Pathfinder Playtest 1.2!

The Pathfinder Playtest is changing again. That’s right, it’s time for some more rules updates!

This week marks the second set of changes to the Pathfinder Playtest rules. Be sure to head over to Paizo’s website and download version 1.2. But that’s not all! You’ll also need to download the new character sheet! It’s been edited to conform with the new rules, and been shuffled around a bit. I rather like the new layout.

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

This update document is eight pages long, with the last page dedicated to the open game license and other fine print. It includes all of the updates to Pathfinder Playtest (from the first and second updates). This means that you only need to have the most recent version of the update document, not all of them. Any new additions to the update document are in bold. Although it sounds simple, it’s actually quite hard to differentiate between regular text and bold text in the document, so look closely!  Rules updates are split into four types of rule changes: New Rules Updates, Critical Updates, Other Updates, and Doomsday Dawn Updates. Despite being ranked by importance, it’s imperative you begin to use all of the new rules immediately.

As for the rules themselves, we won’t get into specifics. The document is free and does a better job of explaining things than I ever could. The biggest changes you will notice this time around are with signature skills. They’re gone. Poof. Vanished. No longer does your class restrict which skills you can become Master or Legendary with. Instead, anyone can become Master or Legendary in whatever they want — if you’re willing to invest in that skill of course. I’m a big fan of this change, so I’m happy they went this route. This change affects a lot of other aspects of the game. Some feats are now irrelevant, and others were modified. The text throughout the book has to change a lot. There’s other skill changes you’ll notice as well. Each class is automatically trained in a certain skill, and many classes have more skills they’re trained in to start with.  More nice updates, if you ask me!

There’s some other fun changes. Bards now have a feat that lets them gain 10th level spells. The range on their soothe spell has also been changed to 30 feet. Some of the spells granted by domains are different now. And the barbarian animal totem can now use weapons — as long as they’re NOT raging. There’s some other barbarian updates as well, so be sure to read closely!

This is just a taste of the changes. There’s a lot more updates. Changes will continue to occur over time so your feedback is incredibly important.

Feedback? What feedback?!

Pathfinder Playtest Doomsday Dawn
Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn. Also available as a free download on Paizo’s website.

Surveys. When you’re done playing any part of Doomsday Dawn, the Pathfinder Playtest Society Scenarios, or just playing in general, head on over to Paizo’s website and fill out one of Paizo’s many surveys. Paizo goes through that feedback and makes changes. That’s right! Constantly over this next year they’ll be combing through your survey responses and adapting their rules for the playtest. It sounds like these changes will occur approximately bi-weekly, but don’t quote me on that. Not only do your responses provide Paizo with a large pool of data that they can use to decide the future of the game, it also lets them find out all kinds of nifty little bits of information.

At the moment, you can fill out surveys on a variety of adventures. Each of the Pathfinder Society Scenarios has it’s own trio of surveys: player survey, GM survey, and general feedback survey. Doomsday Dawn originally launched with access to three surveys, all for the first part of the adventure: The Lost Star. (Again, a player survey, GM survey, and general feedback survey). Surveys are now also available for the second adventure in Doomsday Dawn: In Pale Mountain’s Shadow, and the third adventure in Doomsday Dawn: Affair at Sombefell Hall. Further surveys for the later adventures in Doomsday Dawn will be released in the future. There’s also some general feedback surveys available. Soon you can expect to see new surveys on more general topics.

Now, if you haven’t filled out your previous survey on the Lost Star, or In Pale Mountains Shadow, don’t worry! It’s not too late. All of the surveys will be available until the end of the year, and will be revisited by the Paizo team regularly. You haven’t missed your chance to contribute.

Let us know what you think of the new changes in the comments!

Until next time,

Jessica

Playtest
Farewell old character sheet! It’s time to make some changes!

 

September New Releases

Secrets of Roderics Cove Adam Daigle Return of the Runelords 1
Pathfinder Adventure Path: Return of the Runelords: Book One: Secrets of Roderic’s Cove by Adam Daigle.

Last month was a busy one, with some awesome new releases, but also some delayed products. Fans of Starfinder were treated to the Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Armory, Starfinder Flip-Mat: Asteroid, Starfinder: Dead Suns Pawn Collection, and two awesome Starfinder Society Scenarios: #1-20: Duskmire Accord 9, and #1-21: Yesteryear’s Sorrow. Fans of Pathfinder were finally got their hands on the finale of the War for the Crown Adventure Path: War for the Crown: Book Six: The Six-Legend Soul! There were Pocket Editions released of Ultimate Combat and Bestiary 5, and three amazing Pathfinder Society Scenarios: #10-01: Oathbreakers Die, #10-02: Bones of Biting Ants, and #10-03: Death on the Ice. There were also a lot of map releases, with Pathfinder Flip-Mat Multi-Pack: Forests, Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Watch Station, Pathfinder Flip-Tiles: Dungeon Starter Set, and Pathfinder Flip-Tiles: Dungeon Perils Expansion. They also released the Ultimate Wilderness Add-On Deck for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.

Of course, there was also a wide array of Pathfinder Playtest releases including the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook Updates, Pathfinder Playtest Bestiary, Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn, Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack, Character Sheets, Tracking Sheets, Pregenerated Characters, and three Pathfinder Playtest Society Scenarios: #1: Rose Street Revenge, #2: Raiders of Shriekers Peak, and #3: Arclord’s Envy. All of these products are available as a free download on Paizo’s website!

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

Because of the recent website outages over at Paizo, shipment of their newest adventure path volumes were delayed a bit, meaning plenty of subscribers didn’t receive their copies until the start of this month, as opposed to the end of last month. That means that this month there is a WHOLE LOT of Adventure Path Volumes coming out! Both Starfinder and Pathfinder are launching new Adventure Paths. Pathfinder takes us back to Varisia with the highly anticipated Return of the Runelords! It begins in Return of the Runelords: Book One: Secrets of Roderick’s Cove, and continues on later this month/the start of next month with Return of the Runelords: Book Two: It Came from Hollow Mountain . This campaign looks like a ton of fun! It’s going to take you all the way to level 20, and pits you against not one, but all five of the remaining Runelords (or their minions)! For more information on the Return of the Runelords, check out my recent blog post: Return of the Runelords. As for Starfinder, they’re shaking things up with a special three-part adventure path that starts with a bang and just keeps the excitement coming! The Against the Aeon Throne Adventure Path pits your players against the Azlanti Star Empire, a massive tyrannical governing body that controls a whopping three solar systems! Your players will be taking on the role of some rebels who are out to help a friend, and cause some trouble for the Empire. Although they won’t be taking on the entire Azlanti Star Empire, they get some good licks in and get out safe and sound (hopefully). This adventure path feels very Star Wars themed to me, and seems very personal and exciting. It begins with Against the Aeon Throne: Book One: The Reach of Empire, which is already out, and continues at the end of this month with Against the Aeon Throne: Book Two: Escape from the Prison Moon! For more information on this adventure path check out my previous blog post: Against the Aeon Throne.

It Came From Hollow Mountain Mike Shel Return of the Runelords 2
Pathfinder Adventure Path: Return of the Runelords: Book Two: It Came from Hollow Mountain  by Mike Shel.

While we’re on the topic of adventures, let’s take a look at what else is on the agenda this month, shall we? War for the Crown Poster Map Folio comes out, which features three poster-sized maps for use with the War for the Crown Adventure Path. The maps are of Oppara, the capital city of Taldor (which is also where the adventure path begins in War for the Crown: Book One: Crownfall, and ends in War for the Crown: Book Six: The Six-Legend Soul), Meratt (a Taldan county featured in War for the Crown: Book Two: Songbird, Scion, Saboteur), and the nation of Taldor itself. There’s also the new Pathfinder Module: Cradle of Night coming out.

Pathfinder Module: Cradle of Night is an adventure that was outlined, worked on, and written by, a large number of people including Wes Schneider, Neil Spicer, James Jacobs, Greg Vaughan, and Ron Lundeen. It’s an awesome sounding adventure intended for level eight characters which will be around 64 pages in length. Of course, it’s also cursed! This poor thing has been perpetually delayed. With an original release date of last year, it was bumped to a January release, then mid 2018, and has finally shown up on the soon to be released products page. Preorder begins now (again), and hopefully will be out in a month or so. The adventure itself takes place in Nidal and begins when a refugee Caligni from the Darklands comes to the surface for help! He needs someone to save/stop his people from releasing darkness upon the world and bringing about the rebirth of a “shattered god.” It moves from Nidal, down into the Darklands, includes a lot of information on the origins of the Caligni peoples (darkfolk), and the Shadow Plane. Plus, it just sounds epic! Curious who the “shattered god” is? So am I! Haha. I’m particularly excited that this book will allow me to make use of my Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Nidal, Land of Shadows sourcebook!

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 by Eleanor Ferron.

There are two Pathfinder Player Companion books out this month, Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes from the Fringe, which presents a look at a lot of non-human, unique character options. Examples of this include the Ekujae elves of the Mwangi Expanse, and Pahmet dwarves of Osirion’s deserts, and many more. The part I’m most excited about? Whimsical phantoms for spiritualists! Come on, you know you want to be haunted by a chipper gnome ghost! I’m very intrigued with this product and can’t wait to see what’s inside. There’s also Pathfinder Player Companion: Plane-Hopper’s Handbook, which is a great tie-in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Planar Adventures. It provides a host of new player options and equipment for characters who traverse the planes, including new eidolon subtypes for the unchained summoner, alternate race traits and favoured class bonuses for extrapljnar raves (like ganzi!), and some archetypes. I’m definitely curious what’s inside!

There are a wide variety of maps out this month. Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Wizard’s Dungeon, Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Desert (which is very usable), Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Seedy Tavern, and Starfinder Flip-Mat: Ghost Ship! Whoo! And that’s not all! There’s also the release of the Pathfinder Flip-Tiles: Forest Starter Set, which I am very curious to give a look see.

Heroes of the Fringe
Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes from the Fringe

And the product my son is most excited for? Pathfinder Flip-Tiles: Dungeon Decor Pawn Collection! This product contains a ton of set dressing, from fireplaces, curtains, and bookshelves, to windows, stairs, doors, and statues! There’s a ton of useful bits and bobs in here. It’s very similar to the previous release Pathfinder Pawns: Traps & Treasures Pawn Collection. My son has officially added both to his Christmas list. Haha.

Finally, this month sees the release of two Pathfinder Society Scenarios, and two Starfinder Society Scenarios. Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-04: Reaver’s Roar is a tier 7-11 scenario of special importance to the Silver Crusade faction, which tasks you players with retrieving a relic of the Shining Crusade from it’s guardians. This mission could get complicated, as it sounds like you’re not the only ones after the relic. Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-05: Mysteries Under Moonlight, Part 1: Testament of Souls is a tier 3-7 scenario which takes place in Magnimar and revolves around the mysterious corruption of some of their monuments. This scenario is the first of a two part series which concludes with Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-07: Mysteries Under Moonlight, Part 2: The Howling Dance. I’m a huge fan of Varisia and its many eclectic cities, so I’m pretty excited for this one!

Plane-Hopper's Handbook
Pathfinder Player Companion: Plane-Hopper’s Handbook

Starfinder Society Scenario #1-22: Protectorate Petition is a tier 1-4 scenario that tasks the players with traveling to a planet in Near Space to determine whether the alien ‘copaxis’ should be granted protectorate status in the Pact Worlds. You’ll have to visit their planet, review their claims, explore some ruins, learn some history, and decide whether or not these guys deserve to join the Pact Worlds. Starfinder Society Scenario #1-23: Return to Sender is a tier 5-8 scenario which is a direct sequel to the special Starfinder Scenario #1-99: The Scoured Stars Invasion! Its of particular importance to both the Exo-Guardians and the Dataphiles. Your players will have to take a stolen spaceship into enemy territory and complete their objectives without getting caught. If they’re successful they’ll enable the Starfinders to launch an offensive against the jinsul empire! This is going to be awesome!

