For our latest entry in the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game homebrew series, we turn to Ron Lundeen, who's made a habit of crafting entire homebrew PACG Adventure Paths for free, posted on Ron's website. You should play them all, says us. (By the way, Paizo recently hired Ron as an RPG developer. Congratulations, Ron!)
I wanted to talk a bit about my latest variant Adventure Path for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, God Callers of Sarkoris. Let me open with a confession: I absolutely adore the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, but I didn't much care for the Wrath of the Righteous set. Although it introduced a lot of interesting new mechanics, including cohorts, the mythic rules didn't scale in a way that I liked; overall, the set didn't resonate with me. This was a shame because, in playing through the game, I was frequently delighted to see items that I'd created for the RPG make their way into card form (such as Barding of Pleated Light and Pauper's Thighbone).
I'd created an entire variant adventure path for the Rise of the Runelords set, called Shield of Rannick, as well as a variant adventure path for Skull and Shackles, called Bloodlust Corsairs. My variant adventure paths don't require new cards; they just let you use the cards you already own in new ways. I initially said I wasn't going to design a variant adventure path for Wrath of the Righteous, but my inner game designer just wouldn't let it go. It kept nagging at me with questions and insisting on answers.
Why didn't I like Wrath of the Righteous? Well, I didn't like the mythic components (mythic charges and mythic paths). Could the mythic aspects be jettisoned? Far fewer than half of the cards use those mechanics... but the basic blessings do, as well as many villains, barriers, and late-game armors. So I explored the idea of replacing them with something else, and eventually decided to use some neat Skull and Shackles cards to fill in those holes.
Or appear to fill in those holes.
Now I realized I was actually going to design something, so I set to work. For my previous variant Adventure Paths, I'd set out all the villains, henchmen, and locations and thought, "What new story do these cards want to tell?" That's pretty hard to do when you know the RPG adventure background (that Fort Rannick is a ranger fort overrun with ogres, for example), and I normally have to work hard to separate my RPG knowledge from what is plainly written (and illustrated) on the cards in front of me. But that wasn't so hard this time, because I'd never actually played the RPG version of Wrath of the Righteous. It should therefore have been easy to mix them around. Still, I kept coming back to the same story: the heroes go into the Worldwound and kill a bunch of demons. I thought that story had already been told quite well, and I needed something new.
I've done a lot of writing for the RPG and I knew quite a bit about the lore of the area around the Worldwound: it was once a barbarian nation called Sarkoris. To me, Sarkoris had a lot of the feel of the old Conan stories, with barbarian kings and witches and decadent cities and the triumph of brawn over beasts. Plus, its summoners called pieces of gods to their sides—that was really neat. It hit me that I didn't want to set my variant in the Worldwound; I wanted to set it before the Worldwound, in the time of Sarkoris.
It further struck me that I'd need some mechanic to "power up" the characters if I took mythic paths away, or even the ordinary monsters and barriers would be too tough. Rather than a straight numerical increase, I wanted to give some flexibility to all the characters; this took the form of additional "supercharged" power feats. I also wanted to offer some variety, so I gave players a choice of bonus power feats. A sudden idea simultaneously solved the power problem and gave my variant adventure path its name: I'd let all the characters tap into the deific powers of Sarkorian god callers. The cohort rules already showed how summoners worked (thanks, Balazar!), so I assigned everyone a cohort that gave them powers to "level up" over time. Everyone would be god callers of Sarkoris! The specific abilities were revised and refined several times, thanks to a lot of good feedback on the forums here.
Share the love, god caller Alase.
Let me jump on a legal tangent to say that my variant adventure paths are free; they have to be, because I produce them under Paizo's Community Use Policy. That policy forbids charging for products, but it opens up tons of fantastic art for use. The Community Use Policy doesn't let you use Paizo's storylines (I couldn't reproduce the plot of one of their RPG adventure paths, for example) or most of Paizo's maps.
But I really wanted a map to show all the neat locations in fallen Sarkoris; this map would also show how the characters travel across the land in their adventures. Fortunately, I know a talented cartographer named Marco Morte, and he put a map together for me at a reasonable rate. To sketch out that map—and, in fact, the whole plot of God Callers of Sarkoris—I relied on information about the Worldwound. (I later learned that Paizo had already produced a map of Sarkoris, tucked into Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Lost Kingdoms, and my map wasn't too far off the "official" one.) You can see Marco's map prominently displayed in God Callers of Sarkoris, available from welbybumpus.com, but here it is for your enjoyment.
Give God Callers of Sarkoris a try; I've changed a few other things, like how servitor demons work, how recurring villains become nemeses, and so forth. It all playtested quite well, and I'd love to hear what you think!