Dead Suns Pawn Collection and a Trip Down Memory Lane…

Dead Suns Pawn CollectionWell would you look at this lovely package that arrived in the mail?!

Gorgeous!

I’m a huge fan of Paizo’s Pawn Collections, but it’s been ages since I’ve got my hands on a new set. Today that changes! It’s time to crack open Starfinder: Dead Suns Pawn Collection!

The Dead Suns Pawn Collection contains over a hundred pawns that include allies, enemies, monsters, and starships. The minis in this set are highly versatile, and definitely going to see some heavy use even after the campaign is over.

 

There’s a lot of awesome pawns in this collection, so narrowing down our favourites was tricky! Our favourite medium figures are the dwarf, Durovar Kreel, and the Downside Kings thugs. Both are incredibly versatile, easy to use, and look awesome. Our favourite large pawns are the whiskered renkroda, Ilthisarian, Gatecrasher, and scavenger slime. Why? They look like nothing else I own. Of the big pawns, I like the sky fisher a lot, while for ships I like the Crypt Warden, a ‘Batplane’-like Eoxian ship, and the Barrow Catacomb, which looks fierce!

Favourites

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why Dead Suns? It’s been out a while now. Surely I’d rather have Against the Aeon Throne or Alien Archive 2?

Our story begins back when Starfinder was new… The rulebook had just hit my hands and I was scouring it for character concepts and cool locations to adventure in. ‘Eww, bugs!’ I thought, ‘NOT playing a shirren.’ (My, how the tables have turned! I love those fellas!). I was excited to check out the first Adventure Path and see what the Starfinder Society would look like. So imagine my surprise when I realized the first adventure path would feature the Starfinder Society. Why would I want to adventure with them when I’m going to get a ton of that in the Starfinder Society? In short, I didn’t. A little disappointed I gave Dead Suns a cursory glance and decided to jump into the Starfinder Society with both feet.

It wasn’t a mistake. I adore the Starfinder Society, both it’s structure, low price point, and exciting adventures. 100% huge fan. But, later down the line when I was getting into the world of play-by-post gaming I was looking for some fun Starfinder games to join –– I was up to date with all the SFS scenarios at the time –– when I stumbled across a recruitment for the Dead Suns Adventure Path. I created a character, applied, and was accepted. We had some rough patches at first. Players arguing and some drop-outs. But the GM crafted a really detailed world for us to adventure in, and it showed. Unfortunately, we played together only a few months before the GM stopped posting, and my glitching, emotionless, android mechanic hung up her adventuring shoes. I was disappointed, of course. But, I was also hooked.

I loved Dead Suns.

So, a short while later, when my brother asked if I’d let him practise GMing a one-shot of Starfinder I hopped at the chance. I offered him one of my SFS scenarios to practise on, but he declined. He owned the first volume of Dead Suns and wanted to give it a shot.

I spent a solid week planning my character. There would only be myself and an NPC run by my brother, and we would only have a single afternoon to play together (while our kids ran around my house causing havoc), so it needed to be something easy to play, and have a personality or background I could capitalize on quickly. Something fun! Something crazy! With a race I couldn’t use in SFS.

I decided to make an ikeshti congregant who left Akiton to make her fortune. She could send her money back home to support her people and adventure for both excitement and coin. Simple motivations that would let her hop into the action. So how, exactly, would she make her fortune? Reality TV! My ikeshti, named T’kesh, would be a reality star known for hunting down exotic prey, cooking it, and eating it. Everything she didn’t eat she would craft into her own line of R2Es named after the episodes and dishes she created! She was a hunter, chef, and daredevil! I decided to call her show ‘T’Kesh: Killer Chef!’ I made her an operative with the explorer specialization. She fought with a knife, tactical pistol, and sniper rifle.

When I told my brother he laughed and decided to create his character to be her cameraman. A mystic lashunta who dreams of creating award winning documentaries, the poor guy was stuck filming my crazed ikeshti’s absurd hunting-cooking show.

Thus prepared we sat down to play. We only got a few minutes into the session before my daughter stuck her head up to the table. She was six at the time, and had only learned how to play Starfinder a week or two before. “Can I play, Uncle?” she asked.

“…Uh…. No, I don’t think so. I don’t have time to help you play today.”

My daughter gave him a pouty scowl and stayed there, stubbornly perched at the edge of the table with her eyes and nose just barely above the tabletop.

Soon the first fight broke out. “Can I at least roll something?” My daughter asked. “I can count, you know.”

My brother said no again, but I’m a sucker for including kids in RPGs. “Oh, let her roll something. She can grab a mini from your bucket and act like a bystander. You use an enemy stat block and she’ll just move and roll. It’ll be fine.”

My brother relented and my daughter peeked into the mini bucket. She found little droid mini from the Star Wars RPG and plopped it on the table. “This is Rabbot!” she announced grandly. “I am an SRO operative with the ghost thing! I will sneak around really quiet like a bunny! I have antenna on my head, and they look sort of like skinny rabbit ears! Also, I am your second cameraman! My eyes record pictures and sound like a camera and my tummy can turn into a stove.” She moved her mini onto the board. “Beep… bop… rabbot… Oh no…. what is with this… fighting…”

When it was her first turn she looked at the board and then looked up at my brother. “Does rabbot have a tactical pistol or an ‘az-ma’ laser pistol? I hope it is a laser one. They shoot way further.”

“Uh… sure. Laser pistol.”

“YAY!” she moved her mini around behind some cover then snuck up on top of a crate. “Trick attack with stealth!” she yelled, rolling her dice. Then she did her best robot voice. “Beep… bop… rabbot… eat this…” She fired her laser pistol, scored a critical hit, and spent the rest of the fight being an absolute rockstar. She was focused, remembered all her rules, and spontaneously created an adorable, thoroughly entertaining character.

When the game was done my brother left and my daughter grinned, “When do we play next, Mom?”

“We don’t,” I told her. “Sorry, baby. We were just playing Dead Suns that one time.”

“But, Rabbot is the coolest.” She gave me a pouty face then added in her best robot voice, “Beep… bop… rabbot… don’t let me… die…” She stuck out her tongue and closed her eyes, making a very silly ‘dead face.’

We didn’t have time to play another game at the table, so I had to say no. But, weeks passed, then months, and she never lost interest. Eventually, I buckled. Sort of. I told her we could all make characters and try Dead Suns out as a play-by-post. But, it would be up to all of us to take the time to write out our turns. She was absolutely thrilled and forced everyone in the house to get characters made. She insisted I keep T’Kesh, of course, and that she would play Rabbot. My son made a skittermander mystic with the xenodruid connection. He named him Skitt and decided that he tried to be a helpful cameraman too, but he was horrible! In fact, the only reason T’Kesh allowed Skitt on her team was through Skitt’s heavy use of charm person spells. Also, he could talk to animals. My husband gave it some thought and ended up making a space goblin operative with a supercomputer implanted in his brain. He named him Nubb, and decided he could act as an editor for T’Kesh: Killer Chef!

Yes, we had a mystic and a whopping three operatives. SUCH a balanced team (not). Surely this would turn out great…

We didn’t always have the time to post in our Dead Suns campaign, but we never stopped playing it. Just this month both of my kids insisted that their Dead Suns characters were their very favourites and they really wanted to bring Dead Suns to the table. So, we did some shuffling and carved out some time. Dead Suns would enter out weekly game rotation.

I didn’t need to pick up the Dead Suns Pawn Collection. A lot of the minis I already have from the Core Rulebook, Pact Worlds, and Alien Archive could cover what I needed. But, my kids really love Dead Suns, and I wanted to make it special.

