March New Releases

March is here, and with a bunch of new Pathfinder and Starfinder products. Considering the awesome releases last month — including the launch of two new Adventure Paths with Starfinder’s Firestarters (Dawn of Flame 1 of 6) and Pathfinder’s final first edition Adventure Path: The Dead Roads (Tyrant’s Grasp 1 of 6) — this month has a lot of live up to!

Pathfinder is releasing three big products in late March: Pathfinder Pawns: Return of the Runelords Pawn Collection (which is going to be awesome!), Pathfinder Adventure Path 140: Eulogy for Roslar’s Coffer (Tyrant’s Grasp 2 of 6), and Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of Golarion.

Starfinder is releasing only one book this month, Starfinder Adventure Path 14: Soldiers of Brass (Dawn of Flame 2 of 6). They’re also releasing the Starfinder Critical Fumble Deck, a follow up to the previously released Starfinder Critical Hit Deck.

Maps released this month include Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Wicked Dungeon, which features a mossy dungeon on one side and a lava-lit dungeon on the other, and Starfinder Flip-Mat: Warship.

Pathfinder Society Scenarios released at the end of this month include #10-16: What the Helms Hide (a set of four quests for Tier 1-5 written by Calder CaDavid, Lysle Kapp, Kendra Leigh Speedling, and Nate Wright) and #10-17: On Sevefinger’s Sails (a Tier 7-11 scenario that takes place in the Gloomspires and is written by Tom Phillips).

Starfinder Society Scenarios released at the end of this month include #1-34: Heart of the Foe (a Tier 3-6 scenario written by Nicholas Wasko which continues the Scoured Stars storyline and involves the history of the menacing jinsil) and #1-35: Rasheen’s Riches (a Tier 5-8 scenario written by Mara Lynn Butler that has the Faction (Acquisitives) tag).

One final thing to mention, last month marked the release of the massive Mists of Akuma campaign: Trade War. You can expect to see a review of this political-Eastern Fantasy–noir-steampunk adventure for 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons in the coming week.

Enjoy!

Jessica

Pathfinder Second Edition Releases Unveiled!

Paizo Inc. has announced the launch of the second edition of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game on August 1st, 2019! With over nine releases in August and more to come the following month, Pathfinder Second Edition is scheduled to launch with a BANG!

“The launch slate provides everything you need to set out on a world of limitless fantasy adventure,” said Paizo Publisher Erik Mona. “With more than 20 years of active development and playtest feedback from more than 125,000 gamers, the new Pathfinder rules are easy to learn and exciting to master. We can’t wait to see the diverse and deeply customized characters the RPG community will create!”

Pathfinder Second Edition Core Rulebook
Pathfinder 2e: Core Rulebook

Pathfinder Second Edition is releasing three major hardcover rulebooks right from the start: Core Rulebook, Bestiary, and Lost Omens World Guide. The Core Rulebook is THE BOOK. The one you need no matter who you are and what role you take at a gaming table. Packed full of all the rules players and Game Masters need to play Pathfinder Second Edition, create characters, and run games, the Core Rulebook is a must have. Said to contain streamlined rules and intuitive presentation, Pathfinder Second Edition features the same deep character customizations we all love, allowing for unique characters and boundless creativity. Weighing in at an impressive 640 pages, the Core Rulebook contains game rules, advice, characters options, treasure, and more. There’s six ancestries to choose from (elf, dwarf, gnome, goblin, halfling, and human, as well as the variant human half-elf and half-orc), twelve classes (alchemist, barbarian, bard, champion, cleric, druid, fighter, monk, ranger, rogue, sorcerer, and wizard), thirty backgrounds (such as apprentice, bartender, and soldier), and hundred of spells, feats, and other character options. The hardcover will sell for $59.99 American, while the deluxe hardcover (bound in faux leather with metallic deboss cover elements and a bound-in ribbon bookmark) will sell for $79.99 American.

Pathfinder Second Edition Bestiary
Pathfinder 2e: Bestiary

Bestiary is packed with around 400 monsters spread over 360 pages. This means that not every monster will get its own page and artwork, although there’s said to be full-colour illustrations on nearly every page. While statistics will fill the pages, sidebars are going to contain lore. In Bestiary you’ll also find the always handy Universal Monster Rules, guidelines for awarding treasure, and a variety of monster lists sorted by different qualities (like level, type, and rarity). Many of the creatures in the Bestiary will be familiar, but new creatures are also included (like the “living-nightmare nilith and the three-headed mutoli”). The hardcover Bestiary will sell for $49.99 while the Deluxe Hardcover will sell for $69.99 (bound in faux leather with metallic deboss cover elements and a bound-in ribbon bookmark).

Pathfinder Second Edition Lost Omens World Guide
Pathfinder 2e: Lost Omens World Guide

Lost Omens World Guide is basically the new Inner Sea World Guide, with ‘Lost Omens’ being the new name for the Golarion campaign setting. This 136-page hardcover book sorts the Inner Sea into ten regions, and talks about each one. ‘The Saga Lands,’ for example, is a region which encompasses the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, Varisia, New Thassilon, Irrisen, and the Realm of the Mammoth Lords. Each region also contains backgrounds and archetypes thematically tied to the region. Finally, the Lost Omens World Guide contains a giant, two-sided, fully-detailed, poster map of Golarion. Let me repeat that: of Golarion, not the Inner Sea. Awesome! Want to know more about Tian Xia, Casmaron, and other areas outside the Inner Sea? You’ll have to wait — but hopefully not for too long. Lost Omens World Guide is the first book in the Pathfinder World Guide line, which will continue to release region specific books (like those currently in the Pathfinder Campaign Setting line) in a larger, hardcover format, to allow for greater exploration of the world of Golarion. Lost Omens World Guide is $36.99.

In addition to important rulebooks, Paizo is releasing two print adventures: Hellknight Hill, and The Fall of Plaguestone.

Pathfinder Second Edition - Hellknight Hill (Ages of Ashes 1 of 6)
Pathfinder 2e Adventure Path: Hellknight Hill (Age of Ashes 1 of 6)

Age of Ashes is a six-part, monthly adventure path that begins with book one: Hellknight Hill. Said to contain “continent-spanning conflict against cultists, slavers, and a fiery draconic devastation that could unleash an Age of Ashes upon the world,” this is sure to be an exciting campaign! Set in Isger, Hellknight Hill begins when your PCs investigate mysterious fires which burn atop “the towers of a nearby citadel long ago abandoned by an order of Hellknights.” Written by Amanda Hamon for first level characters, Hellknight Hill will also contain a gazetteer on the town of Breechill (the starting location for this campaign), a GM guide Age of Ashes, new magic items, and over six new monsters. Hellknight Hill (and presumably all the follow-up adventure path volumes) will sell for $24.99.