And that’s all for this month! I don’t know about you, but I’m most excited for the Return of the Runelords, and Against the Aeon Thrones Adventure Paths!

Jessica

 

Pathfinder Playtest: Ever Evolving

The Pathfinder Playtest is ever evolving. You download (or purchase) the rulebook, make your characters, and play. Maybe you play one of the adventures from Doomsday Dawn, maybe you play all of Doomsday Dawn. Maybe you play one of the Pathfinder Playtest Society Scenarios (#1: Rose Street Revenge, #2: Raiders of Shrieking Peak, #3: Arclord’s Envy). And maybe you play a custom adventure. When you’re done you fill out one of Paizo’s many surveys. Paizo goes through that feedback and makes changes. That’s right! Constantly over this next year they’ll be combing through your survey responses and adapting their rules for the playtest. It sounds like these changes will occur approximately monthly, but don’t quote me on that. We’ll have to wait and see. What is certain, is that their first update to the Pathfinder Playtest rulebook is already here.

Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook
Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook is available in print or as a free download on Paizo’s website.

Right now.

So what’s different?

First off, head over to Paizo’s website and download the update document. Then give it a read. The update document is five pages long (the final page is the OGL), and is split into four types of rule changes: New Rules Updates, Critical Updates, Other Updates, and Doomsday Dawn Updates. Despite being ranked by importance, it’s imperative you begin to use all of the new rules immediately.

As for the rules themselves, we won’t get into specifics. The document is free and does a better job of explaining things than I ever could. The biggest changes you will notice are to death, dying, and the rules surrounding it. No longer can you be dying while conscious, which is wonderful. The updates make use of the slowed condition, which I think is going to be an improvement. We’ll have to see how that plays out. Another major update includes some alchemist changes. For starters, your special alchemist abilities (Quick Alchemy and Advanced Alchemy) no longer specify that they must be used with common formula, so if you unlock an uncommon formula throughout the course of your adventures you can still use it with your special abilities. In addition, they gain training in one extra skill, and the number of formula that alchemist’s start with has been clarified. Turns out the number is eight. Four from your formula book and four from the alchemical crafting feat. (Note to self, update my daughter and my alchemists…). Also, all classes are proficient with unarmored defence (which means you’ll still get a bonus to AC even if you’re unarmored). Bards gain an extra spell known to start, druids get training in one less skill, rangers can choose Strength or Dexterity as their key ability score, stabilize has been changed, bastard swords deal slashing damage (they were erroneously  listed as piercing damage, haha), recognize spell has been adjusted (to fix counter spelling), and don’t worry: the bag of holding has been fixed! This is just a taste of the changes. There’s a lot more updates. Four whole pages worth! So put on your thinking caps and get reading. (Wow, I really hope they put out an updated copy of the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook that includes these changes. Once they put out a second update document, referencing it for changes is going to be painful! Haha).

Changes will continue to occur over time so your feedback is incredibly important. Not only does it provide Paizo with a large pool of data that they can use to decide the future of the game, it also lets them find out all kinds of nifty little bits of information. For example: most played race so far? Human. Most worshipped deity? Cayden Cailean. Class that died the most? Cleric. Number of people who chose to worship Asmodeus? Three. Not three percent. Nope. Just three.

Pathfinder Playtest Doomsday Dawn
Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn is available in print or as a 
free download on Paizo’s website.

At the moment, you can fill out surveys on a variety of adventures. Each of the Pathfinder Society Scenarios has it’s own trio of surveys: player survey, GM survey, and general feedback survey. Doomsday Dawn originally launched with access to three surveys, all for the first part of the adventure: The Lost Star. (Again, a player survey, GM survey, and general feedback survey). Just the other day they released a second trio, all for the second adventure in Doomsday Dawn: In Pale Mountain’s Shadow. It is incredibly important that if you complete the survey on In Pale Mountain’s Shadow you us the new, updated rules! Further surveys for the later adventures in Doomsday Dawn will be released in the future.

Now, if you haven’t filled out your previous survey on the Lost Star, don’t worry! It’s not too late. All of the surveys will be available until the end of the year, and will be revisited by the Paizo team regularly. You haven’t missed your chance to contribute.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my daughter and I have to select some extra formula for our alchemists.

Jessica

 

Pathfinder Playtest Scenarios: Reviews

Pathfinder Playtest RulebookToday we’re going to look at Pathfinder PLAYTEST Society Scenarios and tell you what we thought. Currently, there are three of them available as a free download on Paizo’s website, so if you don’t have them yet you might as well pick them up! Each scenario is replayable. You may create your own characters for the intended tier (either created as level one for a tier one scenario, or created as level five for a tier five scenario). Unlike regular Pathfinder Society Scenarios, you do not need to earn enough XP to reach higher levels for the Playtest. If you don’t want to make your own characters, you can also head over to Paizo’s website and download the Pregenerated Pathfinder Playtest characters. All you’ll need to run these three scenarios (other than your characters) is the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook and the scenarios themselves. Each scenario is intended for groups of FOUR players (unlike regular PFS Scenarios which are intended for six) although each contains easy ways to scale up encounters for larger groups. Although you’ll find references to events in each that I liked or disliked, and comments about specific characters, these scenarios are not explored in detail. It’s not my intention to spoil the events in these scenarios, or give summaries and full reviews, but to share my opinions and provide recommendations. Once you’re done playing or GMing any one of these scenarios, be sure to head over to Paizo’s website and fill out a survey about your experiences. This will be used by the Paizo team to make the Pathfinder Playtest the best that it can be.

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

Pathfinder Playetst Society Scenario 1 Rose Street RevengePathfinder Playtest Scenario #1: Rose Street Revenge is a Tier 1 adventure written by Leo Glass, Thurston Hillman, Joe Pasini, and Linda Zayas-Palmer. It includes three short quests which can be played in any order, followed by a fourth quest which can only be played after completing at least one of the first three quests. Each quest should run between 40-60 minutes in length. Each quest you complete before heading onto the final quest will give you an advantage in the final encounter, so I highly recommend completing all three before heading to the final quest. Plus, it’s just more fun that way. The entire adventure takes place Absalom, although each quest is set in a different neighbourhood. Neighbourhoods featured include the Docks, Puddles, Precipice and the Sewers. For more information on Absalom you can check out Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to Absalom and the Inner Sea World Guide. Venture-Captain Ambrus Valsin begins the adventure by explaining that there’s serial killer on the prowl stalking the recently liberated slaves of Absalom! The killer’s actions have been sensationalized by locals and they’re now known as the ‘Rose Street Killer.’ The latest victim is a Pathfinder, and so Ambrus is sending your PCs out to investigate. He gives the group some fun player hand-outs, each of which contains a different lead. Then he sends you on your way. There’s time to rest between investigating each lead, which is nice for a change. Also, it should be noted that this entire scenario makes excellent use of sidebars to relay important aspects of the rules in a way that’s helpful, easy to understand, and is NOT overwhelming. It’s wonderfully done.

The first quest in Rose Street Revenge is entitled ‘Snippets‘ and is written by Joe Pasini. In this quest you’re tasked with investigating the Bloody Barbers, a thieve’s guild known for robbery, smuggling and murder. If they’re not guilty, they’re likely to know details about the murders, as they’re very well-informed. If you can find them, of course. This quest utilizes Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: City Streets and takes place in the Docks district. It was enjoyable, and had an interesting surprise which I’ll refrain from mentioning. It allows players to make use of a wide array of skills in order to obtain information on the Bloody Barbers (WAY more than I imagined would be helpful) which is really nice to see. Surprisingly, this quest can be accomplished without violence (although most groups are likely to get into a fight). I quite enjoyed it.

The second quest in Rose Street Revenge is entitled ‘Dragons‘ and is written by Thurston Hillman. In it you are to meet with a liaison from the ‘Sewer Dragons’ kobold tribe (longstanding allies of the Pathfinder Society). Your job is to find out if the killer has been utilizing the sewer systems — which is the territory of the Sewer Dragons. The liaison offers to give you whatever help they can as long as you help them oust a rival kobold tribe (the Dragon Sharks) that is encroaching upon their territory! You get to head into the sewers and fight alongside your kobold allies against the enemy. This scenario is a LOT of fun. It is filled with wonderful social interactions (particularly with Fazgyn!). I adored Fazgyn’s lessons on trapfinding which are not only funny and entertaining, but also serve double duty as teaching players how traps work in the Pathfinder Playtest. It also gives a nice introduction to Exploration mode, and helps showcase the importance of the Sneak and Search exploration methods. This quest makes use of the Pathfinder Map Pack: Sewer System. It was my favourite of the four quests.

The third quest in Rose Street Revenge is entitled ‘Puddles‘ and is written by Linda Zayas-Palmer. It takes place in the Puddles District and tasks your PCs with asking the Muckruckers (volunteer guards for the Puddles) for information, and following up on what they tell you. This quest has some fun social interactions, and wonderful artwork for a Muckrucker named Ziraya Al-Shurati. It has by far the most clues to the true murderer’s identity and involves the most ‘crime scene’ investigation, which is great fun. However, in an effort not to spoil the mystery’s details, I won’t be saying much more than that. It utilizes Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Haunted House.

The fourth quest in Rose Street Revenge is entitled ‘Haven‘ and is written by Leo Glass. It takes place in the Precipice Quarter (which was previously known as Beldrin’s Bluff). This is the finale of the adventure, and tasks the PCs with investigating an old safe house that the victims all used at one time or another. I’ll refrain from mentioning much more than that so that I don’t spoil the mystery’s end, but I will say that it was great fun, and certainly not what I expected! This quest utilizes Pathfinder: Map Pack: Ruined Village.

Overall, I really enjoyed Rose Street Revenge. It’s a great introduction to the Pathfinder Playest system and was a lot of fun. I give it four out of five stars and highly recommend it as the first Pathfinder Playtest adventure that groups should give a try (yes, I recommend it over Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn).

Pathfinder Playtest Society Scenario 2 Raiders of Shrieking PeakPathfinder Playtest Scenario #2: Raiders of Shrieking Peak is a Tier 5 adventure written by Luis Loza. As previously mentioned, you do not need to earn enough XP to reach level five. Instead, you need only create your characters at level five. This scenario takes place on the Isle of Kortos. It begins in Absalom, moves quickly to Diobel, and from there heads out into the wilderness. For more information on Absalom, Diobel and the Isle of Kortos check out Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to Absalom, Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Towns of the Inner Sea, and the Inner Sea World Guide. This scenario utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Classics: Battlefield, Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Classics: Woodlands (twice) and a custom map.

A Pathfinder Agent by the name of Inisa Araali was secretly carrying an Iomedean relic by caravan from Diobel to Absalom when she was attacked. She sent Venture-Captain Ambrus Valsin a very cryptic note about the encounter, and then went off to find the relic herself. Knowing that she’ll need help he sends you to find the survivors of the caravan in Diobel, who are shacked up in a Pathfinder safe house (although he doesn’t know which one). You’ll need to find the safe house, check on the people, find out all you can about the caravan’s intended route and the attack, track down the robbers (and hopefully Inisa), retrieve the relic and get it back to Absalom. This scenario introduces secret rolls, which is necessary for knowledge and gather information checks because a critical fail on the check will result in your players uncovering false information. It’s best, of course, if your players don’t know whether the information they’ve received is false or not. That said, secret rolls can easily bog down a game (particularly if it’s heavy on the knowledge checks like this one is at the start), so proceed with this method of rolling with caution. As mentioned, this scenario begins with a bit of investigation. I really like how thorough the Recall Knowledge and Gather Information results are set up (especially the false information for a critical fail). That said, there are no pre-made PCs to interact with during this part of the investigation (which is something I always enjoy), so that’s a bit of a let down. Such embellishments will have to be up to the GM. Social encounters with the caravan survivors are helpful, but not particularly memorable. Overall, I felt that the events in Diobel fell flat. From there the mission moves on and becomes quite combat and exploration heavy. It pits you against some nice classic enemies, inculding harpies, minotaurs, and ghouls, which I really enjoyed. I particularly liked the ghoul statistics. I also really enjoyed the interactions with the minotaurs. Overall, this is the Pathfinder Playtest Scenario I liked least. I give it three out of five stars.

