Character Focus: Danicka Raburnus

Hello everyone! I hope you had a great weekend.

This Mother’s Day my kids wrote me poems and stories, drew me pictures, cards, and books. My son even made me a coaster to hold my drink. And my husband? He and my children got me character art commissioned for my favourite Pathfinder Society character!

I’ve never had character art for a character of mine before. My kids and I have drawn pictures of some of our characters on occasion. And sure, a picture here or there might inspire us to make a character similar in appearance. But custom professional art? Unheard of! So it was with great shock and surprise I awoke to discover my family had somehow procured gorgeous art of my beloved -1 PFS character. 

Clearly I have a wonderful family and am beyond spoiled. Today I’m going to share that art with you!

Introducing Danicka Raburnus and her vicious dog, Prickles!

Danicka-and-Prickles
Danicka Raburnus and Prickles. Original characters of mine for the Pathfinder Society Organized Play program. Art by the amazing Joe Nittoly

Danicka Raburnus was my very first Pathfinder Society character. My -1. I had played Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons, and other RPGs for a long time before making Danicka, but she was the first character meant for organized play. She marked my entry into the Pathfinder Society, and was the first in a series of wonderful characters, delightful roleplaying, and exciting adventures.

Danicka is… far from perfect. When it came time to create Danicka I wanted to do something different. Everyone has characters who are attractive, intelligent, healthy, brave, and so on. People who are special. Heroes. They’re not all perfect, and many have a flaw or two, but they usually have quite a few redeeming qualities. I’ve got plenty, myself. So when it came time to make Danicka I wanted to create a character who was different than those I’d made before. Someone who wasn’t a hero. Who wasn’t special. Someone hopelessly flawed and regrettably forgettable. Someone who wanted to be special, who wanted to be the hero, but just wasn’t.

I have a soft spot for making, strong, independent, female characters. I love playing half-orcs and dwarves. I love bards, rogues, oracles, and sorcerers. Adaptable characters with a flaw or two, and a bit of a scoundrel’s streak.

So I went out of my way to make Danicka different.

I made her a wizard, which I rarely do. And I went out of my way to make her as unremarkable as possible. She has an archetype that prevents her from having a familiar or an arcane bond––qualities that make her feel inferior to her fellow wizards and spellcasters. She learned spells that are visually unremarkable. No fireballs or flashy magic for this girl! She was intelligent and wise, but too shy and nervous to speak her mind.

I never use complimentary words to describe her. I don’t call her pretty, or fit, or athletic, or slender. She’s not even skinny. She’s scrawny. Boney. Her hair is frazzled, limp, plain, or mousey. Her skin is not like porcelain, or alabaster. It’s pale, freckled, and ink-stained. Her clothes are nice but ill-fitting, out of fashion, and in dull colours. She doesn’t show off any skin, covering herself from neck to fingers and toes. She doesn’t even wear nice boots, just flimsy cotton shoes that flop and squelch wildly whenever they get wet. She wears a floppy hat on her head. She has poor vision and wears plain spectacles.

It’s not that these qualities are undesirable or unattractive. They’re not. It’s that I designed her to be average and blend in, and that I describe all of her qualities in as uncomplimentary a fashion as I can.

She shrieks in battle. Gets queasy. Stammers, stutters, whimpers, and whispers. Her efforts to make friends are awkward and almost always end in failure. She’s shy and meek. Easily scared (often terrified!). She faints on occasion (though never in a way or at a time that would hinder her mission or the game). She’s weak, awkward, and extraordinarily clumsy.

But amidst all those awkward and oddly endearing qualities, she’s a hero. Not outwardly. Certainly not obviously. But she’s a good person. She won’t take a life. Ever. And she won’t condone it from her allies. In fact, wanton violence, destruction, theft, and other illegal deeds are among the only things that she’ll speak out against. She’d rather remove an enemy from a fight than cause someone harm. I gave her merciful spell as a feat to ensure her few damage dealing spells aren’t lethal. She’ll stabilize unconscious enemies, hurl herself into danger to protect someone else, and is always the first person to offer healing potions to the wounded. She’s generous and kind. She won’t lie and always gives her enemies a chance to surrender.

So, who was Danicka? Where did she come from? And what make such an ordinary, meek woman want to be a hero?

Danicka was born to a hero. Her mother, Portia Raburnus, was a wizard of great renown who helped saved the city of Magnimar not just once, but on three occasions. Danicka has always wanted to be just like her mother, and grew up studying the arcane arts. Her mother passed away five years ago, right before Danicka began her formal training at the local magical academy, Stone of Seers. Danicka always keeps her mother’s arcane bonded item with her—a highly decorative quarterstaff that looks remarkably like a broom. She had hoped to use the broom as her own arcane bonded item, but could never manage to make it work.

Danicka did well in school, but despite her academic achievements she was constantly overlooked—for Danicka was ordinary looking, and incredibly shy. Regrettably forgettable. Most people don’t even remember Portia Raburnus had a daughter.