Plus, did I mention I love Pawn Collections? What better excuse could I have to pick them up!? Haha.

Minis in hand and statistics transferred to proper character sheets, we’re ready to bring this game to life.

My daughter couldn’t be happier. This morning she looked at me with her big brown eyes and gave me a giant hug. “Thanks for not letting Rabbot die, Mom.”

Totally worth it.

 

Wayfinder 19: Destination Absalom Station

Wayfinder #19 CoverAs you may have heard, the latest issue of Wayfinder magazine was recently released. Wayfinder is full of fan-created content for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game or the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, and is a free download on Paizo’s website. Over the years they’ve made an astounding 19 issues of Wayfinder, as well as a Bestiary! Nearly every issue has a theme, with this latest one being Starfinder’s Absalom Station! So whether you’re a fan of fun, or a fan of free, I highly suggest you give this little gem a chance!

But, what’s inside Wayfinder #19? A lot! At around 72 pages for each issue, that’s a lot of free stuff! The articles inside offer new aliens, themes, equipment, and starships. In addition to player options, there’s plenty for GMs with adventure ideas, plot hooks, characters that can be used as allies or enemies, unique NPCs, and even a short adventure. Both players and GMs can make use of a ton of locations, personalities and gazetteers that are described throughout. To round things out there’s also songs, poetry, and fiction. And let’s not forget the awesome art!

Over eighty people contributed to this fanzine, from authors and artists, to directors and editors. My kids and I were both surprised and honoured to be among them this year. I submitted a ‘Weal or Woe’ article entitled ‘Victims of the Vat Gardens,’ as well as two themes, ‘Ghost Level Delver’ and ‘Scrounger.’ My seven year old daughter submitted ‘Galactic Rabbits’ and their smaller counterparts ‘Galactic Bunnies’ to the Alien Archive,  while my eight year old son submitted ‘Radioactive Robots.’   Both of my kids have been showing off their creations to their teachers and friends at school, which proved rather difficult. First they had to explain what Starfinder and Wayfinder are. Haha. We’re all very proud. Their favourite part? Getting to see the wonderful art that was created for their monsters!

But, enough parental bragging. Today we’re talking Wayfinder!

There was a lot that I loved inside Wayfinder #19. From player options and monsters, to fun locations and fiction, everything was really well done. My favourite player options were the many themes available, particularly the ‘Guttersnipe,’ ‘Laborer,’ and ‘Eyeswide Aspirant.’ I really enjoyed an article on the goblin hero-gods entitled ‘Blessings of the Barghest‘ by Joshua Hennington, with awesome art by Tyler Clark. There’s some really creative cortex options for mechanics written by Nicholas Flitter, which is sure to be a fan favourite. It’s accompanying art is by Paul Chapman.

If it’s gear you’re interested in, be sure to check out the ‘gloves of experience’ and ‘detective’s duster,’ magic items by Jonathan Hendricks. There’s also some snazzy new weapon properties, fast draw and low-velocity, by Adam Kessler and Nicholas Hite.

Starships. Some people love them and some people hate them. Most fall somewhere in between. Whatever your preferences I highly recommend you check out an advice article entitled ‘Making the Best of Starship Combat.’ The GM Guide, written by Hilary Moon Murphy, and the Player’s Guide, written by Brett Indrelee, are packed full of helpful advice for running and engaging in starship combat. This article alone is worth the effort of downloading the fanzine. It’s really great work. For those of you interested in more mechanical options, you’ll find many starships in this book, as well as crews and personalities to man them, and new build options. I particularly enjoyed an article on ‘Iceforged Ships’ by John Laffan with art by Beatrice Pelagatti. (You know you want to bring Winter Witches into space!)

There are a lot of cool new creatures inside Wayfinder #19, but my favourites (other than those my kids made!) turned out to be the trashbot, a CR 1 robot made of scrap, and the gelatinous z-sphere, a CR 3 ooze that can zip around even in zero-g. Oh, your poor low-level players!

My favourite campaign inspiration was an adventure seed entitled ‘The Show Must Go On,’ which was written by K. M. B. Kovalcik and features art by Todd Westcott. It involves skittermander pop stars who are in need of some help if they’re going to get to their performance on time. I also adored the many articles on Absalom Station itself, particularly ‘Ollie’s Option Bar‘ by Hilary Moon Murphy, and ‘Urban Myths of Absalom Station‘ by Alex Riggs.

Want less inspiration and more adventure? Check out ‘The Disappearance of Sector G17‘ by Paris Crenshaw, an adventure for 4–6 4th-level characters that tasks the PCs with tracking down an entire missing sector of the Spike. This adventure features art by Tanyaporn Sangsnit and maps by Alex Moore.

For more information on Absalom Station, be sure to pick up official Paizo products, Starfinder Core Rulebook, and Starfinder Pact Worlds.

Want some more Wayfinder? Be sure to check out their many, many other issues on Paizo’s website!

I hope you’ve enjoyed checking out the contents of the latest Wayfinder with me. If you happen to have contributed to it: Thanks! And if you’re thinking of applying for the next issue: I wish you the best of luck!

Have fun!

Jessica


Update: The topic for the next Wayfinder Fanzine is Starfinder: The Diaspora! Stay tuned for more information.

Dawn of Flame Adventure Path

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

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

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

The Sun? How can I adventure there?!

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

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

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

Dawn of Flame

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

Fire Starters

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

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

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

Soldiers of Brass

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

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

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

Brass Bazaar
The Brass Bazaar

Sun Divers

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

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

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

The Blind City

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

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

Solar Strike

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

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

Assault on the Crucible 

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

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

An Ending

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

“There’s no place you can’t go.”

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

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

Enjoy!

Jessica


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

December New Releases

December’s here and the weather’s getting colder, which means a there’s a whole pile of new d20 products for us to drool over! And so close to the holidays, too! Let’s hope Santa (or at least my husband) is reading this! Haha.

We’re starting out today with the classics: Dungeons and Dragons!

Recent adventures released by Wizards of the Coast include Dungeons and Dragons: Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, an adventure for levels 1-5; and Dungeons and Dragons: Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage, an adventure for levels 5-20! Both of these adventures are a hardcover book, and one of which has its own map pack: D&D Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage: Maps and Miscellany. Dragon Heist also has it’s own dice collection: D&D: Waterdeep: Dragon Heist: Dice Set. Other major releases include: the D&D: Core Rules Giftset! My personal favourite release? Dungeons and Dragons: Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica! This awesome hardcover mixes D&D with Magic: The Gathering’s most popular plane: Ravnica. As a fan of Magic: The Gathering, this was one book I couldn’t wait to get my hands on! So far, it’s delightful, but I’m not quite finished reading it yet. When I do you can expect further details here, on d20diaries! Supplementary products include: D&D: Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica: Maps and Miscellany, and D&D: Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica: Dice Set.


Next Up? Let’s take a look at my personal favourite: new releases for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game!

Last month brought us Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Construct Handbook (which is a wonderful book, by the way!), Pathfinder Player Companion: Martial Arts Handbook, and Pathfinder Adventure Path 136: Temple of the Peacock Spirit (Return of the Runelords 4 of 6), which I regret to say I don’t yet own! The Pathfinder Society brought us two challenging adventures which take us to Hell and the Abyss: Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-08: What Prestige is Worth, and Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-09: The Rasping Rebirth! Other releases include the War for the Crown Pawn Collection, Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Docks, and Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Warehouse.