Pathfinder Playtest Society Scenario 3 Arclord's EnvyPathfinder Playtest Scenario #3: Arclord’s Envy is a Tier 5 adventure written by Liz Liddell. It takes place in Quantium, capital of Nex. For more information on Nex be sure to check out the Inner Sea World Guide. This scenario utilizes the Pathfinder Map-Pack: Village Sites, Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Bigger Village, and a custom map. It features gnomish Venture-Captain Sebnet Sanserkoht who is officially my favourite V.C. EVER. She’s awesome. In this scenario you’re tasked with investigating the murder of an Arclord of Nex, and determining who should be given a recently discovered book written by Nex himself, which the Arclord was likely killed for.

Sebnet Sanserkoht gnome
Venture-Captain Sebnet Sanserkoht of Quantium’s Pathfinder Lodge.

This scenario did a really nice job of showcasing little bits of life in Quantium right from the start, with the many overly magical effects present in the local Pathfinder Lodge, right through to the golems walking the streets, and the strange politics of the city. It made use of a ton of rare races including ifrits, oreads, shabti, mercane, and even an invisible stalker you get to chat up at a party. It was awesome. The scenario itself begins with an interesting investigation. I particularly enjoyed retrieving the victim’s corpse from the foot of a massive patrol golem — without drawing the golem’s attention! I think this part would be a lot of fun at a table. That said, I do have one issue with the investigation. At one part you notice scorch marks on a wall which the scenario says you can identify as coming from a certain spell with the ‘Identify Magic’ use of Arcana. Except Identify Magic takes an HOUR (unless you have a special ability that shortens it to ten minutes). Now, that’s not to say that it’s not doable. I suppose some groups might spend an hour looking at a few scorch marks on a wall when there’s a lot of other stuff to go check out, but I wouldn’t. It’s just another use of the ‘Identify Magic’ skill use that feels way too long and time consuming. It’s one of my pet peeves of the Pathfinder Playtest rules, and I sincerely hope they shorten the time it requires by the time Pathfinder Second Edition comes around next year. Of course, this is a nitpick of mine regarding the rules, not the scenario itself. Moving on from the investigation there’s some fun social encounters, and some awesome character art (particularly for Ngasi!). The culprit you’re supposed to unmask is variable, which changes the clues that can lead you to them. That’s a nice option for a scenario that’s supposed to be repayable. I wouldn’t say there’s a LOT of potential culprits, but it’s certainly not static. The final encounter is quite complex, and includes different tactics and available spells depending on which Arclord ends up being your enemy, It’s going to be quite a climatic battle, I think. Overall, I thought the scenario was fresh, fun, and in a great location. I give it four out of five stars.

And that’s all for today! I hope you enjoyed checking out these scenarios with me. I know I enjoyed reading them. I’m quite excited to run my kids through the ‘Rose Street Revenge’ when we have a chance.

Until next time,

Jessica

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Ch-ch-ch-CHANGES! (August News)

Well, it’s official! Season Nine: Year of Factions’ Favour has come to an end, and the Pathfinder Society has launched Season 10: Year of the Ten. Faction Cards have been updated, and the newest edition of the Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Guide has been released. If you don’t have the newly updated versions of these documents then I highly recommend you head on over to Paizo’s website and give them a download. They’re free.

In other news, Gameday VII is underway. This means that my family is enjoying the chance to play in a bunch of new Pathfinder Society Scenarios online via play-by-post. There is a HUGE number of games scheduled to start now. That includes playing in the Pathfinder Society, Pathfinder Society Core, Pathfinder Society Adventure Card Game, Pathfinder Society Playtest and the Starfinder Society! In addition, they’re running the Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-99: Solstice Scar Special and Starfinder Society: #1-99: Scoured Stars Invasion Special as we speak. More games are slated to start in October. That’s also when Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-00: Assault on Absalom Special will run. Although it’s likely too late to join any of August’s games, there’s still plenty of time to sign up for October’s. That said, many games are full already, so I wouldn’t dawdle much longer if you want to get into a game! Haha.

First seeker Jadnura
First Seeker Jadnura. Art by Graey Erb for Starfinder.

For those of you who don’t know, the Scoured Stars Invasion special also brought with it the introduction of a new faction: Second Seekers (Jadnura). Who the heck is Jadnura? Jadnura is the First Seeker who led the Starfinders into the Scoured Stars system. That’s right. He’s the kasatha who got everyone stuck and lost in an event now known as the Scoured Stars Incident. So why would you still follow this guy when Luwazi Elsebo is the current First Seeker? For starters, it lets you make a character who was a loyal Starfinder before the advent of the Scoured Stars Incident. You can be the guy left behind, whose still loyal to a leader no longer present. Second? Well, the special is called the Scoured Stars Invasion, and it’s main purpose is to enter the Scoured Stars System and rescue as many lost agents as you can. I suppose some might call that a spoiler, but honestly, it’s obviously the point of the scenario right from the first few sentences of playing. Why else go there? Want more details? I can’t give them to you! Haha. I’m currently playing this scenario for Gameday VII and don’t know how it ends. If you want more information (and some spoilers) feel free to check out Paizo’s blog post on First Seeker Jadnura here.

GrandLodgeSymbol
The Sigil of the Open Road, logo of the Pathfinder Society.

So what the heck is Season Ten: Year of the Ten all about, anyway? Judging by the title, something to do with the Decemvirate. But what? It’s been hinted that it has something to do with the infamous Grandmaster Torch, and that some of the Decemvirate might find their anonymity threatened and their mysteries unveiled. Interestingly, most of the missions this season will revolve around the Hao Jin Tapestry. For those of you who don’t know, the Hao Jin Tapestry is a literal tapestry that leads to a demiplane which contains mysteries, relics, ruins and other places collected by the wizard Hao Jin. This object was acquired by the Pathfinder Society way back in Season Three and has been a source of tons of adventures. It’s also been harnessed by the Pathfinders in order to allow their agents to travel the world quickly and efficiently. This season the Hao Jin Tapestry is beginning to unravel and, if we can’t fix it, it’ll dump everything inside it into the Astral Plane. An unfortunate event for not only the Pathfinder Society, but also all the people and creatures who still live inside the demiplane itself. Unfortunately, you can bet that fixing it won’t be as easy as just casting mending. I’m sure there’s plenty of adventure involved! There’s a few other things that have been revealed to be a part of this season. There’s plenty of relics related to the lich Tar Baphon that will be surfacing. There’s also a demon who wants to utilize the Worldwound’s collapse to launch his apotheosis into full demon lord. Pretty nifty! I think I’m most excited for the missions involving Grandmaster Torch, but hey, I’m biased! I’m also excited to learn more about Tar Baphon. I love a good (BAD) lich!

Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook
Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook

There’s a few more exciting things going on around my house right now. My daughter’s begun work on creating her second Pathfinder Playtest character so that we can continue with our Doomsday Dawn Playtest. She’s decided to make a gnome fighter who wields an absurdly large sword. She’s very excited to be the melee character for a change.

My family and I entered a contest a week or so ago. Hosted by the overly generous Hmm on Paizo’s message boards, she was going to give away all the boons necessary to create a mermaid in PFS play. There were a few ways to enter — for yourself with a mermaid character concept, for a group of friends with a team created from the other boons she was giving away, or by nominating someone else who you thought deserved to win. Now, when we play in the Pathfinder Society, the question my kids ask me most often is:

“Mom, why can’t I be any race I want?”

Unfortunately, at the ages of six and seven, the idea of holding out for race boons is absurd. Haha. The follow up question I most often get after any explanation I can concoct is:

“Yeah. But WHY?”

So, as soon as I read the contest I told my family about it. My kids were jumping up and down in joy. They spend that night brainstorming, and spent the next day planning their characters while I madly tried to keep up with them. And then we got to the end. They were ready! Sort of. For bonus points you could also write a song.

….yup. A song.

Not my forte. My son wanted to add jokes into the song, and my daughter wanted it to have a lot of animal sounds (since we were nearly all animal people of one kind or another).

It was… hard. Haha.

But, in the end we handed in our entry with pride. So what was it?

My family and I wanted to make a quartet of characters who are (and were) universally considered outcasts among their people and Golarion at large. They’re weird, and different. But what’s strange for one culture isn’t strange for others, and it’s those very oddities that the others embraced and connected with. After all, who cares if the vanara has unnaturally large eyes, if he’s hanging out with a grippli? These guys are friends, companions, and (in many ways) family. They don’t have the same interests, and they don’t always get along. But, hey? What family does?

My daughter made an energetic poisonous grippli, my son made an eco-conscious vanara with a stumpy tail who has hair growth issues, my husband made a ratfolk who chews on everything (including magical objects), and I made an overly adventurous aquatic elf whose curiosity got her abandoned on the surface. Together, these quirky characters would do… stuff!

Just the other day the winners were announced. There were a ton of great ones. And some of the songs were awesome! Hmm ended up giving out boons to winners of each category, which is incredibly generous! We won in the ‘buddies’ category, and my kids have been hard at work ever since, plotting out their character mechanics. We were lucky enough that a fellow play-by-poster offered to run us through our group’s first PFS scenario together, so once everyone is ready and formatted for online play we’ll be starting Heroes for Highdelve! My daughter got to work first and is almost done. She’s thrilled!

We’ll post more about these lovable weirdos once they’re ready for a game. One thing’s for certain: they’re going to be the most eccentric group of characters we’ve ever made! (And that’s saying something…)

Now it’s time to say goodbye,

Or, more accurately: ‘Now it’s time to get to work on my next article.’

Season 10, here we come!

Jessica

SaveSave

Character Focus: Doomsday Dawn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Be (Good) Goblins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, Mom! I will teach Dad!”

And she did.

It was absolutely adorable.

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

Sounds fair.

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

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

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

Until then!

Jessica

 

Pathfinder Playtest: Doomsday Dawn

Today on d20 Diaries the end is nigh! That’s right! We’re talking about Doomsday Dawn!

Pathfinder Playtest released a short time ago, and alongside it they launched a few adventures. There are three Pathfinder Society Playtest Scenarios out, which we’ll talk about later this week. But, the main playtest experience is an adventure called Doomsday Dawn. All four of these adventures are a free download on Paizo’s website.

Pathfinder Playtest RulebookMore accurately, Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn is a series of linked adventures which, played all in a row, make a comprehensive storyline. It’s like a mini-adventure path. With a few differences. For starters, this is created for Pathfinder Playtest, not the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. It’s intended not only to introduce players to the new Pathfinder rules, but also to playtest certain aspects of those rules. As such, each mini-adventure is focused on a different aspect of gameplay. Once you’ve finished a section of the adventure you’re invited to head over to Paizo’s website and fill out a survey about your experience. While you’re there, I highly recommend picking up the maps for this adventure: Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack. It contains two different flip-mats which feature the four major maps of this adventure. Other maps found throughout are more generic and can be drawn on a blank mat (Pathfinder: Flip Mat: Bigger Basic), or created with other flip-mats and map products you might have at home.

There’s a few other important things to note. Doomsday Dawn takes place over a long time. A decade to be exact! And it takes it characters all throughout the Inner Sea. Most importantly: this adventure is not always played with the same characters. That is to say, you’ll make a group of ‘Primary’ characters, who will play three parts of this adventure together: parts 1, 4 and 7. For the other four parts you will play different heroes who do tasks related to the primary character’s ongoing story. Each of these side groups will be created for a specific purpose and are only used once. These characters will play parts 2, 3, 5, and 6. Intrigued? Then read on!

Doomsday Dawn tells the story of the Aucturn Enigma, which was first introduced in the module Entombed With The Pharaohs, and was also featured in the module The Pact Stone Pyramid, both of which came out before Pathfinder had its own official rules set. No idea what that is? No worries. Neither do your characters. Basically this adventure involves Ancient Osirion, the Dominion of the Black, the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, The Night Heralds, the planet Aucturn, and nothing short of the end of the world. Yup, the stakes are high! For more information on Osirion, you can check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Osirion, Legacy of Pharoahs.

