Happy Gobboween! Monday, October 31, 2011Joy to the world on this glorious, sucrose-fueled nightmare night! And if you Paizonians are anything like the Paizo staff, then you know there’s only one way to celebrate Halloween: By hiding your face so evil spirits can’t find you and make you learn to read. ... But this year is different! This year you can hide your face in style with your very own Paizo Pathfinder goblin* mask, free of charge. To bring your goblin face to life, just follow these...
Monday, October 31, 2011
Joy to the world on this glorious, sucrose-fueled nightmare night! And if you Paizonians are anything like the Paizo staff, then you know there’s only one way to celebrate Halloween: By hiding your face so evil spirits can’t find you and make you learn to read.
But this year is different! This year you can hide your face in style with your very own Paizo Pathfinder goblin* mask, free of charge. To bring your goblin face to life, just follow these easy instructions:
Download this handy goblin-face PDF and print it out on your home system. Don’t have a color printer? No problem! Goblins print just as fiercely in black and white, and then you can color it in yourself and fool your friends and neighbors into thinking you have crazy, Paizo-level artistic talent. Don’t have a printer at all? Also not a problem! Just grab a piece of paper, draw a circle, add two red eyes and approximately fourteen thousand teeth.**
Paste your goblin face and ears to poster board for added stability.
Carefully cut out your goblin face and both ears along the dotted lines, then snip out the dotted eyeholes in the face. Kids: Always remember to get an adult’s help when using scissors! Adults: Always remember to get a kid’s help when following dotted lines! To make your goblin performance more authentic, do not cut out the eyeholes and instead cut out a tongue-hole.***
Glue, staple, or magically bond the ears to their appropriate sides of the goblin face. If you can read the abhorrent letter guides, you are not a true goblin and should stop this farce immediately!
Use string, tape, rubber bands, or spittle to secure the goblin mask to your face. Drool to excess.
When evil spirits come looking for living to torment, simply cock your head toward someone not wearing a goblin mask and give them a wink. They’ll understand.
If you want to make your goblin appearance more genuine, try a few last-minute, so-easy-an-elf-could-do-it goblin costume tricks:
Roll your rattiest clothing around under the car. Alternatively, roll your clothes around in rats.
Smear a little black makeup around your eyes to help them blend with the mask. Or to reflect the darkness in your soul.
Eat a pickle.
Brush your clothing’s elbows, knees, and cuffs with rough sandpaper or a wire brush to make it appropriately goblin-esque.
Grab a paper towel tube and stuff one end with red crepe paper, wrapping paper, and ribbon for an impromptu (but sadly not enflamed) torch. Tape a small flashlight in the other end to give it a bit of a glow! For a more authentic goblin torch, melt pitch and bear fat and use a bigger flashlight.
Hose your forearms with a little hairspray or spray adhesive, then run them under the bed!
Eat another pickle.
Practice your crazy laugh. 90% of goblin is attitude (much of the rest of snot and belly-button lint); the laugh is half the attitude. So if you master the laugh, you’re like... 97% goblin.
* Any resemblance to actual goblins, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
** Fourteen thousand is merely a rough estimate. Goblins mouths range anywhere from seven to twenty thousand teeth. Shazo the Grinny currently holds the record for most teeth in a single mouth at 21,337 (not all his).
*** Paizo does not advocate this approach for anyone without the Blind Fighting feat. Or anyone. Ever.
Pathfinder Battles Preview: Spooky Salutations! Friday, October 28, 2011All-Hallow’s Eve is almost upon us, so I’ve decided to shake up the regular preview regime and show off a few spooooooooky Pathfinder Battles miniatures from the forthcoming Heroes & Monsters set, regardless of their distribution rarity within the set. ... First up is the Zombie, one of the most iconic horror creatures of all time. We figured that most GMs would appreciate a horde of these undead critters, so we’ve placed...
Pathfinder Battles Preview: Spooky Salutations!
Friday, October 28, 2011
All-Hallow’s Eve is almost upon us, so I’ve decided to shake up the regular preview regime and show off a few spooooooooky Pathfinder Battles miniatures from the forthcoming Heroes & Monsters set, regardless of their distribution rarity within the set.
First up is the Zombie, one of the most iconic horror creatures of all time. We figured that most GMs would appreciate a horde of these undead critters, so we’ve placed him in the common rarity—the better to overrun your player characters, of course!
This guy was a real struggle to get right. The first digital sculpts we received had his hands in the air like he was some kind of dancing fool, but after a bit of tweaking I think he’s finally in a correct “grasp/lunge” sort of stance. The photo doesn’t quite do justice to the details on this figure. Parts of his skull and ribcage are peeking through holes in his rotted skin. Yuck!
Next up we have the Werewolf, a fearsome foe from myth and legend. This lupine horror lunges straight at your player characters with one set of claws up in the air for a killing strike! I especially like the way that the Werewolf still has remnants of his human outfit, such as the torn bits of his pants around the waist and the single leather bracer on his left hand. WizKids has also added a nice drybrushing effect to highlight the contours of the rare Werewolf’s fur. And though I don’t have a photo to show this week, gamers will be happy to know that the regular Wolf in this set has exactly the same color fur, meaning that you could use both miniatures to represent different stages of the Werewolf’s lycanthropy.
Lastly we have a creepy rare critter that you definitely don’t want showing up outside your door whispering “trick or treat.” Keeping the door shut won’t keep him out, because he is incorporeal and can walk right though! Beware, the Spectre!
Super-dedicated Pathfinder fans might notice that this Spectre miniature is not based on the Spectre illustration in the Pathfinder Bestiary. That’s probably OK, I reasoned, since the illustration of that creature in the Bestiary wasn’t originally a Spectre either, and its wispy bottom half and dwarf upper half didn’t strike the right pose for a miniature, anyway. Knowing that we needed a Spectre in our set, we looked through our entire art archive and pulled the best-looking “spectral dead” image we could find. Thus was born this nasty critter, who can double for just about any type of incorporeal undead in the game.
Yes, it would be an even cooler miniature if we’d figured out some way to incorporate transparent plastic into the figure, but for this first set we didn’t have the time to do that kind of trickery.
I’m happy to report that that isn’t the case for future sets, however, and plenty of creepy and cool minis with see-through bits are just over the horizon
So there you have it. Three of the creepiest minis from Heroes & Monsters, soon to be appearing on your gaming table. They won’t make it in time to share Halloween with you, but since they’re scheduled for a December release, I suggest making room for them at Christmas dinner.
I hear they’re ravenous.
Next Week: I reveal photos of some of the set’s amazing common creatures!
Meet the Iconics: Feiya Thursday, October 27, 2011 ... Illustration by Wayne ReynoldsBorn in a small village north of Trollheim in the Linnorm Kingdoms, the child who would come to be known as Feiya was the daughter of two Tian merchants from Minkai who had come over the crown of the world to Avistan to start a new life. Travelers by nature, they spent the short northern summers making slow loops through Hagreach and the Thanelands, facilitating trade. What few memories Feiya has of that life...
Meet the Iconics: Feiya
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Born in a small village north of Trollheim in the Linnorm Kingdoms, the child who would come to be known as Feiya was the daughter of two Tian merchants from Minkai who had come over the crown of the world to Avistan to start a new life. Travelers by nature, they spent the short northern summers making slow loops through Hagreach and the Thanelands, facilitating trade. What few memories Feiya has of that life are happy ones: the jostling of wagons, the smell of campfires, and wandering alone through fields and forests, marveling as the wildness closed around her.
That happiness came to a sudden halt on the fateful day that brought her to the attention of a recently sundered coven of witches who dwelled on the border with Irrisen. Led by a particularly cruel green hag named Nysima, the coven had lost its youngest member to a squad of Blackravens from Trollheim and was still reeling from its sudden loss of power. They witnessed the child as she skipped away from the caravan stop, following a family of deer deep into the woods, and immediately set upon her.
There’s no telling what cruelties the witches would have visited upon the girl had they not suffered their recent loss. As it was, another, no less horrific, fate awaited young Feiya. The two crones seized the child and whisked her away to the east, their mad cackling drowning out the young girl’s terrified screams. By the time they reached their snow- and thatch-covered huts, they had given the child a new name and were already envisioning the return of their lost powers.
The next twelve years were a blur of pain, terror, and misery as Feiya endured the crones’ sadistic attempts to teach her their dark craft. Alternating between tutelage and torture, the witches frequently let their cruel natures impede their instruction. For while the young girl showed unmistakable promise and aptitude, she also possessed a defiance that only the harshest of punishments could suppress. On numerous occasions, Feiya tried to escape her imprisonment, only to be tracked down and captured after no more than a few hours. The retributions for these failed attempts have scarred her body and mind in ways that no magic can ever heal.
One brisk autumn day, after being beaten for failing to properly brew a batch of poisonous blue whinnis, Feiya was sent off to gather herbs. While harvesting more whinnis root, she spied a fox watching her from atop a large rime-covered rock. Unlike the region’s typical arctic specimens, this creature had a striking red and orange coloration that stood in stark contrast to the endless snow. There was something about the way the creature watched her that beckoned to Feiya. She approached carefully, and was astonished by his calm and focus. As she neared, the fox trotted a small distance away, turned, and gave her a look that was clearly an invitation to follow. This process was repeated again and again, and before she knew it, Feiya was following the fox on another escape attempt.
By sundown, the two witches had realized Feiya’s intentions. Furious, they set off in pursuit, confident that, as with all previous instances, their hunt would be brief. This time, however, Feiya had guidance. The fox led her along trails never before seen by human nor hag, staying always just ahead and out of reach. When she needed nourishment, the fox led her to game and fresh water. When she needed rest, it stood vigil while she slept. In this manner, Feiya was able to elude capture for more than two weeks.
