone, 5d6 F, DC 13, usable every 1d4 rounds), swallow whole (1d4 F, EAC 16, KAC 14, 12 HP)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.

STATISTICS
Str +5; Dex +3; Con +1; Int –2; Wis +0; Cha +0
Skills Acrobatics +15, Intimidate +10, Survival +10
Languages Sylvan (can’t speak any language)
Other Abilities no breath, thermal flight

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Eye Lasers (Ex): Galactic bunnies can fire laser beams from their eyes at a range of 90 feet. Despite having two eyes, both laser beams must be directed at the same target, and function as a single attack.

Thermal Flight (Su): Galactic bunnies can use the thermal energy stored in their stomachs to achieve incredible bursts of speed for a short time. This enables them to land upon and take off from planets without difficulty, and reach speeds equivalent to that of a spaceship. A galactic bunny cannot activate thermal flight if they have used their breath weapon within four rounds. Once activated, the galactic bunny gains shields as if it were a starship (4 shields, split evenly between its four quadrants), and a fly speed of 4 hexes (average maneuverability). This flight speed lasts for a number of minutes equal to the galactic bunnies CR (4 minutes for galactic bunnies). After activating thermal flight, galactic bunnies no longer have enough thermal energy to utilize their breath weapon, or thermal flight for 24 hours.

ECOLOGY
Environment space
Organization solitary, litter (2-6), or herd (2 galactic rabbits with 2–6 galactic bunnies)

Galactic rabbits look surprisingly like their mundane counterparts—on a much large scale. Although capable of flying through any environment, galactic rabbits prefer to live in the void of space. They survive on electrical energy, and are capable of seeing it from great distances. They can devour any sources with electrical fields, including electrical devices, starships, satellites, asteroids, and even other lifeforms. They can also absorb it directly from space storms. Electricity is digested and stored as thermal energy in their stomachs. This thermal energy can be released in a superheated exhalation shot from their constantly twitching nose, or used to power extreme bursts of speed.

Although quite rare, galactic rabbits can wreak havoc on technologically advanced planets and starships and are often attacked with extreme prejudice when spotted. Because of their modest intelligence, Xenowardens often befriend galactic rabbits. In most cases, this is to protect them, or raise them as companions, while more violent xenowardens use them as a weapon against their enemies, releasing them upon corporate satellites, and exploitive colonies.

It is unknown how galactic rabbits came into being, although their ability to understand the language of the fey makes most scholars suggest that they are a beings of the fabled First World, or perhaps the result of fey experimentation upon the galactic rabbit’s mundane cousins. Whatever the case, galactic rabbits are here to stay, and are capable of procreating incredibly rapidly. Their offspring, galactic bunnies, are capable of living alone after only two months, and are full grown within a year. Galactic rabbits live for centuries, and can go for extended periods of time without feeding. They are capable of birthing two litters of young a year, if given even electrical currents to feed off of.  Although this can easily overrun a planet, the galactic rabbit’s fondness for space means that this is rarely a problem. Even a horde of well-fed galactic rabbits cannot overpopulate the infinite solar systems.

There are rumours that a galactic rabbit exists deep in the Vast, so large it can devour an entire planet, and swallow the largest of starships whole. These rumours are unsubstantiated, and no reliable source has ever reported or proven such claims.


Radioactive Robot (Patrol Class)
CR 3                    XP 800
N Medium construct (technological)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +8
Aura radiation (15 ft., DC 13)

DEFENSE           HP 40
EAC 14; KAC 16
Fort +3; Ref +3; Will +1
Immunities construct immunities, electrified exterior
Weaknesses vulnerable to critical hits

OFFENSE
Speed 20 ft.
Melee slam +12 (1d6+7 B & E; critical arc 1d4)
Ranged nuclear beam +9 (1d4+3 F; critical burn 1d4)
Offensive Abilities self-destruct (1d6+3 F, DC 12)

STATISTICS
Str +4; Dex +2; Con —; Int —; Wis +1; Cha +0
Skills Athletics +8
Languages One local language (can’t speak any language)
Other Abilities mindless, unliving

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Aura of Radiation (Ex)
Due to the devastation of nuclear war or extremely radioactive environments, radioactive robots have absorbed extreme levels of radiation, and have evolved the ability to produce, store and redirect this energy without being harmed by it. A radioactive robot emanates low radiation out to 15 feet.

Electrified Exterior (Ex)
Radioactive robots are broken and damaged, and spark with electricity. Making physical contact with a radioactive robot can cause electrocution. Any creature that succeeds on a melee attack against a radioactive robot with a manufactured or natural weapon—even if this attack does not harm the radioactive robot—takes 1 electricity damage.

Self-destruct (Ex)
A radioactive robot is highly unstable and self-destructs when it is reduced to 0 HP, dealing an amount of fire damage equal to 1d6 + the robot’s CR to all creatures in a 10-foot-radius burst. A creature can attempt a Reflex saving throw to reduce this damage by half. This ability destroys any technological components that could have been salvaged from the radioactive robot.

Radioactive Robot (Enforcer Class)
CR 7                    XP 3,200
N Large construct (technological)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +14
Aura radiation (30 ft., DC 17)

DEFENSE            HP 105
EAC 19; KAC 21
Fort +7; Ref +7; Will +4
Immunities construct immunities, electrified exterior
Weaknesses vulnerable to critical hits

OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft.
Melee slam +18 (2d6+12 B & E; critical arc 1d6)
Ranged nuclear beam +15 (2d6+7 F; critical burn 1d6)
Offensive Abilities self-destruct (1d6+7 F, DC 15)

STATISTICS
Str +5; Dex +4; Con —; Int —; Wis +2; Cha +0
Skills Athletics +14
Languages One local language (can’t speak any language)
Other Abilities mindless, unliving

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Aura of Radiation (Ex)
Due to the devastation of nuclear war or extremely radioactive environments, radioactive robots have absorbed extreme levels of radiation, and have evolved the ability to produce, store and redirect this energy without being harmed by it. A radioactive robot emanates medium radiation out to 15 feet and low radiation for an additional 15 feet.

Electrified Exterior (Ex)
Radioactive robots are broken and damaged, and spark with electricity. Making physical contact with a radioactive robot can cause electrocution. Any creature that succeeds on a melee attack against a radioactive robot with a manufactured or natural weapon—even if this attack does not harm the radioactive robot—takes 1d4 electricity damage.

Self-destruct (Ex)
A radioactive robot is highly unstable and self-destructs when it is reduced to 0 HP, dealing an amount of fire damage equal to 1d6 + the robot’s CR to all creatures in a 10-foot-radius burst. A creature can attempt a Reflex saving throw to reduce this damage by half. This ability destroys any technological components that could have been salvaged from the radioactive robot.

ECOLOGY
Environment any environment with high levels of radiation
Organization solitary, pair, unit (3-4 radioactive robots attempting to complete a similar objective)

Radioactive robots are found in places where nuclear war or high levels of radiation have destroyed technologically advanced societies. The few robots who survive such destruction are battered and broken—sparking with electricity form their exposed, tattered wiring and circuitry. These robots have absorbed the radiation around them, and use it to power themselves. Mindless and glitching they wander aimlessly, sometimes attempting to continue their original purposes, and other times corrupted to the point of senseless violence. They never wander far from their radioactive environments.

Radioactive robots can be found in localized areas of devastation, like the ruins of exploded nuclear reactors, or the wreckage of crashed starships that were once powered by nuclear engines. They can also be found in large swaths of territories that have high radiation levels, like the desert wastes of a planet destroyed by nuclear war, or natural phenomenon. They are a common sight on the ghibrani homeworld of Elytrio, which was devastated by thermonuclear war, and Jasterax, a planet in the Vast wracked with fierce storms of radioactive rain.


I hope you enjoyed reading about our creations as much as we enjoyed making them. My kids and I had a blast, and they couldn’t be more proud with what they’ve developed.

Have any creations you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments!

See you soon,

Jessica (and kids)

 

Starfinder: Alien Archive

Today on d20diaries we’re going to take a look at an awesome supplement book for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, the Alien Archive! This book has a hardcover, and clocks in at 159 pages. It’s got an American cover price of $39.99, which means that if you’re Canadian (like myself), you’re looking at a cost of around forty-five to fifty dollars for the book online, or up to sixty in your local game store. There’s a sequel in the works, Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Alien Archive 2, which is due out in October, though I’ve heard little more than that about it.