The Fall of Plaguestone is a 64-page standalone adventure for first-level characters written by Paizo Director of Game Design Jason Bulmahn. Beginning with the PCs attempting to solve the murder of a friend, this adventure soon spirals out of control with the “discovery of forbidden alchemy, mutant animals, and a nearby forest rotting away due to a mysterious blight.” Ominous! The Fall of Plaguestone features wilderness exploration, dungeon encounters, and urban mystery. In addition to the adventure itself, The Fall of Plaguestone (and every Pathfinder Adventure to follow) includes new monsters, treasures, and player options. The Fall of Plaguestone is $24.99. Launching alongside this adventure is Pathfinder Flip-Mat: The Fall of Plaguestone which depicts the “hillside hideout of an evil alchemist.” The Flip-Mat measures 24″ x 30″ unfolded, 8″ x 10″ folded, and can handle dry erase, wet erase, and permanent marker. It costs $14.99.

Paizo is partnering with the awesome folks over at Dwarven Forge to release a deluxe set of pieces which will allow you to create encounter areas from The Fall of Plaguestone! Which is amazing, by the way. If you haven’t seen any of the Dwarven Forge terrain you should definitely check it out. They make gorgeous 3D terrain and map components, although be warned: it’s expensive!

Finally, Paizo is releasing five other accessories for Second Edition. First up? A GM screen! Featuring beautiful artwork on one side and handy charts, tables, and information on the other side, these high-quality screens are really useful. Available in a landscape style with art by Ekaterina Burmak, or in a portrait style with art of the Iconics by Wayne Reynolds, GM Screens are $19.99.

Up next? Pathfinder Combat Pad, which is basically a double-sided, magnetic, dry and wet erase board that functions as an initiative tracker. It comes with two sheets of magnets, which break down into 13 blue player character magnets, 13 red enemy magnets, 9 green NPC magnets, two round arrows, two turn arrows, and two next round magnets. Pathfinder Combat Pad sells for $24.99.

Pathfinder Character Sheet Pack is a set of class-specific, double sided, black and white character sheets. This set contains one character sheet for each of the twelve classes, as well as extra sheets for equipment and spells. The character sheets come in a folder and costs $14.99.

Finally, my favourite of the accessories, Pathfinder Condition Card Deck! I adore condition cards. I use them all the time in both Pathfinder and Starfinder, so I’m thrilled that they’re releasing a set for Pathfinder Second Edition right out of the gate. This 110 card deck of full-colour cards contains details and rules on the many Conditions in Pathfinder Second Edition, with the most common conditions having multiple cards. Pathfinder Condition Card Deck costs $22.99.

In addition to these awesome products, the Pathfinder Society Organized Play program will release two scenarios and a short quest every month!

For more information on Pathfinder Second Edition, it’s products, and to preorder, head over to PathfinderSecondEdition.com

I can’t wait to see how Pathfinder Second Edition turns out! (Now, if only I had the funds to buy some of it…). What are you most excited for about Pathfinder Second Edition? Let me know in the comments.

Jessica


UPDATE: Pathfinder Second Edition is now out! Click here for more information!

Pathfinder Society Scenarios: Debt to the Quah and Tapestry’s Trial

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

10-14 - Debt to the QuahPathfinder Society Scenario #10-14: Debt to the Quah is a Tier 3-7 adventure written by Adrian Ng. It takes place in Varisia’s Storval Plateau, in a sepulchre along the Muschkal River, and heavily features the Shoanti people and their culture. For more information on Varisia, the Storval Plateau, and the Shoanti, check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea World GuidePathfinder Player Companion: Varisia, Birthplace of Legends, and Pathfinder Adventure Path 10: A History of Ashes (Curse of the Crimson Throne book 4 of 6). Debt to the Quah features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: BestiaryBestiary 3Monster Codex, and Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Occult Bestiary (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario). In addition to the Pathfinder Core Rulebook it utilizes content from the GameMastery Guide  and Ultimate Equipment, and heavily uses the influence subsystem from Ultimate Intrigue. The influence subsystems and all of its relevant rules are included in an easy to understand Appendix at the back of this scenario. Finally, Debt to the Quah makes use of one map: Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Dungeon.

Recently the Shoanti people of the Storval Plateau were angered by the actions of the Pathfinder Society, when an over-enthusiastic Pathfinder raided and destroyed an important Shoanti burial ground — and then passed it off as Thassilonian. Angered (with reason) at the actions of this Pathfinder many Shoanti are calling for the expulsion of the Pathfinder Society from their lands (or worse!). This adventure tasks the PCs with attending a Shoanti council where they will need to return the grave goods taken from the site, and attempt to salvage what they can of the relationship between the Pathfinder Society and the representatives from the various Shoanti Quahs. More specifically, their goal is to earn a chance to fix the damage that has been done to the ancient Shoanti sepulchre, and make what reparations they can. This scenario doesn’t continue any ongoing storylines and isn’t connected to any factions. If you’ve got any characters who have played a PFS scenario involving the Shoanti people (such as #4-06: The Green Market, #8-22: Wrath of the Fleshwarped Queen, or #8-23: Graves of Crystalmaw Pass), now is a good time to play them. In addition, characters with other connections to the Shoanti, characters who have a respect for foreign cultures and history, and characters who are diplomatic, will all find something to be excited about in this scenario. Reckless, destructive, and rude characters are not going to excel in this adventure.

Michele Giorgi-Sklar
Kemchet Flame Stoker, chosen representative of the Sklar-Quah (Sun Clan). Illustrated by Michele Giorgi. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

First off: I love the premise of this scenario! As a student (once upon a time) of anthropology and archaeology, I adore any adventure that goes out of its way to add some semblance of reality to Pathfinder excavations. So, cleaning up after some shoddy treasure hunter? Sign me up! In addition, the Shoanti are one of my very favourite ethnic groups in the world of Golarion, so getting both in one adventure had me more than a little excited. Putting aside my biases, this is a really fun adventure. It has some useful handouts, lots of nice art, and an interesting cast of NPCs. Influencing the clans at the council meeting was both enjoyable and rewarding, but could be difficult for some GMs to run. It features seven important NPCs (Payah Against the Winds, Cousin to All, Kemchet Flame Stoker, Lake at Dawn, Memory Tender, Rollicks in Waves, and Togimal in Shadow), each of whom has their own personality, values, and pet peeves. This could get confusing for GMs and players alike. However, with some prep work (or great improv) this scene is going to be tense and exciting — a lot’s riding on it, after all! Repairing the tomb and the devastation wreaked there was very enjoyable for me, and the more… talkative inhabitant of the sepulchre was a really nice touch! The final encounter is quite a challenge, both for the participants synergy and for the encounter context. This battle is likely to cause some PCs to hesitate or stress, which leads to one of my only issues with this scenario. However, my relatively vague comments on it are heavier on the spoilers than I typically share, so if that makes you nervous skip the next paragraph.

