Character Focus: Danicka Raburnus

Hello everyone! I hope you had a great weekend.

This Mother’s Day my kids wrote me poems and stories, drew me pictures, cards, and books. My son even made me a coaster to hold my drink. And my husband? He and my children got me character art commissioned for my favourite Pathfinder Society character!

I’ve never had character art for a character of mine before. My kids and I have drawn pictures of some of our characters on occasion. And sure, a picture here or there might inspire us to make a character similar in appearance. But custom professional art? Unheard of! So it was with great shock and surprise I awoke to discover my family had somehow procured gorgeous art of my beloved -1 PFS character. 

Clearly I have a wonderful family and am beyond spoiled. Today I’m going to share that art with you!

Introducing Danicka Raburnus and her vicious dog, Prickles!

Danicka Raburnus and Prickles. Original characters of mine for the Pathfinder Society Organized Play program. Art by the amazing Joe Nittoly

Danicka Raburnus was my very first Pathfinder Society character. My -1. I had played Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons, and other RPGs for a long time before making Danicka, but she was the first character meant for organized play. She marked my entry into the Pathfinder Society, and was the first in a series of wonderful characters, delightful roleplaying, and exciting adventures.

Danicka is… far from perfect. When it came time to create Danicka I wanted to do something different. Everyone has characters who are attractive, intelligent, healthy, brave, and so on. People who are special. Heroes. They’re not all perfect, and many have a flaw or two, but they usually have quite a few redeeming qualities. I’ve got plenty, myself. So when it came time to make Danicka I wanted to create a character who was different than those I’d made before. Someone who wasn’t a hero. Who wasn’t special. Someone hopelessly flawed and regrettably forgettable. Someone who wanted to be special, who wanted to be the hero, but just wasn’t.

I have a soft spot for making, strong, independent, female characters. I love playing half-orcs and dwarves. I love bards, rogues, oracles, and sorcerers. Adaptable characters with a flaw or two, and a bit of a scoundrel’s streak.

So I went out of my way to make Danicka different.

I made her a wizard, which I rarely do. And I went out of my way to make her as unremarkable as possible. She has an archetype that prevents her from having a familiar or an arcane bond––qualities that make her feel inferior to her fellow wizards and spellcasters. She learned spells that are visually unremarkable. No fireballs or flashy magic for this girl! She was intelligent and wise, but too shy and nervous to speak her mind.

I never use complimentary words to describe her. I don’t call her pretty, or fit, or athletic, or slender. She’s not even skinny. She’s scrawny. Boney. Her hair is frazzled, limp, plain, or mousey. Her skin is not like porcelain, or alabaster. It’s pale, freckled, and ink-stained. Her clothes are nice but ill-fitting, out of fashion, and in dull colours. She doesn’t show off any skin, covering herself from neck to fingers and toes. She doesn’t even wear nice boots, just flimsy cotton shoes that flop and squelch wildly whenever they get wet. She wears a floppy hat on her head. She has poor vision and wears plain spectacles.

It’s not that these qualities are undesirable or unattractive. They’re not. It’s that I designed her to be average and blend in, and that I describe all of her qualities in as uncomplimentary a fashion as I can.

She shrieks in battle. Gets queasy. Stammers, stutters, whimpers, and whispers. Her efforts to make friends are awkward and almost always end in failure. She’s shy and meek. Easily scared (often terrified!). She faints on occasion (though never in a way or at a time that would hinder her mission or the game). She’s weak, awkward, and extraordinarily clumsy.

But amidst all those awkward and oddly endearing qualities, she’s a hero. Not outwardly. Certainly not obviously. But she’s a good person. She won’t take a life. Ever. And she won’t condone it from her allies. In fact, wanton violence, destruction, theft, and other illegal deeds are among the only things that she’ll speak out against. She’d rather remove an enemy from a fight than cause someone harm. I gave her merciful spell as a feat to ensure her few damage dealing spells aren’t lethal. She’ll stabilize unconscious enemies, hurl herself into danger to protect someone else, and is always the first person to offer healing potions to the wounded. She’s generous and kind. She won’t lie and always gives her enemies a chance to surrender.

So, who was Danicka? Where did she come from? And what make such an ordinary, meek woman want to be a hero?

Danicka was born to a hero. Her mother, Portia Raburnus, was a wizard of great renown who helped saved the city of Magnimar not just once, but on three occasions. Danicka has always wanted to be just like her mother, and grew up studying the arcane arts. Her mother passed away five years ago, right before Danicka began her formal training at the local magical academy, Stone of Seers. Danicka always keeps her mother’s arcane bonded item with her—a highly decorative quarterstaff that looks remarkably like a broom. She had hoped to use the broom as her own arcane bonded item, but could never manage to make it work.

Danicka did well in school, but despite her academic achievements she was constantly overlooked—for Danicka was ordinary looking, and incredibly shy. Regrettably forgettable. Most people don’t even remember Portia Raburnus had a daughter.

Danicka’s recently graduated and set out to finally prove herself brave and bold! A hero, like her mother! She marched right into the local Pathfinder Lodge and demanded a job. Unfortunately, her demand came out a nervous whisper and they hired her as a maid. But, sweeping the floors used by bolder souls with her mother’s broom isn’t enough for Danicka Raburnus! She’s going to prove herself one day! Maybe after she’s done cleaning up the common room…

Danicka is incredibly shy. She speaks rarely, and when she does its in a whisper. She’s constantly trying to work up the courage to be louder, to make friends, and to do something, but her attempts at friendship always come out in awkward stuttering bursts, and her attempts to speak her mind end up with her randomly yelling something (and then losing the courage to finish). She’s easily embarrassed and was bullied on occasion in school (when her classmates could be bothered to remember she was there).

Danicka studies hard and loves to learn new things. She knows she’s a young woman of many flaws and is trying desperately to change. She wants to be brave and bold, but has yet to break out of her shell and really be herself.