One particularly cold evening, however, Feiya’s luck ran out. With her pursuers hot on her trail and the fox nowhere to be seen, she found herself trapped in a river valley surrounded on three sides by impassable mountains. Feiya could sense the witches closing in, could hear their promises of pain on the chilling wind. She took shelter in a shallow cave behind the waterfall that fed the river, a curious little grotto whose far wall was emblazoned with a crude carving of a butterfly. Like an animal run to ground, Feiya steeled herself for the coming confrontation. She had come too far this time to surrender without a fight. She determined then and there that her days of living under someone else’s yoke were over. She would have her freedom, either in this life or the next.
It was at that moment that the fox reappeared. Only now, there was something different in the way he approached her. He had always shown a preternatural intelligence, but as Feiya stared into his eyes, she saw a consciousness and a determination that would have frightened her had she not come to trust the animal so implicitly. As she watched him, Feiya was startled by a sudden and overwhelming flurry of sensations invading her mind. She sank, dazed, to the cave floor as the feelings slowly crystallized into coherence. Less a voice than a series of emotions, the promise it offered was unmistakable. Feiya said nothing, but her acceptance was as clear as it was quick.
What followed will forever haunt Feiya’s dreams. Raspy promises of pain and suffering rose above the din of the waterfall as the witches drew near to cave mouth. Feiya could see the outlines of their hunched bodies just beyond the blanket of cascading water, but before she could act, another sound arose. It started as a low rumble, then quickly gained volume, drowning out both hags and water and sending tremors through the cave floor. Then the valley erupted with the screeching and roaring of what could only have been a forest’s worth of wild animals, punctured occasionally by the shrill curse of a hag.
Long minutes passed as Feiya stood, too frightened to move. Then, as gradually as it began, the noise subsided until all that remained was the crash of the waterfall. Feiya crouched down behind a rocky outcropping, afraid to leave the shelter of the cave. As the minutes turned into hours, exhaustion claimed her, and, despite her anxiety, she succumbed to a fitful sleep.
When dawn finally arrived, Feiya stepped out from the cave, not quite sure what she was expecting to see. A fresh blanket of snow had covered the land, hiding any clues she might have found concerning the events of the previous night. Yet the feeling of relief was palpable. The fox crept up and paused at her side. She was finally free.
Feiya never discusses the events of that night, nor the particulars of the strange pact she entered into. She may one day try to track down the parents she barely remembers, but for now she is content to roam the world, relishing her freedom, seeking new experiences, and developing her newfound power. Though she desperately desires the company of others, formative years spent away from civilized society have left Feiya lacking in social graces, and her awkwardness often leads to unfortunate misunderstandings. Nevertheless, her inherent good nature tends to win out, and her occasional flares of temper are countered by her steadfast loyalty to her friends. Feiya relishes travel, and having identified the butterfly carving in the waterfall cave as the found-mark of a Desnan priest, she gladly embraces that faith, hoping that her wanderings may cast more light on who she really is—and what entity fosters her magical abilities.
Blood and Moneyby Steven Savile ... Chapter One: NightwalkerIt was well after midnight in the garden. He was not alone. Aphids crept and crawled across his bare skin, and a hot wind blew in from the desert. The unseasonal sirocco was an excuse for madness. Men would use it as a rationale for particularly savage beatings, claiming the wind had driven them to it. Isra had no patience for weak men or liars. He did, however, appreciate the beauty of the well-tended garden. ... The topiaries of...
Blood and Money
by Steven Savile
Chapter One: Nightwalker
It was well after midnight in the garden. He was not alone. Aphids crept and crawled across his bare skin, and a hot wind blew in from the desert. The unseasonal sirocco was an excuse for madness. Men would use it as a rationale for particularly savage beatings, claiming the wind had driven them to it.
Isra had no patience for weak men or liars. He did, however, appreciate the beauty of the well-tended garden.
The topiaries of Hasim Rakhman's palace were legendary, all manner of fabulous beasts carved out of the shrubbery to stand guard over the merchant’s equally legendary maze. Isra stood in the shadow of a leonine predator. The scent of jasmine was thick in the air, overpowering other, far subtler musks from the many more delicate plants in the garden.
He hadn’t moved so much as a muscle for more than a quarter of an hour. In the landscape of shadows, even the slightest movement, a finger moving to scratch an itch, was exaggerated and could so easily betray him. Despite the fact that Rakhman had a dozen men patrolling the gardens, none of them had marked Isra’s presence—but then, he was good at what he did. Even so, Isra was well aware that the longer he waited before making his move, the greater the chance of him being discovered became. It wasn’t magic, just was simple mathematics. Probability. He used the skill in his other life, when the sun was up and the Nightwalker didn’t exist. It was the kind of thinking that had helped make him rich.
But with the sickle of moon high in the sky, he was very much the Nightwalker now, and his instruction had been clear: kill Hasim Rakhman on this night. The client was very particular about the timing. It had to be tonight. He would make sure Rakhman was vulnerable, and it was up to Isra to exploit that weakness and get the job done.
And the reason his client could assure him the principal would be vulnerable? He was captain of Rakhman’s personal guard. The price of loyalty? About half a year’s salary. That and a shapely woman eager for said guard captain to take her overweight husband’s place in bed. Permanently.
It was always the same. No matter how complicated clients believed their motives to be, they always came down to lust. Be it for money, power, or sex, it was always about craving more.
But that didn’t explain why there were so many guards in the grounds tonight.
Sweat trickled down into the bay at the nape of Isra’s neck. Still he did not move.
He hadn’t stayed alive this long by walking blindly into traps, and this was some kind of trap. He harbored no illusions about that. It would have been easy to slip away into the night and leave them to whatever game it was they were playing, but he had an obligation. The contract was open. He was the Nightwalker. He was the killer who never failed to execute a contract. He breathed in deeply, savoring the heat in his lungs. He could understand why the heat of the night drove men to thoughts of passion and murder. People were simple creatures at the best of times. The constant heat robbed them of the ability to think, reducing them to the most base of instincts. It didn’t matter that they wouldn’t stain their hands with the blood, they craved it just the same. Who was he to deny them? There would be blood tonight, he promised himself.
He studied the marbled facade of Rakhman’s palace, his eye drawn to the veranda that led into the merchant’s study, and caught a glimpse of his employer, the regally handsome captain of Rakhman’s force pacing back and forth within. He was huge, and more than capable of snapping a weasel like Hasim Rakhman in two like a brittle twig—a corpulent, sweaty one, but a twig all the same. But his hands had to be clean. That he was here rather than in some public place making the kind of spectacle of himself that would ensure he had an alibi only added to Isra’s sense of unease.
Again the thought of simply slipping away into the darkness and leaving them to get on with whatever petty little game they were playing at occurred to him, but again his damned professional pride got in the way, killing the notion in a heartbeat. He had been paid to do a job, and he would do it to the letter of the contract. And if it wasn’t what his erstwhile paymaster wanted, well, it would serve him and his dead master right.
Hasim Rakhman came out onto the veranda, alone. He had a cup in his hand. Isra could see the wraiths of steam curl up from the hot drink. The fact that he was dressed rather than in some silk nightgown was another telling detail that betrayed his trap. Rakhman wiped his brow with a large white handkerchief. The temperature had dropped several degrees in the time Isra had taken up his vigil, which meant that it was fear rather than heat that was causing the fat merchant to sweat. And the longer Isra made him wait, the more jittery he was becoming. It would have been a mercy to put him out of his misery, but the Nightwalker was not in the business of mercy.
Isra broke away from his hiding place and ghosted through shadows. So complete was his mastery of his own body that he didn’t displace so much as a single leaf on any of the many plants and bushes he crept past. Rakhman’s men continued their patrols, oblivious to his presence.
Isra was within six feet of the fat man when he decided to spring the trap. Still it took Rakhman a moment to get through the shock of disbelief before the alarm was raised.
“Seize him!” Hasim Rakhman cried, waving his handkerchief above his head. Isra smiled coldly, enjoying the soon-to-be dead man’s frantic signaling. He could flap about to his heart’s content. No amount of it was going to save him. The guards were ready to slam shut the steel jaws of their trap, but Isra only needed a second to close the gap.
The captain of the guard rushed out of the study, sword drawn, but did nothing to prevent his employer's death, so perhaps there was at least a grain of truth to the lie Isra had been sold? The Nightwalker didn’t hesitate. He had his knife out, already balanced in his hand. Hasim Rakhman screamed in panic, flapping about all the more desperately now as he tried to protect his face, but left his stomach wide open for the assassin’s curved blade. A single slice of the cruel knife quickly stained the man's shirt red. His hands clutched at his stomach. He howled in pain. The Nightwalker granted him one last scream before he drew a gash across his throat—deep, from ear to ear—and silenced him once and for all.
With the deed done, the captain chose his moment to close the gap between them, calling, “To me!” as he did. In that moment Isra grasped just how many snares had been set within that initial trap. The captain had never intended his master to survive the night. The fat man had trusted him, and that had cost him his life. Isra did not trust anyone.
“Time to make peace with your god, assassin,” the captain rasped. His grin was every bit as cruel as Isra’s knife. His eyes darted left, betraying the rush of the first of his guards. Isra dropped his shoulder and thundered his elbow into the trachea of the man on his left. The guard went down clutching his throat. Isra spun away from the captain, sweeping out his right leg to dump the second running guard on his backside. He stamped on the man’s face, driving his heel into his nose and rupturing it.
