Wayfinder 19: Destination Absalom Station

Wayfinder #19 CoverAs you may have heard, the latest issue of Wayfinder magazine was recently released. Wayfinder is full of fan-created content for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game or the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, and is a free download on Paizo’s website. Over the years they’ve made an astounding 19 issues of Wayfinder, as well as a Bestiary! Nearly every issue has a theme, with this latest one being Starfinder’s Absalom Station! So whether you’re a fan of fun, or a fan of free, I highly suggest you give this little gem a chance!

But, what’s inside Wayfinder #19? A lot! At around 72 pages for each issue, that’s a lot of free stuff! The articles inside offer new aliens, themes, equipment, and starships. In addition to player options, there’s plenty for GMs with adventure ideas, plot hooks, characters that can be used as allies or enemies, unique NPCs, and even a short adventure. Both players and GMs can make use of a ton of locations, personalities and gazetteers that are described throughout. To round things out there’s also songs, poetry, and fiction. And let’s not forget the awesome art!

Over eighty people contributed to this fanzine, from authors and artists, to directors and editors. My kids and I were both surprised and honoured to be among them this year. I submitted a ‘Weal or Woe’ article entitled ‘Victims of the Vat Gardens,’ as well as two themes, ‘Ghost Level Delver’ and ‘Scrounger.’ My seven year old daughter submitted ‘Galactic Rabbits’ and their smaller counterparts ‘Galactic Bunnies’ to the Alien Archive,  while my eight year old son submitted ‘Radioactive Robots.’   Both of my kids have been showing off their creations to their teachers and friends at school, which proved rather difficult. First they had to explain what Starfinder and Wayfinder are. Haha. We’re all very proud. Their favourite part? Getting to see the wonderful art that was created for their monsters!

But, enough parental bragging. Today we’re talking Wayfinder!

There was a lot that I loved inside Wayfinder #19. From player options and monsters, to fun locations and fiction, everything was really well done. My favourite player options were the many themes available, particularly the ‘Guttersnipe,’ ‘Laborer,’ and ‘Eyeswide Aspirant.’ I really enjoyed an article on the goblin hero-gods entitled ‘Blessings of the Barghest‘ by Joshua Hennington, with awesome art by Tyler Clark. There’s some really creative cortex options for mechanics written by Nicholas Flitter, which is sure to be a fan favourite. It’s accompanying art is by Paul Chapman.

If it’s gear you’re interested in, be sure to check out the ‘gloves of experience’ and ‘detective’s duster,’ magic items by Jonathan Hendricks. There’s also some snazzy new weapon properties, fast draw and low-velocity, by Adam Kessler and Nicholas Hite.

Starships. Some people love them and some people hate them. Most fall somewhere in between. Whatever your preferences I highly recommend you check out an advice article entitled ‘Making the Best of Starship Combat.’ The GM Guide, written by Hilary Moon Murphy, and the Player’s Guide, written by Brett Indrelee, are packed full of helpful advice for running and engaging in starship combat. This article alone is worth the effort of downloading the fanzine. It’s really great work. For those of you interested in more mechanical options, you’ll find many starships in this book, as well as crews and personalities to man them, and new build options. I particularly enjoyed an article on ‘Iceforged Ships’ by John Laffan with art by Beatrice Pelagatti. (You know you want to bring Winter Witches into space!)

There are a lot of cool new creatures inside Wayfinder #19, but my favourites (other than those my kids made!) turned out to be the trashbot, a CR 1 robot made of scrap, and the gelatinous z-sphere, a CR 3 ooze that can zip around even in zero-g. Oh, your poor low-level players!

My favourite campaign inspiration was an adventure seed entitled ‘The Show Must Go On,’ which was written by K. M. B. Kovalcik and features art by Todd Westcott. It involves skittermander pop stars who are in need of some help if they’re going to get to their performance on time. I also adored the many articles on Absalom Station itself, particularly ‘Ollie’s Option Bar‘ by Hilary Moon Murphy, and ‘Urban Myths of Absalom Station‘ by Alex Riggs.

Want less inspiration and more adventure? Check out ‘The Disappearance of Sector G17‘ by Paris Crenshaw, an adventure for 4–6 4th-level characters that tasks the PCs with tracking down an entire missing sector of the Spike. This adventure features art by Tanyaporn Sangsnit and maps by Alex Moore.

For more information on Absalom Station, be sure to pick up official Paizo products, Starfinder Core Rulebook, and Starfinder Pact Worlds.

