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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By 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.
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.
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.
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!
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 #1-32: 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 Sprawl, Starfinder Flip-Mat: Jungle World, Starfinder Flip-Mat: Cantina, Starfinder 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 Rulebook, Armory, Alien 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 Society. With 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.
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.
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!)
Cuvacara by Pixeloid Studios. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.
Cuvacara map by Damien Mammoliti. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.
Thanks for joining us today. We’ll see you again soon when we take a look at the newest Pathfinder Society Scenarios.
Paizo is celebrating 10 years of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game with Humble Bundle! For under twenty dollars you can get over five hundred dollars worth of Pathfinder PDFs, with part of the proceeds going to charity.
What is a Humble Bundle?
Humble Bundle is a distribution platform that sells ebooks, games, software, and other digital content. Consumers pay what they want, and then get to select how that money is distributed between the content creators, charity, Humble Partners (affiliates), and Humble Bundle. In many cases the Humble Bundle has tiers, where different amounts of money can get you even more product. In any case, Humble Bundles provide a lot of value for your money, and contribute to a worthy cause. According to their website, the Humble community has over 12 million customers throughout the world, and has contributed over 144 million dollars to charity. For more information on Humble and to see what other products they have up for offer, check out their website.
Pathfinder’s 10 Year Anniversary Humble Bundle
The Pathfinder 10th Anniversary Humble Bundle contains a ton of awesome digital PDFs split across four tiers of rewards. Each tier provides you with a digital key which can be entered on Paizo’s website, to download your purchased products.
By paying one dollar (American) or more you get a digital copy of 10 RPG books and a free trial of Pathfinder Online. Books included are the Core Rulebook, Beginner Box, Bestiary, Game Mastery Guide, and the Player Character Folio — literally everything you need to get playing Pathfinder! There’s also four adventures in this bundle, each of which features goblins: We Be Goblins, We Be Goblins, Too!, We Be Goblins Free, and We B4 Goblins. Finally, it includes a the Player’s Guide to the Shattered Star Adventure Path, a really fun campaign that takes place in Varisia.
By paying eight dollars or more you can get your hands on all of the previously mentioned product, plus nine more books: The Advanced Player’s Guide, Advanced Class Guide, NPC Codex, Monster Codex, Villain Codex, Inner Sea World Guide, Goblins of Golarion, and the first two volumes of the Shattered Star Adventure Path: Shards of Sin and Curse of the Lady’s Light (as well as interactive maps for both volumes).
By paying fifteen dollars or more you get all of the previously mentioned product, plus thirteen more books, including the Advanced Race Guide, Ultimate Campaign, Ultimate Combat, Ultimate Equipment, Ultimate Intrigue, Ultimate Magic, Bestiary 2, Bestiary 3, Inner Sea Gods, Magnimar City of Monuments, Varisia Birthplace of Legends, and the third and fourth volume of the Shattered Star Adventure Path: The Asylum Stone and Beyond the Doomsday Door (and their associated interactive maps)!
Finally, by paying eighteen dollars or more you get all of the previously mentioned product, plus a whopping eighteen more books! These include Occult Adventures (one of my personal favourites), Inner Sea Races, Mythic Adventures, Pathfinder Unchained, Strategy Guide, Bestiary 4, Bestiary 5, Dwarves of Golarion, Elves of Golarion, Gnomes of Golarion, Halflings of Golarion, Humans of Golarion, Kobolds of Golarion, Orcs of Golarion, the final two volumes of the Shattered Star Adventure Path: Into the Nightmare Rift and the Dead Heart of Xin (and their maps), and the Shattered Star Poster Map Folio. Finally, you get the Core Rulebook for the Starfinder RPG!
That’s a crazy value! Seriously. I bought it immediately. Haha.
At the moment of writing this over 10,000 people have purchased bundles, and the numbers just keep on climbing. If you want to get your hands on the Pathfinder 10th Anniversary Humble Bundle, you’ve only got 12 more days to do so. This offer ends on March 5th.
