The Advanced Player’s Guide Playtest

Hello, and welcome to d20diaires!

It’s been a busy few months around here. A new school year has started for my kids, my little sister is celebrating her 18th birthday, Thanksgiving and Halloween have come and gone, and winter’s beginning to set in. There’s not much snow outside right now, but this past week the wind has finally turned cold. We’ll get much, much colder weather over the next few weeks and months, but my kids are already bundling up in their winter layers for the walks to and from school.

I’ve spent most of my free time working on numerous freelance RPG assignments, which has been an absolute blast! But, today I’m taking a short break from the amazing projects I’m lucky to be a part of, to pop in, say hello, and chat about something I’m super excited for: the Advanced Player’s Guide Playtest!

That’s right! Starting today you can head on over to Paizo’s website and download playtest versions of the four new classes they’ll be bringing to Pathfinder Second Edition’s Advanced Player’s Guide: the investigator, oracle, swashbuckler, and witch! I’m a huge fan of oracles and witches, in particular, so I am absolutely thrilled to see some of my favourite classes rejoin the game so quickly!

The APG Playtest begins today and runs until December 2nd, 2019. Download the rules, build some characters, and take them for an adventure or two. After trying out the classes, head back to Paizo’s website to fill out a survey and offer your feedback on the forums. It’s time to help shape these classes into the best they can be!

The Advanced Player’s Guide releases in July 2020.

For more information, to download the playtest classes, and to offer feedback, check out Paizo’s recent blog post.

Enjoy!

Jessica

Dawn of Flame Adventure Path

Today we’re leaving our chilly Manitoba winter behind and turning up the heat! Gaze into the future with us as we check out the upcoming Starfinder Adventure Path: Dawn of Flame!

Dawn of Flame is a six part Adventure Path for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game which is currently available for pre-order. The first volume, Starfinder Adventure Path 13: Fire Starters (Dawn of Flame 1 of 6), comes out in February and is written by James L. Sutter. The entire campaign takes place around, on, and IN the Pact World’s sun, with a focus on the Burning Archipelago and the sun’s interior. The campaign should take characters from levels 1 all the way through to levels 12 or 13. In a recent interview on Starfinder Wednesday, Chris Simms explained that this Adventure Path is not as dark as the previous ones — putting it in direct contrast to the previous Starfinder Adventure Path, Signal of Screams (which begins with The Diaspora Strain). Much lighter in tone, Dawn of Flame is intended to get back to the heart of Starfinder — that space opera science fantasy mix of fun. This adventure path is full of mystery, surprises, and interesting discoveries. The further you delve into the mystery, the deeper into the sun you’ll travel, making your physical journey a mirror of your intellectual discoveries.

Which is awesome! As a mother of mystery-loving kids, I’m thrilled that this is a campaign my whole family can get excited about.

The Sun? How can I adventure there?!

A-ha! Good question! In a lot of ways the sun of the Pact Worlds is just like ours. It’s an incandescent ball of burning gas and plasma, with intense pressure and heat. Not very hospitable! But, because Starfinder is a science fantasy game, magic has allowed the folks over at Paizo to do a lot of cool things! The Pact Worlds sun has mystical connections (and magical portals) to both the Plane of Fire and the Positive Energy Plane. Plenty of strange beings live within the depths of the sun, such as the starship-sized flame whales that can be seen swimming and breaching through the sun’s plasma. Outsiders from the Elemental Plane of Fire are also known to live within the sun, including sentient beings such as efreet, and azers.

