The Mantisbane Pact

One of the play-by-post campaigns I am lucky enough to take part in is run by the wonderful GM Zek on Paizo’s messageboards. The campaign is called the Mantisbane Pact, and it takes place in Golarion, the world of Pathfinder. Mantisbane Pact involves an alliance of powerful monarchs and rightful rulers who come together to destroy the Red Mantis Assassins and their god, Achaekek. Our players would act as their agents, travel to Ilizmagorti (a city firmly in the grasp of the Red Mantis Assassins), and work to bring the entire organization crumbling down.

No pressure, right? Haha.

This awesome custom campaign was recruiting by application, meaning interested players would need to create a character and submit it for review. After a while the GM would select which players they wanted to play in the campaign. This is pretty common practise for online play-by-post campaigns, due to the high interest of players, and the length of the campaign. It’s important you find a team of characters and players who work well together. Unlike other campaigns I had applied for, The Mantisbane Pact asked interested players to create a short story for their characters as part of the selection process. My character, a smart-ass, jaded slayer name Kilarra Calvennis, was accepted alongside a team of other awesome PCs to undertake this mission. At various times throughout the adventure we also had the opportunity to write other vignettes and flashbacks, often from the perspective of our shaman, who can view moments from the past by using the Akashic Record.

Today I’m sharing with you the initial short story I wrote for my character, Kilarra. After today it will be available under the d20 Stories feature on our website. Enjoy!

Jessica


Beginnings

Kilarra Calvennis stood in her boyfriend’s bedroom preparing for the worst betrayal of her life. She strapped on her armour slowly, fussing with the buckles with sweaty, shaking hands. She was nervous and excited, all at once.

She was about to undertake a test—one of many she would have to pass in order to become a Red Mantis Assassin. The target was her father. He wouldn’t die—this wasn’t an official assassination. It was just a break in. A simple test of skill, stealth and loyalty. Get into her father’s office without being seen, knock him unconscious, remove all the documents in his office, and slip away without being caught.

She could do this. She knew she could. So why were her hands shaking? And why was her heart fluttering like a panicked bird trapped in her chest?

Kilarra sighed. Her father deserved everything that was coming to him. He was one of the many corrupt nobles that dealt in lies and bribes. Just one among hundreds, but his methods sickened her. She had rebelled against him and against her country. She tried to bring about change, first with words, and then more drastic measures. None of it worked. In the end it wasn’t her father that had changed, or Taldor… It was her. And it wasn’t for the better. She did more harm than her father ever had.

“It’s his fault,” she reminded herself aloud. Her voice shook, but she continued. “He deserves this. He brought it on himself.”

She slipped her hands into her black and red leather gloves, grabbed her helmet off her boyfriend’s bureau and left the room.

Bastien grinned at her. “You look beautiful, love,” he said.

Kilarra smiled. If her father was everything wrong in the world, Bastien was everything right. He was her beloved. Her mentor. Her life. He pulled her up from the life of gangs and crime that her father had driven her to and stood her back up. He gave her purpose. He gave her love. He was intoxicating. So when Bastien confided in her that he was an assassin, she accepted that. And when he asked her to worship his strange mantis-god, she prayed with him. And when he said that she was gifted and that he wanted to train her to be like him, she was proud.

Taldor
Taldor’s coat of arms. Image courtesy of Paizo Inc.

She would do anything for him.

 

“I’m ready,” she replied.

Bastien nodded. “You are.”

She kissed him goodbye, slipped her red, mantis shaped helmet over her head and crept out the window onto the roof. If she had to rob her father to prove herself to Bastien, she would do so gladly.

The trip to her father’s office was short and uneventful. She kept to the shadows and stayed quiet. She slipped in through an open window on the third floor and crept down the dark halls with ease. There was a light around the edges of her father’s office door. He was in there, just as Bastien said he would be. She reached for the doorknob and hesitated.

This would change everything. Whatever happened between her and her father… Whatever he discovered and whatever she did… There was no going back. After tonight Bastien would take her to train among his fellow Red Mantis Assassins. He would train her to kill.

She never wanted to kill anyone. She still didn’t. But the thought of letting Bastien down made her sick to her stomach. She didn’t want to disappoint him. Not after everything he had done for her. She wanted to make him proud. She would make him proud. No matter what.

Kilarra took a deep breath and turned the doorknob. She cracked the door open and glanced inside. Her father was at his desk, back to her, clutching something at his chest. She moved in silently and shut the door.

He didn’t notice her. He didn’t hear her coming. But something about the way he was twitching in his chair put her on edge…. And the smell… Smelt like…

Red Mantis
Symbol of the Red Mantis Assassins. Image courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Blood.

 

Kilarra inched across the room, hands shaking, afraid of what she would see.

Her father jerked erratically and fell from his chair, landing in a heap on the floor. A letter opener protruded from his chest.

“Dad!” she exclaimed.