Today on d20 Diaries we’re taking a peek between the covers of one of the wonderful new products that came out at the end of last year: Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Construct Handbook. If you’re a follower of this blog you’ll know this was a book I was thrilled to get my hands on this past holiday season, and I was not disappointed.
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Construct Handbook is a thick softcover book that is 64 pages long. Although the Pathfinder Campaign Setting line typically contains world lore (for all players) and some extra material for GMs, this book is a bit different. Equally geared at both players and GMs, it contains detailed rules on creating constructs, class archetypes, magic items, and a lot of new golems and golem templates. The cover features some atmospheric artwork by Ignacio Bazán Lazcano, which depicts the iconic arcanist Enora giving commands to her adamantine golem, as it battles a quantium golem. (Talk about epic career goals! Haha).
The front inside cover shines a light on some famous construct innovators, providing an image and a paragraph of information on each. The crafters showcased are Sidrah Imeruss, founder of the Technic League and an expert in the robots of Numeria; Toth Bhreacher, founder of the prestigious Golemworks in Magnimar; and Hadia Al-Dannah, a world renowned Qadiran mathematician, former scholar of the Clockwork Cathedral in Absalom, and expert on clockwork construction. The information is brief but lends a face to the construct trade, which is really nice. It also serves to give any characters interested in crafting golems a famous mentor or role model to live up to. A nice bit of fluff and backstory for any characters interested in seizing it.
After that we have the table of contents, and then we hop right into the introduction. In addition to touching on what’s going to be in this lovely little tome, the introduction also discusses how the general populace of Golarion views golems and their crafters (both positives and negatives), and the difficulty in obtaining appropriate raw materials to craft a golem (which can often become an adventure in and of itself!). The Construct Handbook primarily focuses on clockworks, golems, and robots, but explains that there are may other kinds of constructs. For each of these major kinds of contracts it doesn’t touch upon, it contains a paragraph of information that lets you know where those constructs were first introduced, how compatible they are with the templates in this book, and where you can look for further information on them (if applicable). Constructs mentioned in this way are animated objects, colossi, and homunculi.
Leaving behind the introduction we hop right into the first chapter: ‘Crafting Constructs.’ This section of the book is six pages long and is really, really useful for anyone who wants to make a construct. Not sure I can stress that enough! Haha. It starts by taking a look at every step in the construct crafting process and explaining it fully and clearly. That includes everything from the requirements, cost, and finding materials, to time, and skill checks. It then details other methods that you could use to craft a construct, such as the use of the infamous golem manuals, purchase, and theft. After that it talks about construct modifications, which were first introduced in Pathfinder RPG: Ultimate Magic. It offers four new basic modifications (I particularly liked the movement and resistances modifications) and six really cool new complex modifications (be sure to check out construct shelter, mind link, and self-repair).
The next chapter is six pages in length and contains eleven new archetypes. Some of these archetypes fell into expected themes: those that create or destroy constructs, but others I found quite surprising. My favourite archetype was definitely the clocksmith, a wizard archetype that falls solidly in the ‘create construct’ category. This delightful archetype lets you create a magical clockwork familiar in place of your regular familiar, and gives you craft construct as a bonus feat at level one instead of scribe scroll. In place their arcane school powers, clocksmiths gain a bonus on saving throws against effects created by constructs, and increase their effective spell level when casting spells that target constructs. At later levels they can tinker with their clockwork familiars, granting them eidolon evolutions. Super cool and thematic! I love it!
Other archetypes that fall solidly in the ‘create construct’ category include the construct caller, an unchained summoner archetype that allows your eidolon to be a construct; the cruorchymist, an alchemist archetype that gives up its poison abilities and mutagen to have a homunculus familiar which he can heal or alter on the fly with his own blood. Although I enjoy the construct caller, I find the cruorchymist is really rough on your CON score, with one ability dealing CON drain and another dealing CON damage to your character. Ouch!