Upon the surface of the sun floats a settlement called the Burning Archipelago. Multiple districts make up this Pact Worlds Protectorate, each of which is contained within it’s own magical ‘bubble’ of unknown origin. These mysterious bubbles keep the neighbourhoods within protected from the harmful effects of the sun, and provide artificial environments that allow many forms of life to thrive. Although all of these bubbles are connected to one another via magical tunnels, only one bubble allows access from outside the Burning Archipelago. This entrance was originally discovered by devotees of Sarenrae (goddess of the sun) who noticed the mysteriously abandoned bubble settlements and attempted to fly as close to them as they could. Miraculously, they stumbled upon the entrance and claimed the settlement for their own. To this day the Church of Sarenrae has influence over most of the Burning Archipelago, including the only entrance. In the time since its founding, many people have come to the Burning Archipelago, including corporations, scientists, beings from the Plane of Fire, and citizens of the Pact Worlds. Each district has become home to different groups, communities, and industries, and serves different purposes. Each has its own security force, with the Sarenite Dawn Patrol, and the Pact Worlds Stewards acting as other over-arching police forces. Neighbourhoods of the Burning Archipelago include Asanatown, Chroma, Corona, Dawnshore, Fireside, Stellacuna, and Verdeon. The sun has many structures and life forms for its citizens to marvel over and study, and plenty of mysteries to unravel. For more information on the Pact Worlds Sun and its many secrets you can check out Starfinder: Pact Worlds.

the sun - burning archipelago - entrance - dawnshore
Entrance to the Burning Archipelago, as seen in Starfinder: Pact Worlds

Dawn of Flame

At its core, Dawn of Flame is about mystery and discovery. About unravelling secrets, and going places no one has gone before. Your characters will discover new settlements and people, strange creatures, and powerful enemies. After uncovering the machinations of a semi-divine being they’ll need to work fast to protect the sun from extraplanar conquest! The fate of the Pact Worlds Sun in is their hands!

Fire Starters

starfinder dawn of flame adventure path fire starters
Starfinder Adventure Path 13: Fire Starters (Dawn of Flame 1 of 6)

The Dawn of Flame Adventure Path begins in the Burning Archipelago, and involves Far Portal — a structure that, like the Burning Archipelago itself, is far older and more technologically advanced than anything in the Pact Worlds. It’s creator and purpose is a mystery, but it’s function is not. Far Portal is a magical portal to a particularly inhospitable region of the Plane of Fire. It hovers nearby, within sight of the Burning Archipelago, but rarely sees use. Although intrepid and foolhardy explorers sometimes enter it, none have ever returned. What’s more, nothing has come out of it. Ever. Until now! A ship flies out of Far Portal, chased by an astoundingly big flame whale. The portal soon disappears INTO the sun, and a massive psychic disturbance wracks the populace. These life-changing events lead our PCs to accept work for a local scientist, in an effort to help her figure out what’s going on. PCs will need to travel into Asanatown, a lashunta enclave in the Burning Archipelago, to contact another scientist who can help. Unfortunately, the psychic burst has hit the telepathic citizens of Asanatown hard. Tensions boil over, and chaos erupts in the district. Finding that scientist? Yeah, that’s the easy part…

Starfinder Adventure Path 13: Fire Starters (Dawn of Flame 1 of 6) is written by James L. Sutter and is intended for 1st-level characters. In addition to the adventure itself, this volume contains detailed information on the district of Asanatown (written by Jason Tondro) and the Church of Sarenrae and its worshippers (written by Patrick Brennan), including some new equipment common to her worshippers. The Alien Archive entries focus on extraplanar creatures, including ifrits and proteans, and is written by Leo Glass, Owen K.C. Stephens, and James L. Sutter. The Codex of Worlds introduces us to a “beautiful resort planet” with connections to the Plane of Water, and is written by Lacy Pellazar. Finally, the ship that will be showcased is a Sarenite vessel designed by Jason Keeley.

Soldiers of Brass

starfinder sadventure path dawn of flame soldiers of brass
Starfinder Adventure Path 14: Soldiers of Brass (Dawn of Flame 2 of 6)

Starfinder Adventure Path 14: Soldiers of Brass (Dawn of Flame 2 of 6) is written by Crystal Frasier and is intended for characters around level 3. By now your PCs work for the Deep Cultures Institute, which is a scientific corporation of dubious reputation that believes there are not only ancient archeological sites to discover within the sun, but living breathing people and cultures. Intent on unraveling the mysterious psychic burst that came from the Sun’s depths, they’ve turned to outside help to aid them. But, when important data is stolen from DCI your PCs will have to track down the thieves, retrieve the data, and figure out why they wanted it in the first place.