If something is meant to be in a tomb that you’re restoring, but that something is hazardous to you, should you preserve it or destroy it? A nice dilemma! Unfortunately, this scenario doesn’t embrace that conundrum and has no notes on what should be done if PCs attempt to circumvent it instead of using more destructive methods. A bit of a missed opportunity, I think. Now, most groups will have no such qualms and leap into the encounter without issue, but for those groups who do show professional restraint, their hesitation could prove their undoing, and cause this nice challenging encounter to be too difficult. I’m curious to hear how this shakes out in play!

Overall, I really enjoyed the topic, content, and execution of this adventure. It’s right up my alley, and I can’t wait to play it. I give it four out of five stars.

10-15 - Tapestry's TrialPathfinder Society Scenario #10-15: Tapestry’s Trial is a Tier 7-11 adventure written by Alex Greenshields. It takes place in Axis, a lawfully aligned plane. For more information on Axis and its denizens check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea World Guide and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Planar Adventures. Tapestry’s Trial features creatures and templates from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: BestiaryBestiary 2Bestiary 5, and Monster Codex (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario) and utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Mat: MuseumGamemastery Map Pack: Magic Academy, and might also use a blank flip-mat. In addition to the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, this scenario includes content from the Advanced Player’s GuideUltimate Magic, and Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of Golarion (although Heroes of Golarion  is not needed to run this scenario). This mission is not directly related to any Pathfinder Society factions, although thematically it aligns well with members of the Grand Lodge and Dark Archives.

This adventure tasks the PCs with travelling to Axis, finding the legendary sorceress Hao Jin, and attaining her help in repairing the Hao Jin tapestry, a powerful artifact and demiplane used by the Pathfinder Society for a whopping seven seasons of play.  This scenario continues the ongoing saga of the Hao Jin Tapestry, and any characters who have interacted with the Hao Jin Tapestry — particularly those who helped attain, defend, or protect it — will have ample reason to get involved in this scenario. It’s also a direct continuation of events from Pathfinder Society Scenario Special #10-00: Hao Jin Cataclysm, and Scenarios #10-11: The Hao Jin Hierophant and #10-13: Fragments of Antiquity. Although I won’t get into the reasons why (to avoid spoilers), characters who were involved in any of the following scenarios will find a familiar face/event or two seen/mentioned: #4-16: The Fabric of Reality, #5-09: The Traitor’s Lodge, #6-98: Serpent’s Rise, #7-09: The Blakros Connection, and #7-23: Abducted in Aether.  I highly recommend you bring along such characters (although not necessarily more than those who have an interest in Hao Jin and her tapestry). Finally, any worshippers of Abadar, Brigh, Chaldira Zuzaristan, and Pharasma will have a chance to visit or glimpse their god’s domain throughout the course of this scenario, which can be an awesome and fulfilling character moment.

Leonardo Santanna-TheMaker
The Maker, an eccentric kolyarut from #10-15: Tapestry’s Trial. Illustrated by Leonardo Santanna. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Planar adventures are tricky. Players need to feel like they’re someplace totally different — a whole other world — but not so much that it hinders play. NPCs need to be extra memorable, locations need to be extra unique, and through it all you need to try to distill a whole planar environment into a short amount of time and a few encounters. Players want to experience a plane — after all, it’s likely they’ll only go there once! This scenario does an awesome job of showcasing Axis. The place is at once understandable and completely alien, with cool environments, and a lot of fun NPCs. And by a lot, I mean a lot! There’s a whopping nine new NPCs to interact with. I really enjoyed the various social interactions, particularly the entire final sequence of events. Many of these social interactions and encounters have unexpected effects and consequences, some of which will even have effect past the end of this scenario (which is always a treat!). Of the various locations you can visit I particularly enjoyed The Floating Library, not only for its contents and librarian, but also for the view. PCs can literally see a few domains of the gods from this vantage point, which is a really nice moment. Although social encounters and big decisions are the major focus of this scenario, it’s not without its combats. Chaotic and unlucky groups could have as many as four combat encounters (or more if they continue to attract the ‘law enforcement’ of Axis), while other groups will have as few as one combat encounter. The battles that are included are enjoyable, and all have extra considerations and complications for player’s take into account, which is a really nice touch. Overall, I love this scenario. I think it’s going to be a satisfying, exciting experience, that has a lot of cool moments, and ramifications for further scenarios. I give it five out of five stars.

Thanks for joining us today. Tune in later this week for a look at this month’s new d20 releases!

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

 

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).

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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).

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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

 

January New Releases

January’s here, which means there’s a whole slew of new d20 products coming out.

Dungeons and Dragons doesn’t have any new releases coming out this month (as far as I know), but last month brought us the Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage adventure which brings PCs from levels 5-20, as well as the Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica which brings the wonder of Magic: The Gathering to D&D.


Pathfinder released plenty of wonderful products last month, including Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Faiths of GolarionPathfinder Module: Cradle of Night, and Pathfinder Adventure Path 137: The City Outside of Time (Return of the Runelords 5 of 6). None of which I own (sadly) so they’re still on my wish list. Haha. This month Pathfinder fans can expect to see the much anticipated finale of the Return of the Runelords Adventure Path with Pathfinder Adventure Path 138: Rise of New Thassilon. Exciting stuff! There’s also Pathfinder Player Companion: Wilderness Origins  coming out, which is sure to be a solid addition to the Player Companion line. Two new pocket editions are coming out: Ultimate Campaign Pocket Edition and Ultimate Intrigue Pocket Edition. Pathfinder Society Scenarios for this month are #10-12: Breath of the Dragonskull (a Tier 1-5 scenario written by Michael Sayre) and #10-13: Fragments of Antiquity (a Tier 5-9 scenario written by Sam Polak). Finally, Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Tavern Multi-Pack comes out later this month.


Starfinder only has a few releases coming out in January. Starfinder Flip-Mat: Jungle World is a really nice looking map. The Against the Aeon Throne Pawn Collection is finally here, which I’ve been itching to get my hands on! And the Signal of Screams Adventure Path comes to a thrilling conclusion this month with Starfinder Adventure Path 12: Heart of Night (Signal of Screams 3 of 3). Starfinder Society Scenarios for this month are #1-30: Survivor’s Salvation (a Tier 1-4 scenario written by Kiel Howell) and #1-31: Treading History’s Folly (a Tier 3-6 scenario written by Vanessa Hoskins). Last month brought us the Starfinder Critical Hit Deck featuring adorable illustrations of skittermanders, which I’ve yet to get my hands on. If you own it, I’d love to hear what you thought in the comments.