Isra gave the fat man a final glance, to be absolutely sure that he was beyond saving, and launched himself upward, using the great earthenware pot that housed a lemon tree to push himself to within grasping distance of the balcony railings above. He swung his legs up as the first sword sliced through the air, missing him by inches. The lemon tree teetered, then toppled, the great pot shattering and the noise creating the moment of confusion Isra had hoped for. The Nightwalker hauled himself up over the balcony rail as the sword clattered against the marbled wall. He moved quickly now, grasping the trailing vines that grew up around the balcony doors, trusting them to hold his weight as he scaled the side of the palace. He risked a glance down over his shoulder. The captain wasn’t about to give up his prey, not when he needed someone to pay the metaphorical price of his master’s death. He was stronger than Isra, but the assassin was more agile. In a fair fight the assassin wouldn’t have stood a chance, but there was nothing fair about a moonlit chase across the rooftops of Katapesh when death was on the line.
Isra bounced on his toes and pushed upward again, reaching for the roof. He broke his cardinal self-imposed rule of climbing by stretching a few inches beyond what was comfortable. Off-balance, he worked his fingers into a crack in the masonry. Isra swallowed the panic instinct, forcing himself to breathe evenly as he lifted himself carefully upward, gradually taking all of his weight on three fingertips. Then he drew his right leg up, keeping his body pressed flat to the marbled wall, until his instep dragged over another crack, this one barely a wart across. Again, it was just enough. Between fingertips and toes he had the leverage he needed to boost himself up high enough to grab the gable. He slapped his right hand flat on the clay tiles and for a sickening moment he hung there, forty feet above the ground, clinging on by his fingertips. He kicked out, scrabbling for purchase until the tarred sole of his shoe gripped something on the wall, and then he was over the top and lying on his back looking up at the sickle-shaped moon.
He didn’t have time to catch his breath. Isra rolled over onto his stomach and pushed himself up.
Had the captain been as thorough as Isra would have in his place, the assassin would be dead now—he offered his silhouette to the moon as he ran across the rooftops. All it would have taken was one well-placed archer. But the captain wasn’t as good as Isra.
The assassin moved fast, circling the domed roof. He was light and nimble, his trade relying on guile and speed over brute force. The man following him was anything but. Isra noted the grating slip and crash of tiles behind him with grim satisfaction as the captain of the guard lost his balance. The captain’s sheer muscle mass made him far less dexterous than the assassin, which was exactly what Isra was banking upon.
With luck, the man would either fall, ending his pursuit the hard way, or give it up the easy way. Either worked just fine for Isra—but then, given his position, beggars could hardly be choosers.
He found what he was looking for on the far side of the roof: the flag post flying Hasim Rakhman’s family standard. He didn’t need to peer down over the edge. He knew his city well. The market lay beyond the wall of Rakhman’s property with its mismatch of colorful tents all squashed together. He smiled grimly, thanking Norgorber once more for looking out for his favorite son. Miracles, in Isra’s experience, had no need to be any more miraculous than a well-positioned flagpole in a time of great need. He had practiced leaps like this a thousand and one times before. He started to run, lengthening his stride to use gravity to the full, and launched himself off the roof into the air, kicking out.
"The Nightwalker always finishes the job."
It felt like flying, even though it only lasted for a heartbeat.
Isra snatched at the flagpole just below the trailing ropes of Rakhman's fluttering standard. The assassin swung through a quarter-circle before releasing his grip, completely changing the direction of his fall. As he came down fast, he reached or his knife. The blade was still slick with the dead man’s blood. Isra didn’t have time for the luxury of philosophy—the blade had taken one life and was about to save another. That was just the way it went.
He hit the silk roof of one of the trader’s pavilions hard, tumbling head over heels as he bounced and slid from the roof of the tent. Moving instinctively, Isra stabbed the blade into the fabric, using its resistance to arrest the speed of his fall. It wasn’t so much that he allowed himself a glance back to the roof of Rakhman’s home as the geometry of his fall afforded him one, but either way, the captain of the guards was nowhere to be seen. Only an idiot or a hero would attempt to follow him down this way, and it was clear the captain was neither.
Isra didn’t allow himself the satisfaction of thinking he was away, not yet. He moved fast, running between streets to a low point amid the garden walls and narrow stinking alleys and scaled the side of one of the hovels, moving from wall to window ledge to overhanging tree limb to rooftop in a series of gambits, and then took off across the roofs, leaping and scrambling from house to house. This was his city, up here. No one knew the high paths like he did. Finally he felt safe enough in his escape to take stock of the mess.
He had been set up. There was no other way of looking at it. He had been hired because he was the target. They wanted to lure him into the jaws of their trap and spring it closed on him.
No, he corrected himself. He wasn’t the target. The Nightwalker was. There was a subtle difference, in that no one knew he was the assassin.
So someone wanted the Nightwalker dead. Well, that was going to make things interesting from now on. Perhaps it was time to lie low for a while, just concentrate on being Isra, the lecherous wastrel squandering his family’s hard-earned fortune on wine, women, song, and more women. There were certain benefits that went along with the role, obviously—there was nothing so expensive or exotic his money could not buy it. But man could not live on such frivolities alone. For now, though, that was a bridge he would have to cross when he came to it.
A tile slipped traitorously beneath his foot. The shift beneath him sent Isra skidding precariously close to the edge. He teetered there, arms windmilling wildly until he caught his balance. He cursed himself. He had been careless, and it had almost cost him dearly.
It had also saved his life. A single rooftop away, he saw the unmistakable shape of the damned captain charging like a bull across the tiles, bearing down on him.
Isra spat a curse, and in a heartbeat was running again. This time there was an element of fear in his blood. The captain was relentless. Isra was going to have kill him, but he had no intention of going toe-to-toe with the warrior. He needed to use the terrain to his advantage—after all, this was his city. The captain belonged in the world below, not up here.
He cast about, looking for somewhere narrow and preferably precarious. There were dozens of obvious locations that suited his purpose. Katapesh was littered with minarets and sharp-angled rooftops. Isra ran for the nearest, racing along the crest of a great hall, using the spine of the watershed as a path. The captain came crashing behind him, clay tiles crushing beneath his heavy boots.
“You really don’t have to do this,” Isra called, gasping for breath as he swung himself up onto another rooftop. He wanted the man to think he was running out of ideas as quickly as he was running out of breath. His plan depended upon it.
The captain planted his hands on his knees, doubling over as he battled to catch his own breath. When he looked up Isra was already on the move.
A wooden stair coiled around the outside of the minaret. Isra hit it running, the captain not far behind him. The captain didn’t waste his breath on words.
And then they were at the top, a few feet between them, the captain moving menacingly toward the assassin. It was a long way down. The platform was precarious, the wood rotten in places. It creaked and groaned beneath the big man’s weight, but it wasn’t about to break. Isra wasn’t going to be that lucky.
“We can go our separate ways, never see each other again,” Isra offered, doing his best to sound reasonable.
“I don’t think so,” the captain said. He drew his sword.
The sun was beginning to come up behind the captain, giving him wings of fire.
“Well, you can’t say I didn’t offer,” Isra said flippantly. “Shall we dance?” He extended a hand, goading the big man to come at him.
The big man did.
Isra waited until the very last possible moment, danced back, and then pretended to stumble. As the captain launched his attack, the assassin went to ground, crying out to mask the fact that the fall was an act. As the captain came in for the kill, Isra swept his right leg around in a tight arc and took the big man’s feet out from under him.
For one agonizingly long moment, the stretched-out silence between heartbeats, it looked as though the captain might save himself.
Then he was falling. Unfortunately for him, those wings of fire didn’t help him fly.
Isra turned his back. He had no desire to watch the man die. His secret was safe. That was all that mattered. He climbed slowly down the wooden stairs. It was time to go home, get some sleep, and in the morning go back to being the good-for-nothing merchant prince squandering his family fortune.
But first, time to do what the night’s dead men had failed to do: put the Nightwalker to sleep once and for all.
There was a drop box hidden away in a deserted part of the city. It was where Isra collected his assignments from Mirza, his agent, and when necessary left messages. The assassin worked blind. Mirza had no idea of his identity. He didn’t need to. He was there to filter hits and provide a layer of safety between Isra and his Nightwalker identity.
The pair had long ago established a signal to denote that the assassin was laying aside his knife: a black pearl. Isra wore one on a string around his wrist. As he reached the drop box, he snapped the string and opened the lid, ready to put an end to the game. He’d almost gotten himself killed tonight, and he was in no hurry to repeat the experience. What was the old adage? Go out on top before you go out in a box?
He dropped the pearl into the metal box and closed the lid.
Isra was three steps away before he realized that the pearl hadn’t made a sound as it hit the bottom—meaning that it had fallen on something soft. He took a deep breath and went back to the drop box. Isra opened the lid again and reached inside.
There was an envelope. Another job. It would be the last, Isra promised himself, tearing the envelope open.
Inside was a single slip of paper with a name written on it.
It was an impossible assignment. No matter how legendary the Nightwalker was, there was no way he could complete the kill.
Isra Darzi just wasn’t the suicidal type.
Coming Next Week: Masks and masquerades in Chapter Two of "Blood and Money."
Steven Savile is the internationally best-selling author of almost twenty novels and many more short stories, set in both original worlds and those of Primeval, Stargate SG-1, Warhammer, Torchwood, Dr. Who, and more. He won Writers of the Future in 2002, has been a runner-up for the British Fantasy Award and short listed for the Scribe Award for Best Adapted Novel, and won the Scribe Award for Best Young Adult Original Novel. For more information, visit his website at www.stevensavile.com.
All Hallows' Eve Tuesday, October 25, 2011 Its that time of year again, and if you’re anything like me, its time to run a spooky and frightful Halloween-themed game for your players. This year, we here on the design team thought we would give you a few tricks and treats to bring to the game table. ... Frightening Encounters d%EncounterAvg CRSource ... 1–82d4 skeletons2Bestiary 250 ... 9–131 dire wolf3Bestiary 278 ... 14–191d3 giant spiders3Bestiary 258 ... 20–221 vampiric mist3Bestiary 2 277...