Of the archetypes that focus on destroying constructs, I found that I liked the construct saboteur best. This rogue archetype swaps out knowledge (dungeoneering) and knowledge (local) as class skills in exchange for knowledge (arcana) and knowledge (engineering). They gain arcane strike at first level instead of trap finding, and gain a special kind of ability called an arcane sabotage, which is essentially construct hindering rogue talents accessible only though this archetype. My favourite of the arcane sabotage options are diminish senses (which can blind a construct for a turn) and magic vulnerability (which replaces a construct’s magic immunity with spell resistance instead). Most of the arcane sabotage options also allow you to extend of bolster their effects by giving up any sneak attack damage that you would deal. Super cool!
I was pleasantly surprised by the Forgefather’s seeker paladin archetype that enables pious worshippers of Torag to destroy dangerous artificial creations. They can smite constructs, cut through their DR with ease, and, at level 20, they even have a chance to automatically destroy a construct with a single blow. Not only was this archetype really solid and thematic, it was not something I expected to see. Construct killing paladins? I like it! The final ‘construct killing’ themed archetype was an arcanist archetype called the arcane tinkerer.
After reading the archetypes in this chapter, another theme became apparent: archetypes that can hijack or otherwise assume control of enemy constructs. Here you’ll find the construct collector occultist archetype, and the voice of Brigh bard archetype. The voice of Brigh was an interesting archetype. They have the ability to effect constructs with their bardic performances, which is very cool. But, most of it’s offensive performances have changed so that they only effect constructs. Essentially this means that you can use your bolstering music on allies of all kinds, including constructs, but that your hindering ones, like dirge of doom, fascinate, and frightening tune can only affect constructs. It’s a balanced trade if you’re going to be facing off against or allying with constructs on a regular basis, but otherwise is a rather large negative. However, their new bardic performance, Brigh’s Spark, allows them to reanimate a destroyed construct and force it to fight on your behalf. Each round they use this performance the construct regains more hp, and if it ever reaches full hp before they stop performing, it remains animated and under their control for 24 hours. So worth it!
I rather enjoyed the construct collector, as well, particularly because it gives up my least used of the occultist abilities for some cool new powers. They sacrifice magic circles, outside contact, binding circles, and fast circles, for the ability to temporarily halt a constructs destruction and control it for a turn (at the cost of some mental focus). At higher levels this ability’s duration is extended to a few rounds, and then a few minutes. They also gain the ability to harvest parts from broken constructs, which hold a point of generic focus. They can use the generic mental focus stored in these parts to fuel their focus powers on a one-for-one basis, which renders the parts useless. A nice touch!
The last few archetypes are much less focused and more easily used in a wide variety of games. The engineer is an investigator archetype that creates mechanisms that can aid them in a specific task for a few minutes. These mechanisms cost an inspiration point to create, grant the inspiration dice to the check it was made for throughout its duration, and can be shared with allies. They also gain a bonus on identifying constructs and on engineering checks. The scrapper is a fighter archetype that scavenges the parts from armour or broken constructs and uses them to augment their own armour. How much the makeshift modifications help and last depend on how powerful their source was. I found that archetype one of the most surprising I read! Really wasn’t expecting it, but I like it! Finally, there’s the wild effigy, a shifter archetype whose aspects and wild shape take on the appearance and consistency of stone instead of flesh and blood.
Chapter three is four pages of magic items, all with a very strong construct theme. It’s mostly golem manuals, but eight other magic items exist as well. I particularly like the chirurgeon cube and the oculus of magnetic fury.
Which brings us to our last and largest chapter: the bestiary. This thing is a forty three pages long, making it well over half the length of the book. In this chapter you’ll find fifteen new constructs and nine construct templates (each of which includes one sample stat block). Five of these constructs are a new intelligent kind of construct with ties to the Jistka Imperium, called an automaton. There’s also four new clockworks, three new robots, and three new golems. My favourite new constructs were the champion automatons (who can grab an enemy in their pincers and then whack another enemy with them! Hahaha! I love it!), clockwork songbird, dragonhide golem, and sand golem. My favourite construct templates include the energized golem, haunted construct, and recycled construct.