It looks to be an exciting month!

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

Jessica

Starfinder Society Scenarios: It Rests Beneath and Honorbound Emissaries!

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!

1-28 It Rests Beneath
Starfinder Society Scenario #1-28: It Rests Beneath by Jason Tondro.

Starfinder Society Scenario #1-28: It Rests Beneath is a Tier 1-4 adventure written by Jason Tondro. It takes place on the planet Vabaimus, a Near Space world home to a variety of ecosystems and rich mineral deposits. It’s dominant native species is a sloth-like race that is approaching sentience. On Vabaimus you will help out a small Starfinder research facility. This scenario features the Faction (Wayfinders), and Vehicle tags. It does not contain starship combat. It utilizes content from the Starfinder Core RulebookStarfinder Armory, and Starfinder Alien Archive . It makes use of Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Hill CountryPathfinder Flip-Mat: Twisted Caverns, and Starfinder Flip-Mat: Asteroid. In addition, you’ll also want a relatively featureless map, like Pathfinder Flip Mat: Basic Terrain Multi-Pack or Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Dragon’s Lair, for any unmapped encounters. If you’ve got any vehicle-related boons now is the time to slot them. Similarly, if your character happens to own their own vehicle, definitely bring it along!

It Rests Beneath features only one recurring character: Fitch, leader of the Wayfinders faction, an her mischievous grandchildren. It introduces a few new characters: Dr. Mora Motressi, leader of a Starfinder research facility on Vabaimus; her daughter, Little Mina; and Bud, a cuddly sloth-like being that’s both the good doctor’s pet and the most advanced native species on the planet. This scenario begins on the Master of Stars, the largest ship in the Starfinder fleet. It’s currently docked in Absalom Station’s Armada and has been undergoing repairs since the start of Starfinder Society Organized Play. From there it swiftly transitions to Vabaimus, where the rest of the scenario takes place. There PCs will need to assist the science team in performing a survey of a strange landmass. Nearly 85,000 square miles in size, with no water or plant-life, this calcified plateau is of great interest to Dr. Motressi and her team. She asks you to travel across the plateau to three specific locations, set up some specialized towers you brought with you, and calibrate surveying equipment atop of each one. Each tower has its own challenges, hazards, and enemies to contend with. There’s multiple vehicles your PCs can choose from, and the towers can be tackled in any order. There’s a simple vehicle handout that will be useful for both players and GMs, which is a nice touch. I love how flavourful the new creatures and environmental hazards are. A lot of thought has gone into ensuring they fit into their ecosystem — which is particularly important when players are surveying an environment. Also, I particularly enjoyed the mystery of the old kasathan ship.

I do have  one nitpick. Page three is missing half of a sentence at the end of the first section, which I assume should read something along the lines of ‘up to help,’ ‘up to lend a hand,’ or something else similar. It’s not a hindrance to the scenario. You can still get the gist of what it’s supposed to be saying, but it was jarring enough that it caused me to look around in confusion for a half a minute, to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. A minor distraction in an otherwise enjoyable read.

Overall, I loved I this scenario! The premise is different from any that have come before. It was engaging all the way through, with a wonderful array of social interactions, skill-based encounters, hazards, and combat. The enemies and hazards were all well-thought out. The NPCs were properly engaging and ‘real.’ And, best of all, your PCs have to make an important decision regarding the future of this planet. Really top notch! Although it didn’t blow my mind, like some other amazing Starfinder adventures, it was an… understated awesome. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

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Starfinder Society #1-29: Honorbound Emissaries by Jenny Jarzabski.

Starfinder Society #1-29: Honorbound Emissaries is a Tier 7-10 adventure written by Jenny Jarzabski. Yup, you heard that right! Tier 7-10! The first of its kind! It takes place primarily on Saaruq-5, a planet in the Vast that’s part of a multiplanetary federation called the Kreiholm Freehold.  This scenario features the Faction (Second Seekers [Luwazi Elsebo]) tag, and does not involve Starship combat. It continues the ongoing Scoured Stars storyline, and is a direct sequel to the events of Starfinder Society #1-99: The Scoured Stars Invasion. Although playing these previous adventures isn’t necessary, I highly suggest you do. Everything will make more sense, have more importance, and be more engaging if you have.  It features NPCs from some previous scenarios (Starfinder Society Scenario #1-04: Cries from the Drift, Starfinder Society Scenario #1-05: The First Mandate, and Starfinder Society Scenario #1-11: In Pursuit of the Scoured Past). In addition, there are multiple instances where PCs who have played previous scenarios involving the jinsul have an advantage (Starfinder Society Scenario #1–13: On the Trail of History, Starfinder Society Scenario #1–99: The Scoured Stars Invasion, or Starfinder Society Scenario #1–23: Return to Sender). Finally, it should also be noted that this scenario helps lay the foundations for further scenarios, as well as the next interactive special. Important stuff! If you’ve got characters who have played any of the above-mentioned scenarios, I highly suggest bringing them. And, if you’ve got the Honorbound Allies boon, now’s the time to slot it!

Honorbound Emissaries utilizes Pathfinder Map Pack: Starship DecksStarfinder Flip-Mat: Hospital , and a custom half-page map. It contains content from the Starfinder Core RulebookStarfinder Alien ArchiveStarfinder Alien Archive 2, and Starfinder Armory. In addition to containing important events, this scenario has a lot of important NPCs. It features First Seeker Luwazi Elsebo, Iteration-177 (who was previously in Starfinder Society Scenario #1-05: The First Mandate and Starfinder Society Scenario #1-11: In Pursuit of the Scoured Past), Captain Yuluzak (who was previously in Starfinder Society Scenario #1-04: Cries from the Drift), and mentioned (but unfortunately doesn’t feature) the gruff vesk pawnbroker Julzakama (who was previously in Starfinder Quest: Into the Unknown and Starfinder Society Scenario #1-10: The Half-Alive Streets). Captain Yuluzak has his own artwork this time around, and it is awesome! All of these NPCs were well-represented, and I’m happy to see them back. Honorbound Emissaries also introduces a ton of new NPCs to interact with, many of which have names, personalities, and quirks. I particularly enjoyed the crew of Honorbound.

The opening premise for this mission is… convoluted. Captain Yuluzak, who runs a salvager, discovered a starship wreck, took what was valuable and returned to Absalom Station. Some objects he kept, and others he sold to a pawnbroker named Julzakama. Juzakama recognized one of the objects as an important piece of art and contacted some people he thought would buy it. One of those people, Iteration-177, recognized the object as belonging to a culture that was once a part of the Scoured Stars Trinary System, so he contacted Luwazi Elsebo. Luwazi had the object brought to her, along with a team of Starfinders, Iteration-177, and Captain Yuluzak himself. Luwazi tasks the PCs with travelling aboard Captain Yuluzak’s ship to investigate the original wreck. There they’ll  determine the ship’s origins, and travel there to investigate and (hopefully) make some new allies.

