Order of the Amber Die—The Strange Aeons Experiment, Part 6

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

"It was all the same dream, a dream that you had inside a locked room, a dream about being a person. And like a lot of dreams, there's a monster at the end of it."—Rust Cohle

It’s been a long and dangerous delve into madness for the stalwart folks in the Order of the Amber Die, but they successfully made it through the Strange Aeons Adventure Path in six weekend-long sessions. Here’s the Order of the Amber Die returns to give us a recap of their last session and share some collected stats on their entire run of this campaign. If you haven’t been reading this series of blogs, catch up by reading Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

As usual, spoilers about, so proceed with caution!

Entering the grand finale of an Adventure Path—especially one played in front of the community—comes with plenty of trepidation and nostalgia. Our opening evening of marathon six was emotional, and we spent it reminiscing about some of our favorite moments in Strange Aeons. As our membership is spread across the country, even if we achieved victory we'd be saying goodbye to our characters and each other for what could be months or years; with fifteen active members, we've had some overlap but never the same roster in any project.

To help bring this marathon experience to life, our GM tapped another member as a live-NPC for the role of the mute musician Erich Zann, and we were joined once again by Savannah Broadway in the role of NPC Winter Klaczka. We also had plenty of props and music for the dark cabaret we would encounter in Paris, and actual wine labels for the bottles of Ruby Artemesia that would feature at a sinister gala.

For Pathfinder Adventure Path #114: Black Stars Beckon, the entire marathon session was 104 hours long with 63 hours and 15 minutes of session hours.

Highlights From Black Stars Beckon

  • We needed to perform three rituals in order to sever Carcosa's connection to Golarion; these were lengthy, left us vulnerable, and worse yet: drew the attention of Great Old Ones. During our second ritual, a ghastly dream manifestation of Xhamen-Dor emerged to disrupt our casters. Erasmus, despite still suffering from the possession corruption, put his occult skills on display with entrap spirit—instantly ending the fight before it began.
  • The strangeness of this Adventure Path reached new levels with Carcosa's patchwork of cities stolen from different times and planets, but by this point we had found ways to embrace it. We invited ourselves to a vampire ball in ancient Azlant, where we threw caution to the wind and partied like it was -9999. Later on, we popped in on a cabaret full of Leng ghouls in 1890s Paris, where we sipped champagne and basked in the ambiance of La Belle Époque.
  • To reach our goal in an ice-enshrouded elder thing city, author Jim Groves challenged us with an old-school numbers puzzle that almost stopped the campaign. Immersion is important to the Order, so our GM wasn't ready to let us off the hook with an intelligence check. After two hours the group broke for sleep, leaving Sterling (Alahazra) alone with our notes. When we woke up the next morning, he had solved it.

The Experiment

From otherworldly horror to the research rules, dream quests and occult rituals, this path just felt different from standard Pathfinder—which was exactly what we loved about it. Regarding the results of our experiment, we were all in agreement that not only can Strange Aeons be played by complete rookies to the Elder Mythos, but that we may have had the better deal by doing so!

Character Deaths

When Adam Daigle opened his introduction to Black Stars Beckon by apologizing for killing our characters, it helped us to consider PC-demise from a lighter perspective. With our group having regular access to breath of life, a cauldron of resurrection, and even wish, mortality was no longer an issue; with a number as high as sixteen, even death died.

Best Quote From Marathon 6

Cold silence before a gunfight in the cabaret.
Feiya: "Any ghoul that doesn't wanna get killed, better clear on out the back."

The Strange Aeons Adventure Path by the Numbers

All of us went to great effort to track data throughout the entire Adventure Path, and we are proud to present the results of that effort here:

  • Total marathon hours: 581
  • Actual session hours: 357
  • Longest single session: 19 hours, 45 minutes
  • Real-life months passed: 10
  • Days passed on Golarion/Carcosa: 248
  • Highest DC reached on a skill check: 55 (Quinn)
  • Occult ritual record: 9-1
  • Teamwork Feat: Shake It Off. Total preventative uses: 101
  • Group-consensus on most valuable skill: Knowledge (dungeoneering)
  • Caffeine consumed from Monster energy drinks: 45,216 mg

Feiya's Channel Energy

  • Uses: 145
  • Healing living creatures: 116 uses, 6,738 hit points
  • Harming undead creatures: 29 uses, 469 damage

