Review: Monsters & Creatures and Warriors & Weapons!

Hello, and welcome to d20diaries!

A new series of Dungeons & Dragons books aimed at children is scheduled to launch next week and we are absolutely thrilled to be in possession of advance copies of these delightful new books, which we’re going to share with you today!

The Dungeons & Dragons Young Adventurer’s Guide series is written by Jim Zub, Stacy King, and Andrew Wheeler. The series begins with two simultaneous releases on July 16th, 2019: ‘Monsters and Creatures’ and ‘Warriors and Weapons.’ There are two more books in development that are scheduled to be released in Fall 2019 (Dungeons & Tombs: A Young Adventurer’s Guide) and Spring 2020 (Wizards & Spells: A Young Adventurer’s Guide) and, if they’re popular enough, there may be more beyond that in the future. The D&D Young Adventurer’s Guide series is intended for middle-grade readers (ages 8-12) and meant to inspire these young readers to read, write, create, imagine, and of course, play D&D. The American cover price for each of the books is $12.99, with the Canadian cover price $17.50. Each book is 105 pages long.

Young Advendturer's Guide

Before we take an in depth look at each of the books individually, let’s talk first impressions…

These books look and feel great! They have high quality hard covers, sturdy glossy pages, tons of unique full colour art, and a design aesthetic that’s in line with the adult D&D releases. These books feel like they’re a part of the Dungeons & Dragons line — which is absolutely awesome! It makes my kids feel like these books are just as important as the rest of our D&D books, which in turn makes them feel included and a part of the hobby.

Taken on their own, the Young Adventurer’s Guides have a nice layout, easy to read text, beautiful art, and are well organized. They’re approachable, interesting, engaging, and clearly written for kids, but, at the same time, the books don’t talk down to the reader. These books are written with care, and meant to provide younger audiences an easy to understand introduction to the world of roleplaying games and storytelling, as well as inspire them to make the world and stories their own.

Young Adventurers Guides

I have two children, a seven year old girl and an eight year old boy, making them on the young end of the intended audience for these books. Both of my kids have very good reading comprehension for their age. That said, both of my kids thoroughly enjoyed these books. My son had no problem reading the books and seemed to understand everything he read. My daughter, understandably, had more trouble, having to sound out a tricky word or two with each flip of the page, and often asking for definitions of words. Despite this, she was fully engaged with reading the books, and never got frustrated. As is typical with many fantasy books, the trickiest words are fictional names of characters and places. While many kids will stumble over these words once or twice before internalizing them, just as many will skip over them and move on. My son didn’t come across any content that he found inappropriate or too mature for him, while my daughter came across a few creatures she decided were a little ‘too spooky’ for her right now, so she skipped those pages and continued on enjoying the rest of the book. Considering the age and reading abilities of my kids, I think these books are well suited to the middle-grade reader level they’re advertised as. My kids loved them, and they definitely have room to grow with the books. We haven’t had them long and already my kids have read and re-read them more than a few times. They’ve already started utilizing information they picked up from the books in their play, storytelling, roleplaying, and gaming. These are the sort of books my kids get a ton of use out of, coming back to them often, and using different sections for inspiration at different times.

It’s important to note that these books are NOT a replacement for the D&D Player’s Handbook or the Monster Manual. The Young Adventurer’s Guides do NOT contain game mechanics or rules. They lay out the major concepts, roles, gear, and monsters in a way that is easy to understand, approachable, and engaging. They’re meant to inspire creativity, without overwhelming readers with rules. I highly recommend this series for for any kids who love adventure, fantasy, horror, monsters, roleplaying, storytelling, or who have exposure to RPGs.


Monsters & CreaturesMonsters & Creatures: A Young Adventurer’s Guide is an illustrated guide to the many beasts of Dungeons & Dragons. Featuring one-of-a-kind entries for some of its most memorable monsters, and over 60 brand new illustrations, this book is sure to ignite the imagination of young readers. This book begins with a short, one page introduction which gives the book some context and explains the books ‘Danger Levels,’ which is a 0-5 point scale meant to show how tough a creature is. Although similar to Challenge Ratings in D&D, these numbers are NOT equivalent. Beginning at 0, which denotes a creature that is essentially harmless, moving on to 1, which is an acceptable challenge for low-level or beginning adventurers, and ending at 5, which is a difficult challenge for high level heroes. There is one Danger Level higher than this: EPIC, which denotes a creature so powerful only the most legendary heroes could hope to triumph over it.

Monsters & Creatures - Inside Cover

The creatures in this book are sorted by the regions they call home, beginning with underground creatures, which are found in ‘Caverns & Dark Places,’ moving up onto the surface with ‘Forests, Mountains, & Other Terrain’ dwelling creatures (which also includes a special sub-chapter on giants of all kinds). Following this is ‘Moors, Bogs, and Boneyards,’ a chapter which primarily focuses on undead creatures with a special sub-chapter on vampires, and ‘Oceans, Lakes & Waterways,’ which is packed full of aquatic creatures. Finally, airborne monsters can be found in ‘Mountain Peaks & Open Sky,’ which also contains a special sub-chapter on dragons. Each monster profile contains information on the size of each beast, its danger level, and tips for how to survive an encounter with one. There’s also lore, special abilities and powers, typical tactics, and a handy list of do’s and don’ts for dealing with these beasts. Finally, new art! This book is packed full of it!

Monsters & Creatures also features encounters, which are short, one page stories that introduce a famous D&D character, place them in a perilous situation involving one of the described creatures, and then ends, leaving each opening scene with a cliffhanger ending. Following this is questions that ask the reader what they think the characters should do next, what would happen in response to those actions, and what the characters should do afterwards. These encounters are meant to guide kids to roleplay their own endings to exciting stories, and question the ramifications of their actions. This problem-solving is a great way to introduce kids to RPGs as both a player and DM.