The end of this month brings us a few more wonderful releases! Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Faiths of Golarion looks to be amazing! It focuses on some lesser detailed but very important gods of Golarion. Pathfinder Adventure Path 137: The City Outside of Time (Return of the Runelords 5 of 6) comes out. This is honestly the issue from Return of the Runelords that I’m most excited for. Also coming out after a slew of delays is the Pathfinder Module: Cradle of Night. This deluxe adventure is intended for level eight characters, takes place in Nidal, and heavily features Caligni — also known as Dark Folk — as allies that need your help! Super cool! The Pathfinder Society brings us two scenarios, as always. Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-10: The Shattered Shield is written by Leo Glass, is intended for tiers 1-5, contributes to the ongoing story of the Dark Archives faction, and takes place in Rahadoum. Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-11: The Hao Jin Hierophant is written by Jessica Redekop, is intended for tiers 5-9, and sends your PCs into the Hao Jin Tapestry where they’ll have to deal with both extraplanar and political hazards. Other releases include Pathfinder Flip-Tiles: Urban Starter Set, and Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Pirate Ship.


From Golarion we take off into the stars with new Starfinder Roleplaying Game releases! Whoo! I can honestly say that although Pathfinder is my favourite d20 game, I usually have the most fun reading Starfinder products. The entire team over there at Paizo is doing a great job!

This past month brought us Alien Archive 2, and the dark horror of Starfinder Adventure Path 10: The Diaspora Strain (Signal of Screams 1 of 3). Although I’ve yet to get this delightfully suspenseful book in my hands, I would love to give it a read. It sounds awesome! Definitely not one to play with the kids, though… Haha. The Starfinder Society releases last month were Starfinder Society Scenario #1-26: Truth of the Seeker, and Starfinder Society Scenario #1-27: King Xeros of Star Azlant. For more information on those two scenarios check out this previous blog post. Other releases last month included Starfinder Flip-Mat: Hospital.

This month brings us a few more releases. Starfinder Adventure Path 11: The Penumbra Protocol (Signal of Screams 2 of 3) continues the horror theme on the planet Verces. The Starfinder Society releases two new scenarios of vastly different tiers. Starfinder Society Scenario #1-28: It Rests Beneath is written by Jason Tondro, intended for tiers 1-4, is of particular importance to members of the Wayfinders Faction, and sends the Starfinders to explore a mysterious calcified region of a planet in Near Space.  Colour me intrigued! This scenario also includes the ‘vehicle’ tag, which is exciting! Starfinder Society Scenario #1-29: Honorbound Emissaries is written by Jenny Jarzabski, is intended for tiers 7-10, is of particular importance to the Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsebo) faction, and continues the Scoured Stars storyline. A bonus? I have a feeling this one features another cameo of the delightfully gruff vesk pawnbroker, Julzakama. I can’t wait! Also coming out this month is the Starfinder Critical Hit Deck, which features adorable artwork of skittermanders. I’m incredibly curious to see what’s up with these cards. Plus? They look awesome! Haha.


Sunburst Games Realms of Atrothia Legacy Races Revisited
Realms of Atrothia: Legacy Races Revisited

And that’s it! Or is it? This month also featured the release of Sunburst Games first Pathfinder Compatible product, Realms of Atrothia: Legacy Races Revisited. Written by my brother, this product is available from a variety of websites, and lays the groundwork for the upcoming Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion! Watch for the Kickstarter coming this February!

Like Realms of Atrothia: Legacy Races Revisited? Watch for the Kickstarter coming in February 2019, and get ready for a whole new world of adventure! 


That’s all for today! Got a favourite product you think I should take a look at? How about a favourite new release? Let us know in the comments!

All the best,

Jessica

 

Review: Against the Aeon Throne: The Reach of Empire!

Today we’re going to take an in depth look at Against the Aeon Throne: The Reach of Empire! So hop aboard and get ready to visit the Vast!

Against the Aeon Throne is a three part Starfinder Adventure Path that begins with Part One: The Reach of Empire by Ron Lundeen, continues with Part Two: Escape from Prison Moon by Eleanor Ferron, and concludes with Part Three: The Rune Drive Gambit by Larry Wilhelm. All together these three adventures should take your characters from level one through to level six. You can check out our previous articles on Against the Aeon Throne here: Against the Aeon Throne and Preparing to Rebel.

StarfinderCover
Against the Aeon Throne is an Adventure Path for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game. To play you’ll need a copy of the Starfinder Core Rulebook.

Against the Aeon Throne is a shorter campaign that most. Typically six books in length, this Adventure Path is only three. I think it’s a great change that will allow the folks at Starfinder to tell shorter, more personal stories. In addition, this three part length makes it easier to purchase and play through an entire adventure path. Also? It’s awesome for gift giving and the budget conscious! Six books is a huge investment, but three? Well, that’s a lot more manageable for those of us without much extra cash laying around.

So what exactly is Against the Aeon Throne: The Reach of Empire all about? In short, your characters will play as a team of allies or coworkers who run a ship together. The how and why of your meeting, and what kind of crew you are is entirely up to your players. Want to be a bunch of socialites on vacation? Go for it! A grizzled team of mercenaries? Sure! A ship of colonists ready to set down roots in a new home? Perfect! Or perhaps some criminals on the lam? Sounds good! Whatever you and your fellow players decide, your ship has been contracted by AbadarCorp to make a delivery of supplies to the fledgling colony of Madelon’s Landing on the planet Nakondis way out in the Vast. Upon making the delivery they’ll receive 4,000 credits as payment from the leader of the colony, a lashunta priest of Abadar by the name of Madelon Kesi. For GMs who want to go off script a bit, it’s incredibly easy to change the hiring organization from AbadarCorp to any other corporation or group you desire. Irrelevant of who hires you, your contact for payment will remain the same.

Of course, cash isn’t the only reason your ship is heading to Nakondis. In addition, all of your characters are friends (or at least had passing contact in the past) with an android known as Cedona who recently retired to the colony of Madelon’s Landing. How and why they each know Cedona is up to your players, but there’s also an awesome list of eleven different suggestions related to the different themes that are provided in the book.

As for your ship? Your players get to make it themselves before play. Awesome! For groups who don’t want to spend the time crafting their own ship, they’re welcome to select any premade tier 1 starship. Whatever ship they choose to create, this bad boy will be with your players throughout the campaign and they’ll have plenty of opportunities to improve it as they progress.

Like any good adventure, stuff happens! And The Reach of Empire is no different! When they reach Nakondis they discover something has gone terribly wrong on Madelon’s Landing! It’s clearly been taken over by some invading force! (Spoiler Alert: It’s the Azlanti Star Empire). But, before the group has a chance to investigate they’re attacked by drones! They’ll have to fight off the drones, find a safe place to land, and make their way on foot to Madelon’s Landing to figure out what’s going on, save the colonists, and oust the invaders!

But, before we get into that too much, let’s take a look at the book itself.

Against the Aeon Throne Reach of the Empire Ron Lundeen
Starfinder Adventure Path: Against the Aeon Throne: Book One: The Reach of Empire

Starfinder Adventure Path 7: Against the Aeon Throne: Part 1: The Reach of Empire is a softcover adventure written by Ron Lundeen that is 63 pages in length. It’s intended to take players from level 1 to level 3. The adventure itself is around 35 pages long, and split into three main parts: Nakondis Under Siege, in which the players fight or sneak their way through the wilds of Nakondis to Madelon’s Landing; Rebels of Madelon’s Landing, in which the players liberate Madelon’s Landing; and History Unearthed, in which the players head out to explore an ancient crashed starship where the remaining invaders are holed up. After the adventure there’s a seven page primer on Madelon’s Landing and the surrounding region, which is incredibly important for GMs. There’s also a new theme: the colonist. Past this there are four pages of information on new ship upgrades, systems, and weapons common to the Azlanti Star Empire, and four further pages of ship statistics and details. The Alien Archives are eight pages in length, followed by the Codex of Worlds, which is one page of information on the planet of Nakondis. Lastly, the inside front and back covers feature information and a layout for a tier two starship: the Vanguard Voidsweeper!