At it’s core, Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Alien Archive is a book of monsters. Like Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary, you’ll find a ton of monsters to fight and ally with inside this book, as well as some new player races. With that being said, there are a lot of differences between the Alien Archive and the many Bestiaries available for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. For starters, it’s shorter, with a typical Bestiary being around 325 pages in length, compared to the Alien Archive’s 159 pages. But, that’s only scratching the surface. The Alien Archive is also easier to use, and much more adaptable, than any Bestiary I’ve ever read. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

The Alien Archive features lovely cover art by Remko Troost, which shows off some of my favourite creatures inside the book–the dragonkin and the skittermander–as well as a robot. The inside front and back covers feature an image of the Pact Worlds, although it’s faded looking, instead of shiny and bright. After that we come to the table of contents.

The Alien Archive has sixty distinct monster entries inside it, many of which have more than one stat block or variation of that creature, making the actual number of foes inside larger than it seems (around ninety four). Of these, twenty-two are playable as character races. Each of these player races is differentiated from the other entries by a star beside their name, which is really useful for quickly referencing player options.

Combatant
Combatant icon, which denotes creatures that excel in physical combat.

After the table of contents we reach the introduction. This is where we learn how the races are oriented, and how to read a stat block. While most of this is basic information that only a player new to d20 games with need to read, some of the information is quite important.

For starters, each of the stat blocks inside the Alien Archive is sorted into one of  three categories: combatants (which excels in physical combat), experts (who are most effective with skills), and spellcasters (who rely on spells or spell-like abilities). These categories are represented by an icon in the left margin. These images are easy to distinguish and provide a quick and easy way for GMs to realize the role each monster plays in combat, which makes it super easy to find the type of creatures your looking for, or to quickly discern a creature’s tactics.

Expert
Expert icon, which denotes creatures that rely upon their skills in combat.

There’s also a few interesting things to note about the stat blocks themselves. Very few of the creatures inside have Resolve Points and none have Stamina Points. A creatures ability scores aren’t listed, instead, their stats show their ability modifiers. This is a simple change that will make it easier for GMs–especially new GMs–to handle unexpected situations (like unlisted skill checks) in combat. Not all of a creatures feats are listed in their entry. Instead, only feats that grant new combat options will be shown. Feats that grant static bonuses (like improved initiative, or skill focus) are already factored into the stat block and will not be listed anywhere at all. This really streamlines the stat blocks, and makes it easier to find important information fast. Similarly, not all of a creature or NPCs spells will be listed in a stat block. Instead, it only features their most powerful spellcasting options.

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Spellcaster icon, which denotes creatures who utilize spells and spell-like abilities during combat.

In addition to information provided in this chapter, I’d like to point out a few other things of note. Every one of the bestiary entries in this book is two side-by-side pages long. These entries include information on the creature, where they’re found, their use throughout the Pact Worlds, and their society–if they have one. Many of the entries include more than one stat block on a theme. For example, the Aeon Guard entry gives us stats for a CR 3 rank and file soldier, along with a CR 7 specialist, capable of working without support for weeks and months at a time. Similarly, the apari entry features the both the hive-like apari, and it’s tiny, bug-like constituents. Some entries include many stat-blocks, or simple grafts that can be added to a featured creature to make it into other versions. Examples of this include elementals, which are statted out by size and have grafts which apply the elemental abilities themselves (including air, earth, fire and water), and dragons, which have one age category statted out, rules for making other age categories, and grafts which can be applied to determine the dragon’s colour (including black, blue, green, red and white). In fact, as you’ll soon discover, grafts and templates are a common sight in the Alien Archive, and are used to great effect. Many of the archive entries introduce new gear or consumables. My personal favourites include the shadowstaff found on the draelik’s entry, and the bone cestus of the crest eater.

After this we come to the meat of the book: the Alien Archive itself. There are a ton of cool creatures in this book, and even some that I wasn’t sure I’d like on first perusal, I ended up really enjoying. Some of my favourites you should check out include the asteray, a CR 12 fey which is to space what mysterious water creatures like mermaids and nixies were to the oceans and waterways of golarion. I also adored the caypin, a CR 6 aquatic tentacle beast with eyeball mouth worms which can detach and explore their surroundings, before returning to the caypin’s face. Seriously cool! Electrovores were a fun, low level challenge I also really enjoyed, as were the radioactive fey, hesper.

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Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Alien Archive

Mixed amongst the monster entries are twenty-two playable races. Each entry features two different CR stat blocks representative of their race, a bunch of interesting information on their societies and home worlds, and a side bar which include the rules for playing them as a race. Although many of these were ‘humanoid shaped’, with arms and hands or some sort, there were some which were not, most notably the jellyfish-like barathu. This was just awesome to see, and I really enjoyed it! Some of the races and monsters from old Golarion were up for selection, including contemplatives, drow, and space goblins but many were brand new. I honestly loved a TON of these races, but my favourite new additions are dragonkin, ikeshti, sarcesians, and the cheerful skittermanders.

Curious about the playable races available in this book? Well, look no further! The Alien Archive includes:

  • Barathu: highly adaptable jellyfish-like race who float like blimps through the sky
  • Contemplative: telepathic creatures with massive brains and atrophied little bodies
  • Draelik: green, nihilistic, gaunt humanoids with ties to the negative energy plane
  • Dragonkin: large bipedal dragons who form a close bond with their soul-mate
  • Drow: dark-skinned, demon-worshipping, evil elves–a fantasy classic!
  • Formian: ant-like humanoids who live in hives and are resistant to sonic effects
  • Space Goblin: comical little runts with big heads, and bad attitudes. You know you love them!
  • Gray: small, hairless humanoids with bulbous heads and telepathic powers who abduct and experiment on other beings for unknown reasons
  • Haan: large insectile humanoids who can spew fire and create buoyant balloons of webbing
  • Ikeshti: small lizardfolk who live in desert wastes and can squirt blood from their eyes
  • Kalo: aquatic humanoids with wing-like fins who live in freezing cold waters
  • Maraquoi: primitive simians with prehensile tails who have exceptional hearing
  • Nuar: strong minotaurs with pale skin, a great sense of direction and an affinity for complex patterns
  • Reptoid: cold-blooded reptilians who can assume the appearance of specific individuals
  • Ryphorian: trimorphic elves who have adapted to the generations-long seasons of Triaxus
  • Sarcesian: large humanoids who can survive in a vacuum for a time, and grow glowing wings of energy in the void of space
  • Shobhad: large, four-armed, nomadic giants who are ferocious and quick
  • Skittermander: small, furry, six-armed humanoids with a cheerful disposition who love to lend a helping hand
  • Urog: large, crystalline magical beasts with meticulous minds, a lack of tact, and a resistance to electricity
  • Verthani: tall, long-limbed humanoids with black, orb-like eyes and skin capable of camouflage
  • Witchwyrd: terribly mysterious interstellar merchants with four-arms who are capable of absorbing force from magic missiles and launching them back at their enemies
  • Wrikreechee: amphibious, humanoid, filter-feeders who look like a mix between bugs and mollusks

Past the statistics for all those snazzy new aliens we come to arguably the most important part of the book: Appendix 1: Creating Races and NPCs. In Starfinder, monsters and NPCs–even those with class levels–are created differently than PCs. Within these fifteen pages you’ll find simple, easy to use instructions on how to make any kind of creature you can imagine. To use some options you’ll also need access to the Starfinder Core Rulebook, which shouldn’t be an issue, as if you’ve purchased the Alien Archive you probably own the Core Rulebook it already. And if you haven’t? Well, you really should! Haha.

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Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Alien Archive 2, due out in October.

My kids and I gave making monsters a try and found it very simple and easy to use. It makes use of a few handy charts, some simple templates and your creativity. That’s it, that’s all. For those of you more interested in the nitty gritty, I’ll give you a quick rundown. First: a concept. Figure out what you want to make and what CR. Next? Pick an array. That means deciding if it’s a combatant, expert or spellcaster. Then you look at the chart for that category. Each category has two charts for it, which give you the all the stats you need to make the monster. These numbers are the actual values you’ll be using, so you won’t need to do any calculations. These values include everything from ACs, and hp, to the amount of damage they’ll do with ranged and melee attacks. In addition, it lists how many extra special abilities they’ll be able to select later on.