He flinched when he saw her and tried to scream, but the blood in his mouth made it come out a wet gurgle. She tore her helmet off, and tossed it aside. It’s black insectile eyes watched her accusingly from across the room.

Her father’s eyes widened. He gurgled again, trying to speak, but she couldn’t make out what he was saying.

Pain exploded across the back of her head. She fell to the ground in a heap. Her ears rang and her vision blurred. She reached a shaky hand to her head. It was wet. And something was in her hair… She looked at her fingertips and saw they were covered in blood.

The killer was still here. How could she have been so stupid?

Kilarra crawled forward, but the blow she’d taken to the head had been fierce. Her arms were shaking and she couldn’t focus.

Behind her she heard laughter. It was familiar, but… wrong. Cold and cruel where it had once been warm.

“Ba- Bas- tien..?” she whimpered.

“I thought you’d be harder to take down than that! Didn’t you learn anything from me?”

It wasn’t him. It couldn’t be. He loved her.

There was motion beside her, and then pain. The man who sounded like Bastien kicked her so hard in the chest her whole body was lifted off the ground. She fell on her back, her head cracked against the floor with a wet crunch.

And there above her, smiling, was Bastien.

“Why?” she whimpered.

“Sorry, love,” he replied. “But I’ve always loved playing games.”

He struck her again, knocking her unconscious as a tear streamed down her bloody, swollen face.


When she woke up Bastien was gone, but she wasn’t alone. The guards had found her, bloody and beaten, clutching a bloody letter opener in one hand and her fathers coin purse in the other. Her gear was missing. Her father was dead. Bastien was gone.

She would have done anything for him. Anything.

He took everything from her but her life.


Six Years Later…

Kilarra stepped out of prison and into the busy, sunlit streets of Oppara for the first time in six years. She looked around, and took a deep breath. Slowly, a smile spread across her scarred face. Gods, freedom smelt good.

“Kilarra Calvennis?”

As she opened her eyes her smile slipped. A woman in a military uniform stood in front of her. She was middle-aged, blonde, clean-cut.

“Who wants to know?”

“Officer Landau. Agent of the Crown.”

“I didn’t do it,” Kilarra replied.

“Do what?”the woman asked.

“Whatever it is you think I did.”

Officer Landau smiled. “I think you’re the woman who spent six years of her life serving jail time for killing her father. The same woman who spouted tales of mantis headed assassins for years.”

Kilarra sighed. “And what? You want to hear it again? You want to laugh? I’m out now. A free woman. ”

The officer smirked. “Yes, convenient, isn’t it? Serving only six years of a life-time sentence.”

Kilarra’s frown deepened. Landau was right. Officially she was being let out for good behaviour, but that was clearly a lie. Kilarra hadn’t been good in prison. First she had cried, and then she had yelled, and then she fell in with a bad crowd all over again—or rather, she made her own bad crowd. “Leave me alone,” she growled.

The woman raised an eyebrow. “Why? So you can track down who hired the Red Mantis Assassins and beat them bloody? So you can hunt down your mom, or your grandmother or you brother or any number of other potential suspects and wind up back in the prison you just left by days end?”

Kilarra repressed a frown. That was exactly what she had been planning to do. She plastered a smile across her face and fluttered her eyelashes sweetly. “I’m reformed.”

“Whoever hired you did so for power, or money, or some other petty reason. You weren’t the target, you were the scape goat. It wasn’t personal for them. But this person—this guy you were with. Bastien. He made it personal, didn’t he? Isn’t that who you should be getting revenge against? The man who betrayed you?”

Bastien. The sound of his name sent a wave of anger surging through her. If she ever saw him again she would cram his stupid mantis helmet down his throat. Focus…”Did one too many blows to the head make you deaf, Officer Landau? I said I’m reformed. I’m not going to kill anyone. I’m not searching for vengeance. And I’m not talking to you.”

“That’s too bad. See, I’m recruiting for a special assignment. Grand Prince Stavian the Third has entered into an agreement with—“

“Spare me the politics. It’s boring.”

Officer Landau continued as if she hadn’t been interrupted by a dirty ex-con, but Kilarra could tell her smile had turned cold. “It’s called the Mantisbane Pact, and its purpose is to send agents to kill the Red Mantis Assassins, destroy their organization and assassinate their god.”

Kilarra froze. “Achaekek…” she breathed.

The soldier smiled. “Got your attention, have I?”

“You’re looking for people to assassinate a god?” She burst out laughing. This woman was clearly mad. “How’s that working out for you?”

“Finding brave enough—”

“Crazy enough, you mean.”

Driven enough volunteers who might actually be able to get the job done is… difficult. Which is why I’m here.”

Kyonin
Kyonin, home of the elves. Image courtesy of Paizo Inc.

“Obviously.”

 

Officer Landau grit her teeth. “I’m giving you the opportunity to apply for the team. There’s no guarantee you’ll get in. There’s other volunteers just as driven—”

“Crazy.”

“As you. Now are you in or can I wash my hands of you?”

