We haven’t talked about Pathfinder Second Edition in a while. Neither have the folks over at Paizo. Or, at least, not publicly. That’s because the Development Team has been hard at work sifting through survey data, making changes to the game, and generally working their asses off to make Pathfinder Second Edition the best RPG that it can be.
But, this past Pathfinder Friday on Paizo’s twitch stream, we finally got some news! Jason Bulmahn, Director of Game Design, sat down with Host and Marketing Manager Dan Tharp to talk about the future of Pathfinder.
His first topic of conversation?
Feedback surveys on the PF2 Playtest are going to be open until December 31st at midnight. That’s right! You’ve still got time to give them your feedback, answer their questions, and give Paizo the data they need to continue improving the next version of Pathfinder. Be sure to get your surveys done before the New Year!
But, even though they’re still accepting feedback, and sifting through our responses, the development team is already working on improving the game, and revising everything. Word is they’re halfway done editing the book, with another quarter that they hope to get done over the holidays. (Yes, they brought home more work). The whole development team deserves a huge round of applause. Keep up the good work! (And take a breather while you’re at it!).
Now, as I mentioned, they’re still accepting feedback, and they still testing and retesting everything they can. They’ve made some changes, but they’re not done yet — not by a long shot! In addition, some of the things they’ve changed are likely to change again. But they’re making progress. And Jason decided to share some of that progress with us.
The Top Five Things That You Can Look Forward To for Pathfinder Second Edition!
#5 –Polish and Flavour. Jason admitted that a lot of the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook was technically sound, but dry. It lacked pizazz! They intend to change that. The development team is trying their best to inject as much flavour into the rulebook as they can! Thank goodness! Haha. Sneak peeks Jason mentioned included calling the various rogue specializations a ‘Rogue’s Racket’ and that Wizards get to create their own graduate thesis to represent their specialization in magic. Awesome! I can’t wait to see what else they bring to the table.
#4–Jason rewrote Chapter 1. This new introduction to the game is said to be an engaging narrative which is meant to be as entertaining and easy to understand as possible. It even includes a sample build and an example of play. Awesome!
#3 – GM Resources. The folks at Paizo are trying to make GMing as easy as possible. The table of DCs, which were overly complicated, are now streamlined into a simple chart. Conditions are undergoing some changes, as well. Some were removed, others were changed, and they even added a new one: Doomed! Essentially, Doomed lowers your dying threshold. This is a condition players will want to get rid of ASAP!
#2 – Resonance. They got rid of it completely. Pardon me while I dance in glee.
#1 – Proficiency. Although the system makes sense and was met with positive feedback, many players said that they didn’t feel like the numbers involved allowed for enough variance between the proficiencies, so they’re being changed! Untrained will remain +0 (and does not add your level), Trained skills will be at +2 plus level, Expert at +4 plus level, Master +6 plus level, and Legendary +8 plus level. Here’s hoping they’ve got the math right this time around!
Other mentioned changes include allowing the three different alignments for paladins, making spellcasters and spells more powerful, adding ‘Fail Forward’ rules (which is when even on a failed roll your PCs progress, but with some kind of penalty or downside caused by their failure), and more! I don’t know about you, but I’m exciting to see what Pathfinder Second Edition will become!
We carved pumpkins last week with my sister. My daughter carved a rabbit, and my son a cat. Or, more accurately, I carved a rabbit, and my sister carved a cat while my children bossed us around. Both of my kids shrieked when they had to put their hands inside and scoop out the pumpkin’s innards. Mostly they poked at it with a spoon. In fact, my kids didn’t do much at all. But, we had fun! We drew on some more pumpkins at home yesterday. Again, my daughter made a rabbit. My son went with a classic jack-o-lantern face.
This morning I packed up my kids costumes, and sent them off to school. They’ll have a party this morning, change into their costumes after lunch, and spend the afternoon at a school dance and haunted house. They’re absolutely over the moon. My son’s going to be a red dragon for Halloween. And my daughter? One guess.
Yup. A rabbit.
She might be obsessed.
My kids can’t wait to head out trick or treating.
To celebrate I’m taking a look at my five favourite Horror Adventures!
*cue the ominous theme music*
We’re starting off small with Starfinder Society Scenario #1-04: Cries from the Drift by Joe Pasini! This delightful little adventure is intended for Tier 1-4, features one starship battle, and tasks the player’s characters with exploring a derelict ship, uncovering what became of it’s crew (Spoiler Alert: NOTHING GOOD), and collecting the valuable intel they were carrying. This scenario does a great job of setting an ominous atmosphere right from the moment you step foot on the ship, and, with a solid GM, can be quite suspenseful. It’s got some surprises, so I won’t go into too much detail, but I will say that this adventures features some body horror, so it’s not for the faint of heart!