Once you’ve got your stats you need to select your monster’s creature type from a list. Each of these will grant your monster a slight variation to its statistics, as well as a few other static abilities (typically related to its vision types, and innate immunities). For example, aberrations gain darkvision 60 feet, and a +2 to all Will saves, while fey gain low-light vision, +2 on Fortitude and Reflex saves, and a -1 to all attack rolls. Simple and easy. Once you’ve got your creature’s type applied, you pick out it’s subtype. Not all creatures will have one, but if they do, it will grant them some extra traits. Give your monster the cold subtype and they gain immunity to cold and vulnerability to fire. Give them the demon subtype and they gain immunity to electricity and poison, resistance 10 to acid, cold and fire, the ability to summon allies, and telepathy. Slightly more complicated than applying a creature type, but still easy.

What’s next? A class graft. Now, not all monsters will have a class graft, but many intelligent NPCs you make will. This is essentially a quick and easy way to give your creations access to class abilities. So, how does it work? First, you choose the class you want them to have, then you check out the class graft. This will have a requirement (for example, envoys need to use the expert array), a few adjustments (like which saving throws they get an extra bonus to, and which skills they’re best at), a quick formula for giving them equipment, and a helpful chart. On this chart you look up the CR you’re aiming for and check out which abilities you’ll be applying. Now, this isn’t the full class abilities, but rather a few of the best abilities, which the creature will be able to use. You’re not literally applying a whole class here, but just the selected items on this list. For example, if you’re making a CR 1 mystic, the chart tells you to select one first level connection power and one special ability. Pick those out and you’re done. If he’s instead CR 11, the chart tells you to select the first, third, sixth and ninth connection powers, mind link and telepathic bond. Done and done. Although not overly complicated, this is the most difficult step involved in monster creation.

Once you’re done with your class graft (if you’re adding one) you can choose to add a simple template. These are available later in the Alien Archive (in Appendix Three) and include choices like fiendish, giant and two-headed. These grafts are as easy to use as the creature type ones are, and take barely any time at all to add. There’s also some other templates found in the Alien Archive which can be chosen.

The next step is to select your monster’s special abilities. Depending on their array and CR they’ll have a number between one and four that they can choose from. In addition, some abilities are free. These abilities include things like feats, universal monster abilities, and statistic increases. You can also select abilities that show up in other stat blocks. If you’re like my son, you’ll want to make radioactive broken robots, so you could select an aura of radiation as one ability, the ability to shoot blasts of electricity as a second, construct immunities as a third, a vulnerability to critical hits (to represent their broken chassis), and have them self-destruct upon their destruction. If you’re like my daughter, you’ll want to make colossal sized flying space rabbits who shoot laser beams from their eyes, breathe fire from their noses and can survive in a vacuum. Yes, that’s seriously what she made. So pick up a breath weapon as your first ability, a ranged natural attack as your second, as well as immunity to cold, vacuums, and the no breath universal monster ability. This is also where you’ll decide what kind of attacks your monsters will use. Maybe the aforementioned radioactive robots have a slam attack with the stun critical ability, or perhaps their slams do bludgeoning and electricity damage. (My son’s pretty fond of both at once). And the flying space rabbits? Their bite attacks do piercing damage, and perhaps they can swallow you whole. But their laser beam eyes? Definitely fire damage.

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Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Alien Archive Pawn Box, which contains over three hundred pawns.

Once you’re done with the special abilities, you can select your monster’s skills. Your array chart already gave you the skill points you’ll have, and how many you’ll be good at, but now’s the time you choose which skills those will be. This is a simple step, and will be done in a flash. Then you’re onto selecting spells and spell-like abilities (if your creature happens to have them from a class graft or a special ability you’ve chosen). If it does you check out a simple chart to see what you’ll be adding by CR, make your spell selections and away you go. If you happen to be making a CR 2 creature with Spell-like abilities, they’ll have two 0 level spells usable at will, and two first level spells each usable once per day. If they instead are CR 16, they’ll have two third level spells usable at will, four fourth level spells usable three time a day each, and two fifth level spells usable once a day each. The chart works the same for spellcasting, but with different numbers. Again, only the most powerful spells will be added into your stat block. Your CR 15 creatures won’t have level one spells available, since they’ll be much more likely to use their third fourth and fifth level spells during battle.

And now it’s time for the last step: checking it over. Take a gander at your creation and make sure it lives up to your concept.

And you’re done! It may sound complicated, but it’s actually very easy to use in practise. Even my kids, who are only six and seven, managed to make something fun, balanced, and unique in a short amount of time.

Once you’re done with the first appendix you move on to the second, which focuses on summoning creatures. Much like the monster creation process, this six page section makes use of charts and grafts, although this is infinitely simpler and easier. Each time you gain access to a summon creature spell you select four specific creatures that you can summon. But what are the options? They’re awesome is what they are! Balanced, thematic and adaptable all at the same time. So what do you do?

First, head on over to the elemental statistics. These will be the base stats for all summoned creatures. The level of summoning spell you’re using determines which size stat block you’ll be using. Then, check out the charts and select what you’re summoning. Is it an aeon, agathion, angel or archon? An elemental? what about a protean, robot or shadow creature? Depending on what you choose it will allow you to select either an elemental or summoning graft which you can then apply to the creature. These grafts are simple and easy to use. And that’s it! You’re done. Get summoning. I, for one, can’t wait.

Which brings us on to our third appendix: simple template grafts. This is two pages of simples grafts, which I already mentioned when I spoke about creating monsters. In addition to their use for monster creation, NPC creation and summoned creature statistics, you can also use these templates to quickly alter existing creatures into new creations.

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Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Starfinder Core Rulebook

Past this is our fourth and final appendix, which focuses on universal creature rules. Here you’ll find a listing of the common abilities that the different monsters in the Alien Archive have, which also happen to be abilities you can choose to give your monstrous creations.

So what’s left? An index which sorts the creatures by CR for ease of reference, and an advertisement at the back of the book.

That’s it. We’ve come to the end of the Alien Archive.

And what did I think?

I highly recommend this book for players, even if just to have access to the plethora of fun races, but for GMs? This book isn’t recommended, it’s necessity. You need it for the monsters inside, and you need it for the monster creation rules. Lucky for us, this book is just awesome! I’m supremely happy to own it.

And now it’s time to say goodbye!

But before I go, I want to hear from you! What’s your favourite creatures and races from the Alien Archive? What have you made with it? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

Jessica

 

Starfinder Society Scenario Reviews: Half-Alive Streets and the Scoured Past

Today we’re going to take a look at the two most recent Starfinder 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 I recommend you check out a different article. Whether you intend to use them in home games of the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, sanctioned scenarios for use with the Starfinder Society Organized Play, or just want to read a nifty new adventure, we’ve got you covered! So sit back, and get ready to enter the Drift!

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Scenario #1-10: The Half-Alive Streets, a Tier 1-4 scenario for the Starfinder Society.

Scenario #1-10: The Half-Alive Streets is a Tier 1-4 adventure which takes place in Absalom Station. It has no scenario tags and does not feature starship combat. This lovely little scenario sends the PCs on a hunt throughout Absalom’s Freemarkets to track down the creator of a new series of biotech augmentations which the Pathfinder Society would like to make accessible to its agents. Unfortunately, the creator is unknown, and the only lead comes from a shady contact of the Society’s, Julzakama, a vesk pawnbroker first introduced in Quests: Into the Unknown. In addition to the wonderful recurrence of Julzakama, this scenario also involves AbadarCorp, and the shirrin Philt, so anyone who has played through Scenario #1-02: Fugitive on the Red Planet and earned the AbadarCorp Respect boon, will want to slot it for this scenario. There’s plenty of wonderful new faces in this scenario as well, including a ysoki pawnbroker named Dot, a vesk ‘barber’ who specializes in scale and horn detailing named Katazoa, a burly medicinals saleswoman named Isidre, a verthani technomancer named Chryson, and a halfling family in need of your player’s help. This tidy little mystery is great fun, and a has a bit of a horror vibe to it. However, its got a  bit of a horror vibe to it. It would definitely freak my kids out. Overall, I give this scenario four out of five stars.

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Scenario #1-11: In Pursuit of the Scoured Past, a Tier 3-6 scenario for the Starfinder Society.