Danicka’s recently graduated and set out to finally prove herself brave and bold! A hero, like her mother! She marched right into the local Pathfinder Lodge and demanded a job. Unfortunately, her demand came out a nervous whisper and they hired her as a maid. But, sweeping the floors used by bolder souls with her mother’s broom isn’t enough for Danicka Raburnus! She’s going to prove herself one day! Maybe after she’s done cleaning up the common room…

Danicka is incredibly shy. She speaks rarely, and when she does its in a whisper. She’s constantly trying to work up the courage to be louder, to make friends, and to do something, but her attempts at friendship always come out in awkward stuttering bursts, and her attempts to speak her mind end up with her randomly yelling something (and then losing the courage to finish). She’s easily embarrassed and was bullied on occasion in school (when her classmates could be bothered to remember she was there).

Danicka studies hard and loves to learn new things. She knows she’s a young woman of many flaws and is trying desperately to change. She wants to be brave and bold, but has yet to break out of her shell and really be herself.

Mechanically, she’s a wizard with the exploiter wizard archetype that’s a member of the Silver Crusade faction of the Pathfinder Society. She took the traits tireless logic and volatile conduit. Her beginning feats were eschew materials and merciful spell, although she later added spell focus (enchantment). She’s knowledgable and speaks a wide array of languages. For her first exploiter exploit she chose energy shield, although she never had the opportunity to use it until many adventures had passed. Some of her most commonly prepared low-level spells are daze, detect magic, read magic, comprehend languages, mage armour, shield, sleep, and merciful ray of frost or merciful magic missile. In time she learned that outsiders and undead were a threat her non-lethal methods couldn’t handle, so she started carrying a lethal wand, a few lethal scrolls, and some holy water around to combat such irredeemable threats.

I had intended to keep her a wizard for the entirety of her career, but along the way, things changed. Danicka changed.

After Danicka’s first mission in the world of play-by-post gaming, she was invited to join an ongoing campaign run by the delightful and incredibly talented GM ShieldBug. For a wonderful seven scenarios she had the pleasure of playing in a consistent group of awesome players. Her companions were very different from Danicka. Some were weird, some were liars, some were scoundrels, and most were violent. They pushed her buttons, shoved her out of her comfort zone, tested her morals, and urged her to change. With them she found her backbone. She found courage. She faced peer-pressure and discovered that there were things worth fighting for, even if it meant standing up to your allies. She made friends. She made enemies. She made mistakes. She became a hero. She saved people and towns.

Mostly, she was embarrassed.

But it wasn’t only Danicka that changed. Her friends did, too. She made them better people. And they made her brave.

On one of her adventures she was forced to interact with terrifying, man-eating, Thuvian desert dog. Miraculously she bonded with it, though it terrified her to no end. Later in the scenario she was forced to face the dog in combat, and she managed to convince him to stand down. The mission came to an end and I was faced with a turning point. Move on? Or keep the dog?

Danicka kept the dog. She named him Prickles, for his spiky fur (matted with the blood of his enemies) and terrifying demeanour. Although I could have just bought a dog and remained a wizard, I chose to multiclass Danicka into druid. I selected another understated archetype (the wonderful wild whisperer!) that removed some of the flashier of the druids abilities and replaced it with investigator’s inspiration and talents. She began to take ranks in handle animal, and survival. She used her druid spell slots to prepare healing magic. She took the feat boon companion, and statted up Prickles as a wolf.

Danicka spent the next while attempting to tame her vicious dog. I took great glee in role-played her fear of her own pet, and her worry that it will hurt someone. Prickles is clearly the alpha of the duo, but he usually listens to Danicka’s pleas. That said, out of fear, Danicka never tells Prickles to attack anyone. She’s too afraid she won’t be able to stop him from killing. Instead, she orders him to stay by her side. Mechanically, Prickles has the bodyguard archetype. He’s always on ‘defend’ and won’t enter a fight unless Danicka is hurt. However, if she’s hurt he flies into a rage and attacks whoever wounded her until they’re dead. Usually Danicka hurls herself between the enemy and her dog before they are devoured, but once or twice Prickles killed something––an event which filled Danicka with great regret. For his part, Prickles is used to his ‘pet’s’ panicked shrieks and mewling. But he’s incredibly territorial and won’t stand for anyone touching his ‘pet.’ Not even her allies. He’s a bit cantankerous, and won’t take ‘orders’ from anyone other than Danicka. And he only listens to Danicka if she begs.

All in all, they’re a comical pair, with my shy wizard desperately trying to handle her overwhelming pet.

On her most recent missions, Danicka’s had to bid her old friends farewell. She’s gone on new adventures with new teammates. Only Prickles has remained by her side. But, despite the distance, it’s her old friends that continue to drive her and inspire her. Mhazruk Kruhl and his terrifying familiar Needle, the burly Yaiho Crasher, the tap-dancing escaped-slave Forrest Glavo, the eccentric Arin Qualnoh blessed (or perhaps cursed) by the gods, and Brock Swiftread, a scoundrel if there ever was one. They’re the closest thing to family she’s ever had.