Want some more Wayfinder? Be sure to check out their many, many other issues on Paizo’s website!

I hope you’ve enjoyed checking out the contents of the latest Wayfinder with me. If you happen to have contributed to it: Thanks! And if you’re thinking of applying for the next issue: I wish you the best of luck!

Have fun!

Jessica


Update: The topic for the next Wayfinder Fanzine is Starfinder: The Diaspora! Stay tuned for more information.

News from PaizoCon

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


Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

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

 


Pathfinder First Edition

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

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

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

Pathfinder Second Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Pathfinder Society Organized Play

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

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


Starfinder

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

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

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

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

Starfinder Society Organized Play 

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

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

 

 

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

Wayfinder #19

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

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

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

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

Jessica

PaizoCon 2019

UPDATE: For the latest news from PaizoCon click here!


PaizoCon 2019 is officially underway!

PaizoCon 2019 is being held at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in SeaTac, Washington over Memorial Day weekend. At PaizoCon you can meet your favorite Paizo artists, authors, designers, developers, editors, and personalities. You can also play games at the Pathfinder and Starfinder Society organized play tables, attend panels, seminars, and workshops, get some snazzy sneak-peeks, and (of course) buy stuff! The Guests of Honor for PaizoCon 2019 are Liane Merciel (author of Pathfinder Tales: Hellknight), Wayne Reynolds (freelance illustrator whose work includes every Pathfinder RPG hardcover release and the Pathfinder Iconics), and The Glass Cannon Podcast (weekly live-play podcasters who play Pathfinder and Starfinder. I’ve previously written about them here).

Can’t make it? Neither can I! But, that doesn’t mean you’ll be left out. Know Direction will be streaming live from PaizoCon on Paizo’s twitch channel, with their full schedule posted below.

Enjoy!

Friday, May 24th

  • Welcome to PaizoCon (9:00 am – 9:45 am)
  • Ask the Paizo GMs (10:00 am – 11:00 am)
  • Secrets of Golarion (11:00 am – 12:00 pm)
  • Dungeon Design Dissection (12:00 pm – 1:00 pm)
  • Organized Play Q&A: Starfinder (1:30 – 2:30 pm)
  • World Building with Liane Merciel (2:45 pm – 3:45 pm)
  • Moving on from the Playtest (4:00 pm – 5:00 pm)

Saturday, May 25th

  • Starfinder Adventure Path Q&A (10:30 am – 11:30 am)
  • Let Players Ruin Your Story, Not Your Game (12:00 pm – 1:00 pm)
  • The Future of Pathfinder (2:00 pm – 3:00 pm)
  • Art of Starfinder (3:15 pm – 4:15 pm)
  • Secrets of the Pact Worlds (4:15 pm – 5:15 pm)
  • PaizoCon 2019 Preview Banquet (7:00 pm – 10:00 pm)

Sunday, May 26th

  • Pathfinder Adventure Path Q&A (10:30 am – 11:30 am)
  • Starfinder Beginner Box (1:30 pm – 2:30 pm)
  • The Philosophy Behind Pathfinder Second Edition (2:45 pm – 3:45 pm)
  • Oblivion Oath (4:00 pm – 6:00 pm)

 

Enter the Dungeon of Doom

My kids love Dwarven Forge.

They’re obsessively browsing the Dwarven Forge website, and watching their many youtube videos. My son takes every opportunity to bring it up, attempting to convince me I should buy him some for his birthday, or for my birthday, or maybe my husband’s Christmas gift.

So when my son asked if he could download the free Dungeon of Doom Adventure a while back, I let him. And when he asked me over and over if I had read it yet, I pushed it up a little higher on my to-read list.

You see, I like Dwarven Forge, but when it comes to adventures, I tend to prefer a sweeping story over a classic dungeon. And the Dungeon of Doom adventure? Seemed like one big deadly dungeon.

Which it is. But, turns out, it’s also awesome! Haha.

I finally got around to reading the adventure and was pleasantly surprised. Every encounter area is well planned, well executed, and exceptionally creative –– all things I expect from Dwarven Forge. There’s some basic plot hooks to get the adventure moving, but not much else. On the surface, at least. There’s much more going on in this dungeon delve than anticipated, as the PCs will uncover as they adventure.

If they survive.