Scenario #1-11: In Pursuit of the Scoured Past is a Tier 3-6 adventure which takes place on the library planet of Athaeum which constantly teleports throughout the galaxy. It is of utmost importance to the Second Seeker’s Faction (Luwazi Elsebo), and is strongly tied to the Year of Scoured Stars metaplot. In addition to Luwazi herself, this scenario also includes Royo (a ysoki who dislikes digital records) and Iteration-177 (and android member of the Apis Consortium), both of which are characters introduced in Scenario #1-05: The First Mandate. Anyone who’s earned the boon High Society Influence (Royo) should definitely slot it. New characters and organizations introduced include the axiomite Curators of Athaeum, and the Hellknight Order of the Pyre! Rife with wonderful roleplaying opportunities and a delightful cast of characters, this scenario is a blast! How can it go wrong? Right?! All in all it was a fun scenario, and certainly unique. The major downside is that it’s a relatively high-minded plot in this one, so if you’re just after a fun romp, or you’re playing alongside children, I would recommend a different scenario. Overall, I give this scenario three out of five stars. If you’re particularly interested in the Scoured Stars Incident, or a big fan of roleplaying (like I am) I’d increase the rating to four out of five stars. It should also be noted that there is a Mission Faction Note missing at the end of this scenario. This line has been copied from the Paizo website and is shared below:

“If the PCs succeeded at their primary mission, they further goals of Luwazi Elsebo in uncovering the truth behind the Scoured Stars incident. Each PC earns 1 additional Reputation with the Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsebo) faction, in addition to any other Reputation earned as a result of completing this scenario.”

 Thanks for joining us today on our exploration of the new scenario’s available this month. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about them as much as I have. Now it’s time to go out, join a game, and get playing!

Jessica

Gifts from the Stars!

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Starfinder Flip-Mat: Basic Starfield

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come on! You know you want it! Haha.

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

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

We’ll see you in the Vast!

Jessica

April Blooms and d20 News

Well, April’s here and that means rain and puddles and flowers all around. Or it should, anyway. Instead, we’ve got another cold snap and some snow where I live. But soon! Oh, SOON it will feel spring-like outside! Eventually…

Whatever the weather, Spring Break and Easter have just come to an end for us, and my kids are back in school. My son’s more than a little put-out with this situation, but my daughter’s thrilled to get back to Kindergarten and have some fun. Plenty has happened for us this past week, and it’s been more than a little busy. My daughter obsessively loves rabbits, so Easter is her favourite holiday. In fact, the only thing she likes better than Easter is her birthday, which also passed last month, so this time of year’s always a little bonkers. Aside from Easter events, egg hunts and dinners, we also took my kids to get their picture taken with the Easter Bunny at the mall, and tried to squash in enough time to pick up a gift for my kids. My daughter ended up picking out her own Easter gift when she discovered a children’s stuffed chair–that was a pink rabbit. She’s quite pleased with the gift, and sits in her rabbit chair constantly.

We had two opportunities to get some d20 gaming in this week, although we had hoped to get three in. This past Tuesday my kids sifted through their many, many, MANY characters and took a look at the adventures that each adventuring party was in the middle of or about to embark on. They decided to each pick a group and we’d play one on Tuesday, and the other on Friday. My son chose our aptly named ‘Jungle Characters’ while my daughter chose our much beloved ‘Goblin Characters’ who are about to finish up We B4 Goblins! (which is a FREE download and great fun, so you should definitely click that link! Haha). Deciding we’d start with the Jungle crew, I cracked out my old Dungeon Magazine, Volume #136, and we got right down to playing a modified Tensions Rising. Unfortunately, we ended up busy on Friday and didn’t have time to play our trouble-making goblins, but we did find time on Saturday to begin our second adventure with our Starfinder characters! We embarked on an important Wayfinders mission to Elytrio with Yesteryear’s Truth. Full details on our play sessions this week will appear in an upcoming post, but for now, just know that we had a ton of fun!

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Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Pact Worlds

In Starfinder news, Pact Worlds was released last week, which we’re itching to get our hands on in my house. Seriously. Even my husband wants that one! And today it just became sanctioned for Starfinder Society Play. Nearly everything in the entire book is an option. Now, if only I owned it… There were also two new Starfinder Society Scenarios released, which I did splurge on. Scenario #1-10: The Half-Alive Streets is a tier 1-4 mystery involving a lethal bio-tech augmentation that sets the PCs loose on Absalom Station. While Scenario #1-11: In Pursuit of the Scoured Past is a tier 3-6 that sends the PCs to the library world of Athaeum, where they’re on the hunt for information about the Scoured Stars Incident. Also joining you? Some Hellknights from the Order of the Pyre! How could it go wrong? Neither of these scenarios involve starship battles.

Later this month the volume five in the Dead Suns adventure path will be released: The Thirteenth Gate. Dead Suns begins with Volume One: Incident at Absalom Station, which I’ve found great fun. They’ve also announced the next Starfinder Adventure Path. For those of you who don’t know, Starfinder Adventure Paths are going to be of varying lengths. One six-part series, followed by two three-part series’. This means that once Dead Suns wraps up we’ll be treated to Against the Aeon Throne, which is a three volume series that begins at level one with The Reach of the Empire. This Adventure Path pits the PCs against the Azlanti Star Empire which I’m absurdly excited for! Afterwards we’ll get to play Signal of Screams, which begins at level 7 with The Diaspora Strain. I’m particularly interested in this one as it strikes me as a horror themed space adventure which is just AWESOME. I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path: Volume Two: Songbird, Scion, Saboteur

As for Pathfinder, the second volume of War for the Crown, Songbird, Scion, Saboteur has been on game shelves for a while, but volume three, Twilight Child, is due out later this month. If you’ve been reading my blog lately you’ll know that I’m super excited for this campaign, although I’m not yet lucky enough to own it. Last month Merchant’s Manifest came out, which admittedly, I’m not very excited for. But, later this month a sourcebook on the creepy nation of Nidal is released. Called Nidal, Land of Shadows, this IS a book I’m thrilled for. I’ve always been drawn to this ominous place and I can’t wait to see what they do with it. The Pathfinder Society has two neat scenario’s out this month. The first is Scenario #9-16: Fallen Family, Broken Name, which is a series of five one-hour quests that take place in Isger and revolves around the now deceased Irrica family who were said to command some kind of supernatural forces. Sent to discover this weapon and the family’s secrets, this scenario sounds like a lot of fun. Plus, if I’m being totally honest, I’ve never had the chance to play in Isger before. This scenario is intended for tiers 1-5. The second scenario recently released is Scenario #9-17: Oath of the Overwatched, which returns to the constantly cursed Blakros Museum and directly involves the Dark Archives faction. I’ve been a big fan of this series of scenarios from way back during Season 0, so I’m desperate to play this one! Intended for tier 5-9, this one’s going to be tricky!

In other news, my whole family’s been loving their play-by-post campaigns they joined for OutPost. My children and I finished one of the scenarios, Scenario #45: Delirium’s Tangle, over a week ago, and my daughter immediately set out to bring her beloved oracle, Lady Naysha into another adventure. She has since joined up in a game of Scenario #5-08: The Confirmation, alongside one of my husband’s new characters. Meanwhile, my son’s forgetful wizard, Fuzzzy, alongside his pet owl, Bobby, joined up to play Master of the Fallen Fortress, a free Pathfinder Module which is sanctioned for Pathfinder Society play. Lady Naysha and Fuzzzy were both previously introduced in this blog post. My character, Juno Berik, has yet to join another game. For those of you curious, our escapades in Delirium’s Tangle can be found here. My husband has had such fun playing his occultist Enzo in our still ongoing Black Waters adventure, that he made three new Pathfinder Society Characters. Toban Tangletop, an eccentric gnomish chef and inquisitor of Shelyn is joining Lady Naysha on her Confirmation; Ruslo, a roguish Varisian slayer who fights with a grappling hook and has a bone to pick with the Aspis Consortium is playing alongside Fuzzzy and Bobby in Master of the Fallen Fortress. And finally, Jeb Barlo, a water kineticist swamper from Wartle, has just begun to tackle Scenario #0-23: Tide of Morning. One of my Starfinder characters has also completed one of her OutPost games: Aurora Vim, a stylish and vain ysoki envoy with a chipper attitude and an ego bigger than a starship. Better known as Rora, this quirky little ball of fun just made a name for herself by tracking down a fugitive on Akiton and saving an entire town in Scenario #1-02: Fugitive on the Red Planet. To read about her adventures on Akiton, check out the completed gameplay thread, here.