Which brings us to the end of Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Construct Handbook. Overall I really enjoyed this book. It’s got some cool archetypes and a lot of awesome new enemies. New beasties for your players to battle against is always a great investment as a GM, so it was worth my money based on creatures alone. It’s an invaluable book for anyone who want to get into construct crafting. That said, it is very tight on its theme. Chances are if you’re a player who isn’t planning on crafting constructs or playing in a construct heavy campaign, you won’t find much of use in this book. It should be noted that although I’ll get the most use out of this book (as a GM), all of my family — my husband and my two young children — read this book and got inspired by the class archetypes. The three of them are now begging me to make them a construct themed campaign. (Do we not have enough campaigns?! Pretty sure we do!). I suppose it’s more use for players than I thought! Haha.
All in all, we’re happy to have this lovely little book on our shelf!
Do you own the Construct Handbook? Got some favourite creatures from it or stories about construct crafting you want to share? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear about it!
Last night marked the first episode of the exciting new fantasy role-playing game series: Relics and Rarities! Hosted and DMed by the delightful Deborah Ann Woll who you might (should!) recognize from the shows True Blood, Daredevil, Defenders, and Punisher, or the new movie Escape Room, this show features the talents of Julia Dennis, Tommy Walker, Xander Jeanneret, and Jasmine Bhullar. In addition, each episode features a special celebrity guest which includes Sam Richardson, Janina Gavankah, Simone Missick, Kevin Smith, Matthew Lillard, and Charlie Cox. Relics and Rarities is presented by Geek & Sundry and streams weekly on Alpha (ProjectAlpha.com). They’ll be playing Dungeons & Dragons, set in a world created by Deborah Ann Woll.
Honestly? I’ve been excited about this show since it was announced! And with the recent reveal of the special guest line-up? Well, how could I resist?
“I’m so excited to finally announce my new show, Relics and Rarities,” Woll said in a statement. “We’ve assembled a stellar creative team, along with amazingly intricate set design, props and puzzles, a hilarious and surprising cast – and an original world and campaign of my own creation.” She added, “You’ll have to watch to see what tricks I have up my sleeve.”
“Welcoming fans who have not yet experienced collaborative storytelling is an established mission of Geek & Sundry,” said Legendary Digital Networks (LDN) SVP of Production and Programming, Jason Corey in a statement. Corey added, “Partnering with Deborah Ann Woll has been a dream come true for us. We’re thrilled to be able to elevate and broaden the platform for a female Dungeon Master and to expand the fandom for this unique and exciting genre.”
Relics and Rarities begins in the town of Bellbrook when four adventurers receive a mysterious letter and are summoned to an unassuming curio shop, Relics and Rarities, by Professor Roundland. The good professor informs the team that strange occurrences have been plaguing Bellbrook, and she’d like to hire them to investigate. The first stop? Professor Roundland contacted a seer who has recently helped the R&R (Relics and Rarities) Brigade before only to discover that she was plagued by something… supernatural. The team is dispatched to visit the seer at her home, Benthem Manor, and hopefully put things right. But, the mystery behind this manor is just the beginning. By the end of the episode it’s clear that our heroes will need to foil an unholy prophecy before it can come to fruition. They have their work cut out for them!
The first episode, Haunting at Bentham Manor, was absolutely amazing! The set was spectacular, the adventure was both enthralling and suspenseful, and the props were above and beyond what I imagined they would be. Deborah was a wonderful Dungeon Master, full of enthusiasm and a love of the game. She was an absolute joy to watch. The cast is great. They’ve got enjoyable characters, great chemistry, and every single one of them was hilarious. Guest star, Matthew Lillard, was a wonderful choice for the first episode. As the owner of Beadle & Grimm’s Pandemonium warehouse he’s no stranger to role-playing game, of course, but honestly, he was also just… amazing. Engaging, amusing, the whole deal.