All Hallows' Eve
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Its that time of year again, and if you’re anything like me, its time to run a spooky and frightful Halloween-themed game for your players. This year, we here on the design team thought we would give you a few tricks and treats to bring to the game table.
You will also find that a lot of these monster entries have other versions presented on the spread, such as the bat swam on the same page with dire bat, giving you even more options to use in your game. Of course, no Halloween game would be complete with a treat to go with such mean tricks.
Appearing to be little more than a flimsy paper mask with a crude face painted on the front, this simple magic item changes the appearance of the wearer for 1 hour, as if under the effects of disguise self. The appearance of the wearer is random, and always over-exaggerated and slightly whimsical (granting only a +5 bonus on Disguise skill checks instead of the usual +10). After 1 hour, the wearer returns to normal and the mask crumbles away. To determine the wearer’s appearance, roll on the following chart.
This sugary taffy comes in a wide variety of fruit flavors. Unwrapping the taffy and chewing it is a move action for the first round, and a swift action on each round after that. Those who eat this taffy act as if under the effects of haste for as long as they chew it, up to 5 rounds. Each round after the first, however, they must make a DC 15 Fortitude save or lose the effects of the haste and instead become sickened for 1 hour. The DC of this saving throw increase by 1 each round that the taffy has been chewed in the past 24 hours (after the first round).
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, haste; Cost 250 gp
We hope these fun rules spark your imagination this holiday weekend. Got a Pathfinder-themed event planned? Tell us about it in the comments thread of this blog.
Celebrating Jestercap Monday, October 24, 2011 Since I have been involved with Pathfinder Society, one thing I have heard mentioned by players on numerous occasions is that they wish they could learn more about Golarion and incorporate that knowledge into their Pathfinder Society character. After thinking on different ways to make this happen, it occurred to me that Golarion has quite a few holidays mentioned in Faiths of Balance, Faiths of Corruption, Faiths of Purity, and The Inner Sea...
Monday, October 24, 2011
Since I have been involved with Pathfinder Society, one thing I have heard mentioned by players on numerous occasions is that they wish they could learn more about Golarion and incorporate that knowledge into their Pathfinder Society character. After thinking on different ways to make this happen, it occurred to me that Golarion has quite a few holidays mentioned in Faiths of Balance, Faiths of Corruption, Faiths of Purity, and The Inner Sea World Guide. As in the real world, where holidays are important to all of us, holidays in Golarion are important to our characters and the NPCs spread out across the world.
Every so often, I will write a blog that details a holiday in Golarion to help Pathfinder Society characters share in the spirit of the holiday. Creative Director James Jacobs wrote the description below for the first holiday in this series: Jestercap, mentioned on page 249 of The Inner Sea World Guide. At the end of the description, you will find a special Pathfinder Society Chronicle sheet you can download and apply to a Pathfinder Society character.
Jestercap occurs at the end of the month of Lamashan, traditionally on the 27th (although a few regions have taken to moving the exact day around slightly so it always falls on the last Starday of the month, allowing people who wish to celebrate in excess to have the following day of rest to recover). While Jestercap has been embraced with excited open arms by the gnome communities of the Inner Sea region, its original genesis is said to have been in one of Taldor’s coastal cities not long after King Aspex the Even-Tongued broke from the nation, significantly weakening Taldor’s power and beginning that nation’s long decline. The holiday was originally intended to distract the distraught Taldan populace with a night of revelry and comedic entertainment, but the antics of jesters simply weren’t enough. Over the course of the first few years, Jestercap evolved from a holiday of observation to a holiday of participation. Today, the holiday is a time where anyone can pull pranks or jokes or japes on companions, on neighbors, and (most typically) on rivals, with the understanding that provided no lasting harm is done, any humiliations inflicted before midnight are to be taken in stride. Of course, come morning the day after, there are inevitably jokes that went too far, and grudges and feuds borne from Jestercap antics have a way of lingering for months to follow.
Download the Jestercap Boon! - (115 KB zip/PDF)This Boon is no longer available as of 11/14/11.
Mike Brock Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator
Pathfinder Battles Preview: Uncommon Courtesy Friday, October 21, 2011I’m pleased to report that I have now seen preproduction samples of all 41 miniatures in the Pathfinder Battles Heroes & Monsters set, and I am thrilled with how they look! At long last we have discovered the “perfect” goblin skin tone, and the big meaty Ettin finally has the proper ink wash to make him a truly menacing brute. Things are really coming together, and folks around the Paizo office are blown away by the quality...
Pathfinder Battles Preview: Uncommon Courtesy
Friday, October 21, 2011
I’m pleased to report that I have now seen preproduction samples of all 41 miniatures in the Pathfinder Battles Heroes & Monsters set, and I am thrilled with how they look! At long last we have discovered the “perfect” goblin skin tone, and the big meaty Ettin finally has the proper ink wash to make him a truly menacing brute. Things are really coming together, and folks around the Paizo office are blown away by the quality of the sculpts and paint jobs of the entire line. The commons in particular are amazingly impressive, with far better paint jobs than most gamers are used to at that rarity. WizKids has done a tremendous job both in the initial execution, and in keeping up with a bewildering amount of changes and suggestions from Paizo aimed at making these minis as close to perfect as possible.
To that end, we’ve been shaking up the rarity scheme a bit, so while I was planning to reveal the entire uncommon list today, we’re going to have to wait another week since a few minis are moving around and I don’t want to reveal anything that might change later.
But I do want to share some uncommon images with you! As I explained last week, we see the uncommon rarity as the perfect landing point for player character miniatures (the “heroes” in Heroes & Monsters). While everyone needs multiple orcs and goblins, you probably don’t need a whole army of human rangers or dwarf clerics or what have you.
Today’s blog shows off three of the uncommons (that won’t be changing rarities) no one outside the office has seen yet. Two of them are player character types, while the third is a creature you’ll use again and again.
Our first miniature this week is the Dwarf Fighter, a doughty dude in plate armor and a fancy winged helmet. If you’ve got a copy of the Inner Sea World Guide you probably recognize this guy from the back cover. He means business!
Next up is our Half-Elf Cleric, in this case a crusading warrior of Iomedae. I really like the way WizKids emblazoned her holy symbol on her tabard. And since she’s using a sword and wearing plate mail armor, this miniature easily doubles as a fighter or paladin.
Last up this week is a nasty Venomous Snake, whose image comes straight out of the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary. A bright red coat is nature’s way of saying “I am going to murder you,” and it’ll be fun to watch your players squirm like Indiana Jones when this little guy hits the table.
That’s it for previews this week! But here we are at the end of the post, and I can’t spoil that uncommon list I was planning to, and I feel terrible! So, in order to make up for this egregious slight, here’s a list of a few rares in the set that we haven’t previously announced!
The Beginner Box Bash! Thursday, October 20, 2011Looking for a chance to check out the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Beginner Box and celebrate the biggest Pathfinder RPG release since the Core Rulebook? Then you’ll want to head to your local game store for the Beginner Box Bash! ... Venture-Captains across the world are organizing gaming days on October 29th and 30th to bring together Pathfinder players, debut the Beginner Box, teach new gamers how to play, and introduce players new and old to...
Venture-Captains across the world are organizing gaming days on October 29th and 30th to bring together Pathfinder players, debut the Beginner Box, teach new gamers how to play, and introduce players new and old to the Pathfinder Society Organized Play Program. The day’s events include four new, one-hour quests highlighting the Beginner Box characters and rules. Special Beginner Box Bash punch cards allow players to keep track of their adventures and learn more about the Pathfinder RPG and Pathfinder Society. Those who complete all four adventures will receive a special reward: a Pathfinder Society Chronicle sheet to welcome them into the Pathfinder Society (or to enhance any existing Pathfinder Society character).
Ready to find out where and on what day the Beginner Box Bash is happening in your area? Just check for your region on our Beginner Bash page for all the locations currently signed up. This list is still expanding, so be sure to check back for updates as we get closer to the weekend of the 29th. Additionally, if you’re a game store owner, or want to get your local game store involved in the Beginner Box Bash, there’s still time! Please contact your regional Venture-Captain for details.
As always, we couldn’t pull off such an exciting event without the help of all of our amazing Pathfinder Society Game Masters. We know our Game Masters’ time is valuable, and we want to thank them in advance for all their effort. To show our appreciation, all Game Masters who run four events during the Beginner Box Bash can expect their own special Pathfinder Society Chronicle sheet. If you’re a Pathfinder Society Game Master interested in running games at your local Beginner Box Bash, please contact your local Venture Captain for details.
Beginner Box Add-On Content is Live! Thursday, October 20, 2011 You’ve heard all about it, you’ve seen the unboxing, and pretty soon you’ll have your hands on your own copy of the highly awaited Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Beginner Box. But why wait for your first look at the Beginner Box now that paizo.com/beginnerbox is live?! ... Just follow the link, or click on the new logo to the top left of this page, to head on over to the Beginner Box page, where you’ll find tons of details on the...
Just follow the link, or click on the new logo to the top left of this page, to head on over to the Beginner Box page, where you’ll find tons of details on the box itself, Wizkids’ Pathfinder Beginner Box Heroes Miniatures Set, pregenerated characters and character sheets, new Beginner Box discussion forums, and two free expansion PDFs packed with new content for players and Game Masters alike. In the first of these PDFs, the Beginner Box Player Pack, heroes will find new abilities, feats, skills, and equipment for every Beginner Box class, as well as a completely new base class, the barbarian, who storms into adventure with a brutal new way to play. In the Beginner Box GM Kit, Game Masters will find new monsters and magic items, a complete new adventure, and details on how to expand their adventures beyond the Beginner Box experience.
Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been gaming since the beginning, whether you’ve already charged into adventure or you’re just ready to find out what the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Beginner Box is all about, check out paizo.com/beginnerbox for all the news and new content you’ll need to make someone’s first fantasy roleplaying adventure as thrilling and memorable as your own.