Quinn's Inspiration

  • Points spent: 244
  • Free uses of inspiration with skill checks: countless

Alahazra's Revelations

  • Erase From Time
    • Attempts: 37
    • Successes: 9
  • Temporal Celerity
    • Initiatives won: 32
  • Aging Touch
    • Total uses: 18
    • Successful uses: 10
  • Rewind Time
    • Total uses: 9
    • Conversions from failure to success: 4
  • Time Sight
    • True Seeing: 12
    • Moment of Prescience: 3

Erasmus's Spirit Surges

  • Total uses: 37
  • Champion spirit: 32
  • Hierophant spirit: 4
  • Trickster spirit: 1
  • Conversions from failure to success: 28

GM Stats

  • Most common enemy abilities used: confusion, fear
  • Strongest party-defenses faced: freedom of movement, find fault, particulate form
  • Highest enemy full-attack damage: 220 (graveknight)
  • Marathon prep hours: ~540
  • Random encounters: 22
  • Breaks taken during the Adventure Path: 1

How it Ended

Atop a rain-soaked tower surrounded by a massive yellow sign, we faced off against Ariadnah the lich and the abomination that Count Lowls had become. Things got off to the kind of start you hope you'll never experience when playing for a championship. We lost two characters on the opening round, with Feiya dropped by a horrid wilting and Winter removed by a maze. The room was silent. We had to block out what was happening, find a way to rally, and do what any team might do in this situation: a Hail Mary. Alahazra threw it in the form of disintegrate, and the lich caught it in the face with a natural one. A few rounds and seven (consecutive) successful saving throws later, we were in a position to win. When the dust of victory finally settled, only Erasmus and Quinn were left holding the belt of Strange Aeons.

More Content

Read through the entirety of The Strange Aeons Experiment.

For character builds, questions about Strange Aeons, content and more, see our thread here on the forums.

Give Order of the Amber Die a Like on Facebook and follow us on YouTube or Instagram for more!

Adam Daigle
Managing Developer

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Tags: Community Order of the Amber Die Pathfinder Adventure Path Strange Aeons

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You used my Roll20 picture! Cool! Sorry you couldn't remove the wall of blades.

Order of the Amber Die

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negative_energy wrote:
You used my Roll20 picture! Cool! Sorry you couldn't remove the wall of blades.

Yes, it worked perfectly, thanks! We liked the symbols for the blades, and left them to represent the enigmatic energy surrounding the occult ritual.

In this fight, Alahazra stood by herself against the bhole--for four rounds! Confident, and with her orb of pure law in hand, the oracle bought crucial time for her companions to gang up on it. It was an epic clash on the Eiffel Tower that we'll remember forever!


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It's so surreal to see this blog post and realize that it's actually over! Here were my thoughts on the process:

As a first time marathoner, the process was both exhilarating and exhausting.
Between the game itself and the jet lag, it would take me several days to really get back
on my feet, but I talked about almost nothing but the marathon for a week. I went into
the experience not knowing most of the group at all, and came out at the end of the
weekend with a group of new friends. By the end of Strange Aeons, I felt closer to
everyone involved than I did to folks I'd known for years.

Playing a healing/ support based cleric as Winter wasn't an entirely new
experience, but I've never played it so intensely. As a prepared caster, I always felt one
step behind what we were encountering, but eventually I found some great standbys,
like remove fear, freedom of movement, and, most especially, breath of life. I'd never
had call to use it in game before, much less multiple times per in-game day. It was a bit
stressful knowing that so much was riding on the spells I chose, but I found it to be a
fulfilling challenge as a gamer.

As someone who went into the Experiment knowing the most about the mythos,
the AP showed me how much more there was to know. I'll definitely have to look into
the Yellow Sign-related material now, and re-read Erich Zann and some of the other
classics. One of the hardest parts about staying in character was not reacting to some
of the encounters that I knew were going to be awful, like fighting the gug.

Overall, the entire marathon run was a fantastic one. I ended up with a firmer
knowledge of the rules, a better understanding of grid-based tactics, and membership
with the best group of gamers I know.

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

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Savannah Broadway wrote:

Overall, the entire marathon run was a fantastic one. I ended up with a firmer

knowledge of the rules, a better understanding of grid-based tactics, and membership with the best group of gamers I know.

Thanks Savannah! It was a pleasure to have you with us, you definitely brought a unique element to the table with your perspective and your role-playing. It definitely wouldn't have been the same without you.