This adventure will take your players through Stellacuna, the district that is home to the Deep Cultures institute and other centres of learning, and Corona, a dangerous district that is home to many denizens of the Plane of Fire, and the infamous market known as the Brass Bazaar. Although no further information is currently available as to the other articles in this book, I imagine we’ll be treated to an in depth article on the district of Corona.

Brass Bazaar
The Brass Bazaar

Sun Divers

Sun Divers
Starfinder Adventure Path 15: Sun Divers (Dawn of Flame 3 of 6)

Starfinder Adventure Path #15: Sun Divers (Dawn of Flame 3 of 6) is written by Joe Pasini and is intended for 5th-level characters. During this part of the adventure path your characters will have discovered proof of a settlement within the sun’s depths, and have the coordinates to get there. The problem? A ship! Your PCs will need to track down the creators of an experimental ship known as a Sun Diver, and retrieve it from the shady folks who have it now. In addition to getting to explore the Verdeon district of the Burning Archipelago, they’ll get to take their  awesome new ship (that looks a lot like a pinecone!) beneath the surface of the sun, and explore an undiscovered city!

Further content in this volume includes an article on Noma (the newly discovered bubble-city) and on organized crime. Alien Archive entries are said to include creatures that live within the sun. Although the planet examined in the Codex of Worlds is still a mystery, the ship that will be detailed is going to be the Sun Diver.

The Blind City

Starfinder Adventure Path #16: The Blind City (Dawn of Flame 4 of 6) is written by Ron Lundeen and is intended for 7th-level characters. Your PCs time in the bubble-city of Noma has led to further discoveries, including an ancient magical tablet. Bringing the tablet back to the Burning Archipelago for translation causes a clash with the cult of Azathoth. If they’re lucky, your players will beat back the cultists and discover the coordinates to another mysterious location within the sun, known as Ezorod. The discoveries they make in this lightless (yes, you read that right: LIGHTLESS), foul dungeon will change their lives forever, and finally place the PCs on the trail of Dawn of Flame’s major villain.

Further content in this volume includes an article on various cults found in the Pact Worlds, and a bunch of new and weird techonological and magical equipment. The Alien Archives include new creatures from throughout the multiverse. Information on the Codex of Worlds and ship details have yet to be revealed.

Solar Strike

Starfinder Adventure Path #17: Solar Strike (Dawn of Flame 5 of 6) is written by Mark Moreland and intended for 9th-level characters. It begins with the PCs receiving a distress call from the peaceful citizens of settlement deep within the sun who are under attack by efreet invaders from the Plane of Fire. Your PCs will need to dive back below the surface of the sun to liberate the city of Kahlannal from their conquerers! Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident. It’s the start of an invasion…

Further content in this volume includes an article on the bubble-city of Kahlannal, and an article on the cultures of the Pact Worlds sun and other stars throughout the galaxy. Content of the Alien Archives, Codex of Worlds, and ships has yet to be announced.

Assault on the Crucible 

Starfinder Adventure Path #18: Assault on the Crucible (Dawn of Flame 6 of 6) is written by Jason Tondro and is intended for 11th-level characters. It is the final volume in the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path and should bring your PCs to level 12 or 13. In it, the efreet army, acting at the behest of a semi-divine being from the Plane of Fire known as Malikah, launches an assault on the Burning Archipelago from the depths of the Sun! Aware of this coming attack your PCs will have have to defend the city, bring the fight to the enemy at their hidden base, close the portals to the Plane of Fire, and return Far Portal to its home on the surface of the sun! Epic stuff!