Before we continue with a more in depth look at the book, let me point out: there will be SPOILERS. Not huge ones. But spoilers none the less.

You have been warned.

For starters, I love the look of this book. I like the colours and the layout. The text inside is easy to read (which isn’t always the case in an Adventure Path). The cover art is wonderful. It showcases a major enemy in this book, Lieutenant Sharu of the Aeon Guard, as drawn by Anna Christenson. Behind her is an awesome image of Iseph (the iconic android operative) and Raia (the iconic lashunta technomancer) running through the streets of Madelon’s Landing as they fight off drones from the Azlanti Star Empire. Super cool!

The ship showcased on the inside covers is a Vanguard Voidsweeper. This tier two medium explorer starship is destined to be the final enemy the PCs face in this adventure. All in all, it’s a fast, maneuverable little ship, that packs some serious firepower. The art for the exterior looks a lot more generic than I expected — particularly when you take into account all the other awesome Azlanti ship artwork found later in this book. That said, it is a mass produced ship, so it’s not surprising. The map layout is simple, but useful. Much more streamlined than a lot of the ship layouts I’ve seen. I rather like it.

After that we hop right into the adventure itself. This adventure starts with a bang, and doesn’t let up. It’s action packed and exciting the whole way through. I really, truly, loved it.

As previously mentioned, The Reach of Empire begins when the players reach Nakondis only to be attacked by automated drones! The resulting starship battle should lead to your players defeating the drones, only to have them explode! Unfortunately this leaves very little information that the PCs can salvage from the wreck. What can they learn? That the drones were automated and belongs to the Azlanti Star Empire. For those of you who don’t know: that’s BAD news. In short, the Azlanti Star Empire is a massive militarized Star Empire that has a whopping three solar systems under their thumb. They think they’re the greatest beings in the galaxy, and everyone else is fit only to be their slaves. And all those planets out there? Well, clearly they should belong to the Azlanti Star Empire. Cause they’re the best and all.

Yeah, they’re giant, pompous, jerks. Great villains for the PCs to clash with, but an overwhelming opponent. Let me be clear: this adventure path does not send your PCs off to take down the entire Azlanti Star Empire. It’s much smaller in scale than that. And frankly? I love it. It lends a sense of suspense to the series and makes it feel like you’re playing real people in a living breathing world universe doing what they can, rather than heroes so powerful they change the whole world universe. It’s a wonderful change of pace and scope. It’s got a very Firefly feel to it. (And Star Wars too, obviously).

After defeating the drones your players will need to attempt to contact Madelon’s Landing, only to find that it’s under occupation by the Azlanti Star Empire! Soldiers patrol the streets, the landing zone is occupied by a strange building, and there’s a massive space cannon mounted on one of the buildings that could clearly shoot your ship down if you went too close. With no idea what’s going on, the players need to find and select a new landing site. Once they’re safely on the ground they need to set out for Madelon’s Landing on foot to find out what’s actually going on. Along the way they’ll travel through the permanently misty jungles of Nakondis, deal with hazardous wildlife (the delightful hobgar!), battle enemy soldiers from the Aeon Guard, and save a colonist who managed to escape. From this man, Jellik Fulson, they’ll finally get an understanding of just how bad things have gotten in Madelon’s Landing and what’s going on. Jellik begs the PCs for aid and happens to know a secret way back into the colony. If they’ll go with him he’ll bring them to a woman who he thinks will give them a place to hide. From there they’ll be able to gather information on the troop movements, make targeted strikes against the Aeon Guard, and do what they can to give the invaders a hard time, and the colonists more freedom.

Which brings us to part two of the adventure: Rebels of Madelon’s Landing. This is both the longest and the most fluid section of the adventure. In addition to the adventure text, GMs will need to make heavy use of the primer on Madelon’s Landing found later in the book. Basically, Jellik and the woman he brought them to — a junker named Aibretta Fulson (Jellik’s ex-wife) — can give the PCs information on the enemy forces, and ideas for what sorts of secret missions they could accomplish to weaken their hold on the colony, and give the colonists more freedom. These ideas run the gamut from freeing trapped hobgars and unleashing them upon the town, to ensuring everyone has enough water to survive, and ambushing patrols. As the PCs sneak around Madelon’s Landing and subtly strike back they’ll meet other colonists, who can in turn become allies and give the PCs more support, intel, and suggestions. However, their actions don’t go unnoticed. Depending how much of a splash they make the Aeon Guard takes notice and retaliates. This also leads to other events that the PCs will have to intervene in — or not. It’s a great, dynamic part of the adventure, which is filled with enough mini-missions and events to keep the game exciting and interesting. As an added bonus, such missions are short enough you can accomplish one or two each play session (at least). Of course, the Aeon Guard is incredibly powerful, so stomping through the town centre and having a giant throw down is a tactic sure to get your players killed. However, that shouldn’t be a problem. The adventure itself does an excellent job of setting this up as a time to use guerrilla tactics, and subtly. Blatantly calling out the villains all at once is unlikely to be a plan your players seriously consider. Only after the town itself is secure will they be able to enter the Aeon Guard’s base of operations, take down the remaining soldiers, and free the prisoners. Finally, Madelon’s Landing is free!

Against the Aeon Throne Escape from the Prison Moon Eleanor Ferron
Starfinder Adventure Path: Against the Aeon Throne: Book Two: Escape from the Prison Moon

Or are they?

Within the Azlanti base it becomes clear that they didn’t come to Nakondis just to annex some tiny colony. They came for something else. Something hidden in the nearby jungle…  To truly free Nakondis your PCs need to travel to the mysterious site and ambush the remaining Aeon Guard!

Which brings us to part three: History Unearthed. The PCs travel to the mysterious site through the jungle (there’s multiple modes of transportation to choose from), and discover that the Azlanti are exploring an ancient crashed starship. An AZLANTI ship. As they explore the wreck they’ll come to realize that the starship was in possession of an experimental starship drive theoretically much, much faster than Drift Travel. If the Azlanti Star Empire got their hands on this ancient engine and found out how to reverse engineer it the entirely of existence would be at their fingertips. They could conquer the Veskarium or the Pact Worlds! Heck, they could conquer both. Also, they’ll come to realize that their friend, Cedona, was one of the first colonists to explore this wreck and discover the experimental engine. To make matters worse? Not only is the engine already gone, but so is Cedona. The Aeon Guard has already moved them both off world for further examination and interrogation.

Final Battle Mark Molnar
Illustrated by Mark Molnar. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

By the end of this chapter the PCs will defeat the rest of the Aeon Guard on Nakondis, and know that they need to get back the experimental drive, and their friend, before its too late. Unfortunately, there’s one last obstacle to face before the PCs can zip off into the stars after the Aeon Guard. An enemy ship is approaching Madelon’s Landing! And it’s about to open fire! The PCs need to race back to the colony and take on the Azlanti ship, Barazad (the Vanguard Voidsweeper featuring on the inner covers), before it blows the colony sky high!

Hopefully they succeed…

Robot David Melvin Against Aeon Throne
Illustrated by David Melvin. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Which brings us to the end of The Reach of the Empire! It’s an exciting, fun adventure, which I thoroughly enjoyed. EXTREMELY enjoyed. It’s just… a ton of fun.