The book ends with a short chapter on how to use monsters to tell stories, and important questions to contemplate for kids who decide to make stories or engage in RPGs on their own. Things like, ‘who are your characters,’ ‘where does your story take place,’ ‘how do things change as the story proceeds,’ and so on. Finally, there’s a short blurb about Dungeons & Dragons, and how to get into the game.

So what creatures, exactly, are featured in Monsters & Creatures? Plenty! ‘Caverns & Dark Places’ includes the beholder, bugbear, carrion crawler, flumph, goblin, mind flayer, myconid, and the legendary Demogorgon. ‘Forests, Mountains & Other Terrain’ includes the centaur, displacer beast, owlbear, sprite, treant, unicorn, hill giant, stone giant, frost giant, fire giant, cloud giant, storm giant, and the legendary fire giant Duke Zalto. ‘Moors, Bogs & Boneyards’ includes the banshee, skeleton, vampire lord, vampire spawn, and the legendary vampire Count Strahd Von Zarovich. ‘Oceans, Lakes & Waterways’ includes the aboleth, dragon turtle, and merrow. ‘Mountain Peaks & Open Sky’ includes the griffon, pegasus, white dragon, green dragon, black dragon, blue dragon, red dragon, and the legendary Tiamat, Queen of Evil Dragons! Encounters are included for the frost giant, green dragon, myconid, skeleton, and unicorn. My son most enjoyed reading about unicorns, flumphs, blue dragons, and vampires. My daughter most enjoyed reading about the beholder, flumph, dragon turtle, dragons, and Tiamat. My daughter also came across a few creatures that she decided, either from the art or after reading the first few sentences, were ‘too spooky’ for her. She promptly skipped those monsters and moved on with the book. The monsters she skipped were the carrion crawler (she’s afraid of bugs), the aboleth (she thought it looked creepy), and the mind flayer (it had a giant brain behind it and she was pretty sure she didn’t want to know why).

The verdict:

As an adult reader, I was pleasantly surprised with the array of creatures featured in this book. There’s a lot of iconic monsters in here, a ton of fantasy staples, and some quirky creatures that most kids will be discovering for the first time. Some of the choices were a bit gutsy for a kids book — the mind flayer and demogorgon, for example — but I’m thrilled to see them included. I’m pleased to see that not all of the monsters are evil creatures, there’s plenty that can be befriended or negotiated with.  The information included in the monster entries is absolutely wonderful. There’s integral information, great advice, and enough engaging descriptions to get my kids interested and curious. The encounters were a definite highlight of the book, as was the beautiful new artwork found throughout. The book is high-quality and sturdy, which is important since our copy is sure to take a beating. I’m far from the intended audience for this book, but I really enjoyed reading it. Even more than that, I loved sharing this book with my kids. I loved watching them discover and wonder over the creatures inside. Monsters & Creatures is a refreshing new take on the world and lore of D&D, sure to delight young readers, spark their imagination, and inspire them to tell stories of their own. Cover to cover it’s great fun.

My daughter: “I loved this book. It was fun to read and the pictures were beautiful! I give it two thumbs up! I think I will read it again and again. I really loved the flumph! It was the best creature in the book. That’s what I think.”

My son: “I think that I love this book. All kinds of kids should read it. I think most would love it, too! Especially if they already like D&D and RPGs and things. I think that it is fun and I’m going to read it a lot!”

“Monsters & Creatures is a refreshing new take on the world and lore of D&D, sure to delight young readers, spark their imagination, and inspire them to tell stories of their own. Cover to cover it’s great fun.”

Warriors & Weapons


Warriors & Weapons: A Young Adventurer’s Guide is an illustrated introductory guide to the many kinds of warriors you can create in Dungeons & Dragons, along with the weapons, armour, and adventuring gear that they’ll make use of. Featuring one-of-a-kind content and over sixty new illustrations, this book gives young adventurers the information and inspiration they need to create their own characters.

Warriors & Weapons begins with a quick introduction that makes it clear that this book is meant to help the reader and their friends make characters of their own. The rest of the book is divided into three major sections: fantasy races, character classes, and equipment. There’s a large array of fantasy races covered in this book — most I expected to see included, but a few were surprises that I knew of but didn’t expect to make the cut. Each race is covered in two side-by-side pages. It starts with new art and a few questions that can help kids figure out if they’ll like playing that race. You’ll also find information on their age, size, attributes, and a few paragraphs about the race and how they act or fit into the world. The races included in this book are human, dwarf, elf, gnome, half-elf, half-orc, halfling, dragonborn, kenku, tabaxi, tiefling, and tortle.

Gnome

Warriors & Weapons is a book about warriors. It should come as no surprise then, that not all of the character classes are covered in this book. The martial classes are included. That means there are six classes covered in the chapter on classes: barbarian, fighter, monk, paladin, ranger, and rogue. Each class entry contains a few questions that can help kids figure out if they would enjoy making a character of that class, information on the class, its major low level abilities, and the weapons, armour, and gear they’re capable of using. Many also include information on the various archetypes, paths, and specializations available to those classes. After each class entry is a two page spread that takes a look at a famous example of that character class. These ‘legendary heroes’ include Wulfgar the Warhammer, Bruenor Battlehammer, Whey-Shu, Redclay, Minsc the Mighty, and Shandie Freefoot. The class section also includes a little flowchart that can tell kids what class they’re most like, and a short section on character backgrounds, attire, details, inspiration, and flaws.

The Equipment section takes a quick look at weapons (swords, polearms, other melee weapons, ranged weapons, and special weapons), armour (light, medium, heavy, and shields), survival gear, adventuring gear, tools, and some special packs for more specialized endeavours (burglar’s pack, dungeoneer’s pack, explorer’s pack, and vampire hunter’s pack). All of the weapon and armour entries talk about the pros and cons of utilizing items of that types, and showcases a few popular versions. The other equipment entries talk about the purpose of different kinds of gear, being prepared for your adventures, and why selecting the right equipment for your character is important. Finally, this section also contains a quick monster entry about the terrifying… rust monster!

