Snow, Colds, and Falling Behind

Do you ever have those weeks when you feel totally and completely busy, but by the time the week’s over and someone asks you what you’ve done you realize there’s nothing much to say?

That’s me this week. Heck, that’s me this month. The past two months, even.

I’m constantly busy with… nothing. Stuff. Just everyday life. It’s normal for most people, I suppose. And totally fine. Just hectic! (Yes, it deserved that exclamation point!).

Winter’s here to stay. It’s cold, but not really cold. There’s snow, but it’s not really snowy. It’s a strange sort of in between. It’s cold enough that everyone in my house needs to wear full winter gear, but it’s also much warmer than it should be. We’ll get way colder yet this winter. We’ve got a bit of snow, but not a enough to make snowmen or go tobogganing (that’s sledding to those of you outside Canada).

With the cold came colds. My son’s been slowly fighting off a sickness for over two weeks. He finally took a sick day for it, and went back to school just the other day. And of course he came home sick again already. Poor thing. My daughter’s getting sick now, too. Not surprising, of course. But, unfortunate. Luckily it’s not a horrible cold. They’re not nauseous or anything. It’s just one of those lingering ones where you just have a sore throat, cough, sniffly nose, and a some mild fatigue. THAT. That’s what they’re trying to power through. For weeks.

My kids are getting excited for Christmas. They’re practising a ton of songs for their Winter Concert at school, which means I get to hear them sing and dance each day. My daughter’s particularly excited. She loves to sing. They’ve also made their wish lists, and decided who they’re going to ask for what gifts. Top of their list? A bunk bed and a Nintendo Switch. Also, my son wants to raise two hundred dollars to donate to help save the Piping Plovers (adorable little shore birds) of the Great Lakes. I’ve told him he needs to set his goals a little lower there, but he’s a dreamer. My little environmentalist. I guess I need to ask for a winning lottery ticket for Christmas. Haha.

We’ve got swimming lessons once a week to squish in amongst chores and trips to the laundromat. My kids adore swimming, but they’re about as graceful as a moose. They get the job done, but it does not look pretty. Haha. My daughter’s particularly adorable to watch. Even when she sinks and is clearly the worst swimmer in her class she’s got this humungous grin on her face. She’s just so damned happy to be there. She’s got such a great attitude.

In other news, I’m about to have two fewer kids on my hands. My sister-in-law is off on a trip with her sister to Egypt — she’s obsessed with Egyptology — which means my brother took some time off to spend with his kids and I find myself without them for two weeks. What the heck am I going to do with myself when my own kids are at school? I’ll be ALONE. That’s like… unheard of! It’s also awesome! I’m so behind on everything it’s my well-deserved chance to catch up. I’ve got chores to do, errands to run, a blog *cough cough* to pay some much deserved attention to, the rules to Traveller to learn, hundreds of surveys sitting in my inbox, and campaigns to prep and GM. Perhaps most importantly I have a ton of work to do on a special project I’m working on with my brother.

Special project? How intriguing!

Yes! It is!

It’s called Realms of Atrothia, and you can expect to hear more about that in the very near future!

In similar (but not quite related news), the call for Wayfinder Issue #19 submissions ended on Halloween, and both myself and my children submitted articles for consideration. Wayfinder is a free fanzine you can download on Paizo’s website. Issue #19 is going to be a Starfinder issue that focuses on Absalom Station! My kids each put together an Alien Archive entry, while I wrote a ‘Weal or Woe’ article, and two new Themes. Although I’m nervous, my kids are literally bouncing with excitement. They can’t wait to hear if their submissions will be accepted. Unfortunately, they have a bit longer to wait. Authors won’t be informed until early December if their creations will be used. Yes, that’s at least two more weeks of hearing “Mom, do we know yet?”, “Mom, how much longer do I have to wait?”, “Mom, how much longer NOW?”, and “What’s taking so long?”

Man, I hope they both get in. I can imagine the tears if only one of their articles gets accepted. I’m sure if their articles get accepted and mine don’t I’ll never hear the end of it. Haha. That’s alright. I’m sure my pride in them would far surpass my personal disappointment. I hope.

Wish us luck! (And best of luck to any of you who submitted an article to Wayfinder!)