Mechanically, she’s a wizard with the exploiter wizard archetype that’s a member of the Silver Crusade faction of the Pathfinder Society. She took the traits tireless logic and volatile conduit. Her beginning feats were eschew materials and merciful spell, although she later added spell focus (enchantment). She’s knowledgable and speaks a wide array of languages. For her first exploiter exploit she chose energy shield, although she never had the opportunity to use it until many adventures had passed. Some of her most commonly prepared low-level spells are daze, detect magic, read magic, comprehend languages, mage armour, shield, sleep, and merciful ray of frost or merciful magic missile. In time she learned that outsiders and undead were a threat her non-lethal methods couldn’t handle, so she started carrying a lethal wand, a few lethal scrolls, and some holy water around to combat such irredeemable threats.

I had intended to keep her a wizard for the entirety of her career, but along the way, things changed. Danicka changed.

After Danicka’s first mission in the world of play-by-post gaming, she was invited to join an ongoing campaign run by the delightful and incredibly talented GM ShieldBug. For a wonderful seven scenarios she had the pleasure of playing in a consistent group of awesome players. Her companions were very different from Danicka. Some were weird, some were liars, some were scoundrels, and most were violent. They pushed her buttons, shoved her out of her comfort zone, tested her morals, and urged her to change. With them she found her backbone. She found courage. She faced peer-pressure and discovered that there were things worth fighting for, even if it meant standing up to your allies. She made friends. She made enemies. She made mistakes. She became a hero. She saved people and towns.

Mostly, she was embarrassed.

But it wasn’t only Danicka that changed. Her friends did, too. She made them better people. And they made her brave.

On one of her adventures she was forced to interact with terrifying, man-eating, Thuvian desert dog. Miraculously she bonded with it, though it terrified her to no end. Later in the scenario she was forced to face the dog in combat, and she managed to convince him to stand down. The mission came to an end and I was faced with a turning point. Move on? Or keep the dog?

Danicka kept the dog. She named him Prickles, for his spiky fur (matted with the blood of his enemies) and terrifying demeanour. Although I could have just bought a dog and remained a wizard, I chose to multiclass Danicka into druid. I selected another understated archetype (the wonderful wild whisperer!) that removed some of the flashier of the druids abilities and replaced it with investigator’s inspiration and talents. She began to take ranks in handle animal, and survival. She used her druid spell slots to prepare healing magic. She took the feat boon companion, and statted up Prickles as a wolf.

Danicka spent the next while attempting to tame her vicious dog. I took great glee in role-played her fear of her own pet, and her worry that it will hurt someone. Prickles is clearly the alpha of the duo, but he usually listens to Danicka’s pleas. That said, out of fear, Danicka never tells Prickles to attack anyone. She’s too afraid she won’t be able to stop him from killing. Instead, she orders him to stay by her side. Mechanically, Prickles has the bodyguard archetype. He’s always on ‘defend’ and won’t enter a fight unless Danicka is hurt. However, if she’s hurt he flies into a rage and attacks whoever wounded her until they’re dead. Usually Danicka hurls herself between the enemy and her dog before they are devoured, but once or twice Prickles killed something––an event which filled Danicka with great regret. For his part, Prickles is used to his ‘pet’s’ panicked shrieks and mewling. But he’s incredibly territorial and won’t stand for anyone touching his ‘pet.’ Not even her allies. He’s a bit cantankerous, and won’t take ‘orders’ from anyone other than Danicka. And he only listens to Danicka if she begs.

All in all, they’re a comical pair, with my shy wizard desperately trying to handle her overwhelming pet.

On her most recent missions, Danicka’s had to bid her old friends farewell. She’s gone on new adventures with new teammates. Only Prickles has remained by her side. But, despite the distance, it’s her old friends that continue to drive her and inspire her. Mhazruk Kruhl and his terrifying familiar Needle, the burly Yaiho Crasher, the tap-dancing escaped-slave Forrest Glavo, the eccentric Arin Qualnoh blessed (or perhaps cursed) by the gods, and Brock Swiftread, a scoundrel if there ever was one. They’re the closest thing to family she’s ever had.

So here’s to Danicka and Prickles, and all the people and characters who have made her who she is. Here’s to the people who have GMed for her and played alongside her. The people who have put up with her panicked shrieks and bleeding heart. Here’s to my family, who brought one of my very favourite characters to life. And here’s to Joe Nittoly, the amazing artist who drew her. Thank you! Thank you! And thank you again! You’re the best!

And here’s to all of you, for taking the time to read about one of my favourite characters. Maybe I’ll see you around a PFS table one day.



Dead Suns Dice Set

Well, would you look at this?

Dead Suns Dice 1
Dead Suns Dice Set
Dead Suns Dice 2
Dead Suns Dice Set

I never expect a gift for Easter. It’s a time to give treats and small gifts to kids. Chocolates and candy and books. So imagine my surprise when my husband and kids gave me an Easter gift. A gorgeous set of dice.

.JPGDead Suns Dice

A vibrant dark blue with orange numbers and designs, these beautiful dice are highly detailed. Made by Q Workshop for the Starfinder Dead Suns Adventure Path, it contains a d4, d6, d8, d10, percentile, d12, and d20. The standard seven dice set.

Dead Suns Dice 4
Dead Suns Dice Set
Dead Suns Dice 5
Dead Suns Dice Set

They’re easy to read and look amazing at the table. I own a lot of dice, but the Dead Suns Dice Set is right up there with my very favourite sets. In fact, it’s tied with my Iron Gods Dice Set (also by Q Workshop) for my favourite dice. I love them!

Here’s hoping they bring me some luck!

The Dead Suns Adventure Path consists of six adventures:

To check out more of Q Workshop’s amazing dice head over to their website. To find out more about the Dead Suns Adventure Path head over to Paizo’s website or watch the trailer for the Dead Suns Adventure Path below.

Gotta fly! I’ve got some new dice to roll!



Happy Easter!

My daughter’s obsessed with rabbits.


So it should come as no surprise that Easter is her very favourite holiday. Stores that she would normally take no interest in are packed full of rabbit clothes, rabbit knick-knacks, rabbit pictures — rabbit everything! Add to that the chocolate, the treats, the family celebrations, and the high probability someone will give her a new stuffed rabbit, and she couldn’t be happier.

And then yesterday she got sick. Headache, nausea, stomach pain, fatigue. Nothing fun. The poor dear’s curled up on the couch whimpering on her favourite day of the year.

So we’re having a quiet Easter this year. I’m resting at home with my family, comforting my daughter, trying to prevent my son from gorging himself on chocolate, and tidying up the house.