The Boxby Bill Ward ... Chapter Four: Nothing GainedMove back! Kostin shouted, barely parrying a spear thrust to the gut. There were more than a score of the things, each scarcely taller than Shess but like no humanoid Kostin had ever seen. Green-skinned, bedecked with shaggy ropes of dark moss, and armed with crude spears and clubs of human bone, the naked savages fought silently, almost impassively. The sheer weight and surprise of them had pushed Kostin back until he collided with...
by Bill Ward
Chapter Four: Nothing Gained
"Move back!" Kostin shouted, barely parrying a spear thrust to the gut. There were more than a score of the things, each scarcely taller than Shess but like no humanoid Kostin had ever seen. Green-skinned, bedecked with shaggy ropes of dark moss, and armed with crude spears and clubs of human bone, the naked savages fought silently, almost impassively. The sheer weight and surprise of them had pushed Kostin back until he collided with Aeventius.
"Go forward!" Aeventius snarled. A flash of light behind him attracted Kostin's attention, and he spared a quick look. Shoanti, howling for blood, were blocking the hallway that was their only exit. In the instant that Kostin turned he saw white darts of energy burst from Aeventius's wand to sear down the corridor and drop the lead thug dead, leaving black burn holes smoking in the man's chest.
Beside Kostin, Gyrd sung a low, rumbling war-ballad in the skaldic language of his people. His thick Ulfen blade rose and fell grimly, black-green liquid clinging to the steel. He dropped his shield hard down upon the skull of one of the monsters with a sickening crunch, and bulled forward with a roar, scattering the creatures with his charge and clearing a path into the shaman's sanctum.
Kostin parried another wicked jab from his opponent, and sliced his blade down along the spear shaft, lopping the creature's hands off with a snick. The thing made no sound, nor did its expression change as he pushed past it.
"They’re fungus!" Taldara shouted behind him, the twang of her crossbow punctuating her statement. "Cover your nose and mouth!"
But Kostin now had his dagger in his other hand, and was fighting in the style of the Sczarni street duelists he had so loved to emulate as a kid. His blades whistled in a tight arc around him, alternately parrying and striking, the difficulty of landing mortal blows on such diminutive opponents compensated for by their lesser reach. With a wild howl he leaped and spun among them, all fear forgotten now, or else subsumed in his desire to strike.
To his right, Gyrd fought like a juggernaut, hacking fungus-men down and ignoring any blows that landed upon his armored form. Kostin took note of their surroundings for the first time, the floor strewn with carpets and hides in a score of styles and colors, the walls bedecked with a strange intaglio of scrawled symbols, the black altar in one corner of the room shedding a weak radiance from guttering candle-stubs.
It was only then that he noticed the bodies.
They were Shoanti, clearly, or what was left of Shoanti. Each body was sticky with a mass of glistening mold, and each horribly ruptured as if it had burst from the inside. Suddenly Taldara's warning to cover their faces made sense, and Kostin dropped his dagger and riffled one-handed through his pouch for some kind of cloth. Smashing aside an attack from one of the creatures, he turned to shout a warning at Gyrd—and was just in time to see the big man disappear behind a wall of darkness in the room's far corner.
"Light!" Kostin shouted, running toward the place where he had last seen the Ulfen. A lance of pain sent him crashing to the floor, a bone-tipped spear lodged in his thigh. His sword spilled from his hand, landing with a thump on the carpet, just out of reach.
He rolled, hands held up to ward off the blow of a femur club. He could see everything in excruciating detail; the bone club brown with dried blood, poised to strike; the horrible, vacant face of the monster, a thing more plant than animal; and his own hands, held up uselessly, themselves green with the blood of these creatures.
Kostin saw too the silver blade emerge from the thing’s chest just as it was about to strike, and the unholy light go out of its eyes as Shess appeared behind it, her invisibility spell nullified by her attack.
"Stop sitting around, boss!" She tipped him a wink as the monster dropped dead at her feet. He had seen the same little girl enthusiasm in her once before, when picking flowers in a cemetery. She whirled away, blade flashing through the pack of monsters, babbling a cheerful sing-song in the strange language of gnomes.
As Kostin regained his feet and removed the miniature spear—the wound was not deep, but it bled profusely—Aeventius and Taldara were there beside him, fending off the encroaching creatures. There were around a dozen of the things left, surrounding them in a deadly noose.
"I have held the door," Aeventius said, "but it will not last forever. I think we may have a larger problem, however." The wizard gestured to the corner where Gyrd had disappeared. The unnatural darkness emanating from it had rolled back, and the object of Kostin's quest was revealed.
It stood open atop a seaman's chest, seemingly innocuous, but a dissipating cloud of particles surrounded it in a halo of death. Gyrd lay unconscious at its base among a group of ruined corpses.
"Spores," Taldara said. She had discarded her crossbow in favor of a fighting hatchet, and was laying into a pair of creatures to Kostin’s left. "We have to get to him soon!"
Suddenly it all clicked into place for Kostin. The box—not just bait for a thief, but a trap for a shaman. The Scales had set it up. Dangling a treat the Azahg could not resist, and filling it with a trap he would never be able to counter. Dispel the locks and you still had the darkness spell—and the lethal spores within. Simple; diabolical; and if it weren’t for the stupid greed of Donal Carent feeding Kostin information about such a tempting prize, he would have never been involved in this business.
"We need acid!" Aeventius was shouting at Taldara as Kostin regained focus. A creature leaped over the back of its fellows, spear leveled at the wizard's heart. Aeventius flicked a finger at it in midair, and a force equal to one of Gyrd's hammer fists smashed it in the chest and flung it back the way it had come. "Ask the imp!"
Shess was at his side, slashing with enthusiastic abandon. "Aevy!” she admonished, sounding wounded. “After all we've been through!"
"Acid?" Kostin asked Taldara, as they both danced out of the way of a flailing creature. "To kill the mold?"
"Well I don't know any acid spells either," Shess piped above the din. "I don't like that sort of thing!"
"Tal—what else do you know? How do we kill it?" Kostin was acutely aware that Aeventius's holding spell on the door wasn’t going to last much longer, and they would soon be trading one set of enemies for another.
Taldara caught the spear of a charging creature in the crook of her axe blade and pried the weapon from its hand before driving her fist into the creature's face. Mordimor leaped and slashed around her feet, his oversized claws ripping through fibrous flesh with ease. "Acid and daylight are the best ways—real light, not Aeventius’s ring."
"Not fire?" Kostin asked, driving the point of his sword through the midsection of one of the monsters.
"No," Taldara answered. "Daylight. Acid. And... alcohol. But something hard, high proof stuff."
With a barking laugh, Kostin remembered the leather skin he had confiscated from Gyrd. Judging from the smell of it, it was strong enough to strip paint. Without hesitation he sheathed his weapon and sprang for the box in the corner, wineskin in one hand, the other holding a cloth over his nose and mouth.
"Don't get close!" Taldara shouted behind him, but Kostin saw no other choice. Muttering a prayer to Cayden Cailean, the god of drunks and heroes, he moved in, skin held out at arm's length, the black box that had been the cause of all his problems fixed in his sight.
When he was close enough to see the reddish stuff—clinging to what looked like a clay shingle sitting serenely in the otherwise empty interior of the box—the world suddenly exploded in a cloud of dust.
"The only thing worse than fighting one of these things is becoming one."
Spores. Kostin screwed his eyes tight against them and held his breath beneath the cloth. It suddenly, stupidly occurred to him that this just might be the last thing he ever did.
Not only that, but he might just get everyone else killed in the process. Everyone that was here because of him.
Moving by memory, he lunged forward on his wounded leg, ignoring the bolt of pain that shot up his thigh and the blood squelching in his boot. Reaching what he hoped was the right spot, he upended the strong spirits into the box. For what seemed an eternity he squeezed the skin, lungs hot as forge coals bursting in his chest. The skin of his face and hands tingled unnaturally.
The jack was empty and Kostin dropped it, staggering away while waving his arms and slapping his face and clothing to rid himself of any spores that might have clung to him.
He opened his eyes. The dead creatures all lay heaped in still mounds around his exhausted friends. Kostin smiled, a ready quip on the tip of his tongue, just as the door banged open at the other end of the room.
His smile evaporated as the vanguard of the Shoanti mob poured into the sanctum. But a crazy notion seized him in the same moment, and he rushed to meet the gang, arms spread wide and teeth bared.
"Behold the vengeance of the Night Scales!" Kostin bellowed in a voice that sounded like the arrival of a god.
The Shoanti froze.
Kostin grinned his most intimidating of grins, conscious of the fact that he was covered in green ichor and spore dust. He pointed at the bodies that littered the rooms, both the horribly mutilated corpses of the Shoanti shaman and his women, and those of the strange fungus people.
"Thus do those who cross us die: souless and damned for all time. Come to me and join your master in Urgathoa's belly—or flee the city tonight!" Kostin roared, ranting like a stage villain.
Behind him Shess murmured, and a ghostly image appeared between Kostin and the Shoanti. It was vaguely man-shaped and glowed with its own inner light.
"Witness his agonies as I wrack his soul!" Kostin howled, throwing both hands into the air. Before him the image writhed and flickered like a storm-blown candle flame.
It was a stampede. The Shoanti, all will to fight broken, scrambled for the door. Their howls had turned into those of whipped dogs, and reverberated down the hallway until they were well out of sight.
Shess giggled, her illusion winking out of existence.
Taldara moved instantly to Gyrd's side, the threat from the spores extinguished by the Ulfen’s own potent draught. She searched frantically through her small pack, discarding a slew of items strange and sundry, before snatching up what she had sought. She brought the small phial to the Ulfen's bearded lips, and tilted it down.