On the Pathfinder Playtest front I have to admit, I am playtested out! Thankfully no more rules updates are coming. But, I honestly just want to go back to the warm comfort of regular Pathfinder for a while. Preferably a long while. Unfortunately, that’s not in the cards, as I’m still involved in a play by post run of Doomsday Dawn and another of the Pathfinder Society Playtest Scenarios. Oh, well. C’est la vie! I’ll enjoy the experience while I still can.

You know what I AM enjoying? Starfinder Wednesdays on Paizo’s Twitch Channel! If you’re not watching them you really should!

All the best everyone!

Jessica

First snow and giving thanks!

Whoo, it’s been a busy week!

My family spent the better part of last weekend preparing for winter. We dug out and washed all of our winter gear, tried on coats and boots, matched mitts (or shoved lonely mitts into mismatched pairs), donated what was too small to the homeless, and went out to buy new winter boots. Everyone in my house needed a new pair this year and with the amount of walking we do winter boots are a necessity for everyone, not just my kids. Which is unfortunate, I suppose, because they’re really expensive. It’s important they’re warm enough and waterproof to keep everyone nice and toasty throughout our chilly winters, so cheap fashion boots won’t cut it. They’ve got to be cold rated for -30°C at least. -40°C is better. Not easy to find for my daughter. For some reason boys boots are built for the cold, while a lot of girl boots look like they’re warm, but aren’t. Anyway it took us the weekend, but we all managed to find a pair. And just in time! We had our first real snow on Wednesday. I say real snow because we’ve had flurries before this. But this snow stayed. There was enough of it to get the kids all excited, and to make snowballs and tiny snowmen (or in my daughter’s case, tiny snow rabbits). I’m not sure how long the snow will stay. It might not go away until next spring, but there’s only a few centimetres, so if we get a warm day it might still melt away. We’ll see. My kids were thrilled for it, but after only a day of the damp and the (very, very mild) cold they’re already complaining.

Suck it up kids! We’re just getting started! It will get so much worse. Haha.

My toddler-aged niece that I watch on the weekdays hates getting in her winter clothes, so every trip outside and to and from school is a tear-filled struggle. Not to mention the time! It takes twenty minutes to get everyone properly dressed and out the door. (Once they get used to it I hope to cut it down to fifteen. Ten would be a welcome miracle). My niece keeps expecting me to give up on her and let her do whatever she wants, which is not going to happen. Clearly she has forgotten we had this same problem last winter. She did not win. She’ll grow accustomed to it in a few weeks. Hopefully sooner. Thankfully her older brother (he’s four) does remember last year’s winter. He knows he needs to bundle.

Pathfinder Playtest Doomsday Dawn
Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn

In other news, my family and I tried playing some more of Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn. We prepared our characters for ‘In Pale Mountains Shadow’ and got started. Unfortunately, by the end of the session they decided they were bored with it. They’ve officially given up playing through Doomsday Dawn and are ready to go back to their regular games. My son desperately wants to continue with the Carrion Crown Adventure Path (we’re about to start Carrion Crown: Book Two: Trial of the Beast), my husband wants to continue with The Shackled City Adventure Path (we’re nearly done book one), and my daughter wants to play some more of our Starfinder Society characters. Most of the other campaigns we’re playing together I moved online so we can play via play-by-post. Getting in a post a day lets us keep playing, so we can dedicate our one chance to play on the weekends to one of our three main campaigns.

Although it may sound like we’re done with the Pathfinder Playtest that’s not quite accurate. I’m playing through two different play-by-post runs of Doomsday Dawn, and we’re all playing in a play-by-post run of the Pathfinder Playtest Society Scenarios. We’re halfway through Rose Street Revenge right now and enjoying it. My son’s character is particularly hilarious. We’ll share more about that at a later date.

Captain Underpants
My son’s current favourite book: The Adventures of Captain Underpants: The First Epic Novel by Day Pilkey, by Day Pilkey.