But, that’s not the end of Against the Aeon Throne, or the book. Up next, as previously mentioned, is the super useful primer on Madelon’s Landing. GMs will need to make extensive use of this primer to flesh out the rest of the town, and run the entire middle segment of the adventure. In addition, PCs who go off exploring on foot to get to the crashed starship will also make use of the information on the surrounding regions, which the GM will need to brush up on. Overall it’s an interesting, fun little town to adventure in. I rather enjoyed it. Plus it’s got lovely maps!

The colonist theme included in this book is pretty nifty. It grants a bonus to Constitution, while the theme knowledge makes survival a class skill and reduces the DC to identify average creatures using Life Sciences. Super useful. Later abilities allow you to protect more people than normal when finding shelter from weather, or feed more people than normal when living off the land. My favourite ability allows you to reroll a Fortitude saving throw made against disease, poison, or severe weather once a day.

Up next is a rather long chapter on the ships of the Azlanti Star Empire and their abilities. Now, I enjoy a good starship battle, but the ships themselves aren’t exactly the most interesting part of the game for me. I’m just not a person who’s into vehicles of any kind. That said, even I think this chapter was COOL. There’s a lot of neat abilities, systems, and weapons introduced, including stasis tubes, aeon stone based technology, drones (which give the undervalued Science Officer something cool to do!), autodestruct mechanisms, and — my personal favourite — hybrid starship weapons that allow you to control them with Mysticism. AWESOME. As for the ships themselves? They’ve got gorgeous artwork. I particularly like the Vanguard Comet, and the absurdly large Sovereign Vindicator.

The Alien Archive is up next, which is always one of my favourite sections of an Adventure Path. It contains seven new creatures, one of which is a playable race. and three of which are featured in the adventure itself. The creatures include: Carrion Dreg, a CR 4 undead monstrosity which has never looked grosser; Endiffian, which is a playable race of shapeshifters; Hobgar, a CR 1/3 blue monkey-like creature capable of shooting electricity that the PCs will come to know VERY well in this adventure (they’re awesome!); Mucilaginous Cloud, a huge CR 5 ooze; Azlanti Adjutant Robot, a CR 3 enemy they’ll face in the crashed starship; Synapse Worm, a small CR 2 vermin that tries to stun you before devouring you alive; and Thermatrod, a CR 3 creature that looks like a mix between a gorilla and an earth elemental, and vomits up lava. Cool! Personally, I like the hobgar and the synapse worm best.

Against the Aeon Throne The Rune Drive Gambit
Starfinder Adventure Path: Against the Aeon Throne: Book Three: The Rune Drive Gambit

Finally, there’s a short, one page Codex of Worlds entry on the planet of Nakondis. Despite its short length, the information contained therein is incredibly important to this adventure. It’s a must read for GMs.

And that’s it!

Against the Aeon Throne: Part One: The Reach of Empire has come to an end. I LOVED it. Seriously. Without a doubt I give it five out of five stars.

So where does it go from here?

Against the Aeon Throne: Part Two: Escape from the Prison Moon is written by Eleanor Ferron and intended for level three characters. In it, the PCs are deputized by the Steward (a galactic police force of the Pact Worlds) to secretly travel to the Azlanti Star Empire, rescue Cedona, retrieve the experimental Rune Drive, and get the heck out! They travel to the Azlanti Star Empire, visit an independent space station called Outpost Zed, and learn all they can of the prison moon Gulta that Cedona’s being held on. Then they’ll need to get there, get inside, free Cedona (and likely other prisoners), and flee the area. Awesome!
EDIT: You can read our review: Review: Against the Aeon Throne: Escape from the Prison Moon.

Against the Aeon Throne: Part Three: The Rune Drive Gambit is written by Larry Wilhelm and intended for level five characters. In it, the PCs head to a secret Azlanti science station in an asteroid where the Rune Drive is being held. They’ll need to get inside, infiltrate or fight their way to the Rune Drive, and learn what the heck it is. Then they’ll need to find a way to steal it. Along the way they’ll fight Aeon Guard soldiers, rescue captive scientists, and face off against the man responsible for sending troops to Nakondis in the first place! Awesome!
EDIT: You can read our review: Review: Against the Aeon Throne: The Rune Drive Gambit.

I can’t wait to get a chance to play Against the Aeon Throne with my family!

I hope you enjoyed taking an in depth look at the first volume as much as I did!

Until next time,

Jessica

 

Starfinder: Pact Worlds

Welcome back to d20 Diaries!

Today we’re going to be taking a look at Starfinder: Pact Worlds! This is one of the few Starfinder sourcebooks that’s available for purchase. It’s a hardcover book that focuses entirely on the setting of the Starfinder Roleplaying Game: the Pact Worlds. Information on the Pact Worlds first appeared in the Starfinder Rulebook, but this book expands it. A LOT. It features a multiple page description of each planet in the Pact Worlds solar system, a new theme for each, and a wealth of other information on the setting itself.

This article isn’t meant to be a thorough review or critique of Starfinder: Pact Worlds. It won’t replace the book (nor would I want it to!). It’s a quick breakdown of what’s found inside, and what I liked best in each chapter. It’s a collection of my favourites parts of the book, and some highlights. It’s here so that fellow gamers and fans can take a look and get a real feel for what they’ll get out of the book. Hopefully it helps you decide whether this product is right for you.

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

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Starfinder: Pact Worlds

Starfinder: Pact Worlds is a hardcover sourcebook 215 pages in length. It features awesome cover art by Remko Troost which depicts Raia (the iconic lashunta technomancer), Altronus (the iconic kasatha solarian), and Keskodai (the iconic shirren mystic) battling a tyrannosaurus-like alien on the planet Castrovel. The inside covers feature a nice image of the Pact World System (which is not to scale). Following that is the table of contents and the introduction: Welcome to the Pact Worlds. The introduction is four pages long and provides a lot of useful setting information. It talks about the mysterious Gap, the history of the Pact Worlds, as well as the system’s government, economy, culture, and universal time. There’s also quite a bit of information about the Stewards, which is a peace-keeping organization that enforces law and order through the Pact Worlds. They are independent of all planets, and technically serve the Pact Council, but their allegiance is first and foremost to the Pact Worlds themselves. The Stewards are free to refuse orders that violate the Pact or its citizens. I particularly enjoyed hearing more about this group.

pact worlds - player options

After the introductions we get into Chapter 1: Worlds. This section features an eight to ten page write up of each world in the Pact Worlds system (I use the term ‘world’ loosely). Each entry starts with a small image of the planet as seen upon approach and a gorgeous image of a settlement or location within that world. The entries feature information on each world’s geography, climate, residents, society, potential conflicts and threats, and a large number of notable locations found there. There’s also detailed information on at least one settlement, a map of that world (or region/space station/etc.), an image of an inhabitant (sometimes a general citizen, but other times an important figure), and a brand new character theme (complete with artwork). The artwork is consistently spectacular, and the maps are incredibly useful. The write-ups are surprisingly thorough — particularly considering the difficulty inherent in trying to describe an entire world in ten pages. That said, I found reading them in sequence difficult, as the locations on one planet started to get mixed up with the locations on other planets after I’d read a few different entries. And the themes? Really cool!

pact worlds - signing the pact
Signing the Pact from Starfinder: Pact Worlds

The first planet this chapter focuses on isn’t a planet at all. It’s the sun. The centre of the Pact Worlds. I loved this entry. It was unique and wildly imaginative. I particularly enjoyed the Burning Archipelago, a region made up of massive bubbles of unknown origin which contain climate-controlled, habitable areas. These islands within the sun are connected by a sort of energy tether, which special ships called linecrawlers can traverse. Obviously, Sarenrae’s faith is common here, and in addition to regular residents of the Pact Worlds one can also find fire elementals, salamanders, and other more exotic creatures. My favourite location on the Sun was the Floating Gardens of Verdeon, although I am very curious about what secrets the lashunta of Asanatown are hiding… The theme for the sun is called Solar Disciple, which represents characters who either honour or worship the life-giving light, heat, and energy of the sun. It grants +1 Wisdom, makes Perception a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about the sun, light, and sun-based religions. At sixth level they gain a bonus on Will saving throws against compulsions, at twelfth level they can channel fire damage dealt to them into their next fire-based attacks, and at eighteenth level they can meditate in the sunlight to regain resolve. Very cool!