But, we’re taking some time out of our (not) busy day to say thanks.


And thanks again.

Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, and however you celebrate, we’d like to take the time to wish you a Happy Easter. (Or as my daughter would say if she was feeling better: “HOPPY Easter! BOING BOING!”).

For those of you who don’t celebrate Easter, we’d like to wish you a wonderful day.

All the best!

(and family)

Happy Easter!

Archives of Nethys to host Pathfinder 2e

Archives of Nethys, an online database for official Pathfinder and Starfinder content and rules, recently announced the launch of their new website:! This new site will be dedicated to Pathfinder Second Edition and will launch on August 1st, 2019, at 7:00 am (Pacific Time). That’s right! It’s coming out the same day that Pathfinder Second Edition launches in print!

Exciting news!

Through the Archives of Nethys players around the world will have all the rules and characters options for Pathfinder Second Edition at their fingertips, online and free. I am absolutely ecstatic! I know cost is a huge factor to consider when deciding whether I’ll be able to give Pathfinder Second Edition a try. Seeing that barrier removed is amazing.

Add your bookmarks now, folks! Archives of Nethys: Pathfinder Second Edition Database. I can’t wait to check it out!

Until then, be sure to head on over to Archives of Nethys: Pathfinder Database and Archives of Nethys: Starfinder Database. It’s my favourite website to look up Pathfinder and Starfinder rules questions and player options. You can also follow Archives of Nethys on Twitter @NethysArchives.

For more information on Pathfinder Second Edition, check out this blog post.



UPDATE: Pathfinder Second Edition is now out! For more information click here!

Dungeon Mayhem

My kids love games of all kinds. Not surprising, I know. Most kids love games of one kind or another. But mine REALLY love games. This year for their birthdays they decided that they have enough toys. What they wanted was some new board games.

“But, awesome board games, Mom. Really good ones.”

So they did some research, made lists, did some more research, discovered a love of Dice Tower, and revised their lists until they each had a (much too long) list of board games they wanted. Although our birthday celebrations aren’t over yet, they’ve both had a few parties with family and were thrilled to find they got some new games. Most of what they asked for are large, complex games. But a few are short, easy to learn card games. You can expect to see a lot of board game reviews in the coming weeks, but today we’re starting short and sweet, with Dungeon Mayhem!

Dungeon Mayhem

Dungeon Mayhem is a Dungeons & Dragons card game for 2 to 4 players. Games are short and fast-paced, with a round averaging about five minutes. It’s a small, portable game, with the rectangular box about the size of my hand. It’s the perfect size to bring with you on the go or play in compact spaces. We bring it to the laundromat, for example. Intended for ages eight and up Dungeon Mayhem lets players take on the role of an iconic hero and battle it out.

The game is super easy to learn and surprisingly fun to play. First, you choose a character. Each comes with their own unique deck of cards, hit point card and tracker, and a reference card. Youngest player goes first and play continues clockwise. You start with three cards in your hand. On your turn you draw a card and play a card. You start with 10 hp and when you reach 0 hp you’re out of the game. Last adventurer standing wins.

Contents 2
Box contents!

There are four heroes to choose from: Sutha the Skullcrusher (a female half-orc barbarian), Azzan the mystic (a male human wizard), Lia the Radiant (a female elf paladin), and Oriax the Clever (a male tiefling rogue). Each adventurer has their own deck that plays differently, but with the same basic mechanics so it’s easy to pick up any one and just play. Each card features illustrations by Kyle Ferrin showcasing the different characters in a fun-loving, cartoony style. Many cards have clever, entertaining, or familiar names. The cards each have a variety of symbols on them which tell you what each card does. The symbols are all easy to understand and, if you ever forget what they do, each character has their own unique reference card to remind you.

There are five symbols that appear in every character’s deck. A swords deals one damage to an opponent, a shield blocks one damage dealt to you, a heart heals one hp, a card lets you draw one card, and a lightning bolt lets you play one extra card. Although some cards in the decks contain a single symbol on them, most have a combination or two or three symbols. These symbols appear in different combinations and quantities throughout the decks, making each one different. The paladin’s deck has a lot of healing, for example, while the rogue’s lets you play a lot of cards, and the barbarian is the only character who can do four damage at once to a single enemy. In addition, each deck has a few unique symbols and cards. Sutha the Skullcrusher can deal one damage to each enemy and then gain that much hp with her Whirling Frenzy while the wizard Azzan can swap life totals with another player by playing Vampiric Touch.


There’s a few other rules to the game, but not many. Typically when you play a card it gets discarded, but if you play a shield card it instead is placed on the table in front of you. For each damage it prevents it gets a damage counter, and when it’s been completely destroyed the shield card is removed from play and placed in the discard pile. If you happen to use up all the cards in your hand (you’ll need lightning bolt cards to do this, which let you play an extra card on your turn) you can draw two additional cards. And if your deck ever runs out you simply reshuffle it and keep playing.

Pretty simple!

While playing we found that this game was super simple to learn, teach, and understand. You get the hang of it quick, and games are fast and exciting. Since you’re battling each other there’s definitely a ‘take that’ feel to this game. Some rounds you’ll feel picked on if you get defeated quick, but others are more balanced. It just depends on the strategies of your opponents at the time. My kids often decided the best strategy was to kill me and then duke it out themselves, so I was brutally ganged up on a lot. Haha. They quickly realized this was a poor strategy when my husband also joined play, as he often teamed up with me so that he didn’t have to combat a pair of allied kids on his own. (How the tables have turned!) My daughter is an expert at the old ‘kick them when they’re down’ strategy, very often dealing ruthless finishing blows against whoever happens to be doing the worst. …Even if it might be against her brother who she was supposedly allied with. Clever girl. Haha.

The decks are fun, varied, and balanced. No one deck it better than the other, they’re just different. Although it’s not immediately apparent what the differences are between the decks it becomes clear pretty quick. Lia, the paladin, deals a lot of damage and heals a lot of her own wounds. Her special abilities include Divine Inspiration, which lets her put any card from her discard pile into her hand and then heal two hp and Banishing Smite which destroys all shield cards in play and then lets her play an additional card. This was my daughter’s favourite deck, and my second favourite deck. While my daughter prefers Divine Smite and her beloved steed Fluffy, I’m a big fan of the Finger-wag of Judgement and Divine Inspiration. This deck is tough to take down and enjoyable to play.