Kilarra smiled. “Well with a sales pitch like that, how can I refuse? Where do I sign up?”

“Iadara.”

“Where?”

“Pack a bag. The applicants sail for Kyonin tomorrow.”


Want to read more about Kilarra? Be on the look out for more vignettes and flashbacks in the coming weeks!

Want to learn more about Golarion, Taldor, Grand Prince Stavian III, Kyonin, Ilizmagorti, Mediogalti, and the Red Mantis Assassins? Check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The Inner Sea and explore Golarion for yourself! For more information on Taldor you can also check out Pathfinder Companion: Taldor, Echoes Of GloryPathfinder Campaign Setting: Taldor, The First Empire, or play the War for the Crown Adventure Path which begins with Pathfinder Adventure Path 127: Crownfall (War for the Crown 1 of 6).

Ode to the Lost: Lara Belfast

Today on d20 diaries we’re taking a look at the lost.

You know the lost.

The abandoned, the deceased, the forgotten, the retired. The characters whose stories were over before they even started. Who began a journey that would never come to a close. Who died in action.

Them.

Not all of them, of course. Just one.

A character of mine who recently died in action. An inglorious end for an ambitious, (possibly deranged) woman with way too many voices in her head.

Today we meet Lara.

Lara Belfast had always had strange dreams. They were vivid, immersive… lasting, and always featured other people. She would wake, and for hours after have the feelings of these others inside her. Their hopes and fears and memories. It was like she had really been there. Lived through it. As other people.

It was normal, her parents told her. Dreams were just dreams, and they would pass. But they didn’t pass. They got worse. When they started to occur during the day, her parents finally began to worry. But when she woke up one day from a dream where she was a shipwright and immediately set to work building a fully-functioning wooden sailboat,  she realized the truth. They weren’t dreams. They were people.

Real people.

Lara was reliving her past lives. Not only that, she could learn from them.  Her family moved after that. Got a fresh start. Her parents didn’t want their neighbours realizing she was odd.

As she grew older, Lara’s connection with her past lives grew. She learned new skills, saw new places, took up new professions, and felt things she had never felt before. She was wise and experienced beyond her years. And when one night she threw a chair across the room with her mind, or answered a question her parents had only thought — not spoken — they weren’t even surprised. Nothing surprised them anymore. Not when it came to Lara.

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Lara Belfast is a character for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game! I recommend picking up a new hardcover of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook while you can (with the launch of Pathfinder 2 next year, only the pocket edition will remain in print). 

Lara always loved her Dreamers — as she liked to call her previous incarnations. She was an echo of them — all of them — and that’s what she started to call herself. Sure, they made it hard to have friends, and boyfriends, but her connection with them was so real, so… intimate, that she never regretted her powers. Not once.

Well, maybe once.

There were many dreamers, but one of them in particular had always come to her strongest. He was a shipwright, young, strong, and handsome. He had a sister named Gilly, and a girlfriend who he stole kisses from under the dock at night. Sara, was her name. And one night everything went horribly wrong.

A few men found them. They were drunk and rough. Her dreamer was punched right in the face. She could feel the pain, and hear the crack of her nose breaking. She could taste the blood. But that wasn’t the worst part… The worst was the screams of his beloved. That’s what got to Lara the most. That’s what made her cry. And the way her dreamer had felt… Helpless. Broken. Scared. 

When the dreamer awoke, things were worse. Her dreamer and his beloved had been sold to slavers. Life on the ship was hard for her dreamer, but for Sara it was hardest. Her dreamer struggled, and planned, and when he could take no more he fought back. She Her dreamer had to save Sara. He loved her, and she was in so much pain.

But, suddenly it’s not sorrow her dreamer feels, but agony. Her dreamer’s dying — his arm is broken, and as the first mate of the ship stomps his way across the deck…

STOMP, STOMP, STOMP…

Her dreamer hears another sound. His name: Benjamin.

Sara’s here… She can see him. Her dreamer looks up at the first mate — he’s tall, and strong, in nobleman’s clothes, with slicked back hair and a waxed moustache, not much older than her dreamer. The first mate smiles as he brings the blade down across her dreamer’s neck. Then everything spins and for a moment — a crazy, painful, terrifying moment — she can see her dreamer’s body.

He would be handsome if he still had his head. 

There were plenty of other dreamers — the lumberjack, the warchief, the chef, the sickly child, even an old dame — but it was Benjamin who stuck with her most. Benjamin whose memories haunted her. He was the last, she knew. The person she had been before she was herself. Gilly, Sara, his killer… They might all still be alive. She had to find out. She had to know. 

So she left home — barely a grown woman — to do research, and to find them. Sara especially. But it was the first mate she found first. Still alive, aged 46, and still working on slave ships. And Lara (Echo, she went by now) did the craziest thing she had ever done (which was saying a lot). She used her psychic powers to get hired as a sailor on his ship. She used them again to get close to him, and to make others ignore her when she snuck into his quarters. She had finally found his old ledgers when he caught her in his quarters. She tried to talk her way out of it, but it was useless. She would soon be joining Benjamin… 

He drew his blade, stalked towards her…

And then the storm struck.