Up Next? The Strange Aeons Adventure Path! Strange Aeons is a six part series of adventures that will have your characters questioning their past, their allies, and their sanity! Strongly inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft, it’s spooky, macabre, and downright strange. With alien, unknowable entities, crazed cultists, and a whole heck of a lot of weird! I LOVE this adventure path. Seriously. Love it.
Strange Aeons begins with your characters waking up in an insane asylum with no idea who they are or how they got there. Oh, also, there’s some strange monster performing invasive surgery on someone else right outside your cell. Not the way you want to wake up! After your daring breakout you’ll have to explore the asylum, battle strange, shape-changing creatures, and find a way to escape — without being devoured by the… things outside. From there? Well, let’s just keep that under wraps for now. This is one of those campaigns where being in the dark is half the fun!
Next we leave behind the psychological terror, and head into some classic gothic horror! Curse of Strahd! This hardcover adventure path for Dungeons and Dragons takes place in the Ravenloft campaign setting’s country of Borovia and will take characters from levels one through ten. It’s a spooky, atmospheric, delightful piece of horror that features the vampire Count Strahd von Zarovich himself! Play it with a good DM and you’re guaranteed to get chills! This campaign has some tough fights, and was the winner of THREE Ennies in 2016: Winner (Gold): Best Adventure, Winner (Gold): Best Art/Cover, and Winner (Silver): Product of the Year. Special player options are available to download here, untagged maps are available here, and some special notes for DMs are available here.
From Dungeons and Dragons, we skip back over to Pathfinder, with the Carrion Crown Adventure Path! Carrion Crown is a six part gothic horror campaign that is like a tour de force of classic horror beasts! The first volume, Haunting of Harrowstone, tasks the players with investigating a haunted prison, while later volumes feature carrion golems, werewolves, foul cults, strange beings, vampires, undead, liches, and more! The best part? You don’t always have to kill these beasts. Some have the potential to be allies (if you’re brave enough)! The plot? Stop the Whispering Way from freeing the Lich King Tar-Baphon! I ADORE this campaign!
So what’s my very favourite horror adventure? Carnival of Tears by Tim Hitchcock and Nicolas Logue! First of, let me point out this is a dark, gory, violent, disturbing adventure. Second, I loved it. Carnival of Tears (more properly known as GameMastery Module E1: Carnival of Tears) is a 3.5 adventure from Paizo Publishing intended for fifth level characters that takes place in the desperate little town of Falcon’s Hollow. Man, that place has gone through a lot! So what better way to relax than with a winter carnival? Right? WRONG! When dark fey take over the carnival they twist it into a nightmare, and use powerful illusions to hide the truth from the citizens. The PCs need to stop the fey, save what townsfolk they can, and try their best to survive the night! I find this scenario is particularly effective when played in a town the player’s have grown fond of (even if that means you don’t play in Falcon’s Hollow), and when they’re forced to help deal with the aftermath of the so-called Carnival of Tears. Just awesome. The horror!
And that’s it!
Or is it..?
There’s one last thing I want to talk about: the future! The horror adventure I most want to play (and read), but haven’t.
Signal of Screams!
Signal of Screams is a three-part adventure path for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game that starts at level seven. It begins with your PCs on vacation at a luxury resort on an asteroid when suddenly the staff and guests begin to get violent! They’ll need to protect themselves and the uninfected guests. But, what if they’re not immune to the madness? I can’t wait to find out!
Have any of you seen the film Kubo and the Two Strings? I watched it with my children and husband recently, and was literally amazed by it.
Kubo is wonderful stop-motion movie that follows a boy named Kubo on a journey to protect himself from the dreaded Moon King. But Kubo is no ordinary boy. Kubo can make magic happen by playing his samisen. On his journey he’s accompanied by an origami samurai, a talking monkey, and a samurai beetle who has amnesia.
It’s a samurai film and a fantasy film, lovingly made with puppets and gorgeous scenery. Not only was it a joy to look at, the story was well-developed, the characters were lovable (or terrifying) and everyone was… well-rounded. Whole, believable people. No one thought they were the villain, not everyone got along, and not everything came down to killing things. It was a touching tale, and admittedly I was sobbing my face off near the end, but at the same time, it was heartwarming and hopeful.
Although an American movie, Kubo is clearly a Japanese story, and a ton of research went into making it as historically accurate as possible–considering the story, haha. For those of you who haven’t given this movie a chance, I STRONGLY recommend you do.