Some of the paladin’s cards.

While my daughter and I loved the paladin, my son and I both decided the rogue, Oriax, was out favourite deck. Packed full of cards that let you take extra actions, this deck often lets you play more cards than your opponents. It’s also got some enjoyable tricks, particularly with Clever Disguise, a card that prevents you from being targeted by any cards until the start of your next turn. It’s particularly great for forcing your allies to duke it out at the start of the game, which is likely to result in them retaliating against each other in subsequent rounds. A nice little start! We also really like using Pick Pocket to play a card from someone else’s deck. Need healing? Grab a card from the paladin. Want to wreck your opponent? Snag a card from the barbarian. Want to get a nice full hand or play something tricky? Take a card from the wizard. Sure, it won’t always be what you were hoping for, but I’ve never seen it not be useful. One downside to the rogue is that he only has one way to heal himself: Stolen Potion. Although it lets you heal one hp and play another card (which is great) it does mean that when you’re low on health it’s hard to save yourself. One hp once in a while doesn’t do much. I also love Sneak Attack. It’s art and theme bring a smile to my face every time. Haha.

Some of the rogue’s cards.

It should come as no surprise that the barbarian’s deck deals a lot of damage. In fact, they have the only card in the game that can do four damage against one enemy (Rage). They also have the awesome Whirling Axes, which we mentioned earlier. What might be surprising is how balanced it is. It’s got some solid shield cards (my daughter loves the dogs Riff and Raff), ways to draw cards (Open the Armory and Snack Time), ways to heal (Snack Time and Whirling Axes) and ways to destroy a shield with one card (Mighty Toss). Although none of us named this deck as our favourites, it also turned out to be the most played deck and both my son and husband’s second favourite decks. Sutha is a fearsome foe!

Some of the barbarian’s cards.

Which leaves us with the wizard. At first glance, Azzan’s deck is the most balanced. He can do everything well, but doesn’t have the most of anything either. Burning Hands and Lightning Bolt are some of his most reliable damage dealing cards. Magic Missile is my favourite, as it lets you deal one damage and play an extra card. Stoneskin and Mirror Image are great shield cards. Knowledge is Power gets him a lot of extra cards while Speed of Thought helps him play those cards fast. His one downside is a lack of healing cards. Eventually we came to realize he does have the most of something very important: TRICKS. His three unique cards include Vampiric Touch, which we already mentioned. This card lets him swap hp totals with another player — which can be game changing. Charm lets him take someone else’s shield card that’s on the table and use as his own — also awesome. And Fireball deals three damage to every player (including himself). My daughter’s prone to hoarding fireballs, using Charm to steal someone else’s defences, and then blasting a bunch of fireballs to kill everyone at once while she hits behind her stolen shields. Cheeky thing. Haha. Although Azzan’s deck is just as easy to use as everyone else’s, it’s also the deck that is most rewarding when played with some forethought.

Some of the wizard’s cards.

We really enjoyed Dungeon Mayhem. It’s not a complex, tactical game like some of our others, but it’s a fun, quick, romp you can bring with you anywhere. We hope they come out with an expansion that contains another two or four decks. It’d be great to have more deck choices and play with more than four players. Happily, this deck was quite affordable. Our copy was only $18 Canadian. Well worth the money.


Dungeon Mayhem Contents
Some of our favourite cards for each deck.


Many Happy Birthdays!

My kids have a birthday this month.

Both of them.

It’s on the same day (although they’re not the same age) but that doesn’t mean their birthday is over quick. My husband and I have a small house but a big family, so it’s not just one birthday party for the pair of them. It’s one birthday party for the pair of them at least four times. Add to that a convention, work dinner, and parties with their friends, and suddenly the whole month is gone. Plus there’s my brother, grandpa, niece, and nephew, who all ALSO have a birthday this month.

March is crazy around here.

But today I’m taking the time to say ‘Happy Birthday’ to the two goofiest, sweetest, most imaginative kids I know. Why on my blog? Because they wanted the world to know they are now the very dignified ages of seven and eight.

Milestones, I know. Haha.

While we’re at it, why not spread the cheer further? My birthday kids want to wish a Happy Birthday to all of you, no matter where you are or when it falls.

All the best!

(and family)

Birthday Cake 1

Starfinder Wednesday Tackles the Vanguard!

Wednesday night on Starfinder Wednesday Dan and the gang over at Paizo talked about the Character Operations Manual Playtest, where you can take three new Starfinder classes for a test drive. This week was the final of three episodes streaming over the past month that took an in depth look at these three classes: the biohacker, the witchwarper, and the vanguard. So which was up last?

The vanguard!

Host Dan Tharp welcomed special guests Owen K.C. Stephens and Joe Pasini to the show. Joe wrote the vanguard. Although this was his first time on the show he seemed comfortable and did a great job! Really enjoyable to watch!

Want to get in on the game? All you need is the Starfinder Core Rulebook! Want more races or enemies? Pick up Starfinder Alien Archive and Alien Archive 2. Want more gear? Check out Starfinder Armory. Want to learn more about the worlds of Starfinder? Pick up Starfinder Pact Worlds.

To kick things off Dan asked Owen and Joe about the Starfinder Operations Manual Playtest. How has it been going? What sort of feedback have they been getting? What’s good and bad and so on. Owen admitted that it is both productive and frustrating. Obviously when you put creative content out there that you think is great and ask people to find it’s flaws and problem areas, they’re going to do that. And find flaws the playtesters have! Haha. But, in a good way. All these problems that have been identified are areas the team is excited to tackle and improve upon. Most exciting, Owen said that even the negative feedback has still been positive. Turns out fans really like the concepts of the three character classes — the biohacker, the witchwarper, and the vanguard — and are excited to see them in play. All in all, the folks at Paizo appreciate the time everyone has spent on this playtest and look forward to hearing more from us.

As an outsider, it sounds like they have some polishing and tweaking to do, but nothing too major.

For those of you who haven’t provided feedback to Paizo’s messageboards or surveys yet, you’ve still got time. The Starfinder Operations Manual Playtest closes on January 16th. Be sure to get your responses in by then!