So here’s to Danicka and Prickles, and all the people and characters who have made her who she is. Here’s to the people who have GMed for her and played alongside her. The people who have put up with her panicked shrieks and bleeding heart. Here’s to my family, who brought one of my very favourite characters to life. And here’s to Joe Nittoly, the amazing artist who drew her. Thank you! Thank you! And thank you again! You’re the best!

And here’s to all of you, for taking the time to read about one of my favourite characters. Maybe I’ll see you around a PFS table one day.

Cheers!

Jessica

May New Releases

May is here and plethora of new gaming products are hitting shelves! Check out this month’s new d20 releases!


Dungeons and Dragons

Dungeons and Dragons is releasing two very exciting products this month. Stranger Things D&D Roleplaying Game Starter Set contains everything players need to get started playing D&D – a basic rulebook, an adventure, a set of dice, five character sheets, and an awesome enemy to face off against – all in a retro red box with a Stranger Things twist. The adventure is written in the style of Mike Wheeler, a character and DM from Stranger Things, and pits PCs against a mysterious castle and the Demogorgon! The pre-made character sheets feature the kids D&D characters from Stranger Things, including Dustin the Dwarf, Will the Wise, and so on. Finally, the set comes with two Demogorgon figures (one painted and one unpainted). You can watch Stranger Things on Netflix (I highly recommend it!).

Due out May 21, Ghosts of Saltmarsh is a collection of seven nautical and coastal themed adventures that vary from levels 1-12. These adventures can be run separately, or combined by DMs into one larger campaign. The adventures contained in this volume are all previously published adventures, including some of the most popular first edition D&D adventures and some from Dungeon Magazine. Adventures in Ghosts of Saltmarsh include:

  • The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh (originally written by Dave J. Browne and Don Turnbull in 1981)
  • Danger at Dunwater (originally written by Dave J. Browne and Don Turnbull in 1982)
  • The Final Enemy (originally written by Dave J. Browne and Don Turnbull in 1983)
  • Isle of the Abbey (originally written by Randy Maxwell for Dungeon Magazine #34)
  • Tammeraut’s Fate (originally written by Greg A. Vaughan for Dungeon Magazine #106)
  • The Styes (originally written by Richard Pett for Dungeon Magazine #121)
  • Salvage Operation (originally written by Mike Mearls for Dungeon Magazine #123)

In addition to the adventures themselves there’s details on the port of Saltmarsh, mechanics for ship-to-ship combat, new monsters, and new magic items.

Launching next month is Beadle & Grimm’s Sinister Silver Edition for Ghosts of Saltmarsh! Currently available for pre-order on their website, the Sinister Silver Edition contains twelve high quality player handouts, a detailed ship map, a reusable ship map, two large scale battle maps, a map of the Styes, 30 encounter cards (which are designed to be hung over a DM screen so players can see images of the monsters they fight while the DM sees it’s statistics), custom DM screen, two objects, bonus encounters, and characters!


Pathfinder

Highlights from last month’s releases include Pathfinder Adventure Path 141: Last Watch (Tyrant’s Grasp 3 of 6) by Larry Wilhelm, and Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Concordance of Rivals. This month’s releases include Pathfinder Adventure Path 142: Gardens of Gallowspire (Tyrant’s Grasp 4 of 6) by Crystal Frasier and Pathfinder Player Companion: Chronicle of Legends, which is the last Pathfinder Player Companion being released for Pathfinder First Edition. Said to include traits and relics that grow in strength with your PCs, feats to support characters who have prestige classes, magic items that gain new abilities when together as a set, and new capstone abilities for all classes! The Player Companion line is certainly going out with a bang! Definitely one I want to get my hands on. Pocket Editions are available this month for Ultimate Wilderness and Occult Adventures.

New maps out this month for Pathfinder include Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The Tyrant’s Grasp Poster Map Folio and Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Bigger Temple.

This month’s Pathfinder Society Scenarios have not yet been announced, although canny players can find them on the schedule for PaizoCon (which takes place later this month in Seattle). For more information on PaizoCon and to register for events head over to https://paizo.com/paizocon!


Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Very exciting news, as this month the new Pathfinder Adventure Card Game in unveiled! Players can test it out in person at PaizoCon or pick up a copy at the end of the month. Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Core Set is the base game, which include all the rules, the Dragons Demand adventure series, and a ton of cards. They’re also releasing Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path which is designed to be mixed into the Core Set to create a whole new series of adventures. For more information on some of the changes you can expect to see in the newest version of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game check out this post, or head straight to the source and check out Paizo’s blog!


Starfinder 

Highlights from last month’s Starfinder releases include Starfinder Adventure Path 15: Sun Divers (Dead Suns 3 of 6) by Joe Pasini and the Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Beginner Box! For more information on the Starfinder Beginner Box you can check out the videos below:

You can also check out a liveplay utilizing the beginner box rules and starring members of Paizo’s staff here.