And, in anticipation of Pathfinder Playtest, we’ve been reading Paizo’s previews of the new ruleset on their blog. Recent articles include information on critical hits, critical failures and a system that they’re calling the four degrees of success, and a rogue class preview. But, my personal favourite? The details they shared about those beloved pyros: goblins! Colour me intrigued, Paizo!

I hope, like us, your last week has been full of fun, and the glorious sound of rolling dice.

Until next time,

Jessica

Starfinder: Into the Unknown

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Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Starfinder Core Rulebook

I love the Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Starfinder Core Rulebook. But, I also didn’t want to leap right into Starfinder with my own custom adventures. I wanted to try out some published adventures first. Obviously, there’s not many options right now. There’s the Starfinder Adventure Path: Dead Suns (Part One: Incident at Absalom Station), which looks great, but I didn’t want to lock my family into a long campaign with their first characters. I wanted to do something short. Something that got started right away. That hopped right into the action!

So I turned to the Starfinder Society Scenarios–more specifically, Into the Unknown! Into the Unknown is the first of the Starfinder Society Quests. It’s a tier 1 scenario and is a free download on Paizo’s website. As a quest, it’s formatted a bit different than the other scenarios. Instead of being one four hour long adventure, its a connected series of five short one-hour long adventures. Each of these short quests forms one cohesive, wonderful adventure that feels much grander in scope than your typical scenario. These quests are meant to be played in order, and intelligence gathered in the first four quests can provide you with an advantage in the final quest. The adventure itself has got a bit of everything in it: fun social interactions, local combat, and starship battles. If you’ve read my reviews on the current Starfinder Scenarios which are available, you’ll know that Into the Unknown is one of my very favourites. So, it should come as no surprise that for my family’s first experience playing Starfinder, I picked up Into the Unknown.

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Into the Unknown, Starfinder Society Quests by Rob Lundeen.

But, first, we had a decision to make. We had made our characters for play in Starfinder, not specifically for the Starfinder Society. The rules for character creation are slightly different. Most noticeably for us, halflings are not legal for SFS play as of yet, and my daughter’s robot rabbit may not be strictly legal. After talking it out together, we decided to make our characters legal for SFS play, which required minor changes, and then play Into the Unknown for SFS credit. Afterwards, we’d reevaluate, and decide if we wanted our home campaign to continue as SFS legal, or we would retire from the Starfinder Society and continue on as a regular Starfinder campaign. So, after some fiddling, we set out Into the Unknown. For full details on our characters, check out my previous blog post, Starfinder: Character Focus.

My family spent some time deciding how well they knew each other. In the end, we decided that only one of them–my daughter’s ysoki, Hoponisa–was a Starfinder Agent. A member of the Wayfinders, Hops acts as a contact with a specific group of mercenaries–our other PCs: Tucker Aetherfoot (an operative played by my husband), Vishkesh (a shirrin mechanic with an engineering drone named Rijin, played by my son), and Aya (a kasatha mystic who believes each life if precious and worth saving). Together, Hops and her hired help travel the Vast, deploying drift beacons for credits at the behest of the Wayfinders Faction. After discovering new planets, collecting data on their environments, and deploying drift beacons, the group prepares a report on the planet for the Wayfinders, which allows them to better prepare proper Starfinder teams for further investigation. The mercenaries make some decent credits, and the Wayfinders get to expand their influence without using up valuable Starfinder resources and personnel. This allowed their characters to be allies–friends even–and ‘Starfinders’ without committing their characters to a lifetime of SFS. Thus prepared, we gathered our equipment and got ready to set out Into the Unknown!

Due to their backstory, our session began with a bit of preamble. The group arrived back in Absalom Station and turned their intel over to the Starfinders for some hard-earned credits. Their’s is not the only ship to go on such missions, there’s a few and they’ve formed something of a fraternity. They socialized for a few days in between missions with the other ships and crews, only to realize that one of their fellow Vast explorers, a fully sanctioned Starfinder vessel called the Unbounded Wayfarer, never showed up. This was odd, but not unheard of. Missions involving the discovery of unknown planets was always dangerous, and unforeseen circumstances often popped up which could delay ships by a few weeks. Surely they would run into them next time!

Unfortunately, Hoponisa has some bad news for them. After reporting her information on their last mission to her superior, Venture Captain Arvin, she was told to fetch her mercenary friends for a special mission involving the crew of the Unbounded Wayfarer! Oh, no!

This brought us to the proper start of Into the Unknown‘s first quest, Station, which begins with a briefing hosted by Venture Captain Arvin, of the Starfinders. Arvin’s a friendly lashunta, with brown skin and green hair. He was endearing, and the group seemed to like him quite a bit. However, this mission is urgent, and they have little time to spend interacting with Arvin at the beginning of this quest. Thankfully, Arvin makes many appearances in the current Starfinder Society Scenarios available, so I fully expect them to grow to love the guy as they interact with him time and time again.

More pressing for my players, was the purpose of the briefing. Arvin had just received word that a pawnbroker from the Downlow neighbourhood of Absalom Station had come into possession of some Starfinder Insignias. Insignias belonging to the crew of the Unbounded Wayfarer, who were quite late in reporting back to the Station! Worried, Arvin is dispatching the group to meet with the pawnbroker, a vesk named Julzakama, in order to purchase the Starfinder Insignias back and determine how he got ahold of them.   The price had already been negotiated, and the credits transferred. All that remained was to complete the deal. With hope, this intel could allow them to discover what happened to the Unbounded Wayfarer.

My players were so worried for their friends that they set to work nearly immediately, asking few questions of Arvin. They ascertained where Julzakama could be found and the name of his pawnshop (Julzakama’s Loans). They also discovered that some Starfinder Insignia are more than just badges and pins. Many hide secret information and can encrypt or decrypt information the the Starfinders would prefer to keep hidden.

Thus prepared, the group hurried off through the poor, densely-populated, Downlow neighbourhood in order to get to Julakama’s Loans. They found the place without difficulty, and entered the crowded little shop to look around. They found it stinky and crowded, and filled with relatively useless bits of junk, so they approached Julzakama right away.

Julzakama turned out be a lot of fun. My whole family–especially my kids–loved roleplaying with the swaggering, aggressive vesk. They saw through his attempts to con them out of some extra credits, and bargained for information on the seller of the insignias with aplomb. Soon, they discovered that the seller was a female named Exegara. She wore a flight suit, and had clearly come off of a long trip. Once she had her money she asked about purchasing clean skeletons and he directed her to the Vat Garden.

Vishkesh made a purchase from the store in thanks, before the group hurried out into the ‘streets’ of Downlow and made their way to the Vat Garden. Hoponisa let the others know that the Vat Garden was a flooded garden run by a family of ysoki. In addition to selling the plants they grow throughout Absalom Station, the ysoki also act as a mortuary for the poor, and accept corpses for fertilizer. My son, being a young environmentalist, decided that this was perfectly acceptable, and couldn’t wait for his character to meet the ysoki!

Once again, they found the Vat Garden without trouble. A multi-level, dynamic environment, packed full of dense plant-life and surrounded by catwalks, this location turned out to be a lot of fun. Upon arriving they heard people sifting through the garden and saw no signs of the ysoki family who owned the gardens. Worried, they spread out to cover the various ladders and stairs that led down from the catwalks into the garden, and snuck up on the occupants. Vishkesh sent his drone flying above the Garden, before Vishkesh himself called out to greet the people hidden in the garden. His reply was a shot from a laser pistol! Deciding that this was unacceptable, Tucker hopped out of hiding to get the jump on the shooter, while Hops and Aya descended into the garden from the other exits.