As far as my personal experience is concerned, hmmm...let me see. So much to say, but let me try to boil it down.

Strange Aeons was absolutely a once in a lifetime experience, and by that I mean – as amazing as it was – I don’t think I could ever play it again because after going through it once it wouldn’t be as intense the second time. Not that this adventure path doesn't have any replay value, which it does (especially with different combinations of characters) but for me this was a mentally and emotionally exhausting ordeal more than another other Pathfinder campaign that I’ve played. This mostly had to do with the blend of Lovecraftian mythos that was equal parts exhilarating and frustrating due to my ignorance of it and the difficulty I had dealing with it, but that was why we called this an experiment, which I believe was successful in that right. All in all, the saying "You can't unring a bell" comes to mind. *wink wink*

In regards to playing the medium Erasmus in this campaign...this particular class definitely exacerbated these feelings. Having to portray multiple personalities made the struggle quite real, especially when it came to additional issues like madness and possession. It was the single most challenging role-playing experience of my career--so much that, as reluctant as I am to admit this, I inadvertently brought some of it back into my real life. For instance, after the first couple of the marathons I went back into work and my co-workers (who weren’t aware of what I was really doing during my days off) asked the customary question, “How was your vacation?” But instead of responding with the usual, “It was great! I did this, that, and the other thing…” I cocked my head, raised an eyebrow, and I believe one time I even responded with, “Harrowing.”

Anyway, although I didn’t return to work refreshed or renewed as normal after a normal vacation, in some ways it did feel like one. I went places I’ve never been, seen things I’ve never even come close to imagining, and did things I never thought I’d ever do in this game. It was unforgettable, and I totally recommend it to all Pathfinder fans regardless of how much or how little they know about Lovecraft. But, if you do – for the love of the gods – please make sure you play a character with a good Will save or you might seriously lose your mind!


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I wonder if the DM altered the number puzzle. I ran it as written and my players figured it out in around six minutes.

(Edited for accuracy)

Order of the Amber Die

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Spastic Puma wrote:

I wonder if the DM altered the number puzzle. I ran it as written and my players figured it out in around six minutes.

(Edited for accuracy)

As with everything, we played it just as written. Haha, thanks for rubbing it in on them, Puma! ;-)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Congratulations, y'all!

Order of the Amber Die

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Andrew Mullen wrote:
Congratulations, y'all!

Thanks, Andrew!

A little bit better outcome than The Giantslayer Endeavor, Marathon 6 (click here for anyone who hasn't read it). However, both were epic!


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This makes me so happy.

Okay, question for you bold souls. Knowing little about Lovecraft or the Mythos going in... what were the scariest / creepiest / most got-under-your-skin bits of the Path? And, to be scrupulous about it, what were the bits that didn't work for you?

Doug M.


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357 hours of playtime? Now I don't feel quite so bad that almost a year after release my group is barely wrapping up chapter 3.

The Exchange Order of the Amber Die

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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

This makes me so happy.

Okay, question for you bold souls. Knowing little about Lovecraft or the Mythos going in... what were the scariest / creepiest / most got-under-your-skin bits of the Path? And, to be scrupulous about it, what were the bits that didn't work for you?

Doug M.

I'll go first, but I'm guessing everybody is going to want in on this one.

Going in, I expected my sanity and playing abilities to be tested, as I'd heard Lovecraft-anything was known for being brutal and merciless. This path did not disappoint. I've been playing Pathfinder, D&D, and other RPGs for over twenty years, and many times I was left feeling like a complete novice to the game.

The pickled punks in the first module were an example of something that I didn't expect to bother me as much as it did, they were just disgusting. The Dreamlands was another place that was completely unsettling with its alien environments and people, combined with the challenge of it. Neruzavin was the worst for me, that city broke both me and my character (Quinn)! The relentless carnage and lack of safety in that place brought a level of anxiety that I just wasn't expecting. Add in how much we didn't know or understand, and it was a disturbing experience. Also remember that when we play these marathons we stay inside these fantasy locations for days of real life too, so that ups the level of the entire experience. The lighting, dark ambient music, and our GM torturing us with sounds like fierce wind (for hours) can't be counted out either.