Pathfinder Playtest Doomsday DawnIn the year 4718 A.R. (later this year) the celestial bodies will align allowing the Dominion of the Black an opportunity to merge the planet Aucturn with that of Golarion. If this happens life as we know it will end. This doomsday is only possible with objects of power from Ancient Osirion which were put in place long ago in preparation for this time. A group of evil cultists called the Night Heralds seek to bring this end into being, while another group, the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, seeks to stop them. That’s where your many different characters come in.


The first part of Doomsday Dawn is entitled The Lost Star and is intended to introduce new players and GMs to the rules of Pathfinder Playtest. During this adventure you’ll get the hang of encounter mode, and generally get a handle on the new rules. The Lost Star is played by your primary characters, who will begin at level one. They will follow all of the regular character creation rules as detailed in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, except for their background, which will be chosen from the special backgrounds presented at the start of Doomsday Dawn. These special backgrounds include: Budding Osirionologist, Esoteric Scion, Family Friend, Goblin Renegade, Mind Quake Survivor, and Pathfinder Hopeful. Each of these backgrounds is much more specific than the generic backgrounds in the Playtest Rulebook, and is meant to not only tie your primary character to adventure’s story, but also provide them with lore skills that will be of use. There are no other special considerations you need to take into account when making your characters, although it is recommended your primary characters form a balanced party from a wide variety of ancestries, classes and backgrounds.

Rise of the Runelords
Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path.

The Lost Star begins in Magnimar in the year 4707 AR, which is eleven years before Golarion’s present and a week or two before the start of Paizo’s first Pathfinder Adventure Path: Rise of the Runelords. It takes place in the Varisian city of Magnimar and involves a noblewoman by the name of Keleri Deverin. Keleri is a relative of Kendra Deverin, the mayor of Sandpoint. With the upcoming Swallowtail festival to to begin in Sandpoint soon, Keleri headed down into her family’s vaults to pick up a family heirloom known as the Star of Desna, in hopes of getting it blessed at the festival. Unfortunately, she found the vaults robbed by goblins. And one was left behind! She questioned the brute, only to discover that the little goblin’s tribe (the Mudchewers) had been conquered by a nasty hobgoblin by the name of Drakus the Taker. Poor little goblins! Sensing opportunity, Keleri sought outside help. She hired a group of adventurers — your Primary PCs — and sends them down into the sewers of Magnimar to both obtain the Star of Desna and, possibly, to forge an alliance with the remains of the Mudchewers. But unforeseen events are at work, and clues discovered under Magnimar will lead to greater adventures after this. The Lost Star makes use of one side of the flip-mats in the Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack.

My family has already had a chance to play The Lost Star. We found it great fun, although it was not without difficulty. We had a tough time with Drakus the Taker, having multiple characters fall unconscious, and one die. We also had some trouble with our alchemist running out of resonance in the first battle. She had to overspend her resonance for the rest of the adventure, which was dicey at best. On an upcoming playtest where I get to make a character, I’m going to make an alchemist of my own, to see how it works in other hands. About the same, I expect. Lastly, we had trouble identifying treasure. It takes an hour to identify a magical item and, since my family’s character’s weren’t forced to retreat and rest, that means they never had a chance to identify or utilize a single piece of treasure throughout the adventure. Obviously, this is disappointing. That said, it’s not the fault of the adventure, so much as a part of the Pathfinder Playtest rules itself. In addition, there are some ways for characters to shorten this timeframe down. Alternatively, this can be solved by your players retreating to rest, recover resources and study objects. However, I didn’t really find this adventure suited that tactic very well. It’s not so much that you don’t have the chance. You do, if you want to, but that my players had no reason to. They were comfortable pressing on.

PZO9226_500
The Inner Sea World Guide contains information on all of the nations visited in Doomsday Dawn.

All in all, I rather enjoyed the Lost Star. It’s a fun introduction to the game, with some very intriguing elements. My family particularly enjoyed the polluted fountain, and the glimpse of the future. In an effort not to spoil the adventure too much, I won’t say much more on the topic. Just know that we enjoyed it. In fact, my kids had so much fun, they turned the title of the adventure (Doomsday Dawn) into a song that they’ve been singing around the house. My daughter also made a delightful little sign that reads ‘We Be (GOOD) Goblins!’ She gleefully made a goblin as her primary character.

Those of you looking for more information on Magnimar, can check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Magnimar, City of Monuments. Those of you looking for more information on Varisia in general can check out the Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea World Guide.


The second part of Doomsday Dawn is called ‘In Pale Mountain’s Shadow.’ It takes place two years after the end of the Lost Star. During that time, Keleri Deverin and the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye have been hard at work looking into the clues uncovered by the Primary characters during their foray into the goblin caves. They’ve recently learned of an Ancient Osiriani object of power called a countdown clock, which is counting down to a time when the world will come to an end. Believing that having one of these countdown clocks (there’s a lot of them) in their possession will give the Primary Characters and the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye an advantage in foiling the apocalypse, they have been hard at work attempting to track one down. Thankfully, they’ve succeeded. Unfortunately, there are others after the same countdown clock. In order to get at it in time the Esoteric Order will have to hire outside help. This is your second characters.

Legacy of FIre Howl of the Carrion King
Legacy Of Fire: Book One: Howl Of The Carrion King

This second group is a team of adventurers or mercenaries who live in and around the recently liberated town of Kelmarane. Yes, you heard right. This adventure takes place in Katapesh, in between Legacy Of Fire: Book One: Howl Of The Carrion King, and Legacy Of Fire: Book 2: House Of The Beast. Legacy of Fire is one of my all time favourite Adventure Paths (as anyone whose visited my d20 Stories page may have noticed… Haha), so I was more than a little excited for this connection. My children are equally excited to play through this part of Doomsday Dawn, as they’re currently in a play-by-post Legacy of Fire campaign and are working their way up to liberating Kelmarane as we speak. (But that’s a story for another day!)

‘In Pale Mountain’s Shadow’ sees your new adventuring group hired by a noblewoman representing the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye. She tasks your PCs with travelling through the surrounding wilds, to the slopes of Pale Mountain, where they will enter through a back-door to the tomb of Tular Seft. They must retrieve the countdown clock before another enemy group does (The Night Heralds), and may keep anything else they find in the tomb. Oh, and they’ll be well paid, of course. This adventure features a lot of exploration mode and travel through the wilds, so at least one of your group members should be capable of navigating and surviving in the wilderness (two is better!). In addition, it is built to test out how terrain, hazards, and other difficulties affect battle. They’re interested in if such battles are still fun to play, or they drag out too long. They’re also interesting in seeing if the terrain makes battle too difficult. So once you’re done playing through this section be sure to give your feedback. It will directly help them hammer out this aspect of Pathfinder’s new ruleset.

The characters you will be making will be brand new fourth level characters made following all of the character creation and level up rules found in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook. In addition, three uncommon languages are available for your characters to select with their languages known: Auran, Gnoll, and Ancient Osiriani. Knowledge of these languages can open up new opportunities throughout the adventure, it is not necessary. As for gear, each character gets one 3rd-level item, two 2nd-level items, one 1st-level item, and 300 sp to spend on additional items.

Overall, ‘In Pale Mountains Shadow’ looks like a lot of fun. It has an actual introduction, which Lost Star didn’t, and is a relief. The exploratory portion has interesting encounters which I think will play well at the table. These travel encounters all occur on maps you’ll be drawing yourself, or creating with your own map products at home. There are detailed instructions for drawing these maps, and feedback is desired if this was handled adequately in the surveys you’ll be filling out. After the exploration portion (which will likely take a single play session for my family), we get to the Tomb of Tular Seft himself. This portion of the adventure includes an image of a custom map which is not  included in the Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack so you’ll have to draw it yourself. It’s an awesome looking tomb, with a lot of nifty features. It’s my kids favourite map in the entire Doomsday Dawn Adventure, for sure, and has them quite intrigued. The tomb also has some interesting role-playing opportunities which your group may or may not be able to capitalize on. At some point, your players are bound to run into their rivals — the Night Herald cultists who have been sent to acquire the countdown clock before you can. When this occurs is entirely up to your group and will vary from table to table. There’s even a chance they might slip in and out without ever meeting the Night Heralds (though the chances of that are infinitely slim). The battle looks tough, and like a lot of fun. Particularly because it allows your players to interact with the  Night Heralds for the first time. It think it’s going to be a lot of fun. That said, this battle involves multiple different, complex, NPC stat blocks, and GMs should prepare accordingly. In fact, I think that this chapter is actually my favourite adventure within Doomsday Dawn. Whether that will be the case after running it at the table next week remains to be seen. Haha.

Those of you looking for more information on Kelmarane and the Pale Mountain region can check out Legacy Of Fire: Book One: Howl Of The Carrion King. Information on Katapesh can be found in Dark Markets, A Guide to Katapesh, or the Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea World Guide.


Our story continues in a few years later in part three of Doomsday Dawn: ‘Affair at Sombrefell Hall.’ The Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye has a been researching the strange cult known as the Night Heralds, and their plans to bring about the end of the world. Thanks to the efforts of mercenaries the Order has acquired a countdown clock, and have a timeline for the apparent coming end. They’ve discovered enemies, allies, and even discerned that this ‘doomsday’ involved the Dominion of the Black. They’ve gleaned all they can on their own, but now is the time to call on outside help. Your third group of characters will be a team hired by (or a part of) the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye who are sent to Ustalav to contact the foremost expert in the study of the Dominion of the Black, Dr. Verid Oscilar, and obtain his assistance in determining the plans of the Night Heralds. Upon arriving they discover that the good doctor is currently taking a break from teaching, and is relaxing at his personal manor in the countryside. Your characters will head to the manor, and try to obtain his help. Unfortunately for both your characters and Dr. Oscilar, the Night Heralds are more than aware of his expertise, and seek to make him one of their own. …Sort of. We’ll leave that a surprise for now. Haha. It doesn’t make use of any flip-mats, so be sure to have a blank map and your markers ready. You’ll be doing a lot of drawing!

Carrion Crown Haunting of Harrowstone
Carrion Crown: Book One: Haunting of Harrowstone

This section of the adventure takes place in Ustalav during the events of the Pathfinder Adventure Path: Carrion Crown: Book One: Haunting of Harrowstone. That said, they take place in completely different parts of the country and aren’t going to have any effect on each other. It’s meant to be a survival horror adventure, which will feature a lot of combat against a lot of undead with minimal preparatory time in between. This is meant to test out the healing resources of a group that includes multiple healers against undead forces. GMs will need to track not only how long each battle takes, but also how much healing is used in each fight. Your group must include at least two clerics capable of channeling energy. The other members of the group must be characters capable of healing to some extent (which can include bard, druid, paladin, or a sorcerer that has divine spells and, to a lesser extent, the alchemist). These new characters will be level seven. They will follow all of the character creation and level up guidelines for characters found in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook. For gear, they will begin with one 6th-level item, two 5th-level items, one 4th-level item, two 3rd-level items, and 125 gp to spend as they see fit. One character in the group also starts with one +2 magic armor. Good luck deciding who gets that bit of treasure! Haha.

‘Affair at Sombrefell Hall’ is a dark, difficult adventure that takes place at an interesting location. It makes wonderful use of the locale, giving players a chance to explore well before the danger starts. This can give them some really interesting combat options once the battles do begin. The adventure itself begins with some interesting (and probably suspicious) social encounters, and some good old fashioned snooping around. I’m a fan of the survival horror genre in my d20 games, but, due to the nature of the playtest, this one is going to be particularly difficult. You’re going to take a lot of damage, use a lot of healing resources, and probably lose a party member or two. Hopefully, you all come out alive in the end. And, if not, at least some of you survive and secure the aid of Dr. Oscilar to enlighten your Primary Characters. Even if you don’t, you can continue Doomsday Dawn and move on to the next chapter. Perhaps the most important part of this section of the adventure is giving your players a glimpse of the evil that the Dominion of the Black is capable of. And man, oh man. They’re just so… evil! Haha.

