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.
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.
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 & 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.
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).
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: 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.
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!
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.
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.
PaizoCon and it’s wonderful livestream hosted by Know Direction has got me thinking about the future. The future of Pathfinder as it transitions into Second Edition, the future of Starfinder, as it continues to grow and expand, and the future of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, which just launched its revamped and redesigned Core Set. The changes are big and exciting and, after seeing some of the spoilers and sneak peels that have been streamed, I think the future’s looking bright! At the end of this weekend we’ll be posting some of our favourite news to come out of PaizoCon, but until then, we wanted to take a peek at something iconic. The Iconics.
The Iconic characters of Pathfinder have undergone a makeover, as each core iconic has been redesigned for the launch of Pathfinder Second Edition this August. Illustrated and designed by Wayne Reynolds, many of the characters we know and love look a little (or a lot!) different, but are still recognizable as themselves. Today we’re taking a quick peek at the Iconic character designs we’re used to, alongside their new artwork. All art is courtesy of Paizo Inc.
For more information on the Iconic character designs and the work that went into them, check out the Iconic Evolution video series on youtube, starring Erik Mona and Wayne Reynolds. Wayne is an absolute delight to see on the screen.
You can also check out the Iconic Encounters short fiction on Paizo’s blog, starring each of the Iconic characters. Written by James L. Sutter, and with accompanying art by a variety of artists, they’re short, sweet, and well worth the read.
Amiri, the Iconic Barbarian
First Edition Amiri by Wayne Reynolds
Second Edition Amiri by Wayne Reynolds
Iconic Encounter: Amiri by Roberto Pitturru
Lem, the Iconic Bard
First Edition Lem by Wayne Reynolds
Second Edition Lem by Wayne Reynolds
Iconic Encounter Lem by Biagio d’Alessandro
Kyra, the Iconic Cleric
First Edition Kyra by Wayne Reynolds
Second Edition Kyra by Wayne Reynolds
Iconic Encounter Kyra by Matteo Spirito
Lini, the Iconic Druid
First Edition Lini by Wayne Reynolds
Second Edition Lini and Droogami by Wayne Reynolds
Iconic Encounter Lini by Sam Yang
Valeros, the Iconic Fighter
First Edition Valeros by Wayne Reynolds
Second Edition Valeros by Wayne Reynolds
Iconic Encounter Valeros by Hai Hoang
Sajan, the Iconic Monk
First Edition Sajan by Wayne Reynolds
Second Edition Sajan by Wayne Reynolds
Iconic Encounter Sajan by Robert Pitturru
Seelah, Iconic Paladin (note: paladin is now a subclass of the Champion class, which allows for multiple good-aligned paladins)
First Edition Seelah by Wayne Reynolds
Second Edition Seelah by Wayne Reynolds
Iconic Encounter Seelah by Biagio d’Alessandro
Harsk, the Iconic Ranger
First Edition Harsk by Wayne Reynolds
Second Edition Harsk by Wayne Reynolds
iconic Encounter Harsk by Valeria Lutfullina
Merisiel, the Iconic Rogue
First Edition Merisiel by Wayne Reynolds
Second Edition Merisiel by Wayne Reynolds
Iconic Encounter Merisial by Mary Jane Pajaron
Seoni, the Iconic Sorcerer
First Edition Seoni by Wayne Reynolds
Second Edition Seoni by Wayne Reynolds
Iconic Encounter Seen by Mikhail Palamarchuk
Ezren, the Iconic Wizard
First Edition Ezren by Wayne Reynolds
Second Edition Ezren by Wayne Reynolds
Iconic Encounter Ezren by Matteo Spirito
And finally, Fumbus! The new Iconic Alchemist!
Iconic Alchemist Fumbus by Wayne Reynolds
Iconic Encounter Fumbus by Federico Musetti
Which Iconic’s changes do you like most? Let us know in the comments! I’m a fan of Harsk, Sajan, Seelah, and Seoni, myself. And I love that they punched up the colours to make everyone more vibrant! Although, my daughter would like everyone to know she likes the original Amiri better, since she looks “too scrawny” now. My daughter really likes Amiri.
Like previous Alien Archives this book is going to contain over a hundred aliens for allying with or fighting against, as well as over a dozen which can be used as player races. Starmetal dragons, living holograms, ‘body-snatching flayer leeches’ and irokirois from Osoro have all been confirmed to be in the book. Playable alien races include an intelligent swarm of tiny insects and a bioluminescent cephalopod.
As an added bonus Alien Archive 3 is going to contain some other player options and gear, which is a nice change of pace. Best of all? Rule for pets, mounts, and combatant creature companions! My daughters dreams have just come true. Haha.
Pre-order for Alien Archive 3 is scheduled to begin in August 2019.
For my birthday yesterday my family gifted me a wonderful book I’ve been itching to get my hands on: Starfinder Alien Archive 2! And what better way to celebrate than to share it with all of you? So today we’re taking a deep dive into the latest Alien Archive! Ready?
Alien Archive 2 is an awesome supplement book for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game. This book has a hardcover, and is 159 pages in length. It’s got an American cover price of $39.99, which means that if you’re Canadian (like myself), you’re looking at a cost of around forty-five to fifty dollars for the book online, or up to sixty in your local game store. It’s currently on sale for around $32 Canadian on that handy link I posted, so I highly recommend picking it up cheap while you can.
At it’s core, Alien Archive 2 is a book of monsters. You’ll find a ton of creatures to fight and ally with inside this book, as well as some new player races. The book is easy to use, adaptable, and well organized. It also has some new character options, like new spells, equipment, and feats, scattered amongst the monster entries.
The Alien Archive features lovely cover art by Remko Troost which depicts a glitch gremlin, a mi-go, and a trox. The inside front and back covers feature an image of the Pact Worlds. After that we come to the table of contents. Alien Archive 2 has sixty-five distinct monster entries inside it, many of which have more than one stat block or variation of that creature, making the actual number of foes inside larger than it seems (around one hundred and twenty-six by my count). Of these, sixteen are playable as character races. There are also three starships, and twenty-six template grafts.
After the table of contents we reach the introduction. This is where we learn how the races are oriented, and how to read a stat block. While most of this is basic information that only a player new to d20 games will need to read, some of the information is quite important. Of course, all of this will be business as usual for owners of the first Alien Archive.
Each of the stat blocks inside the Alien Archive is sorted into one of three categories: combatants (which excels in physical combat), experts (who are most effective with skills), and spellcasters (who rely on spells or spell-like abilities). These categories are represented by an icon in the left margin. These images are easy to distinguish and provide a quick and easy way for GMs to realize the role each monster plays in combat, which makes it super easy to find the type of creatures your looking for, or to quickly discern a creature’s tactics.
Every one of the bestiary entries in this book is two side-by-side pages long. These entries include information on the creature, where they’re found, their use throughout the Pact Worlds, and their society — if they have one. Many of the entries include more than one stat block on a theme. For example, the Forman entry gives us stats for a CR 7 taskmaster, along with a CR 10 myrmarch. Similarly, the akata entry features the both the akata and the void zombie, which are controlled by its parasitic offspring. Some entries include many stat-blocks (such as the herd animals, predators, and dinosaurs) or include simple grafts that can be added to a featured creature to make it into other versions (such as metallic and outer dragons). Many of the archive entries introduce new gear, rules, or consumables. My personal favourites include the arquand horns found on the arquand gazelle’s entry, the glass skin of the glass serpent, and the apocalypse solarian weapon crystals from the living apocalypse.
After this we come to the meat of the book: the aliens archive itself. There are a ton of cool creatures in this book, and even some that I wasn’t sure I’d like on first perusal, I ended up really enjoying. Some of my favourites you should check out include the squox, a CR 1/3 or 1 creature which is utterly adorable and makes a fabulous pet. I also adored the adaptable entries on dinosaurs, herd animals, and predators, each of which comes with a sample stat block for a creature of each size, followed by simple rules for how to make an innumerable combination of custom creatures of those types. It’s simple, incredibly useful, and has awesome art. LOVE IT. Glitch gremlins were a fun low level challenge I also really enjoyed, as were the akatas, which I’m thrilled to see included. For a great high-level challenge check out the calecor and the living apocalypse.
Mixed amongst the monster entries are sixteen playable races. Each entry features two different CR stat blocks representative of their race, a bunch of interesting information on their societies and home worlds, and a side bar which include the rules for playing them as a race. Although many of these were ‘humanoid shaped’, with arms and hands or some sort, there were some which were not, most notably the mollusk-like embri, and the silicon-based quorlu. This was just awesome to see, and I really enjoyed it! Some of the races and monsters from old Golarion were up for selection, including aasimar, tieflings, ghorans, hobgoblins, orcs, and trox, but many were brand new. I honestly loved a TON of these races, but my favourite new additions are damai, osharu, pahtra, and the wolf-like vlaka.
Curious about the playable races available in this book? Well, look no further! The Alien Archive includes:
Aasimar: celestial blooded humanoids you’ll find under ‘planar scion’
Bolida: armoured burrowing arthropods with a wide array of senses
Damai: pale, scrappy humanoids forced to hide underground from the colossi they share their world with
Embri: masked, mollusk like aberrations with a rigid social order secretly controlled by the forces of hell
Ghoran: delicious plant beings from Golarion who have terraformed their own planet-paradise and genetically split into two subraces: oaklings and saplings
Hobgoblin: tall, war-mongering, militaristic humanoids with faces similar in appearance to goblins
Kanabo: a red-skinned oni, which is a type of evil spirit given a physical form
Orc: strong humanoids conditioned as slave labour by the drow of Apostae
Osharu: slug-like creatures that view religion and science as intertwined
Pahtra: asexual cat-like humanoids that adore music and battle
Phentomite: agile humanoids acclimated to thin atmospheres and high altitudes that live on a broken planet
Quorlu: silicon based quadrupeds with tentacle arms and eyestalks capable of digging through earth and stone
Tiefling: fiendish blooded humanoids you’ll find under ‘planar scion’
Trox: large, chitinous, gentle humanoids that have been magically transformed since their time on Golarion
Uplifted Bear: intelligent, bipedal bears that you’ll find under ‘bear’
Vlaka: wolf-life humanoids from a dying world often born deaf or blind
Past the statistics for all those snazzy new aliens we come to the Appendixes, of which there are eleven. Appendix One contains two pages of creature subtype grafts and Appendix Two contains two and a half pages of environmental grafts. Appendix Three contains rules for the polymorphing creatures. This section is around seven pages long and frankly, feels quite complicated to me. Definitely not something my kids could use. Appendix Four contains all of the universal creature special abilities. Appendix Five, Six, and Seven are very short, sorting the creatures in the Alien Archive 2 by CR, type, and terrain. Appendix Eight lists the template grafts and the pages they can be found on, while Appendix Nine lists the new character options and gear and the pages they can be found on. Appendix Ten contains a chart of average vital statistics for all playable races from Alien Archive, Alien Archive 2, and for the Legacy Races from the Starfinder Core Rulebook. Finally, Appendix Eleven is a list of the playable races and their page numbers.