Watching Kubo made me want to play some of the awesome adventures I have kicking around my house that have an Eastern feel to them, but since I have way too many campaigns on the go as it is, today we’re going to celebrate them on d20 Diaries! Presenting my five favourite d20 adventures that are inspired by Eastern cultures. Whether they’ve got samurai, ninja, monasteries of contemplative warrior monks seeking enlightenment, or a fusion of many places and cultures, these adventures celebrate, embrace, emulate or are inspired by the Far East!
So sit back, and enjoy!
The Winding Way
The first adventure we’re taking a look at is The Winding Way. Written by Nicholas Logue, and Published by Paizo in Dungeon Magazine Volume 117, The Winding Way is a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons adventure intended for 14th level characters. Although it was written for a ‘neutral’ campaign setting and is meant to be dropped into any fantasy world, The Winding Way is clearly inspired by contemplative warrior monks like the Shaolin of China. That being said, it’s a horror adventure first and foremost, so don’t expect to be achieving enlightenment, or making friends with this one.
The Winding Way takes place at a secluded temple monastery which was built on the slopes of Darkmoon Mountain. During construction the Master, Marik Draven, discovered an ancient stone door, sealed for untold generations. Marik and his students were unable to decipher much of the text, but what they did translate was ominous: words like death, darkness and plague. Marik halted construction of his temple and meditated in contemplation. Eventually he decided that the door should be left untouched, and that his temple would be built around and above it. In addition to being a school for martial arts and enlightenment, the Temple of the Winding Way would become a guardian of this unholy doorway, ensuring it remained sealed for all time.
But it was not to last. Out of jealousy and greed, a rebuffed student sought to steal the riches of the temple for himself, and discovered the graven door. He picked the locks, disabled the door’s defences, and opened it, sealing the fate of those within the temple. For death was behind the door, and its spread is unstoppable!
This adventure has the PCs explore the Temple of the Winding Way for a variety of reasons, only to find that everyone inside has been turned into undead monstrosities. In order to put an end to this evil, they’ll have to defeat a wide variety of undead including bhuts, dread wraiths, forsaken shells, vampires and–my personal favourite–a pennaggolan monk! That’s right, an undead monk that’s going to use unarmed strike to fight with his own lungs and entrails. It’s going to be AWESOME! In addition, they’ll have to pass through the trials of the Winding Way itself, not all of which can be accomplished with brute strength or agility, and discover the source of the undead plague.
The Quest for Perfection
The second adventure we’re taking a look at today is actually a three-part trilogy of Pathfinder Society Scenarios entitled the Quest for Perfection. All three scenarios are Tiers 1-5. Scenario #3-09: The Quest for Perfection Part 1: The Edge of Heaven is written by Jerall Toi, and takes place in Tian Xia, a continent on Golarion strongly inspired by Chinese cultures. This adventure tasks the Pathfinders with travelling through the Wall of Heaven, the tallest mountain range on Golarion, on a journey to reach the Clouded Path Monastery and obtain an ancient relic, the Braid of a Hundred Masters, from the monastery. The trip is dangerous, and has a lot of wonderfully designed encounters where terrain plays a huge part. In addition to the perils of the mountain itself, the players are clearly on a pilgrimage trail, and there’s a lot of neat shrines, and other monuments along their journey. Upon reaching the monastery itself, they find it the lair of violent yetis who make excellent use of their surroundings. Their leader throws relics and nearby objects at the group including foo lion statues (of which there’s a picture)! In addition to enemies, the group can also meet a former monk of the monastery, currently a statue capable of tactile telepathy, who can share much of the history of the monastery with the group. After obtaining the Braid of a Hundred Masters, the Pathfinders discover it’s powers have gone dormant, which leads us into part two.
Scenario #3-11: The Quest for Perfection Part 2: On Hostile Waters is written by Benjamin Bruck, and sets the Pathfinders on a quest to reactivate the Braid of a Hundred Masters by bringing to the last remaining descendant of its rightful owner, a woman from the town of Nesting Swallow by the name of Je Tsun. The journey is a long one, down the Tuunma River and into the Sea of Eels. The river is surrounded on all sides by political turmoil, as it passes through the warring successor states of Lingshen, Po Li and Quain. In addition to the dangers of the river, and banditry, the players have to defend the Braid from soldiers and naval ships from Lingshen who desire to claim its power for themselves.