The only thing that I can think of that didn't really work for me was just how hopeless and powerless I felt during the last marathon. I can look back at it and honestly say that if it weren't for a few powerful items that crossed our path, we never would have survived as long as we did. The horror of spending days lying under our friends' bodies (long story), or watching Quinn drop after 2 hits brought me to a new level of fear. Running through that first section of Carcosa with the dual encounters of polyps was unrelenting, cruel, and horrific, but I admit there's a part of me that enjoyed it; this may have been because we were ultimately successful in the AP, although even after the success I felt less than satisfied. I was left asking myself and the group, "Did we really win?" I'm not sure if that is common with Lovecraft but it's not something I'm accustomed to in my regular gaming sessions. After all, we still had to return to Golarion and the mess we left behind...


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Adam Smith wrote:
Spastic Puma wrote:

I wonder if the DM altered the number puzzle. I ran it as written and my players figured it out in around six minutes.

(Edited for accuracy)

As with everything, we played it just as written. Haha, thanks for rubbing it in on them, Puma! ;-)

Haha. That is too funny.

Although, I will say it is very different getting a puzzle after a couple hours into a session, as opposed to days into a massive marathon session. Folks are pretty spent and brains are pretty taxed by then. And sometimes the last thing you want to do is puzzle out a brain teaser the DM/module throws at you. Still, gotta suck it up and do it though!

Order of the Amber Die

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grandobsidian wrote:
357 hours of playtime? Now I don't feel quite so bad that almost a year after release my group is barely wrapping up chapter 3.

Yes, don't feel bad, this AP seemed like it was designed to go slow enough to scare players and allow for a real-time experience as well. I spent more effort on descriptions, noises, ambience, and developing the scene for even some of the simplest encounters. At the same time, the players spent a lot of time on developing their characters and roleplaying out the little bits that often fall through the cracks (Erasmus's daily seance, for example).

We've been tracking completion times for three APs so far: Giantslayer, Strange Aeons, and Runelords (still in part 5). Runelords is right on track to finish close to Giantslayer, but Strange Aeons was the equivalent of an entire volume longer than both. We felt as if we were going too slow for a while, but then learned to relax and enjoy Strange Aeons for what it was: a story of horror and mystery.

Very, very soon we'll have a new project starting that will let us track yet another AP to completion...


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Very interesting that the first two to die were also the ones to survive til the end! I can't wait to read all your updates in the experiment PDF you share in drop box! It was thrilling to follow along 4th of July weekend with your contest! It was a lot of fun to see the group progress along. Thanks again Adam and team!

Daniel,
I love the notes about the induced anxiety from the constant pressures and dangers. You really are never safe in this game. I think that's why settings like Ravenloft can be so successful. I really hope to capture this with my team.

I'm so very excited as my current game is ending this Saturday; the players are excited too. However, October 21st we begin our Strange Aeons campaign. I'll be map drawing on my mats over the next month!

Again, eager to read through your pdf and consolidate all the suggestions and details your team has provided. Thank you Order of the Amber Die!

Also in case you didn't know...
The Order of the Amber Die is on Patreon!

Visit their patreon here! Or the url: https://www.patreon.com/OrderOfTheAmberDie

Help support them in this and future endeavors! Your support helps them "...spend more time producing the high quality content (they) are known for, and on a more consistent basis."

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

6 people marked this as a favorite.

What a great (and informative) wrap up! Thanks for tackling this endeavor, but more importantly, thanks for taking us all along for the ride!

Looking forward to what y'all do next!

Order of the Amber Die

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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

This makes me so happy.

Okay, question for you bold souls. Knowing little about Lovecraft or the Mythos going in... what were the scariest / creepiest / most got-under-your-skin bits of the Path? And, to be scrupulous about it, what were the bits that didn't work for you?

Doug M.

Great questions, Doug! I've had a good amount of time to reflect on the path now (and dig into Lovecraft for the first time), so let me see what I can add to this. I'll stick to just what was Lovecraftian or Mythos, since there was a lot I liked about the AP aside from Mythos considerations.

Scariest/creepiest/under-my-skin parts of the AP:

In Search of Sanity: Nightgaunts were really weird for all of us--remember that no one in the room had ever seen or heard of one before. I remember this line somewhere around hour 30-35 during In Search of Sanity: "Yes, it tickles you...in a hard and mean way."

The Thrushmoor Terror: With the fog machines pumping and the True Detective soundtrack in the background, we sat inside an empty chapel and sifted through evidence as rain pattered on the windows outside. Toss in a little amnesia and a sense of something being really, really wrong in the town, and we felt like maybe we hit the investigative side of Call of Cthulhu pretty close. At the time, however, we had no idea, and wondered: Is this really Pathfinder?