That’s it. We’ve come to the end of the Alien Archive 2.
And what did I think?
In short: I loved it. Alien Archive 2 is packed full of a wide array of monsters and cool races. Many of the stat blocks are highly adaptable, there’s plenty of new templates and grafts that help with monster creation, summon spells, and polymorph. There’s content in here for players and GMs. I’m supremely happy to own Alien Archive 2, and highly recommend it to fans of Starfinder!
Want a sneak peek at some of the playable races? Check out the image below! Got a favourite creature from Alien Archive 2? let me know in the comments!
Exciting news around here today… Sunburst Games first book was just released! That’s right! Realms of Atrothia: Legacy Races Revisited is available for purchase! Currently, you can order it on amazon, and in the coming days you’ll be able to purchase it from the OpenGamingStore as well!
Not sure what Sunburst Games is? In short, Sunburst Games is an independent Tabletop RPG company focused on Pathfinder Compatible content for the next generation. We’re continuing the legacy of First Edition Pathfinder into the future! The Sunburst Games team consists of my brother, Kris Leonard, and myself. Our products also showcase the wonderful artwork of Rigrena. Sunburst Games will be launching a Kickstarter for our first major release Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion this coming February! To find out more about Sunburst Games check out my previous blog post on the topic, visit our website: sunburstgames.com, or support us on Patreon!
Building upon the legacy of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and the existing d20 game system which is over 35 years in the making, Realms of Atrothia: Legacy Races Revisited includes a new look at 56 races suitable for play at 1st character level. Each race has been rebuilt using our own adaptation of the Race Point system first outlined in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide, aligning each to the same power level. From the kasatha to the kobold, all races are created equal, so no matter what your character concept, you will be sure to make your mark on the world!
Although the races you’ll find in Legacy Races Revisited are familiar, nearly all of them have received additional racial traits to bring them in line with the same power level. All races also feature two alternative racial traits, so you can get the most out of your character concept. Some races also list new character options beyond racial traits, such as proficiency with brand new weapons like the acrobat spear.
My personal favourite race options? Changeling, and Halfling! My children are a huge fan of the changes to the elemental races (Ifrit, Oread, Sylph, and Undine) and Goblins.
Keep in mind, all of these races are suitable for play at 1st character level, so some races which are usually considered to be one or more levels higher than normal, such as the drow noble, svirfneblin, or trox are not included. In their place, races which are in line with other revisited races appear, such as gnoll and lizardfolk. Want more races to choose from? Don’t worry, all your favorite races which pack a little more punch will make an appearance in Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion, alongside other monstrous races including gargoyle, medusa, moon-beast, oni, pixie, and treant, just to name a few. These normally off-limits races will take advantage of the new Exemplar Primary Class, so you can play all your favorites right from 1st character level!
Pick up a copy of Realms of Atrothia: Legacy Races Revisited today, available from these fine sources:
My family and I entered a contest a few weeks ago. Hosted by the overly generous Hmm on Paizo’s message boards, she was going to give away all the boons necessary to create a mermaid in PFS play. There were a few ways to enter — for yourself with a mermaid character concept, for a group of friends with a team created from the other boons she was giving away, or by nominating someone else who you thought deserved to win. My family and I entered together, and were lucky enough to be chosen as one of the winners.
I’ve mentioned this contest before on my blog, and I promised that when our characters were complete I would share them with the world.
That time is now! (Finally! Haha.)
My family and I wanted to make a quartet of characters who are (and were) universally considered outcasts among their people and Golarion at large. They’re weird, and different. But what’s strange for one culture isn’t strange for others, and it’s those very oddities that the others embraced and connected with. After all, who cares if the vanara has unnaturally large eyes, if he’s hanging out with a grippli? These guys are friends, companions, and (in many ways) family. They don’t have the same interests, and they don’t always get along. But, hey? What family does?
My daughter was the first person to create her character. She’s always the first person to do so. Admittedly, I would beat her to it, except I always wait to see what my kids want to make before creating my own character.
My daughter made a grippli named Croak. In her original character pitch she had said she was gong to make an energetic, poisonous grippli who fought with a blowgun. She was going to be a ranger with the poison darter archetype (rangers can be found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook, grippli can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide, and the poison darter archetype for rangers can be found in Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Beast). When it came time to make her character and actually get her down on paper, she stuck to it. But, she also added to it. In addition to being a poison darter, she’s chosen to be a skirmisher, which is an archetype for rangers which sacrifices their spellcasting in order to use some nifty tricks a few times each day that can benefit yourself and your companions. This won’t have an effect on her character now, but in the future it definitely will! (The skirmisher archetype for rangers can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player’s Guide).
Croak is incredibly nimble, and rather wise. She’s decent with people and animals, and pretty healthy. She’s not one for book learning, and she’s physically weak. Her final stats are Str 8 / Dex 18 / Con 12 / Int 10 / Wis 16 / Cha 13. As a grippli she’s small, has dark vision, a base speed of 30 feet and a climb speed of 20 feet. She has the ability to camouflage herself while in a swamp, and has no problem travelling in such environments. She speaks Common and Grippli. She was sorely tempted to take the toxic skin variant racial trait, but decided against it. Croak loves to swim, so my daughter didn’t think it made since to give up swamp stride. As a ranger she has the track ability, which she’s excited for. However, she does not have a favoured enemy or wild empathy. These are both abilities she gave up for her archetype. Instead she has poison use, and she secretes a paralytic toxin from her skin which she can use to poison her weapons a few times each day. At higher levels she’ll give up her combat style for rogue talents and give up her hunter’s bond ability for sneak attack that only works with a blowgun.
Now, you might be saying, blowgun? Really? They’re not very good. Well, too bad! My daughter thinks they’re the coolest. She bought a toy one for herself the other day at the local dollar store. I warned her they were tricky to use, but she insisted, and she’s been practising ever since. By now she can get the foam dart to sort of fall out of the blowgun and land on the floor. This is a great improvement from her first few attempts which resulted in the dart moving slightly and staying inside the blowgun. Haha. Admittedly, I’m not much better. As an out of shape asthmatic I can make the dart fly no more than five feet. I’m quite proud of this, actually, as I expected to do much, much worse. (Hooray for low expectations!).
Croak decided to use her favoured class bonus on a special grippli ranger option: she gets a +1 bonus on swim checks. When this bonus hits +8 she also gains a swim speed of 15 feet. She finds this very exciting. She chose to put her skills into acrobatics, climb, diplomacy, perception, perform (song), and swim. She’s also naturally good at stealth and survival, but she did not invest ranks into those skills yet. Perhaps in the future. For traits she chose insider knowledge, which gives her a +1 on diplomacy checks and made diplomacy a class skill. She also chose reckless, which gives her a +1 on acrobatics checks and made acrobatics a class skill. (Insider knowledge can be found in the Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Guide, while Reckless can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Campaign). All things considered, acrobatics turned out to be her best skill, which is just how she wanted it. For her feat she chose agile tongue. This grippli feat allows her to use her tongue to lift light objects, make sleight of hand checks, and perform steal and disarm maneuvers. It also lets her make melee touch attacks, but that won’t have any benefit for her right now. (Agile tongue can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide).
When it came time to buy her equipment, my daughter certainly took her time! Haha. She bought a blowgun with a ton of blowgun darts, a net, and a pair of poisoned sand tubes. But for her melee weapon? Oh, it took forever! Melee is not going to be Croak’s forte. She’s intended to be a close range combatant who stays mobile, and hinders her foes. Her strength score is poor, but she still wanted to be able to have a melee weapon for those times she she gets locked down. The problem? My daughter has no idea what most weapons actually are. She can read their names and statistics, but rarely does she actually know what they look like. There are some she knows, of course: longsword, short sword, dagger, gauntlet, cestus, scimitar, sickle, whip, spear, quarterstaff, net, blowgun, bow, crossbow and darts. She also sort of knows what a sling is. Or rather, she knows what it is, but she likes slingshots better, so she insists the sling is a slingshot. Not the case, of course, but hey, she’s six. It’s a slingshot! As a ranger she had proficiency in a lot of weapons she didn’t recognize, so we spent some time looking up pictures of each weapon, and even watched some videos of how you use each one in battle. In the end, she chose a light flail for her weapon. She became so enamoured with this dangerous weapon that the same day she was at our local dollar store and bought a blowgun, she also bought a little toy flail that’s perfectly sized for her. She’s been hard at work learning how to swing it without whacking herself in the head. For her armour, she picked out a reinforced tunic. In addition to basic adventuring gear she bought a sunrod, a healing potion, and a few vials of acid.
So who is Croak? What’s she like?
Croak is a beautifully coloured grippli, with bright pink and purple skin. Her big, yellow eyes are so bright they practically glow. Her big wide mouth is always curved up in a happy smile. She wears a bright yellow tunic with a belt made of vines. She has a blowgun on her belt, along with a LOT of darts, some vials, and a light flail. She wears a backpack which she’s drawn on with chalk to make look fancy (it mostly looks messy). She taps her toes while she waits, wiggles her fingers, and flicks her tongue around. She never seems to stop moving.
Croak’s a hyperactive, bouncy little thing that’s constantly moving and talking. She’s impulsive, impatient, and finds it difficult to settle. She loves to climb, swim, and play. She’s a very mobile and acrobatic fighter, cartwheeling, dancing, and diving across the battlefield. This makes her a big target. But, she doesn’t mind! They’ll never catch her! Especially once she’s tangled them up in a net, or poisoned them!