Players looking for more information on Ustalav can check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Rule of Fear or, for more general information, Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea World Guide.


Part four of the Doomsday Dawn, ‘Mirrored Moon,’ reunites your players with their Primary Characters. This are the same characters who played the Lost Star. They will be levelled up to 9th level, following all of the levelling rules from the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook. They begin with all of the gear they acquired during the Lost Star, plus they get to purchase one 8th-level item, two 7th-level items, one 6th-level item, and two 5th-level items. They also get 250 gp to spend on extra gear. These characters are now considered to be either agents or members of the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, and have been off doing tasks and missions together for the last few years. Currently, they’re in a section of the River Kingdoms known as Thicketfell, on the hunt for a mystical lake known as the Moonmere, where they hope to find ancient ruins that were once used by a villain (and possibly founder of the Night Heralds) named Ramlock. There, they will scour the ruins for information on what the coming apocalypse will bring, in order to stop it. Unfortunately, the Night Heralds are already there, and the trouble they’re up to could destroy a nation (at least). Finding the Moonmere will be the least of their troubles!

Kingmaker Stolen Land
Kingmaker: Book One: Stolen Land

This adventure heavily uses exploration mode, and is meant to test out what kinds of challenges the characters can handle when they only get in one battle per day. The battles are difficult, so expect to go all out during each fight. That said, you’ll also very often have opportunities to scout out locations ahead of time, which should allow for some clever planning and preparations from players. This adventure makes use of one of the flip-mats from Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack, as well as three other flip-mats: Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: ForestPathfinder Flip-Mat: Giant Lairs, and Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Hill Country. These maps aren’t necessary, and can easily be replaced by hand-drawings on a blank map. This adventure also makes use of a terrain hex map featuring the Thicketfell region, much like those used in the Kingmaker Adventure Path (which begins with Kingmaker: Part One: Stolen Land).

I’m not a huge fan of sandbox-style explorations like those found in Kingmaker. It’s just not my cup of tea. That’d not to say its not fun. It is. It’s just not my favourite genre for d20 games. I point this out for context. I’m heading into this one pretty sure that the actual exploration itself isn’t going to be my favourite part of this adventure (or Doomsday Dawn as a whole). Far from it. That said, I always try to put aside my biases, or at least point them out. I intend, as always, to head into playing this section of the adventure with an open mind. After giving it a thorough reading I can safely say that the Mirrored Moon has the most eclectic, enjoyable cast of NPCs found throughout the entirety of Doomsday Dawn, which is going to make it quite fun. Throughout the adventure there will be plenty of opportunities to explore, roleplay, forge alliances, and gain intelligence, which should make for an interesting adventure. The gnomish citizens of Korlabablin were a particular favourite of mine. All in all, I think this is going to be a fun, challenging adventure.

For more information on the River Kingdoms, check out Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to the River Kingdoms, or the Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea World Guide.


Part Five of Doomsday Dawn is entitled ‘Heroes of Undarin,’ and may turn out to be the most controversial part of the playtest adventures. Why? Well, in short, it keeps a secret from its players, which I honestly believe should be shared. More on this later, but for now, we’ll take a look at the adventure itself.

Wrath of the Righteous Worlwound Incursion
Wrath of the Righteous: Book One: The Worldwound Incursion

‘Heroes of Undarin’ takes place in the Worldwound, after the events of the Wrath of the Righteous Adventure Path (which begins with Wrath of the Righteous: Book 1: The Worldwound Incursion). It assumes that the Worldwound has been closed, the Fifth Crusade is winding down, but that demons still infest the region and are being slowly battled. It will probably take a decade or so to make the region safe for travellers again, so for now, it’s still a dangerous, post-apocalyptic type place, infested with demons and other evils. Your players will be making brand new level 12 characters who are all members of the Crusade. They’ve fought battles against demons many of times before and are well-prepared for this mission. They’re hardy, brave, self-sacrificing folks who won’t flee from a fight. They’re… hardened. To create them you’ll be following all of the standard character creation and levelling up rules found in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook. As for gear, there’s a specific list of magical items they’ll have access to. In addition, they’ll get 100 gp to spend on anything they want. Its highly suggested you create a balanced and diverse party. This adventure is intended to test the limits and capabilities of mid/high level characters.

So who the heck are these people, and what do a bunch of crusaders have to the with Doomsday Dawn? In short, your Primary Characters are in need of information housed in an ancient ruin in the region and your Crusaders have been tasked with escorting them to the site, and protecting them while they’re there. These Crusaders have no idea whats going on with the overall plot line, which will be a bit of a refreshing change of pace. Upon arrival, the Primary Characters descend into the ruins to discover the information they need isn’t mobile. It’s not a book or a tablet. It’s all over the walls. They’re going to have to copy it. Your Crusaders will have to defend the ruins from demonic intruders while the Primary Characters are out of sight doing whatever that entails. It’s a difficult and thankless job. Note that you will NOT be playing your Primary Characters during this adventure at all. Only the Crusaders.

Now, onto the potential controversy. Note that the next paragraph after this contains SPOILERS. If you don’t want to know, don’t read it. It should be noted that the adventure specifically asks that GMs not tell their players the following piece of information. I totally understand why this is, but I disagree with the necessity for secrecy. I can honestly say that if I ran this for my family, without telling them the secret, the session would end with everyone very angry and upset. My kids would literally be in tears. No joke. I’m a firm believer that games should be fun. Tears and anger? Not what we’re aiming for. Because of this, I have one further piece of information to share with our readers. If you don’t want to know, definitely skip the rest of this section on the ‘Heroes of Undarin’ and head on down to the nice big words I’ve added that say ‘Spoiler over.’

SPOILER:

As mentioned, this adventure is meant to test the limits of mid/high level characters. Most specifically, its designed to determine how much is too much. Your characters will fight wave after wave of demons. And in the end? It’s entirely expected they’ll die. All of them. Dead. It’s been stated that knowledge of this tidbit will cause players to create characters who are purposely made to ‘survive’ which could throw off the results of this playtest. Throwing off this calibration will do no one any good. That said, I personally believe that if a player knows what they’re getting into, and what’s at stake, they’ll play fair. Roleplaying games are a game about trust, and I trust my players, just like players should trust their GMs. Sending players into a certain death scenario without their knowledge is a breach of that trust. Therefore, I’m telling you. And when my family plays, I’m telling them. Your characters will die. I suggest you embrace the spirit of that. Embrace that self-sacrifice during character creation. Embrace your death scene and make it epic! Don’t make characters made to ‘win.’ Winning isn’t fighting to the end. Winning, in this instance, is making sure that the playtest receives accurate results. It’s being an honest player. So make yourself a team of crusaders, and enjoy pushing them to their limits and beyond. And when your doomed character meets their end, be happy you’ve had a chance to ensure that mid/high level play during Pathfinder Second Edition will be of a fair and challenging difficulty.

SPOILER OVER

For more information on the Worldwound and its surround lands, check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The Worldwound, or Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea World Guide. You can also read the novel: Pathfinder Tales: The Worldwound Gambit, written by Robin D. Laws.


The sixth (and second last) adventure in Doomsday Dawn is a definite change of pace. Entitled ‘Red Flags,’ this adventure is meant to test how fun and engaging social encounters, espionage, and skill based adventures can be at high levels of play. That’s not to say that there’s no combat in it. There is. But, that’s neither the point, nor the focus. The focus is on your skills, subtlety and guile. To that end you’ll make powerful level 14 characters who are members of the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye. Its recommended that they be characters whose role among the Order is to act as one of the following; archivist, diplomat, historian, researcher, spy, or something similar. Don’t make a character who’s geared towards combat. This is an interesting challenge that I’m very excited for. The gear they can utilize is a mix of gold, and specific magical objects, but it’s long, so I won’t write it all here.

Skull and Shackles Wormwood Mutiny
Skull & Shackles: Book 1: The Wormwood Mutiny

These Agents of the Order are sent to a fancy gala on a volcanic island in the Shackles held by a white feathered tengu Free Captain by the name of Whark the Alabaster, the lord of Plumetown. They’re tasked with obtaining an important book from Whark’s treasury called The Last Theorem. Its hoped that the information contained in this book can help the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye (and your Primary Characters) stop the coming doomsday for good. The stakes are high! This adventure takes place after the end of the Skull and Shackles Adventure Path (which begins with Skull & Shackles: Book 1: The Wormwood Mutiny). It utilizes a neat custom map which is not included in the flip-mats. It looks like a lot of fun, but due to the nature of espionage style adventures, I’m going to refrain from saying any more on the matter than that.

Players looking for more information on the Shackles can check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Isle of the Shackles, or Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The Inner Sea World Guide.


Which brings us to the end. The climax. The final chapter of Doomsday Dawn. It’s called ‘When The Stars Go Dark‘ and it is a finale in every sense of the word. It will be played by your Primary Characters, although they’ll be levelled up all the way to 17th level. They’ll have a chance to stop the Night Heralds and the Dominion of the Black, thereby preventing an apocalypse that would destroy all of Golarion. Perhaps they’ll triumph. And perhaps they’ll fail. Whatever the outcome, this is one fun, challenging adventure. It takes place in the present time (for Golarion) on a demiplane known as Ramlock’s Hallow. The purpose of this final playtest is to have fun! They want to know if the game is still enjoyable and challenging at high levels. So get in the game, and have a blast! Oh, and try to save Golarion while you’re at it.

The adventure itself is complex. I can say for certain that my kids will pretty much have no idea what’s going on. Haha. For them it will be more of a ‘point them at the bad guys and they’ll fight’ kind of scenario. That said, they’ll still enjoy it. Those of you who understand what’s going on will obviously get a lot more out of it than that. There’s a good variety of encounters, and getting to the end will involve more than just muscles. You’ll need to put on your thinking caps. I particuarly enjoyed the flavourful encounter with the Ashen Man.

I don’t want to give away too much more about this adventure. But, I will say, that I think it’s an epic conclusion to the Doomsday Dawn.

For more information on demiplanes be sure to pick up the awesome hardcover, Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Planar Adventures.


And that’s a wrap!

That’s what you can expect from Doomsday Dawn.

It’s definitely a different style of ‘campaign’ than I expected. It’s longer, and more… disjointed. That said, it’s a lot of fun, and an imperative aspect of the Playtest. This adventure allows the folks over at Paizo to test out the aspects of the game they need help to calibrate. It allows all of you to have a say in the final product, while simultaneously helping them fine-tune the game balance.

I highly recommend that players interested in the Playetst find a group and play through Doomsday Dawn together. It’s my hope that this article can help people get excited about Doomsday Dawn, and head into it with appropriate expectations.

I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on both the Playtest and your experiences playing Doomsday Dawn. If you’ve had a chance to play, be sure to leave a comment and let me know how it went!

Later this week we’ll take a look at the Pathfinder Society Playtest Scenarios, my family’s Pathfinder Playtest Characters, as well as the new Pathfinder Society Scenarios that were recently released for Season 10, and the new Starfinder Society Scenarios! In addition, we’ve got articles on Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Pact Worlds, and Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Sea on the horizon!

This month is going to be crazy!

Until next time,

Jessica

 

Pathfinder Playtest – Review

Welcome back to d20diaries!

Wow, finding the time to fully read the new Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook took longer than I expected! Well, not to read it, so much as to digest it. Understand it. Plenty of rules are different, so I had to really focus. Considering that I normally find time to read while overseeing screaming, bickering, playing, laughing, children of various ages (hey, moods change quick!), finding quiet time to get some reading done was more than a little difficult.

That said, I’m a quick reader. I finished it in about two days, then spent some time crafting characters in order to try out the creation process. Before I can take the time to teach my husband and kids how to play, I need to be able to explain it. Properly. Haha. After that I helped my family through the creation process, read through Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn (the first adventure we would be trying out), and we got to work playing.

It’s been a whirlwind! But a fun one.

And then I got sick. Still am.

LAME. Haha.