My son has been reading like crazy lately! Obviously, I’m very proud of this. I believe that reading is one of those incredibly important skills you really need to instil a love of young. I always encourage my kids to find something they love to read, and indulge in it. Even though both of my kids are good at reading I always push them to try reading something that’s a challenge everyday. Not absurdly hard for them, or anything, but something they do need to work at a bit. Anyway, both of my children are reading well above their grade level so their classrooms don’t have anything that’s a challenge for them. They both bring home books that are far too easy for them for home reading everyday. In fact my daughter can read her older brother’s home reading books without trouble, never mind her own. We have a ton of books at home for my kids to read, but only two books that are a challenge for my son to read that interest him (and he’s read both chapter books repeatedly already). We have plenty of chapter books that my son reads for fun — Geronimo StiltonThe Hardy Boys (Secret Files)Scooby-Doo! mystery novels, Minecraft books, the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom junior novelization, and so on — but he can read one of those in under a half hour. They’re a challenge for my daughter (and some are too hard), but not exactly a challenge for my son. Something must be done! Once a week after I pick my kids up from school we go for a walk to the local library and I let them each pick out one book that’s a challenge for them to read, and one book that they just want. I say one, but inevitably they come back with one challenging book and a ton of other books they want to read. This is expected and totally fine. A while ago my son brought home a massive book on ecology clearly intended for pre-teens or teenagers. This thing was huge! Anyway, he loved it, but this time he wanted a chapter book. He contemplated starting the Guardians of Gahoole books, so he picked up one of those. But for his fun book? Captain Underpants. My son LOVES Captain Underpants. So he pulled down not one book, but every single Captain Underpants chapter book the library had. There are twelve of them.

Princess in Black
My daughter’s favourite chapter book: The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde, by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale.

“Are you sure you’ll read all of them this week?” I asked my son. “They’re going to be heavy.”

“Uh, yeah, Mom. Of course! But, it might take me two weeks to read them.”

It took him three days. Which is great! But, also… not great. I now have to break it to him that there are only twelve Captain Underpants books. He just read them all.  Meanwhile my daughter picked out three Princess in Black chapter books. She owns one of them: The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde, already, but the others are new to her. Although she’s disappointed they are not going to have any rabbits in them, she is enjoying them. So much so that she was inspired to write her own book. It’s called ‘Bunny’s Adventure.’ In it a rabbit named Pim journeys up the rainbow and finds another world. She makes some friends and is back home in time for bed. She worked on it for a few days and in the end gave it to her teacher as a gift. (Her teacher had just returned from surgery that week). It was adorable. She’s so proud of it.

Traveller Core Rulebook
Traveller Core Rulebook by Mongoose Publishing.

I was recently invited to join a play-by-post game of Traveller, and gifted a digital copy of the rulebook by the overly generous Tarondor. (Thank you!) Traveller is a game I’ve never played before, so I’m super excited to give it a shot. I’ve given the book a skim, and have just embarked on a thorough read-through. The character creation rules look particularly interesting. Like a mini-game of its own. Very cool! I can’t wait to try it out. I’ve got plenty left to read though, so I’m not sure how soon that will be. Haha. This time of the year is quite busy around my house. But, I’m happily working on it.

This coming weekend is going to be just as busy as the last one. Busier, in fact. Yesterday was a day off from school, this morning is swimming lessons for my children (which is about a thirty minute walk away), then dentist appointments later today. I’ve got to squish in a trip to the grocery store and the laundromat. And tomorrow? Thanksgiving at my Mom’s! Monday’s another day off from school and more Thanksgiving celebrations, this time at my mother-in-laws. That’s actually pretty quiet for us for Thanksgiving, in all honesty. We usually also try to squish in visits to my grandparents and my Dad’s, but it’s not going to happen this year. We don’t own a vehicle, and frankly I’m too tired. Haha. We’ll be making time for less frantic visits with them soon.

Well, I’ve got to get cracking! Plenty to do and no time to do it in.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Or, for those of you who are not Canadian, have a great weekend! I wish you all the best.

Jessica

Take a Look d20diaries cropped
My son desperately wanted his picture featured on d20diaries. This was our compromise. Haha.

 

Pathfinder Society: Season Ten starts with a BANG!

In case you haven’t heard: Season Ten is here! And let me tell you, it starts STRONG!