It tossed the ship so hard the both of them went flying. She struck her head against something hard — the bunk maybe, perhaps the floor — and when she awoke she was alone, shivering with cold, dripping wet, on a strange beach. The ledger was gone.

She would never know what happened to Sara.

Never get revenge against her beloved dreamer’s murderer. 

But then another dreamer reared her head: the lumberjack. Echo was shipwrecked on an unknown island. She would need food, and shelter, and warmth. It would be a struggle just to survive. The lumberjack always was the practical one. But she was right. So Echo let go of her disappointment, and shame, and let the lumberjacks skills come to the forefront. There was work to do, and she didn’t plan on dying yet.

She wasn’t ready to be the next dreamer.


Echo was created for an online play-by-post campaign run by GM Fuzzfoot called Castaways. The premise?

“Slavery in parts of Golarion is legal, but there are plenty who still abhor it. Working undercover – some as slaves, some as slavers – you are on a slave ship trying to discover the key players and document the slave routes in order to disrupt the business. Unfortunately, fate has another plan for you. A terrible storm strikes while the ship is deep at sea. You remember rain and lightning, and terrible thunder! The ship broke into two, and you were tossed into the sea. You were sure you drowned, and yet you find yourself washed up on a shore. Which shore? You have no idea.”

Applicants had to create third level characters, and wow were there a lot of good ones! Happily, of the twenty-one submissions, Echo was one of those chosen to play. Along with  five other lucky unfortunates, she washed up on the shores of an unknown island. Wounded, confused, lost, but not broken!

Echo was joined by Pharithstillis Euduethistle, a chipper gnomish sorcerer who enjoyed making jewelry; Nathan Bensson, a kineticist with control over water; Celebeth Quinciel, a free-spirited elven unchained rogue (arcane scoundrel) who grew up on the frontier with her parents; Aki Mori, a multiclass ninja arcanist who spent most of her time in human form, but made excellent use of her ability to transform into a small fox; and Molothor the Bloodhound, a hobgoblin druid who had long ago become accustomed to his life as a slave.

Echo was a human woman in her early twenties with a lean body, pale skin, and blond hair. She’s attractive, intelligent and wise beyond her years. Her eyes are gray, and fathomless, the only feature she bears which belies her soul’s unknowable age. Her effect on people is varied, sometimes hypnotic and sometimes disconcerting.

Echo herself is kind and self-sacrificing. She’s obsessed with her past lives — most especially that of Benjamin — and not only learns from them, but lives for them. Her dreamers still visit her every night, but she is in control of her mind, and no longer loses herself to their memories.

Occult Adventures
You can find information on many awesome occult classes, including the psychic, in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Occult Adventures. (This is one of my very favourite sourcebooks!)

Mechanically, Echo was a psychic with the rebirth discipline. Her discipline powers were past-life memories, which allowed her to make all knowledge checks untrained, and add half her psychic level as a bonus on all knowledge checks. Her second was mnemonic esoterica, which allowed her to choose a spell from another spell list she could cast each day (which she most often used for create water).

Her phrenic amplifications included defensive prognostication, which allowed her to see a glimpse of her future whenever she cast a divination spell (which could increase her AC for a round), and intense focus, which allowed her to gain a bonus on concentration checks.

For traits she chose dangerously curious, to allow her to make better use of magical devices, and self-reliant, which prevented her from taking penalties on craft checks made without the proper tools, and even make craft checks without tools at all. For feats she chose skill focus (sense motive), and magical aptitude, both of which played well to her backstory, particularly when coupled with her ability to detect thoughts.

Her spells were great fun to select, as Echo was the first (and only) psychic I ever made. Her starting knacks were detect magic, light, mage hand, prestidigitation, and telekinetic projectile, while her first level spells were burst of insight, mage armour, mind thrust, and true strike. She made the most use of burst of insight, which was incredibly helpful for both survival, and creating shelter.

Together the castaways struggled for survival, facing the elements, exhaustion, dangerous beasts, and ominous portents. They explored the beach and sunken wrecks for their gear and supplies. In time some of them met a young child, who spoke strange words and led them to his people — who unfortunately turned out to be cannibals. Echo and Aki were captured, but managed to escape without too much difficulty. Echo spent her time tossing telekinetic projectiles at her captors, while Aki simply transformed into a fox and slipped through the bars.