So whats on the agenda for today?

Today we’re going to take a look at Pathfinder Playtest. Not in depth — this isn’t a replacement for the rulebook. After all, the rulebook’s a free download. It’s my impressions, thoughts, and experiences. Things I’ve discovered, and even some questions I’ve got. Got an opinion of your own? Or an answer to a question I have? Let me know! This game system is brand new and we’re all learning together. Once you’ve had a chance to try out Pathfinder Playtest, be sure to head over to Paizo’s website and give them some feedback. They’re running surveys right now, and have forums up for you to share broader comments.

Ready? Let’s begin!

Pathfinder Playtest RulebookPathfinder Playtest is a new set of rules and gameplay for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. It’s intended to streamline the game, while retaining its robust character creation options. Running combat, monsters, and characters should go smoother. Learning the rules from scratch should be easier. Levelling up should be simpler. The book and rules are supposed to be user friendly — even for those who don’t know how to play d20 games.

In theory.

Pathfinder Playtest features gorgeous cover art by Wayne Reynolds which showcases Seoni (the iconic sorceress), Valeros (the iconic fighter), and Fumbus (the iconic alchemist) battling a white dragon! Wait! Fumbus who? Fumbus the goblin alchemist. Thats right! Not only are goblins a core race, but alchemist is a base class. Both are available options to try out in the playtest.

Open the covers (or flip to the next page on the pdf) and you’ll find an introduction by the Paizo staff, followed by the overview. This is where you’ll learn what the heck a d20 game is and how to play. There’s also an overview of the basic terms used in the game, including a few that are new, an explanation of the modes of play, and a list of what you’ll need to play. This section was easy to understand, even for a layman, although not as easy as I expected. It’s a difficult read for my children, for example, and my son (who is more than capable of reading chapter books aimed at pre-teens, published adventures for d20 games, and other Pathfinder products) would definitely get bored and flip past a few pages. Would my teenage/adult siblings read it all the way through? …Tough to say. Probably not. It’s more likely they’d give it a skim and see how it goes. So… sort of an easy read. An easy read for this genre and its audience, I suppose.

Many of the terms in this chapter will be familiar to those of you who have played d20 games before, but even experienced gamers need to give this section a thorough read. Calculations for some of the familiar statistics are different, and there are some very important brand new game mechanics that are explained here. Be sure to pay extra attention to the types of actions, the modes of play, and proficiencies. We won’t get into them in too much detail right now, but for those of you who are curious, these three aspects form a huge part of the game.

There are three modes of play in Pathfinder Playtest. Encounter mode is what you enter when your every moment matters. This is used during a battle, for traps, ambushes, hazards, and anything else similar. You play encounter mode in rounds which are six seconds long, and encounter mode ends when the danger has passed. This is a huge part of the game and the rules. But, it’s not all there is to the Playtest. Exploration mode is used for any situation where you’re not in immediate danger, but you’re not entirely safe, either. This includes exploring a town, ruin, forest, or even a hallway between encounters. It’s what you’re playing in when you’re not fighting something. It’s more than just walking, or a segue between the ‘exciting stuff.’ Exploration mode has its own rules, and has proved quite fun around my house so far. Finally, there’s downtime mode, which is what you use when you’re completely safe.

There are three major kinds of actions in Pathfinder Playtest. Actions, free actions, and reactions. Pretty much all the game is based around this. Nearly every feat, ability, and spell that has a non-passive effect has a symbol beside it right near the top showing what it costs to use. Free actions are free, obviously, Reactions can be taken once per turn, even on your opponents turns, as long as its triggering conditions are met. An example of this is an attack of opportunity (which only fighters can utilize right away!), but there are plenty others for different classes and characters. Lastly, there’s actions. Everything takes actions. Moving, attacking, special attacks, spells and such. Most spells take two actions to cast, although some take one or three. Each turn during encounter mode you’re allowed three actions, and most things you can imagine take one. Walking forward, drawing a sword, and swinging it? Three actions total. Attacking, attacking, and attacking a third time? Three actions. And totally allowed (each successive attack in a round takes a cumulative -5 penalty).  Lastly, there’s proficiencies. Yes, this includes armours and weapons. But in the Playtest proficiencies also replace your base attack bonus, base saving throws, and skill ranks. If you’re trained in something you add your level to the rolls you make with it. If you’re untrained you add your level subtract two. If you’re an expert you add your level plus one, master is your level plus two and if you’re legendary you add your level plus three. For example, if you’re trained in athletics you roll a d20, add your proficiency modifier (your level), your strength modifier, and any other item or extra modifiers you have. Expert in your weapon? Add the expert proficiency (your level plus one), your ability modifier (strength for melee, dexterity for ranged), and any other bonuses from your items. Master at reflex saves? Add your level plus two, plus your Dexterity modifier, anything else special you might have and off you go.

Got it? Good! If not, read the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook!

After this we get into the fun stuff. Character Creation. The Playtest has a great step-by-step guide to making your characters. In short, you come up with a concept. Then you pick and apply their ancestry (race), background, and class. Each of these will increase some of your ability scores, but you also gain four increases to apply as you see fit. Once you’ve finalized your ability scores, select your trained skills and do some simple math to make it all come together. Spend your coin (150 sp), pick your spells (if you’re a caster) and fill in all your finishing details. Done. Relatively simple. The levelling up process is also simple, as well.

After this there’s an easy to follow example of how you make your ability scores. As I previously mentioned, ancestry, background, class, and your personal preference all play a part. So how does it work?

For starters, you need to know how much to increase an ability score. Increases are referred to as an ‘ability boost’. If the score you’re increasing is under 18 you increase it by 2 points. If it’s over 18 you increase it by 1 point. At character creation, you cannot make a character with over 18 in any one ability score, so all of your boosts will be increasing your ability scores by +2.

When you create a character all of your ability scores start at 10. Now you pick your ancestry. Most will give you two ability boosts that are applied to a specific ability, one ability boost that you can apply as you see fit (called ‘free’), and one flaw (which is a -2 in a specific score). For example, dwarves get ability boosts to Constitution, Wisdom, and Free. They also suffer an ability flaw to Charisma. Humans are different from most races in that they receive no flaw, and no specific ability boosts. Instead they get two free ability boosts, which can be applied at your whim.

Now that you know what to increase you apply it. However, there is a limitation. During each step that you apply your ability boosts, you must apply each to a different ability. In our previous example with dwarves, that means you’re getting +2 Con, +2 Wis, -2 Cha and a +2 to be added to any other ability score (Str, Dex, or Int). The next time you apply your ability scores you can increase any scores you want, but again, only one time each in that phase.

Backgrounds grant an ability boost in a single specific ability score chosen from a selection of two, and then grant a free ability boost. For example, acrobats get an ability boost to either Strength or Dexterity, and then a second ability boost that is free. Meanwhile, a barkeep gets an ability boost to either Constitution or Charisma, and then a second ability boost that is free. (This is not all that a background grants you, just the part that applies to ability scores). As mentioned before, during this step, each ability can only be boosted once. So, our example dwarf could apply the barkeep ability boosts to Constitution, and Strength, but couldn’t apply it to Constitution twice.

Classes offer a single specific ability boost to that classs’ key ability score. Alchemist’s increase Intelligence, bards increase Charisma, and so on. Some classes, like the fighter, can choose one of two ability scores to be their key ability score (in the case of fighters this is a choice between Strength and Dexterity).

Lastly (or second last if you choose to apply these before your class), you get four free ability boosts. You can assign these however you want — although each ability score can only be boosted once in this phase. Essentially this means that four different ability scores will increase by +2.

And that’s the ability score creation process. It’s quite simple when you get the hang of it, and can create a diverse array of balanced characters. There’s also a random generation method offered, for those of you who prefer to roll out your stats, but the characters they create will not come out as powerful as those created with the standard method. Still, it’s nice that its there.

After this we get into the chapter on ancestries and backgrounds. There are six major ancestries you can choose: dwarf, elf, gnome, goblin, halfling, and human. Those of you looking to be half-elves or half-orcs will select ‘human’ as your ancestry, and then choose a heritage feat which allows you to be either of those two ‘half-breed’ races.  This method opens up a unique design space which has potential for an interesting take on some uncommon races when the full game releases next year.

Each ancestry grants you some ability boosts and flaws (as already noted). It also grants you some hit points (which you will only receive at first level), your speed, size, and languages. Some of them also grant you a vision type, or a single special ability. That’s it. You won’t be getting a ton of racial abilities built into your ancestry. I know, I know. This seems like you get so much less. In a way, at low level, you do get less. But, as you level up you also get more out of your race. You see, each ancestry has a list of feats to choose from that only members of that ancestry can select. This is where you’ll find a lot of familiar ‘racial’ abilities like weapon familiarity, ancestral hatred, stonecunning, sure-footed, and other such features that would have once been found under ones race. There’s plenty of new ones, as well. You start the game with one ancestry feat of your choice, and gain more as you level up. This allows you to make your ancestry work for your character as an individual. After all, not all elves are the same.

After I got over the initial shock of seeing ‘how little’ each race gave me, I gave the different ancestry feats a read and, in the end, decided I like this method. It’s adaptable, easy to use, and enjoyable. I found it worked well during character creation. I particularly enjoyed the gnome ancestry feats, so be sure to give them a read!

Pathfinder Playtest Doomsday DawnNext up is backgrounds. These represent the things your character did before becoming an adventurer. In addition to the ability boosts mentioned previously, each background grants you one skill feat and training in a single Lore skill tied to that background. What’s a lore? A lore is like a very specific knowledge skill. You can have lore in pretty much anything, as long as it has a very narrow focus. Examples include Vampire Lore, Desna Lore, Circus Lore, and Farming Lore. During downtime, lore skills can also be used to make an income. There are a lot of backgrounds up for offer in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook (nineteen!) and you can expect to see a whole lot more in the future. Each adventure path will offer new backgrounds that will tie your characters to the story. The Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn is the first example of this, and provides a further six backgrounds to choose from. The Playtest Rulebook backgrounds include: acolyte, acrobat, animal whisperer, barkeep, blacksmith, criminal, entertainer, farmhand, gladiator, hunter, labourer, merchant, noble, nomad, sailor, scholar, scout, street urchin, and warrior. Although all of the backgrounds are equally ‘good,’ I particularly like the entertainer and the nomad, while my daughter enjoys the animal whisperer, and my son enjoys the warrior.

Past the Background we get to a short section on selecting languages. Players with very high intelligence scores will be surprised to find they don’t get as many languages as in Pathfinder First Edition, with an intelligence over 14 now granting a single bonus language!

Up next is the chapter on Classes. The classes available for the playtest include Alchemist, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, and Wizard. Despite these being familiar to you, each class has plenty of new features, and offers a lot of adaptability. In addition to hp, special abilities and a selection of class feats you can choose from in order to tailor your class to your character, each class also gives you proficiencies in saving throws, perception, and in various weapons, armour and shields. It also gives you a number of skills you can choose to be trained in. Spellcasters get spells, characters get abilities and so on. Now, you really need to read the classes to get a feel for them, so we’re not going to take too close of a look at them. What I will say is that each class we’ve tested in my house has turned out to be a lot of fun. My favourites include Bard (who can use some of their performances an unlimited number of times per day!), Sorcerer (whose spell list and type of magic is determined by their bloodline), and Paladin (who are just plain awesome!). My children particularly enjoyed the druid.

Next up is Skills. This chapter goes over each of the skills, how to calculate their modifiers, and what they can be used for. This is also where you’ll find the rules for crafting, performing and lore. Even experienced players need to give this chapter a read, as there are some changes to the skills. For example, grabbing, grappling and shoving are all tied to your Athletics skill. Yeah. Neat. Skills definitely do more for you now, than they used to. Also, anyone can make attempt any skill check. Obviously, they won’t all be as good at it, but the potential is there, which is nice. That said, some skills have uses that can only be used by characters trained in that skill, which is a nice feature.