The second planet examined (and closest to the sun) is the machine world of Aballon. Here androids, robots known as anacites, artificial intelligences, and innumerable other mechanical creations live, work, and toil as one. Every being has a place and a use in this world, and the governing Insight Array seeks to make life here efficient and purposeful. The only areas outside the reach of their Megaplexes are the ancient cities of the First Ones — the unknown beings who created the first anacites. I ADORED reading about the society of the anacites who make Aballon home. My favourite locations include Preceptum XIII, a megaplex run by a senile advanced intelligence; and Infinity, a holy site where anacites bathe in molten lead by day, and sit in contemplation in the cooled, hardened lead by night. Aballon’s theme is the Roboticist, which is my son’s favourite theme in this book. It grants +1 Intelligence, makes Engineering a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to identify technological creatures. At sixth level they can create technological equipment of a higher level than normal, at twelfth level they can repair constructs and starships more effectively, and at eighteenth level they can examine discovered technology to regain resolve.

aballon - leon tukker
Aballon by Leon Tukker
StarfinderCover
Starfinder: Core Rulebook

Up next is my daughter’s favourite planet: Castrovel! A land of steaming jungles, lush forests, eco-friendly cities, and nature preserves. This is the homeward of lashuntas (who live on the continent of Asana), formians (who live in The Colonies), and elves (who live in Sovyrian). Its fourth major continent is Ukulam, a nature preserve of immense size. My favourite locations include the Ocean of Mists (which is exactly what is sounds like), the continent of Ukulam, the elven settlement of Cordona, and Telasia: the Portal Grove, a magical transportation hub claimed by the green dragon Urvosk. The theme for Castrovel is called Wild Warden, which represents characters who live in the wilds. It grants +1 Wisdom, makes Survival a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about animals, plants, and vermin. At sixth level they are effective at using non-lethal damage with lethal weapons against animals, plants and vermin, and providing first aid to such creature with Life Science. At twelfth level they become master foragers, and at eighteenth level they can meditate in a natural setting to regain resolve. This is by far my daughter’s favourite theme.

The next planet in the Pact Worlds isn’t a planet at all, but a space station. That’s right! It’s Absalom Station! Home of the Starstone, the Starfinders, centre of Drift travel, and located in the place Golarion once stood. Chances are if you’re reading this you know at least a bit about Absalom Station. If there’s a capital of the Pact Worlds, this is it! Be sure to check out my favourite locations in Absalom: Eyeswide Agency (a group of psychic ‘holistic detectives.’ Dirk Gently, anyone?!?), Fardock (a mysterious magical arch that’s likely to kill you), Rig House (lair of the Lowrigger Gang), and the Ghost Levels of the Spike, which contain strange eco-systems, dangerous criminals, and the machinery that keeps Absalom running!  The theme for Absalom Station is called Corporate Agent, which represents characters who work for mega corporations. It grants +1 Charisma, makes Diplomacy a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about corporations and their executives. At sixth level they can quickly gather information from their contacts, at twelfth level they can use their connections to influence people, and at eighteenth level they can study and negotiate to the benefit of their company to regain resolve. Although this theme is neat, it’s not really one that caught me eye.

Leaving Absalom Station behind, we come to the desert world of Akiton, a dying planet where only the desperate still live. The native humans of Akiton have deep red skin and are known as hylki. Other races prominent on Akiton include contemplatives, shobhad, ysoki and, my personal favourite: ikeshti. There are a lot of cool places on this Mars-like planet, but my favourites are Ashok (a psychic amplifier located in a crater and populated by contemplatives), Bounty (a failed terraforming experiment that worked too well), Five Tines Fortress (an ancient flying citadel that was transformed into an amusement park by enterprising ysoki), the Utopia of Tivik (an abandoned company town that features its founder’s face everywhere), and Ka, Pillar of the Sky (the tallest mountain in the Pact Worlds and a mysterious holy site to the shobhad-neh). The theme for Akiton is called Gladiator, which represents… exactly what it says it does. Haha. It grants +1 Constitution, makes Intimidate a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about entertainment combat, fighting styles, and gladiatorial traditions. At sixth level they become famous, at twelfth level they can convince others to let them carry their weapons even where they’re not allowed, and at eighteenth level they can defeat a significant enemy in front of an audience to regain resolve.

Up next? Verces. Now, when I first read the Starfinder Core Rulebook of all the planets that were introduced it was Verces that most interested me. I couldn’t quite place why, but it definitely had me intrigued. Suffice to say I was really excited to learn more about this highly civilized, tidally locked world. I was not disappointed! Half of Verces is a sun-scorched desert, while the other half is a dark, frozen wasteland. The area between these regions forms a central ring known as the Ring of Nations, which is a series of cities all built side-by-side. The locals are known as verthani, and they have bulging mouse-like black eyes, elongated arms, and (many have) a plethora of augmentations. Other races commonly found here include humans, kasatha, rhyphorians, shirren, strix, and ysoki. Of the many cool locations, I recommend checking out Fastness of the Ordered Mind (a monastic temple in the cold of Darkside with surprising thematic ties to the religion of Zon-Kuthon), The River of Returning Joys (a massive travelling caravan festival that constantly journeys through the Ring of Nations), Lempro (a tiny independent nation inhabited by bloodless creatures called intis who adore riddles), and the Oasis Temples (planar breaches to the First World where fey we once worshipped in temples and lush plant-life grows). The theme for Verces is called Cyberborn, which represents characters who are augmented. It grants +1 Intelligence, makes Computers a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about cybernetic augmentations, procedures, and experts. At sixth level they can use their augmentations to regain stamina, at twelfth level they gain electricity resistance and improve their augmentations countermeasures, and at eighteenth level they can perform an amazing task with one of their augmentations to regain resolve. This is by far my husband’s favourite theme in the book!

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Starfinder: Alien Archive

Next to Verces is Idari, the amazing and beautiful homeship of the kasathans. Be sure to check out the Culinarium (a very fine cooking academy), the Red Corridors (where rebel kasathans are exiled to), and the Sholar Adat (where a section of deceased kasathans brains are ritually preserved and used to access their knowledge and memories! Awesome!). The theme for the Idari is called Tempered Pilgrim, which represents characters who are undertaking the traditional kasathan walkabout known as the Tempering. It grants +1 Charisma, makes Culture a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about cultural customs, and learn languages. At sixth level they are quick to make friends, at twelfth level they can take ten on checks to recall knowledge, and at eighteenth level they can participate in a cultural tradition significantly different than their own to regain resolve.

