May New Releases

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


Dungeons and Dragons

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

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

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

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

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


Pathfinder

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

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

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


Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

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


Starfinder 

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

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

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


WizKids

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

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


Wayfinder

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

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


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

Happy shopping!

Jessica

 

Starfinder Society Scenarios: Enter the Ashen Asteroid and Siege of Civility

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!

Enter the Ashen Asteroid by Larry WilhelmStarfinder Society Scenario #1-36: Enter the Ashen Asteroid is a Tier 1-4 adventure written by Larry Wilhelm. It takes place on Sledgehammer, a mining facility and exploration vessel owned by Ulrikka Clanholdings, a dwarven mining consortium that may be familiar to PCs who’ve played Starfinder Society Scenario #1-12: Ashes of DiscoveryFrom there the PCs enter Asteroid AA-126D, an asteroid in the Diaspora that contains duergar ruins dating back to the time of the Gap — and marked with the unholy symbol of Droskar. There you will explore the the site and collect any objects of archaeological importance. This does not feature any tags and does not contribute to the ongoing Scoured Stars storyline. PCs who are dwarves, speak dwarven, or have the Contractor’s Respect (Ulrikka Clanholdings) boon from Starfinder Society Scenario #1-12: Ashes of Discovery will find they have an edge in this scenario.  Enter the Ashen Asteroid does not feature starship combat. It includes two custom half-page maps (which are beautifully detailed!) and Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Elemental Planes. It makes use of the Starfinder Core RulebookStarfinder Armory, and Alien Archive 2. Although this scenario doesn’t feature any recurring characters it does introduce a new NPC of importance, dwarven Venture-Captain Thromkendal. In addition, five other NPCs you’ll have a chance to influence are introduced, most of which (but not all!) are dwarves.

Enter the Ashen Asteroid -VCThromkendal.jpg - Illustration by Bryan Syme
Venture-Captain Thromkendal. Illustrated by Bryan Syme. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

At it’s core, Enter the Ashen Asteroid is a dungeon delve. PCs enter an enclosed location, look around, unearth some secrets, and fight some bad guys. It’s a type of adventure that’s underrepresented in Starfinder, so I think it’s a nice change of pace. Happily this delve is packed full of opportunities to use a wide variety of skill checks, has interesting environmental hazards, and features a few obstacles in it that can be overcome in multiple ways. There’s some complex devices and backstory to untangle, which keeps the dungeon interesting, and plenty of important finds to collect. I particularly enjoyed the interconnectivity of the dungeon. Each room has ties to those around it, which is really nice to see. The battles in this scenario are challenging, particularly one against an old foe from Pathfinder whose new art looks amazing! At the end of the scenario PCs will have to report to some Ulrikka Clanholdings bigwigs and offer them a recommendation in regards to the fate of the asteroid. It should be noted that this is a complex adventure to run. There’s some subsystems at work here that new or inexperienced GMs could find confusing — luckily this is mitigated by a super handy player handout. One of the locations also has a complex obstacle some PCs might struggle with. Overall I really enjoyed this scenario. I give it four out of five stars.

1-37 - Siege of CivilityStarfinder Society #1-37: Siege of Civility is a Tier 5-8 adventure written by Kalervo Oikarinen. It takes place on a fortress moon named the Eye of Gideron, that orbits a gas giant named Maelstrom’s Maw. These areas are located within the territory of the Gideron Authority, a mostly-hobgoblin militant space empire at war with the Marixah Republic, both of which are introduced in Starfinder Society #1-24: Siege of Enlightenment. Although the two scenarios are linked, playing them is order isn’t necessary. In fact, characters who haven’t played Siege of Enlightenment are likely to have a different outlook on the Gideron Authority than those who have, which can make for some fun roleplaying between the party members. I think it’s best to have a mix of PCs who have and haven’t played Siege of Enlightenment. Whatever the party composition, your PCs mission is to convince representatives of the Gideron Authority to lend the Starfinder Society their aid — the Wayfinders flagship Master of Stars needs a drift engine only the Gideron Authority can provide, and the Starfinder Society would like exploration rights to some of their archaeological sites. This scenario features the Faction (Wayfinders) tag and does not contain starship combat. It makes use of one half-page custom map and no flip-mats. It includes content from Starfinder Core RulebookAlien Archive, and Alien Archive 2. There are two recurring characters in this scenario: Fitch, leader of the Wayfinders Faction, and Ceobarn Zeizerer, a drow who first appeared in Starfinder Society Scenario #1-06: A Night in Nightarch. There are five other new NPCs from the Gideron Authority who are likely to be of further importance in the future. PCs who have the Victory Over Authority boon will need to slot it for this mission.