Survival Gear

The book ends with a few comments about how you can use your characters to tell stories of your own, and a quick blurb about Dungeons & Dragons and how to get involved in the game. Most of the information on these back few pages is the same as that contained at the end of Monsters & Creatures.

The verdict: 

My kids both adored this book. They love flipping through the races and classes, answering the questions, and making up characters. My daughter particularly enjoys the flowchart that helps you pick out the class you’re most like, and has spent a lot of time making up her own quizzes to determine our race and class. She often sits down beside me, flips open her book, and announces, “Mama! Pick a race!” I cannot stress enough how much she enjoys using this book to make characters and character concepts. My son really enjoys reading about the legendary heroes, with both of my kids agreeing Minsc the Mighty and his hamster Boo are the coolest characters in the book. (I’m pretty sure Boo the hamster would win in a popularity contest between the two of them around here, haha). When it comes down to it, I think they enjoy the sections on races and classes more than the section on equipment. Warriors & Weapons is, without a doubt, a book that has sparked my kid’s imaginations. It’s inspired them to create characters, make stories, and share their ideas with the people around them. With a few flips of the page they imagine themselves heroes. And what could be better than that? This book is sure to have a place on my kids’ bookshelves for years to come.

My daughter: “I loved this book! Especially the little chart! It’s so much fun! It was a great book and I give it two thumbs up!”

My son: “Warriors & Weapons was pretty much as good as Monsters & Creatures, but I liked Monsters & Creatures better. I love how it lets you make your own characters with races and classes. The legendary characters were the coolest part. Especially Whey-Shu and Boo.”

“Warriors & Weapons is, without a doubt, a book that has sparked my kid’s imaginations. It’s inspired them to create characters, make stories, and share their ideas with the people around them. With a few flips of the page they imagine themselves heroes. And what could be better than that? This book is sure to have a place on my kids’ bookshelves for years to come.”


My family and I had an absolute blast with these books. Monsters & Creatures and Warriors & Weapons have both been read a lot by my kids, and I expect them to continue to see heavy use in the future. My kids have already decided they would each like their own copies, so they’re saving up their money to pick up an extra copy of each book. We’re very excited to hear there’s more Young Adventurer’s Guides on the horizon, and will definitely be picking up a copy (or two) of Dungeons & Tombs and Wizards & Spells when they come out.

We’d like to give a special thanks to Penguin Randomhouse Canada for sending us advance copies for review.

Thanks for stopping by d20diaries! We’ll chat again soon.

Jessica

 

July New Releases

Hello, and welcome back to d20diairies! Summer is here and a plethora of new gaming products are hitting shelves! Check out this month’s new d20 releases!


Dungeons & Dragons

Last month’s exciting releases include Dungeons & Dragons: Acquisitions Incorporated and Beadle & Grimm’s Sinister Silver Edition for Ghosts of Saltmarsh! The Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Kit is scheduled to release at Target this month, but other retailers won’t be selling it until September.

A new series of Dungeons and Dragons books aimed at children is launching this month. The D&D Young Adventurer’s Guide series is written by Jim Zub, Stacy King, and Andrew Wheeler, and published by Ten Speed Press (a part of the Crown Publishing Group). The series begins with two simultaneous releases on July 16th, 2019: Monsters & Creatures and Warriors & Weapons. There are two more books in development that are scheduled to be released in Fall 2019 (Dungeons & Tombs and Wizards & Spells) and, if they’re popular enough, there may be more beyond that in the future. The D&D Young Adventurer’s Guide series is intended for middle-grade readers (ages 8-12) and meant to inspire these young readers to read, write, create, imagine, and of course, play D&D. My kids and I are incredibly excited to be in possession of advance copies of both of these books, which we’ll be posting a full review on within the next few days. We can’t wait to share them with you!


Pathfinder

Highlights from last month’s releases include Pathfinder Adventure Path 143: Borne by the Sun’s Grace (Tyrant’s Grasp 5 of 6) by Luis Loza and Pathfinder Pawns: Enemy Encounters Pawn Collection. This month’s most exciting Pathfinder release is Pathfinder Adventure Path 144: Midwives to Death (Tyrant’s Grasp 6 of 6) by John Compton. This adventure wraps up the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path and is the final Pathfinder First Edition adventure to be released. Also out this month is  Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Druma: Profit and Prophecy.

This month’s Pathfinder Society Scenario is #10-23—Passing the Torch, Part 2: Who Speaks for the Ten, a Tier 12-18 scenario that is the sequel to last month’s  #10-22—Passing the Torch, Part 1: Who Wears the Mask. Together with Pathfinder Society Special #10-98: Siege of Gallowspire, these three scenarios are the grand finale to Pathfinder Society Organized Play for Pathfinder First Edition.


Starfinder

Last month’s Starfinder releases include Starfinder Adventure Path: Solar Strike (Dawn of Flame 5 of 6) by Mark Moreland and the Starfinder Rules Reference Cards Deck. Although I expected Starfinder Adventure Path: Assault on the Crucible (Dawn of Flame 6 of 6) to release this month, it’s been delayed until August.

Last month marked the start of the second season of the Starfinder Society, Year of a Thousand Bites, with #2-01: The Pact World Warriors and #2-02: Waking the Past. This month’s scenarios are #2-03: The Withering World and #2-04: Future’s Fall. #2-03: The Withering World is a series of five repeatable quests for Tier 1-4. The quests are written by Arc Riley, Jennifer Povey, Rigby Bendele, Shahreena Shahrani, and myself! This project was an absolute blast to be a part of and I can’t wait to see it hit game tables at the end of the month! #2-04: Future’s Fall is a Tier 7-10 scenario by Matt Duvall that takes players back to Salvation’s End!


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

Happy shopping!