Scenario #3-13: The Quest for Perfection Part 3: Defenders of Nesting Swallow is written by Sean McGowan, and finally sees the Pathfinders arrive in the small town of Nesting Swallow, only to discover it has been under attack from tengu bandits. Je Tsun agrees to aid them in reactivating the Braid of a Hundred Masters–and will even let them keep it–if they can defend Nesting Swallow from the villains who prey upon them. The rest of the adventure allows the players to organize the defence of the town, train the villagers, and set up barricades or whatever else the group might think of. When the bandits finally come, they get to see how their work has paid off (or not!) as the villagers and the Pathfinders fight alongside one another to drive off the bandits. Wave after wave attacks the town, and whether anyone survives is up to your players. In the end, the bandit leader himself joins the battle, the tengu samurai mounted atop his axe beak mount: Khwankonu! This is the adventure’s finale, and is a ton of fun! If Je Tsun lives she makes good on her word and reignites the magic of the Braid, bestowing it upon the Pathfinders for saving her village.
This is a wonderful, atmospheric adventure that has the players explore the frozen wastes of Kisarimuke, with the purpose of finding the Amata Goten–the legendary Palace of Plenty–which was said to be a magical palace that once was connected to the city of Okabaimura. After making the journey through Kisarimuke, the group can explore the ruins of Okabaimura, a sombre, mysterious experience. Events in the ruins can give the group clues as to the nature of the Palace of Plenty, and how to get there, but it does so in a very subtle, wonderful way. After eventually finding the way to Amata Goten, the players find a beautiful palace, lush with greenery, that is frozen in time. Within are spirits and ghosts, and many more mysteries. I’ll refrain from giving anything else away about this adventure. But, I will say that I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful this adventure hints at the backstory, and the stories and lives of the ghosts and spirits within it, without just giving away information. It’s subtlety is spectacular.
The Ruby Pheonix Tournament
The fourth adventure we’re looking at is The Ruby Phoenix Tournament, a Pathfinder adventure written by Tim Hitchcock and intended for 11th level characters. This adventure brings us back to the Wall of Heaven on the continent of Tian Xia. Here, on the island of Xielan, a prestigious fighting tournament takes place, which allows the winners to claim any one object from the treasury of Hao Jin, the Ruby Pheonix. This tournament attracts combatants from all over the world, including from nations inspired by real-world Japan, China, India and many more. The matches the players are going to engage in are varied, with the terrain often playing an important part in the battles. Some places the players might find themselves fighting in are: flooded mud pools, hot coals, atop multiple towers and rope bridges, and even fighting horizontally on the side of a cliff (literally standing on the cliff face with slippers of spider-climb)! Your players are bound to be continually surprised. In addition to the tournament battles, the players can join in extra matches and challenges. But as the tournament proceeds it becomes clear that something is wrong. From entrants being poisoned and assassins attacking, the players will have to work fast to figure out who’s trying to put an end to the Ruby Pheonix Tournament and stop them, before it’s too late!
Although this adventure has a simple premise, I HIGHLY recommend it. It’s a great, exciting adventure that can be a ton of fun!
Tide of Honor
The final adventure we’re talking about today is my very, very favourite. Jade Regent Part 5 – Tide of Honor by Tito Leati. Now, the Jade Regent is a Pathfinder campaign where the last three books take place in Minkai, Paizo’s Japanese inspired nation in Tian Xia, but volume five of the series is my all time favourite. This adventure was clearly written with such LOVE and RESPECT. It’s honestly astounding how clearly that shows in the final product. But enough about the writing, what about the adventure?!
Tide of Honor has the PCs arrive in Minkai with their friend Ameiko Kaijitsu, true heir to the Imperial Throne of Minkai. …But they have no army! Minkai is currently ruled by the Jade Regent, a vicious tyrant who claimed the throne by murdering the emperor. In order to overthrow the Jade Regent the players are going to need allies. A LOT of them. The players single out an honourable Ronin and his small band of masterless samurai as a likely ally, knowing that they were expelled from the capital and are opposed to the Jade Regent. If the players can make contact with the ronin and ally with them, they will gain not only a number of trained warriors, but also allies who know the country, and may be able to help the group get other allies–or at least in contact with them. The leader of the ronin, Hirabashi Jiro attempts to test the PCs character and, if he finds them trustworthy, gives them a task. There is a group of bandits terrorizing the villagers and farmers of the region, but as they operate in two units, the ronin do not have enough warriors to defeat both groups at once. If the players can attack and conquer the bandit fortress, then Jiro and his men can take out the raiders before they harm any innocents. This opening battle is very adaptable and mobile, featuring a lot of ways the players can go about attacking, and organic ways in which the inhabitants respond to attacks. This encounter can benefit a LOT from good planning and scouting, and it’s a great location. To make it better? If the players can defeat the bandits, not only does Jiro agree to join your cause, but he also sets up the fortress as a base of operations for your group and your allies. This fortress is YOURS.