Dungeon of Doom is packed full of layered, multi-stage traps and puzzles that work to create a deadly challenge for the PCs. It’s smart, clever, and surprisingly funny! There’s a wide array of NPCs you can meet and interact with in the dungeon, from ghostly spirits, to chatty gargoyles and, my personal favourite, a talking door. The PCs have plenty of secrets and history to uncover through their exploration, and a lot of powerful treasure to claim. But, as previously mentioned, this is definitely a deadly dungeon! For starters, the dungeon itself drains your PCs life force, making taking a long rest impossible. PCs will need to complete the entire dungeon with relative speed or they’ll run out of resources. In addition, characters that die have their souls trapped within the dungeon and rise as an undead spirit known as a maerghast. Not a desirable end! Along the way the PCs will need to collect magical artifacts known as glyphstones, which are powerful semi-intelligent artifacts which affect the PCs personality and behaviour, but grants them potent magical powers –– some of which can allow players to heal or gain the effects of taking a long rest. But, the greatest challenge is definitely the dungeon itself. As I previously mentioned the encounter rooms are packed full of well-utilized, challenging puzzles and traps which I absolutely adored. It’s deadly, but a lot of fun.

The Dungeon of Doom Adventure is a free download here, and is intended for characters between the levels of 1 and 10. Each challenge is written for three difficulty levels, based on your party’s APL (average party level). APL 1–4, APL 5–7, and APL 8–10, with the variable numbers (DCs, Damage, and so on) separated by a slash. For example DC 12/14/16 or 1d8/2d8/3d8 damage. It’s easy to understand and efficient. Monsters are instead listed on a chart, with the composition of each encounter being determined by your party’s APL. Level 1 parties might face off against a quasit while a level 10 party might face a nalfeshnee in the same location. The adventure is written for 5e Dungeons and Dragons, but has rules in the back for running it for the Pathfinder RPG (which is awesome!). Those of you interested in investing in Dwarven Forge’s Dungeon of Doom products can buy the pieces needed to make the Dungeon of Doom on a room by room basis on their website, while the adventure contains detailed build guides to show you how to set it all up. You can also watch Dungeon of Doom played or see a run-down of the rooms on youtube.

Dungeon of Doom is a deviously deadly dungeon full of interesting puzzles and traps, perfectly suited to challenge players of a variety of levels. I found it absolutely inspiring! I highly recommend you give it read!

Jessica

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Kingmaker

It’s rare we take the time to talk about RPGs and other games that are crowdfunding, but today we’re making an exception! Why?

Kingmaker!

Next year marks the tenth anniversary of Kingmaker, a six-part Pathfinder Adventure Path by Paizo Inc. This incredibly popular campaign was recently made into a computer game, by Owlcat Games (for more information check out this blog post). As with many of the popular Pathfinder adventure paths, Kingmaker has been out of print for quite a while. Although you can still find it kicking around on amazon, eBay, and other sites, it is not cheap!

Although Kingmaker’s not my favourite adventure path (sandbox-style campaigns aren’t my preference), I’ve always enjoyed reading and GMing Kingmaker. My copies of the adventures are more than a little dog-eared and worn. They’re riddled with highlighter and post-it notes, and I have multiple notebooks full of hand-written events and expansions for the campaign. Sadly, none of my campaigns ended up making it to the end. I’m cursed! Haha.

To celebrate Kingmaker’s tenth anniversary, Paizo Inc. is releasing an anniversary edition of the Kingmaker Adventure Path for Pathfinder Second Edition! Like previous anniversary editions, the campaign will be updated, enhanced, and expanded upon. Unlike previous anniversary editions, this book is huge. Seriously huge. And you know what? It has the potential to be even bigger.

Today Paizo Inc. began a crowdfunding campaign for Kingmaker 10th Anniversary Edition. There are two primary products you can purchase. The Kingmaker Adventure Path for Pathfinder Second Edition (which will be a minimum of 576 pages long!) and the Kingmaker Companion Guide, which contains information on two of the characters from the Kingmaker computer game (the gnome Jubilost and the halfling Linzi), and brings them to the table with stats, information, kingdom roles, and quests. Backers get both a print and PDF copy of the books, which are due out next year. In addition, there are some cool add-ons for this campaign. Among these are dice, hero tokens, a pin, and the Forest Kingdom PDF by Legendary Games. The most exciting add-on? The Bestiary! Kingmaker Bestiary takes all of the Second Edition creatures and NPC stat blocks and recreates them for Pathfinder First Edition or 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons! The Bestiary volumes will also contain notes and information on how to run the Kingmaker Adventure Path in First Edition Pathfinder or Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. Stretch goals include a Kingmaker Pawn Box (which I would love to get my hands on), flip-mats, and expansions to the Kingmaker Companion Guide. In addition, the Kingmaker Adventure Path will feature more and more content as the various funding goals are met.