Croak is the funny member of the team. She is naive, and boundlessly optimistic. She looks on the bright side of everything, even if she has to get pretty creative to find that bright side! She’s the team member who keeps everyone moving, and brings a smile on a dour day. She’s their spirit.
Croak grew up in a tribe of grippli who lived in the Mushfens of Varisia. Life there was hard! It required patience, and relied on stealth and camouflage. Croak did not fit in. She was bright, chipper, and NOISY! Plus, she never sat still. After a particularly disastrous fishing expedition involving sixteen butterflies, a rubber ball, a fishing net, and seven very upset grippli, Croak was cast out from her tribe.
It sucked! She was very upset!
She travelled a lot after that, and had a lot of trouble fitting in. Lots of people thought she was WEIRD. But, in time, she made new friends. They didn’t mind that she never sat still. After all, they were always travelling anyway! And Croak never slowed them down. They didn’t mind that she squirmed around and bounced through the battlefield. She was a very distracting target! They didn’t mind that she talked all the time. They didn’t even mind her singing! Well, okay, maybe they minded her singing. She couldn’t really be sure when she was singing, after all. She was rather loud.
Croak loves to explore nature with her friend Pinesong Rippleroot. She loves to go swimming with her friend Sereia. And she loves to make discoveries in cities with her friend Lomo.
With my daughter’s character made, we sat down to work on my son’s: Pinesong Rippleroot.
In his original character pitch, my son decided to make an eco-conscious vanara druid with a stumpy tail and hair growth issues. He kept his character concept the same, but while creating his backstory he decided he would have a pet pig. While we explored the druid class and its archetypes together, we also checked out some similarly themed classes, including the shaman, and nature-themed oracles, sorcerers, and witches. Although he loved the idea of a lot of the druid’s abilities, he fell in love with the idea of using his pig as a spirit animal. He debated for a time, but in the end decided that Pinesong Rippleroot would be a shaman. (Vanara can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide. Shamans can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Class Guide, sorcerers can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook, while oracles and witches can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player’s Guide).
Pinesong is incredibly wise and nimble. He’s surprisingly charismatic and friendly. His final statistics are Str 10 / Dex 16 / Con 10 / Int 10 / Wis 16 / Cha 14. As a vanara, he has a thirty foot base speed, 20 foot climb speed, and low-light vision. He’s nimble, and gains a +2 bonus on his stealth and acrobatics checks. Pinesong gave up his prehensile tail ability and instead chose risky troublemaker, which lets him roll twice on his use magic device checks. He speaks Common and Vanaran. As a shaman he forms a bond with a single spirit, which grants him magic spells, abilities, hexes, and other benefits. He also has a magical spirit animal who acts as a conduit between himself and his spirit. My son immediately decided to select the nature spirit. This would grant him some nifty plant and animal themed spells and abilities. Right now it lets him use the spell charm animal as his spirit magic spell, and create little hindering storms around his enemies with the storm burst ability. It also allows his spirit animal (a pig named Cutie Pie) the ability to move through any undergrowth and natural difficult terrain without penalty or harm. Shamans are prepared casters, so for his first adventure he chose to prepare daze, detect magic, stabilize, cure light wounds, and goodberry.
My son chose to invest his skill ranks into acrobatics, climb, knowledge (nature), survival, and use magic device. He’s also naturally good at stealth. There’s a lot more skills he wants to invest in at higher levels, including handle animal, knowledge (arcana), and spellcraft. For traits he selected dangerously curious, which gave him a +1 bonus in use magic device and made it a class skill, as well as reckless (that’s a pretty popular trait in my house!). (Dangerously curious can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Campaign and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player’s Guide). For feats he chose weapon finesse.
When it came time to buy his gear my son knew exactly what he wanted. Pinesong adores fancy, complicated objects, which my son wanted to reflect in his gear choices. He purchased a light crossbow and lamellar cuirass. (Lamellar cuirass can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Equipment and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Combat). Of course, Pinesong also tries to make his own gear — and does a horrible job at it. He uses hand carved wooden stakes for his melee weapon, and wears a braided belt of grass and vines. For his other gear he invested in some basic adventuring equipment, a vial of acid and a flask of holy water.
Pinesong Rippleroot is a chubby, vanara with a bulging tummy, thin white fur, and a short stubby tail. His eyes are much too big, which makes them look like they’re bulging out of his head, but his smile is wide and happy. His hair on the top of his head is styled into an outlandish hair do! It looks very odd! With every breeze his fur moves around, showing off his many bald spots.
Pinesong wears a belt he fashioned himself from a braided vines and grass. There’s a wooden stake hooked onto it, and a belt pouch. On his back is a crossbow and a backpack, and over his chest he wears some odd looking armour made of little squares that he thought was fascinating! He does not wear pants or shoes.
Pinesong was always a strange vanara. He was born hairless, with massive, bulging eyes, and a short stunted tail. The other vanara thought he was hideously deformed! As he grew it didn’t get any better. His hair never grew in, his tail never got longer, and his eyes? Well, they got bigger, but that just creeped everyone out more. Eventually, the tribe could take it no more and Pinesong (whose birthname is Bug-eye Manycurse) was abandoned. He was still a child then, but he took to life in the forests with enthusiasm. The birds never complained or called him ugly. The bugs never screamed when he came to play with them. The animals became his friends, and the wilds his home. He was happy, and free. In time, Pinesong’s hair did grow in. It’s very thin, and a good breeze shows off his many bald spots, but he’s very proud of it. He keeps it long and refuses to trim it, worried that it won’t grow back. He brushes it all the time and styles it in outlandish hair-dos. His tail is still too short, and never really grew in. He’s also quite chubby and big for a vanara, with a bulging tummy, and a wide, happy, face.
Eventually, Pinesong reached the edge of the woods and found something amazing! A TOWN. They had homes made from dead trees, and could shape the earth into little cute rectangles for making things! Apparently they were called bricks and they were not for throwing. Pinesong was fascinated! He moved in right away, but still finds the ways of the city strange. He doesn’t understand why they get mad when he sleeps on rooftops. Or why they greet him with shrieks and screams. His concepts of ownership are, admittedly, in need of some work. They offered him a home at this place with barred windows, but he got bored so he left. They didn’t like that very much. He loves trying to build beautiful things like the city folk do, but he’s horrible at it. His inventions always malfunction and break, usually causing him to hurt himself. A minor price to pay for mastering a craft!
In time, Pinesong made some great friends. There was a grippli who was delightfully exciting! She thought his big eyes were beautiful, which made him blush all the way to the tips of his wonderfully styled fur. There was an elf who could breathe water! A feat he’d like to accomplish one day! And there was a ratfolk who knew the many intricacies of city life which so eluded him.
One day he found a little pig who was being chased by naughty children with sticks! Pinesong swooped in to save the pig, and he hasn’t left his side since. He’s decided to call the pig ‘Cutie Pie.’ Pinesong loves his curly little tail and his happy squeals. Pinesong was very surprised to find that Cutie Pie is magical! When he asks Cutie Pie for magical power, nature listens, and the magic flows up into Cutie Pie and into Pinesong. It’s pretty cool!
Despite his newfound fascination with city-life, Pinesong cares deeply for the natural world. He wants to protect the many animals, plants, and delicate eco-systems of Golarion. He has a soft spot for lost things, foundlings, and orphans of all kinds. He’s a happy fellow, with a jolly, screeching laugh. He’s a bit oblivious to the intricacies of society, and the cultures around him, but loves learning about such things. He’s constantly trying to make friends, even though most people are creeped out or irritated by him. Despite his goofy demeanour, Pinesong is uncommonly wise, and his group of friends often turn to him for advice, comfort, healing, and guidance.
When I sit down to make characters I come up with a character concept first, then I browse through all the different classes and archetypes that I think might work for them and take notes on which ones I like, why, and how that class choice would affect my character concept. Sereia was no different. As I went through arcanist and a bunch of other casting classes, I decided two extra important things: she would have poor charisma and use a trident. Arcanists sort of need charisma, so I had a bit of an issue. In addition, both of my children had chosen ranged options, and I knew we’d be in need of a melee fighter of some sort. In the end, I decided to make Sereia a magus. It blended my arcane magic with some decent combat capabilities in a way that I enjoy. In addition, I don’t have a magus in PFS play (although I do have a ranged magus in a different play-by-post), so I was excited to get the chance to use one. Arcanist will have to wait for another time. Again. (Poor arcanist!). I decided to give her the hexcrafter archetype. The hexes would which would give her some fun ranged options and, in terms of flavour, Sereia believes herself to be cursed. I liked the idea of reflecting that in her class choices. (The magus and the hexcrafter can be found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Magic).
Sereia is smart and strong. She’s nimble — though not nearly as much as her companions — and is relatively healthy. She’s impulsive, and prone to acting before thinking. She’s unused to interacting with surface races. Her final statistics are Str 16 / Dex 14 / Con 12 / Int 16 / Wis 10 / Cha 8. As an aquatic elf she’s amphibious, has a base speed of 30 feet, and a swim speed of thirty feet. She’s a naturally gifted arcane caster, and has keen senses. She took the deep sea dweller alternate race trait which gives her dark vision and cold resistance at the expense of low-light vision and her elven immunities. She speaks Aquan, Common, Celestial, and Elven. As a magus she has an arcane pool, spellbook, cantrips, and the spell combat ability. Her archetype adds a variety of curse spells to her spell list, although at the moment she only has brand in her spellbook. At higher levels she’ll also gain access to a variety of witch hexes. The level one spells I chose to add to her spellbook include colour spray, grease, hydraulic push, obscuring mist, shield, and shocking grasp.
I had such a wide array of skills I wanted Sereia to be able to use that I had a hard time narrowing it down. In the end I invested skill ranks into disable device, knowledge (arcana), linguistics, perception, spellcraft, and swim. At her next level up she will diversify a lot, spreading out her ranks to a wide variety of new skills. I chose to give her criminal (disable device) and observant (perception) for her traits, and arcane strike for her feat. In addition to basic adventuring gear I bought her a trident, darts, a few vials of acid, leather armour, and thieve’s tools.