Eventually Aki returned to free Echo and they fled, but the cannibals were soon on their trail. They escaped, eventually running into the rest of their companions. Together they abandoned their camp and headed further into the jungle. But the cannibals knew these jungles far better than our heroes. They woke up one night to find themselves surrounded and vastly outnumbered. Captured again they were led back through the jungles —  until a tribe of grippli attacked! The grippli ended up the victors, and brought the castaways back to their village. Echo and her friends spent quite a bit of time there. They learned the grippli’s language and what they could of the island. Eventually, they decided to help the grippli defeat the cannibals. The group made a plan, and the castaways set out to begin phase one. Unfortunately, fate intervened. While exploring a cave they came under attack by a massive lobster. Echo was slain within moments of the battle beginning, with Aki following suit soon afterwards. Nathan fell unconscious  next and, with Malothor lost long before this battle, that left only Celebeth and Pharithstillis still fighting. Deciding to beat a hasty retreat they grabbed the bodies they could — Echo and Nathan — and fled back to the grippli village. The grippli gave up hopes of changing their fate, and Celebeth and Pharithstillis spent the remainder of their days among the grippli village.

We started our campaign at third level, and it came to an end at fourth. Echo was burnt and given a burial at sea.

Just another of the Dreamers.

As to who she became next…?

That’s a mystery for another time.

So ends the tale of Lara Belfast.


Thanks for joining us for our first ‘Ode to the Lost.’ I hope you enjoyed it!

Got an abandoned, forgotten, or deceased character whose tale you want to share? Let us know in the comments! I’d love to read all about them.

May you have better luck than Lara! (And your ghosts never come back to haunt you!)

Jessica

 

Summer Flies By! (And other news)

Well, it’s been a busy summer so far. We’ve visited family, celebrated birthdays, gone swimming, tended our garden, played at the park and… Well, frankly my allergies are acting up like CRAZY! Whoo, I feel horrible! Haha. Still, my kids are happy, and I’d rather get out and enjoy the summer than I would let it pass me by.

In gaming news we’ve had a chance to play the Mummy’s Mask Adventure Path a few times, Reign of Winteronly once, Shackled City a few times (look for an update soon!) and haven’t had a chance to play Iron Gods at all (sad!). In fact, we haven’t had a chance to play Starfinder at home lately, either. (Double sad!).

A while ago my daughter asked me if I would start moving some of our d20 games online to play-by-post. She felt that she never got to play her many, many, many adventures and characters because when the weekend comes we only have time for one game, and it’s going to be one of the ones everyone agrees on. That means that we could go months without playing some of her characters.

“Pleeeeeeease, Mom?” she asked. “Some of my characters might as well be DEAD! I would rather play them one post a day than take no turns EVER! PLEEEEEEASE!?!?”

She’s a little dramatic, but she got the point across. Haha.

So, at my daughter’s request, we moved one of our ongoing family PFS games online and we moved our family Dead Suns Adventure Path online. My kids and I also have a lot of campaigns that involve only me and them. I told them they could choose one to move online for now. They gave this a great deal of thought and, although they have a ton of characters they enjoy playing, they also have campaign envy.

What?

Campaign envy.

Every time the grown ups play Mummy’s Mask, or Iron Gods, or Reign of Winter they are desperately jealous. A while ago they began their own Mummy’s Mask campaign and they’ve been begging me to let them start Iron Gods and Reign of Winter ever since. In the end, they chose the Mummy’s Mask Adventure Path. I’m actually really excited, since they created a very entertaining group of characters that shook up our typical party dynamics. More details on that will come in an upcoming blog post.

In other news, Gameday VII will start in another few weeks, which is super exciting! I can’t wait! GenCon is coming up (for those of you lucky enough to attend such things), and Paizo recently released their Puzzle Hunt from PaizoCon online for mass consumption. No idea what that is? In short, its a series of Golarion-themed puzzles within puzzles that were given out at PaizoCon back in May. It’s a free download on their website, and you can talk about the puzzles with other gamers on the boards. I gave them a read and am actually super excited to try them out. It looks fun!

Paizo recently announced their upcoming Pathfinder Society Scenarios, which include the finale for Season 9 and the start of Season 10! They’ve also shared details on the next four Starfinder Society Scenarios. Soon we should get information on two new Adventure Card Game adventures, and the first three of their upcoming Pathfinder Playtest Scenarios! I can’t wait to get my hands on these beauties at the end of the month!

Speaking of the Playtest, there have been some awesome spoilers lately. My favourite turned out to be the BARD. Now, I’ve always had a soft spot for bards, so I was pretty sure I was going to love it no matter what they did. After reading their recent blog post on the topic I was elated! It’s got full spellcasting, performances are now a special sort of bard only cantrip called a composition (which means you’re not going to run out of music!), and some of the performances are reactions (counter song, here’s looking at you)! It’s just… awesome! I can’t wait to read the whole class!

Luckily, we don’t have much longer to wait. Pathfinder Playtest releases on August 2nd, along with the Doomsday Dawn Adventure, free maps to go with it, and a trio of Playtest Society Scenarios. I’ve had the good luck to join up with a group of play-by-posters who are going to be playing all three PFS scenarios in a row, which will give me a chance to try the game as a player. Meanwhile, I’ll be GM for Doomsday Dawn (and perhaps even the PFS Scenarios) for my family at home. I expect there will be a lot of characters being made around the house at that time, so who knows what we’ll end up playing with! It’s exciting.