Further content in this volume includes an article on continuing the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path past the story’s conclusion, and an article on Starfinder’s version of the Plane of Fire. The Alien Archive is said to contain creatures from the sun, the Plane of Fire, and elsewhere in the galaxy. Details on the Codex of Worlds and ship details have yet to be revealed.

An Ending

And with that we come to the end of the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path. Or rather, we come to the beginning. Next month the first volume of Dawn of Flame will be in our hands and we’ll get to create characters that can embark on this epic quest of discovery. Turns out the fate of the entire Pact Worlds hangs the in balance. No pressure! When asked if he had any further thoughts and themes that he wants Starfinder fans to come away from Dawn of Flame with, Chris Simms had this to say:

“There’s no place you can’t go.”

And he’s right! Starfinder is a game that allows us to go anywhere, explore anything, and become something greater than ourselves. It’s a world of advanced technology, alien species, and powerful magic. This fusion of big, bold ideas has led to a truly wonderful game. If you haven’t given it a try, I highly suggest you do!

Want more information on the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path, or to see awesome artwork from Fire Starters? Check out this past week’s episode of Starfinder Wednesday, featuring host Dan Tharp and special guest Chris Simms!

Enjoy!

Jessica


UPDATE: Check out the recently released Dawn of Flame Trailer!

Starfinder Society Scenarios: ‘Siege of Enlightenment’ and ‘The Beacon Code Dilemma’

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

Starfinder Society Scenario #1-24 - Siege of EnlightenmentStarfinder Society Scenario #1-24: Siege of Enlightenment is a Tier 1-4 adventure written by Tineke Bolleman. It takes place on Sansorgis, which is a planet in the Acalata system. It’s a dry place poorly suited to agriculture, but rich in mineral deposits. There players will help with the evacuation of a mining colony, attempt to peacefully navigate some space politics, and explore some Pre-Gap ruins. This scenario features starship combat. It utilizes Starfinder Flip-Mat: Basic Starfield Starfinder Flip-Mat: Space Station, and Pathfinder Flip-mat: Ancient Dungeon. It makes use of the Starfinder Core RulebookStarfinder Alien ArchiveStarfinder Alien Archive 2, and the Starfinder Armory. That said, all of the relevant information from both Alien Archives is included within the scenario itself. Siege of Enlightenment does not continue any ongoing storylines, and the only recurring character within it is Venture-Captain Arvin. There are a few interesting characters introduced in this scenario, including then hobgoblin Captain Odrakor of Susumu’s Sword, half-elven Corporal Kalyavata, and the human Chief Engineer Kerchatu. Unfortunately, roleplaying with such characters will be quite brief. There’s also some delightfully entertaining enemies (the first one is particularly fun)! There are no specific boons I’d suggest slotting for this scenario, although I will say that having a few characters trained in Computers and Engineering on your team is very important, and that such characters with have the opportunity to do something special during parts of the adventure. On a similar note, scholarly and studious characters — particularly those interested in archaeology, cartography, chronicling, history, and scribing — will also find opportunity to  showcase their interests in this scenario.