This month there’s Starfinder Adventure Path 16: The Blind City (Dawn of Flame 4 of 6) to look forward to, as well as Starfinder Flip-Mat: Spaceport. Starfinder Society Scenarios include #1-38: The Many Minds of Historia, a tier 5–8 scenario written by Lyz Liddell and #1-39: The Herald’s War, a tier 7–10 scenario by Mikko Kallio.


WizKids

WizKids releases some lovely products this month, primarily Pathfinder Battles: Ruins of Lastwall! This brand new set of pre-painted miniatures comes in blind booster boxes that contain four minis each – one large figure and three small or medium figures. In addition to buying a single standard booster box you can order a brick of boosters (which contains eight boosters) or a case of boosters (four bricks for a total of 32 boosters). Anyone who orders an entire case of boosters may also order Pathfinder Battles: Ruins of Lastwall: Cemetery of the Fallen Set which is a collection of graveyard themed set dressing! For images you can check out this blog post from last month, or head straight to the source and view the images on WizKids and Paizo’s blog.

Also out this month is Wave 3 of the Wardlings pre-painted miniatures. My kids and I absolutely adore this line of minis. Each one is interesting, highly detailed, and comes with one youthful adventurer and their pet. A few of the new releases also include male and female versions of eccentric adventurers (such as ghosts, goblins, and zombies), or a single large mini (such as a troll of treefolk).


Wayfinder

Wayfinder Fanzine is a free magazine of fan-created content that releases every year at PaizoCon. Typically filled with Pathfinder content, this years topic is Starfinder – more specifically, Absalom Station! Wayfinder #19 is due out later this month, and will be a free download on Paizo’s website. Although not currently on Paizo’s website, you can find all of the previous Wayfinder issues available, which I highly recommend you download and give a read.

My kids and I are particularly excited for this issue, as each of my kids created an alien that’s going to be featured in the magazine! I wrote a few articles as well (which is awesome!) but not nearly as impressive as my kids doing it. Haha. (Pardon my ‘proud mom’ bragging).


And that’s it for this month! Got a favourite release? I’d love to hear about it!

Happy shopping!

Jessica

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jessica

Pathfinder Society Scenarios: What the Helms Hide and On Sevenfingers Sails

Today we’re going to take a look at the most recent Pathfinder Society Scenarios that are 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 started!

PFS #10-16 - What the Helms Hide
Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-16: What the Helm’s Hide.

Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-16: What the Helm’s Hide is a Tier 1-5 repayable scenario that consists of four short one-hour long quests. “Collection,” “Autumn,” “Dust,” and “Witness.” “Collection” should always be played first, “Autumn” and “Dust” may be played in any order, and “Witness” is the thrilling finale. Each quest is penned by a different author, including Calder CaDavid, Lysle Kapp, Kendra Leigh Speedling, and Nate Wright. While Speedling and Wright have written for Paizo before, this will be the first Paizo writing credit going to CaDavid and Kapp. Each quest also comes with its own player handout, which is always nice. Also, this scenario has a lot of great artwork in it!

What the Helms Hide delves into the history of the mysterious masked leaders of the Pathfinder Society, The Decemvirate! Three hundred years ago violence and assassinations directed at Pathfinder Society leaders caused them to don masks to hide their identities. When Master of Scrolls Kreighton Shaine discovers clues that one such assassination attempt may not have happened the way the history books have recorded he seeks the Decemvirate’s blessing and tasks a group of Pathfinders with investigating the clues, digging up the past,  and discovering the truth. This series of quests will take PCs to a variety of locations throughout Golarion’s Inner Sea Region, including Absalom, Andoran, the Five Kings Mountains, and Varisia. It features creatures from BestiaryBestiary 4, and Monster Codex (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario). It contains content from Pathfinder Core RulebookAdvanced Player’s GuideAdvanced Race GuideOccult AdventuresUltimate Equipment, and Pathfinder Player Companion: Champions of Corruption (although all the content needed from Champions of Corruption is included in the scenario itself). It utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Mat: MuseumPathfinder Flip-Mat: Cavernous LairPathfinder Flip-Mat: Arcane Library, and Pathfinder Flip-Tiles: Forest Starter Set. This mission contributes to this years Season of the Ten metaplot and builds on events from the always popular evergreen scenario #6-10: The Wounded Wisp (and, to a lesser extent, #8-04: Wardens of Sulfur Gulch and #9-11: The Jarlsblood Witch Saga).

The first quest, “Collection,” is written by Lysle Kapp and takes place in Korvosa’s Jeggare Museum. Here PCs will need to inspect relics discovered by the famous Pathfinder Helven Leroung and uncover clues about her history and character. You also get to delve into Helven’s relationship with the famous Montlarion Jeggare, for whom the museum (and much more!) is named. His descendant, Mercival Jeggare is curator of the museum and willing to lend you a hand. There’s a lot of information you can learn here, although groups are unlikely to get all of it, which I rather enjoyed. For more information on Korvosa you can check out Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to Korvosa.