After that? The Diaspora, a massive asteroid belt made when the sarcesian homeworld was destroyed by Eox. It should be noted that sarcesians are one of my very favourite Pact Worlds races so I’m totally biased to love this place. In addition to sarcesians you can find a lot of space pirates, miners, and dwarves is the Diaspora. By far the coolest location in Diaspora is the River Between, a river that magically flows from one asteroid to another through space. Awesome. Other places worth checking out include The Forgotten King (an asteroid that looks like a 12 mile in diameter human skull made from some kind of ceramic and covered in strange runes), Havinak’s Vortex (a dangerous gravitational phenomenon which contains a protean space station), The Hum (a ship graveyard located around a strange section of space that creates a subsonic hum which causes ships to break and people to become erratic), Heorrhahd (a Dwarven Star Citadel), Nisis (an icy planetoid where sarcesians live in underwater bubble cities), and Songbird Station (a gorgeous Shelynite temple and concert hall). The theme for the Diaspora is called Space Pirate, which is intended for scoundrels who operate on the wrong side of the law. It grants +1 Dexterity, makes Bluff a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about black markets, smugglers, and space pirates. At sixth level they become better at hiding and hiding objects on themselves, at twelfth level they become better at fighting with a small arm and a one handed weapon, and at eighteenth level they can lead a raid or ambush in order to rob someone to regain resolve.

Right next-door to the Diaspora is the toxic planet of Eox, home to the undead. Some of the coolest locations on this dangerous world include Exantius (a new settlement created for non-elebrian undead who are tired of being oppressed), Grim Reach (a ghostly town full of phantoms from the past), Halls of the Living (a subterranean city maintained for the living in order to host reality television shows and cruel competitions), Remembrance Rock (an area littered with tombs and monuments to those lost during the death of Eox), and the Spiral Basilica (a Pharasmin temple). The theme for Eox is called Death-Touched and it is definitely one of my favourites! This theme is for characters who are mortal, but have long lived on Eox, or suffered through an event which could have tainted them with negative energy, or unlife. It grants +1 Constitution, makes Perception a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about undead and negative energy. For an added bonus you also use Perception to identify such creatures and effects, instead of Mysticism. At sixth level they gain a bonus on saving throws against a variety of conditions and effects, at twelfth level they become resistant to the cold, and at eighteenth level they can draw upon souls of the recently killed to regain resolve. Awesome!

Leaving behind the world of the dead we next visit Triaxus, a world with incredibly long seasons (it’s currently winter) inhabited by dragons, dragonkin, and a type of trimorphic elves called rhyphorians. Other races found there include elves, half-elves, and gnomes. I love this place! Who doesn’t? Some of the coolest places on the planet include Grenloch Lacuna Beach (a balmy beach resort and luxury vacation spot which is actually an elaborate virtual reality), Meruchia and Nusova (a pair of flying citadels), and the Sephorian Archipelago (a secret research facility). The theme for the Triaxus is called Dragonblood, which represents characters who have dragon blood coursing through their veins. It grants +1 Charisma, makes Culture a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about dragons and their culture. At sixth level they can terrify their enemies, at twelfth level they gain variable energy resistance, and at eighteenth level they can catalogue their wealth to regain resolve. This theme is awesome, and super thematic! I can’t wait to give it a try.

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Up next is the ringed gas giant Liavara and it’s many moons, each with its own races and cultures. Here the mysterious Dreamers sing riddles of the future while swimming through golden clouds, and outposts of foreign gas miners  plunder the planet’s natural resources. Roselight is Liavara’s major city, which floats the the skies and monitors the mining interests who seek to obtain Liavara’s valuable gases. My personal favourite locations are Etroas (an ancient city on the moon Melos whose citizens all vanished in a mysterious religious event known as the Taking), and Bhalakosti Excursions (a dangerous tourism company on the moon Osoro that brings adrenaline junkies into poisonous jungles for survival safaris — a Vesk hotspot!). The theme for Liavara is called Dream Prophet, which represents characters who can connect with the Dreamers and their songs. It grants +1 Wisdom, makes Mysticism a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to identify spells, and know about arcane symbolism and traditions. At sixth level they can cast augury, at twelfth level they can reroll a specific type of d20 roll twice per day, and at eighteenth level after failing a check that they rerolled they can meditate on the nature of prophecy to regain resolve. Although this is a cool theme, it’s not something I would play. It’s just not my cup of tea.

Beyond Liavara is another gas giant, Bretheda, a stormy planet with blue and purple clouds, surrounded by a large number of moons. Nicknamed ‘the Cradle,’ this planet is home to a ton of races, including the jellyfish-like barathu, haan, kalo, maraquoi, and urogs. There’s also a sizeable population of kasatha and lashunta. This article is particularly dense but, that said, it only had a few locations that really caught my interest. Be sure to check out Yashu-Indiri (a lifeless moon where a strange cult builds shrines to forgotten, dead, and lost deities — including many from Golarion), and the Grand Inza on the moon of Kalo-Mahoi (an underwater resort-city of luxury shopping centres).  The theme for the Bretheda is called Biotechnician, which represents characters who have installed biological augmentations in themselves. It grants +1 Intelligence, makes Medicine a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about biotech augmentations. At sixth level they can use their connections to get a discount on biotech augmentations, at twelfth level they can install extra augmentations in themselves, and at eighteenth level they can deactivate an installed biotech augmentation to regain resolve. Interesting!

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Starfinder: Alien Archive 2

Apostae is up next — an atmosphere-less planetoid inhabited by demon-worshipping drow. Safe to say it’s not a nice place to live. Other unfortunates who toil under the thumb of the drow houses and their weapons corporations are half-orcs, orcs, mongrelmen, and troglodytes. There are a lot of cool places on Apostae, including Crater Town (an independent settlement founded in an icy crater by a half-orc), Nightarch (a city built around a mysterious gate that leads to the planet’s interior), and Wrecker’s Field (a scrapyard). The theme for the Apostae is my absolute favourite in the book and is called Xenoarchaeologist, which represents characters who explore the ruins of lost civilizations. It grants +1 Intelligence, makes Engineering a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to identify rare and alien technology. At sixth level they become adept at noticing traps, at twelfth level they are masters of translating foreign languages, and at eighteenth level they can document an artifact from an unknown or ancient culture to regain resolve. This is AWESOME! Count me in!

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Apostae from Starfinder: Pact Worlds. Art by Leon Tukker.

The final planet in the Pact Worlds is Aucturn, a toxic, shifting, organic world believed by cultists to be the womb of a Great Old One. This place is nasty! It causes mutations, madness, sickness, and worse. It’s very Lovecraftian, featuring gugs, cultists, shogoth, the Dominion of the Black, and so on. Here, nothing is illegal or taboo, and even the darkest urges can be indulged. There are a lot of interesting (and gross!) locations on Aucturn, but my favourites turned out to be Amniek (a city led by a group of midwives who are trying to birth a foul godling from the nearby Gravid Mound), Citadel of the Black (a massive, half-full settlement ruled by Carsai the King, high priest of Nyarlathotep), Endless Throat (an organic feeling hole in the ground that has no end), The Fury Place (a forest filled with a mist that drives people to rage — curiously records show it once caused lust, and before that lethargy), and Master’s Maze (a man-made maze of canyons that can only be solved from within). The theme for Aucturn is called Cultist, which actually represents a character who is an ex-cultist (or at least says they are…). It grants +1 Constitution, makes Disguise a class skill, and it’s theme knowledge makes it easier to know about secretive religions and cults. At sixth level they become adept at infiltrating and impersonating members of a cult, at twelfth level they can reroll a saving throw against diseases, drugs, and poisons, and at eighteenth level they can speak about your time in a cult to regain resolve.

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The Drift from Starfinder: Pact Worlds

With the last of the gazetteers on the planets of the Pact Worlds behind us we’ve already gone through over half of the book. Up next is Chapter Two: Starships. This section begins with some information on the Drift, and then launches into a small array of new starship options. The most interesting options are created for the Xenowarden’s biomechanical ships, but there’s also a few mainstream options like launch tubes, and a brig. I think the Aballonian data net is also really cool. There’s two new starship weapon special properties: burrowing and spore. After that there’s a trio of three new premade ships for different organizations. Three each for Aballonian ships, Hellknight ships, Iomedaean ships, Vercite ships and, my personal favourite: Xenowarden ships. The artwork for the Iomedaean Cathedralships is particularly gorgeous.