Siege of Enlightenment begins in a mission briefing with Venture-Captain Arvin, where he tasks the PCs with helping a mining colony in Near Space evacuate, and then exploring a ruin. Sounds simple, right? Not quite. This scenario involves a bit of space politics which mostly occurs behind the scenes, but is important to understanding the mission. Basically, it involves two different groups who have each have their own space empire in Near Space: the Marixah Republic (a multi-cultural group containing many races from lost Golarion which the Pact Worlds trades with), and the Gideron Authority (a militaristic, predominantly hobgoblin group that the Pact Worlds has few ties with). Both of these groups are independent of the Pact Worlds, rule their own star systems, and have colonies outside of their systems. Following a military coup, the Gideron Authority turned its attentions to conquest, and the two space governments have been cautiously circling each other since. Recently, the Gideron Authority appeared around the planet Sansorgis, collected information on the Marixah Republic’s mining colonies with their long-range sensors, then left. Worried that they would soon fall under attack, the Marixah Republic ordered the evacuation of the colonies. Knowing that they wouldn’t have time to excavate a nearby ruin on their own (and not wanting it to fall into the Gideron Authority’s hands), the Marixah Republic offered the right of exploration to the Starfinder Society in exchange for aid with evacuating the final colony. It is into this political turmoil that your players will travel. Characters will get to interact with both the Marixah Republic and the Gideron Authority, lend a hand to some people in need, explore an important historical site, learn some secrets, and kick some ass. The first physical combat is very interesting and should be a lot of fun at the table, but it’s very complex, so GMs will need to familiarize themselves with it thoroughly before attempting to run the battle. Despite the complexity (and the very dense map), I think it’s going to be a hoot! In the ruins there’s the addition of a simple new mechanic called Discovery Points, which are meant to track how much your players discover and catalogue about the ruins, without bogging down gameplay too much. Although such tracking will all happen on the GM side of the screen, I think it’s wonderful that your player’s thoroughness will be rewarded. It is supposed to be an archaeological investigation, after all. I love that this scenario featured so many new creatures from the recently released Alien Archive 2. I did have one major complaint, though. This scenario is very combat heavy! It contains one starship battle, four other combats, two traps, plus one of those listed combats is likely to also contain at least two hazards and traps (possibly more). That’s a LOT. All in all, even though this isn’t my favourite scenario it has some fun encounters and is a great choice for characters who just want to get into some good old fashioned fights. As an added bonus this scenario is perfectly set up to lead to more scenarios involving the Marixah Republic, the Gideron Authority, and the ancient ruins, which is always great to see. I give this scenario three out of five stars.

Starfinder Society Scenario 1-25 - Beacon Code DilemmaStarfinder Society Scenario #1-25: The Beacon Code Dilemma is a Tier 3-6 adventure written by Adrian Ng. It begins in The Starfinder Society’s Lorespire Complex in Absalom Station where you’ll do some research for an upcoming mission, and heads into the Drift where you’ll explore a recently discovered Starfinder vessel that’s been missing in action for over a hundred years. This scenario features the REPEATABLE tag. That’s right. It’s a tier 3-6 repeatable adventure! AWESOME! Although this scenario doesn’t continue any ongoing storylines it does have cameos from a lot of different characters featured in other adventures which I absolutely adore. The Beacon Code Dilemma doesn’t have starship combat. It makes use of one custom map and heavy use of Starfinder Flip-Mat: Ghost Ship. In addition to the Starfinder Core Rulebook this scenario uses content from the Starfinder Alien ArchiveStarfinder Alien Archive 2Starfinder Armory, and Starfinder Pact Worlds. That said, all of the information from the Alien Archives that is needed to run this scenario is included within the scenario itself.

As already mentioned, this scenario features a lot of recurring characters. The bleaching gnome Venture-Captain Naiaj is certain to appear. Of the other four major recurring characters, two will appear in each playthrough (because it’s a repeatable scenario which two are featured will be determined at random by your GM). Depending on which two are featured you’ll want to have different boons slotted, and possibly even bring along different characters. If the ysoki Royo is featured you’ll want to slot ‘High Society Influence (Royo)’ which is from Starfinder Society Scenario #1–05: The First Mandate. If Whisperer of Solar Winds is featured you’ll want to slot the ‘Dream Whispers’ boon which is from Starfinder Society Scenario #1–16: Dreaming of the Future. If the shirren Chiskisk  is featured you’ll want to slot a chronicle sheet from Starfinder Adventure Path 1: Incident at Absalom Station (Dead Suns Book 1 of 6). And finally, if Venture-Captain Arvin is featured you’ll want to slot the ‘Starfinder Insignia’ boon from Starfinder Society Quests: Into the Unknown. Unfortunately, although you can choose which boons to slot after the briefing (and therefore can slot appropriate boons) there’s no way to know which characters you’ll be interacting with beforehand (so you might not slot the characters with the appropriate boons). Luckily, it’s repeatable, so you can give it a shot with all of your characters if you want to. And, if you’re really lucky, perhaps your GM will tell you ahead of time.