From there the conversation shifted onto the vanguard. This was Joe Pasini’s first time developing a class, and I think he did a really great job. But, when asked his thoughts on writing classes he laughed and replied “Can’t say I recommend it.”

Hahaha! Awesome.

The gang clarified that writing classes is among the hardest things you can do in a d20 game, as this is the primary way in which the players are going to interact with your game. They have to be great, so your game can shine. Writing and developing them can be stressful.

The vanguard is mechanically different than anything they’ve done before, so they want it to play differently. It should feel different than a soldier and a solarian (which are the two nearest comparable classes), but it should still be as effective. Vanguard’s don’t do as much damage as those other full BAB combatants, but they target EAC, so they nearly always hit their enemies. But, at its core, its the vanguards resilience that makes them special.

Joe explained that when they were creating ideas for new classes, very early on they decided they wanted a constitution based tank type of character. It was Joe who suggested tying that to the idea of entropy. Further meetings helped focus the class down to its inspirations and final concept. And that’s when Joe got to step in, stare at some blank paper, and try to make it work.

In the end, vanguards became a class that stand strong on the front lines, protect their companions, take hits and become empowered because of them. They don’t mind getting hit, because it lets them use their abilities more effectively. They’re a class that’s just really cool and different. Both tactically and mechanically.

During the interview, Joe explained that one of the things he’s most excited for about the vanguard is how it can create a lot of different kinds of characters. It’s inspiration was very broad — including Captain America, the Juggernaut, the Terminator, David Dunn (from the film Unbreakable), and many more. All these kinds of characters and more can be expressed as vanguards. Later in the episode, spurred on by viewer questions, they even chatted about barathu and contemplative vanguards. (Which are awesome!)

Now, like the other playtest classes, vanguard is not without its flaws. Owen has pointed out that from playtest feedback they’ve discovered that vanguards sometimes have trouble getting into combat and could use a method to speed themselves up. In addition, they have nothing to spend their entropy points on at first level. Owen and Joe mused about creating a way to use entropy points to gain a speed burst (either short or long term) in order to fill both design gaps.

Yes, please!

Much to my surprise and excitement, a creation of my daughter’s was mentioned in the episode, as well as her desire for animal companions. While we were watching she squealed in glee so loud we had to rewatch the mention just to hear what they said about her. And then she asked us to rewatch it some more. Haha. It made her night! Scratch that. It made her month. Probably longer.

“I was reading through [Starfinder Wednesday Fan Club message board] and saw someone posted that their daughter has a rabbit companion that they have strapped to their hoverdrone that follows them around. I thought that was so cool,” said Joe Pasini.

“That’s so awesome,” Dan Tharp agreed.

“And they’re asking about animal companion rules and I think that that would be cool. Some kind of alien companion rules.”

Surprisingly, Owen lavished praise on the idea in a way that insinuated they might already have such a thing in the works — or at least planned for the future. Here’s hoping it comes out with the Player Operations Manual! Haha. But, alas! Owen would offer no further spoilers!

Right near the end Joe brought up my daughter’s drone-wearing rabbit again, saying he’d like to hear more about it. Not just the rabbit, but cool concepts and ideas that are different. He explained that he loves that all the new classes are Starfinder classes. They’re not Pathfinder classes ported over to the new game. They’re different and unique, and they allow players to tell new kinds of stories.

And he’s right.

They’re varied and wonderful, and adaptable. They allow us to make something cool, while forcing us to think a little deeper. Not just the new classes. All of the Starfinder classes.

I really enjoyed last night’s episode. If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend you do. Joe and Owen were great guests, and they offered wonderful insight into making not only the vanguard, but classes as a whole. Just wonderful stuff! Starfinder Wednesday streams live on Paizo’s twitch channel every Wednesday at 4 p.m. PST. You can also watch already aired episodes on their Twitch stream, or watch partial episodes on their youtube channel. For more information on the Character Operations Manual Playest and to download the new classes check out

critical hit deck skittermander taylor fischer
Skittermanders are a delightful race that love to help! You can find statistics for playing skittermanders in Starfinder: Alien Archive, play as a crew of skittermanders in the free adventure Skitter Shot, and see plenty of skittermander artwork in the new Starfinder Critical Hit Deck, featuring art by Taylor Fischer.

Before we sign off, my seven year old daughter would like to share some information about her now famous (at least in her opinion) drone-wearing rabbit.

“Hugs is a skittermander with fluffy pink and brown fur and a happy smile. She loves people and animals, even if they are ugly or maybe mean bad guys. And she loves making friends. She’s a mechanic, and an ace pilot, and she has a pet rabbit named Bun-Bun. To keep Bun-Bun safe Hugs made a hoverdrone which Bun-Bun wears like a backpack! It looks like Bun-Bun is a tiny pilot flying the hoverdrone and firing its weapons! Haha! But, Hugs controls the hover drone with her own AI, like all drones, and Bun-Bun is just along for the ride. Luckily, Bun-Bun really likes flying. Right now Hugs is teaching Bun-Bun to be her co-pilot! She has trained her to click a button on command. Hugs shouts:

“Bun-Bun! Do the thing!”

And Bun-Bun clicks a button. But, Bun-Bun can’t tell the buttons apart or anything, so he never clicks the right one! He always messes it up and its always very funny! But, Hugs thinks he is a great co-pilot. He just needs some more practise!”

Thanks for joining us today!

All the best,

Jessica (and family!)


Adventures in Board Games!

My kids love games. Board games, d20 games, video games. All kinds. So, it should come as no surprise that this Christmas my tree was packed full of games. My kids were lucky enough to get a Nintendo Switch from their uncle this year, so both my son and daughter spent the first few days trying out their new video games. Let’s Go Eevee is a huge hit, as is Super Mario Odyssey. But, when we had some free time together as a family, my kids gravitated right to the new board games. My daughter got quite a few. The Hatchimals Eggventure GameBananagrams, and Bunny Kingdom (plus a new d20 game we’ll talk about another time!). And my son got two: Jumanji  and Dinosaur Island.

We spent a few days this week opening up the new games, learning how to play them — which is technically me learning how to play them and then teaching them to everyone else — and taking each one for a whirl.