Jinsul Graey Erb
A jinsul. Illustrated by Graey Erb. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

This scenario was big with a capital ‘B.’ It involves the Scoured Stars storyline, the jinsul, a new solar system full of inhabited planets, three new races (nelentu, syngathrix, and thyr), people to save, important decisions to make, a massive starship battle, and combat on… well we’ll leave that part secret for now. Haha. To say this scenario is bold is an understatement! The entire hospital section of this scenario was particularly well handled, as were the NPC interactions found throughout. And the setting for the final battle? Epic! Your PCs are sure to come away from that fight feeling like badass action heroes. It’s going to be a ton of fun to play.  On the downside, everything in this scenario is overly convenient in a rather heavy-handed way. Now, I’ve no problem with a ‘railroad,’ particularly in short adventures like Society Scenarios, but in Honorbound Emissaries you always arrive in the exact right place at the exact right time in order to avoid something troublesome. Heck, you even travel through a massive space battle and don’t get attacked by either side. At all! In fact, you even manage to approach the planet and land without a single threat or altercation. It’s like you’re invisible. Which brings me to me second down-side: starship combat. This scenario should have had one. Getting to witness an epic starship war and not engage in it at all is kind of a let down. And how fun would it have been to help out the crew of the Honorbound? Now, I get why it’s not in here. This scenario has more than enough encounters to engage in, and they’re all cool. But, it would have been nice to at least see the ship you’re on come under attack. Or mention the bumpy ride as the pilot has to take evasive maneuvers. Something.

…But that final battle! Wow! Haha.

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A jinsul ship. Originally depicted in SFS #1-13: On the Trail of History. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Overall, I really enjoyed this scenario. It’s bold, daring, and casts your players into situations much bigger than themselves. PCs get to do some heroic things, some absurd things, and   some absurdly heroic things, all of which is going to be a blast! It’s rounded out by some really solid social interactions with a large cast of quirky characters. This is truly one of those scenarios that players will talk about for a long time afterwards, simply because they want to brag about their character’s exploits. Five years some now I’m sure some players will still look back on it fondly and say “Wow, remember when my Starfinder character did THAT? THAT was cool.”

Which is cool!

I give this scenario 5 out of 5 stars.

Thanks for joining us today!

I wish you happy holidays, plenty of natural 20s, and all the best in the upcoming year!

Jessica

Pathfinder Society Scenarios: The Shattered Shield and The Hao Jin Hierophant!

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

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Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-10: The Shattered Shield by Leo Glass

Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-10: The Shattered Shield is a Tier 1-5 adventure written by Leo Glass. It takes place in Rahadoum, a nation where religion is outlawed. It features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: BestiaryBestiary 3, and Bestiary 4 (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario). It makes use of the Pathfinder Core RulebookAdvanced Player’s GuideUltimate Equipment, and Ultimate Magic. This scenario utilizes Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Noble EstatePathfinder Flip-Mat: Museum, and a morbid custom map that looks pretty rockin’. This mission is of particularly importance to members of the Dark Archives Faction, and is very likely going to lead to other Pathfinder Society Scenarios (and tie in with the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path, I’d wager).

On the surface, because religion is outlawed in Rahadoum, bringing a cleric, paladin, or other divine caster on this mission is a really bad idea, but actually… that’s only half true. Yes, religion is outlawed in Rahadoum, and playing a divine caster will be a challenge. There will be social repercussions, and you’re likely to run into trouble with the law. However, these interactions are very well-handled in this scenario with the addition of ‘Legion Points,’ which are a measure of how many legal infractions the Pure Legion has caught you committing. The punishments are clear, and you have plenty of opportunities to lower these totals throughout the scenario. You’re not going to be executed, or immediately kicked out of the scenario or something equally drastic. As long as you play your divine character with some subtlety and caution, you should come out alright. As a nice bonus, there are quite a few obvious benefits to bringing that divine caster along. Players who take the time and try their best to navigate this difficult political landscape will find their efforts were worth it. It’s a gamble. Although I don’t recommend you bring a divine-heavy party to this scenario, I don’t condemn their use either. If you’re up for the challenge, go for it!

The Shattered Shield tasks the PCs with heading into Rahadoum and attending an illegal auction that deals in religious relics. There they’ll need to obtain a shard of the Shield of Arnisant, which was once known as the Shield of Aroden, and was used to battle the Whispering Tyrant. This shield is supposed to be safe in Vigil, but all signs seem to show that the shard up for auction is legitimate. Of course, as with any good scenario, acquiring the shard will be harder than it sounds.

Zaashakar Tom Ventre
Zaashakar and Vaultkeeper from Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-10: The Shattered Shield. Illustration by Tom Ventre

There’s a lot to like in this scenario. It has a lot of interesting social and skill-based encounters. There’s one very weird illness going around that’s used to great effect. The mission briefing with Venture Captain Obo was very detailed, with plenty for roleplay-oriented players to riff off of. I particularly enjoyed how the Pure Legion was portrayed. This scenario did a great job of humanizing them, which was nice to see. The adventure allowed for some deviation from the assumed path, with alternate allies and differing methods accounted for. I really, REALLY liked that. It’s rare to see in published products, particularly of this length. I also really enjoyed some behind the scenes bits with Nulalla, which most players will be curious about but aren’t likely to discover completely. I loved the situation that Torvad Shalzadin and Inusi Mendalari find themselves in. In addition to being dynamic and a little suspenseful, clever PCs will be able to glean a bit of information about this scenario’s main villain from the witnesses. The final location PCs visit in this scenario was super morbid and different. I really, really liked it. And the map for it looks great! Finally, I adored the main villain’s… pal. It’s both horrible and adorable. Just awesome.

That said, there are some downsides. The auction itself was a bit of a let-down. Although there’s some interesting people to interact with, and some cool things to bid on it’s unscripted, and the notes are scattered over a few pages. This is inconvenient for GMs, and means that the auction is unlikely to be a showstopper. Which is a shame! I LOVE a good auction in my Pathfinder. Events are also a bit overly convenient. Not a trait unique to this scenario, but it is more obvious and heavy-handed than is typical. Particularly with regards to the connections between the estate and the auction guests.

Finally, villain tactics. This scenario’s villain is an odd one. Don’t get me wrong, I love her. Seriously. She has flaws, hang-ups, quirks, obsessions, and goals which both haunt and drive her. They affect her tactics and reactions. Unfortunately, it’s not depicted in a way that everyone — GMs and players alike — will necessarily notice. And if you don’t notice? She comes off seeming rather stupid. Which is… unfortunate. And as cool as the final location is, the ending has the potential to be incredibly anticlimactic. I like the premise, and it works for the character, but if certain events occur a lot of players will just be left shaking their heads and asking: ‘That’s it?’ Not really the reaction you want at the end of a successful mission.