Jessica

 

Chronicle of Legends

Pathfinder Player Companion - Chronicle of Legends
Pathfinder Player Companion: Chronicle of Legends

Hello adventurers! Today we’re taking a peek between the covers of Pathfinder Player Companion: Chronicle of Legends! This delightful softcover book from Paizo Inc. is packed with new character options for all character classes, themed as though they were based on legends plucked from the Pathfinder Chronicles. It contains character traits and magic items that could become more powerful over time, new talents, spells, and feats, two new prestige classes, new capstone abilities for nearly all of the classes, and more. In addition, Chronicle of Legends is the final Pathfinder Player Companion being released for Pathfinder First Edition –– a fact both sad and exciting!

Pathfinder Player Companion: Chronicle of Legends is a soft cover book that is 32 pages in length. As a book in the Player Companion line, it’s aimed at players, which means that you won’t find a ton of world lore or secrets inside. Instead you’ll find character options –– things like feats, traits, spells, and more. Chronicle of Legends was developed by Eleanor Ferron and Luis Loza. Contributing authors include Calder CaDavid, Vanessa Hoskins, Mike Kimmel, Isabelle Lee, Matt Morris, Mikhail Rekun, and Michael Sayre. The cover features dynamic art by David Alvarez which depicts Oloch (the iconic warpriest), Quinn (the iconic inquisitor), Shardra (the iconic shaman), and Kolo (Shardra’s tuatara familiar), all combatting a stone colossus. Interior artists include Nathanael James, Michele Giorgi, Alyssa McCarthy, and Beatrice Pelagatti.

The front inside cover features some fun references to past seasons of the Pathfinder Society, as well as it’s future. After this is the table of contents, the rules index, and the introduction, which contains five new exemplar traits, as well as a heroic figure that represents each of them. Exemplar traits are stronger than regular traits and are each tied to a single category of traits (combat, faith, magic, regional, or social). Each allows you to take more traits from their linked category, and gets stronger for each one. I rather liked the exemplar traits, particularly ‘Faith Unshakeable and Unassailable’, which grants you a bonus on Will saves against charms, compulsions, and fear effects, and ‘Traveler of a Hundred Lands’ which allows you to select extra skills as class skills.

Introduction - Illustration by Nathanael James
Illustration by Nathanael James. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Moving on from the introduction we come to our first chapter: Chronicles of Heroes! This section contains four pages of new character options. It starts with four new banners usable by cavaliers and samurai (I particularly like the ‘knave standard’ which can help out your shifty companions). There’s three new gunslinger deeds (check out ‘thundering shot’!) and four new swashbuckler deeds (check out ‘hilt hammer’ and ‘dodging dance’). After this there are six new ninja tricks which are all really cool. My kids adore ‘spiritual companion’ which can allow your ninja to get an improved familiar from a short list of very interesting options. ‘All the stars in the sky’ will be a great choice for shuriken users, but it’s ‘false face’ that turned out to be my favourite. This little gem allows you to change shape as long as you have some ki. Finally, there’s some talents in this chapter: five for slayers and seven for vigilantes. My favourite was definitely ‘leap and bound,’ a vigilante talent that lets you pull off some fun mid-air attacks and tricks.

Ritualist - Illustration by Alyssa McCarthy
A ritualist. Illustrated by Alyssa McCarthy. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Up next? Chronicles of Prestige! This section contains fourteen feats for characters who have levels in a prestige class from the Pathfinder Core Rulebook. They’re all useful and sure to enhance the classes they’re intended for. Following this is two new prestige classes: esoteric knight and ritualist. Esoteric knight is similar to eldritch knight, but for kineticists and psychic spellcasters. Ritualist is accessible to spellcasters of all kinds, and makes it’s user incredibly proficient at performing rituals. Definitely a niche prestige class, but a ton of fun if you’re interested in rituals.

Chronicles of Magic is two pages of new spells and a ritual. There are four new spells –– realm retribution, rival’s ward, greater song of discord, and uncanny reminder. All are high level spells, clocking in at level 6, 8, and 9 depending on the spell and spellcasting class. But, it’s the ritual, egoist’s militia, that turned out to be my favourite. Definitely give it a read if you’ve got the chance.

The next section –– Chronicles of Expertise –– is my husband’s favourite part of this book. These four pages are all about magic tricks! Like equipment tricks, magic tricks allow PCs to get some extra utility out of their abilities. In this case, magic spells. Each spell has five or six special ways you can use it –– presuming you have the feat ‘magic trick’ for the appropriate spell and the necessary skills or feats. The spells that have magic tricks are daylight, fireball, mage hand, obscuring mist, prestidigitation, shield, and unseen servant. Although they’re all really cool, my favourites are the tricks for mage hand and shield.

The nest two sections –– Chronicles of Legacy and Chronicles of Collection –– are all about magical gear. Chronicles of Legacy showcases nine new legacy items, which are unique magical items that grow in power and gain new abilities as their bearers level up or accomplish goals. Although they’re intended to be given out by GMs, not purchased, they do have rules for pricing legacy items included in a sidebar. I enjoyed a lot of these items, but the bracers of antiquity and trailblazer’s boots turned out to be my favourites. Chronicles of Collection presents two feats –– collector’s boon and improved collector’s boon –– that allow PCs to make use of magical equipment sets. Equipment sets are a collection of magical items that, when worn together, become more powerful and unlock new abilities. There are eight equipment sets in this book, each focused on a different theme and featuring magical items already released in other books. For example, the Archmage’s Vestments is great for spellcasters and consists of greater caster’s shield, magician’s hat, ring of counterspells, robe of the archmagi, and staff of power. PCs can only make use of one equipment set at a time. The other equipment sets are Aroden’s Array, Beastmaster’s Will, Besmara’s Bounty, Dread Demoniac Armor, Irori’s Meditation, Pharasma’s Command, and Urgathoa’s Gluttony. Each is powerful in it’s own way, but they are very niche, so not all characters will want to attempt to make use of them. My personal favourite? Beastmaster’s Will, although I admit it’s far from the most powerful option. Haha.