Hatchimals Eggventure Game was quick to learn, which should come as no surprise. I assumed it was another one of those generic board games where you just move around the track that happens to be plastered with pictures of the latest popular kids show. Surprisingly, that wasn’t the exactly case. It was a simple kids game plastered with pictures of Hatchimals, the popular kids toy. But it was also a little more complex than just moving around the board. It involved hatching eggs, which you did by matching cards in your hand to eggs on the board. Cards and eggs were colour coded by which ‘nest’ they could hatch at, and when you landed on the proper nest you revealed one of the appropriate eggs to everyone. If it matched yours you hatched it, and if it didn’t you put it back. First to hatch their eggs wins. It was sort of like a mix between go fish, memory, and a generic kids board game. Not exactly a thrilling gameplay experience, but my daughter adored it and it only cost me a few dollars at the local Giant Tiger (which is a Canadian discount store). It’s simple enough that we can teach it to her cousins and they can play it together. Well worth the money. My son had the worst luck, though! Every single time he had a chance to blindly choose an egg, and had a fifty-fifty chance to get the right one, he got the wrong egg, The entire game. Haha. Poor kid.

Bananagrams was much more fun for everyone. For those of you who’ve never played this delightful little word game, it’s essentially a bunch of letter tiles that you put in the middle of the table. You get a bunch of them, and it’s your job to make words out of the tiles. You have to connect the words to one another by shared letters, either horizontally or vertically. It’s like each player at the table plays their own personal game of scrabble. You race to see who uses up their tiles first, then shout ‘Banana’ when you’ve done so. Everyone checks it for spelling errors, and then you start over for another round. You can also swap letters you’ve got with ones on the table if you want to, which is pretty much what my son did the whole time. Haha. Anyway, it’s a fun little game that’s great for kids of all ages. Mine are quite young, so they had no hope of beating me, but they had fun trying to make their own words and came up with some pretty good ones in the end. As an added bonus its one of those small, compact games that’s great for bringing out to family gatherings, a friend’s house, a road trip, or (in our case) the laundromat. It’s pricier than I expected it to be, though, but I was lucky enough to pick it up on sale.

Kids Games.JPG

Jumanji  was hell! Don’t get me wrong, I love the game. I was the perfect age for the original Jumanji when it came out, and owned the board game as well as the movie on VHS. I remember my brother and I got a kick out of using the decoder to read the rhyming cards from the movie. I can still rattle some off of the top of my head, actually. “At night they fly, you’d better run, these winged things are not much fun.” There’s a few more, now that I think about it. In fact, I probably remember more of them than I should…

My son isn’t partial to the original Jumanji  movie, but when he watched the reboot with Dwayne Johnson and Jack Black in it this past year (Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle ) he LOVED it. Obsessively loved it. He even started writing his own Jumanji stories. Never finished any, of course. He’s both impatient and lazy, which isn’t exactly conducive to finishing the things he starts, but he enjoyed it. So, he was absurdly excited to get a copy of the board game for Christmas. It’s got a nifty little wooden case/board (just like in the original movie), plenty of dice, and is fast paced. Unfortunately, the first time we played it was when my niece and nephew were over. Now, I’m not sure if any of you have had the joy of teaching a new board game to four antsy and overly excited children between the ages of two and seven before, but wow! It was brutal! Haha. As an added complication there were multiple sets of dice — one for each player — and the game pieces were slightly too big for the spaces on the board, so I spent the entire game guiding play, stopping children from consuming game pieces, looking for missing dice, reminding toddlers not to move pieces that aren’t theirs, reading cards, referencing rules, and trying to figure out which of the children happened to have stolen the toy rhino that was supposed to be on the board. It was absolute chaos! Luckily I have the standard Mom superpowers: eyes in the back of my head, extra invisible arms, and limitless patience. In the end we got through it and the kids all had a ton of fun. Definitely not a game to play with all of them again, though. I’ll reach for the generic ‘race around the board’ game plastered with popular cartoon characters next time. But, when it’s just me and my kids, we’re more than happy to enter the jungles of Jumanji. Although, my son insists it would be much more fun as a virtual reality video game. Haha.

Which brings me to the actual point of this blog. Two of the games we picked up weren’t geared at young kids at all. They were aimed at an older audience. And honestly? Both were awesome!

First up? Bunny Kingdom.

Bunny Kingdom is a pricey game that we picked up for my daughter months ago when we found it in the local game store, Game Knight Games and Cool Stuff. Yes, that’s the store’s actual name. It was far out of our budget for an impulse purchase, but my daughter REALLY LOVES RABBITS. Seriously. I’m not sure I can actually emphasize that enough. But, just know: she really loves rabbits. She’s got quite a few rabbit board games already, but none that are games that my husband will sit and play with her. So, when we saw it at the store we figured, why not? I suppose I could have gotten it cheaper off of Amazon, but when we have the chance we always prefer to shop locally. Anyway, we figured that even if my husband hated the game, it was covered in adorable images of rabbitfolk making farms and kingdoms so my daughter would love it.

Luckily, our hunch was right and it turned out to be a lot of fun.

Bunny Kingdom is a board game for 2-4 players. It’s intended for players ages 12 and up, but my kids are only seven and eight and they didn’t have any trouble getting the hang of the game. It’s published by IELLO, features bright and colourful art by Paul Mafayon, and was designed by Richard Garfield (the creator of Magic: The Gathering, King of Tokyo, and Keyforge: Call of The Archons , to name a few). Bunny Kingdom was a nominee for 2018 Origins Awards Best Family Game, and 2017 Cardboard Republic Striker Laurel awards. The box is nice looking and solid, and the board inside looks great. It’s essentially a large map with a 10×10 grid overtop, and a scoreboard on the side. Many of the Bunny Kingdom Boxspaces on the map feature settlements and resources that players can claim. Settlements contain castles, while resources allow you to collect wood, carrots, and fish. Unfortunately, our board had suffered damage in two places despite having a seemingly undamaged box. Not what you want to see when you’ve paid a good chunk of change for a new board game!

Each player has a pile of tiny rabbit tokens they can use to claim their territory on the board, and act as their token on the scoreboard. In addition to the player tokens and board, this game comes with three different sized castles (level 1, 2, and 3), corner markers to denote special upgrades and camps that you can add onto spaces, and a massive deck of cards. Seriously massive! You’ll have to split it into a few piles just to shuffle it. The art throughout the board, cards, and box is consistently wonderful. It’s bright, colourful, and cartoony in all the best ways. My daughter repeatedly shrieked in glee, exclaimed “AUW! CUTIES!”, and hugged cards to her chest, so it’s clearly a winner in her opinion! Haha.