The battle in the Vat Garden turned out to be a lot of fun, but quite a challenge! My kids worried over the fate of the ysoki family the entire time. Aya took one heck of a beating, while Hops stayed out of the way and fired her laser pistol at the enemies. Tucker proved an invaluable asset, dashing around and making great use of his trick attack ability. Vishkesh’s drone fired his flare gun at the enemy from above, which helped draw attention to their locations. Vishkesh realized after his first shot with his flame thrower, that he probably should have invested in a different gun. Although it was wonderful shooting a line of fire through the plants at his well-hidden enemies, my son was very sad about the damage it caused to the plants! In the end they subdued a female ghoul–Exegara–and her hired mercenaries just as they were digging skulls and bones out of the wet, deep mud at the bottom of the Vat Gardens. Our Starfinder heroes had knocked everyone unconscious, including Exegara. Fortunately, they discovered a data pad upon her and managed to learn a great deal of information. Even if it was weird using a data pad made of bone, metal and necromantic magic! They decided that Eoxian technology was very disconcerting!

Turns out Exegara had recently joined the Corpse Fleet, a unit of violent renegades from the Undead planet of Eox that believe living beings are nothing but chattel and prey.  She sailed on a vessel known as the Endless Threnody. While travelling through the Vast they picked up a distress signal from the Starfinder ship, Unbounded Wayfarer. Following the distress signal to a desert planet surrounded by asteroids, the Endless Threnody found that the Unbounded Wayfarer had crashed. Although the data-pad made no mention on if any of the crew had survived, it did mention that they thoroughly looted the Starfinder vessel and acquired several treasures, including the Starfinder Insignias. From there, the Endless Threnody left the planet. But, before they could enter the Drift they were attacked by a ship called the Lawblight. Surprised and crippled, the Endless Threnody managed to escape into the Drift, but was promptly stranded within. Exegara took a smaller craft and was dispatched to Absalom Station for the purpose of acquiring the parts needed to repair the Endless Threnody. Unfortunately, she had to sell much of their treasure in order to cover the costs–the Starfinder Insignias included. Although the data pad did not include information on the location of the Unbounded Wayfarer, it did include the coordinates of the Endless Threnody within the Drift. If they could access the databanks of the Eoxian ship, they could discover the coordinates of their friends ship.

Hops, Tucker, Vishkesh and Aya were all upset by this news, and decided that they had to report to Venture Captain Arvin immediately. But first…

The station authorities arrived on the scene, led by four interesting ysoki. As the ‘cops’ took the mercenaries and Exegara into custody, the ysoki family approached the PCs to ask who they heck they were and what they were doing here.

My family had a blast roleplaying with these four quirky characters. Admittedly, it helped that I had images prepared for each of them, which is not contained within the module. So, they happily spent some time roleplaying with Grandma Gold, her sons Scum and Mix, and her grandson Spike. Eventually, they remembered the urgency of their mission, and bid the ysoki goodbye before hurrying off to the Lorespire Complex to report to Venture Captain Arvin.

With that, we immediately segued into the second quest of Into the Unknown, Adrift. This quest begins with another mission briefing, which was streamlined considerably for us, since we were moving right along with the action. Arvin thanked their characters for their hard work, lent them a Pegasus Model ship called the Loreseeker, and sent them off into the Drift to corner the Endless Threnody.

Here we took a break to talk about the rules and roles for spaceship combat, which promptly led to a large argument. Neither of my children, who were made to be awesome ship mechanics, wanted to fill the mechanic’s role. Both fought over being pilot for a while, with Vishkesh winning based on the fact that he took the Ace Pilot theme and  was a better pilot. My daughter begrudgingly took over the role of mechanic, being the only person left who was any good with it. Tucker took a spot as a gunner, and Aya took over as captain, being incompetent with all forms of technology and the only party member with any sort of social skills. Unfortunately, at the word ‘captain’ both of my kids got right back into arguing, this time over who got to be the captain, despite that they would both be horrible at it. In the end, we decided everyone had to assume the role they were best at and, for our next adventure, if they wanted to switch around their skills to fill other roles, they could do so. But for now, it was time to get going again. By then we were out of time for the day, so we took up playing Adrift the next day.

As our second session began, there was more arguing from my kids over their roles onboard the starship, but we got past it pretty quickly and the Loreseeker finally left Absalom Station. Travelling through the Drift, the trip took two weeks. My family had great fun describing their interactions during the trip and learning about the Drift. Soon, we moved along, though, and the Endless Threnody came within range of their sensors.

As an Eoxian made ship, the Endless Threnody proved quite an ominous sight. Made of bone, steel, and powered by necromantic engines, the ship featured a blood-red lens that looked a lot like an eye, staring out at them. The ship was open to the depths of space, making it impossible for anything living to survive unprotected. In a flash, the ships detected each other, and both fired up their defences. Our first starship battle was underway!

As our first starship battle experience, this fight was a little rough. Everyone was new to their roles and two of our players were under seven. The cheat-sheets that Into the Unknown provided were very helpful, but there was still a lot of referencing our Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Starfinder Core Rulebook, which slowed down the battle considerably. All in all, the experience was complex, but fun. Both of my kids decided they enjoyed starship battles, even if they didn’t enjoy their roles as much as they hoped. In the end the Loreseeker took down the Endless Threnody, and we launched into the third quest from Into the Unknown, Boarding.

Slowly, our players piloted their ship up alongside the Endless Threnody. They would need to board the creepy bone-ship and make their way to the bridge, where they could access the ship’s databanks and discover the location of their friend’s crashed ship. For obvious reasons, they approached with caution. Hops shifted roles from mechanic to science officer so she could scan the ship. They detected a harmful necromantic energy signature on board, and decided to dock at the rear cargo bay, in order to avoid the surges damaging their own ship. They ensured their armour was fully protecting them from the dangers of outer space–which is was–and then Hops cast life bubble on everyone–just in case! Finally, they approached, and Vishkesh deftly piloted the Loreseeker into position without damaging it.

After boarding, they found the Endless Threnody had artificial gravity, but was lightless, and was indeed open to space. In fact, if they were brave enough, they could actually reach their fist out through the gaps in the bone wall right out into the Drift. DISCONCERTING!

The PCs readied themselves for battle and began to explore the cargo hold. There they found a magical computer terminal which allowed them to learn a bit about the Endless Threnody, how it functioned, and mitigate the deadly necromantic surges by deactivating a few of the ship’s necromantic engines. The rest could not be accessed from this terminal, so they group left the cargo hold and set off down the bone and steel hallways to find the bridge. Unfortunately, the ship was not undefended. Although most of the undead aboard were destroyed by the ship battle, a few still roamed the halls! As the group spread out to find their way through a series of branching hallways which were within reach of the harmful necromantic power surges, the skeletons surged out at them.

This battle was tricky! The skeletons, coupled with the necromantic generator made for some tough mechanics. In addition, our party was split up. While Hop worked on shutting down the generators from inside the area of the surges, Tucker protected her. Meanwhile Vishkesh and his drone Rijin were left with the job of fighting the rest off! Vishkesh suffered heavy damage, and his drone was nearly destroyed! Luckily, Hops had good luck with the computer terminal, and managed to shut off the nearby necromantic engines, which put an end to the harmful surges (in this area, at least). This gave the group the edge they needed to regroup and turn the battle around. In the end, everyone survived the encounter against the skeletons and they PCs continued on to the Bridge where they hacked into the computer and transferred all the data they could to Hop’s computer. Armed with information on the Unbounded Wayfarer–their friend’s crashed ship–and on the Lawblight–the space pirate ship that disabled the Eoxian ship in the first place, the group quickly left the Endless Threnody.

Back aboard the Loreseeker, my family debated for a short time over the fate of the Endless Threnody. In the end they decided to destroy the ship, by turning their weapons onto it and blowing it up once and for all. As Vishkesh piloted the Loreseeker off through the Drift, Hop and Tucker got to work deciphering the data they had uncovered.

This brings us to the fourth quest of Into the Unknown: Salvage. Their recently recovered intelligence has revealed that the Unbounded Wayfarer crashed on a planet called Ulmarid in the Vast. Quickly, they reported to Arvin, and he responded by holographic message, urging them to continue on to the unexplored planet and discover what happened to the Unbounded Wayfarer. There they must rescue any survivors, and slot the Starfinder Insignias into the bridge’s computer console, decrypt the information stored inside, and bring all of the information back home to the Starfinders.