Relics and Rarities was well-planned, inventive, and atmospheric. There was mystery, suspense, problem solving, and some delightful puzzles (my young kids and I particularly loved the puzzle door). The props made my kids gasp in jealousy at every single one (and there were a lot!). The cast was entertaining, and the set was very rich in detail. Best of all, the story was engaging — we laughed a lot, shed some tears (yes, I cried), and my daughter ran away in terror during the first battle. Oh, that creative ghost sound use. Way to give her nightmares, guys! Poor thing. Haha. As for my son, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so amazed with anything he’s watched before. He was amazed and literally captivated the entire time. We were absolutely blown away! Not sure I can stress that enough, actually.
But, in summary: it’s awesome. I honestly can’t think of a single thing to complain about.
Want to check out Relics and Rarities yourself? You really, really should! Episodes air Mondays at 6pm PT on Alpha, but its also available on demand. Not a member of Alpha? Neither was I! New members can sign up for a free seven day trial with the code RELICS. After that Alpha membership costs $4.99 American per month, or $49.99 every 12 months.
Today we’re leaving our chilly Manitoba winter behind and turning up the heat! Gaze into the future with us as we check out the upcoming Starfinder Adventure Path: Dawn of Flame!
Dawn of Flame is a six part Adventure Path for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game which is currently available for pre-order. The first volume, Starfinder Adventure Path 13: Fire Starters (Dawn of Flame 1 of 6), comes out in February and is written by James L. Sutter. The entire campaign takes place around, on, and IN the Pact World’s sun, with a focus on the Burning Archipelago and the sun’s interior. The campaign should take characters from levels 1 all the way through to levels 12 or 13. In a recent interview on Starfinder Wednesday, Chris Simms explained that this Adventure Path is not as dark as the previous ones — putting it in direct contrast to the previous Starfinder Adventure Path, Signal of Screams (which begins with The Diaspora Strain). Much lighter in tone, Dawn of Flame is intended to get back to the heart of Starfinder — that space opera science fantasy mix of fun. This adventure path is full of mystery, surprises, and interesting discoveries. The further you delve into the mystery, the deeper into the sun you’ll travel, making your physical journey a mirror of your intellectual discoveries.
Which is awesome! As a mother of mystery-loving kids, I’m thrilled that this is a campaign my whole family can get excited about.
The Sun? How can I adventure there?!
A-ha! Good question! In a lot of ways the sun of the Pact Worlds is just like ours. It’s an incandescent ball of burning gas and plasma, with intense pressure and heat. Not very hospitable! But, because Starfinder is a science fantasy game, magic has allowed the folks over at Paizo to do a lot of cool things! The Pact Worlds sun has mystical connections (and magical portals) to both the Plane of Fire and the Positive Energy Plane. Plenty of strange beings live within the depths of the sun, such as the starship-sized flame whales that can be seen swimming and breaching through the sun’s plasma. Outsiders from the Elemental Plane of Fire are also known to live within the sun, including sentient beings such as efreet, and azers.
Upon the surface of the sun floats a settlement called the Burning Archipelago. Multiple districts make up this Pact Worlds Protectorate, each of which is contained within it’s own magical ‘bubble’ of unknown origin. These mysterious bubbles keep the neighbourhoods within protected from the harmful effects of the sun, and provide artificial environments that allow many forms of life to thrive. Although all of these bubbles are connected to one another via magical tunnels, only one bubble allows access from outside the Burning Archipelago. This entrance was originally discovered by devotees of Sarenrae (goddess of the sun) who noticed the mysteriously abandoned bubble settlements and attempted to fly as close to them as they could. Miraculously, they stumbled upon the entrance and claimed the settlement for their own. To this day the Church of Sarenrae has influence over most of the Burning Archipelago, including the only entrance. In the time since its founding, many people have come to the Burning Archipelago, including corporations, scientists, beings from the Plane of Fire, and citizens of the Pact Worlds. Each district has become home to different groups, communities, and industries, and serves different purposes. Each has its own security force, with the Sarenite Dawn Patrol, and the Pact Worlds Stewards acting as other over-arching police forces. Neighbourhoods of the Burning Archipelago include Asanatown, Chroma, Corona, Dawnshore, Fireside, Stellacuna, and Verdeon. The sun has many structures and life forms for its citizens to marvel over and study, and plenty of mysteries to unravel. For more information on the Pact Worlds Sun and its many secrets you can check out Starfinder: Pact Worlds.