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Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-11: The Hao Jin Hierophant by Jessica Redekop.

There’s one other quibble I have with this scenario: penalties. As with any Society Scenario, there’s many opportunities where not discovering ‘X’ or accomplishing ‘X’ can cause your PCs to lose out on some of the gold rewards on their chronicles. Usually accomplishing those tasks is easy, and it just sort of happens as you play. In this scenario that is not necessarily the case. Some are harder to get than is typical. Most groups won’t get full gold. In fact, some groups will miss out on gold two or three times. Now, on the one hand, I like that it’s not a given you’ll get all the rewards this scenario has to offer. It’s refreshing. But, this scenario might have gone too far in the other direction. If too many players miss out on too much of the rewards, they might even feel like they’ve been unjustly penalized.

Overall, I ended up torn on this mission. I love how Rahadoum and the Pure Legion was handled. I also enjoyed the large number of social and skill based encounters. The villain was flavourful, different, and had some serious quirks — all things I adore. Heck, I even liked her doorman. On the other hand, players are likely to come away from this scenario feeling confused over enemy tactics and behaviour, and the ending has the potential to be a let down. In the end I decided to give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Hao Jin Tapestry by Robert Lazzaretti
The Hao Jin Tapestry. Art by Robert Lazzaretti.

Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-11: The Hao Jin Hierophant is a Tier 5-9 adventure written by Jessica Redekop. It takes place in the Hao Jin Tapestry, an artifact that acts as a gateway to a demiplane that the sorceress Hao Jin created to store her greatest treasures. Things like magical objects, temples, places, and even people. The Pathfinder Society won the Hao Jin Tapestry seven years ago at the Ruby Pheonix Tournament, and have made heavy use of it since. This scenario features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 5, although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario. In addition to the Pathfinder Core Rulebook it makes use of  content from Occult AdventuresPlanar AdventuresUltimate Equipment, and Ultimate Magic. It utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Forbidden JunglePathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Swamp, and a custom map.

The Hao Jin Tapestry is unstable. Unravelling, one could say. This scenario tasks the PCs with heading into the demiplane, checking out an ancient Tian site, and getting out with whatever lore and treasures they can before it’s too late. It’s a sequel to this year’s interactive special Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-00: The Hao Jin Cataclysm. In the new year this story will continue with Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-13: Fragments of Antiquity, and Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-15: Tapestry’s Trial. If you’ve got characters who have had a hand in acquiring, exploring, or protecting the Hao Jin Tapestry in the past, now is definitely the time to bring them out! Also, if you’ve got characters with knowledge of Tian Xia, who can speak Hwan, or who can magically communicate in other languages, they’ll be used to great effect in this scenario.

Lin Fen Hai by Michele Giorgi
Lin Fen Hai from Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-11: The Hao Jin Hierophant. Illustration by Michele Giorgi.

This scenario begins in Absalom with an announcement from two members of the Decemvirate! This is followed by a more typical mission briefing with the oread Master of Spells Sorrina Westyr. From there it quickly moves into the Hao Jin Tapestry’s demiplane. There the PCs will get to explore the ancient Tian village of Onhae, which would once have been found in the jungles of Chang Liao. The PCs main goals are to collect a sample of a rare flower from the area, and to learn all that they can about the traditional religion and culture of the people of Onhae, the Sunsu Godae. Happily, there’s still people in Onhae. This should be a cinch! …But, it turns out they’re not practising their traditional religion anymore. They have a new leader, Lin Fen Hai the Hao Jin Hierophant, and a new god who we’ll just call the Ruby Pheonix. Interesting! Your players will get to navigate this newly changed political environment in order to accomplish their missions, all while the Hao Jin Tapestry frays around them, causing unnatural events, magical malfunctions, and planar breaches. It’s an interesting mission to say the least. Similar in form and tone to some previous adventures like… #3-21: The Temple of Empyreal Enlightenment and #9-12: Shrine of the Sacred Tempest.

RubyPhoenix Hao Jin Cataclysm
The Ruby Phoenix.

Onhae was an interesting, rich little village with both and ancient past, recent history, and current changes. Sussing out this places many secrets looks like an enjoyable challenge. Their new religion was awesome! Haha. So good! Although a lot of this scenario was social encounters and skill checks, there are some battles to be fought. Each of these encounters is well written and has interesting flavour and tactics. There’s also some neat planar malfunctions going on you get to interact with. Overall, I really liked this scenario! I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Thanks for taking the time to join us today! I hope you stop by later this week when we take a look at the newest Starfinder Society Scenarios!

All the best,

Jessica

 

New Pathfinder Society Scenarios: What Prestige is Worth and The Rasping Rebirth

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

10-08 What Pretige is Worth
Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-08: What Prestige is Worth by Matt Duval.

Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-08: What Prestige is Worth is a Tier 7-11 adventure written by Matt Duval. It begins in the Grand Lodge in Absalom, but quickly moves to the city of Dis, the second layer of Hell ruled by the Archdevil Dispater. This scenario makes use of the Pathfinder Core RulebookAdvanced Player’s GuidePlanar Adventures, and Ultimate Magic. It features creatures from Pathfinder BestiaryBestiary 3Book of the DamnedNPC Codex, and the Villain Codex (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario).  It utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: City StreetsGamemastery Map Pack: Hellscapes, and a full page custom map. This mission is of particular importance to members of the Dark Archives faction. If you’ve got any characters who have ties to Zarta Dralneen, an interest in interacting with devils, or who worships Asmodeus or an Archdevil, now is definitely the time to bring them! In addition, if you have any PCs that have the checked version of the Infernal True Name boon (from Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-16: Fallen Family, Broken Name), you’ll get both helpful and hindering effects during the course of this adventure. It should also be noted that many characters will have issue working with devils. If your character adamantly would not do so, even for the greater good, don’t bring them. Lastly, characters who have obvious ties to good outsiders, who openly worship divine beings, or who can cast divine magic will have a harder time accomplishing their goals than those who don’t. Although that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring such goodly characters, it is something you should take into account.

Michele Giorgi Rowane 10-08 What Prestige is Worth
Rowane, a norn from Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-08: What Prestige is Worth. Art by Michele Giorgi.

This adventure tasks the PCs with entering a portal in the Pathfinder Archives that spontaneously opened to Dis. The portal has a connection to an important soul from Cheliax’s past, which Zarta Dralneen, Leader of the Dark Archives, wants to question. Along with Zarta, your players will enter Hell, explore Dis, investigate a contract devil, and interact with some of the nastiest and most dangerous beings around — all while avoiding the attention of Dipater himself!