Siege of Civility -CommanderImakoo - Illustraton by Bryan Syme
Commander Imako. Illustrated by Bryan Syme. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Overall, this is a really fun social scenario. There’s plenty of interesting NPCs to talk to and sway to your side. The social engagements are well planned out, and interspersed with opportunities for other skill checks and a really cool combat encounter. It think it’s going to be an absolute blast to play! This is a great scenario to crack out your diplomats, envoys, and other charismatic characters. PCs who prefer to pound face all day are better suited to other scenarios, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have a chance to shine. The Gideron Authority is an aggressive, military-based society that values strength and experience, so even PCs with a martial focus will find someone they get along with.  Overall, I give this scenario four out of five stars. It’s one of my favourite influence-based Starfinder Scenarios. 

Thanks for joining us today! Tune in later this week when we take a look at the newest Pathfinder Society Scenarios!

Jessica

 

Starfinder Society Scenarios: Heart of the Foe and Rasheen’s Riches

Today we’re going to take a look at the two most recent Starfinder Society Scenarios that are available for purchase, and let you know we thought. Although you’ll find references to events in each that I liked or disliked, and comments about specific characters, these scenarios are not explored in detail. It’s not my intention to spoil the events in these scenarios, or give summaries and full reviews, but to share my opinions and provide recommendations. That said, if you want to avoid even minor spoilers 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!

SFS #1-34 - Heart of the Foe by Nicholas Wasko
Starfinder Society Scenario #1-34: Heart of the Foe by Nicholas Wasko

Starfinder Society Scenario #1-34: Heart of the Foe is a Tier 3-6 adventure written by Nicholas Wasko. It takes place on Rax, an inhospitable planet the jinsul are known to visit on occasion. There you will explore a ruined city that shows signs of life for any information you can scrounge up on the jinsul and their society. This scenario features the Faction (Second Seekers [Jadnura]) and Faction (Second Seekers [Luwazi Elsebo]) tags making it the first mission to prominently feature both First Seekers. This scenario continues the ongoing Scoured Stars storyline (#1-05: The First Mandate, #1-11: In Pursuit of the Scoured Past, #1-13: On the Trail of History, #1-17: Reclaiming the Time-Lost Tear, #1-99: The Scoured Stars Invasion, #1-23: Return to Sender, #1-29: Honorbound Emissaries, and #1-31: Treading History’s Folly). As such you’ll want to bring along characters who have an interest in the Scoured Stars Trinary System or storyline, who have interacted with the jinsul, or are working on collecting the ‘Journey to Scoured Stars’ boons. I also recommend bringing a character who does not have a Personal Boon permanently slotted. This scenario does NOT involve starship combat, but it MIGHT feature a vehicle chase (more on that shortly). It makes use of Pathfinder: Map Pack: Frozen SitesPathfinder: Flip Mat: Tech Dungeon, and an awesome full page custom map that has a very ‘Borderlands‘ feel to it. This scenario features content from Starfinder Core RulebookAlien Archive, and Armory. All of the necessary stat blocks are included in the scenario itself. However, GMs will definitely need the Core Rulebook for this one. Although this scenario doesn’t include a vehicle chase (but it could) it does use modified vehicle chase rules, which most players do not have internalized (in my experience). GMs will likely need to brush up on the vehicle chase rules and be prepared to teach it to their players as needed. Be aware that this is a rather dense scenario, so groups that are unfamiliar with chases could cause it to run long.

Heart of the Foe begins when both First Seeker Luwazi Elsebo and First Seeker Jadnura task the PCs with travelling to a planet the jinsul are known to occassionally visit in order to discover actionable intel and information about the jinsul themselves. For those of you who don’t know, the jinsul are a violent race of aliens that conquered the Scoured Stars Trinary system while the Starfinder Society rescued their comrades during the #1-99: The Scoured Stars Invasion. The jinsul have been a thorn in the side of the Starfinder Society ever since and the First Seekers are worried at the threat they pose to the Pact Worlds. Your PCs will need to travel to the mysterious planet — alongside both First Seekers and three other Starfinder teams — investigate a few sites that show signs of life, and uncover what they can about the jinsul and their society. Neither the Starfinder Society nor the players know a whole lot about these insectile fellows, so I was thrilled to dig a little deeper into the history of the jinsul themselves. Exciting stuff! Throughout the course of this scenario PCs will get to learn about jinsul anatomy, culture, history, religious beliefs, and — oh yeah — fight a whole lot of jinsul! It’s an action packed, exciting scenario that’s going to be a lot of fun. The battles all serve a purpose, the chase scene is both exciting and complex, and the world itself is very atmospheric. The finale is exciting and challenging, with a lot of moving parts. It’s chaotic and really well done. Dare I say… epic? Yeah, I do. Haha. There’s only one real social encounter, but the character you get to interact with is really… enjoyable so it strikes a nice balance. I love their demeanour and attitude towards the PCs. So good!