Dawn of Flame
At its core, Dawn of Flame is about mystery and discovery. About unravelling secrets, and going places no one has gone before. Your characters will discover new settlements and people, strange creatures, and powerful enemies. After uncovering the machinations of a semi-divine being they’ll need to work fast to protect the sun from extraplanar conquest! The fate of the Pact Worlds Sun in is their hands!
The Dawn of Flame Adventure Path begins in the Burning Archipelago, and involves Far Portal — a structure that, like the Burning Archipelago itself, is far older and more technologically advanced than anything in the Pact Worlds. It’s creator and purpose is a mystery, but it’s function is not. Far Portal is a magical portal to a particularly inhospitable region of the Plane of Fire. It hovers nearby, within sight of the Burning Archipelago, but rarely sees use. Although intrepid and foolhardy explorers sometimes enter it, none have ever returned. What’s more, nothing has come out of it. Ever. Until now! A ship flies out of Far Portal, chased by an astoundingly big flame whale. The portal soon disappears INTO the sun, and a massive psychic disturbance wracks the populace. These life-changing events lead our PCs to accept work for a local scientist, in an effort to help her figure out what’s going on. PCs will need to travel into Asanatown, a lashunta enclave in the Burning Archipelago, to contact another scientist who can help. Unfortunately, the psychic burst has hit the telepathic citizens of Asanatown hard. Tensions boil over, and chaos erupts in the district. Finding that scientist? Yeah, that’s the easy part…
Starfinder Adventure Path 13: Fire Starters (Dawn of Flame 1 of 6) is written by James L. Sutter and is intended for 1st-level characters. In addition to the adventure itself, this volume contains detailed information on the district of Asanatown (written by Jason Tondro) and the Church of Sarenrae and its worshippers (written by Patrick Brennan), including some new equipment common to her worshippers. The Alien Archive entries focus on extraplanar creatures, including ifrits and proteans, and is written by Leo Glass, Owen K.C. Stephens, and James L. Sutter. The Codex of Worlds introduces us to a “beautiful resort planet” with connections to the Plane of Water, and is written by Lacy Pellazar. Finally, the ship that will be showcased is a Sarenite vessel designed by Jason Keeley.
Soldiers of Brass
Starfinder Adventure Path 14: Soldiers of Brass (Dawn of Flame 2 of 6) is written by Crystal Frasier and is intended for characters around level 3. By now your PCs work for the Deep Cultures Institute, which is a scientific corporation of dubious reputation that believes there are not only ancient archeological sites to discover within the sun, but living breathing people and cultures. Intent on unraveling the mysterious psychic burst that came from the Sun’s depths, they’ve turned to outside help to aid them. But, when important data is stolen from DCI your PCs will have to track down the thieves, retrieve the data, and figure out why they wanted it in the first place.
This adventure will take your players through Stellacuna, the district that is home to the Deep Cultures institute and other centres of learning, and Corona, a dangerous district that is home to many denizens of the Plane of Fire, and the infamous market known as the Brass Bazaar. Although no further information is currently available as to the other articles in this book, I imagine we’ll be treated to an in depth article on the district of Corona.
Starfinder Adventure Path #15: Sun Divers (Dawn of Flame 3 of 6) is written by Joe Pasini and is intended for 5th-level characters. During this part of the adventure path your characters will have discovered proof of a settlement within the sun’s depths, and have the coordinates to get there. The problem? A ship! Your PCs will need to track down the creators of an experimental ship known as a Sun Diver, and retrieve it from the shady folks who have it now. In addition to getting to explore the Verdeon district of the Burning Archipelago, they’ll get to take their awesome new ship (that looks a lot like a pinecone!) beneath the surface of the sun, and explore an undiscovered city!