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

Oathbreakers Die Pathfinder Season 10 - 01Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-01: Oathbreakers Die is a Tier 1-5 adventure written by Nicholas Wasko. (Winner of Paizo’s RPG Superstar Season 9, and author of the wonderful Pathfinder Module: Seers of the Drowned City). It takes place in Daggermark, a city in the River Kingdoms where the Assassin’s Guild holds incredible power. (Don’t tick off your neighbours in this town…). This scenario features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary, and the NPC Codex (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario). In addition to the Core Rulebook, this scenario includes content from Ultimate Equipment and the Advanced Player’s Guide. It utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Seedy Tavern, Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Thieves Guild, and Pathfinder Map Pack: Slum Quarter Alleys. To help keep up tension (and prevent your PCs from knowing when they might get attacked) I highly recommend using maps for even non-combat areas. You’ll find the previously mentioned Pathfinder Map Pack: Slum Quarter Alleys great help in this regard. I also recommend using Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Pub Crawl and Pathfinder Map Pack – Village Sites if you have either of them.

oathbreakers die-bosk
Venture Captain Bosk from Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-01: Oathbreakers Die.

Scenario #10-01: Oathbreakers Die has an awesome, spectacular, WONDERFUL opening that really flips the player’s expectations on its head. You chat with your companions on the trip and arrive in Daggermark to meet your Venture-Captain Istivil Bosk (who’s been around since Season 0’s Scenario #17: Perils of the Pirate Pact). Once it gets started, this mission involves tracking down assassins and solving a murder investigation. Due to the nature on these sorts of scenarios I won’t say much on its content. This scenario features a lot of fun NPCs to interact with including suspects, contacts, fellow agents, and even enemies. If you happen to have any characters kicking around who’ve played Scenario #17: Perils of the Pirate Pact I recommend sending them on this mission. It’s one of the few (perhaps only? I’ll have to check) scenarios that Istivil Bosk appears in (although canny GMs may have worked him into the Silverhex Chronicles, which is a free download and great fun). This scenario has great GM references which will be very helpful for running this scenario. The battles are interesting and complex but I think the truly great part of this scenario is the feeling of urgency which should settle over your PCs at some point. It was really well done. The other nice thing about this scenario is that your actions have direct repercussions. Your players may not realize it at first, but their behaviour in this scenario with decide the fate of the Pathfinder Society in Daggermark, the fate of at least one other agent, and the fate of the Dryblade House Pathfinder Lodge. Overall I thought this scenario was really well written and fast-paced. It’s one of my favourite tier 1-5 scenarios. I give it five out of five stars.

For more information on Daggermark and the River Kingdoms you can check out Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to the River Kingdoms, or the Inner Sea World Guide.

Scenario #10-02: Bones of Biting Ants is a Tier 3-7 adventure written by Sean McGowan. It begins in Eleder, the capital of Sargava, and moves into the wild savannahs of the Mwangi Expanse, right up to the territory of the Mzali people. This scenario features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary, Bestiary 5, and Bestiary 6 (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario). In addition to the Core Rulebook, it utilizes content from the Advanced Class Guide, Advanced Player’s Guide, Game Mastery Guide, and — most especially — Occult Adventures, and Ultimate Intrigue. It makes use of Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Cavernous Lair , Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Hill Country, Pathfinder Map Pack: Camps & Shelters, and a few custom maps.

bones of biting ants-shewhodevours
She Who Devours from Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-02: Bones of Biting Ants.

This adventure is different. It begins when Venture-Captain Finze Bellaugh tasks the PCs with escorting a traumatized Pathfinder agent to the site of his previously failed mission many years ago. They need to get there, retrieve the artifacts he left behind, and lift the curse that was placed upon him. Then they need to get home. That’s the mission. But, at it’s heart, that’s not the point of this mission at all. The point is to help the agent, Stuinvolk Hundrakson, confront his past and get some closure. You need to help him heal and that’s not something that can be accomplished in a single mission. You won’t make Stuinvolk ‘better.’ But you can aid him on his road to recovery. Stuinvolk is a very complicated character. He was handled with such exceptional care in this scenario, which is just spectacular. But, he’s not the easiest to portray. GMs will need to be very attentive to ensure that he doesn’t become a cliché. In addition to roleplaying, the interactions with Stuinvolk make use of the influence system from Ultimate Intrigue, but all the necessary rules are contained within this scenario. It also did an excellent job of allowing for various occult skill unlocks (awesome!).