“Autumn” is written by Calder Cadavid and takes places in Andoran’s Arthfell Forest. PCs investigate a sliver of the history of the Pathfinder Zaul Blystone. It has amazing art for an NPC, Adelyn Rhinon, which is my favourite art in the scenario. This is a fun quest although I do have one minor complaint. I feel like one of the characters gives up a bit too easily. For more information on Andoran check out Andoran, Birthplace of Freedom.

Decemvirate - Illustration by Ernanda Souza
A member of the Decemvirate.  Illustration by Ernanda Souza. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

“Dust” by Nate Wright takes place in underground Dwarven ruins on the edge of Highhelm. There players get to dig a little deeper into the history of Veldrid Goldborough.  I enjoyed the NPCs in this one and adore the art for Helga Silverbrew. She’s got such a great facial expression. I like enemies in this one a lot, and the… source of information. For further details on the Five Kings Mountains check out the The Inner Sea.

The finale, “Witness,” is written by Kendra Leigh Speedling and was an absolute delight! It takes place in the Grand Lodge of Absalom and involves the PCs enacting a sort of ritual to activate a secret cache hidden by the gnome Pathfinder Eylysia. As Master of Scrolls Kreighton Shaine and two members of the Decemvirate watch on your players get to experience an important event from Eylysia’s past. I won’t say any more to prevent too many spoilers, but I will say it was awesome. I loved the final battle and the revelations it uncovered. And Eylysia’s final line! So good. For more information on the Grand Lodge check out Pathfinder Chronicles: Seekers of Secrets and Pathfinder Society Field Guide.

What the Helms Hide is a really great series of Quests. So great, in fact, that it’s my favourite series of PFS Quests. All of it’s component Quests were enjoyable, but its the finale that really ties it all together and makes it exceptional. Really well done from the whole team of writers. Each Quest has a chance for battle, a social encounter, and to uncover clues regarding their respective mini mysteries. Overall I really enjoyed this scenario. I give it four out of five stars.

PFS #10-17 - On Sevenfingers's Sails by Tom Phillips
Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-17: On Sevenfingers’s Sails

Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-17: On Sevenfingers’s Sails is a Tier 7-11 adventure written by Tom Phillips. During his time on RPG Superstar 2012 Phillips created the Gloomspires, the haunted, mist-shrouded resting place of the infamous Pirate Captain Sempet Sevenfingers. Rising out of the stormy seas of the Shackles, the Gloomspires are a place of unstable dimensional magic, dark horror, and menacing undead, with connections to the nightmare realm of Leng. The Gloomspires were further explored in Pathfinder Society Scenario #6-06: Hall of the Flesh Eaters, Pathfinder Society Scenario #7-19: Labyrinth of Hungry Ghosts, and Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-15: Hrethnar’s Throne. On Sevenfingers’s Sails marks the finale of this series of linked scenarios and finally features Captain Sevenfingers himself. For more information on the Shackles check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Isle of the Shackles and for more information on Leng check out Planar Adventures or Pathfinder Adventure Path 65: Into the Nightmare Rift (Shattered Star 5 of 6).

On Sevenfingers’s Sails features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary, and Bestiary 2Bestiary 3Bestiary 4Bestiary 5Bestiary 6, and the Monster Codex (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario). It contains content from the Pathfinder Core RulebookAdvanced Player’s GuideOccult Adventures, and Ultimate Equipment. This scenario utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: ShipPathfinder Map Pack: Perilous Paths, two custom half-page maps, and (perhaps) Pathfinder Map Pack: Armada.

Sevenfingers - Illustration by Josef Kucera
Captain Sevenfingers. Illustration by Josef Kucera. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Like the three scenarios before it, On Sevenfingers’s Sails features Venture-Captain Calisro Benarry, a half-orc Pathfinder who has sent plenty of Pathfinders into the depths of the Gloomspires. It also features Benarry’s quartermaster Kakikko, and Hrethnar from Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-15: Hrethnar’s Throne. New NPCs introduced include the very disturbing Thael Shivers, Vashthrexa, Nightdrinker, and Sempet Sevenfingers himself.  PCs will need to enter the terrifying tomb, contend with Captain Sevenfingers, and plunder everything they can. Of course, there’s some complications in this mission, and PCs will have to contend with far more than expected. This scenario features an optional Hard Mode for all those players out there who relish a challenge.

The scenario is wonderfully creepy, morbid, and ominous, although  that sort of content is not for everyone. Players who have issues with body horror will want to give this scenario a pass. It’s definitely not an scenario for kids. Any characters who played the previous Gloomspires adventures are going to get a bit more satisfaction out of this scenario than their compatriots who haven’t, and will find they get a few extra bonuses along the way.  This scenario is packed full of atmospheric environments, memorable characters, and foul villains. The battles are challenging and take place in dynamic locations. I particularly enjoyed the final encounter. Really well done! Overall I think this is a really great scenario that won’t be for everyone. It’s creepy, gory, and a great high level challenge. I give it five out of five stars!