Dreams of the Yellow King: The Dream Quests were just awesome, as were the mechanics for dying and trying to leave the dream early. I had no idea where the ideas for these came from, or even what Sarnath was. Most of the players struggled to enjoy the dreams, as they thoroughly got their butts kicked in there, and I'll be tough on them and say that they also failed to adapt fast enough to the mechanics provided. Easier said from this side of the screen though!

The Whisper Out of Time: This one had to be the Mysterium itself. I render around 50 to 75 maps a year for these projects; while I've seen plenty of libraries inside dungeons, I've never seen or drawn such an extensive library that was a dungeon. I wish we had more time to go back and explore the rest (darn proto-shoggoths and their stat blocks). And I wish I hadn't erased those maps, either.

What Grows Within: Polyps, hands down. Still going to go on record here and say that these are some of the meanest creatures in the game of Pathfinder. A perfect combination of gross and efficient--a GM's daydream. I'd love to hear some stories of parties that were highly successful against these while the GM was utilizing the full rules set. What made it worse was that we had no idea what these things were prior to this adventure! I guess that accounts for the deaths...

Black Stars Beckon: Queen Cassilda won the hearts of not just myself, but many in our group, as did Erich Zann. We never expected to have so much roleplaying all the way to the very end, and I was happy with the decision to include Erich as a live-NPC for this. Once again, we had no idea if these were just characters made up by Jim Groves, or whether they were part of something from the Mythos. I liked Cassilda's story (and its connection to Carcosa) so much, it was the only time in the entire project I almost asked Adam Daigle to tell me if she was just part of the adventure or something much larger.

The bit that didn't work for me:

I struggled with Leng Ghouls. I couldn't seem to figure out enough of their background to make comfortable sense of them (besides being very intelligent and deadly ghouls), so I went with what was given in the adventures and bestiary. At the same time, they played an immense role in the AP, so I did what any GM should: I made myself care about Leng Ghouls, and let the players decide for themselves what they thought of them.

Thanks for going on this ride with us, Doug!


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What did you do to get such great-looking maps?


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How did the encounters with the kudimmu, the larvae of the outer gods, the shrike worms, and the Pallid Mask go?

Order of the Amber Die

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Patrick Newcarry wrote:
What did you do to get such great-looking maps?

Thanks!! Let's see, there are three types of maps in the seven photos here:

1.) The Eiffel Tower was a file version upgraded from 96DPI to 150DPI and printed out (see first two comments).

2.) The second type of map is the snow field with the shoggoth chasing Alahazra and Quinn in both the art and on the field, which is a PVC map made by Deep Cut Studio.

3.) The other maps are all hand-drawn by myself prior to the marathon, then sadly, this happens. Or--every now and then--this happens.


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Such an epic undertaking!

The map work is just incredible. And that Monster photo is priceless. So. Much. Monster.

I've been following along on Facebook, but this is my first time checking out the Paizo Blog. I'll be back here again, for sure!

Such a cool and supportive community. Game on!

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

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Adam Daigle wrote:

What a great (and informative) wrap up! Thanks for tackling this endeavor, but more importantly, thanks for taking us all along for the ride!

Looking forward to what y'all do next!

Thank you so much Adam, we can't say enough about the hard work you put into this, as it showed every step of the way. I'm also grateful that I had the chance to play Erasmus, and I'm definitely going to miss him. Yes, it's normal for players to feel this way about their characters after spending years with them, but for us this experience happens in such a concentrated time frame that they're gone before we know it, and it's bittersweet. Anyway, I digress--on to the next adventure! We're definitely excited for our next iconic roster, and we'll do our best to bring them to life as much as we did in Strange Aeons.

Aerick Lim
Player Captain

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

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Benjamin Bruck wrote:

How did the encounters with the kudimmu, the larvae of the outer gods, the shrike worms, and the Pallid Mask go?

That's a mixed bag, Ben, some went really well and others not so much.