"That should kill the spores, but he’s still going to hurt like hell. Maybe if we get this mail off, two of us will be able to manage him." She wiped sweat from her forehead.
"Let us be away from here first," Aeventius said. Producing a pinch of coarse, brown hair from his pouch, he intoned the words of a spell. His ring flashed.
Walking over to the massive warrior, Aeventius bent down and hoisted him onto his shoulder with barely a grunt. "Although," he said casually, chainmailed form balanced on his shoulder as easily as if it had been a child, "if we run into anything more dangerous than another locked door this evening, I am of no more use."
They moved quickly back the way they had come, not daring to explore the complex any further in case some of the Shoanti returned, and everyone aware that Aeventius's unnatural strength could only last for a few minutes.
They encountered no one. Retracing their steps to the same alleyway where they had ambushed the first pair of guards, Aeventius set his burden down unceremoniously. Taldara dashed away, intent on hiring a horse or mule from the livery yard on Kindrucker Street. Kostin moved to accompany her, but Aeventius pushed past him with alarming intensity, saying something about not being left behind with “the imp.”
Kostin sighed and slipped down next to Gyrd’s sleeping form. He straightened his wounded leg, tightening the hasty bandage that was half-soaked through with blood. "Looks like this was a wash. Lucky you got paid up front in Sczarni silver, right little one?"
Shess shrugged, trying to adjust her overlarge spectacles, which had been bent in the fight. With a pout she plucked them from her button nose and pitched them into the dark.
"Oh, I don't know,” she said, a grin sneaking over her face. "It was interesting. Plus we get equal shares of this thing I grabbed off the altar."
From her pouch, Shess produced a sun-bleached goat's skull. It would have been hideous if it were not for the dozens of fine-cut gemstones clustered around its golden eye sockets.
Kostin threw his head back and laughed. For the first time in seemingly forever, he really meant it.
Coming Next Week: Assassination in the markets of Katapesh in Steven Savile’s “Blood and Money.”
Bill Ward is the author of more than 40 short stories for venues like Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Every Day Fiction, Morpheus Tales, Rogue Blades Entertainment, and more, as well as game work for companies such as i-Kore and Urban Mammoth. A diehard fan of pulp adventure, he’s also an editor at the flagship sword and sorcery magazine Black Gate. For more information, visit his website at billwardwriter.com.
Advanced Race Guide Playtest Wrap-Up Tuesday, October 18, 2011 ... Illustration by Scott PurdyToday is the final day of the Advanced Race Guide playtest. If you haven’t posted your comments on the playtest document, get them on the playtest messageboard today. ... I want to thank everyone who participated in the playtest and commented on the first iteration of the race builder. Your feedback is going to help us improve the system so that we can make a truly excellent tool for GMs to build...
I want to thank everyone who participated in the playtest and commented on the first iteration of the race builder. Your feedback is going to help us improve the system so that we can make a truly excellent tool for GMs to build races for any Pathfinder game.
So what did we learn from the playtest? A lot of things! Here are some of the highlights.
First off, as we suspected, some of our initial pricing was off. While costing all of the core races at 10 points in the system helped us create a rough baseline for standard races, it also created some problems with individual racial ability and trait costing. Some abilities were too cheap and others were too expensive. Those abilities are being reexamined and the values will be more balanced and intuitive in the final race builder.
Second, we learned that we needed to open up some of the prerequisites and expand the options presented the final race builder. Many people pointed out that the Tiny size option being limited to the fey type was far too restrictive. A number of playtesters had some really interesting ideas that required Tiny creatures of types other than fey. My personal favorite was the idea that many of you had to create a race of toy solider constructs. On a related note, we learned that may of you were very eager to make dragon-type races, not just dragon-themed races using the humanoid or monstrous human type. You can expect to see the ability to create dragon-type races in the final document.
Some of the best feedback from the playtest came in the form of the actual races that the participants built and the suggestions of racial abilities that folks came up with. Reading through those fun and exciting race builds, comments on those builds from other playtesters, and the very long wish list of racial abilities that people wanted to see gave us lot of ideas for expanding the system. We are looking forward to seeing any additions you post today.
More Adventures for Pathfinders! Monday, October 17, 2011 ... Illustration by Roberto PitturruOne of the things I often heard complained about over the past year was that players did not have enough scenarios to play. Many times, they had played every scenario of a particular tier and were in a holding pattern to continue adventuring with their favorite characters. ... The problem was noted and added to my list of to do items, and getting the remaining Pathfinder modules sanctioned for...
More Adventures for Pathfinders!
Monday, October 17, 2011
Illustration by Roberto Pitturru
One of the things I often heard complained about over the past year was that players did not have enough scenarios to play. Many times, they had played every scenario of a particular tier and were in a holding pattern to continue adventuring with their favorite characters.
Pathfinder Battles Heroes & Monsters Preview: Getting Into Character
Pathfinder Battles Heroes & Monsters Preview: Getting Into Character Friday, October 14, 2011Things are moving rapidly on the Pathfinder Battles front! This week, our partners at WizKids sent us 13 pre-production samples from December’s Heroes & Monsters 40-miniature set. These figures are very similar to the final production-run, so we’re within 95% of the final look of the miniatures. These figures are not yet attached to bases, but beyond that, they’re pretty close to done. We’ve spent the...
Pathfinder Battles Heroes & Monsters Preview: Getting Into Character
Friday, October 14, 2011
Things are moving rapidly on the Pathfinder Battles front! This week, our partners at WizKids sent us 13 pre-production samples from December’s Heroes & Monsters 40-miniature set. These figures are very similar to the final production-run, so we’re within 95% of the final look of the miniatures. These figures are not yet attached to bases, but beyond that, they’re pretty close to done. We’ve spent the last couple days looking over every millimeter of these miniatures, getting our final feedback to WizKids so they can make minor adjustments before the figures start coming off the production line.
For today’s blog, I thought it would be fun to show off brand new photographs of three of these miniatures. Unlike the monsters we revealed last week, these three figures are designed to represent NPCs and player characters, and each belongs to a race and class found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
Our first miniature is the sneaky Human Rogue. This little guy wears a long, dark cloak with a cute pointed hood, but his hidden short sword shows he means business. This figure doubles as a good urban thug or even an assassin.
Next we’ve got an Elf Wizard, caught in the act of casting a deadly spell. Though it doesn’t come through particularly well in the photograph, the elf’s robes have a neat color gradient that blends from bluish-gray at the shoulders down to purple at the hem of the robe.
Lastly we have a Human Druid from the deep jungles of the Mwangi Expanse. Who knows what powerful ritual is inscribed on her huge scroll? As much as I like this picture, it’s difficult to appreciate the detail on this figure without holding it in your hand. With metallic blue shards hanging from the strap on her side to the cool texture of her hair, this is a fantastic-looking miniature.
There you have it. Three adventurers ready for your game table, and we haven’t even gotten to the set’s iconic character yet!
All three of these figures are at the Uncommon rarity. Next week I’ll reveal more of the preproduction samples, and I’ll also list several more Uncommons we have planned for the Heroes & Monsters set.
An Accounting of Abbadon Thursday, October 13, 2011 ... Illustration by Jorge FaresConsidering the date, a preview of a more sinister sort seems in order. A while back I put together a listing of the devilish denizens of Hell (one you can complete with the CR 14 gylou and CR 19 puragaus in Bestiary 2). But with the upcoming release of Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the third volume in our Book of the Damned series which focuses on the pure evil fiends known as...
An Accounting of Abbadon
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Illustration by Jorge Fares
Considering the date, a preview of a more sinister sort seems in order. A while back I put together a listing of the devilish denizens of Hell (one you can complete with the CR 14 gylou and CR 19 puragaus in Bestiary 2). But with the upcoming release of Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the third volume in our Book of the Damned series which focuses on the pure evil fiends known as daemons, it seemed appropriate to give daemonkind the same treatment. So here you go, a daemon for every dark deed and nearly every CR.
Ushering in his brethren, we have Jorge Fares's vile venedaemon, just one of the new breeds of daemonkind revealed in Book of the Damned 3. Also, before any one asks, no we haven't done this sort of listing for demons yet, but considering all the sources on the list above, maybe that would make a fine Bestiary 3 preview in the coming weeks. Only time will tell.
The Boxby Bill Ward ... Chapter Three: Nothing VenturedThe girls were, by any objective standards, far too beautiful for the Point. But in the dim glow of the dockyard lights they did the trick. Silently the trio gestured, gyrating hips that would make the women of the Keleshite Emperor's harem seem bony lads in comparison, their impossible skin as smooth and silver as the moon above. Their black tresses—tinged with a seaweed green—hung in long clinging strands that managed to...
by Bill Ward
Chapter Three: Nothing Ventured
The girls were, by any objective standards, far too beautiful for the Point. But in the dim glow of the dockyard lights they did the trick. Silently the trio gestured, gyrating hips that would make the women of the Keleshite Emperor's harem seem bony lads in comparison, their impossible skin as smooth and silver as the moon above. Their black tresses—tinged with a seaweed green—hung in long clinging strands that managed to suggest more than they concealed. They were, when it came down to it, completely irresistible.
If you were born yesterday, Kostin thought with a smirk.
The pair of Shoanti thugs guarding the old rum joint moved toward the gorgeous trinity like fish pursuing a hooked worm. When they passed through the darkest and narrowest part of the alleyway, Kostin struck.
He slipped in behind the leftmost guard and smashed across the base of his skull with a lead-filled sap. The man dropped.
Opposite him in the dark a giant figure loomed up, felling the second Shoanti with a single blow from a sledgehammer fist.
"Nice hit, Gyrd," Kostin said, gritting his teeth as his voice came out too loud.
At the end of the alley, the three nymphs gave a silent cheer, flinging their arms up and bouncing on their heels like schoolchildren.