After skills we get to the chapter on feats. Now, this section doesn’t have all the feats available in the book. Ancestry feats can be found under ancestries. Instead, it contains all the general, and skill feats available. This chapter is particularly important, because you will gain a LOT of feats.  Beginning characters start with two (at minimum!). One from your ancestry, and one from your background. Most classes grant at least one other feat (sometimes a class feat, sometimes a general or skill feat, and sometimes both). This is a wonderful surprise, which allows customization in a simple way.

After feats you’ll find Equipment. Pathfinder Playtest uses silver as the core coin (instead of gold) which means that the price of gear will be different than what you’re used to. There’s also been some changes to the armour, weapons, and weight systems — all for the better in my opinion! Definitely give the information at the start of this chapter a read before trying to spend your coin! Haha.

Past equipment you get into spells. This begins with a lot of important information about magic, spells, and how they work. Definitely don’t skip this part! Haha. There are four major spell lists: Arcane, Divine, Occult, and Primal. I’m fond of all of them. In addition, you’ll find tenth level spells. After the spell lists are spell descriptions. Amongst these spells you’ll also find a lot of class abilities that are cantrips, or run off of spell points. This includes domain powers, and bardic compositions (among others). Although I understand the purpose of including them here (in alphabetical order alongside the spells), it made it hard to make class choices. For example, if I’m looking for all the bardic compositions (which are a type of cantrip) I have to search through the entire chapter and read the spell traits to find them. There is no compiled list of bardic compositions and, as they are not class spells, they don’t appear on any of the Spell Lists. It’s a giant pain in the butt. Haha. I sincerely hope they find a better way to sort this in the future, cause all that sifting sucks. Not only that, it’s a drain on your time.

I also found (after a lot of jumping between chapters to hunt them down) that a lot of the domain powers weren’t as good as they used to be. Which is unfortunate. I’d gladly trade my cleric of Desna’s domain power from the Playtest with pretty much any other Domain power from First Edition. An unfortunate outcome! Still, it will take more playtesting to determine if it all balances out in the end.

Past this we come to a short chapter on how to level up your characters. In addition, you’ll find the rules for multiclassing and archetypes here. The system for this is very easy to understand, and allows for a lot of cool character concepts. Essentially, you can choose to take archetype or multiclass feats in place of your class feat at any given level — presuming you meet the feat requirements. There’s a bit more to it than that, of course, but not by much. It’s a simple, elegant way to handle multi classing and archetypes without causing characters to fall behind the powers of their peers. I really like it. Definitely give it a read!

Later in the chapter you’ll find the rules for animal companions, familiars, and gods. The rules in all of these categories were fun and easy to use, particularly the rules for familiars. We got ours created in only a few minutes! Wonderful! Of course, I did have questions. It’s specifically pointed out that you can only have one animal companion. But, this is not specified under familiars. Does this mean you can potentially have more than one? My son chose a gnome ancestry feat which granted him a familiar, and then later earned a vine leshy familiar from being a plant druid. Does this mean he gets both? I’ve yet to find a definitive answer, but if you’ve read an official answer somewhere, (or know the page its on that I’ve missed) let me know! I’d love to read the ruling. Another problem with familiars turned out to be damage. Although it mentions the attack rolls they can make, it doesn’t say how much damage one does if it tries to attack. This came up on one of our first combat rounds in our first playtest when my son sent his vine leshy to attack. He hit! And… we had no damage. Haha. I decided that it would do 1 damage unless I found an official ruling that says otherwise. Know of one? Let me know! We’d love to see it!

After this comes a very important chapter entitled ‘Playing the Game.’ Reading it is mandatory. Haha. It’s around 35 pages long and includes all the rules you need to play as a player, as well as the conditions found in the game. Important stuff.

After that is another very important chapter called ‘Game Mastering.’ This chapter includes everything you need to know to run the game as a GM (in addition to the content for players). This chapter is shorter — at only around twenty pages — but its also denser and more complicated. Admittedly, I had to go back and reread parts a few times, particularly regarding exploration mode, downtime mode, hazards, and DCs. I expect I’ll have to reference both this chapter and the ‘Playing the Game’ chapter plenty over the next year, as I get a handle on the rules. In my opinion, the game is easier to learn to play and GM that Pathfinder First Edition was, so I’m pleased, even if reading these chapters caused me a few headaches.

After this we come to (pretty much) the last chapter. Treasure. This is where you’ll find information on wealth, treasure distribution, special nonmagical gear, alchemical items, runes, trinkets, and magic items. There’s a lot of fun stuff in here that you’re going to love reading. I highly recommend discovering these on your own. I will say that I particularly enjoyed the addition of snares, and that I expect to make a character who utilizes them in the near future. I also really like the rune system for making magical weapons and armour. Its very similar to the fusion system in Starfinder.

Past this is the appendices and then the book is over.

That’s it, that’s all! But, that’s not all that I have to say. There are a few things I’d like to mention before wrapping up.

First: Hero Points. I loved them. Each character starts each session with one hero point, and can earn up to one extra each session as a player (for doing something awesome for the group like bringing snacks, tracking gear, or hosting the game) and one extra as a character (for doing something awesome in character like saving someone’s life, being generous, expert teamwork, or accomplishing an important task in game). These points can be used to save yourself from death, reroll a d20, or take an extra action. They’re useful, awesome, and add a great new element to the game. (My daughter’s determined to be the loot-tracker from now on in order to earn that extra point!).

Second: Dying. During our first play session, my husband’s character died. Quickly. All things considered, from the moment he fell unconscious at Dying 1, only a single full round occurred before he died. Two ill-aimed splash damage brought him to Dying 2, and then to Dying 3 with the second instance, and on his turn he failed his first and only fortitude save against death, which brought him to Dying 4: Dead. This was WAY too fast. Sure, he could’ve used Hero Points to save himself. If he had any. He had already fallen unconscious two other times that session, and had used up all his Hero Points. And he wasn’t the only one. My daughter also fell unconscious once during the session, and my son nearly did. Ouch! I found not only did we fall unconscious quite a bit, but we died too QUICK. For a lot of players, a dead character is an end to fun. Especially if your chances for recovery were so brief.

Third: Identifying Magical Items: After you realize something is magical (or alchemical), it takes an HOUR to identify the object. An HOUR. This means, that if you’re the kind of group who doesn’t rest unless its necessary, you can go an entire adventure without knowing what any of your treasure does. In fact, when we played Doomsday Dawn in my house, we went the entire first adventure without knowing what anything did. That means we didn’t get any use out of any treasure. At all. That’s absurd! Now, there are some ways for your characters to shorten this time to ten minutes (or evens shorter at higher levels), which is more manageable. Heck, I even understand the intent. If it takes more time and effort to identify magical objects, that makes them more special. They’ve got an air of mystery about them. That’s cool. But, if it takes so long to identify a healing potion, that without someone specialized in identifying magical or alchemical objects, the group can’t even figure out its a healing potion during their adventure, than what good is it? Now, I know plenty of players like to stop a LOT when they play. Maybe you’re even one of them. The group that gets loot or takes a few wounds and says, ‘We should head back and recover!’ or ‘We should go sell what we’ve found and come back!’ That’s fine. You won’t be hampered by this. But, I’m not that kind of player. Neither are my family or my friends. We very often take on entire missions until we HAVE to rest, due to our wounds. Or we HAVE to recover our spells. Or we’ve spent the whole day and our characters are actually sleepy. This is particularly true in Pathfinder Society missions, which very often occur in a single day on a timeline. This system strikes me as very problematic, unless you specifically ensure your groups always have a way to shorten it. But, why force a group to do so? That’s going to replace another skill or class feat they could have taken. It just… Reading the rules for identifying magical objects didn’t sit right with me. Then we made our characters, brought them to playtest, and it turned out to be both a problem and a handicap. An unfortunate occurrence which we’ve given feedback on.

Fourth: Resonance. This is your character’s natural ability to activate and utilize magical objects. You have a number of resonance equal to your level plus your Charisma modifier. You can invest resonance ahead of time in an object that grants a long-term effect, or spend resonance on the fly to activate a magical object upon use. It’s meant to help replace gear slots (head, hand, and so on). Kind of cool, right? Sure. Until you start counting it out. Want to wear a magical cloak? Cool, 1 point. Want to drink a potion? Cool one point! Wait! One point? What if you only start with one point? What if you’re dying and you have no points? A friend can’t even shove a potion in your mouth to save you?Sort of. When you’re out of points you can attempt to overspend resonance you don’t have in order to activate the magical object anyway. This is a flat check with a DC equal to 10 + the number of points you’ve overspent (including any times you’ve tried and failed). If you pass the magic works, and if you fail it doesn’t (and you can’t attempt to activate that item again until the next day). If you critically fail (roll a 1) you can’t attempt to invest any other magical items at all that day. Ouch! Resonance is of particular interest to alchemists, who need to infuse their alchemical items with resonance in order to craft them. Okay, I can see that, I guess. Particularly for potions and such. Luckily, alchemist’s get to base their resonance off of their Intelligence, instead of their Charisma. But why should the alchemist have to spend resonance to make an acid flask when a wizard can cast cantrip and deal comparable damage at will? Yeah, I get WHY. There’s plenty of justifications. It’s an item, they’re not spell casters, so on and such. But… I don’t know. Both resonance, and the alchemist’s reliance on it is one of those new rules that I read, and just didn’t sit right. So far in playtests around my house it’s been a bit of a problem. Our alchemist was out of resonance within the first fight and had to rely on overspending resonance the entire rest of the adventure. She didn’t critically fail, thank goodness, but if she had, her character would have been completely shut down. She literally would have had to punch people with her gauntlet (a bad idea with her low strength and poor AC) or throw a rock at them (another bad idea). And if a whole character can be shut down so easily (at low levels, at least), that’s probably a problem. Similarly, our dwarf started with no resonance at all. Feeding him a potion in order to save his life was a fifty-fifty chance the first time, with the odds getting worse from there. Considering how quickly he died when he fell unconscious, that’s brutal. Ugh. Now, that said, I haven’t play tested the game enough yet, to make a final decision on resonance. Maybe it’s better with other classes. Maybe it’s less trouble at higher levels. Maybe this is meant to show that magic items are rare and special, tying it into the length of time that it takes to identify them. Maybe we’re not meant to really use something like a healing potion at low level. Maybe other groups didn’t have trouble at all. But so far, it’s been trouble for our groups. I hope that’s not the case in the future. I’d be particularly interested to see how resonance has worked out for you. If you’ve got an experience to share let me know!

Fifth: Initiative. You don’t have one. Instead you initiative is based on your perception modifier. Occasionally, if your character is doing something specific, you can roll a different skill in its place. For example, if you’re swimming your GM might rule you can use Athletics as initiative this time, or stealth if you’re in hiding. And so on. I loved this.

Overall, I really enjoyed the Pathfinder Playtest so far. I like the changes they’ve made to the game system, character creation, and treasure. I like it a lot, actually. That said, I have some questions which need clarifying, and we did run into trouble. We felt it took too long to identify magical items. We felt resonance was too limiting — especially for alchemists. And we felt the that dying turned into dead way too fast. It’s a good game, and we’re going to play it a lot more over the next year so that we can turn our feedback in to Paizo and they can make this next edition the best that it can be.

At the moment, do I think it’s better than Pathfinder First Edition? …I don’t think I can answer that. It’s new, and going to take some getting used to. Meanwhile, I’ve been playing Pathfinder since before it was Pathfinder. It’s nostalgic and homey. You know? I think it would be unfair to compare the two in that manner until I completely get the hang of the new rules. That said, I can answer a similar question. When it comes down to it, I like Pathfinder better than Starfinder. But do I like Pathfinder Playtest better than Starfinder? …No. Not yet. Maybe one day. But, at the moment, the Drift’s got more sway over me.

Well, that’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed this short look at the Pathfinder Playtest, and my opinions on it. I’d really love to hear your opinions and experiences with the Playtest rules, so if you’ve given it a try be sure to leave a comment. If you haven’t downloaded the free PDFs for the Pathfinder Playtest I highly recommend you head on over to Paizo’s website and do so. It’s free! There’s not much you’ve got to lose. Haha. Those of you hoping to get physical copies can find them here: Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, Pathfinder Playtest Deluxe Rulebook, Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn, Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack.