Dwarf Capstone - Chronicle of LegendsWhich brings us to my favourite part of the book: Chronicles of Paragons! I love options. You know what else I love? Reaching 20th level and getting an awesome ability! But, what’s better than achieving your capstone powers? Having a choice of capstone power. This chapter presents an alternative capstone ability for nearly every base class in Pathfinder First Edition. Alchemists and witches instead have a new grand discovery and grand hex to add to their options. In addition, there’s a dozen other capstones, which can be taken by any character that meets the prerequisites. Examples of this include arch-familiar, which grants your familiar higher intelligence and a selection of spell-like abilities of your choice; deep magics, which grants spellcasters an array of new spells known; or old dog, new tricks, which grants you a quartet of new combat feats. I really enjoyed all the universal capstone abilities.  That’s not to say I didn’t like the class-specific capstone abilities –– because I did! –– but it’s the universal ones that caught my interest most, particularly for their versatility and universal appeal. So what were my favourite class-specific capstones? Tough, tough, tough call! Probably ‘proxy,’ the cleric capstone which grants you an additional domain and all of its benefits, and ‘huntmaster,’ the hunter capstone which grants you a second animal companion.

And that’s it! The end of Pathfinder Player Companion: Chronicle of Legends! This book is packed full of cool new character options for all classes that are memorable and unique. Theres literally something for everyone in this book –– quite a few somethings! –– and I would honestly be shocked if someone found this book not worth the investment. I absolutely adored it, and am pleased to see that the Pathfinder Player Companion line went out with a bang.

Arcane Archer - Illustration by Alyssa Michele Giorgi
An arcane archer. Illustration by Michele Giorgi. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

…But wait! There’s more! Last month on Paizo’s blog Luis Loza shared two extra character options written for Chronicle of Legends that they couldn’t fit into the book. Two archetypes for prestige classes! ‘Deadeye devotee’ is an arcane archer prestige archetype that allows divine worshippers of Erastil to enter the prestige class and gain some unique new abilities, while ‘thought thief’ is an arcane trickster prestige archetype for psychic spellcasters. Both prestige archetypes are available on Paizo’s blog for free. Thanks, Luis!

Thanks for checking out d20diaries! I hope that taking a peek at what’s inside this Player’s Companion helped you decide if this is the right book for you. There’s plenty  of great books out there (and I know I’m not the only one who can’t afford them all!).

Shop smart!

Jessica

 

Pathfinder Society Scenarios: Countdown to Round Mountain and Slaver’s End

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 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!

10-20 - Countdown to Round MountainPathfinder Society Scenario #10-20: Countdown to Round Mountain is a Tier 7–11 adventure written by Jerall Toi, with art by Tadas Sidlauskas and Jesper Ejsing, and cartography by Jason Engle. It takes place in the Darklands beneath Tian Xia and continues the ongoing Hao Jin Tapestry storyline. Although it involves Round Mountain this scenario doesn’t actually take place in Round Mountain, which is important to note for managing player expectations. The Venture Captain is Amara Li. Countdown to Round Mountain features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: BestiaryBestiary 2Bestiary 3Bestiary 4, and Bestiary 6 (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario) and utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Winter Forest and Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Bigger Bridge.

This adventure tasks the PCs with finding and exploring a Darklands cavern that was the original home of Round Mountain. The PCs need to conduct a survey of the area, collect what historical artifacts they can, and convince any possible residents to leave, before a magical ritual returns Round Mountain –– and the creatures taking refuge in it –– back to its original location. In a lot of ways, I love this adventure. Its an easy read, has a really cool premise, and has a creative location to explore. I really like that this adventure is on a timer and has a lot at stake, but I don’t think it quite got the timing right. There’s plenty of promising ideas and details in the adventure, but I don’t think many were explored fully, resulting in either a missed opportunity or a lot of GM improvisation, depending on the situation. This scenario is very heavy on skill checks, and would have benefited from some further social aspects. I like the enemies the PCs come across, and I really enjoy the finale. I have a few more vague GM related comments to make on this one, but it contains more spoilers than I am comfortable letting slip without hiding it behind a spoiler tag. The following link is for GMs only. For everyone else, let me finish by saying I enjoyed this scenario, but I think it’s got a bit of kinks to work out. I give it three out of five stars.

10-21 - Slaver's EndPathfinder Society Scenario #10-21: Slaver’s End is a Tier 5–9 adventure written by Vanessa Hoskins, with art by Jesper Ejsing and Teresa Guido, and cartography by Sean MacDonald. It takes place in Sedeq, a city in Qadira, and builds off of events from #38: No Plunder, No Pay and #10-21: Treason’s Chains. It features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: BestiaryBestiary 3, and the Villain Codex (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario) and utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Docks, and a full-page custom map. This mission is of particular importance to members of the Liberty’s Edge faction. Venture-Captains are Wulessa Yuul and Karisa Starsight.

This adventure tasks the PCs with tracking down the traitor Phlegos Dulm and bringing him in alive. This is a really fun, challenging, entertaining scenario, with great enemy tactics and placement, map layout, and story. I adore the scripted dialogue in this one, and the social encounters! So great! Slaver’s End allows for multiple ways to approach and overcome the encounters, and gives characters the chance to make decisions that could have further ramifications outside this scenario. I absolutely loved this adventure and can’t wait to play it! Really great job! I give this scenario five out of five stars.

Starfinder Society Scenarios: The Many Minds of Historia and The Herald’s War

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

PZOSFS0138E - The Many Minds of HistoriaStarfinder Society Scenario #1-38: The Many Minds of Historia is a Tier 5–8 adventure written by Lyz Liddell, with art  by Sebastian Rodriguez and Bryan Syme, and cartography by Robert Lazzaretti and Damien Mammoliti. This scenario features the Faction (Dataphiles) and Faction (Exo-Guardians) tags, and does not include starship combat. It builds on events from Starfinder Society #1-99: The Scoured Stars Invasion, although playing this scenario beforehand is not necessary. It also continues an ongoing personal subplot involving Zigvigix and Historia-7. Although it’s not necessary, I highly suggest you play some of the previous scenarios that feature Zigvigix and Historia-7 in order to better enjoy and understand this scenario. Players who do so will definitely get more out of it emotionally and contextually, than players that do not. This scenario makes use of Starfinder Flip-Mat: WarshipStarfinder Flip-Mat: Jungle World, and a half-page custom map. It includes content from the Starfinder Core RulebookAlien Archive, and Armory, although all of the necessary stat blocks are included in the adventure itself.