The group happily accepted their new mission goals and flew off through the Drift to Ulmarid. Sounds simple, but this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. Although Ulmarid was unexplored, that didn’t mean it was undiscovered. Previous landing groups had managed to discover some basic information on the planet. It was a desert planet wracked with fierce storms. In addition to weather, visitors would need to contend with the large number of dangerous, violent beasts who make the planet home. Beneath the surface are a network of artificial square tunnels with no discernible purpose. Finally, the approach was dangerous, as Ulmarid’s two moons collided ages ago, shattering into pieces that now orbit the planet in its upper atmosphere.

Despite the risk, my family was itching to finally get the chance to examine the Unbounded Wayfarer. And after a quick trip through the Drift they had reached Ulmarid.  After scanning the planet for extra dangers, which turned up nothing, the group decided to fulfill some character goals by deploying a series of Drift Beacons on Ulmarid. They chose three optimal deployment locations, with a location near the Unbounded Wayfarer as their fourth spot, and flew down to the surface. Vishkesh proved a capable pilot and they managed to deploy the beacons and get them online without trouble.

Finally, they landed on the surface, near the location of the Unbounded Wayfarer. The nearest safe landing zone was only a short distance away, but travelling between the two location proved harder than expected. A sudden storm overtook the group, raining down toxic crystals that could tear right through your flesh. Luckily, the group noticed before being pincushioned, and managed to take some precautions, preventing the toxins from affecting them too much with some special plant bulbs they were gifted by the ysoki from the Vat Garden back in quest one. Wounded, but not too worse for wear, they finally came within sight of the Unbounded Wayfarer. Unfortunately, intel from the Endless Threnody was spot on. The ship had crashed, and the Unfounded Wayfarer was a wreck.

Suddenly there was a rumbling, and the ground shook. A massive monster leapt from the sands and attacked. Known as a skreebara, this large burrowing beast had six legs, and a carapace of reflective crystals. Of all the battle featured in Into the Unknown, this one was the one I was most worried for. As a CR 3 challenge against only four level one characters, it would be tricky. Fortunately, Hoponisa noticed a massive starship gun still mounted on the back of the Unbounded Wayfarer, and hurried over to it, unleashing massive damage on the beast. Coupled with some good luck, the group came out just fine. And with that, they approached the wreck of their friend’s ship.

They were very saddened–my kids especially–to find that none of their friends had survived the crash. However, this wasn’t unexpected. They had already been picked over by an undead crew of people-eaters. So, with some tears (in character) they set about retrieving the classified data from the ship’s computers. Meanwhile, Tucker salvaged a bunch of valuable crystals from the dead skreebara’s corpse, and Vishkesh examined the ship itself, discovering that the Unbounded Wayfarer was in a fierce space battle before crashing, against a ship with weapons eerily similar to those that took down the Endless Threnody. Had the same space pirates that attacked the Corpse Fleet been the true cause of their friends deaths?

When there was nothing else they could do, they deployed their final drift beacon and headed back to their ship. All that was left was to pilot their ship back through the asteroids, reenter the Drift, and head home to Absalom Station.

Or was it?

On the way out of the asteroids, just as they were almost free of Ulmarid, a ship came into view. The Lawblight! The space pirates who had taken down not only a battle ship of the Corpse Fleet, but also been their death of their fellow Starfinders!

As the law blight flew out to ambush them, it’s captain hailed them, taunting them with their impending death in overly theatrical fashion.

“Yar! Beg for your lives before Captain Rook and the Lawblight blow you to bits!”

My kids responded by throwing up their shields and preparing for battle. The final quest, Lawblight, had begun!

With Vishkesh at the helm, dodging asteroids was easy, but the many guns of the Lawblight would be another matter entirely. Luckily for them, the vast amount of intel they had retrieved and discerned about this ship gave them an advantage.

This starship battle ran a lot smoother than the first. Not only had we already gotten the hang of starship combat from the previous battle, we’d all grown accustomed to our roles a bit. In addition, my children’s anger at these space pirates made them completely forget to argue over their roles on the ship. They were ready for vengeance!

The battle went easier than expected, and in short order the Lawblight was defeated. The Loreseeker had triumphed! With their mission finally complete, the PCs activated their Drift Engines and left Ulmarid behind, for Absalom Station.

As our first Starfinder adventure came to an end, they got a chance to see Absalom Station from afar. Venture Captain Arvin was waiting for them as they disembarked, with congratulations on a job well done. He offered them a reward, above and beyond their typical credits owed, and accepted a full report of their mission. Those PCs who weren’t official Starfinders were offered membership, and the previous Starfinder, Hoponisa, was gifted her own Starfinder Insignia as a reward.

We had reached the end of Into the Unknown and we had all had a blast. My daughter, especially, loved the entire experience. There were changes they wanted to make to their characters. And different roles on the starship they wanted to try out. But, they had had fun. Everyone decided they wanted to join the Starfinders–most specifically, the Wayfinders Faction–so they could continue their work deploying drift beacons as members of the organization.

But would we continue as actual Starfinder Society characters? Well, that was still up for debate! Although tempting, my daughter was keen to try making her own Starship instead of using the Pegasus or Drake model ships the Starfinders utilize.

What was certain? Our characters would all be back for more!

And next time? They would explore one of the newly discovered planets found in the Unbounded Wayfarer‘s databanks. That’s right! We’re going to tackle Scenario #1-03: Yesteryear’s Truth!

Thanks for tuning in!

We’ll see you in the Drift!

Jessica

War for the Crown: Player’s Guide

Well, it may be a little late (okay, more than a little), but the War for the Crown Player’s Guide has finally been released by Paizo. Meant to go with their War for the Crown Adventure Path, which takes place in the nation of Taldor, this player’s guide is a free download on their website. The War for the Crown Adventure Path is already underway, with volume one, Crownfall, released in February, and volume two, Songbird, Scion, Saboteur, released this month. The other four volumes have yet to be released.

Now, I’m not sure about all of you, but I’ve been supremely excited for the War for the Crown Adventure Path. However, purchasing that lovely little book isn’t in the cards right now, so I was ready to pounce on the Player’s Guide the moment it launched. And I waited…. And waited…. And waited….

But, now that it’s here! Was it worth the wait?

Uh, yeah, obviously. It’s awesome and it’s free.

Want more details? On it!

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War for the Crown Adventure Path, Volume One of Six, Crownfall

Like the Adventure Path Player’s Guides before it, this one is filled with all the information you need to create a character well-suited to the (War for the Crown) Adventure Path, and invested in its major plots and purpose. It contains advice and compiled lists of which classes and archetypes are best suited to the campaign.  It briefly describes the region that the Adventure Path will be taking place in (Taldor, in this instance), as well as the culture or cultures found there. It describes each races place in the region, and gives advice on which obscure races are more common there (I was pleasantly surprised to find Taldor contains a LOT!). It also releases a series of traits specific to the Adventure Path (called Campaign Traits), of which each character is expected to have one.

There was plenty of wonderfully, interesting information in this little guide, and I actually got a really great feel for Taldor from it. Not a clichéd stereotype of the nation, either. An actual feel for the place. It left me happily inspired. Although there’s lots of neat tidbits we could discuss here, I’m not going to go into details. It’s free! You might as well download it yourselves.

My favourite parts of the Player’s Guide were quite unexpected. The first was a wonderfully illustrated map of Taldor. It’s just… beautiful. I love it!

And the second? We finally got a good, clear view of Princess Eutropia Stavian, eldest daughter and only living child of Grand Prince Stavian III, ruler of Taldor. Who? The War for the Crown Adventure Path was not given its name without cause! The players are going to be acting as spies/diplomats/agents of Princess Eutropia herself as she maneuvers through a budding civil war in order to claim Taldor’s throne for herself. And her opponents? Not nearly as awesome as she is! Holy smokes! I knew a bit about her from campaign spoilers, namely that she wanted to change Taldor for the better, she supports reform, she wants to ensure that women could inherit (as currently in Taldor only men can), and wants to claim the throne for herself. I’m not sure what I expected, but the Princess Eutropia we got was not it! In a good way! She’s AMAZING. From her stats to her backstory, from her public attitude to her inner turmoil, and especially THAT ART, she literally blew me away. Never mind who her opponents are, I’m in, hands down. Call it! I support the Princess!

Seriously! Look her up.

But, it’s a Player’s Guide! It’s not about our patrons, or our country. Not at its core. At its beating heart the Player’s Guide is a free tool to help players like us make characters who will work well within the Adventure Path they’re going to commit to. It should inspire us to make characters, entice us with ideas, provide us with some cool traits, and let us go crazy. And this one did.