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Iomedian cathedral ship from Starfinder: Pact Worlds.

Up next is Chapter Three: Supporting Cast! This section starts with a few sentences of information on a bunch of different factions and organizations, including AbadarCorp, Android Abolitionist Front, Augmented, Corpse Fleet, Knights of Golarion, Starfinder Society, Stewards, and the Xenowardens. After this there is a wide array of NPC stat blocks tied to a theme. Each theme is two pages long, has three different stat blocks of different classes and challenge ratings associated with it, a paragraph of ideas on how you could use (and alter) these stat blocks, and some sample encounters to run with the stat blocks. The themes explored in this section are cultists, free captains, hellknights, mercenaries, security forces, and street gangs.

Up next is the final chapter in the book: Chapter Four: Character Options. This section starts with six new archetypes. The Arcanamirium Sage, who is an expert at using magical items; the Divine Champion, who serves a deity and can unlock divine powers; Skyfire Centurion, warriors who forge a bond with their teammates; Star Knight, a highly adaptable class that can represent warriors of holy or unholy orders (including hellknights); Starfinder Data Jockey, who is an expert with computers and data retrieval; and Steward Officer, a diplomatic peace-keeping military officer. I really liked the Divine Champion and the Star Knight, but I think the Data Jockey is likely to see the most use. It’s awesome.

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Starfinder: Armory

After the archetypes there eight new feats (including the highly adaptable divine blessing), four pages of new weapons and weapon fusions, two pages of new armour and armour upgrades, two pages of technological items, two pages of magic items, two pages hybrid items, and four pages of new spells (check out control atmosphere!).

The last seven pages of the book turned out to be my favourite. They introduced six new Pact Worlds races. What can I say? I’m a sucker for playable aliens! The races include the shapeshifting astrozoans, who have no known history and look like blobby starfish (if they tried to stand). Also, they have eyeballs for elbows and knees! Cool. There’s also winged strix (a familiar face from Golarion), and bantrids who — let’s face it — look like giant noses. These quirky fellows roll around on a sort of ball they have on their base and (ironically) have no sense of smell. The borais are living races who either refused to die (despite dying) or were tainted by negative energy or undeath before they died. These people came back and are now a unique form of undead. There’s also khizars, the awesome plant-people of Castrovel and my favourite of the new races. The final race? SROs, which are basically robots that are fully sentient. My daughter ADORES them.

And that’s it! The end of Starfinder: Pact Worlds. I hope you enjoyed taking a closer look at the book with me today, and that this helped you decide whether Pact Worlds is right for you. I know I love it!

Jessica

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The Pact Worlds System

Against the Aeon Throne

Against the Aeon Throne Reach of the Empire Ron Lundeen
Against the Aeon Throne: Book 1: The Reach of Empire by Ron Lundeen.

The Dead Suns Adventure Path has officially come to the end and I am thrilled for what’s coming next! It’s a rapid paced, Star Wars inspired campaign that pits the ‘little guys’ against the powerful militaristic Azlanti Star Empire: Against the Aeon Throne! This is the second Starfinder Adventure Path, and this time around they’re shaking up the format. For starters, it’s going to be a monthly release from now on. Also? It’s only three parts. This change is temporary, and will allow them to tell shorter, more diverse stories, with a more focused narrative. Against the Aeon Throne should take you to level six. It will be followed by another three-part Adventure Path, Signal of Screams, which is a delightful space horror that will begin at level seven. I know, right? Exciting. If you’re not ready to stop playing your characters after Against the Aeon Throne you can always pick right back up with Signal of Screams. After this they will go back to the six volume format for the fourth adventure path, Dawn of Flame, which happens on the sun! After Against the Aeon Throne comes to an end be sure to give Paizo your feedback. They’ll want to know if you like these changes, or prefer the six volume format.

But, enough about the future! Let’s hear about Against the Aeon Throne!

Against the Aeon Throne Escape from the Prison Moon Eleanor Ferron
Against the Aeon Throne: Book Two: Escape from the Prison Moon by Eleanor Ferron.

This new Adventure Path begins with Against the Aeon Throne: Book 1: The Reach of Empire. It’s written by Ron Lundeen and is intended to bring your characters from level 1 to 3. Your players will be creating characters hired to transport some much needed supplies to a new colony (named Madelon’s Landing) of just over a hundred people that was founded a few months ago on a planet in the Vast called Nakondis. This world is wild, and constantly shrouded in mist. Still, a pal of yours decided to move there, so paying them a visit is the least you can do. Besides, what could possibly go wrong? Right? Haha. Upon arriving you discover that the Azlanti Star Empire has conquered the colony! Your players must liberate the colony from the villainous Empire. But the Azlanti weren’t only interested in the colony. They were after something else: an experimental starship drive from an ancient ship that crashed on Nakondis long ago. To make matters worse, your friend is nowhere to be found. They’ve been taken! But why? In addition to the adventure itself, this issue features an article on the planet of Nakondis and the new colony of Madelon’s Landing. It also has a new theme: the colonist, a host of ships found within the Azlanti Star Empire (including drone fighters, and even ships that allow you to use mysticism and computers checks in new ways!). There’s also new creatures, of course: the carrion dreg template, the mucilaginous cloud, Azlanti adjutant robot, synapse worm, thermatrod, endiffian playable race and, my personal favourite, a simian creature known as a hobgar.

Against the Aeon Throne: Book Two: Escape from the Prison Moon is written by Eleanor Ferron and is intended to bring your player’s characters from level 3 to 5. Thanks to their efforts freeing Madelon’s Landing from the Azlanti Star Empire, the PCs have been deputized by the Stewards (a group of space police) and are on their way to rescue their friend. Not an easy task! They’ll have to enter the Azlanti Star Empire and figure out a way to break into a massive prison moon. They also get to visit a new space station. The articles in the back include information on the Azlanti Star Empire, some new gear, information of the many races and species that the Azlanti have conquered, and details on an Azlanti prison guard spaceship.  There’s also some new creatures, including a radioactive dragon and a plant that snubs its nose at gravity (or would if it had a nose…).

Against the Aeon Throne The Rune Drive Gambit
Against the Aeon Throne: Book Three: The Rune Drive Gambit by Larry Wilhelm.

Against the Aeon Throne: Book Three: The Rune Drive Gambit is the conclusion of this adventure path! It’s written by Larry Wilhelm and is intended for fifth level characters. Now that your PCs have rescued their friend they have to retrieve the starship drive the Azlanti retrieved from Nakondis. To do that they’ll need to find and break into a science laboratory, steal the engine, and get back to freedom. They also get to figure out why it’ so important and face off against the mastermind behind the attack on Nakondis. In addition to the adventure this issue also comes with ideas for continuing the campaign, an article on the Stewards, full details on a luxury Azlanti spaceship, and some new creatures (including fey and an aberration).

Against the Aeon Throne looks like its going to be an exciting change of pace that’s fun and personal. The shorter length is definitely going to appeal to some fans, including my husband and children. I can’t wait to strap on my laser pistol, make a rebel, and throw a wrench into the plans of the Azlanti!

Fire up the engines! It’s time to head into the Drift!

Want to know more? Check out the AWESOME trailer Paizo released for Against the Aeon Throne. My kids and I just watched it and they are literally bouncing up and down in excitement! Nice job, Paizo!

Jessica


UPDATE: For a more recent look at Against the Aeon Throne check out this blog post: Review: Against the Aeon Throne: Reach of Empire!