Sereia is a calm and proud aquatic elf with blue skin, long white hair, and a wiry frame. Constantly hot and feeling like typical surfacer clothes are suffocating her, Sereia wears as little clothes as possible to remain ‘decent’ in public. Typically this consists of tiny, tight shorts, a crop top, a belt, sandals and a backpack. While on missions she adds leather armour. She wears golden earrings, and an elaborate golden hair piece — ancient Azlanti relics she scavenged herself on an expedition made before she was cursed. She also wears a thick necklace of shell and coral which her sister made her many years ago. In her hands she carries an elaborate trident.
Sereia is descended from a long line of aquatic elf explorers who ply ancient, sunken ruins in search of relics. The exploration of these locations, and the handling and care of the treasures and lore found within is considered a great honour. However, her people take great pride in knowing when a dangerous ruin, or powerful artifact should be left untouched, and unsullied. Insatiably curious, Sereia revelled in the joy of discovery, and earned a place of respect among her people. For a time. For Sereia’s greatest strength was also her weakness. She was too curious. Too ambitious. Too bold. And it was her downfall. When her exploration team discovered a ruin marked with ominous sigils, they labelled it taboo. Off limits. But Sereia forged ahead. She discovered a strange pearl on an altar, literally pulsing with magical energy. Where others would have backed down, she reached out… and touched it.
Her world fell apart.
The pearl transported her to a strange place where the seafloor was hard, and the oceans were hot air that burned and cracked her skin. She could breathe — thank the gods! — but swimming was off limits with water nowhere in sight. She learned to walk, an exhausting experience, for never before had her body felt so heavy.
And there, on the surface of Golarion, Sereia faced a harsh reality. She had been reckless. She had broken taboos. She had been banished by her own foolishness. Even if she found her way home, she would not be welcome. Not without penance. She needed a great offering for her people. An ancient relic that belonged under the waves, which she could return to her people with pride. And so she set out to acquire such a prize, and — impossibly — find her way home.
Sereia is calm, proud, ambitious, and bold. She’s insatiably curious, and deeply interested in relics, history, and exploration. Since her recklessness brought her to the surface, Sereia believes herself to be cursed by her ancestors or her people’s gods. She was distant and aloof for a very long time, and still seems to be among strangers.She tries to temper her recklessness and curiosity by ponderously thinking things through. A strategy much harder to use since she befriended her strange new friends.
Sereia joined the Pathfinder Society as an excavator and a scholar. She went on missions, but made few friends. She was aloof, and distant. Her fellow agents found her strange — particularly her habit of eating everything raw. She never sought companionship, but in time, it found her.
She met a grippli as curious as she was, who made no effort to reel in her excitement and urges. She met a vanara with a respect for the natural world as deep as her own. And she met a ratfolk who didn’t seem to care he had no place in the world. They befriended her. Changed her. Inspired her. And, in time, she changed them. She sponsored their entry into the Pathfinder Society, and now they work together as a single, very strange, team. With their help, the ancient relic Sereia needs in order to return home has never been closer.
And she’s never wanted it less.
For, what need was there to earn a prize to return home, when she had a family right here in Absalom?
My husband went last. He usually does. It takes him a long time to decide not only on what he’s going to be, but also to come up with some engaging, fun quirks that will keep him interested in his character. In his original character pitch he decided to make a nimble ratfolk shifter name Lomo who chews on everything (including magical objects). He’s stayed very close to that concept. He’s a shifter with the mouse aspect (which will look like a rat in play). (Ratfolk are from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide, while the shifter is available in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Wilderness). He’s incredibly nimble. He’s also quite cunning, intelligent, and hardy. His final statistics are Str 10 / Dex 18 / Con 12 / Int 13 / Wis 14 / Cha 10.
As a ratfolk, Lomo is slow, but has darkvision. He’s good with rats, and enjoys tinkering with stuff. He gave up his swarming racial trait to instead have bulging cheek pouches that he likes to hide tasty bits and bobs in. As a shifter he has sharp retractable claws, wild empathy, and (as previously mentioned) the mouse minor aspect, which gives him evasion. He chose the feat weapon finesse, and intends to take shifter’s edge feat tree in the future. He’s a nimble, scrappy shifter, not a bruiser.
Lomo invested skill ranks into acrobatics, climb, knowledge (nature), perception, and stealth. For traits he chose ratfolk avenger, a trait from Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea Races which gives him +1 damage against enemies he’s seen attack his companions. He’s very protective of his friends! He also chose sacred touch.
Lomo is a rough looking ratfolk with thick gray fur, bright beady eyes, and soft ears. His cheeks bulge out, as if filled with something, and he nibbles on the end of a fancy looking stick. His long hairless tail is crooked from a magical mishap suffered long ago.
Lomo is the eldest son of a powerful and well-respected wizard. His father once took great pride in passing on his magical teachings and excellence to Lomo, who proved completely and totally ungifted in the arcane arts. Disappointed in his son’s failure, Lomo’s father gave up on him, and began training Lomo’s younger brother instead. Jealous, Lomo spent his nights sneaking into his father’s arcane laboratory and library, desperately trying to make the various wands and magical devices work. He failed. A lot. In frustration he gnawed on the objects he failed to activate. A horrible trait which eventually became habitual. To this day Lomo’s constantly chewing on things — including valuable magical objects. One night he found himself chewing on a powerful artifact of his fathers, which crumbled to pieces in his mouth. Horrified and unable to fix it, Lomo set off to find someone who could.
He left with his friend, Croak, and eventually became companions with Pinesong and Sereia. When Sereia offered to sponsor their entry into the Pathfinders, the trio took her up on her offer. Now the group works together. He’s become very protective of them and, whenever they’re hurt, he tends to shriek “OH, NO YOU DIDN’T!” and go a little… feral.
Lomo desperately wants to be a member of the Dark Archives, but keeps getting turned down. They won’t let him anywhere near the relics. Still, he’s hopeful he’ll not only get in, but he’ll come to lead them one day! Despite his troubles with the Dark Archive, Lomo’s a good Pathfinder Agent. He’s nosy, curious, and good at getting into places he shouldn’t.
Lomo is a nimble, scrappy ratfolk who is constantly gnawing on things — particularly magical objects. He’s greedy,nosy, and a little self-centred — but not obviously so. He tries to be friendly, but it always comes off a bit desperate and awkward. He’s the street-wise member of the group. Lomo knows how the world works and how to get by in it.
And that’s our quirky crew! Together they would do…. stuff! But, that’s not it. In the contest we could choose to write a song for bonus points, which we did. Songs and poetry are not my forte. I love to sing (badly), play the piano (I’m not very good), and dance (with my family). And yes, a lot of the time I burst into spontaneous songs made up off the top of my head. But that doesn’t mean they’re any good. They’re usually jokes, or lullabies, or just a song about my kids, or what we’re doing. Writing a song is outside of my comfort zone. But, we went for it. My son wanted to add jokes into the song, and my daughter wanted it to have a lot of animal sounds (since we were nearly all animal people of one kind or another). And I just… sort of tried to put it together.
Our song’s a mess. Which is exactly how it should be. It’s a song written by Croak the grippli, and sung by the whole team. But, like any group of friends, a song’s not just a song. It’s interspersed with conversation, heckling, and a fair amount of confusion! It’s a song, but it’s also them singing it. Enjoying it. And messing it up. It’s a work in progress that will never be perfect. And even if it could be, they wouldn’t want it that way.
A super wonderful amazing song…
Everyone: Croak! Croak! Oo! Oo! Ee! We like swamps and we like trees! Whee! Wahoo! Sniffle scrounge! We like to play and we like to lounge!
Croak: “Wait! What? I don’t like to lounge! That’s boring!” Lomo: “Nothing wrong with sitting still once in a while, Croak.” Sereia: “Sniffle? Is someone sick?” Croak: “Nope! That’s Lomo! His nose twitches like crazy.” Lomo: “Hey! I’m not some hound dog, ya’ know!” Pinesong: “Mmm… Treeeees… Oh, yeah! I love a good climb!” Sereia: “Oh, dear. I’m not sure I can climb a tree. My limbs are far too heavy to — “ Croak: “Come on! Back to the song guys!”
Everyone: Boing! Boing! Ribbit! Croak! Croak! Croak! Time to splash and time to soak! Nibble Nibble! Whisper! Sing! We love adventure! What will the tomorrow bring?
Sereia: “We should call ourselves the Children of the Waves.” Croak: “Waves? The swamp doesn’t have waves! Let’s call ourselves the Bog Jumpers!” Sereia: “Bog? Ugh, that water’s filthy.” Pinesong: “It’s not filthy! Bog’s are a very important eco-system, you know.” Lomo: “Yeah, yeah. For bugs and junk, maybe. Let’s call ourselves The Rat Kings!” Croak: “Kings? I want to be Queens!” Sereia: “Rat Queens? That’s taken already, dear.” Pinesong: “Aaaaand, cue the finale!”
Everyone: Chitter, chatter! Talk, talk, talk! We swim, we climb, we dance and walk! We’re all different. We’re not the same. But we’re all friends!
Croak: “Something, something… aim?” Pinesong: “That’s not it! Think of something else… tame? blame?” Sereia: “I don’t like any of those words. Let’s think positive.” Lomo: “Pfft! Songs don’t have to rhyme! Conformity’s lame.” Croak: “That did rhyme.” Lomo: “Nope. Definitely didn’t.” Sereia: “It certainly did.” Pinesong: “I’ve got it! Everybody smile!?”
Croak: “Wow! Great job! That was an awesome ending! Sereia: “The end is where we’re supposed to stop talking, dear.” Croak: “Stop? Aww, shucks! I’ll stop when —“ Lomo: *nibble nibble* Sereia: “Are you chewing on a stick?” *GASP* “Spit that wand out this instant!” Lomo: “Hey, if it ain’t meant for chewing, its shouldn’t taste this good.” Sereia: “No respect for history…”
(Note: The Rat Queens are an amazing fantasy comic book series which you should definitely read! It is by far my favourite comic book currently in print. Scratch that. It’s my favourite comic book EVER. So good! Be forewarned: it is not intended for children. The Rat Queens begins with Rat Queens: Volume 1: Sass & Sorcery.)