-The kudimmu we wrecked with horrid wilting and flame strike spells from Feiya and Winter respectively. Then our freedom of movement spells kept us from being grappled and allowed us to finish it off in quick fashion. Given all of the tentacled horrors in this AP, that spell was a key to our success.
-The larvae of the outer gods gave us fits every time we encountered one when we didn't have Erich Zann with us for protection. Another valuable spell, calm emotions , was also crucial to our survival since there were countless creatures that caused confusion, with this being the worst one.
-The shrike worms would've been more challenging if we all didn't have the Shake it Off teamwork feat, which continued to pay dividends for us. Having faced many aberrations prior, we knew they were weak against Fort save abilities so Alahazra put her Aging Touch and Erase from Time revelations to good use. An early siphon might spell from Feiya allowed Erasmus and Quinn to clean up in the later rounds.
-The Pallid Mask, however, was the worst. We saw the actual "yellow sign" and it was horrible, as he proceeded to abuse us to the point where we started abusing ourselves after half our group was dominated and turned on the others. Yet another necessary spell in this campaign, magic circle against evil, continued to be in high demand, but if Queen Cassilda hadn't intervened towards the end of the battle even that wouldn't have saved us!

In the end, all of the encounters had their moments. Some we were prepared for, or were well-suited to win, but we faced TPK in more instances throughout this adventure than we dare to count. Good times!

Order of the Amber Die

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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

This makes me so happy.

Okay, question for you bold souls. Knowing little about Lovecraft or the Mythos going in... what were the scariest / creepiest / most got-under-your-skin bits of the Path? And, to be scrupulous about it, what were the bits that didn't work for you?

Doug M.

Great to hear from you Doug! We really appreciate you following along and your great engagement. Awesome question.

I think for me one of the creepiest moments was discovering the pickled punks in In Search of Sanity. The idea of one of those little things connecting to my neck in real life gave me chills. Dan (played Quinn in the project) noted feeling similar about these little abominations in his comment above (about 12 posts ago), so clearly they hit on something with those things. So nasty!

The scariest thing I experienced was probably the weather effects outside of the asylum in that same adventure. Each of them was really creepy and used to great effect by the author and our GM. We were not ready for it to rain eyeballs. What the hell?!?

As far as bits that didn't work, although the overall volume was good, Fort Hailcourse and parts of Iris Hill (main manor) in The Thrushmoor Terror felt rote compared to most of the rest of what we had experienced up to that point. Looking back after four more volumes, that feeling is probably even stronger.

The Exchange Order of the Amber Die

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SilentInfinity wrote:

Very interesting that the first two to die were also the ones to survive til the end! I can't wait to read all your updates in the experiment PDF you share in drop box! It was thrilling to follow along 4th of July weekend with your contest! It was a lot of fun to see the group progress along. Thanks again Adam and team!

Daniel,
I love the notes about the induced anxiety from the constant pressures and dangers. You really are never safe in this game. I think that's why settings like Ravenloft can be so successful. I really hope to capture this with my team.

I'm so very excited as my current game is ending this Saturday; the players are excited too. However, October 21st we begin our Strange Aeons campaign. I'll be map drawing on my mats over the next month!

Again, eager to read through your pdf and consolidate all the suggestions and details your team has provided. Thank you Order of the Amber Die!

Also in case you didn't know...
The Order of the Amber Die is on Patreon!

Visit their patreon here! Or the url: https://www.patreon.com/OrderOfTheAmberDie

Help support them in this and future endeavors! Your support helps them "...spend more time producing the high quality content (they) are known for, and on a more consistent basis."

Silent,

I'm glad I could be helpful in some way, the full immersion that comes from the marathon setting intensified the horror and anxiety. I remember playing Ravenloft with friends when I was about 15 and the isolation of your characters from everything familiar to them is a key thing to intensify the eerieness. Any kind of props that can be brought bring in, such as music, candles, incense, etc, go a long way toward improving the immersion. You could try what we did for the asylum, minus those accursed fog machines, and lock yourselves in a dark room for hours at a time. I can tell you, it did wonders for my sanity!

Congratulations on completing a campaign, that is an accomplishment always worth celebrating. It really is a bittersweet moment, and I'm glad I was able to experience mine with this group. These will be stories I'll be telling in the old folks home. I'd be happy to hear from you if you wanna throw some questions my way and I definitely think you'll get useful information from the PDF.

Thank you for all your interest and support, Silent. I look forward to hearing more about how Strange Aeons treats you, it wasn't gentle with me.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Daniel Scholler wrote:

Silent,

I'm glad I could be helpful in some way, the full immersion that comes from the marathon setting intensified the horror and anxiety. I remember playing Ravenloft with friends when I was about 15 and the isolation of your characters from everything familiar to them is a key thing to intensify the eerieness. Any kind of props that can be brought bring in, such as music, candles, incense, etc, go a long way toward improving the immersion. You could try what we did for the asylum, minus those accursed fog machines, and lock yourselves in a dark room for hours at a time. I can tell you, it did wonders for my sanity!...