After some deliberation and discussion, Jiro can give the group a list of important political players and potential allies throughout the nation: the ninja clans of Enganoka, the merchants of Minkai who can be contacted by the geisha of Sakakabe, and the samurai of a cruel daimyo! But success isn’t as easy as simply meeting these groups, the players will have to earn their trust, and prove themselves worthy. But, if they can? The players will have an army at their disposal, one which will help them take on the Jade Regent himself and restore the throne to its rightful heir!
But the Jade Regent has many spies, and will not let the players operate without opposition! I hope you’re ready for some fearsome Oni!
And that’s all for us today! I hope you enjoyed taking a look at some of my favourite Eastern styled adventures! What are yours? Did I miss any you think deserve to be on my list?
January 16th is Appreciate a Dragon Day. A day that encourages everyone to explore the cultural significance of the dragon in your society and history. Dragons are a powerful symbol in mythology, from Europe, to Asia and throughout the world. So whoever you are and wherever you’re from, take a second and give a little love to these awesome mythical creatures.
Here at d20 Diaries, we’re celebrating Appreciate a Dragon Day by sharing our top five dragon adventures, because what would Dungeons and Dragons be, without dragons?
Answer? A lot less awesome!
So without further ado… my five favourite adventures that showcase dragons!
Guardians of Dragonfall
Guardians Of Dragonfall is a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons written by Anson Caralya and printed by Paizo Publishing. Intended for 11th level characters, this adventure takes the characters to a legendary dragon graveyard on behalf of an aging gold dragon who has spent the last fifty years living as a human scholar. Upon arriving they discover something has gone horribly wrong. The eternal guardians of Dragonfall have abandoned their posts, leaving the graveyard unprotected–an event unheard of in the history of Dragonfall! This adventure takes the group through a wide variety of cool locations including the labyrinthine trenches of the Bonefield, the Emerald Shrine where green dragons deliver their sacrifices, the Throat of Shearphorus at the centre of the graveyard, and the Hall of Guardian’s Rest. This adventure has a few cool draconic characters, including the ghost of the previously mentioned gold dragon, and an insane bronze dragon. It also has a variety of draconic enemies including draconic skeletons, a tribe of half-dragon satyr’s, and even a draconic mohrg. This adventure is big, bold and tons of fun. Most importantly, it makes the player’s feel awesome. After all, sometimes even dragons need a hero!
The Black Egg
The Black Egg is a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons adventure written by Steven Montano for Issue #106 of Dungeon Magazine. Intended for 12th level characters, this adventure begins with a meteor falling from the sky which completely obliterates a small town. Investigation sets the characters on a collision course with a mad wizard, a cult of half-dragons, and a powerful artifact that can summon and army of fiendish dragons to conquer the nation–perhaps the world! With some cool side characters including a group of mercenaries also intent on investigating the crater; some great twists and turns, and a ton of unique half-dragon enemies, this adventure’s sure to be a blast. To make it even better, make sure the town destroyed is a place your characters have been before (preferably more than once!) or a place they needed to visit. And what’s in the depths of the crater? I won’t give away much more, but I will say it’s called the Fane of Scales, and within is the mysterious Black Egg. An egg that’s nearly ready to hatch…
The Dragon’s Demand
The Dragon’s Demand is a Pathfinder module written by Mike Shel. Intended for 1st level characters and meant to bring them all the way to 6th, or possibly 7th level, this is a mega-adventure! It sets the player’s characters up to be heroes of the small town of Belhaim, only to have their efforts interrupt the plans of a fierce green dragon. The dragon eventually makes his displeasure known by attacking the town and demanding a massive amount of gold and treasure as tribute. Unable to pay, the characters are given one final job by the citizens: kill the dragon! But killing a dragon is no easy feat–especially not for low-level characters! They’ll need to prepare themselves, use their wits, and pray for some luck before taking on this bad-boy! With cool side locations including a deceased wizard’s home and secret laboratory, the tomb of a dragon-slayer, and a dragon’s lair (of course!), The Dragon’s Demand does an awesome job of showcasing what a dragon should do (or at least a classic villainous D&D dragon!): make plans, amass treasure, scare the heck out of everyone, subjugate entire tribes and towns, and kill whoever fails to obey! It makes dragons feel dangerous and powerful, something that’s often missing when dragons are used in adventures. With theatrics and a great use of build-up and suspense, this dragon feels like a challenge too tough to handle. It’s sure to get your player’s quaking in their boots! I highly recommend this module to anyone who wants to enjoy a great dragon adventure at lower levels.