The Many Minds of Historia takes place in Absalom Station’s Lorespire Complex, base of operations for the Starfinder Society. There you will assist Zigvigix in confronting Historia-7, his friend and fellow faction leader who he believes is acting strangely. It includes plenty of important characters, and has lasting ramifications for the future of some of the involved characters and factions. Due to the importance of this scenario, and because it is much more enjoyable to play while completely in the dark, I won’t be saying much more about the content of this scenario. I will say that I absolutely loved it! The Many Minds of Historia is creative, exciting, unique, and shocking. It’s emotionally impactful, and brings a lot of interconnected storylines, characters, and events together into an intriguing cohesive whole. It’s fun for players and GMs both, allows for a lot of creativity, and is an absolutely wonderful scenario. It feels personal, and I expect many players will be on the edge of their seats throughout the course of this adventure. All that said, it’s not without a few minor weaknesses. A few of the enemy’s starting positions don’t work optimally with their tactics (which also means it’s a bit easier than some CRs imply), and it will be difficult to convey some of the skill options PCs could use without simply telling them. Miniscule nitpicks. Overall, The Many Minds of Historia is among my very favourite scenarios. Without a doubt I give it five out of five stars. Awesome job, Lyz!

PZOSFS0139 - The Heralds WarStarfinder Society Scenario #1-39: The Herald’s War is a Tier 7–10 adventure written by Mikko Kallio, with art by Graey Erb, Michele Giorgi, Miroslav Petrov, and Bryan Syme, and cartography by Robert Lazzaretti and Damien Mammoliti. This scenario features the Faction (Second Seekers [Jadnura]), Faction (Second Seekers [Luwazi Elsebo]), and Starship tags, and contains starship combat. It continues the ongoing Scoured Stars storyline, involving both the jinsul and the Kreiholm Freehold. I highly recommend you play #1-29: Honorbound Emissarries before playing this scenario (although there’s a ton of other Scoured Stars scenarios that would also be great to play beforehand). Players who take the time to do so will get more enjoyment out of this adventure. The Herald’s War utilizes Starfinder Flip-Mat – Basic Starfield, and two custom half-page maps.  It makes use of the Starfinder Core Rulebook, and, as always, all necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario itself.

The Herald’s War takes place in Saaruq-Ruaan, which is part of the Kreiholm Freehold. In this scenario PCs will join a massive Starfinder Society mission to protect the Kreiholm Freehold, and convince them to join the Starfinder Society in a future assault against the jinsul –– presuming they all survive, of course! This scenario involves a ton of different characters, plot lines, and events all coming together into one absolutely awesome scenario. It’s fast-paced, exciting, and dynamic. It’s definitely long, though, so GMs will need to keep a brisk pace to fit it all into a single timeslot. The encounters cover a variety of types –– combat, skills, social, starship, and so on –– and most challenges allow for multiple methods to overcome them. It’s action-packed and epic, but a bit manic and disjointed –– which actually fits the adventure really well. Although we have a ton more to say about this scenario, we’re going to keep it brief. This scenario is the conclusion of the Year of Scoured Stars  for the Starfinder Society, and is best enjoyed without further spoilers. All in all, it’s a really satisfying scenario with a great pay-off. This scenario leads directly into the events of #2-00: Fate of the Scoured God by Christopher Wasko, an interactive special which will debut at Origins. I give this climatic scenario five out of five stars. 

 

 

Pathfinder Battles: Ruins of Lastwall

Ruins of Lastwall Booster
Pathfinder Battles – Ruins of Lastwall Booster Box

The latest Pathfinder Battles set from WizKids is finally out! Packed full of pre-painted miniatures that are a great accompaniment to the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path, this set has a whole lot of knights, cultists, undead, and outsiders. Classics! Plus, there’s quite a few gods in this set, which is awesome!

Pathfinder Battles: Ruins of Lastwall 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 booster boxes) or a case of boosters (four bricks for a total of 32 booster boxes). 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.

 

There’s been a ton of awesome renderings of the miniatures in this set shared by Paizo, which we’re happy to share with the world. Curious what’s inside? Read on!

Pathfinder Battles - Ruins of Lastwall
Pathfinder Battles – Ruins of Lastwall Miniatures

Commons:
01 – Caligni Creeper (small)
02 – Caligni Caller (small)
03 – Formian Worker (small)
04 – Caligni Stalker
05 – Draugr
06 – Hyena
07 – Lastwall Soldier
08 – Leng Ghoul
09 – Poltergeist
10 – Razmir Cultist
11 – Skeletal Soldier
12 – Velstrac Evangelist
13 – Whispering Way Cultist

 

Uncommons:
14 – Nosoi Psychopomp
15 – Formian Warrior
16 – Jyoti
17 – Lastwall Knight
18 – Lastwall Paladin
19 – Mohrg
20 – Razmir Priest
21 – Sceaduinar
22 – Skeletal Samurai
23 – Skeletal Speaker
24 – Vanth Psychopomp
25 – Androsphinx (large)
26 – Gold Dragon (large)
27 – Lastwall General (large)
28 – Nuckelavee (large)
29 – Roiling Oil (large)
30 – Scorpionfolk (large)
31 – Tomb Giant (large)
32 – Warmonger Devil (large)

 

Rares:
33 – Arazni
34 – Iomedae
35 – Morrigna
36 – Razmir
37 – Thanadaemon
38 – Urgathoa
39 – Whispering Tyrant
40 – Worm that walks
41 – Empyrean Angel (large)
42 – Formian Queen (large)
43 – Time Dragon (large)
44 – Pharasma (large)

 

Dungeon Dressing:
D1 – Crypt Wall (large)
D2 – Torture Rack (large)
D3 – Funerary Bed (large)
D4 – Afterlife Scale
D5 – Stone Cairn
D6 – Canopic Jars (small)

 

We can’t wait to get our hands on a box of Pathfinder Battles: Ruins of Lastwall! Got some of your own? We’d love to hear what you’ve got! Got a favourite mini? Let us know which one! I’m a huge fan of all the Lastwall knights, soldiers, paladin, and warriors. They look great and they’re easy to use in a wide array of adventures.