Despite singing about naming our group, they’re perpetually nameless. I highly doubt they’ll ever agree on a name for themselves.
So what’s this weird, wacky, nameless team up to?
We were lucky enough that a fellow play-by-poster offered to run us through our inaugural mission as Pathfinders! We’ll be starting Heroes for Highdelve online on Paizo’s website soon.
At the request of our GM, and in order to better link ourselves to the plot line of Heroes for Highdelve, each of us decided on a reason we were heading there, and something that we were seeking. Shockingly (not) my daughter managed to make hers include rabbits.
One day, Croak found a toy store that sold stuffed rabbits. Croak thought they were beautiful! So she bought one! But, she had trouble deciding which one was the prettiest so she bought a lot! She put them in her waterproof bag — so they wouldn’t get wet — and went about her business in town with Lomo. She danced and played, and climbed on roofs and wagons — and got scolded by the people who owned those things. Then she reached for a rabbit toy to play with it. BUT IT WAS GONE! Somewhere along the way Croak had put down the bag! She looked everywhere for itand asked all kinds of people. Eventually she realized she had left it on top of a carriage! Croak tried to track down the carriage, but it was too fast! Adventure awaits! Croak has been following the wagon’s trail and tracked it to Highdelve. She hopes to find the carriage and get back her bag of stuffed rabbits! Who know what will happen along the way!
Pinesong recently helped out at an animal shelter, where he found homes for a variety of animals. Happy he was so helpful, Pinesong went out around town to check on the pets. Unfortunately, one of the people he sold some pigs to turned out to be a merchant who was on his way to Highdelve to sell the pigs to a butcher shop! Pinesong knows that people tend to eat meat, but those pigs were NOT for eating! They were for lovng! Pinesong has set out to stop the salesman from selling the pigs at the fair in Highdelve! (Or, to at least ensure they get sold to someone who won’t eat them!)
Sereia has recently been searching for a coral idol of Gozreh which was fished up out of a ruin off the coast of Andoran by an elderly fisherman. The idol was sold a few times before it got in the hands of an antiquities smuggler by the name of Jacobi. Always a few steps behind the idol, Sereia hopes to catch up the the smuggler in Highdelve so she can acquire the idol before it is sold. And, if she’s too late, she’s hopeful she can at least get the name of the person Jacobi sold the relic to.
While Lomo’s in Highdelve with his friends, he hopes to find a magical craftsman capable of fixing his father’s artifact. Having been let down before, he’s not hopeful.
Unbeknownst to Lomo his father’s artifact is, and always has been, a fake. It can’t be fixed, because it was never magical in the first place. And if it was? Well, obviously it would have taken something stronger than his teeth to break it. If only Lomo had paid a bit more attention to his father’s lessons…
NOW that’s it. The end.
Or, is it the beginning?
Either way, we’ve had a blast.
Thanks for joining us on d20diaries. I hope you have the opportunity to find a gaming group as great and fun-loving as I have.
Well, it’s official! Season Nine: Year of Factions’ Favour has come to an end, and the Pathfinder Society has launched Season 10: Year of the Ten. Faction Cards have been updated, and the newest edition of the Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Guide has been released. If you don’t have the newly updated versions of these documents then I highly recommend you head on over to Paizo’s website and give them a download. They’re free.
For those of you who don’t know, the Scoured Stars Invasion special also brought with it the introduction of a new faction: Second Seekers (Jadnura). Who the heck is Jadnura? Jadnura is the First Seeker who led the Starfinders into the Scoured Stars system. That’s right. He’s the kasatha who got everyone stuck and lost in an event now known as the Scoured Stars Incident. So why would you still follow this guy when Luwazi Elsebo is the current First Seeker? For starters, it lets you make a character who was a loyal Starfinder before the advent of the Scoured Stars Incident. You can be the guy left behind, whose still loyal to a leader no longer present. Second? Well, the special is called the Scoured Stars Invasion, and it’s main purpose is to enter the Scoured Stars System and rescue as many lost agents as you can. I suppose some might call that a spoiler, but honestly, it’s obviously the point of the scenario right from the first few sentences of playing. Why else go there? Want more details? I can’t give them to you! Haha. I’m currently playing this scenario for Gameday VII and don’t know how it ends. If you want more information (and some spoilers) feel free to check out Paizo’s blog post on First Seeker Jadnura here.
So what the heck is Season Ten: Year of the Ten all about, anyway? Judging by the title, something to do with the Decemvirate. But what? It’s been hinted that it has something to do with the infamous Grandmaster Torch, and that some of the Decemvirate might find their anonymity threatened and their mysteries unveiled. Interestingly, most of the missions this season will revolve around the Hao Jin Tapestry. For those of you who don’t know, the Hao Jin Tapestry is a literal tapestry that leads to a demiplane which contains mysteries, relics, ruins and other places collected by the wizard Hao Jin. This object was acquired by the Pathfinder Society way back in Season Three and has been a source of tons of adventures. It’s also been harnessed by the Pathfinders in order to allow their agents to travel the world quickly and efficiently. This season the Hao Jin Tapestry is beginning to unravel and, if we can’t fix it, it’ll dump everything inside it into the Astral Plane. An unfortunate event for not only the Pathfinder Society, but also all the people and creatures who still live inside the demiplane itself. Unfortunately, you can bet that fixing it won’t be as easy as just casting mending. I’m sure there’s plenty of adventure involved! There’s a few other things that have been revealed to be a part of this season. There’s plenty of relics related to the lich Tar Baphon that will be surfacing. There’s also a demon who wants to utilize the Worldwound’s collapse to launch his apotheosis into full demon lord. Pretty nifty! I think I’m most excited for the missions involving Grandmaster Torch, but hey, I’m biased! I’m also excited to learn more about Tar Baphon. I love a good (BAD) lich!
There’s a few more exciting things going on around my house right now. My daughter’s begun work on creating her second Pathfinder Playtest character so that we can continue with our Doomsday Dawn Playtest. She’s decided to make a gnome fighter who wields an absurdly large sword. She’s very excited to be the melee character for a change.
My family and I entered a contest a week or so ago. Hosted by the overly generous Hmm on Paizo’s message boards, she was going to give away all the boons necessary to create a mermaid in PFS play. There were a few ways to enter — for yourself with a mermaid character concept, for a group of friends with a team created from the other boons she was giving away, or by nominating someone else who you thought deserved to win. Now, when we play in the Pathfinder Society, the question my kids ask me most often is:
“Mom, why can’t I be any race I want?”
Unfortunately, at the ages of six and seven, the idea of holding out for race boons is absurd. Haha. The follow up question I most often get after any explanation I can concoct is:
“Yeah. But WHY?”
So, as soon as I read the contest I told my family about it. My kids were jumping up and down in joy. They spend that night brainstorming, and spent the next day planning their characters while I madly tried to keep up with them. And then we got to the end. They were ready! Sort of. For bonus points you could also write a song.
….yup. A song.
Not my forte. My son wanted to add jokes into the song, and my daughter wanted it to have a lot of animal sounds (since we were nearly all animal people of one kind or another).
It was… hard. Haha.
But, in the end we handed in our entry with pride. So what was it?
My family and I wanted to make a quartet of characters who are (and were) universally considered outcasts among their people and Golarion at large. They’re weird, and different. But what’s strange for one culture isn’t strange for others, and it’s those very oddities that the others embraced and connected with. After all, who cares if the vanara has unnaturally large eyes, if he’s hanging out with a grippli? These guys are friends, companions, and (in many ways) family. They don’t have the same interests, and they don’t always get along. But, hey? What family does?
My daughter made an energetic poisonous grippli, my son made an eco-conscious vanara with a stumpy tail who has hair growth issues, my husband made a ratfolk who chews on everything (including magical objects), and I made an overly adventurous aquatic elf whose curiosity got her abandoned on the surface. Together, these quirky characters would do… stuff!
Just the other day the winners were announced. There were a ton of great ones. And some of the songs were awesome! Hmm ended up giving out boons to winners of each category, which is incredibly generous! We won in the ‘buddies’ category, and my kids have been hard at work ever since, plotting out their character mechanics. We were lucky enough that a fellow play-by-poster offered to run us through our group’s first PFS scenario together, so once everyone is ready and formatted for online play we’ll be starting Heroes for Highdelve! My daughter got to work first and is almost done. She’s thrilled!
We’ll post more about these lovable weirdos once they’re ready for a game. One thing’s for certain: they’re going to be the most eccentric group of characters we’ve ever made! (And that’s saying something…)
Now it’s time to say goodbye,
Or, more accurately: ‘Now it’s time to get to work on my next article.’
Hello, hello! Welcome! Today we’re going to take a look at one of my favourite soft cover releases of the past year: Pathfinder Player Companion: Legacy of the First World! If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you’ll know that my daughter is already using some of the awesome character options found inside this little gem, with her Pathfinder Society character, Lady Naysha. Admittedly, I’m super jealous.
The front inside cover features brief information on all nine of the Eldest: gods of the First World who are often worshipped by fey and fey-blooded or fey-touched humanoids. Each entry includes their name, title, holy symbol, alignment, domains, favoured weapons, and the pages where related information and character options can be found. Curious who the Eldest are? Fear not! We’ll get into that later!
After this we’ve got the table of contents, the rules index, and the introduction. Here we find five new regional traits, each themed around places on the material plane where fey are common. Curious which locations? The Darkmoon Wood, Grungir Forest, Irrisen, Uringen, and a caravan known as the Witchmarket. ‘Fey Mediator (Grungir Forest)’ is a solid trait, but I think that ‘Voices of Solid Things (Witchmarket)’ turned out to be my favourite! This allows you to select either Appraise, Craft, Disable Device, or Spellcraft. In addition to making that a class skill, you can apply your Charisma modifier on those checks instead of Intelligence/Dexterity. Neat!
Moving on from the introduction we come to a pair of pages entitled ‘Fey Origins’ that deal with characters who have a touch of the fey in their bloodlines. Each of the core races has ideas for how fey-touched members of that race might look or act, and an alternate racial trait. After this there are three story feats which can be taken by any race. Although the human, half-orc, and half-elf alternate racial traits are very cool, its the one for elves that turned out to be my favourite. ‘Fey-sighted’ grants your elf detect magic as a constant ability, and replaces ‘elven magic.’ So cool! As for story feats? Check out ‘Fascinated by the Mundane’ for a really fun character concept!