Thanks for joining us today!

Jessica

Adventures at RetroCon!

My family and I don’t often have the chance to attend conventions. We don’t usually get to play Pathfinder Society or Starfinder Society games in person. We play a lot via play-by-post (which is a ton of fun) and we play a lot in small family groups. But to actually play in a public venue? That’s a new experience for us.

So, when we discovered that there would be a convention just down the road from our home how could we say no?

I wasn’t sure my kids would behave. Would they remain focused in a noisy room? Would they sit still long enough to get a whole game in? My son’s a fidgeter, and he fiddles with everything, so I was more than a little skeptical. Would we drive our poor GM bonkers?

Most likely.

But, my kids wanted to go, and my husband wanted to go, and of course I wanted to go. So we went.

In the week leading up to RetroCon we decided to make new characters. We have plenty of PFS characters to choose from but my kids wanted to make some that actually matched the minis we own. My son picked out a snazzy little halfling mini and rolled up a gnome shifter to match it — with the new boar options from Wilderness Origins (more on Wilderness Origins in an upcoming blog post!). My daughter chose one of the only minis she personally owns and created a hunter (her first one!). Determined to make use of an adorable little badger mini she owns she selected one as her animal companion. Yes, you read that right. She finally made something that does not involve a rabbit! GASP! My husband made a dwarven warpriest of Cayden Cailean with a mini we picked up from the flea market this past summer. And I was determined to use of one of my painted minis — which means there aren’t many options! Haha. I’ve only painted minis once and, although I had intended to use the four minis I painted right away, none of them ever saw use. I hummed and hawed a bit until I picked up my wealthy looking noblewoman mini and I created an over-enthusiastic librarian who has spent her life reading about the world and was thrilled to finally go out and experience it.

RetroCon Team

We spent the morning packing and double checking our game time. My kids were practically bouncing off the walls in excitement (which is both a good and bad sign! Haha!). It’s a quick walk down the road, but the sidewalks are an icy, rough mess, so that slowed things down a bit. Luckily no one took a spill or got soaked. We had more than enough time to get settled and say some hellos before our GM arrived and the game got started.

Our GM was really great. He had my kids laughing a lot and was super patient. My kids weren’t the most attentive players, my son kept fixating on off-mission activities, and my son made some of the worst tactical decisions of his short PFS career. We probably drove the GM crazy. Haha. Anyway, my kids had a ton of fun. People were saved, villains were defeated, fish were thrown around, my daughter uttered the battle cry ‘nibble nibble,’ and my arcanist finally left the library.

And then we died.

Yup! Total party kill in the final fight. My kids were both in tears.

My son cheered up a bit when he won a special boon — he’s pretty sure he’s going to apply it to Fuzzzy (his forgetful wizard). My daughter didn’t win anything, but someone was walking around handing out bee folders which she assumed was a prize and happily  claimed. She seriously loves this folder. She’s been cooing over it all evening.

By the time we were packed up and on our way home both of my kids decided that — despite having to suffer through their first character death, first PFS character death, and first TPK all in the same afternoon — they had fun. By the time they got home they were already discussing their next characters and when we would get to play next. (I guess we’ll be attending another Game Day in the future). It turned out to be a good first convention for them — tears and all.

Jessica

Near death
We had a good start. The final boss went down quick! Unfortunately, his undead minion did not. A few rounds later and it was the only one still standing. 

Pathfinder Society Scenarios: Debt to the Quah and Tapestry’s Trial

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 I recommend you check out 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!

10-14 - Debt to the QuahPathfinder Society Scenario #10-14: Debt to the Quah is a Tier 3-7 adventure written by Adrian Ng. It takes place in Varisia’s Storval Plateau, in a sepulchre along the Muschkal River, and heavily features the Shoanti people and their culture. For more information on Varisia, the Storval Plateau, and the Shoanti, check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea World GuidePathfinder Player Companion: Varisia, Birthplace of Legends, and Pathfinder Adventure Path 10: A History of Ashes (Curse of the Crimson Throne book 4 of 6). Debt to the Quah features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: BestiaryBestiary 3Monster Codex, and Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Occult Bestiary (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario). In addition to the Pathfinder Core Rulebook it utilizes content from the GameMastery Guide  and Ultimate Equipment, and heavily uses the influence subsystem from Ultimate Intrigue. The influence subsystems and all of its relevant rules are included in an easy to understand Appendix at the back of this scenario. Finally, Debt to the Quah makes use of one map: Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Dungeon.