Jessica

Ruins of Lastwall - Joel Holtzman
Illustrated by Joel Holtzman. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

News from PaizoCon

There has been plenty of exciting news and sneak peeks from PaizoCon this year and, although PaizoCon hasn’t quite come to an end, we’re taking the time to share our favourite bits of news, spoilers, and previews with the world.


Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

The revamped and reimagined Pathfinder Adventure Card Game launched at PaizoCon 2019, which has been a long time coming. By all accounts the game looks great and plays well, with streamlined rules, a customizable play experience, and a focus on story. Interested readers can pick up a copy of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Core Set and the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path from either of the links or direct from Paizo. For more information on the products you can also check out this blog post. Finally, for those of you interested, the rules for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Core Set are now a free download on Paizo’s website! What a pleasant surprise!

 


Pathfinder First Edition

Pathfinder First Edition may be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t exciting bits of news and spoilers dropped at PaizoCon. So what was my favourite bit of information about? Midwives to Death!

Midwives to Death is the final volume of the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path, as well as the final First Edition Adventure Path. The events of this campaign bring big changes to the world of Golarion, which will be seen in Pathfinder Second Edition. This information isn’t new. But what I didn’t know? Instead of the usual backmatter in this volume, all the Paizo developers were given two pages of space to create whatever they wanted to for First Edition. Two pages each to leave their final mark on the game. The last Pathfinder First Edition content! These 28 pages are filled with new creatures, archetypes, prestige classes, and character options. For example, Erik Mona created updated stats for Ostog the Unslain, and Owen K.C. Stephens gave the dwarven god Angradd some love with a paladin code and devotions. I am absurdly excited to see what the Paizo team has come up with. What a great send off!

Iomedae by Ekaterina Burmak
Art courtesy of Paizo Inc. Illustrated by Ekaterina Burmak

Pathfinder Second Edition

There was a LOT of information, sneak peeks, and spoilers dropped about Pathfinder Second Edition over the weekend, and in the weeks leading up to it. Recently a new map of the Inner Sea was released, complete with some new nations and newly organized geographical and cultural regions. Notable new additions include New Thassilon, Oprak, Ravounel, and the Sarkoris Scar. During PaizoCon, more information was given on these regions and their organization.

Inner Sea Map - Cartography by Rob McCaleb
Inner Sea Region of Golarion. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc. Cartography by Rob McCaleb.

Most of the spoilers regarding Pathfinder Second Edition were unveiled at PaizoCon’s Preview Banquet. The page layout for the new books all looks absolutely gorgeous, which is really exciting and so reassuring. Attendees were also given spoiler cards which contained a single spoiler on it for Second Edition. 100 spoilers were given out, with the promise of more if all of the spoilers are collected on Paizo’s message boards. You can also follow the spoilers on Twitter with #MyPathfinderSpoiler.

Perhaps one of the most exciting previews to come out during the Paizo Preview Banquet, in regards to Second Edition, is the announcement of the Lost Omens Character Guide and Lost Omens Gods and Magic!

Lost Omens Character Guide is a 136 page hardcover book that is the second release in the Lost Omens World Guide series, scheduled for release in October 2019. It will contain a ton of new character options, including new heritage and ancestry feats for every entry in the Core Rulebook, five factions with archetypes and other benefits of membership, templates to make faction specific monsters, and three new ancestries for player characters: hobgoblins, leshy, and lizardfolk! Honestly, it looks like an incredibly useful book, similar to the Advanced Player’s Guide, but with direct ties to the Lost Omens campaign setting included. Definitely going on my must-have list!

Lost Omens Gods & Magic is a 128 page hardcover book that is the third release in the Lost Omens World Guide series, scheduled for release in January 2020. It will contain information on the gods of the Inner Sea Region, as well as an index covering important information on the hordes of deities of Golarion, updated to Second Edition. There’s new domains, spells, feats, and other options to help players of all classes customize their characters. It looks awesome!

Aeon Tower - Illustration by Ainur Salimova
An aeon tower. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc. Illustrated by Ainur Salimova.

But, my favourite spoilers for Second Edition weren’t revealed at the preview banquet at all, instead they were revealed at a panel on the upcoming adventure paths. Sure, Age of Ashes sounds cool, and I’m thrilled to have dragons be the big-bad’s in that series, but the next one? Extinction Curse? That one’s really got me excited! The Adventure Path takes place on the Isle of Kortos, occasionally known as  Starstone Isle, but doesn’t venture into Absalom proper. The PCs are all members of a travelling circus ready for their debut performance in a small town. Unfortunately, right before the performance begins the ringmaster turns up dead! The PCs need to take control, act as ringmaster, do their performances, ensure the show goes off without a hitch, and solve the ringmaster’s murder all at the same time! Throughout the campaign the circus travels with you, which will really help to shake up the social aspects of the campaign (both within and outside of your circus troupe). The Extinction Curse Adventure Path involves the history of Absalom and the Isle of Kortos, the legacy of Aroden, Aeon Towers, and troglodytes from the darklands. An added bonus? One of the volumes is called ‘Siege of Dinosaurs,’ and is written by Kate Baker. It sounds amazing! Haha. My son’s already planning his upcoming character for this one.