Ekkerah - Illustrated by Bryan Syme
Ekkerah, illustrated by Bryan Syme. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

But, it’s not all sunshine and roses radiation and bullets. I do have a few minor complaints with this one. First off, it’s tough to run. Now, this isn’t really a complaint. It’s an observation and potential warning. This is not the kind of scenario an inexperienced GM should attempt. There’s vehicle chase rules, modifications to the vehicle chase rules, environmental conditions, a whole lot of dice rolling during travel scenes, plenty of hopping around between pages for potential clues and intel, and complex battles with lots of enemies and allies to track. Not easy. Second, it has a bit of a slow start. Not the immediate start, but the… well let’s call it the travel scene. There’s a lot of dice rolling done every hour, which runs the risk of becoming a boring sort of routine if not handled right (particularly when you take into account the flipping between pages that might have to occur). That said, I do like the information your group could uncover about the jinsul along the way. Third, environmental protections. Chances are your characters have them. They protect us from a lot, but there’s also things it won’t protect you from. Fair. But in this one it feels like you get penalized for using them. You either use them and suffer X or don’t use them and suffer Y. Which is unfortunate. The scenario refers to snow clinging to your environmental protections’ helmet — when many armour’s environmental protections use a force field instead of helmets — and even if you are wearing armour that has a helmet, couldn’t you just wipe it off? And if you are wearing armour that has an environmental forcefield for it’s environmental protections, can it seriously not handle a bit of clingy snow? Sounds like that armour has a pretty big design flaw to me. I hope my Starfinder kept their receipt. Haha. It felt sort of arbitrary to me. I’m totally cool with some environmental hazards going through your protections, but this snow thing just wasn’t one of them. Contrariwise, if they wanted the snow to hamper visibility, I’m totally fine with that. I am no stranger to snow and yeah, it’s hard to see sometimes. And finally…. I love that baby jinsul on the cover! Except it’s not a baby jinsul at all. It’s a jinsul’s pet. I 100% thought it was a baby jinsul and was thrilled by it’s oddly adorable appearance. Jokes on me, I guess. Haha. Seriously though, I really like the creature, it’s stats, and it’s tactics. Overall, I thought this was a really great, exciting scenario that’s going to be a challenge to run — but well worth it! I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

SFS 1-35 - Rasheen's Riches by Mara Lynn Butler
Starfinder Society Scenario #1-35: Rasheen’s Riches by Mara Lynn Butler.

Starfinder Society Scenario #1-35: Rasheen’s Riches is a Tier 5-8 adventure written by Mara Lynn Butler. It takes place on Aratrosim, a unexplored moon in the Vast where you investigate claims of great wealth! Sort of… This scenario features the Faction (Acquisitives) tag and DOES feature starship combat. It makes use of Starfinder Flip-Mat: Basic StarfieldStarfinder Flip-Mat: Starship, and Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Hill Country. It includes content from Starfinder Core RulebookAlien ArchiveAlien Archive 2ArmoryStarfinder Adventure Path 3: Splintered Worlds (Dead Suns 3 of 6), and even Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The First World, Realm of the Fey. All of the necessary stat blocks are included in this scenario. Although this scenario doesn’t really continue an ongoing storyline, it does feature a social encounter that has ties to the Scoured Stars storyline — particularly Starfinder Society Scenario #1–13: On the Trail of History, #1–99: The Scoured Stars Invasion. It’s brief, but it’s something of interest to characters who have played a lot of the Scoured Stars. This scenario only features one recurring character, Radaszam (leader of the Acquisitives), although it also name-drops Historia-7 (leader of the Dataphiles). It introduces one new character that I rather liked, Captain Xizzvee of Tinker’s Path, a bulabar that runs a ship of fey salvagers.