Thanks Daniel, you can call me Rob too. I don't mean to hide completely behind the anonymity of a user name!

The anxiety and isolation are important parts of these games! You might be a hero but unlike other common fantasy games, maybe the villagers don't realize or appreciate. Or you're moving so quickly through dangerous territory there's little time to celebrate if you even succeeded at all.

I bought up the Syrinscape packs for Strange Aeons and will use them with glee. I'll also be borrowing from some of your musical suggestions from the PDF. I've got Phillips Hue lights to play with lightning as desired and will have candles and small lights for assistance too. It helps that we're starting in October so Halloween and autumnal decorations will be out. Incense is a good idea though maybe the right kind of scented candle will work as well. I have at least one fog machine which I can likely make yellow through the lights. Thanks for that reminder!

We'll play late into the night on the 21st. I'm looking to gather us early afternoon so all are ready, comfortable, and eager to go by 5 p.m. We can't do the marathon sessions like you guys have, but I'm optimistic of our evening sessions every other Saturday night!


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Matt Hardin wrote:
Adam Smith wrote:
Spastic Puma wrote:

I wonder if the DM altered the number puzzle. I ran it as written and my players figured it out in around six minutes.

(Edited for accuracy)

As with everything, we played it just as written. Haha, thanks for rubbing it in on them, Puma! ;-)

Haha. That is too funny.

Although, I will say it is very different getting a puzzle after a couple hours into a session, as opposed to days into a massive marathon session. Folks are pretty spent and brains are pretty taxed by then. And sometimes the last thing you want to do is puzzle out a brain teaser the DM/module throws at you. Still, gotta suck it up and do it though!

That's a good point. Even after playing for three hours my brain starts to feel like it's slowly being microwaved.

Order of the Amber Die

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Wow, it’s hard to write this and know that the project is over, and yet I can already tell that it has left a permanent mark on our gaming careers. We have never tested ourselves so much in regard to immersion—I believe we were in the dark or with strange lighting for at least three-quarters of the AP. It was a crazy ride throughout, from a room full of candles when we first awoke in the asylum, to the infinite black background for the Dreamlands. The over 60-hour difference between the completion times of The Strange Aeons Experiment and The Giantslayer Endeavor is best explained by the abundant amount of roleplaying we embraced in this AP.

To the Order, never forget:

Marathon 1: The candles incident, and how we almost added a visit from the local fire department to our list of marathon memories.

Marathon 2: Fog. And more fog. I still see fog in my living room sometimes.

Marathon 3: Our trippy Dreamlands ritual.

Marathon 4: Taking the only session break in the entire marathon series, as we learned that nothing can derail a marathon faster than a broken toilet.

Marathon 5: Upianshe’s scream—you know I scared you guys.

Marathon 6: How long it actually took to display the collection of Monster cans.

I am the luckiest GM to have such devoted players, who time and time again took days off from work and traveled incredible distances to make the The Strange Aeons Experiment possible. These players spent many precious weekends doing write-ups, tracking data, and helping to create the showcase pieces that can be seen in these blogs. A huge thanks to all Order members who contributed in many ways despite the distance between us (Alex, Erick, Ian, Maxx, Sean), and for taking on cameos or live-NPCs to enhance the experience for all.

Lastly, to the Amber Die itself: You always find a way to remind us of your influence. You delivered a natural 20 on the first attack of the campaign-opening Tatterman encounter, then confirmed the crit to kill Quinn. Your gift made the dream real. You set the dark tone of our journey, and I tried my best to match it.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

"I have looked upon all the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me."

H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu

Order of the Amber Die

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Daji, I'm sad that our journey is at its end, my friend.

Shall we tell them how you did?

Daji had 9 kills:

-assassin vine
-ooze
-cultist, 2nd floor of Iris Hill
-hound in Hailcourse
-sailor of Razmir
-Derro
-Undead hand
-Ghoul

Daji successfully used knowledge checks on 12 occasions to identify creatures we were fighting.

Daji located one secret door in the chamber of Pharasma beneath Iris Hill.

Be proud, my sweet fox. I will miss you. :)

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