Into the Wormcrawl Fissure
One of the highest level adventures on this list, Into the Wormclaw Fissure is intended for 19th level characters. Seriously! It’s the second last instalment of the Age of Worms adventure path put out by Paizo publishing back in 2006. Like The Dragon’s Demand, this adventure makes awesome use of foreshadowing, build-up and suspense to make the biggest, baddest, coolest dragon possible–Dragotha, an incredibly powerful dracolich. By this point in the campaign, the player’s have known their characters are going to have to oppose Dragotha in order to stop the Age of Worms for quite a while. They’ve curried assistance, cashed in on favours and done all they could to learn about her–which paid off. The previous adventure is spent hunting down and destroying her phylactery in the Citadel of Weeping Dragons (an awesome dragon adventure in itself!). With that taken care of, the characters can finally enter the Tabernacle of Worms to confront this terrifying undead dragon, and put an end to her for good. …If they can! This wicked foe is protected by huge undead chimeras, an awesome derro psycho mounted on a fierce wyvern, gargantuan worm beasts, and an entire cult to do her bidding. And if they do manage to defeat this terrifying CR 27 beast, her treasure trove is astounding! This adventure is awesome! If you ever get a chance to play the Age of Worms adventure path, I highly recommend you take it!
The Frozen Stars
Note: If you’re playing in my Reign of Winter Campaign, do NOT read this next entry!
The final adventure on this list is filled with as many dragons as you could possibly imagine–and more! Taking place on a wintery planet of dragons, in the middle of a war between the Drakelands and the Skyfire Mandate, The Frozen Stars is part four of the Reign of Winter Adventure Path. So what’s up with this war? The Drakelands are a tyranny of dragons of all kinds and colours as well as their draconic brethren (like wyverns, kobolds, and half-dragons) who believe that dragons should dominate the planet. The Skyfire Mandate is a coalition of Triaxians (furry elves primarily) and their Dragonkin allies (large sized, intelligent dragons who can wield weapons and objects in their front limbs, and who form life-long bonds with their riders). That’s right: it’s an evil dragon country versus a bunch of knights mounted on weapon wielding dragons! AWESOME! The characters land amidst this chaos in their Dancing Hut on the trail of Baba Yaga’s keys. One key lays with each side of the army, and they must determine how they’re going to get them. They can choose to ally with the Skyfire Mandate, earning themselves the chance to bond with a dragonkin of their own and fly through the skies on dragon back to oppose the draconic armies of the Drakelands! Or they can instead choose to ally with the mighty armies of the Drakelands and oppose the other, weaker races of Triaxus. Or they can try anything else they can think of: allying with both, double-crossing either side, double-crossing both sides, siding with none… The list goes on! The players get to discover this awesome conflict on this wicked planet and come up with any plan they want to obtain the keys they require. But, whatever they choose to do, your player’s characters are sure to fight or fight alongside dragons, dragon-kin, and a ton of draconic and winter themed beasts. The most powerful foes of all? Commaner Pharamol, the stalwart leader of the Skyfire Mandate’s Dragon Legion of Spurhorn, mounted atop his gold dragonkin Amerenth; the terrifying General Malesinder, a silver dragonkin and commander of the Drakelands army besieging Spurhorn; and finally, Yrax: Lord of the Howling Storm, one of the most powerful dragon warlords of the Drakelands! Come on! You know you want to play it! I know I DO!
And that’s all for today! Do you want to play any of the adventures listed above? What’s your favourite d20 adventure featuring dragons? Did I miss it? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you discover the wonder of a dragon today!
Those of you with Netflix might have noticed an interesting film that just recently released on our televisions: Bright. If you haven’t watched the film–or even the trailer–I highly recommend you give it a chance. This movie’s an urban fantasy buddy-cop film revolving around a dangerous magic wand in a city populated by humans, elves, and orcs–with plenty of other wonderful weirdness. Yes. I’m serious. And it stars Will Smith.
In short: I loved this movie.
Now, this is not a movie review. This is a blog about d20 games. But watching Bright got me thinking. See, in addition to being a fantasy movie and a comedy movie, Bright cast a glaring light on some important topics. Chief among them: racism and corruption. Now, I’m not going to spoiler any more of the film than I already have, but I am going to say one last thing: Bright handled these topics very well. And to celebrate that we’re going to make a short list.
Now lists are likely something you’re going to see a lot of on d20 Diaries. I’m a fan of a good list. So today we’re looking at my five favourite d20 adventures that deal with prejudice.