Rasheen’s Riches sounds at first like a classic treasure hunt — in space! Which is only partly true. Radaszam recently discovered a treasure map said to lead to one of the last places the infamous space explorer Jelev Rasheen explored before disappearing. Presumed to house a treasure trove of unimaginable proportions, Radaszam’s taking a more measured approach. Although he doesn’t believe it’s actually the final resting place of Rasheen or her fabulous riches, he does hope that there you’ll find a claim beacon that she placed on planets she discovered but never fully explored. This beacon should be able to lead you to the next place Rasheen went. But, that’s another mission… Rasheen’s Riches is more accurately described as a treasure hunt where you’re aiming to find another piece of the treasure map. As long as this is clear to your players by the end of the mission briefing (which it should be) you won’t have a problem with any players feeling let down. However, if players think they’re off to find unimaginable riches they might be a little disappointed. I know my kids would say “That’s it? But where’s the treasure?!” Be sure to adjust those expectations a little. Haha. I enjoyed this scenario. It’s got some environmental challenges to overcome, an interesting investigation, illuminating player handouts, and a battle against some tragic enemies. It’s got the air of a mystery about it, which I liked. I absolutely adored the descriptions of this moon. The entire atmosphere of it — and the creatures that you encounter there — worked really well together. Definitely a highlight of the scenario for me. The starship combat was straightforward but enjoyable. I like the social encounter it begins with and the artwork of the ship! It looks like some kind of skeletal Batplane! Seriously cool. Overall I thought this was a really solid scenario that will — hopefully — lead to further adventures on the hunt for Rasheen’s riches! I give it four out of five stars.

Glaciomonitor - Illustration by William Marton
Glaciomonitor, illustrated by William Martin. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Thanks for joining us today! Be sure to tune it again soon to check out our reviews on the newest Pathfinder Society Scenarios!

See you in the Drift!

Jessica

Starfinder Society Scenarios: Acts of Association and Data Breach

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!

SFS 1-32 - Acts of Association by Scott YoungStarfinder Society Scenario #1-32: Acts of Association  is a Tier 1-4 repeatable adventure written by Scott Young. It takes place on Absalom Station, and tasks the PCs with taking a visiting dignitary a tour of the space station. This scenario features the repeatable tag, meaning it can be played once per character instead of once per player. It doesn’t directly continue any ongoing storylines, although it does build off of previous events. The Scoured Stars Invasion has come to an end, and the Starfinder Society has begun to rebuild their once stellar reputation. Acts of Association does not feature starship combat. It makes use of Starfinder Flip-Mat: Urban SprawlStarfinder Flip-Mat: Jungle WorldStarfinder Flip-Mat: CantinaStarfinder Flip-Mat: Starship, and Starfinder Flip-Mat: Space Station. A lot, I know, but you won’t need all of them at the same time. Some of the events in this scenario are randomly determined, so you’re going to need three or four of the flip-mats depending on which events you roll. Acts of Association makes use of the Starfinder Core RulebookArmoryAlien Archive, and Alien Archive 2. All of the necessary stat blocks are included in this scenario, although one randomly altered stat block allows GMs to apply select race grafts onto it (if desired), which are found in Alien Archive and Alien Archive 2. These grafts are not included in the scenario and are entirely optional. This scenario features only one returning character, Chiskisk, who was previously featured in the Dead Suns Adventure Path and Starfinder Scenario #1-25: Beacon Code Dilemma. There’s no specific boons you should slot for this scenario, nor are any factions invested in this mission more than the others. However, thematically it fits well with members of the Acquisitives and Wayfinders factions.

Acts of Association begins in Absalom Station’s Lorespire Complex, base of the Starfinder SocietyWith the Scoured Stars Incident behind them and some prominent successes under their belt, the Starfinder Society is seeking to expand its influence back into Near Space and the Vast. To that end they’ve entered into negotiations with a variety of distant civilizations in order to acquire exploration rights in their territories.  Many ambassadors and dignitaries have made the journey to Absalom to negotiate with the Starfinder Society, and one of them needs a break. They want a tour of Absalom Station. That’s right! Chiskisk is calling on your PCs to act as tour guides. Although it may sound mundane, this is actually a pretty important. They’ll need to take the dignitary to multiple locations, ensure they are safe and entertained, all while making a good impression of the Starfinder Society. As a repeatable scenario, this adventure has some randomized elements to it. There’s a series of seven different pre-made dignitaries, as well as an eighth dignitary which is created entirely by the GM. In addition, each dignitary has randomized personality traits, values, taboos, and attractions they want to see. These attractions will determine the locations your PCs visit.