Colour me intrigued!

For more information on the Kingmaker 10th Anniversary Adventure Path check out the video below, or head on over to the crowdfunding campaign on Game On Table Top.

Enjoy!

Jessica

Review: Against the Aeon Throne: Escape from the Prison Moon

Today we’re going to take an in depth look at Starfinder Adventure Path #8: Escape from the Prison Moon! So hop aboard and get ready to rebel!

Against the Aeon Throne is a three part Starfinder Adventure Path that begins with Part One: The Reach of Empire by Ron Lundeen, continues with Part Two: Escape from the Prison Moon by Eleanor Ferron, and concludes with Part Three: The Rune Drive Gambit by Larry Wilhelm. All together these three adventures should take your characters from level one through to level seven. You can also pick up the Against The Aeon Throne Pawn Collection.

To read our previous articles on Against the Aeon Throne click the links below:

Against the Aeon Throne is a shorter campaign than most. Typically six books in length, this Adventure Path is only three. It’s a great change of pace that will allow the folks at Starfinder to tell shorter, more personal stories. In addition, this three part length makes it easier to purchase and play through an entire adventure path. It’s awesome for gift giving and the budget conscious! Six books is a huge investment, but three? Well, that’s a lot more manageable for those of us without much extra cash laying around. On the other hand, with the three book format I feel like I blinked and the whole adventure path was over. I didn’t get my hands on the first book until the third came out and I missed the Signal of Screams Adventure Path completely. In general, it’s both easier to collect and easier to miss. Although I enjoy the three book format, I also enjoy the six book format, so I hope they continue to rotate between the campaign lengths.

Against the Aeon Throne

So what exactly is Against the Aeon Throne: Escape from the Prison Moon all about? In short, the PCs defeated an Azlanti military force that had annexed the small colony of Madelon’s Landing on the planet of Nakondis. But saving the fledgeling colony is just the beginning. The PCs have discovered that an experimental starship engine and their friend, the android Cedona, were already transported off of Nakondis and back to the Azlanti Star Empire. Determined to rescue Cedona and retrieve the starship drive the PCs travel to the Azlanti Star Empire and attempt to rescue Cedona from the prison moon she’s being held on. Exciting stuff!

Now, let me take a moment to be clear. The Azlanti Star Empire is a pack of giant, pompous, jerks. They’re great villains for the PCs to clash with, but an overwhelming opponent. This adventure path does not send your PCs off to take down the entire Azlanti Star Empire. It’s much smaller in scale than that. And frankly? I love it. It lends a sense of suspense to the series and makes it feel like you’re playing real people in a living breathing world universe doing what they can, rather than heroes so powerful they change the whole world universe. It’s a wonderful change of pace and scope. It’s got a very Firefly / Star Wars feel to it.

But, before we get into that too much, let’s take a look at the book itself. Starfinder Adventure Path 8: Escape from Prison Moon (Against the Aeon Throne 2 of 3)  is a softcover adventure written by Eleanor Ferron that is 63 pages in length. It’s intended to take players from level three to level five. The adventure itself is around 35 pages long, and split into three main parts: A Distant Call, in which the players travel to the Azlanti Star Empire; Outpost Zed, in which the players explore a space station and plan their caper; and Jailbreak, in which the players infiltrate the Prison Moon to free Cedona. After the adventure there’s an eight page primer on the Azlanti Star Empire and an eight page primer on the non-human races of the Azlanti Star Empire. There’s also seven new creatures in the Alien Archive, and a short Codex of Worlds article on Outpost Zed. Lastly, the inside front and back covers feature information and a layout for a tier 3 starship: the Vanguard Parapet.

My favourite parts of this book are the large number of new player races (there’s six of them), the incredibly varied and quirky NPCs (Glest, Half-Red, Xaarb, and Talmrin are all great fun), and how free-form the locations are. Yes, you have to go to ‘A’ place, and accomplish ‘B’ goal, then go to ‘C’ place, and accomplish ‘D’ goal, but how you go about achieving your goals in ‘A’ and ‘C’ — the order and methods — are up to you. I really like that. Another minor thing I really enjoyed is that every enemy has a name. It sounds like a silly thing to enjoy in an adventure, but giving every villain a name allows for PCs to take approaches to dealing with them that amount to more than ‘attack’ and ‘loot.’ That’s incredibly important in this adventure, particularly in Part Three: Jailbreak.