Now I just have to find the time to read all of that…

Today I’m going to leave you with a photo my daughter took especially for d20 diaries. And yes, it has rabbits.

Enjoy

Jessica

d20diaries rabbit

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April Blooms and d20 News

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

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

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

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Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Pact Worlds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,

Jessica

News, news, news…

As the snow starts to melt, and our long, long, long, winter finally looks like its coming to an end, there’s plenty going on around my house this week. In addition to pulling out sunglasses, splash pants, and rubber boots, that is…

To start with, a play-by-post campaign of Legacy of Fire that I’m involved in just lost a player, and my kids were accepted as a replacement. They spent a few days after school brainstorming and planning, and together we put their characters onto the Paizo website. They loved picking out their avatars, and saying hello on the discussion board. So what are they bringing to the table?

A pair of gnome siblings who travel the world as their whims take them. They have a particular fondness for the desert, and have recently been wandering the wilds of Katapesh. My son is a sorcerer with the elemental bloodline (water). Studious and curious, Min Bunnisbeldar is a blue-haired gnome who obsessively studies and researches magical techniques and theories. Along with his elemental ray bloodline talent, colour spray is his go-to method of attack. But, his intelligence might be his greatest weapon. Min’s sister, Rab-rab, shortened her last name to Bunnis. She has a pet jackrabbit (not surprising at all, if you know my daughter’s love of rabbits), and is childish and whimsical. Rab-rab is an air kineticist who can push her enemies back with her air blasts. She loves to explore, and fly kites, using her aerokinesis to keep it aloft even when there’s no breeze. Min and Rab-rab hope to bring some excitement and optimism to the campaign when they get to join in a few weeks.

In other news, Paizo updated their website. Although I was expecting some minor maintenance, it turns out they launched an entire new site design. Ironically, I was just thinking the other day they their site was super useful and easy to navigate, but was looking decidedly old fashioned. Well, that’s no longer the case! The site looks gorgeous, and it’s much, much easier to see the current new releases. It’s bold, and works great. There are some down-sides, of course. The ‘My Campaign’ tab, which you’ll rely on constantly if you’re involved in play-by-post gaming, has vanished. There are other ways to navigate to your campaigns, thankfully, but none are as fast or efficient. Fortunately, I hear they’re working on bringing the ‘My Campaign’ function back. There were some complaints that the font hurt people’s eyes or was too small. Personally, I liked it, but the majority has spoken and the font size for the message boards was increased dramatically. I think it’s obnoxiously large, myself, and hopefully they can strike a balance in the future. Honestly, my biggest problem is the black bar on the top of the page. I find that if you look at it and then proceed onto one of the white pages–like the messageboards–you get afterimages across your eyes, which makes it hard to read and gives me a headache. All in all, I’m happy with the changes, and am excited to see how the site gets tweaked in the coming weeks.

At home, my family and I have been slowly playing through our first Starfinder adventure, Into the Unknown. Soon, I’ll be sharing our character designs and our experiences here, on d20 Diaries.

In Pathfinder news, my kids have both been working on writing an adventure in their free time. My son’s involves buried treasure, and is intended to be played by pirates, while my daughters involves a mysterious island. In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing their adventures, and our characters created for them, with you, so stay tuned!

Lastly, my son filmed a youtube video about a dungeon he made. It’s our first d20 Diaries video, so we’re pretty excited. He’s thrilled with the outcome. So if you want to see what a six-year-old D&D player gets up to in his free time watch, The Temple of Snakes, below, or check out d20diaries on Youtube! We’d love to hear what you think.

Thanks for joining us on d20 Diaries!

Jessica

 

OutPost 2018

I’ve got exciting news for you today from the world of Play-by-Post gaming and the Pathfinder Society. It was recently announced on Paizo’s messageboards that they’ll be hosting the an online Pathfinder Society Convention. Awesome!

Why?

First of all, Conventions give out cool boons. Boons are rewards granted to a character at the end of a scenario. Most conventions give out special boons. Sometimes even the chance to use a special race on a future character. But, getting to a convention can be a problem. There’s none near me, that’s for sure.

Second, this convention is hosting 115 tables of gamers. Most are hosted on the Paizo messageboards, but some on other platforms like Mythweavers. There’s even a few tables running entirely in Spanish or French.

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The Glyph of the Open Road, sigil of the Pathfinder Society and its Grand Lodge Faction.

Third, this convention is hosting a huge variety of games. Core and Standard Pathfinder games are up for grabs, with Standard being most popular. There’s also the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game available to play and a bunch of Starfinder games. Also, there’s the Solstice Scar Special. These game options are all spread across a variety of tiers, meaning whatever level your PFS character is, there’s sure to be a game open for them.