The Beacon Code Dilemma begins when Venture-Captain Naiaj calls you in for a mission briefing in the Lorespire Complex. There they meet a new character: an SRO priest of Triune by the name of MP-8 from Aballon. MP-8 was blessed with a holy vision from which he deciphered a beacon code. Knowing that this must be a mission of the utmost importance he put together a team and followed the coordinates into the Drift where they found a lost Starfinder vessel called the Amber Reconnoiter. Unfortunately, the ship opened fire on them. Surprised, an not wanting to risk damaging the very ship they were sent to find, MP-8 retreated and contacted the Starfinder Society. Naiaj tasks the group with researching the ship, then heading out into the Drift to explore the vessel, find out what happened to it, and retrieve whatever object it is within that MP-8 is after. As this scenario is repeatable, a lot of aspects are determined randomly. Where you need to do your research within the Lorespire Complex, who you interact with, the crew of the Amber Reconnoiter, their mission’s purpose, and how they met their end (and therefore which handouts you receive), are all obvious examples of randomized aspects. In addition, there’s a wide variety of environmental factors and enemy abilities that are also determined randomly. I absolutely loved this, and was surprised how thorough it was. Really well done!

Whatever random options are determined for your playthrough, characters will need to do some research on the Amber Reconnoiter in two different locations in the Lorespire Complex in order to learn what they can about the ship and determine the codes to shut down the ship’s automated defences. Some of those locations feature new characters as well, my favourite of which is the overly chipper Recordbot-128 in the Halls of Discovery. From there you’ll head out into the Drift and travel to the Beacon Code. Once there you’ll need to navigate through a planar storm, then spacewalk over to the wreck through a debris field (which has an awesome map!), fight off some creatures native to the Drift, and board the Amber Reconnoiter. But, that’s just the start of your mission. You’ll need to explore the wreck, figure out what happened to its crew, and find the object MP-8 is after.

I really enjoyed this mission. I love that is gives you a chance to explore some locations within the Lorespire Complex and actually research something — which should be an important part of being a Starfinder. I loved that we got to really engage in some of the hazards of Drift travel through the planar hazards, battle, and exploring the debris field (which I thought was super cool!). And finally, I loved the how the purpose and fate of the Amber Reconnoiter changes in each playthrough, along with the wonderful player handouts that come with each of those options. One of my only pet peeves was that some of the interactions on the Amber Reconnoiter mention sound when the ship does not currently have artifical atmosphere. It is mentioned that the PCs can repair the power core enough to restore atmosphere (and therefore let sound travel), but many of the things that happen before you’ll have a chance to do so (including enemy tactics) mentions or presupposes sound travelling through the ship. I found it odd. Still, it’s a small quibble that GMs should make note of before running it. Visual cues can easily be used in place of audible ones until atmosphere is restored. In terms of boons there are two up for offer. One is a nice Starship boon that’s useful in the Drift, and one is a slotless limited use boon that can help you get a bit more bang for your buck. Again, this scenario has a lot of gear options available on its chronicle sheet. Overall, I really enjoyed this scenario and can’t wait to give it a play. I give it four out of five stars.

I hope you enjoyed taking a look at these new scenarios with us. We’ll see you again soon when we dive into the new Pathfinder Society Scenarios!

Until then,

Jessica

Graey Erb-SusumusSword
Susumu’s Sword is a Gideron Authority ship under the command of Captain Odrakar. Featured in Starfinder Society Scenario #1-24: Siege of Enlightenment. Art by Graey Erb.
Michele Giorgi-MP8
MP-8 a, SRO devotee of Triune appearing in Starfinder Society Scenario #1-25: The Beacon Code Dilemma. Art by Michele Giorgi.