Wait! That can’t be all that gnomes get in this book? Is it? Just a trait? Nope! It’s not. The next few pages focus on two races intrinsically tied to the First World: gnomes and gathlain. Up first? Gnomes! First up, rules for playing a bleaching, followed by two feats that can be taken by bleachlings. Finally! Past that we come to a quirky alchemist archetype called the ‘First World Innovator’ which lets you mix a bit of primal reagents into your alchemical creations (bombs, extracts, potions or mutagens) which will alter them in a random way. I highly recommend giving this one a read, because I loved it. Following the archetype itself are a trio of discoveries that let you create a fey-themed mutagen, which are pretty nifty. After that we come to two new alchemical creations: the chroma grenade, which dazzles enemies and makes them susceptible to illusions, and the vine tube, which spouts fast growing vines. These vinescan either grow along the ground to make difficult terrain, or can be molding by a skilled craftsman into basic tools and furniture which last for ten minutes. An interesting alternative to carrying around a bunch of heavy tools! The final little treat on the section on gnomes? It contains my favourite artwork in the book! A blue and orange haired little alchemist surrounded by very natural-looking components, crafting up some kind of glowing brew. I’m feeling it.
Leaving the gnomes behind we get into a pair of pages about gathlain. This section doesn’t contain any race-specific archetypes (for those you’ll need to check out Pathfinder RPG: Ultimate Wilderness), instead it features five alternate race traits, eight new favoured class options, and four new feats. For race traits be sure to check out ‘bower born’ and ‘sticky tendrils,’ and for feats take a peek at the very quirky ‘strange yield,’ which lets you pull a single fruit off of your wings a day that acts as a random potion.
After the various racial options in this book, we move on to the ways in which the First World has affected the material plane. The first two pages include the fey-touched template, a new oracle curse and mystery, and a bard archetype called the First World Minstrel. Although the First World Minstrel’s ability to pass on the ill luck of a pugwampi to your enemies is absolutely delightful, if I recommend only one thing from this book it would be the new oracle mystery: whimsy. It’s just… awesome. Flavourful, fun, and useful. I’d use it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately for me, (and very fortunate for my daughter), right before I could make a character with it, my daughter did. She beat me to it! And she did it so… perfectly. I just can’t compete. And so, for the forseeable future, I’ll refrain from making one of my own… At least until I can think of a concept completely different than my six-year old daughter’s…. For those of you who don’t have that issue, be sure to check out our favourite revelation: ‘whimsical prank!’ Other gems include ‘assumed form,’ ‘flicker,’ ‘whimsical step,’ and ‘woodland caprice.’
Seriously. Check it out.
But with a flip of the page we leave the whimsy behind to delve into two pages of character options which revolve around the harm fey can cause. First up are four alternate racial traits which focus around locations tainted by evil fey: Darkblight, Tanglebriar, and the Upper Korir River. I’d recommend giving the human trait, ‘imposter-wary‘ a read. Although it forces you to put your bonus skill point into sense motive at every level, it also grants you a bonus on saves against illusions. A great trade if you want to make a suspicious character. After this we get to a new hunter archetype that focuses on killing fey, the cleverly named ‘Feykiller.’ This archetype swaps out a few of the animal focus options for different ones, allows your animal companions attacks to bypass DR/cold iron, grants you a bonus against illusions and enchantments or, if they were cast by fey, makes you immune to such effects. Very cool! Lastly, this section gives us three new spells, my favourite of which is ‘iron spine.’ And yes, it does exactly what it sounds like it does. Ouch…
Every page after this point in Legacy of the First World is dedicated to one of the Eldest. First, it gives us a paragraph or two on the Eldest themselves, followed by new archetypes, class options, spells and gear which are related to that god or their teachings. Interesting, right?
First up: Count Ranalc, the Traitor. Eldest of betrayal, exile and shadows. This shifty fellow provides us with my husband’s very favourite part of the book: an archetype for slayers called ‘Ankou’s Shadow.‘ This awesome archetype gives you the ability to make shadow duplicates of yourself which function as mirror image and last until destroyed. As you level up you can command your duplicates to perform other actions, and you gain access to more duplicates. Oh, and you can see invisibility as a swift action for a minute per level per day. Sweet! He’d better get around to making one soon, or I will. Haha! After this is another interesting archetype, the ‘Shadow Scion‘ for rogues.
The Green Mother, also called the Feasting Flower, is the Eldest of carnivorous plants, intrigue, and seduction. Yikes! The pages focusing on her give us the ‘Grasping Vine‘ archetype for shamans, which shuffles up some spell options, allows you to speak with plants, gives you the ability to use plant shape, and even turns your familiar into a creature made of leaves and thorny vines. I think you could make a really cool shaman with this archetype. It’s very thematic, but also very… accessible. By that I mean: lots of different character concepts ranging throughout Golarion can make use of this archetype. Not just followers of the Green Mother, or characters from the First World. It’s easy to use. The second archetype up for offer here is much more of a niche, and focuses on The Green Mother’s seduction aspect. It’s the ‘Seducer’ archetype for witch! Their last ability, ‘Garden of Delight,’ just… Wow. I’m… a little surprised that saw print. I’m not sure why it surprised me so much. It shouldn’t. But, I’m certainly not letting my kids play this archetype! No way! That complaint aside, the archetype’s still not really my cup tea. Still, if you want to be a charming enchanter/enchantress style character, this is a really good option. Past the archetypes there are two new witch hexes up for offer and one new shaman hex. My favourite is the shaman hex ‘silkstring snare.’ Lastly, there’s three new spells. My favourite is ‘thirsting entanglement,‘ which is like a soul draining entangle spell, but the others are solid debuffs which should see use in play.
Up next is Imbrex, the Twins, Eldest of endings, statues and — you guessed it — twins. His two pages are almost entirely dedicated to summoners. It features an archetype, a new eidolon subtype, and three evolutions. After that there’s four teamwork feats. Usually, this would be a bit of bummer for me. I don’t often play summoners, even though I enjoy them, and dedicating so much space to only one class is a little unfortunate. But… it’s such an awesome archetype! SO COOL! The ‘Twinned Summoner’ has an eidolon that looks just like him (excluding any nifty evolutions). They also learn teamwork feats, which their eidolon can also automatically use. Think of the possibilities! It’s just… awesome! The moment my husband read it he looked at me and said. “Oh, this is interesting. You would be good with this archetype.” “But not you?” I asked. “No. Too much work. I’d get confused.” We laughed. Later I read through it, and you know what? I agreed. I could rock this archetype! Hahaha. The evolutions are brief, but useful — particularly ‘shared evolution‘ and ‘extra feat.‘ For teamwork feat be sure to check out ‘improved precise strike‘ and ‘spell synergy.’
Taking centre stage next is the Lantern King, also known as the Laughing Lie. He’s the Eldest of laughter, mischief, and transformation. Chances are when you think ‘fey’ you think of the attributes this guy has. He’s a prankster, and a shapeshifter. An agent of chaos with infinite forms. The character options include one archetype, the ‘Fey Prankster’ for bards, and two bloodlines that are both entitled ‘shapechanger.’ One is for bloodragers and the other for sorcerers. Both were really cool, but my favourite turned out to the the bloodrager bloodline. I’m not sure why I liked it so much, as the sorcerer bloodline was really solid, but hey! That’s how it goes sometimes.
Up next is an Eldest who is about as far from a jolly prankster as you can get: The Lost Prince. Also known as the Melancholy Lord, he’s the Eldest of forgotten things, sadness and solitude. This dour, brooding fellow has provided us with the ‘hermit‘ archetype for oracles, which is closely tied to the ‘reclusive‘ oracle curse. There’s also a ‘sorrow‘ themed psychic discipline, and a new type of feats which give you an advantage when no allies are nearby. I highly suggest giving the ‘hermit’ a thorough read, because their abilities are very, very cool. Particularly their base revelation, ‘Recluse’s Stride.’ For feats, be sure to check out ‘Centered Spell,’ which is a new metamagic feat which allows you to exclude yourself and your familiar from your instantaneous spells without increasing the spell level. Who doesn’t want to put themselves in the middle of a fireball once in a while? Right?
The next featured Eldest is Magdh, The Three, Eldest of complexity, fate, and triplets. Let me admit, up front, that I am a huge fan of this goddess. She’s my favourite in the book, by far! Unfortunately, none of the character options in her section wowed me. Now, maybe it’s just me. The three spells are interesting and useful. The monk archetype, ‘Nornkith‘, allows your monk to run off of Charisma instead of Wisdom, which is awesome, but… I wasn’t thrilled by anything. There are also three new items up for offer, my favourite of which was ‘charm of the thriceborn.’ I’d be very interested to hear what others thought about the options in Magdh’s section, so if you’ve given the book a read be sure to let me know in the comments below.
Next up is Ng, the Hooded, Eldest of the seasons, secrets, and wanderers. Under his section you’ll find a new cavalier archetype, the ‘Hooded Knight,’ who has a fey-touched mount, gains benefits when traveling on roads, and at higher levels can use dimensiondoor or teleport. There’s also a new cavalier order, the ‘Order of the Blossom,’ which sounds… interesting. Although it’s got some cool abilities, including gaining sneak attack and some minor enchantments, one of the edicts forces you to always accept a fey’s request for aid — which could be very troublesome for obvious reasons. Thankfully, blighted or corrupted fey are excluded from this, and he must instead destroy them. Still… It could be rough! Best ensure you have an understanding GM before selecting it! The final options in Ng’s section are three new items which involve secrecy. Be sure to check out the ‘whispering gloves,’ and the ‘clandestine horseshoes’! The ‘hood of privacy‘ is awesome, but very expensive. Definitely an investment.