Fourth, and for some the most compelling reason, it’s first come first served. This is usually the case with PFS, but by play-by-post there’s always more players than there are games. This means for some, getting into a play-by-post PFS game can be hard. Maybe they always fill up before you get home from work, or maybe you just constantly get passed over for other players. Whether you have trouble getting into games or not, the beauty of OutPost is you don’t need to get chosen to play. You simply sign up and you’re in.  This is especially awesome for groups of players. Want to play online with a friend? Sign up for the same game. Done. Easy.

Finally, Pathfinder’s awesome! Haha.

The convention is called OutPost and it’s games start on March 5th, and run until they are complete, with a maximum end date of April 30th. There’s a limit of three games each player can sign up for, which is great. It ensures no one hogs too many games or overburdens themselves. But admittedly, I wish I could sign up for more, haha. I decided to sign up for three games, and after choosing a few, I realized something: my kids might want to join.

d20 games can teach kids a bunch of awesome skills. Reading, writing, spelling, math, strategy, creative thinking, problem solving, teamwork… The list goes on. But the one thing it doesn’t teach my kids? How to use a computer. Usually this isn’t a problem for children, as most get plenty of screen time these days. But mine don’t. My son, who is in grade one, had a computer class the other day and he told me he had barely managed to sign into the laptop by the time some other kids had finished their work. Alright, MAYBE he’s old enough to practice on our laptop at home. Haha.

And wouldn’t this be the perfect place? He’s always asking to play more Pathfinder. He needs to practise his spelling (and his coding, believe it or not), and he needs to get used to typing on a computer. Perfect.

I asked if he’d like to, and both of my kids were thrilled. Mr. Ice and Bunny Paras were ready and waiting for adventure. After a quick check with my husband, he decided he’d be willing to try it out if he could play with our kids. Enzo Jeggare had agreed to the mission.

I quickly hopped onto the online sign up sheets and checked the GM names. …None that I recognized. So I found one that had four open spaces, was for level one characters, and that I knew contained NO WEREWOLVES. As recently discovered, my daughter has a thing about werewolves. Not long afterwards, a GM I knew would be great as a GM for my kids signed up to host a game that was also level one. After checking with my kids, they decided they wanted to play in both, so I quickly signed us up for a second. My husband passed on the extra game. I warned both the game’s GMs that there would be children playing at their tables, and soon got an enthusiastic welcome for my kids from both. Things have fallen into place wonderfully.

Soon I’ll get to play alongside my kids in a Pathfinder game without also GMing. This is unheard of. I’m thrilled! And my kids? They began immediately tossing  around character concepts for their second PFS characters.

So what ARE we playing?

Our experienced Pathfinder trio, Bunny Paras alongside her trusty parasaurolophus Paras, the ever-cold Mr. Ice, and occultist Enzo Jeggare alongside his summoned servitors, are joining up with two other characters to take on an old Pathfinder scenario from Season 0. I chose my character Everbloom to team up with them. Everbloom’s a kitsune kineticist capable of blasting her enemies with razor sharp flower petals and leaves, lashing vines, and tree branches. She’s a part of the Dark Archives faction–the same as Enzo. Plus, I thought my daughter would love to meet a fellow kitsune. The Season 0 adventures only allows five people to play, so we’ll be joined by only one other person who seems to be an oracle. We’ll be playing Black Waters, which is the sixth scenario ever written for the Pathfinder Society. Intended for level 1-5 characters, this scenario will be sending our Pathfinders into an elite school that was destroyed by an earth quake over a decade ago. Now half-flooded and known as the Drownyard, they’ll need to navigate the haunted, flooded ruins in order to find an ancient treasure lost in the disaster. Although a bit spooky for most young children, my kids have played through the entire first book of Carrion Crown (Pathfinder’s horror adventure path) so we don’t expect to have any issues. This scenario is written by Tim and Eileen Connors, and is available for purchase on Paizo’s website for only a few dollars.

For our second game we had signed up for Delirium’s Tangle (Season One, #45). Also an old scenario, this game would allow for five players maximum, and we would fill up three of those slots. Delirium’s Tangle is intended for level 1-5 characters and sends a group of Pathfinders on the hunt for Nuar Spiritskin, a famous minotaur prince who has gone missing–but don’t tell anyone! Apparently the minotaur is lost in an infamous underground maze, and he’d be terribly embarrassed if word got out that he couldn’t find his way. This scenario is written by Crystal Frasier and is also available for purchase on Paizo’s website for only a few dollars.

I decided to play my fighter, Juno Berik, a dwarven woman who thinks far too highly of herself and is atrocious at social encounters. She’s a ton of fun to play, and I thought my kids would get a kick out of interacting with her.

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Art chosen from Pinterest to represent Fuzzy, my son’s forgetful wizard. Artist unknown. Let me know in the comments if you know the artist so proper credit can be given.

My son decided to make a forgetful old wizard named Fuzzy with his owl familiar Bobby. Why is he named Fuzzy?

“My name? Oh dear! I can’t recall. It’s all a little fuzzy you know. A-ha! That must be it! Fuzzy! It’s a pleasure to meet you!”