Before we continue with a more in depth look at the book, let me point out: there will be SPOILERS.

You have been warned.

Escape from the Prison Moon

For starters, I love the look of this book. I like the colours and the layout. The text inside is easy to read and the colours are easy on the eyes. The cover art is wonderful. It showcases Cedona, an android, retired Steward, and ally of the PCs, as drawn by Anna Christenson. Behind her is an awesome image of Raia (the iconic lashunta technomancer) and Quig (the iconic ysoki mechanic) fighting off Azlanti prison guards.

The starship showcased on the inside covers is a Vanguard Parapet. This tier 3 medium transport is destined to be the final enemy the PCs face in this adventure. All in all it’s a well-built ship, that packs some serious firepower. I particularly like how it’s shield points are balanced, with barely any shields in the quadrants where they have the most guns, and the excess shields where they have the least guns. The art is nice and the ship layout is useful.

After that we hop right into the adventure itself. This adventure starts a bit slower than its predecessor. It begins with some necessary bookkeeping. The PCs likely have some loose ends and social encounters to wrap up in Madelon’s Landing after the conclusion of Reach of the Empire (Against the Aeon Throne 1 of 3) and they’ll need to upgrade their starship to tier 3. Afterwards they receive a recorded transmission from The Stewards which should help nudge them on their way and get the adventure going. For many groups this transmission is unnecessary. PCs should already know their goals for this one: retrieve the drive and rescue their friend. But, for those groups that need a little more guidance, this recording gets the job done quick and efficiently. The PCs will need to fly to the Azlanti Star Empire, get their bearings, and find their way to the Prison Moon Cedona is being held at. On the way they run into a witchwyrd merchant ship where they’ll have a chance to make friends, barter, and pick up some valuable intel. This social encounter also gives them a destination where they can learn some more about the Azlanti: Outpost Zed.

Glest
Glest, a nervous screedreep from Outpost Zed.

Which brings us to part two of the adventure: Outpost Zed. In this section PCs will need to travel to Outpost Zed, a rebellious little space station on the fringes of Azlanti space, figure out where Cedona was taken, and determine a way to properly disguise their ship. This is done primarily through interacting with the locals. Of course, not all the locals are friendly or willing to talk to obvious foreigners. Other hurdles the PCs will come up against are learning how to communicate with the locals, and figuring out Outpost Zed’s societal structure. As previously mentioned, this section of the adventure is a little free-form. There’s plenty of people to talk to, a section of the spaceport to explore, some quick battles (some of which can be avoided), and the PCs can go about their socializing in any order. However, they can’t really stray outside this area or get too off track. Still, it’s fun and enjoyable. Many of the NPCs they’re destined to meet are from races the PCs know nothing about.  I particularly enjoyed Glest (a nervous, shifty screedreep), Half-Red (a tiny squid-like stellifera that floats in an orb of water), Xaarb (an agressive creature who’s mostly mouth), and Talmrin (a very useful NPC who looks like a weasel-person). This section does a great job of showcasing that your PCs are obvious outsiders, which is something they’ll need to address if they want to break their friends out of prison without fighting their way through the whole place. Overall, it’s a fun, flavourful place to explore, filled with plenty of memorable social encounters. Before you move on, the PCs will need to take what they’ve learned and concoct a plan to travelling to and infiltrating the Prison Moon Gulta, for rescuing Cedona, and for escaping alive. Good luck! Haha. In all seriousness, the pieces of the puzzle the PCs need should come relatively easily, and there’s an NPC around who can help with the planning in a major way if the PCs are in need of inspiration or assistance. The actual planning shouldn’t be too hard once they’ve got their ducks in a row.

Glimmshar pirate
One of the many denizens of Outpost Zed!

Which brings us to part three: Jailbreak. This is by far the longest and most challenging section of the adventure. As the PCs approach Gulta, the prison moon, they should already know that non-Azlanti are typically held in Cell Block J. With their destination narrowed down considerably, they’ll need to disguise their ship, approach Gulta, and dock in Cell Block J. From there it’s more free-form. Depending upon what races the PCs are they’ll need disguises to manage any kind of infiltration mission. They’ll also need a way to speak Azlanti, someone who’s decent at lying, and someone who’s handy with a computer or at engineering. Then they’ll need to explore Cell Block J without tipping off the guards or raising an alarm. Plus there’s the security cameras and patrols to worry about. PCs who choose to go in guns blazing will instead need to be quick and get the security feeds shut down as soon as possible. Either way, once the PCs manage to get Cedona free (and hopefully some other prisoners as well), they’ll need to find a way to escape with her — a job much harder than getting in. Finally, before they escape they’ll need to contend with this volume’s big bad — an Azlanti woman named Iolastrila — and the Zandamant, a prison ship that pursues the PCs as they make their escape.