Kostin swiftly bound the arms of the unconscious Shoanti with rawhide tethers and gagged them with wads of cloth. Gyrd stepped in when he was finished, reeking of sour sweat and stale mead, and threw a guard over each broad shoulder. The Ulfen's chainmail jangled under the load. Kostin pointed further down the alley and the big northerner stomped off with his cargo to dump them where they would not be found until morning.
"Enough with the girls," Kostin said through clenched teeth, noting that the illusory threesome was now engaged in activity fit to make a Calistrian blush. With a final, sensuous wave they winked out of existence—and a child-sized figure vaulted onto a nearby stack of discarded casks and gave a bow.
"Not too bad, yeah?" Her voice was the very model of gnomish enthusiasm. "I actually met a sea-nymph once, you know. And so I took her likeness and this tavern girl that Gyrd used to know—well, everyone used to know, apparently—and—"
"Yes, Shess. But we need to keep quiet—" Kostin was interrupted by the sudden flaring of a light behind him.
Whirling around and drawing his sword in the same motion, he saw Aeventius and Taldara walking up from the opposite end of the alley. A glow like daylight emerged from the wizard's left hand, from the onyx and platinum ring that bore his family seal and was an integral part of his magic.
Aeventius held up his other hand before the livid Kostin could speak. "There are no watchers outside, no windows—the light is safe. But just to keep you from making faces..." The wizard—dressed more appropriately for a night at the opera than a raid into a dockside gang's stronghold—cupped his hand over the ring and brought the daytime radiance back down to something approaching a dim lantern.
"What's she doing here?" Kostin stage whispered, gesturing at Taldara.
The half-elf stepped between Aeventius and Kostin before the wizard could answer. "Why is that the first thing everyone says when I show up? You got me into this, Kostin—"
"Yes, this. The box, the Shoanti—staying up all night and watching them try to save your father's house. Don't think it's all about you—he was a father to me long before I ever met mine. Besides," Taldara smirked, raising the crossbow she held at the ready, "this is better than sketching the Irespan all day." Her badger, wobbling where it clung to her right shoulder, chattered agreement.
"She followed me," Aeventius added.
"You aren't hard to track—and a city isn't so much different than the wilderness, especially the city where I grew up."
Just then Gyrd reappeared like some vast berg of steel and flesh.
Aeventius let out an audible sigh. "Of course, where the imp goes, the ogre follows. You smell like an alehouse latrine."
"That's where we found him!" Shess piped up, bouncing to Aeventius's side. The wizard flinched away.
Gyrd, bearded face impassive behind a tangle of red and gray hair, took a long pull from a leather drinking skin. The raw, almost chemical odor of potent spirits rolled out from him like an aura.
"None of this!" Kostin said, snatching the bag from Gyrd before the giant could react. "You can have it back when we're done."
"What did you think of my casting, Aevy?" Shess gazed up at the wizard through a shock of emerald green hair.
Kostin interrupted, clearing his throat. "Enough talking. Come." He moved back down the alley toward the old rum house.
"Too beautiful," Aeventius said to the gnome as he turned to follow Kostin. "And do not ever call me that."
"Of course!" Shess said, skipping in stride with the wizard. "I always knew you liked your women short and green!"
"It seems Taldara picked up a number of new skills in her years away from home."
Taldara moved to Kostin’s side. "Aren't you going to introduce me to your, um, 'gang?'"
"Certainly. Forgive my manners," Irritation creeping into his voice, Kostin turned back around. The group halted.
"This here is Shess, the best little sneak thief in Magnimar."
The gnome, beaming, gave a mock curtsey. She was dressed in a patchwork of styles and colors, resembling something like a collision between a Chelish noble, a Tian merchant, a Sczarni blade, and an Ulfen minstrel.
"And Gyrd here is, um..."
"Blacksmith," the giant answered, no expression on his ruddy, heavily scarred face. His chainmail hauberk gleamed dully in the light, and he held a battle-dinted round shield in his left hand. Gyrd looked as if he had just stepped out from a shieldwall—and was aching to get back.
"Really?" Kostin asked, surprised. "Well, ah, everyone, this is my oldest friend, Taldara, who is some sort of big deal Pathfinder now."
"Ooh," said Shess, eyes round with interest as she studied Taldara. "But I thought Aevy was your oldest friend."
"I thought I was his only friend," Aeventius said blandly.
Taldara smiled and opened her mouth to reply, but Kostin grabbed her arm and tugged her along behind him. "Plenty of time for all of this later!" he said over his shoulder. The rest followed.
Aeventius was correct in that there were no signs of observation from the rum house. It was as Kapteo Giuleppeschi had said—the place was boarded up and abandoned. The Sczarni boss had come through for him that afternoon, granting him not only his silver, but valuable information about the Shoanti hideout. Kostin had modified his original plan to storm their front door in favor of this one—to come in undetected through the secret back entrance the Shoanti used to slip in and out along the shore side of the Point. Further west of here was the Wyrmwatch lighthouse, marking the spot where the great Indros had battled the sea dragon. South and east, and you had a tumble of smugglers' wharfs along the mouth of the Yondabakari leading down into the slums of Rag's End. It was a good location for a pack of robbers and thugs.
"Door is clear," Aeventius said behind him, and Kostin turned to see the wizard's eyes glowing with an eldritch blue light.
The guards had not had any keys on them. "Alright. Shess, you're better at this than me. Get us in there."
"Yes, sir!" Shess, saluting Kostin ridiculously, leaped onto Gyrd's back. Drawing her sword, the gnome leveled it at the door like a cavalry officer ordering a charge. "Smash it, Gyrd!"
Before Kostin could react the Northman—Shess still clinging to his back—raised his shield and launched himself shoulder-first at the door. It crashed inward with a splintering boom.
"'Best little sneak thief in Magnimar,'" said Taldara, covering the door with her crossbow. Aeventius snorted in amused agreement.
Kostin, sword drawn and teeth clenched in annoyed disbelief, entered after the mad gnome and the half-drunk warrior.
Inside it was dark and empty. A few sprung and moldering casks rested against the walls, and the odd sliver of wood or twist of ship's rope littered the ground. On the far wall a doorless portal yawned blackly.
"So far it's as the kapteo claimed," Kostin said. "The old cellar of this place abuts the sunken warehouse. From there we’re right at the shaman's quarters. Most of the Shoanti should be on the other side, in the warehouse proper. We nip in, take down Azahg, get the box, set some fires, and get the hell out again. Questions?"
Shess raised her hand and Kostin pushed it back down. The others shook their heads.
"Alright, then. Let's go."
The way ahead was easy to see—years of wear had left a path of dirt and scraped stone for them to follow. The blocks of the cellar wall had been pried out to form a crude doorway into the domain of the warehouse—a shoddily built structure that had sunk and partially collapsed at its south end and had long been abandoned by any legitimate concerns. Scrabbling through the wall and into the building, they followed a sloping and precarious floor upward. Kostin wiped sweat from his eyes; the air in the warehouse was close and redolent with the stench of mold and decay.
A flickering light ahead caused Aeventius to clamp a hand tightly over his radiant ring.
There were two of them, talking animatedly in the guttural cadences of the Shoanti. Gyrd tensed as if to spring forward, but Taldara clapped a hand on his shoulder and bade him be still. With her other hand she held a finger to her lips, urging them all to stay quiet.
After a brief exchange, both Shoanti moved off down the corridor.
Taldara turned to the group. "They say Azahg and his wives have been a night and a day in his sanctum, and they worry. They wish to know what powerful treasure he has discovered in the box, but also do not know if they should counter his orders and try to enter his rooms." Taldara shrugged. "At least that's the most I could get out of it."
"You speak Shoanti," Kostin said, impressed.
"They aren't all bad, you know. I think they may have had to come to the city to turn into this." Taldara scratched her badger behind the ear. Lifting it gently from her shoulder, she nuzzled it before placing it on the ground.
"Mordimor will scout they way for us," she continued as the badger zipped off down the corridor. Taldara closed her eyes and drew a shape in the air.
"Tal, are you—" Kostin stopped at a sudden smack on the arm from Aeventius, who gestured for silence.
The badger returned as swiftly as he had left, and Taldara muttered a few words in a language Kostin had never heard, one different from the ancient tongue of magic he had listened to Aeventius utter on so many occasions.
Mordimor leaped into Taldara's arms, and the two commenced to have the strangest conversation Kostin had ever witnessed.
"He says it's clear, but he gets a bad feeling about the shaman's door. Or, maybe, what's on the other side of it." Taldara plopped the badger back up on her shoulder. It still muttered at her ear and Taldara cocked a playful smile. "He also says the wizard should go first."
"A woodland wit," Aeventius said, scowling.
Kostin led the way, stalking ahead with barely a sound. Shess followed, moving silently with little effort. Taldara and Aeventius came next, creeping forward with careful steps. Gyrd shuffled in the rear, heavy one-handed sword drawn, armor tinkling despite his apparent caution.
They paused at the door for a time while Aeventius and Shess examined it—the wizard scanning for magical emanations and the thief checking for traps.
Shess, now wearing a ridiculous pair of spectacles devoid of their lenses, gave a thumbs-up, while Aeventius murmured something incomprehensible under his breath. Finally, he turned to Kostin. "I can open it, whenever we’re ready."
Kostin surveyed his team. Gyrd, wicked smile on his face and skin flushed with battle lust and booze, had positioned himself at the door, ready to storm in. Taldara was beside him, eyebrows knit in concentration, crossbow leveled to cover Gyrd's flank. Shess bounced on her heels, eager as a child at the fair, her blade gleaming silver and naked in her tiny fist. Aeventius waited patiently, back straight as any aristocrat, a slender black wand in his hand.