Recently the Shoanti people of the Storval Plateau were angered by the actions of the Pathfinder Society, when an over-enthusiastic Pathfinder raided and destroyed an important Shoanti burial ground — and then passed it off as Thassilonian. Angered (with reason) at the actions of this Pathfinder many Shoanti are calling for the expulsion of the Pathfinder Society from their lands (or worse!). This adventure tasks the PCs with attending a Shoanti council where they will need to return the grave goods taken from the site, and attempt to salvage what they can of the relationship between the Pathfinder Society and the representatives from the various Shoanti Quahs. More specifically, their goal is to earn a chance to fix the damage that has been done to the ancient Shoanti sepulchre, and make what reparations they can. This scenario doesn’t continue any ongoing storylines and isn’t connected to any factions. If you’ve got any characters who have played a PFS scenario involving the Shoanti people (such as #4-06: The Green Market, #8-22: Wrath of the Fleshwarped Queen, or #8-23: Graves of Crystalmaw Pass), now is a good time to play them. In addition, characters with other connections to the Shoanti, characters who have a respect for foreign cultures and history, and characters who are diplomatic, will all find something to be excited about in this scenario. Reckless, destructive, and rude characters are not going to excel in this adventure.

Michele Giorgi-Sklar
Kemchet Flame Stoker, chosen representative of the Sklar-Quah (Sun Clan). Illustrated by Michele Giorgi. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

First off: I love the premise of this scenario! As a student (once upon a time) of anthropology and archaeology, I adore any adventure that goes out of its way to add some semblance of reality to Pathfinder excavations. So, cleaning up after some shoddy treasure hunter? Sign me up! In addition, the Shoanti are one of my very favourite ethnic groups in the world of Golarion, so getting both in one adventure had me more than a little excited. Putting aside my biases, this is a really fun adventure. It has some useful handouts, lots of nice art, and an interesting cast of NPCs. Influencing the clans at the council meeting was both enjoyable and rewarding, but could be difficult for some GMs to run. It features seven important NPCs (Payah Against the Winds, Cousin to All, Kemchet Flame Stoker, Lake at Dawn, Memory Tender, Rollicks in Waves, and Togimal in Shadow), each of whom has their own personality, values, and pet peeves. This could get confusing for GMs and players alike. However, with some prep work (or great improv) this scene is going to be tense and exciting — a lot’s riding on it, after all! Repairing the tomb and the devastation wreaked there was very enjoyable for me, and the more… talkative inhabitant of the sepulchre was a really nice touch! The final encounter is quite a challenge, both for the participants synergy and for the encounter context. This battle is likely to cause some PCs to hesitate or stress, which leads to one of my only issues with this scenario. However, my relatively vague comments on it are heavier on the spoilers than I typically share, so if that makes you nervous skip the next paragraph.

If something is meant to be in a tomb that you’re restoring, but that something is hazardous to you, should you preserve it or destroy it? A nice dilemma! Unfortunately, this scenario doesn’t embrace that conundrum and has no notes on what should be done if PCs attempt to circumvent it instead of using more destructive methods. A bit of a missed opportunity, I think. Now, most groups will have no such qualms and leap into the encounter without issue, but for those groups who do show professional restraint, their hesitation could prove their undoing, and cause this nice challenging encounter to be too difficult. I’m curious to hear how this shakes out in play!

Overall, I really enjoyed the topic, content, and execution of this adventure. It’s right up my alley, and I can’t wait to play it. I give it four out of five stars.

10-15 - Tapestry's TrialPathfinder Society Scenario #10-15: Tapestry’s Trial is a Tier 7-11 adventure written by Alex Greenshields. It takes place in Axis, a lawfully aligned plane. For more information on Axis and its denizens check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea World Guide and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Planar Adventures. Tapestry’s Trial features creatures and templates from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: BestiaryBestiary 2Bestiary 5, and Monster Codex (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario) and utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Mat: MuseumGamemastery Map Pack: Magic Academy, and might also use a blank flip-mat. In addition to the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, this scenario includes content from the Advanced Player’s GuideUltimate Magic, and Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of Golarion (although Heroes of Golarion  is not needed to run this scenario). This mission is not directly related to any Pathfinder Society factions, although thematically it aligns well with members of the Grand Lodge and Dark Archives.

This adventure tasks the PCs with travelling to Axis, finding the legendary sorceress Hao Jin, and attaining her help in repairing the Hao Jin tapestry, a powerful artifact and demiplane used by the Pathfinder Society for a whopping seven seasons of play.  This scenario continues the ongoing saga of the Hao Jin Tapestry, and any characters who have interacted with the Hao Jin Tapestry — particularly those who helped attain, defend, or protect it — will have ample reason to get involved in this scenario. It’s also a direct continuation of events from Pathfinder Society Scenario Special #10-00: Hao Jin Cataclysm, and Scenarios #10-11: The Hao Jin Hierophant and #10-13: Fragments of Antiquity. Although I won’t get into the reasons why (to avoid spoilers), characters who were involved in any of the following scenarios will find a familiar face/event or two seen/mentioned: #4-16: The Fabric of Reality, #5-09: The Traitor’s Lodge, #6-98: Serpent’s Rise, #7-09: The Blakros Connection, and #7-23: Abducted in Aether.  I highly recommend you bring along such characters (although not necessarily more than those who have an interest in Hao Jin and her tapestry). Finally, any worshippers of Abadar, Brigh, Chaldira Zuzaristan, and Pharasma will have a chance to visit or glimpse their god’s domain throughout the course of this scenario, which can be an awesome and fulfilling character moment.