Following Ng’s secrecy is an interesting Eldest who cares nothing for subtlety: Ragadahn, The Water Lord, Eldest of linnorms, oceans, and spirals. He’s a brutish creature who counts all the oceans of the First World as his territory. He expects fealty, and respect, but little else. There’s two new archetypes in his section, The ‘Deepwater Rager‘ for barbarians, and the ‘Serpent Herald’ for skalds. Despite the name, the ‘Deepwater Rager’ isn’t actually an underwater combatant. I highly recommend giving it a read, because their abilities ‘Spiraling Charge’ and ‘Disorienting Grapple‘ and both very cool! There’s also three new rage powers in this section of the book (check out ‘Master of the Deep,’ which lets you command aquatic creatures), and two bardic masterpieces, both of which are cool. ‘Ragadahn’s raqs beledi’ is a dance that allows you and your companions to squeeze into tight spaces without trouble, while ‘Ragadahn’s spiral ascent’ allows you to make a whirlwind which can whisk your companions to higher ground. Intriguing!
Finally, we come to the last Eldest in the book — which is also the last page of the book —Shyka, The Many, Eldest of entropy, reincarnation, and time. Now, time related concepts are both very cool, and very difficult to work with in a d20 system. So, although I went into these pages with high hopes — hopes made higher by the awesome wizard artwork in this section — I was wary I might be let down. This section contains a single archetype, and four new spells. The archetype is called the ‘Chronomancer,’ and is for wizards. They gives up the arcane bond class feature, as well as most of their bonus feats, to gain a reservoir of energy they can use to alter time. At low levels they can use it to improve an ally’s initiative, or saving throws, and to immediately re-prepare failed spells (either due to a failed concentration check, a passed save on behalf of your enemies, spell resistance or other immunities, and so on) as if they had not been cast. Cool, right? At higher levels they can use it to cast haste on their allies or trigger contingencies. At level twenty they can even summon a version of himself from an parallel timeline at the moment of his death. The alternate you only lasts for a minute, but it’s one heck of a final gambit! He even comes with your gear! I was SO pleasantly surprised with this archetype! If you’re even remotely interested you should give it a gander. As for the spells? Very cool! Particularly ‘temporal divergence!’ Definitely read it!
And that’s it! We’ve reached the back cover, and Legacy of the First World has come to an end. I hope seeing a bit of what’s inside has helped you decide whether this is a book you want to invest in. And if you’ve read through it already, be sure to let us know what your favourite options were in the comments! Still want more fey-inspired goodness? Be sure to pick up the newest Wayfinder fanzine, Wayfinder 18: Fey and the First World, which is a free download on Paizo’s website.
I recently started watching iZombie (iZombie: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)) on Netflix. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a show about zombies that is currently starting its fifth season. Now, this isn’t some depressing ‘Walking Dead’ (The Walking Dead: Complete Series) type show (although I also love that…). It’s more like a funny cop/murder mystery show. Except if one of the main characters was a zombie who needed to feast on brains in order to retain her humanity. Oh, and she works in a morgue. It’s loosely based on the comics (iZombie Volume 1: Dead to the World) that were written by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, and published by Vertigo.
My husband and both thoroughly enjoy it, and are currently nearing the end of the third season. Anyway, we were watching last night and suddenly came upon an episode entitled “Twenty-Sided, Die” wherein our beloved zombie heroine devours the brains of a dungeon master in order to help solve his murder. It was a hilarious episode, and completely absurd, but halfway through she convinces her friends to play a session with her, in order to help stimulate memories of the deceased. So there they are, sitting at the table: four people attempting to humour their friend. One secretly wants to play, one’s there to give it a shot, and the other two would rather be doing anything else. By the end of their session nearly everyone has had a blast, and gotten right into it. At the end the episode one of the serious cop characters tells the zombie girl that she should run a game every week. It was just SO refreshingly entertaining.
Which got me thinking.
It’s rare you get to see d20 games featured in popular media. I adored this episode of iZombie, and of course, there’s plenty of wonderful Dungeons and Dragons cameos and references in Stranger Things (Stranger Things (Season 1: Collector’s Edition))). But where else have I seen good d20 references? I know there’s others out there, but I couldn’t recall any specific instances.
More than that, though, it brought back memories.
The first time you played a d20 game.
Trying to figure out the rules while you make your first character? Being a little nervous at first, as you figure out what you can and can’t do? Finding your voice? The laughter?The nerves?
The first time I made a character for Dungeons and Dragons I was in high school. A friend had insisted a big group of us make characters and get together to play. Most of my friends said no, but I was one of the few who said I would. A few years before that I had stumbled across a copy of the Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook (3.5) in a bookstore and flipped through it. I wanted the book so bad, but had no idea what it was. I must have looked at it over the next twenty trips. Passing by, browsing, but never buying. Flash forward a few years and I suddenly went ‘A-ha! That’s how you use that book!’ I made myself a dual-wielding elven ranger with long red hair named Meloriel. We went to the store and browsed minis until I found the perfect one. And then…. Nothing. We never played.
It wasn’t until many, MANY years later that I finally had the opportunity to play again. This time I made a half-elven bard named Lorelei. My husband (we had just started dating at the time) played her boyfriend, a gnome illusionist named Blount who worked as her stage-hand. My brother played a fierce minotaur warrior, while co-workers of my brother and husband played a lizardfolk and a half-orc monk. It was DMed enthusiastically by another co-worker of my brother’s. The game wasn’t very long-lived, but it sure was fun. We immediately began buying the rulebooks and campaign settings. I got addicted to Dungeon Magazine. We went out and bought pewter miniatures, only to paint them ourselves with whatever we had on hand. I even cracked out my pencil crayons and drew my own character art. Sadly, the campaign came to an abrupt end when my husband and I went on a vacation, but we never lost our love of the game. We were hooked from that first roll of the dice!
In the years since we must have remade our characters at least three times. But, each time, they never get further than a few sessions into their tales. Maybe we’ll make them again one day. Perhaps as Pathfinder Society characters, or in a home game with my kids.
It’s funny, I suppose, that something as simple as playing a game for the first time can change your life so completely. But, here we are.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Have any stories to tell me about your first characters or first experiences playing a d20 game? Know any awesome shows or films that reference d20 gaming? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear what you have to say.
Today on d20diaries we’re going to take a look at an awesome supplement book for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, the Alien Archive! This book has a hardcover, and clocks in at 159 pages. It’s got an American cover price of $39.99, which means that if you’re Canadian (like myself), you’re looking at a cost of around forty-five to fifty dollars for the book online, or up to sixty in your local game store. There’s a sequel in the works, Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Alien Archive 2, which is due out in October, though I’ve heard little more than that about it.
At it’s core, Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Alien Archive is a book of monsters. Like Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary, you’ll find a ton of monsters to fight and ally with inside this book, as well as some new player races. With that being said, there are a lot of differences between the Alien Archive and the many Bestiaries available for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. For starters, it’s shorter, with a typical Bestiary being around 325 pages in length, compared to the Alien Archive’s 159 pages. But, that’s only scratching the surface. The Alien Archive is also easier to use, and much more adaptable, than any Bestiary I’ve ever read. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
The Alien Archive features lovely cover art by Remko Troost, which shows off some of my favourite creatures inside the book–the dragonkin and the skittermander–as well as a robot. The inside front and back covers feature an image of the Pact Worlds, although it’s faded looking, instead of shiny and bright. After that we come to the table of contents.
The Alien Archive has sixty distinct monster entries inside it, many of which have more than one stat block or variation of that creature, making the actual number of foes inside larger than it seems (around ninety four). Of these, twenty-two are playable as character races. Each of these player races is differentiated from the other entries by a star beside their name, which is really useful for quickly referencing player options.
After the table of contents we reach the introduction. This is where we learn how the races are oriented, and how to read a stat block. While most of this is basic information that only a player new to d20 games with need to read, some of the information is quite important.
For starters, each of the stat blocks inside the Alien Archive is sorted into one of three categories: combatants (which excels in physical combat), experts (who are most effective with skills), and spellcasters (who rely on spells or spell-like abilities). These categories are represented by an icon in the left margin. These images are easy to distinguish and provide a quick and easy way for GMs to realize the role each monster plays in combat, which makes it super easy to find the type of creatures your looking for, or to quickly discern a creature’s tactics.
There’s also a few interesting things to note about the stat blocks themselves. Very few of the creatures inside have Resolve Points and none have Stamina Points. A creatures ability scores aren’t listed, instead, their stats show their ability modifiers. This is a simple change that will make it easier for GMs–especially new GMs–to handle unexpected situations (like unlisted skill checks) in combat. Not all of a creatures feats are listed in their entry. Instead, only feats that grant new combat options will be shown. Feats that grant static bonuses (like improved initiative, or skill focus) are already factored into the stat block and will not be listed anywhere at all. This really streamlines the stat blocks, and makes it easier to find important information fast. Similarly, not all of a creature or NPCs spells will be listed in a stat block. Instead, it only features their most powerful spellcasting options.
In addition to information provided in this chapter, I’d like to point out a few other things of note. Every one of the bestiary entries in this book is two side-by-side pages long. These entries include information on the creature, where they’re found, their use throughout the Pact Worlds, and their society–if they have one. Many of the entries include more than one stat block on a theme. For example, the Aeon Guard entry gives us stats for a CR 3 rank and file soldier, along with a CR 7 specialist, capable of working without support for weeks and months at a time. Similarly, the apari entry features the both the hive-like apari, and it’s tiny, bug-like constituents. Some entries include many stat-blocks, or simple grafts that can be added to a featured creature to make it into other versions. Examples of this include elementals, which are statted out by size and have grafts which apply the elemental abilities themselves (including air, earth, fire and water), and dragons, which have one age category statted out, rules for making other age categories, and grafts which can be applied to determine the dragon’s colour (including black, blue, green, red and white). In fact, as you’ll soon discover, grafts and templates are a common sight in the Alien Archive, and are used to great effect. Many of the archive entries introduce new gear or consumables. My personal favourites include the shadowstaff found on the draelik’s entry, and the bone cestus of the crest eater.
After this we come to the meat of the book: the Alien Archive itself. There are a ton of cool creatures in this book, and even some that I wasn’t sure I’d like on first perusal, I ended up really enjoying. Some of my favourites you should check out include the asteray, a CR 12 fey which is to space what mysterious water creatures like mermaids and nixies were to the oceans and waterways of golarion. I also adored the caypin, a CR 6 aquatic tentacle beast with eyeball mouth worms which can detach and explore their surroundings, before returning to the caypin’s face. Seriously cool! Electrovores were a fun, low level challenge I also really enjoyed, as were the radioactive fey, hesper.