You will not find adventures about wanton destruction or wiping out ‘evil races’ or anything like that in here. These aren’t orc-hating, demon-hunting or goblin-slaying tales. Here you’ll find adventures that have environments heavily tainted by prejudice, mysteries where killers prey upon the downtrodden and social encounters where the player’s may wonder whose side they should really be on. So without further ado:
My picks for top five d20 adventures that feature prejudice:
#5 – War of the Wielded by Michael Kortes
Although many of the top five adventures I’ve chosen are serious in tone, the first one is anything but. It’s an unabashedly absurd, fun little adventure printed in Issue 149 of Dungeon Magazine, back in 2007. War of the Wielded, by Michael Kortes focuses on a centuries old fight for dominance between two rival thieve’s guilds, The House of Oquon, and the Cabanites. The descendants of these groups despise each other with a passion reminiscent of the Montague’s and the Capulet’s from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It’s a fifth level 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons adventure, but can easily be adapted to Pathfinder or other systems.
The adventure begins with the player’s stumbling upon a violent battle between the rival factions, and by the end has the player’s wondering which side of the war they should throw themselves behind. But, wait! There’s a twist!
The Oquons and the Cabanites are long gone. Dead. Caput. Only their intelligent blades remain, still battling each other to this day by possessing the people who happen to touch them, and using everyday people in their never ending war. That’s right. You heard me. The prejudice and hate featured in this adventure is perpetuated by two rival factions of magical swords.
It’s insane. It’s wonderful. I love it. Your player’s will love it. And by the end they’ll be torn between greed–come on, who doesn’t want a magical sword that can talk–and the need to save the people being used by these powerful blades. So give this adventure a whirl and see if you side with the Oquons or the Cabanites. Or perhaps, put an end to the hate and battle them both! I hope you’ve brought a rust monster…
#4 – Siege of the Spider Eaters by Tim and Eileen Connors
This next entry is an interesting adventure that in a lot of ways feels like classic dungeons and dragons, but has a neat twist. Siege of the Spider Eaters is a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons adventure made for 1st level characters, that can easily be transferred into any other fantasy world. It was printed in Issue 137 of Dungeon Magazine. Siege of the Spider Eaters takes place in a secretive little village called Haven-Fara founded by pirates. When the players get there they find the entire town carpeted by a blanket of thick spider webs and more than half the townsfolk are missing. Of course, the player’s need to save the townsfolk, right? You can’t just let them get eaten by the spiders who’ve clearly dragged them away! And so they set out on a spider-squishing mission. But this adventure’s got some twists in it, and things aren’t going to be nearly that simple.
Now, Siege of the Spider Eaters has some cool things going for it. First of all: the town, Haven-Fara. This village is built around a beached pirate ship. Yup. Right there in the middle of the town, taking up a solid sixth of the entire village. A big, freaking, pirate ship. What makes that even better? The interior’s a pub. Haven-Fara’s also got ramshackle huts made of driftwood and scavenged ship parts, it’s surrounded by jungle, and it’s covered in thick spider webs. This town has atmospheric written all over it.
The beginning of this adventure is an investigation, and leads into a simple monster-killing mission, but when the locals you need to befriend and save are shifty, scuzzy, pirates, scuttlers, sailors and the descendants of thieving buccaneers, even small social encounters are memorable. And when a walk down the road is through massive spider web tunnels, it’s not the kind of adventure that will not soon be forgotten.
Once the player’s get to the spider’s den, though, things take a bit of a turn. For the spiders aren’t all what they seem. Some are aranea–intelligent spiders who can also turn into human-like people–and are in fact, the missing townsfolk. Yup. Spider people. Let’s hope the group didn’t kill too many of their pets on the way here… But if the missing townsfolk are spider people, why web up the town? Well, I’m not going to give the whole adventure away, as the surprises are part of the fun, but let’s just say it involves, spider-eaters, pirate treasure, secrets and greed.
As the players navigate the secrets of Haven-Fara’s aranea population they’ll be making plenty of choices. Who to help, who to hinder, and what secrets to keep and expose. The players actions can save Haven-Fara, or see it torn apart by hate and mistrust.
#3 – Murder’s Mark by Jim Groves
Murder’s Mark is a Pathfinder murder mystery intended for level one characters. It’s a fun, solid adventure that keeps moving along even if the players get stuck thanks to well-timed events and flavourful encounters.
Murder’s Mark takes place in the city of Ilsurian, an independent trade town in Varisia (a part of Pathfinder’s Golarion campaign setting), whose citizens are mostly foreign colonizers (Chelaxians) who harbour deep distrust and resentment towards the native Varisian population (a very gypsy-like peoples). The adventure begins when a traveling carnival comes to town, and the player’s pay it a visit.