The premise of the game is simple. Your great Bunny King has ordered you to lead your clan of rabbits in gathering resources, claiming some land, and establishing new settlements. The rabbit with the most prosperous fief — determined by having the most golden carrots — wins.

So how do you play? For starters, you select your rabbit colour, place one of them on the 0 on the scoreboard, and deal out ten cards to each player. You draft cards from the hand, selecting two you want to keep for yourself, then pass the rest on to the next player. You play some of the card types and set the others aside for later. Then you proceed with the draft. This continues until there are no more cards in hand. Cards can do a few things, but the most important ones are labelled with a letter and a number — coordinates referring to a space on the board. If you select a card like this you get to place a rabbit token there and claim the space as your own. Other cards include camps (which let you claim any unclaimed space until someone claims it with the proper card), settlements (which let you build castles of various levels on your claimed territory), sky towers (which let you connect two distant parts of your fief), resources (which let you collect resources like wood, mushrooms, and iron from your land), treasures (which give you golden carrots), and missions (which give you bonus golden carrots at the end of the game as long as you meet the requirements stated on the card). After the cards are drafted you enter the ‘Build Phase.’ This is when you play all of the castle cards, camps, sky towers, and resources you’ve drafted. After this you earn points (golden carrots) for how prosperous your fiefs are, which is based on number of ‘towers’ on the castles within your connected territories, and the different types of resources they can create. Once points are tallied you’ve reach an end of a round. Then you deal out another ten cards to each player and begin another draft. The game ends after four rounds of gameplay. Then you reveal the treasures and missions you’ve acquired, gaining extra golden carrots for them as appropriate. The winner is the rabbit with the most golden carrots (the highest score).

Our first game took us about an hour to play, but all the other games took up around 40 minutes, which is about how long the game is expected to run. Because the game always lasts four rounds, you can expect this to be a pretty consistent time. Which is really nice!

Bunny KingdomBunny Kingdom is a relatively fast paced game that involves some strategy, but doesn’t take up an entire afternoon or a whole day just to play it. Selecting the proper territory is important. You want to grow the size of your fiefs and ensure they connect, but you also want to establish cities and ensure there’s a variety of resources within it’s borders. Knowing which to go for at which times is both a matter of chance, and practise. After playing a round you’ll figure out what’s most important to you. Claiming any territory that already has a castle on it is sound, as is claiming any cards that let you establish resources — or luxury resources — in territories of your choosing. In the first two rounds you won’t earn many golden carrots from your fiefs, but if you build it properly you’ll make a lot in the last two rounds. Treasures are nice, but they offer a small one time payout. Not always worth it. Missions offer a bigger payout, but are sometimes difficult to achieve. They require you invest time in accomplishing them. For example, a mission that promises you one golden carrot per territory you own that can produce wood is nice. But, if you focus on that too much you won’t have a variety of resources available in your fiefs. And it’s variety that earns you golden carrots.

My daughter caught onto the game right away, and had great fun building her kingdoms. She, myself, and my husband all did pretty well. Some games she lagged behind the adults, but others she did just as well or better. Luck played a bit of a factor. So did my daughter’s habit of occasionally selecting cards just because they’re cute. Haha. My son, however, decided that building fiefs takes too much work. Instead he spent the entire first game only taking treasures and missions. We all thought he was crazy! Turns out in the end he went from 0 golden carrots all the way to 147 golden carrots. More than enough to score him a win against my husband’s 116. We were shocked, to say the least. Apparently, taking all the treasures and not bothering with that whole kingdom thing is a decent strategy — as long as you’re the only one who tries it. If too many players go this route it won’t lead to victory.

So, when we played our follow up games, we worked on our kingdoms, took some snazzy treasures and missions, and my son — once again — took every treasure and mission he could get his hands on. This time we thought we had him on the ropes! …And he won again.

*face palm*

I guess we should have taken even more of those treasures… Haha.

Aside from this flaw it was a great game. Of course, it was a rather large flaw. Why should the one person who didn’t bother to even try building a kingdom win a kingdom building game?!? But, we had a lot of fun anyway. Overall, we all thought it was a blast! It’s definitely going to see regular play.

But, our favourite game of the holidays had nothing to do with cute fluffy rabbits. Instead, it featured people-eating dinosaurs! Yes!

Dinosaur Island is a game we picked up for my son because he LOVES Jurassic Park and Jurassic World (and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ). And this game? Pretty much that. You research the genetic code of dinosaurs, create them, and put them in your very own dinosaur theme park. If you don’t have enough security they escape and eat some of your patrons. Which is bad for business, obviously! Haha. In the end, the player with the most successful park wins. The game is designed by Jonathan Gilmour and Brian Lewis, and released by Pandasaurus Games.

Dinosaur Island BoxWe found it on the shelf at another local game shop, Fusion Gaming, and nearly gagged at the price tag. And then we read the box. My husband traded in some Magic cards for the game, and we brought it home for my son for Christmas. It’s a heavy square box packed full of stuff. There’s lots of boards, pieces, dice, cards, and pop-outs of all kinds in this game, which is frankly a little bewildering at first. But, once you’ve got everything popped out and sorted into the many little storage baggies the game comes with (thank goodness!) you can open up the rulebook and try to figure out what the heck you’re supposed to do. Which is hard! Haha. I had to flip back and forth between the first few pages of the rulebook to set everything up — some pages were telling me how to set up the game, and others were telling me the names of types of pieces. All very important! Once I had everything properly set up — which took me around twenty minutes — I finally flipped the page on the rulebook and started to actually read how to play. It didn’t take too long to read, and there were some very useful gameplay examples for each step that helped me figure things out. But, it was still quite complicated. I had to read and reread each step and its example a few times while referencing the board and the list of piece names. Once I figured out a step I moved on, and then by the time I hit the end of a phase description I went back and read that whole phase over again. Anyway, by the time I finished making sense of the rulebook I was confident I understood how the game worked and could teach it to my family, but that I would still need to reference the rulebook for details on most of the gameplay choices the first time we played through. And I was right! I referenced that rulebook constantly during the first game and still made quite a few mistakes. I used it a lot during the second game (so that we find and correct our mistakes from the first play through), and then in the third and fourth game I only had to reference it a few times to double check a rule or a cost for something we hadn’t come across much yet.