I really enjoyed this scenario. It’s incredibly atmospheric, with Dis always seeming ominous, dark, and downright evil. There’s a ton of wonderfully challenging and unique social encounters, where your PCs can forge both enemies and allies — temporary allies, at least. Players will be faced with temptation and opportunity, and even have the chance to barter away parts of their personality or souls in order to accomplish their mission, or gain tangible or esoteric rewards. The battles in this scenario are challenging, and never straight forward. For in Hell a bargain can always be struck — if you’re willing to pay…. There’s a lot of incredibly helpful handouts, most of which are for the GM. Overall I really enjoyed this scenario. It was different, challenging, haunting, and really, really well done. That said, it’s not an easy scenario to run. Not by a long shot. And it’s not an easy one to play, either. Players have a lot of free reign — which is great, but also can be hard. Some groups might flounder, get confused, or just get frustrated with their efforts. Lastly, this scenario is not for everyone. In addition to any moral concerns some folks might have about playing an adventure in Hell, there is also sights and sounds in the background in this scenario that are dark, haunting, and perhaps even offensive. Although I would enjoy this kind of adventure, not everyone will. Although it should go without saying, this is not the kind of adventure you should let your kids play. No way in hell! Haha. I give this scenario four out of five stars.

10-09 - The rasping Rebirth
Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-09: The Rasping Rebirth by Cole Kronewitter.

Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-09: The Rasping Breath is a Tier 12-15 adventure written by Cole Kronewitter. It begins in the Starrise Tower in Mendev, but the majority of the scenario takes place in the Worldwound, and the Abyss. It makes use of Pathfinder Core RulebookBestiaryBestiary 2, and Mythic Adventures (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario) and utilizes Pathfinder Flip-Mat: BattlefieldPathfinder Flip-Mat: Forest FireGamemastery Map Pack: Swallowed Whole, and a full page custom map. If you’ve got characters who have done a lot of work to make the Worldwound safer, particularly one who’s played multiple scenarios from Pathfinder Society Season Five: Year of the Demon, or if you have any characters who have interacted with the glabrezu demon Koth’Vaul, or the Demon Lord Deskari in the past, I highly suggest bringing them. Characters who have earned the ‘Al-Jakri’s Debt’ boon (from Pathfinder Society Scenario #9–25: Betrayal in the Bones) will also get a nifty benefit during this scenario. 

Mythic Adventures
This scenario makes use of rules found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Mythic Adventures.

The demon Koth’Vaul, a constant thorn in the side of the Pathfinder Society, has entered the Worldwound, torn open a rift to the Abyss, and entered Deskari’s realm. His purpose? Unknown! Your PCs are tasked with tracking down Koth’Vaul, foiling his plans, and destroying him. Now, I REALLY enjoyed this adventure. Every single one of the battles was complex, enjoyable, challenging, and most importantly: dynamic! The social encounters in this scenario were really well-done!   There were lots of helpful handouts, cool maps, and the finale! So good! One of my favourite decisions the PCs are faced with is whether they’ll accept outside aid from a foul source, knowing that there will be repercussions, but the aid might be necessary. It’s a wonderful predicament where your players will have to decide what they’re willing to sacrifice in the fight for the greater good.  While some PCs will balk at this, others will definitely claim the offered power! The repercussions are amazing, and I can’t wait to see how the majority of players swing! Overall I really, really enjoyed this scenario. I give it five out of five stars.

Thanks for joining us today! We’ll see you again soon!

Jessica

KothVaul Josef Kucera 10-09 The Rasping Rebirth
Koth’Vaul the glabrezu from Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-09: The Rasping Rebirth. Art by Josef Kucera.

 

New Starfinder Society Scenarios: Truth of the Seeker and King Xeros of Star Azlant

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!

1-26 Truth of the Seeker
Starfinder Society Scenario #1-26: Truth of the Seeker

Starfinder Society Scenario #1-26: Truth of the Seeker is a Tier 3-6 adventure written by Shahreena Shahrani. It begins in Absalom Station before quickly moving to the Kasathan home-ship of Idari. This scenario later travels into the Vast, to the remains of an Ibran Temple. This scenario features the Faction (Second Seekers [Jadnura]) tag and does not include starship combat. It makes use of a gorgeous map if Idari, Pathfinder: Flip-Mat: AsylumPathfinder Flip-Mat: Desert Ruins, and Flip-Mat – Starfinder – Asteroid. In addition to the Starfinder Core Rulebook, it’s highly recommended you own Starfinder Pact Worlds. It also features some nifty new creatures from Alien Archive 2, and equipment from Starfinder Armory. All relevant stat blocks are included in this scenario.

Eshki Graey Erb 1-26 Truth of the Seeker
Eshki, a skittermander Starfinder recently rescued from the Scoured Stars Trinary System. Art by Graey Erb.

Truth of the Seeker continues the story of the Scoured Stars plot line, and directly follows up on events from Starfinder Society Scenario #1-99: The Scoured Stars Invasion. Although playing these prior scenarios isn’t necessary, you really should! They were awesome! If you haven’t, there is a bit of important information you’ll need to know: under the guidance of First Seeker Luwazi Elsebo the Starfinder Society has rescued the their lost comrades from the Scoured Stars Trinary System. This includes rescuing the old First Seeker, a kasatha by the name of Jadnura. Surprisingly this scenario only features one recurring characters: Captain Kahir of the Void Scholar who was briefly met in Starfinder Scenario #1-19: To Conquer the Dragon. In addition it introduces a few new ones, some of which could become recurring characters. For starters, there’s the skittermander Starfinder Eshki who hires your PCs for their mission. There’s also First Seeker Jadnura, of course. Finally, there is a lashunta teashop owner by the name of Alsuka, and a serene kasathan solarian called Master Boojan. They’re all delightful — particularly Eshki! There aren’t any specific boons I recommend slotting for this mission, although there are a few important things to note when selecting characters. This mission will go a lot smoother if someone in your party is diplomatic and sensitive to the traditions of other cultures. In addition, a Starfinder trained in mysticism is also important. Lastly, you’ll want to have some way to harm something incorporeal. You have been warned! Haha.

First seeker Jadnura
First Seeker Jadnura, one-time leader of the Starfinder Society.