So after reading the guide, what would I make?

A good question!

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War for the Crown Adventure Path, Volume Two of Six, Songbird, Scion, Saboteur

There’s plenty of character concepts you could run with for this campaign, and a ton of classes that would work. Rogues and bards (from the Core Rulebook or the Core Rulebook (Pocket Edition)) as well as investigators (from the Advanced Class Guide or the Advanced Class Guide (Pocket Edition)) are the most obvious options, and probably the best suited to the campaign. But, I’m not one for optimization. I won’t play something just because it’s going to be the best or the most useful. It’s characters and quirkiness that I tend to enjoy most. So, I gave all the classes a lot of thought. I quickly narrowed it down to four classes that I was inspired to make. Yes, bard was one of them. I LOVE bards. Absolutely, positively, my favourite class. And although I’ve made plenty of bards, they all seem doomed to have their campaigns crash and burn and die. So sad. Which means that bard is once again a strong contender for class choice. I also adore occultists, and making one who utilizes ancient relics of Taldor sounds like a ton of fun. The third option I’m contemplating is the mesmerist. I recently had a chance to test one (finally) as a player for a Pathfinder Society Scenario and I just had a ball. I think mesmerist’s would be a great choice for this campaign. Both the occultist and mesmerist are from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Occult Adventures.

And lastly? The vigilante, of course! I feel that vigilante’s are a hard class to play. Not mechanically, but to actually use. At their heart they’re linked to one area or region (which not a ton of campaigns are) and they rely on keeping your two identities secret (which could be a challenge among certain parties, and even among players). Although I’ve been interested in them since their release in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Intrigue, I haven’t had opportunity to play one before. And War for the Crown seems like the PERFECT time. Honestly! Is there ever going to be a better chance than this campaign? I highly doubt it. How can I resist?

So, although mesmerist is a close runner-up, I’d play a vigilante for War for the Crown. But what kind? One that I’ve desperately wanted to play since it’s publication is the magical child. Yeah, yeah. It’s cheesy, I know. But my favourite show growing up was Sailor Moon. This archetype is literally my childhood dreams all rolled up into a spectacular little package! So, obviously I want to make one. But, it’s not the only vigilante archetype I’m interested in. The warlock is also cool. With the ability to hurl magical bolts or wield them in melee combat and up to sixth level spells at your disposal, I think this archetype would be a ton of fun. And finally, the psychometrist! This class gains the ability to use the focus powers of the occultist class, with implements you designed yourself. You get to be an master inventor, who utilizes awesome gadgets. How cool is that? All three archetypes are from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Intrigue.

In the end, it was the psychometrist that won me over. I’d probably play a clever woman… The daughter of an inventor or craftsman. She was married to a ‘like-minded’ man before her father’s death so that she could inherit her father’s business and home (through her husband). Unfortunately, her husband wasn’t as ‘like-minded’ as they thought. He sold the business, took over the house, and was generally a big jerk. Infuriated, she lobbied for change and reformation, making a public spectacle of herself, and gaining the support of many of the lower classes (or at least causing them to talk). In order to shut her up, she was given a government job tending to the plights of the commoners. It was office work, reading official requests for assistance and sorting them by priority and importance. Unfortunately, the department she was supposed to pass on her recommendations to, turned out to be completely un-staffed. It existed only on paper. Her job was useless! A sham! And her reputation? Ruined! Or was it? Using the complaints as a guide, and her father’s inventions (with a few modifications of her own), she took to the streets to help those in need. She would save Taldor one person at a time!

How about you? What character concepts and builds would YOU like to play for War for the Crown? I’d love to hear them!

Until then,

Get reading! You’ve got a free Player’s Guide to download!

Jessica



Update: All of the issues of War for the Crown are now available!

War for the Crown: Book One: Crownfall

War for the Crown: Book 2: Songbird, Scion, Saboteur

War for the Crown: Book Three: Twilight Child

War for the Crown: Book Four: City in the Lion’s Eye

War for the Crown: Book Five: The Reaper’s Right Hand

War for the Crown: Book Six: The Six-Legend Soul

Unleash the Wilds!

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Wilderness

There’s been exciting changes to the Pathfinder Society Organized Play this past week. On Wednesday, Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Wilderness became legal for play. So crack out your books, and calculating statistics, it’s time to make some Shifters! In addition to the Shifter class, there’s a ton of wilderness themed archetypes that became usable. Around 80 archetypes from the book are now considered legal, and nine of them are not (blighted defiler, blighted myrmidon, fiendflesh shifter, flood walker, rageshaper, raging cannibal, verdant grappler, wildborn and wild soul). Happily, all three of my favourites, the oozemorph, the season sage and the viking, made it into PFS. Nearly all of the familiar and animal companion options were made legal, as were all of the animal tricks (excluding mark territory). All but three of the spells were added to the additional resources document (with forest’s sense, grasping vine, and vine strike being the spells left out of play), making around fifty new spells up for grabs. Feats had nearly as good luck, with around a hundred feats sanctioned for play and only ten being left out (Cultivate Magic Plants, Expert Cartographer, Expert Explorer, Expert Salvager, Hide Worker, Mutated Shape, Natural Poison Antitoxin, Sproutling, Wild Growth Hex, and Wood Crafter are still not allowed). Nearly all of the miscellaneous character rules like discoveries and rage powers were made legal. All in all it’s an exciting, vast collection of new player options for us to tinker with. For full details on what’s become legal from Ultimate Wilderness for PFS Organized Play, check out the Additional Resources document on Paizo’s website and scroll down to the bottom.

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The sigil of the Scarab Sages, a faction of the Pathfinder Society whose relevance is coming to an end.

On a related note, another major announcement was made last week. The storyline of the Scarab Sages Faction has officially come to an end, although characters are still allowed to keep their Pathfinder Society Characters in the faction and continue earning their season goals. In it’s place we get a new faction, Concordance. As the only ‘nature’ or ‘wilderness’ themed faction, this group was a long time coming. The two main members of the group we’ve been introduced to so far were met quite a long time ago, with the janni Jamila being introduced back in the third PFS scenario ever published, #03: Murder on the Silken Caravan, and the gnome Falbis being introduced in scenario #3-05: Tide of Twilight. The actual leader of the group, Ashasar, was introduced in scenarios #8-12: Caught in the Eclipse, and #8-24: Raid on the Cloudborne Keep. The Concordance was first utilized in the Tyranny of Winds Trilogy, which includes scenarios #8-08: The Sandstorm Prophecy, #8-10: Secrets of the Endless Sky, and #8-12: Caught in the Eclipse.

 

Now, I mentioned that The Concordance is a ‘nature’ themed Faction, but this isn’t strictly true. They’re not some ring of tree-hugging druids, or animal-loving rangers. They’re concerned with keeping the elements, and the elemental planes, in balance. Although they’re typically involved in affairs on the elemental planes themselves, a group of the Concordance has recently established itself on the material plane, upon realizing that its home to many extra-planar rifts, wild magic, elemental surges and the like. More properly known as the Concordance of Elements, this group is ancient and diverse. Honestly, I think they sound awesome.

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The sigil of The Concordance of Elements, a new Faction joining the Pathfinder Society.

The Concordance wasn’t released on it’s own. It was also released with a society scenario which features the organization, and offers Pathfinders who play in it the chance to join the faction after playing it through to its completion (without cost or penalty). That’s pretty neat! Very rarely do you get the chance to test out a faction in this way, without committing.

 

The scenario itself, #9-14: Down the Verdant Path, was a lot of fun. I won’t get into the plot line too much, but know that it involves a bleached gnome, the First World of the Fey, and unnatural weather. Down the Verdant Path makes spectacular use of NPCs, both allies and enemies, and in addition to starring new characters it also features all three of the above-mentioned members of the Concordance Faction (Jamila, Falbis and Ashashar). They did a splendid job of bringing these characters to life in an engaging, fun way. Down the Verdant Path is a splendid tier 1-5 scenario, which I can’t wait to play in.

With who?

A member of the Concordance, of course! As to WHAT I’ll make her, I’m not quite sure. I’m contemplating an elf druid of some kind. I never make elves. Haha.

What are you waiting for? Unleash the WILD!

Thanks for joining us on d20 Diaries.

Jessica

 

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