That said, this mission’s not all about making Stuinvolk feel better. There’s still all the battles, social encounters, and environmental hazards you can expect in a typical scenario packed into this one. You’ll have to deal with heat and natural hazards. You’ll be passing by Mzali territory, so you’ll have to be wary of being spotted or ambushed. And the relics won’t be easy to obtain. The battles were great fun. Particularly against a certain recurring night-time visitor. There’s some very interesting social encounters that can determine whether you make your targets allies or enemies. I particularly enjoyed the interactions with Bujune. Overall, I was really impressed with this scenario. That said, it’s not for everyone. This isn’t the kind of scenario I’d play with my kids, for example. I flip-flopped a bit on deciding whether to rate it four or five stars. In the end, I’m giving it four out of five stars. But, if you’re a player or GM who particularly likes social encounters, or getting to know your NPCs, I’d bump it up to five out of five.

For more information on Sargava and the Mwangi Expanse check out Pathfinder Companion: Sargava, the Lost ColonyPathfinder Chronicles: Heart of the Jungle, or the Inner Sea World Guide.

Death on the Ice Pathfider Season 10 - 02Scenario #10-03: Death of the Ice is a Tier 5-9 adventure written by Scott D. Young. It begins in Iceferry in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings and quickly moves to the Crown of the World. It features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary, Bestiary 2, Bestiary 3, Bestiary 5 and the NPC Codex (although almost all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario, there is one from the NPC Codex not included. It is for a non-combatant and you are incredibly unlikely to need it). In addition to the Core Rulebook, it utilizes content from the Advanced Player’s Guide, Ultimate Combat, Ultimate Magic, and Pathfinder Player Companion: People of the North. It makes use of the Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Winter Forest, Pathfinder: Map Pack: Frozen Sites, and a custom map.

20180718-Svala
Svala Ice-Rider, from Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-03: Death on the Ice

This adventure tasks the PCs with getting some advice from a local tribe of Erutaki and relaying it to Svala Ice-Rider, a Pathfinder of Varki descent who is running an archaeological dig further north. If you’ve got any characters from the region, or who are built for cold environments now is your chance to bring them out to play. There are also lot of animals in this scenario, and a lot of travelling, so druids and rangers are likely to get to show off a bit more than they normally would. There’s wonderfully streamlined rules for the weather and travel that that I think will work really well.  This scenario features Venture-Captain Bjersig Torrsen, a deaf Ulfen half-orc who I thought was wonderful. And his delightful husky Mahki, of course. This scenario had a LOT of fun NPCs to interact with, including the citizens of Aaminiut, your guide Tikasak, Captain Brynhild Redaxe and the crew of the Rimedrake, Svala Ice-Rider and her pet snow owl Kuokei, and even some potential allies and enemies of a more monstrous nature. Some of the battles in this scenario can be avoided by clever characters, which might make it a little light on the combat for some groups. That said, the final battle is both complex and very climatic, so it will balance out nicely, I think. This scenario makes great use of one of my very favourite monsters, the qallupilluk, so I obviously think it’s amazing.  Haha. (The qallupiluit is based on an Inuit story and was the antagonist in one of my favourite picture books as a child: A Promise is a Promise by Canadian author Robert Munsch (Okay, okay, he was born American, but we adopted him a long time ago. Haha)). While we’re on the topic of my biases, it should also be noted that the Erutaki are one of my favourite ethnicities in the world of Golarion, so I’m thrilled to see them in print once again! I thought this scenario handled the very long journey your PCs are destined to undertake very well. Near the end you have more than one route you can take which will change how the final encounter plays out, which I thought was wonderful. Overall, I adored this scenario. I give it five out of five stars.

For more information on the Crown of the World check out Jade Regent: Book 3: The Hungry Storm.

And that’s it! Three very different, awesome scenarios from a variety of tiers. I think they nailed every one! (Way to set the bar high this season!)

I can’t wait to see where they go from here.

Jessica

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