This section of the adventure is incredibly well presented, but not easy for GMs to run. It lays out the entirety of Cell Block J, what security measures are in place, labels every security camera, and shows where guards are located. Every guard has a name and some information about them — all useful information for PCs attempting an infiltration. There’s also notes on what things the PCs can do to raise or lower the alertness of guards, and cause alarms to sound. It describes what changes throughout the Cell Block in such circumstances, and what the various guards do. It’s really detailed, and really well thought out. Which is incredibly important! Your PCs are going to go in there and going to make a scene. GMs will need to keep track of what cameras are in operation, who’s suspicious of them, what the various guards are doing, and so on. It’s complex, and a lot to track. But pulling off this caper — both for the PCs and the GM — is a rewarding, exciting, experience. This place is dynamic, detailed, and reacts to the PCs. It will be different for every group and I really, really enjoyed it.

EronesseBy the end of this chapter the PCs will have freed Cedona, made their escape from the Prison Moon, and retreated to Outpost Zed. But their mission’s not yet complete. The PCs and Cedona know they need to get back the experimental drive from the Azlanti before its too late.

Which brings us to the end of Escape the Prison Moon! But, that’s not the end of Against the Aeon Throne, or the book. Up next, as previously mentioned, is an incredibly useful primer on the Azlanti Star Empire entitled Empire of the Aeon Throne. This eight page article provides a short history of the Azlanti Star Empire, information on the solar systems under it’s control (there’s twelve of them!), and information on their culture, and society. Finally, it’s got some new gear, including five new aeon stones, four new magitech augmentations, and two new weapons.

Talmrin
Talmrin, a gosclaw from Outpost Zed.

The second primer is entitled Citizens of the Star Empire. Also eight pages in length, this section describes a whopping nineteen races common to the Azlanti Star Empire, most of which are new. Six of these races is also given much more information and full racial traits to allow you to play these races. Playable races include the brakim, gosclaw, neskinti, screedreep, stellifera, and vilderaros. I really enjoyed all of these races, but the brakim and screedreep turned out to be my favourites. The brakim are also featured in Starfinder Society Scenario #1-27: King Xeros of Star Azlant.

The Alien Archive is up next, which is always one of my favourite sections of an Adventure Path. It contains seven new creatures, four of which are featured in the adventure itself. The creatures include: Aeon Stone Network, a CR 7 construct made from a swarm of aeon stones; Radiation Drake, a CR 9 drake; Iztheptar, a CR 6 shellfish-like humanoid that’s featured in both Escape from the Prison Moon and Starfinder Society Scenario #1-27: King Xeros of Star Azlant; Ooheo, a tiny CR 1 vermin with a long harpoon-like tongue; Paralith, a CR 4 aberration they’ll meet on Outpost Zed; Void Palm, a CR 7 gravity controlling plant; and Xaarb, an aggressive CR 5 magical beast they’ll meet on Outpost Zed.

Against the Aeon Throne - Escape the Prison Moon - Paralith David Franco
Paralith by David Franco. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Finally, there’s a short, one page Codex of Worlds entry on the Outpost Zed. Despite its short length, the information contained therein is useful for this adventure, and a must read for any GMs who expect their PCs to do a bit more exploring of the space port than is scripted in this adventure.

OutpostZed Mirco Paganessi
Outpost Zed by Mirco Paganessi. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

And with that, Starfinder Adventure Path 8: Escape from Prison Moon (Against the Aeon Throne 2 of 3) has come to an end. So where does it go from here?

Against the Aeon Throne: Part Three: The Rune Drive Gambit is written by Larry Wilhelm and intended for level five characters. In it, the PCs head to a secret Azlanti science station in an asteroid where the experimental starship drive is being held. They’ll need to get inside, infiltrate or fight their way to the Rune Drive, and learn what the heck it is. Then they’ll need to find a way to steal it. Along the way they’ll fight Aeon Guard soldiers, rescue captive scientists, and face off against the man responsible for sending troops to Nakondis in the first place! Awesome!
EDIT: You can read our review on it here: Review: Against the Aeon Throne: The Rune Drive Gambit.

I hope you enjoyed taking an in depth look at the second volume of Against the Aeon Throne much as I did!

Until next time,

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