Mixed amongst the monster entries are twenty-two playable races. Each entry features two different CR stat blocks representative of their race, a bunch of interesting information on their societies and home worlds, and a side bar which include the rules for playing them as a race. Although many of these were ‘humanoid shaped’, with arms and hands or some sort, there were some which were not, most notably the jellyfish-like barathu. This was just awesome to see, and I really enjoyed it! Some of the races and monsters from old Golarion were up for selection, including contemplatives, drow, and space goblins but many were brand new. I honestly loved a TON of these races, but my favourite new additions are dragonkin, ikeshti, sarcesians, and the cheerful skittermanders.
Curious about the playable races available in this book? Well, look no further! The Alien Archive includes:
Barathu: highly adaptable jellyfish-like race who float like blimps through the sky
Contemplative: telepathic creatures with massive brains and atrophied little bodies
Draelik: green, nihilistic, gaunt humanoids with ties to the negative energy plane
Dragonkin: large bipedal dragons who form a close bond with their soul-mate
Drow: dark-skinned, demon-worshipping, evil elves–a fantasy classic!
Formian: ant-like humanoids who live in hives and are resistant to sonic effects
Space Goblin: comical little runts with big heads, and bad attitudes. You know you love them!
Gray: small, hairless humanoids with bulbous heads and telepathic powers who abduct and experiment on other beings for unknown reasons
Haan: large insectile humanoids who can spew fire and create buoyant balloons of webbing
Ikeshti: small lizardfolk who live in desert wastes and can squirt blood from their eyes
Kalo: aquatic humanoids with wing-like fins who live in freezing cold waters
Maraquoi: primitive simians with prehensile tails who have exceptional hearing
Nuar: strong minotaurs with pale skin, a great sense of direction and an affinity for complex patterns
Reptoid: cold-blooded reptilians who can assume the appearance of specific individuals
Ryphorian: trimorphic elves who have adapted to the generations-long seasons of Triaxus
Sarcesian: large humanoids who can survive in a vacuum for a time, and grow glowing wings of energy in the void of space
Shobhad: large, four-armed, nomadic giants who are ferocious and quick
Skittermander: small, furry, six-armed humanoids with a cheerful disposition who love to lend a helping hand
Urog: large, crystalline magical beasts with meticulous minds, a lack of tact, and a resistance to electricity
Verthani: tall, long-limbed humanoids with black, orb-like eyes and skin capable of camouflage
Witchwyrd: terribly mysterious interstellar merchants with four-arms who are capable of absorbing force from magic missiles and launching them back at their enemies
Wrikreechee: amphibious, humanoid, filter-feeders who look like a mix between bugs and mollusks
Past the statistics for all those snazzy new aliens we come to arguably the most important part of the book: Appendix 1: Creating Races and NPCs. In Starfinder, monsters and NPCs–even those with class levels–are created differently than PCs. Within these fifteen pages you’ll find simple, easy to use instructions on how to make any kind of creature you can imagine. To use some options you’ll also need access to the Starfinder Core Rulebook, which shouldn’t be an issue, as if you’ve purchased the Alien Archive you probably own the Core Rulebook it already. And if you haven’t? Well, you really should! Haha.
My kids and I gave making monsters a try and found it very simple and easy to use. It makes use of a few handy charts, some simple templates and your creativity. That’s it, that’s all. For those of you more interested in the nitty gritty, I’ll give you a quick rundown. First: a concept. Figure out what you want to make and what CR. Next? Pick an array. That means deciding if it’s a combatant, expert or spellcaster. Then you look at the chart for that category. Each category has two charts for it, which give you the all the stats you need to make the monster. These numbers are the actual values you’ll be using, so you won’t need to do any calculations. These values include everything from ACs, and hp, to the amount of damage they’ll do with ranged and melee attacks. In addition, it lists how many extra special abilities they’ll be able to select later on.
Once you’ve got your stats you need to select your monster’s creature type from a list. Each of these will grant your monster a slight variation to its statistics, as well as a few other static abilities (typically related to its vision types, and innate immunities). For example, aberrations gain darkvision 60 feet, and a +2 to all Will saves, while fey gain low-light vision, +2 on Fortitude and Reflex saves, and a -1 to all attack rolls. Simple and easy. Once you’ve got your creature’s type applied, you pick out it’s subtype. Not all creatures will have one, but if they do, it will grant them some extra traits. Give your monster the cold subtype and they gain immunity to cold and vulnerability to fire. Give them the demon subtype and they gain immunity to electricity and poison, resistance 10 to acid, cold and fire, the ability to summon allies, and telepathy. Slightly more complicated than applying a creature type, but still easy.
What’s next? A class graft. Now, not all monsters will have a class graft, but many intelligent NPCs you make will. This is essentially a quick and easy way to give your creations access to class abilities. So, how does it work? First, you choose the class you want them to have, then you check out the class graft. This will have a requirement (for example, envoys need to use the expert array), a few adjustments (like which saving throws they get an extra bonus to, and which skills they’re best at), a quick formula for giving them equipment, and a helpful chart. On this chart you look up the CR you’re aiming for and check out which abilities you’ll be applying. Now, this isn’t the full class abilities, but rather a few of the best abilities, which the creature will be able to use. You’re not literally applying a whole class here, but just the selected items on this list. For example, if you’re making a CR 1 mystic, the chart tells you to select one first level connection power and one special ability. Pick those out and you’re done. If he’s instead CR 11, the chart tells you to select the first, third, sixth and ninth connection powers, mind link and telepathic bond. Done and done. Although not overly complicated, this is the most difficult step involved in monster creation.
Once you’re done with your class graft (if you’re adding one) you can choose to add a simple template. These are available later in the Alien Archive (in Appendix Three) and include choices like fiendish, giant and two-headed. These grafts are as easy to use as the creature type ones are, and take barely any time at all to add. There’s also some other templates found in the Alien Archive which can be chosen.
The next step is to select your monster’s special abilities. Depending on their array and CR they’ll have a number between one and four that they can choose from. In addition, some abilities are free. These abilities include things like feats, universal monster abilities, and statistic increases. You can also select abilities that show up in other stat blocks. If you’re like my son, you’ll want to make radioactive broken robots, so you could select an aura of radiation as one ability, the ability to shoot blasts of electricity as a second, construct immunities as a third, a vulnerability to critical hits (to represent their broken chassis), and have them self-destruct upon their destruction. If you’re like my daughter, you’ll want to make colossal sized flying space rabbits who shoot laser beams from their eyes, breathe fire from their noses and can survive in a vacuum. Yes, that’s seriously what she made. So pick up a breath weapon as your first ability, a ranged natural attack as your second, as well as immunity to cold, vacuums, and the no breath universal monster ability. This is also where you’ll decide what kind of attacks your monsters will use. Maybe the aforementioned radioactive robots have a slam attack with the stun critical ability, or perhaps their slams do bludgeoning and electricity damage. (My son’s pretty fond of both at once). And the flying space rabbits? Their bite attacks do piercing damage, and perhaps they can swallow you whole. But their laser beam eyes? Definitely fire damage.
Once you’re done with the special abilities, you can select your monster’s skills. Your array chart already gave you the skill points you’ll have, and how many you’ll be good at, but now’s the time you choose which skills those will be. This is a simple step, and will be done in a flash. Then you’re onto selecting spells and spell-like abilities (if your creature happens to have them from a class graft or a special ability you’ve chosen). If it does you check out a simple chart to see what you’ll be adding by CR, make your spell selections and away you go. If you happen to be making a CR 2 creature with Spell-like abilities, they’ll have two 0 level spells usable at will, and two first level spells each usable once per day. If they instead are CR 16, they’ll have two third level spells usable at will, four fourth level spells usable three time a day each, and two fifth level spells usable once a day each. The chart works the same for spellcasting, but with different numbers. Again, only the most powerful spells will be added into your stat block. Your CR 15 creatures won’t have level one spells available, since they’ll be much more likely to use their third fourth and fifth level spells during battle.
And now it’s time for the last step: checking it over. Take a gander at your creation and make sure it lives up to your concept.
And you’re done! It may sound complicated, but it’s actually very easy to use in practise. Even my kids, who are only six and seven, managed to make something fun, balanced, and unique in a short amount of time.
Once you’re done with the first appendix you move on to the second, which focuses on summoning creatures. Much like the monster creation process, this six page section makes use of charts and grafts, although this is infinitely simpler and easier. Each time you gain access to a summon creature spell you select four specific creatures that you can summon. But what are the options? They’re awesome is what they are! Balanced, thematic and adaptable all at the same time. So what do you do?
First, head on over to the elemental statistics. These will be the base stats for all summoned creatures. The level of summoning spell you’re using determines which size stat block you’ll be using. Then, check out the charts and select what you’re summoning. Is it an aeon, agathion, angel or archon? An elemental? what about a protean, robot or shadow creature? Depending on what you choose it will allow you to select either an elemental or summoning graft which you can then apply to the creature. These grafts are simple and easy to use. And that’s it! You’re done. Get summoning. I, for one, can’t wait.
Which brings us on to our third appendix: simple template grafts. This is two pages of simples grafts, which I already mentioned when I spoke about creating monsters. In addition to their use for monster creation, NPC creation and summoned creature statistics, you can also use these templates to quickly alter existing creatures into new creations.
Past this is our fourth and final appendix, which focuses on universal creature rules. Here you’ll find a listing of the common abilities that the different monsters in the Alien Archive have, which also happen to be abilities you can choose to give your monstrous creations.
So what’s left? An index which sorts the creatures by CR for ease of reference, and an advertisement at the back of the book.
That’s it. We’ve come to the end of the Alien Archive.
And what did I think?
I highly recommend this book for players, even if just to have access to the plethora of fun races, but for GMs? This book isn’t recommended, it’s necessity. You need it for the monsters inside, and you need it for the monster creation rules. Lucky for us, this book is just awesome! I’m supremely happy to own it.
And now it’s time to say goodbye!
But before I go, I want to hear from you! What’s your favourite creatures and races from the Alien Archive? What have you made with it? Let me know in the comments!