Emissary
Emissary DV8, one of the potential dignitaries you could meet in Starfinder Society Scenario #1-32: Acts of Association. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

I really enjoy the pre-made dignitaries and the random personality traits. They’re all unique, memorable, and are going to be great fun to interact with. As a lot of this scenario involves social interactions, playing the scenario through with different dignitaries will make each play through unique. As an added bonus, playing through the scenario with the same dignitary can also have its own surprises, as they may not be the same person or value the same things the second time through. I enjoyed the rather mundane tourism destinations that all seem to go awry — either this poor dignitary has the worst luck or Absalom Station is the worst place to go on vacation! There’s a lot of opportunity for clever use of skill checks and combat, and how you handle each situation can affect what the dignitary thinks of you — although how it affects them depends entirely on your actions and their personality traits. Their outlook matters, and you can’t just leave all the social interactions to your most charismatic PC — which is great! The downside to all this randomness is how loosely scripted the social interactions are. The reactions of the dignitaries is entirely up to the GM to determine (based on their randomly rolled traits), which puts a lot of work into the GMs hands — particularly when you take into account how much of this scenario is social interactions. It’s definitely going to take some prep work or some great improv. Still, in the hands of a decent GM Acts of Association is going to be a lot of fun and really memorable. Another minor downside is the number of attraction options. There’s only six locations, and on each playthrough the dignitary will want to visit four of them. That means that on your second playthrough you’ll already have some overlap. That said, it’s more variable than the other repeatable scenarios out there, so I think it’s going to be a popular one. Acts of Association has some nice player handouts — dossiers on each of the dignitaries (although you’ll only get one on a playthrough). Unfortunately, one has a typo. After labelling one of the dignitaries preferred pronouns He/him he’s referred to as she/her throughout the rest of the dossier. Overall, I think it’s a really fun scenario that’s sure to create some memorable moments when run by any GM willing to embrace the roleplaying and social interactions. I give it four out of five stars.

#1-33: Data BreachStarfinder Society Scenario #1-33: Data Breach is a Tier 3-6 adventure written by Jim Groves. It takes place on the edge of the city of Cuvacara on the planet Verces where you’re tasked with breaking into a secure facility and stealing classified data. For more information on Cuvacara you can check out Starfinder Adventure Path 11: The Penumbra Protocol (Signal of Screams 2 of 3) and for more information on Verces you can check out Starfinder Pact Worlds or the Starfinder Core Rulebook. This scenario features the Faction (Dataphiles) tag and is of particular importance to members of that faction. This scenario does not have starship combat and utilizes a single full-page custom map.  It makes use of the Starfinder Core RulebookStarfinder Armory, and Starfinder Pact Worlds. It features creatures from Alien Archive, and a variant of a creature first introduced in Starfinder Adventure Path 2: Temple of the Twelve (Dead Suns 2 of 6). All of the necessary stat blocks are included in the scenario itself.

Hira Lanzio
Hira Lanzio from #1-33: Data Breach. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Data Breach continues an ongoing storyline that began in #1-07: The Solar Sortie and continued in #1-14: Star Sugar Heartlove!!! I highly recommend playing those two scenarios before this one, although it’s not necessary. It’s also assumed that #1-99: The Scoured Stars Invasion has taken place, although that has little effect on this scenario for players. If you have the ‘Tip of the Conspiracy’ ally boon from Star Sugar Heartlove!!! now’s the time to slot it. The events in this ongoing storyline are sure to continue on in future scenarios, including the upcoming #1-38: The Many Minds of Historia. Recurring characters in this scenario include Historia-7, leader of the Dataphiles, Hira Lanzio, a mysterious businessman first introduced in #1-14: Star Sugar Heartlove!!!, and a cameo from Venture Captain Naiaj. New characters introduced include Xatina Marcos of the Stewards, and two Dataphile technicians, Kaizel and Xarafo. It should be noted that Computer and Engineering skills are integral to this scenario, so select your characters wisely. It’s important to ensure your team has at least one tech-savvy character (preferably more than one!). If you don’t, slot one of the ‘Hireling Access’ boons. You’re gonna need it!