Until next time,
Jessica

Playtest

Pathfinder Playtest

Pathfinder Playtest RulebookPathfinder Playtest.

It’s here!

Finally, it’s here!

For some of you this might be irrelevant. Others, a little scary.

But me?

I’m excited.

I’m getting up first thing in the morning and heading over to Paizo’s website to download my free copy of everything Pathfinder Playtest. I’ll read it within a day or two, and soon be testing out the character creation process. I’ll be teaching it to my kids by the start of next week, and trying my hand at GMing an adventure for them shortly after. I’ll download the Playtest PFS scenarios as soon as they launch next week, and have reviews up on them within a day or two. When Gameday comes I’ll have a chance to try the game out as a player. Afterwards, I hope to have a chance to play again. Then there’s surveys to fill out and feedback to give, so that Paizo can make this next version of Pathfinder the best that it can be.

So what’s first?

Everything is be available on the Pathfinder Playtest landing page, so head there first and see what there is on offer. Want it all? Click ‘Download All.’ Easy!

But, what exactly is there to download?

The first thing you’ll want to download is the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook. This is a short version of the rules which give you all the information you need to know in order to play Pathfinder Playtest, GM it, create and level up characters. Now, as the Playtest, this is not a full Rulebook. It’s not what you’ll see when Pathfinder Second Edition launches next year. It’s a streamlined Rulebook with everything you need to know to try out the game. To try running the game. And to make a wide variety of characters. This is the major download. Read it. Enjoy it. Give it a shot. Make characters. Try new things. Share it with your family and friends. Help them make characters.

Pathfinder Playtest Doomsday DawnAfter this you should download Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn. This adventure is actually a series of short, multi-encounter adventures which are linked over a decade of time to tell one epic story. Ancient Osirion features a wide variety of magical clocks which have been counting down through millennia. Previously a mystery, these Countdown Clocks will soon reach 0, at a time when Golarion will line up with the foul planet of Aucturn and allow the horrifying and mysterious Dominion of Black to surge across the world. Your players will travel throughout Golarion over a decade in order to understand the Countdown Clocks, defeat the Dominion of Black, and save Golarion! These mini-adventures are designed to show off and test a wide variety of game mechanics and adventure styles.

I’m thrilled for the Doomsday Dawn, particularly because I first read about the Countdown Clocks back when the The Pact Stone Pyramid was released before Pathfinder had its own rules set. I found the clocks so intriguing I made a whole campaign around it (which was pretty awesome if I do say so myself!). Unfortunately, that was one of the games that fell apart through the years (multiple pregnancies from both a player and myself were the joyous reason that campaign never got played through to its conclusion). I’m thrilled to see what the Paizo team does with it!

Those of you who will be GMing also need to download the Pathfinder Playtest Bestiary (link not available at the time of posting) which contains all the monster rules you’ll need to run the Doomsday Dawn. You’ll likely also want to download the Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack. This contains digital downloads of four major encounter areas in the Doomsday Dawn Adventure. These maps are said to include a burnt-out crypt, a ruined temple, a wizard’s tower, and an astronomer’s underground laboratory. I have high hopes for these maps, so I can’t wait to see them.

Those of you hoping to get your hands on a physical copy of these books can try their hand on Paizo’s website, or order them on Amazon: Pathfinder Playtest RulebookPathfinder Playtest Rulebook Deluxe HardcoverPathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday DawnPathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack.

And that’s it!

For now.

On August 7th Paizo releases three Pathfinder Society Scenarios for the Pathfinder Playtest (all of which are free). The first, Pathfinder Society Playtest #1: The Rose Street Revenge, is a series of four tier 1 quests that task the PCs with investigating a series of murders perpetrated by the Rose Street Killer, who has been targeting recently freed slaves. They’ll get to ally with kobolds, explore the Puddles, and… do some other exciting stuff that I’m not yet privy to! Haha. This scenario is written by Leo Glass, Thurston Hillman, Joe Pasini, and Linda Zayas-Palmer, so you know it’s going to be awesome!

Pathfinder Playtest Scenario #2: Raiders of Shrieking Peak is a tier 5 scenario written by Luis Loza. Recently, the Pathfinders discovered an Iomedean artifact that was being shipped overland from Diobel to Absalom. Unfortunately the caravan transporting it was attacked and its up to your PCs to find the thieves, and retrieve the relic. It sounds like this scenario is intended to have multiple ways to achieve your goals, which should allow both combat heavy groups, and diplomatic groups to try out different aspects of the game. The only art I’ve seen for this scenario so far features a harpy, so I’m very intrigued! (Fans of my Legacy of Fire novelization will know I’m a huge fan of harpies as potentially dangerous NPCs. Undrella was awesome!)

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Sebnet Sanserkoht, a gnome Pathfinder from Pathfinder Society Playtest #3: Arclord’s Envy. Art by Javier Charro.

Pathfinder Society Playtest #3: Arclord’s Envy is a tier 5 scenario written by Liz Lydell which I am most excited for. It takes place in NEX, which is a place I’ve never had a chance to play in before, and is a mystery investigation that I know pretty much nothing about! It said to reflect the location wonderfully, and have some flexibility, which ensures that the mystery is different each time you play. This is particularly important since all of the PFS scenarios are replayable.

Well, I’m off now. I’ve got to download the Playtest materials myself, after all. Here’s hoping the website doesn’t crash…

Best of luck!

Jessica

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New Pathfinder Society Scenarios: Beneath Unbroken Waves and Betrayal in the Bones

Today we’re going to take a look at two of the most recent Pathfinder Society Scenarios that are currently available for purchase, and let you know we thought. Although you’ll find references to events in each that I liked or disliked, and comments about specific characters, these scenarios are not explored in detail. It’s not my intention to spoil the events in these scenarios, or give summaries and full reviews, but to share my opinions and provide recommendations. That said, if you want to avoid even minor spoilers then I recommend clicking on a different article. Whether you intend to use them in home games of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, sanctioned scenarios for use with the Pathfinder Society Organized Play, or just want to read a nifty new adventure, we’ve got you covered! So let’s get cracking!

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Scenario #9-24: Beneath Unbroken Waves. A tier 5-9 adventure by Kate Baker.

Scenario #9-24: Beneath Unbroken Waves is a Tier 5-9 adventure written by (the amazing and super nice) Kate Baker! It takes place off the coast of the Isle of Jalmeray, in a region of the Obari Ocean known as the Deadly Ocean Passage. For more information on the Isle of Jalmeray, check out the Inner Sea World Guide. This scenario features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary, Bestiary 2, Bestiary 3 and Bestiary 5 (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario) and utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Ship, Pathfinder: Flip-Mat: Sunken City, and a custom map. This mission is of particularly importance to members of the Concordance faction.

This adventure gives the PCs a mysterious key that moves of its own accord and tasks them with taking it to its destination, exploring the site, and discovering what it opens. The location is known to be underwater, and involves a lost monastic academy.  This mission makes heavy use of the underwater combat rules so GMs should refresh their memories on those rules (a handy summary is provided in this scenario) and players should select their PC carefully. If you’ve got sailors, swimmers, monks, unarmed fighters, members of the Concordance, or undine, now is a great time to take them for a spin (all for different reasons).  Do not bring someone who relies on ranged combat, slashing weapons or bludgeoning weapons (they don’t work well underwater). This scenario starts with a very engaging mission briefing with a refreshing Venture-Captain (Rashmivati Melipdra of Niswan) who I desperately want to be pals with! Haha. There’s a fun navigation portion to this adventure. The first battle is very interesting, while another had some great hazards in play. The finale is a blast and looks like it could be a challenge. There were plenty of great opportunities for social encounters, and some interesting NPCs you can interact with. All of the enemies have distinct goals that really show in their tactics, which was awesome to see. Overall I thought this scenario was great fun. I can’t wait to play it. I give it four out of five stars.

Scenario #9-25: Betrayal in the Bones is a Tier 12-15 adventure written by Tom Phillips. It takes place in the ossuary of Taal Mornat in the Five Kings Mountains. For more information on The Five Kings Mountains check out the Inner Sea World Guide, or Pathfinder Player Companion: Dwarves of Golarion. This scenario features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary, Bestiary 2, Bestiary 3, Bestiary 4 and Bestiary 5 (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario). It utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Twisted Caverns, Pathfinder Map Pack: Evil Ruins, and a custom map. This mission is of particularly importance to members of the Grand Lodge faction.

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Scenario #9-25: Betrayal in the Bones. A tier 12-15 adventure by Tom Phillips.

This adventure tasks the PCs with entering Taal Mornat, and capturing or killing two enemies of the Pathfinder Society: the demoniac Ex-Venture-Captain Thurl, and the assassin Pasha Muhlia al-Jakri. I highly recommend that players bring along any of their characters who have had run ins with these characters in the past, or have gone up against their machinations and plots. Thurl can be found in Scenarios: #2-08: Sarkorian Prophesy, #5-09: The Traitor’s Lodge, #5-24: Assault on the Wound, #5-25: Vengeance at the Sundered Crag, #7-17: Thralls of the Shattered God, #9-06: Shores of Heaven, and the Special: Siege of the Diamond City. As for Muhlia? As the old leader of the Qadiran Faction, she’s been mentioned and featured in a ton of early scenarios, but most notably #2-21: The Dalsine Affair, #3-25: Storming the Diamond Gate#6-05: Slave Ships of Absalom, and #6-11: Slave Master’s Mirror. This scenario is a direct sequel to #9-21: In the Grandmaster’s Name. That said, due to the tier difference, it won’t be played by the same characters. For more information on #9-21 check out my previous blog post here. This is also a great scenario to play any dwarves you have, or characters who have the ‘Hero of the Five Kings’ boon.

muhlia al-jakri - betrayal in the bones
Muhlia Al-Jakri from Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-25: Betrayal in the Bones.

Now, heading into an ancient dwarven ossuary to get two bad guys isn’t as easy as it sounds. Thurl has drawn a portion of an abyssal labyrinth to the region, making the corridors incredibly dangerous and difficult to navigate. By the time you arrive, many dwarves have gone missing or lost their lives in an attempt to oust the intruders from their holy site. In addition, monsters made from the desecrated remains of the dwarves ancestors have come out of the ossuary and slaughtered a legion of dwarven soldiers. Players who don’t want to try navigating the labyrinth can attempt to enter through the volcanic fissure above the mountain, but its clear that this will likely be an even more difficult task than the labyrinth — especially since no one’s even sure if the fissure can take you to Thurl and Muhlia. Either way, I like that the option is there. Particularly for such high-level PCs.

The next line I’m about to write is a bit more of a spoiler than I normally include, so it gets its own special warning! If you don’t want to read it, skip the rest of this paragraph! The labyrinth portion of this scenario was surprisingly short, and fell a little flat, I felt. Although the battle within was great, it just didn’t feel like you were trapped in a labyrinth. The battle was really well done, though. And I love the… added complications involved.

There were some fun NPCs to interact with, my favourite of which was Borsaget. She’s awesome, although not all groups will end up getting to meet her. Muhlia was very well done! I’m curious to see how different groups handle her (and the arguments that are sure to pop up regarding her fate). Thurl is much more of a classic villain, which will give players someone to unite against and give the characters they bring some much needed closure. Some groups may uncover clues in this scenario that can lead them to the location of another enemy of the society (which is sure to be covered in an upcoming Pathfinder Society Scenario). Overall I thought this was a great, challenging scenario that did an awesome job of wrapping up Thurl and Muhlia’s story. I give it four out of five stars.

Thanks for tuning in today! Be sure to head over to Paizo’s website tomorrow and download the free rulebook for the Pathfinder Playtest! I’ll race you to it!

Jessica

beneath unbroken waves falehetu nicolas espinoza
Falehetu from Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-24: Beneath Unbroken Waves. Illustrated by Nicolas Espinoza.
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