 


Pathfinder Society Organized Play

PaizoCon marks the debut of the new Pathfinder Society logo, which looks awesome, and some minor details about the upcoming season of Organized Play. But, my favourite sneak Peeks for the Pathfinder Society were actually released before PaizoCon, on Paizo’s blog. They’ve announced that the factions of the Pathfinder Society will be shaken up, with none of the old factions remaining in Pathfinder Second Edition. Instead of being outside organizations that work through the Pathfinder Society, the new factions are groups of like-minded individuals within the Pathfinder Society. As Tonya Woldridge said during the PaizoCon banquet, “Everyone is Grand Lodge now. We are bringing back our core values of ‘Explore, Report, Cooperate.’ ” The first season of Second Edition Pathfinder Society will be the Year of the Open Road.

This is an awesome change, that I can’t wait to see it take effect. There will be four major factions, whose stories will continue throughout each season of the Pathfinder Society Organized Play Program, as well as two minor factions. Minor factions will have special missions during the year they are released, but will not receive much attention in later seasons. However, these minor factions will still remain open for play and will not be retired. In addition, new minor factions will be added as the stories evolve. Although these factions are all new, most are lead by familiar faces. So far two factions have been announced. Horizon Hunters, a major faction led by Venture-Captain Calisro Benarry whose focus is on exploration, discovery, and the fame of its members. And Radiant Oath, a minor faction led by Valais Durant, a Pathfinder who has really been through the wringer! Haha. This faction has a focus on compassion, kindness, and redemption. Although they combat evil, they’re not as rigid or innately devout as the Silver Crusade faction of the previous Pathfinder Society. Instead, they hope to inspire small acts of kindness in all Pathfinders.


Starfinder

I love Starfinder. And there were some cool new spoilers revealed this weekend. My favourites include new details on the upcoming Alien Archive 3, which releases in August 2019. It includes 19 new playable races including turtlefolk, otterfolk, sapient bug swarms known as spathinae, sapient raptors, and Starfinder Society fan favourite: the morlamaw! There’s also tons of new monsters including the giant space tardigrade and the skittermander hunting stridermanders of Vesk-6. Finally, there’s creature companion rules which can let you have pets, mounts, and more! My kids and I have been hoping for rules for pets for a long time, so we’re absolutely thrilled!

Also exciting is the Character Operations Manual, which releases in November and includes three new character classes (the biohacker, vanguard, and witchwarper), themes, archetypes, alternate racial abilities for all core and legacy races, and two new roles for starship combat, including the magic officer! This is going to be one useful book.

On the Adventure Path front, there was plenty of information on Attack of the Swarm!, a military focused adventure path that pits the PCs and their fellow soldiers against the overwhelming menace of the insectile swarm. Following Attack of the Swarm! is a six-part adventure path that focuses on conspiracy theories, and ever-deepening mysteries that revolve around the unseen – aliens like reptoids and grey that walk among us, hidden from sight. This adventure path is called The Threefold Conspiracy and begins in February 2020. I’m very curious to see where this Adventure Path leads!

Starfinder Beginner Box
Starfinder Beginner Box. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Starfinder Society Organized Play 

Before PaizoCon it was announced that the next season of Starfinder Organized play would be the Year of a Thousand Bites! This season has a focus on the Pact Worlds and the effect that the Starfinder’s recent exploits and decisions have had upon the Society, and their home. It’s also rumoured to involve Lao Shu Po, often known as Grandmother Rat. The Year of a Thousand Bites launches a Origins with #2-00: Fate of the Scoured God.

But, as the Year of Scoured Stars comes to an end, so to do the missions of the current First Seekers, Luwazi Elsebo and Jadnura. And, when a First Seeker’s missions is accomplished, they step down, leaving an opening for a new First Seeker to take their place. That doesn’t mean we’ll be saying goodbye to Luwazi or Jadnura. They’ll still be around, as will their faction and followers. But, that does mean a new First Seeker will be elected. And who will it be? One of us. PCs who have achieved a certain amount of reputation within the Second Seeker (Luwazi Elsebo) faction were given the opportunity to acquire a boon that instructed them to send an email with detailed information about their character to the Starfinder Society Organized Play team. These characters have been examined and four of the team’s favourites will be introduced in a special scenario, #2-07. Said to be similar to #1-01: The Commencement, this mission will allow players to meet the potential candidates, perform minor tasks for them, and learn about their platforms and goals. Shortly after it releases in September a poll will go up on Paizo’s blog, that allows players to vote for their favourite candidate. The winner will become the next First Seeker, and their goals will influence the storyline for Year Three. Which is amazing! I can’t wait to see them!

 

 

Year 2 - Year of a Thousand Bytes
Logo for season two of Starfinder Society Organized Play: Year of a Thousand Bites. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Wayfinder #19

Finally, with PaizoCon comes the launch of another Wayfinder fanzine. Made by fans for fans, this year’s issue is entitled ‘Destination: Absalom Station‘ and features a ton of new Starfinder content. Wayfinder #19 is a free download on Paizo’s website and is always an entertaining and useful read. This year’s issue is especially exciting for my family, as not only did I get an article and two themes into the fanzine, but each of my children (aged seven and eight) created their own monsters which were printed in Wayfinder #19s Alien Archive. So if you want some giant space rabbits to nibble on your PCs, and broken radioactive robots to stumble around the Ghost Levels of Absalom Station and Elytrio, (or just want to see what some creative kids can create!) be sure to give it a download. And even if not? Download it anyway! It’s free and full of awesome content!

We’ll take a closer look at Wayfinder #19 in a day or so.

Wayfinder #19 Cover
Wayfinder #19. Cover by Tyler Clark and Dionisis Milonas

Thanks for joining us! Got a favourite moment from PaizoCon, awesome sneak peek from PaizoCon I missed, or a #MyPathfinderSpoiler? Let us know about it in the comments!

Jessica