Leonardo Santanna-TheMaker
The Maker, an eccentric kolyarut from #10-15: Tapestry’s Trial. Illustrated by Leonardo Santanna. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Planar adventures are tricky. Players need to feel like they’re someplace totally different — a whole other world — but not so much that it hinders play. NPCs need to be extra memorable, locations need to be extra unique, and through it all you need to try to distill a whole planar environment into a short amount of time and a few encounters. Players want to experience a plane — after all, it’s likely they’ll only go there once! This scenario does an awesome job of showcasing Axis. The place is at once understandable and completely alien, with cool environments, and a lot of fun NPCs. And by a lot, I mean a lot! There’s a whopping nine new NPCs to interact with. I really enjoyed the various social interactions, particularly the entire final sequence of events. Many of these social interactions and encounters have unexpected effects and consequences, some of which will even have effect past the end of this scenario (which is always a treat!). Of the various locations you can visit I particularly enjoyed The Floating Library, not only for its contents and librarian, but also for the view. PCs can literally see a few domains of the gods from this vantage point, which is a really nice moment. Although social encounters and big decisions are the major focus of this scenario, it’s not without its combats. Chaotic and unlucky groups could have as many as four combat encounters (or more if they continue to attract the ‘law enforcement’ of Axis), while other groups will have as few as one combat encounter. The battles that are included are enjoyable, and all have extra considerations and complications for player’s take into account, which is a really nice touch. Overall, I love this scenario. I think it’s going to be a satisfying, exciting experience, that has a lot of cool moments, and ramifications for further scenarios. I give it five out of five stars.

Thanks for joining us today. Tune in later this week for a look at this month’s new d20 releases!

Jessica

 

February New Releases

February is here, and that means a lot of new d20 products will be coming out later this month.

Dungeons and Dragons is releasing Tactical Maps Reincarnated. This is a collection of twenty full coloured tactical poster maps in a folio. The maps look really nice, with some being rather generic and easy to use (like a path through the wilds), and others being more specific and a bit trickier to make use of (arcane rooms, castle chambers, and so on).

Dungeons and Dragons, Tactical Maps Revisited
Dungeons & Dragons: Tactical Maps Reincarnated

Pathfinder released a lot of cool products in January, with Pathfinder Player Companion: Wilderness Origins, the finale of the Return of the Runelords Adventure Path (Pathfinder Adventure Path 138: Rise of New Thassilon), and Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-12: Breath of the Dragonskull all highlights worth picking up. This month is going to be just as exciting, with the launch of the final Pathfinder 1st Edition Adventure Path: The Tyrant’s Grasp!! The Tyrant’s Grasp begins with Pathfinder Adventure Path 139: The Dead Roads (The Tyrant’s Grasp Book 1 of 6), due out late this month. This adventure path involves the Whispering Tyrant, and begins when your players awaken in the Boneyard, a realm where the dead go to be judged. There’s only one problem: they’re not dead. It’s up to PCs to escape the Boneyard, return to the land of the living, and figure out what happened to them! Seriously cool! I honestly can’t wait.

Flip-Tile fans can rejoice, as releasing later this month is Pathfinder Flip-Tiles: Urban Perils Expansion, a collection of 24 double-sided map tiles that are intended to be used with the Pathfinder Flip-Tiles: Urban Starter Set. New tiles in the expansion include collapses, explosions, fires, floods, sinkholes, and a wagon wreck. Also releasing later this  month is Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Hill Country, and the Return of the Runelords Poster Map Folio. Pathfinder Society releases include Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-14: Debt to the Quah (a tier 3-7 scenario written by Adrian Ng) and Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-15: Tapestry’s Trial (a tier 7-11 scenario written by Alex Greenshields).


Starfinder released a few cool products last month, including the Against the Aeon Throne Pawn Collection, and the finale to the 3 part horror campaign, Signal of Screams, with Starfinder Adventure Path 12: Heart of Night (Signal of Screams 3 of 3). This month they’re releasing two awesome products, Starfinder Pawns: Alien Archive 2 Pawn Box and Starfinder Adventure Path 13: Fire Starters (Dawn of Flame 1 of 6)! Dawn of Flame is a six-part Starfinder Adventure Path that begins in the Burning Archipelago on the Pact Worlds Sun. For more information on the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path you can check out this blog post. Starfinder Society releases include Starfinder Society Scenario #1-32: Acts of Association (a tier 1-4 scenario written by Scott Young) and Starfinder Society Scenario #1-33: Data Breach (a tier 3-6 scenario written by Jim Groves).


It’s going to be an action packed month!

Know of another new d20 product you want to recommend we check out? Let me know in the comments.

Jessica