With his memory problems, Fuzzy is constantly asking Bobby for advice. “What was that spell again?” “Who is that person?” “Where are we going?” The list goes on. And the ever helpful Bobby always replies immediately with a calm: “Hooooooo…”

Just the thing to spark Fuzzy’s memory!

My daughter came up with about ten character ideas ranging from Fuzzy’s equally old and forgetful sister, to an gnome ninja and everything in between. In the end she discovered a picture on Pinterest and became inspired. Pictured in the side bar, this young girl is much older than she seems. As a child, the young noble played around her family’s vast estate alongside her stuffed rabbit Miss. Whiskers. One day they happened upon a fairy ring and found themselves far from home. There they met brownies and pixies and other fey. They played games, and played tricks and had fun, fun, fun. The experience filled the young girl with magical powers–which she believed came from Miss. Whiskers. Eventually, Naysha and Miss Whiskers found their way home, but Naysha was forever changed. Despite the passage of time, she

Lady Naysha and Miss Whiskers
Art that inspired my daughter’s creation of Lady Naysha and Miss Whiskers. Discovered on Pinterest, artist unknown. If you know the artist let me know in the comments so proper credit can be given.

never seemed to grow up. She appeared to be a young girl even as an adult woman, and her love of play, imagination and tricks never diminished. With a heart full of childish joy and wonder, Lady Naysha and Miss Whiskers have become quite a topic of discussion around aristocratic circles. Lady Naysha works as a magician part-time, bringing wonder and joy to children of all ages, and for the Pathfinders the rest of the time, discovering new sights, sounds and treasures. When she’s in trouble, Lady Naysha can call upon her fairy friends for aid, allowing them to play dirty tricks on her enemies, can summon small woodland creatures (rabbits, most likely) and can heal her companions. All thanks to her beloved Miss. Whiskers! Lady Naysha is an oracle of whimsy.

I love both their creations!

For my final game I signed up for the Unseen Inclusion with my half-orc monk, Kenza Bloodborn. The Unseen Inclusion is a season nine scenario (#9-04) which sends a team of Pathfinders into the haunted ruins discovered under a construction site in the Thuvian city of Merab. Tasked with not only learning about the newly discovered ruin, but also putting the unquiet spirits to rest, Kenza’s going to have her hands full. Intended for characters from levels 1-5, this scenario is of particular importance for members of the Scarab Sages and contributes directly to their story-line. In a few months the Scarab Sages Faction will be retired, and its members will be forced to join other factions instead. A member of the Scarab Sages herself, my beloved monk will have to find a new faction to call home in the coming months. For now, I’m excited to get this introspective Osiriani a chance to play among some of her faction mates. Written by Mike Kimmel, the Unseen Inclusion is available for a few dollars on Paizo’s website, here.

OutPost is going to be a load of fun, and slots in its games are filling fast. But for now, there’s still openings. For more information on OutPost you can check out this post on Paizo’s message boards here. To see what games are still available, click here, then click the tab on the bottom labelled Entry.

At the moment of posting, there’s plenty of room to play in the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, and in Core Pathfinder scenarios. If you’re into Core adventures I’d recommend joining Black Waters (tier 1-5), or one of the Scarab Sages scenarios up for offer: The Unseen Inclusion (tier 1-5) or Salvation of the Sages (tier 7-11). For mid-level play I’d recommend the highly adaptable repayable scenario, Beyond the Halflight Path, (tier 3-7) which takes place in my favourite city on Golarion, Kaer Maga.

There’s a ton of Starfinder openings. For those of you looking to play a scenario that introduces you to the factions at work in the Starfinder Society I’d recommend joining the Commencement (tier 1-2). But for those of you looking for a more thrilling adventure, I strongly recommend signing up for Cries from the Drift (tier 1-4) or Yesteryear’s Truth (tier 1-4). Both are lots of fun.

Standard PFS scenarios are clearly the most offered and popular game choice at OutPost. It’s my format of choice, as well. Despite that, there’s still plenty of spots up for grabs. If you’re interested in low level play I’d highly recommend joining GM Rinaldo’s Murder on the Silken Caravan (tier 1-5), which is a great adventure run by a very friendly GM. I’d recommend picking up a hot-weather outfit for that one, as it takes place in the Qadiran desert. Echoes of the Overwatched (tier 1-5) is also great fun. For mid-level play I’d highly recommend To Scale the Dragon (tier 5-9, bring cold-weather gear!), Voice in the Void (tier 3-7), the previously mentioned Beyond the Halflight Path (tier 3-7), or GM Gustavef’s Song of the Sea Witch (tier 3-7). For high-level play I’d highly suggest Ancient’s Anguish (tier 7-11).

I hope you give OutPost a chance, and help make this convention a success! Already signed up? Got a favourite PFS Scenario to recommend? Is a favourite scenario of yours missing? Let me know in the comments below!

See you there!

Jessica