Data Breach begins in Absalom Station, where players are tasked with breaking into a secure facility on Verces and obtaining all the information they can from the site. Although there’s good reason for this heist, I won’t get into the details of it here, as it involves mild spoilers from some previous scenarios. Rest assured: it’s important! Before heading off on their mission the Starfinders have a chance to question a prisoner being detained by the Stewards at their base of Absalom Station, Bastion, and potentially uncover more information on the facility and its defences. From there we head right to Verces and the infiltration of the top-secret facility. Admittedly, computers and hacking aren’t my favourite parts of Starfinder. But, that said, I love a good heist. So I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy this scenario. Turns out, I loved it! I really like the mission premise and its importance to the overarching events of this season. I like the complex itself, it’s set up, and it’s defences. I really enjoyed that many of your actions as players can have consequences in this one (including past the end of the scenario), which aren’t always immediately obvious. It was nice subtlety. Although it isn’t the major focus of the scenario, I liked the opportunity for social encounters at the beginning and end of the mission. The battles were complex and layered, particularly the final combat, which is going to be a really nice challenge. All in all, I think Data Breach is a great, guilt-free romp that I think a lot of players are going to enjoy. I give it four out of five stars. (Although, if you particularly enjoy computers, hacking, and intel-themed missions, consider it a five!)

Thanks for joining us today. We’ll see you again soon when we take a look at the newest Pathfinder Society Scenarios.

Jessica

 

February New Releases

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

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

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

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

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


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


It’s going to be an action packed month!

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

Jessica

 

Starfinder Society Scenarios: Survivor’s Salvation and Treading History’s Folly

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 #1-30: Survivor’s Salvation is a Tier 1-4 adventure written by Kiel Howell. It takes place on Absalom Station, beginning in the Downlow District, then travelling to the Lorespire Complex (home of the Starfinder Society), and down to the Spike. This scenario does not contain starship combat.  It features the Faction (Exo-Guardians) tag, and continues the ongoing Scoured Stars storyline, particularly the events of Scenario #1‑99: The Scoured Stars Invasion. Although playing #1-99 before this scenario is not necessary, doing so will lend more emotional weight to the events of this scenario. Survivor’s Salvation uses two custom half-page maps, and no flip-mats. In addition to the Starfinder Core Rulebook, this scenario features content from the Alien ArchiveAlien Archive 2Armory, and Pact Worlds. All necessary stat blocks are included in the scenario itself. If you happen to have any characters who are doctors, psychologists, healers, or particularly caring or empathic I highly recommend you bring them. This is a great scenario to role-play such characters. On the other hand, if you’ve got particularly blood-thirsty, insensitive, or mean PCs, I recommend you let them sit this one out, and bring a different character. This scenario touches on serious themes such as mental health, PTSD, and depression, so if you’re uncomfortable with such topics, you might want to give this scenario a pass. Finally, it should be noted that my kids (who are nearly seven and eight years old) would be freaked out by the final villain in this scenario. You have been warned! Haha.

Survivor’s Salvation begins in a warehouse that serves at the Exo-Guardians base of operations, which Starfinders who have played #1-01: The Commencement or #1-04: Cries from the Drift will recognize. There your players will have a brief chat with Zigvigix, leader of the Exo-Guardians. Ziggy informs the party that Hurondo, a high-ranking shobhad Starfinder who retired after being rescued from the Scoured Stars system, recently went missing. Hurondo runs a medical facility within the Lorespire Complex called Respite, which offers support and services to Starfinders who have suffered trauma. His disappearance has Ziggy worried, so they want you to investigate. At Ziggy’s request you can check out Respite, interview Hurondo’s co-workers and patients, and try to track the big fellow down. Because this is a mystery I won’t reveal too much more abut the plot than that. I will say that more than one life hangs in the balance. No pressure! Other than Zigvigix this scenario has no recurring characters. New characters of import introduced include Hurondo, Jiwalla Zarvim (a ysoki who works at Respite), Petine, Bygones-B, Quadrant-2, Orghuun, and Bargai (a deaf vlaka who I really enjoyed).

bargaibynicolasespinoza
Bargai, a deaf vlaka from Starfinder Society Scenario #1-30: Survivor’s Salvation. Illustrated by Nicolas Espinoza. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Mental health is a touchy subject for some, and I thought this scenario did a wonderful job of shining a light on trauma, depression, post-traumatic stress, and other mental health issues, along with the stigma that can be associated with them, without being insensitive or preachy. You have plenty of opportunities as players to offer support to, gain insight from, and empathize with the various side characters throughout this scenario, all while fulfilling your mission objectives. In fact, the opening series of social encounters at and around Respite turned out to be one of my very favourite parts of the scenario. I also really enjoyed the tense social interactions with Bargai. The true villains of this scenario were exceptionally well-utilized, and I can’t wait to see what further events they could later be linked to. The final battle is quite dynamic, but to retain the element of surprise we won’t go into any more detail that that. Overall, I loved this scenario. It had a ton of engaging social interactions, interesting enemies, and a dynamic final encounter. It’s one of those scenarios where your actions clearly matter. I give it five out of five stars.