Truth of the Seeker begins in Absalom Station, as the PCs attend a fabulous dinner with Eshki, the most cultivated skittermander I’ve ever encountered. This mission briefing is great fun, and packed full of flavourful interactions. Many of Eshki’s behaviours are scripted out, which serves to immediately make him likeable, quirky, and entertaining. He’s awesome (just in case you couldn’t tell from his art! Haha). Eshki explains that he was a Starfinder trapped in the Scoured Stars System, and that First Seeker Jadnura was a friend of his. Unfortunately, since returning, Jadnura’s gone into seclusion on Idari and Eshki isn’t sure where. He wants you to head to Idari, find his pal Jadnura, and convince him to come back to the Society. After agreeing the PCs bid Eshki farewell, hop aboard a shuttle, and end up on Idari. There they have to navigate their way through the Kasathan home-ship and track down Jadnura, all while dealing with the vastly different cultural traditions around them, and (hopefully) not offending anyone too badly. This scenario does a wonderful job of immersing you in a unique, serene sort of culture with strong Asian and Middle Eastern influences. It was engaging, fun, and wonderfully handled. Vastly different than the frantic, high-tech, fast pace of most scenarios, your players time on Idari is sure to throw some players for a loop. Characters who have social skills will definitely excel in this part of the adventure, but its not only skill, but clever roleplaying that’s necessary to make progress here, so even the most awkward of characters can be helpful if they try. Personally, I felt the the entire time on Idari was wonderfully handled and a real highlight of the scenario. That said, some groups may find it tedious. In time the PCs will need to track down Jadnura. The final location has a wonderful atmosphere, but other than that I’ll leave this part of the scenario a mystery.

One of the battles has an opportunity for roleplaying with your opponents, and your actions can have an obvious effect on the battle. Most have more straight-forward enemies — not so much in mechanics, but in roles. This scenario also featured some flavourful psychological/magical traps which will be interesting to see play out at the table. I’m curious how they’ll work. Overall, I thought this was a fun adventure. I particularly enjoyed how well it immersed us in Kasathan culture. That said, unprepared groups may find the final battle too difficult, or the social interactions tedious. Because of this I give it four out of five stars.

1-27 King Xeros of Star Azlant
Starfinder Society Scenario #1-27: King Xeros of Star Azlant

Starfinder Society Scenario #1-27: King Xeros of Star Azlant is a Tier 5-8 adventure written by Christopher Wasko. It begins with a mission briefing on Absalom Station, but quickly moves to a region of space near a lunar outpost called ‘Peak of Evening.’ There you will attempt to get your hands on an Ancient Azlanti Starship known as ‘King Xeros,’ which was ancient beyond reckoning long before the Gap. Of course, the Azlanti Star Empire already has it… so there’s that major complication to deal with. Haha. This scenario features the Starship tag and has starship combat. It is a distant, distant sequel to Pathfinder Society Scenario # 20: King Xeros of Old Azlant. In addition, this scenario has connections to the Against the Aeon Throne Adventure Path (Starfinder Adventure Path 7: The Reach of EmpireStarfinder Adventure Path 8: Escape from the Prison Moonand Starfinder Adventure Path 9: The Rune Drive Gambit). This scenario can easily be woven into that campaign. This scenario makes use of Starfinder Flip-Mat: Basic StarfieldStarfinder Flip-Mat: Urban SprawlPathfinder Flip-Mat: Forest Fire, and a custom map of King Xeros which looks awesome! Fans of the original King Xeros will be happy to know the ship looks nearly the same.  Awesome! As for books, it’s expected you own the Starfinder Core Rulebook and Starfinder Armory. In addition it makes use of content from Starfinder Adventure Path 7: The Reach of EmpireStarfinder Adventure Path 8: Escape from the Prison Moon and Starfinder Alien Archive, although all necessary rules from those books is reprinted in this scenario itself. King Xeros of Star Azlant only features one recurring character: the bleachling gnome Venture-Captain Naiaj. Although there’s no boons I specifically recommend slotting, if you have characters who has chronicle sheets from the Against the Aeon Throne adventure path I highly recommend you bring them along! Otherwise, all characters will excel in this scenario.

This scenario begins when Venture-Captain Naiaj gathers a large number of Starfinder together for a mission briefing. She explains that the ancient Azlanti ether-ship ‘King Xeros’ has been sighted for the first time since the Gap. Capable of sailing through the ethereal plane and exploring other worlds at incredible speeds, King Xeros is a ship of legends. Information is sparse, but you know it’s location — around a lunar base known as Peak of Evening — and that the Azlanti Star Empire has sent a small contingent of ships after it. Determined to get the ship in the hands of the Starfinder Society and to keep the Azanti Star Empire from acquiring it, Naiaj wants your group to go in and retrieve it. Well, not just your group. This is a multi-team mission! Basically, the teams will be split into three: Scout Team, Shield Team, and Strike Team. Naiaj will also be there on her personal ship as Commander of the mission. Your players will be a part of Strike team, whose job it is to land on the base and steal King Xeros. The other ships will support and protect you from the rest of the Azlanti ships as best as they can. With the briefing out of the way the Starfinders all board their ships and set out for the lunar base. Once there Naiaj determines there are two areas that appear of particular importance to the Azlanti: the Construction Bay and the Greenhouse. Your team gets to choose which nearby Azlanti Garrison to attack, and then begin their infiltration at whichever of the two points they desire.

This scenario has a dynamic starship combat that will be quite tough. King Xeros is an awesome ship, with some cool Azlanti upgrades. Luckily, the advantages your team may have discovered in their first location will give them a much needed benefit here. Which benefits is variable though,  depending on what they uncovered in their chosen location, and how efficiently they recovered it. Which is nice! With the starship battle complete they get to board King Xeros, fight the Azlanti inside, and explore the ship. But, the ship is acting erratic, and it soon becomes clear they’re on a timer for this one. They’ll need to recover what they can from the ship and make some split-second decisions about what matters to them and their mission the most. This does a wonderful job of ramping up the tension, and keeping this mission moving along at a good clip.

KingXeros Graey Erb 1-27 King Xeros of Star Azlant
King Xeros, an ether-ship from Old Azlant.

Overall, I really enjoyed this scenario. It’s got awesome art of King Xeros, great interconnectedness with its prequel, and the Against the Aeon Throne Adventure Path, but is a solid and fun adventure that’s more than capable of standing on its own. It has a different feel and tone to it than most scenarios. It’s dynamic, engaging, suspenseful, and a little frantic. Players and characters should be on the edge of their seats for this one. I love that your player’s get to make decisions that have an effect on the scenario and its outcome.

There’s some wonderful new ship mechanics that players will get to see the enemy make use of, and a lot of cool gear on the chronicle — including a unique aeon stone that’s awesome! There are two boons up for offer, both of which involve the alien races you could meet, and one of which allows access to that race as a player. You’ll only be able to get one of these boons though, so make your decision wisely! I think this scenario is a great change of pace that will be fun to run at a table. I give it four out of five stars.

Thanks for joining us today! We’ll see you tomorrow when we report on the new Starfinder Playtest Classes! See you then!

Jessica

 

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