Further content in this volume includes an article on Noma (the newly discovered bubble-city) and on organized crime. Alien Archive entries are said to include creatures that live within the sun. Although the planet examined in the Codex of Worlds is still a mystery, the ship that will be detailed is going to be the Sun Diver.
The Blind City
Starfinder Adventure Path #16: The Blind City (Dawn of Flame 4 of 6) is written by Ron Lundeen and is intended for 7th-level characters. Your PCs time in the bubble-city of Noma has led to further discoveries, including an ancient magical tablet. Bringing the tablet back to the Burning Archipelago for translation causes a clash with the cult of Azathoth. If they’re lucky, your players will beat back the cultists and discover the coordinates to another mysterious location within the sun, known as Ezorod. The discoveries they make in this lightless (yes, you read that right: LIGHTLESS), foul dungeon will change their lives forever, and finally place the PCs on the trail of Dawn of Flame’s major villain.
Further content in this volume includes an article on various cults found in the Pact Worlds, and a bunch of new and weird techonological and magical equipment. The Alien Archives include new creatures from throughout the multiverse. Information on the Codex of Worlds and ship details have yet to be revealed.
Starfinder Adventure Path #17: Solar Strike (Dawn of Flame 5 of 6) is written by Mark Moreland and intended for 9th-level characters. It begins with the PCs receiving a distress call from the peaceful citizens of settlement deep within the sun who are under attack by efreet invaders from the Plane of Fire. Your PCs will need to dive back below the surface of the sun to liberate the city of Kahlannal from their conquerers! Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident. It’s the start of an invasion…
Further content in this volume includes an article on the bubble-city of Kahlannal, and an article on the cultures of the Pact Worlds sun and other stars throughout the galaxy. Content of the Alien Archives, Codex of Worlds, and ships has yet to be announced.
Assault on the Crucible
Starfinder Adventure Path #18: Assault on the Crucible (Dawn of Flame 6 of 6) is written by Jason Tondro and is intended for 11th-level characters. It is the final volume in the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path and should bring your PCs to level 12 or 13. In it, the efreet army, acting at the behest of a semi-divine being from the Plane of Fire known as Malikah, launches an assault on the Burning Archipelago from the depths of the Sun! Aware of this coming attack your PCs will have have to defend the city, bring the fight to the enemy at their hidden base, close the portals to the Plane of Fire, and return Far Portal to its home on the surface of the sun! Epic stuff!
Further content in this volume includes an article on continuing the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path past the story’s conclusion, and an article on Starfinder’s version of the Plane of Fire. The Alien Archive is said to contain creatures from the sun, the Plane of Fire, and elsewhere in the galaxy. Details on the Codex of Worlds and ship details have yet to be revealed.
And with that we come to the end of the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path. Or rather, we come to the beginning. Next month the first volume of Dawn of Flame will be in our hands and we’ll get to create characters that can embark on this epic quest of discovery. Turns out the fate of the entire Pact Worlds hangs the in balance. No pressure! When asked if he had any further thoughts and themes that he wants Starfinder fans to come away from Dawn of Flame with, Chris Simms had this to say:
“There’s no place you can’t go.”
And he’s right! Starfinder is a game that allows us to go anywhere, explore anything, and become something greater than ourselves. It’s a world of advanced technology, alien species, and powerful magic. This fusion of big, bold ideas has led to a truly wonderful game. If you haven’t given it a try, I highly suggest you do!
Want more information on the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path, or to see awesome artwork from Fire Starters? Check out this past week’s episode of Starfinder Wednesday, featuring host Dan Tharp and special guest Chris Simms!
Entrance to the Burning Archipelago on the Sun. From Starfinder: Pact Worlds
Dawn of Flame: Book 1: Fire Starters
Dawn of Flame: Book 2: Soldiers of Brass
Dawn of Flame: Book 3: Sun Divers
UPDATE: Check out the recently released Dawn of Flame Trailer!