The opening is a fun, light-hearted romp, where the players get to engage in games of skill and chance at the carnival, and end up distinguishing themselves as heroic and trustworthy when trouble breaks out.
But trouble’s brewing in Ilsurian. People begin turning up dead and the locals suspect a member of the traveling carnival–an enigmatic sphinx said to be tame. With tensions mounting between locals and performers, and the body count rising on both sides, the player’s have to discover what’s really going on before Ilsurian erupts into ethnic violence.
Murder’s Mark does a great job of using the rampant racism found in Ilsurian, and making it a focus of the adventure. With the townsfolk being Chelaxians and the carnival folk being Varisians, every encounter has the potential to take a violent turn due to prejudice, fear and stupidity. Players have a real chance to change Ilsurian, and save a lot of lives. But they also can fail. And when lives are in the balance, failure can be a huge disappointment–and an instigator of even greater violence.
Murder’s Mark is a great, well-written adventure filled with wonderful twists and turns, and social encounters that really matter. When your players finally discover the architects behind this string of murders, they’ll be dying to give them a whooping! I guarantee it.
Another great murder mystery, Steel Shadows was published in Issue 115 of Dungeon Magazine. It’s a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons adventure intended for level seven characters and set in Sharn, a city in the Eberron Campaign Setting.
Steel Shadows takes us on an adventure in the seediest, poorest districts of Sharn, where a murderer is preying upon the city’s most oppressed citizens: it’s warforged. Warforged are essentially golems given life, souls and sentience by magic. They’re like robot men, or droids, but made by magic instead of technology. Warforged were made by rich people in order to fight their wars, but when the wars finally came to an end, the government made the surviving warforged citizenship. Unfortunately, these naive new peoples were taken advantage of. Many of them are poor, live in horrible conditions, suffer through tremendous racism, and were tricked into taking jobs that are little more than indentured servitude. It is on these people, that a killer is preying.
While investigating the murders, the players don’t just need to confront the dregs of society, and the dangers and sadness of the slums, but they also need to battle indifference. Why? No one really cares about a few dead warforged.
Finding justice is entirely up to your players.
Steel Shadows has some twists and turns, plenty of interesting characters, and a good deal of red herrings. It’s a great, unique adventure and I highly recommend it to anyone that manages to get their hands on it.
#1 – River Into Darkness by Greg A. Vaughn
River Into Darkness is a Pathfinder Module made before their ruleset came out, which means it’s technically a 3.5 adventure. It’s intended for level four characters and takes place in the Mwangi Expanse, a vast jungle dotted with newly settled colonies and commercial ventures found in Pathfinder’s Golarion Campaign Setting. This adventure is not your typical fantasy fare. It’s darker than most, not because of violence or horror, but because this adventure does not take a simple view of the world. It is not black and white, good and bad. It’s mostly written in shades of grey. But that’s what I love about it. It’s fluid, and adaptable. And what the player’s decide to do is entirely up to them. Honest! This adventure doesn’t assume your players choose one ending, it acknowledges (and even better, plans for) multiple possible endings. So get ready to pick a side–or flip flop a lot–cause the River Into Darkness is here!
This adventure begins with the players in the port city of Bloodcove, a tropical town built around a massive mangrove tree. After battling one of the city’s more natural hazards the player’s are offered good paying, simple work: protect a river boat owned by the Aspis Consortium as it travels to its destination deep in the country’s jungle interior. How hard could it be?
The hazards are simple at first. Dangerous animals, bad weather, ship trouble and sickness. Players can triumph (or not) and get to know the ship’s crew. In time, the dangers begin to involve a group of jungle elves known as the Ekujae. As the players finally get their ship to its destination they are offered further work, protecting the colonial trade station from incursion and attack. But as the skirmishes with the Ekujae continue, and the players get a chance to explore this trade station they’ll begin to wonder why the elves are so intent on destroying the Aspis Consortium. And how far both sides are willing to go to put an end to the other. However deep your players are willing to delve into the mysterious rivalry, one thing’s for sure, choosing a side won’t be easy–if they decide to at all. As the violence escalates, the players could be major players, or get caught in the crossfire. Should they side with the Aspis? The Ekujae? Try to broker peace? Abandon them both? Only protect themselves? This module leaves that decision firmly in the hands of the players. And the hardest route of all? That of peace.
Not an easy module to run (and not an adventure for everyone), River Into Darkness tops my list for the five best d20 adventures that heavily involve or focus on prejudice. If you don’t own it, you can pick up River into Darkness by clicking the link below.
What did you think of the adventures? Have you played any? Did any tickle your fancy? Do you have a favourite adventure that would fit that I missed? Let me know what you think of d20 Diaries or this article in the comments below!