Starfinder Society Scenario #1-31: Treading History’s Folly is a Tier 3-6 adventure written by Vanessa Hoskins. It takes place on Kukanou-2b, a hot, toxic, shattered moon in the Vast that orbits the gas giant Kukanou. You’ll definitely need to use your armour’s environmental seals for this mission, so if you’re using a character who doesn’t have armour, buy some. This scenario features the Faction (Second Seekers [Jadnura]) tag and does not contain starship combat. It continues the ongoing Scoured Stars storyline — particularly Scenarios #1-11: In Pursuit of the Scoured Past, #1-13: On the Trail of History, #1-17: Reclaiming the Tome-Lost Tear, #1-23: Return to Sender, #1-99: The Scoured Stars Invasion, and #1-29: Honorbound Emissaries — although it does so in a completely different way than Survivor’s Salvation. It features a minor encounter that has ties to Scenario #1-24: Siege of Enlightenment and will have further connections to the upcoming Scenario #1-37: Siege of Civility. If you have any characters who have played Siege of Enlightenment I recommend bringing them along, but not at the expense of characters with ties to the Scoured Stars. Finally, characters who have the ‘Abysshead Download’ boon from Scenario #1-06: Night in Nightarch will need to endure an unfortunate surprise (which I enjoyed!). Treading History’s Folly makes use of Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Cavernous Lair and Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Village Square.  In addition to the Starfinder Core Rulebook it contains content from the Alien Archive and Armory. It’s only recurring characters are First Seeker Jadnura (who was previously featured in Scenario #1-99: The Scoured Stars Invasion and #1-26: Truth of the Seeker) and Iteration-177 (who was previously featuring in Scenario #1-05: The First Mandate, #1-11: In Pursuit of the Scoured Stars, and #1-29: Honorbound Emissaries).

kadricalsymbolbygraeyerb
The symbol of Kadrical. Illustration by Graey Erb. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Treading History’s Folly begins when the PCs accept a secret mission on behalf of First Seeker Jadnura. Wracked with guilt over his past decisions, which lead to many agents losing their lives in the Scoured Stars Incident, Jadnura is searching for meaning. He wants a team of reliable agents to visit the location where he originally found the Tear that lead him to discovering the Scoured Stars trinity system. Your PCs mission it to investigate the site and see if he missed anything that could have fortold the danger the system posed. It’s a fun adventure that features a few interesting social interactions, and plenty of traps, hazards, and enemies. My favourite part was the exploration of Xaharee. It’s a really cool, atmospheric location, that gives clever PCs the chance to learn a LOT about the Scoured Stars trinary system and the Tears. Although some of this information can be gleaned from previous scenarios, a lot of the information is brand new. Very cool! There’s also a surprisingly touching player hand-out, which I always enjoy. This scenario’s chronicle features two easy to acquire boons and some nice thematic gear for both sub-tiers. One of the boons is another segment of the mysterious ‘Journey to the Scoured Stars’ boon which doesn’t do anything right now but promises to do something in the future. The second boon is a really useful limited use ally boon. Overall, I really enjoyed this scenario. It was unique, atmospheric, and enlightening, I give it four out of five stars.

Haunted Earth Elemental by Graey Erb.jpg
An earth elemental haunted by the mentrasi from Starfinder Society Scenario #1-31: Treading History’s Folly. Illustration by Graey Erb. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Thanks for joining me today. I hope you come to love these two solid Starfinder Society Scenarios as much I do. Be sure to come back later this week when we take a peek at the two newest Pathfinder Society Scenarios.

Jessica

 

December New Releases

December’s here and the weather’s getting colder, which means a there’s a whole pile of new d20 products for us to drool over! And so close to the holidays, too! Let’s hope Santa (or at least my husband) is reading this! Haha.

We’re starting out today with the classics: Dungeons and Dragons!

Recent adventures released by Wizards of the Coast include Dungeons and Dragons: Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, an adventure for levels 1-5; and Dungeons and Dragons: Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage, an adventure for levels 5-20! Both of these adventures are a hardcover book, and one of which has its own map pack: D&D Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage: Maps and Miscellany. Dragon Heist also has it’s own dice collection: D&D: Waterdeep: Dragon Heist: Dice Set. Other major releases include: the D&D: Core Rules Giftset! My personal favourite release? Dungeons and Dragons: Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica! This awesome hardcover mixes D&D with Magic: The Gathering’s most popular plane: Ravnica. As a fan of Magic: The Gathering, this was one book I couldn’t wait to get my hands on! So far, it’s delightful, but I’m not quite finished reading it yet. When I do you can expect further details here, on d20diaries! Supplementary products include: D&D: Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica: Maps and Miscellany, and D&D: Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica: Dice Set.