In summary, it was hard to learn. This is a bit of a problem since the game is listed as ages eight and up. Eight! In my opinion, this game is too complex for eight year olds. They can play if they’re joining in with the grown ups or teenagers — like mine did — but its not the kind of game you could give to some eight year olds and expect them to be able to learn and play properly. Twelve and up would be more accurate.

That said, the game was awesome.

Everyone had a blast and, surprisingly, my daughter and husband loved it most of all. In fact, they were both the driving factor in us playing it so many times over the last few days. Which is huge! My daughter is always ready to play a board game, but my husband? Not so much. This is particularly surprising when you take into account how long this game takes to play. It says it takes an hour and a half to two hours to play through, but it took us over three on our first run through (and we played the ‘short game’). Further run throughs also took around three hours each, although the second time we played a ‘medium game’ and the third we played a ‘long game’ with three people instead of four. Definitely a time investment!

Dinosaur Island Game Set Up

So what is Dinosaur Island, and how do you play?

The point of Dinosaur Island is to create the most successful park. Your park’s success is measured in Victory Points, which are most often earned by having guests survive their trip to your park. You can also earn Victory Points by creating dinosaurs and by building some attractions. A number of guests visit your park each turn based on your parks Excitement level, which is also influenced by the number and grandeur of the dinosaurs you have created, and by some attractions. But, getting people to your park isn’t all that matters. You also have to have attractions for them to visit. They’ll visit your dinosaurs, of course, but only so many visitors can view a paddock at a time, so you’ll also want to create other attractions. Things like restaurants and rides for the guests to visit. Another factor you need to take into account is danger. You can have a lot of dinosaurs and a huge excitement level, but if you haven’t invested enough in security then your guests will get eaten by dinosaurs. And dead guests don’t earn you Victory Points!

It’s a complex game that involves multiple phases, each of which allows you to make decisions regarding how you choose to run your park. We didn’t find a single obvious method for best increasing your Victory Points. Which is great! You have a lot of choices to make, and all of them are helpful in different ways. Usually you’ll need to change your priorities from round to round to do well in this game. There was a lot of fun strategy and planning involved, which even got my daughter taking the time to sit, think, plan, count, and envision a few stages and turns ahead. Fun planning, too. Not boring. We all really enjoyed this games layered complexity.

So what are these phases?

Dinosaur Island 2Phase One is the Research Phase, which will utilize a shared board that will be in the middle of the table. On it you’ll find dice (which usually show DNA in various types, amounts, and a threat level), dinosaur cards, and some other open spaces. During this phase each player will take turns selecting how you want your three scientists to prioritize their research. They can select one of the dinosaur cards in order to learn the DNA recipe for that dinosaur, they can select a DNA dice in order to collect that kind of DNA, they can work to increase your cold storage (which is the maximum levels of each type of DNA you can hold), or they can refrain from doing research and instead become an extra worker for the third phase. All of these options are really important. Dinosaurs raise excitement levels which in turn draw in guests, but they each cost different kinds of DNA. Collecting DNA to create them is important. Of course, your cold storage starts off small, so you’ll want to increase it as you play.

Phase Two is the Market Phase, which will utilize a shared board that will be in the middle of the table. On it you’ll find a variety of DNA, lab upgrades and park attractions you can purchase, and specialist workers you can hire. During this phase each player takes a turn selecting what they want to purchase, until each player has bought two things.

Phase Three is the Worker Phase, which will utilize a personal board which will be in front of you. On it you’ll find your DNA Cold Storage and your current levels of DNA, your current threat level, your current security level, as well as your current lab facilities and upgrades. During this phase you place your workers (typically you have four) on your board to accomplish certain tasks. Tasks can include refining DNA from one type to another advanced type, creating dinosaurs, increasing security measures, increasing paddock capacity, and raising capital. In addition, some lab upgrades will give you more options, or allow you to perform tasks with less workers invested in them, or at a financial discount. Once everyone has placed their personal workers (which happens all at the same time) you tell your fellow players what your workers are doing and apply it.

Dinosaur IslandPhase Four is the Park Phase, which will utilize a personal board which will be in front of you. On it you’ll find you park, your current dinosaurs and paddock capacities, your attractions, and the number of guests which can visit each location. During the Park Phase you count up your Excitement which determines how many guests visit your park, receive income from entry fees (except for those pesky hooligans who sneak inside!), place guests at attractions, calculate threat against your security, see if any dinosaurs escape, have dinosaurs devour guests, and finally count up how many surviving guests you retain, which will grant you Victory Points.

Phase Five is the Cleanup Phase, which is when you tidy up the boards and prepare them for the next round. It’s also when you determine the next round’s turn order. Whoever has the most Victory Points goes last, while the least goes first. And then its onto the next round, with Phase One.

There’s a lot more to this game than we’ve mentioned. Plot Twist Cards help make every game different, and objective cards determine the goals you need to accomplish in order to end the game. These goals are sorted by game length, so if you want a short game you select objectives at random from the short game deck, while a long game will require cards drawn from the long game deck.

We absolutely loved this game. So much, in fact, that my husband is considering buying my son the expansion for his birthday gift. The expansion, called Dinosaur Island: Totally Liquid, allows for a fifth player to join in the fun, features water dinosaurs, more DNA dice, new attractions, and more. Super cool!

All in all, we’re thrilled with our new games.

Think you know of a game we’ll love? Let us know in the comments! I’d love to hear it!




3… 2… 1… HAPPY NEW YEAR!





My family and I want to wish each and every one of you a wonderful, amazing, SPECTACULAR, New Year.

I mean that. Truly.

We wish you all the best in the coming year, and every day afterwards.

Thank you for visiting d20 Diaries. And thank you for sharing this past year with us. I hope you join us for another one.

(and family!)

Dragon Dice Tree - NEW YEAR.jpeg

Starfinder Society Scenarios: It Rests Beneath and Honorbound Emissaries!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…But that final battle! Wow! Haha.

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

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

Which is cool!

I give this scenario 5 out of 5 stars.

Thanks for joining us today!

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


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