Next Up? Let’s take a look at my personal favourite: new releases for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game!

Last month brought us Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Construct Handbook (which is a wonderful book, by the way!), Pathfinder Player Companion: Martial Arts Handbook, and Pathfinder Adventure Path 136: Temple of the Peacock Spirit (Return of the Runelords 4 of 6), which I regret to say I don’t yet own! The Pathfinder Society brought us two challenging adventures which take us to Hell and the Abyss: Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-08: What Prestige is Worth, and Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-09: The Rasping Rebirth! Other releases include the War for the Crown Pawn Collection, Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Docks, and Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Warehouse.

The end of this month brings us a few more wonderful releases! Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Faiths of Golarion looks to be amazing! It focuses on some lesser detailed but very important gods of Golarion. Pathfinder Adventure Path 137: The City Outside of Time (Return of the Runelords 5 of 6) comes out. This is honestly the issue from Return of the Runelords that I’m most excited for. Also coming out after a slew of delays is the Pathfinder Module: Cradle of Night. This deluxe adventure is intended for level eight characters, takes place in Nidal, and heavily features Caligni — also known as Dark Folk — as allies that need your help! Super cool! The Pathfinder Society brings us two scenarios, as always. Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-10: The Shattered Shield is written by Leo Glass, is intended for tiers 1-5, contributes to the ongoing story of the Dark Archives faction, and takes place in Rahadoum. Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-11: The Hao Jin Hierophant is written by Jessica Redekop, is intended for tiers 5-9, and sends your PCs into the Hao Jin Tapestry where they’ll have to deal with both extraplanar and political hazards. Other releases include Pathfinder Flip-Tiles: Urban Starter Set, and Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Pirate Ship.


From Golarion we take off into the stars with new Starfinder Roleplaying Game releases! Whoo! I can honestly say that although Pathfinder is my favourite d20 game, I usually have the most fun reading Starfinder products. The entire team over there at Paizo is doing a great job!

This past month brought us Alien Archive 2, and the dark horror of Starfinder Adventure Path 10: The Diaspora Strain (Signal of Screams 1 of 3). Although I’ve yet to get this delightfully suspenseful book in my hands, I would love to give it a read. It sounds awesome! Definitely not one to play with the kids, though… Haha. The Starfinder Society releases last month were Starfinder Society Scenario #1-26: Truth of the Seeker, and Starfinder Society Scenario #1-27: King Xeros of Star Azlant. For more information on those two scenarios check out this previous blog post. Other releases last month included Starfinder Flip-Mat: Hospital.

This month brings us a few more releases. Starfinder Adventure Path 11: The Penumbra Protocol (Signal of Screams 2 of 3) continues the horror theme on the planet Verces. The Starfinder Society releases two new scenarios of vastly different tiers. Starfinder Society Scenario #1-28: It Rests Beneath is written by Jason Tondro, intended for tiers 1-4, is of particular importance to members of the Wayfinders Faction, and sends the Starfinders to explore a mysterious calcified region of a planet in Near Space.  Colour me intrigued! This scenario also includes the ‘vehicle’ tag, which is exciting! Starfinder Society Scenario #1-29: Honorbound Emissaries is written by Jenny Jarzabski, is intended for tiers 7-10, is of particular importance to the Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsebo) faction, and continues the Scoured Stars storyline. A bonus? I have a feeling this one features another cameo of the delightfully gruff vesk pawnbroker, Julzakama. I can’t wait! Also coming out this month is the Starfinder Critical Hit Deck, which features adorable artwork of skittermanders. I’m incredibly curious to see what’s up with these cards. Plus? They look awesome! Haha.


Sunburst Games Realms of Atrothia Legacy Races Revisited
Realms of Atrothia: Legacy Races Revisited

And that’s it! Or is it? This month also featured the release of Sunburst Games first Pathfinder Compatible product, Realms of Atrothia: Legacy Races Revisited. Written by my brother, this product is available from a variety of websites, and lays the groundwork for the upcoming Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion! Watch for the Kickstarter coming this February!

Like Realms of Atrothia: Legacy Races Revisited? Watch for the Kickstarter coming in February 2019, and get ready for a whole new world of adventure! 


That’s all for today! Got a favourite product you think I should take a look at? How about a favourite new release? Let us know in the comments!

All the best,

Jessica