Kostin moved into position next to Gyrd, and took a deep breath in an attempt to strike a mental deal with his heart to stop thundering in his chest. He loosened his grip on his sword and bent his knees slightly. A cold serpent of sweat trickled down his spine.
"Do it," he said, left hand poised above the door's handle.
A word from Aeventius and the door lock opened with an audible clack.
Kostin flung open the door to the shaman's sanctum—and a horde of creatures burst forth.
Coming Next Week: The triumphant conclusion to Bill Ward's "The Box."
Bill Ward is the author of more than 40 short stories for venues like Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Every Day Fiction, Morpheus Tales, Rogue Blades Entertainment, and more, as well as game work for companies such as i-Kore and Urban Mammoth. A diehard fan of pulp adventure, he’s also an editor at the flagship sword and sorcery magazine Black Gate. For more information, visit his website at billwardwriter.com.
Filling in the Ranks Tuesday, October 11, 2011 ... Illustration by Craig J SpearingI was always taught to deal with bad news first and then move on to good news. It is with a heavy heart that I announce the resignation of Doug Miles, the Detroit Venture-Captain. Doug was Pathfinder Society’s first five-star GM. He has been an avid supporter of Pathfinder Society and he will be sorely missed. I had the pleasure of meeting and GMing side by side with Doug at Dragon Con two years ago and was...
Filling in the Ranks
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Illustration by Craig J Spearing
I was always taught to deal with bad news first and then move on to good news. It is with a heavy heart that I announce the resignation of Doug Miles, the Detroit Venture-Captain. Doug was Pathfinder Society’s first five-star GM. He has been an avid supporter of Pathfinder Society and he will be sorely missed. I had the pleasure of meeting and GMing side by side with Doug at Dragon Con two years ago and was able to take some observations of watching his GMing style and incorporate it into my own. On a positive note, Doug has some very exciting life changes he is preparing for in the near future and the Paizo and Pathfinder Society wish him well.
"It's been a privilege to see Pathfinder Society grow year after year, and to have promoted a game that has exceeded expectations on so many levels,” said Miles. “If it weren't for the support and encouragement of the players and GM volunteers in this campaign, I would have never come as far as I have. I am most grateful for all the friends that I have made through the campaign, both in person and on the messageboards. Although I can no longer live up to my Venture-Captain obligations, and thus am stepping down, I hope to stay in touch with PFS and look forward to watching its popularity continue to expand."
It also saddens me to announce we are losing another member of the Venture-Captain team in Mark Garringer from Indianapolis.
"Due to family and personal reasons, I have to take a step back from my involvement in Pathfinder Society," said Garringer. "I believe in organized play and where Mike is taking things, and I want to thank him for all he has done already. I thank Paizo for the opportunity and friendships I've been able to make."
This is not the only change to our existing Venture-Captain corp. Bob Jonquet is moving south of Chicago to the southern area of Illinois. This does create additional opportunities for Pathfinder Society, however, as I have created a new region—Central & Southern Illinois. Bob has been named the Venture-Captain of this new region and I look forward to seeing how he can grow Pathfinder Society in a new area.
A final change to our existing Venture-Captains is the stepping down of Dane Pitchford in Seattle. Due to his life becoming even more busy and hectic, he did not feel he could devote as much time to the position as it deserves. I did not want to lose Dane from the Venture-Captain family and so I offered him a new position that he graciously accepted. He has been reassigned to his new position, Venture-Lieutenant (Seattle).
We are also adding 13 new Venture-Captains in 10 new regions! Please welcome the following:
Boise, Idaho – Clarence Garrett
Portland, Oregon – Alex Greenshields
Las Vegas, Nevada – Doug Daulton
Seattle, Washington – Chris Jarvis
Salt Lake City, Utah – Eddy & Stephanie Roberts
Central/Southern Illinois – Bob Jonquet
Chicago, Illinois – Rene Duquesnoy
South Carolina – Del Collins
Wisconsin – Sean Hanlin
Winnipeg, Canada – Scott Young
Perth, Australia – Callum Prior
Sydney, Australia – Alistair Rigg
Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia – Zrinka Znidarcic
For another exciting change, I am also instituting the Venture-Lieutenant program. As Venture-Captain in Atlanta, I learned quickly I could not run everything on my own. Trying to spread myself among nine stores, with more than 240 square miles, and still maintain a life was impossible. So, I choose to handpick store liaisons, or Venture-Lieutenants, to help me. They were my right-hand people who helped me ensure Pathfinder Society continued to grow, while meeting these needs of the players in the different stores. Each was assigned to a store or area in Georgia I could not get to regularly. This paid huge dividends in that we had tremendous growth in the region.
So, I have worked with the Venture-Captains to choose Venture-Lieutenants to assist them in their regions. If the region is spread out among many miles, or has more game locations than they can handle, I have let the Venture-Captains choose two Venture-Lieutenants to assist them.
This is not an inclusive list as more will be added, but as of the writing of this blog, the following have been chosen as Venture-Lieutenants:
Arizona – Jason Leonard
Atlanta, GA – Joseph Caubo and John Compton
Austin, TX – Bill Oppenlander
Chicago, IL – Garret Gottschalk
Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX – Marcus Mayes
Des Moines, IA – Derek Boobyer
Denver, CO – Scott Crosson
Dunedin, FL – Kristy Schweyer
Indianapolis, IN – Tracy Windeknecht
Missouri – Michael Von Hasseln
Omaha, NE – Clint Blome
Raleigh, NC – Joe Jungers
Seattle, WA – Dane Pitchford
Toronto, Canada – Robert Trifts
Winnipeg, Canada – Myron Pauls
Croatia – Maja Skvorc
Each of these new Venture-Lieutenants, as well as any chosen in the future, will receive a messageboard title to identify him or her as such. It is encouraged that you still work with your regional Venture-Captain for all of your Pathfinder Society needs.
We are still in need of additional Venture-Captains in some regions and you can find the list here. If interested in applying, please contact me after reviewing the application process in the previous link.
Good-bye to an old friend and welcome aboard to all my new captains and lieutenants!
Mike Brock Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator
Pathfinder Battles Heroes & Monsters Preview: Common Courtesy
Pathfinder Battles Heroes & Monsters Preview: Common Courtesy Friday, October 7, 2011I don’t have any color previews to show you today, so instead I’ve decided to share three “behind the scenes” shots of unpainted preliminary sculpts for miniatures in the forthcoming Pathfinder Battles: Heroes & Monsters set. The complete set features 40 miniatures plus the premium Huge Black Dragon miniature. Of those 40 minis, 13 are packed in the common rarity. ... When deciding which miniatures to assign...
Pathfinder Battles Heroes & Monsters Preview: Common Courtesy
Friday, October 7, 2011
I don’t have any color previews to show you today, so instead I’ve decided to share three “behind the scenes” shots of unpainted preliminary sculpts for miniatures in the forthcoming Pathfinder Battles: Heroes & Monsters set. The complete set features 40 miniatures plus the premium Huge Black Dragon miniature. Of those 40 minis, 13 are packed in the common rarity.
When deciding which miniatures to assign to which rarity, we thought about how the miniatures would be used on the game table. If you generally encounter a single example of a given creature (say, a manticore), we assigned that miniature to the Rare rarity.
For creatures that come in larger numbers in game play, we were more likely to assign them the Common rarity. Stuff like orcs, goblins, city watch guards, and the like fit easily into this category, because everyone needs more than one. Our partners at WizKids put a lot of work into creating amazing sculpts even for the more common figures, as you can see below.
For starters, here is a nasty-looking Orc Brute, complete with a big club and plenty of need for good dental work. Note that this early sculpt has the wrong number of toes on each foot, something we fixed for the final sculpt.
Lastly (for today), we have another nasty humanoid, the savage Lizardfolk Champion! Beware his trident!
This week is also the first in which we begin to reveal the final set list. In the spirit of the Common creatures revealed above, I thought I’d reveal the entire list of all 13 Common creatures in the Heroes & Monsters set! They are:
Next week I hope to show more color images, as well as reveal the 10 Uncommon figures in the Heroes & Monsters set! Come back to see what else we have in store, and look for Pathfinder Battles: Heroes & Monsters in stores this December!
Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box Preview! Thursday, October 6, 2011 The Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box is scheduled for an October 26th release! The very first copies arrived here at the Paizo offices just this week, and we’re thrilled with how great the product looks, and how much value we managed to pack into the box. ... But don’t take my word for it! Take a look at the embedded video below, in which I open a copy of the Beginner Box and show off its shiny new contents! ... We’re enormously proud...
Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box Preview!
Thursday, October 6, 2011
The Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box is scheduled for an October 26th release! The very first copies arrived here at the Paizo offices just this week, and we’re thrilled with how great the product looks, and how much value we managed to pack into the box.
But don’t take my word for it! Take a look at the embedded video below, in which I open a copy of the Beginner Box and show off its shiny new contents!
We’re enormously proud of the work our team put into this introductory boxed set, and we can’t wait to introduce a new generation of gamers to the fun and excitement of tabletop RPGs!
We’ll keep watch on the comment thread below throughout the day, and we’ll do our best to answer any questions you may have about the Beginner Box’s contents, goals, or really anything to do with the product. So take a quick look and let us know what you think!
Erik Mona Publisher
PS: I recently had a chance to sit down for an interview with the fine folks over at the Know Direction Pathfinder podcast. We talked a lot about the Beginner Box, as well as the Pathfinder Beginner Box Heroes prepainted miniatures from WizKids, which are scheduled for a November 9th release. Give the podcast a listen for even more information about our exciting plans for the future!
The Boxby Bill Ward ... Click here to read this story from the beginning. ... Chapter Two: Where the Heart IsIt had been a busy day. ... Kostin, sucking on split knuckles, tried to look nonchalant as he waited near the entrance to the courtyard. Looks like rain again, he said to the hatchet-faced Sczarni blade that eyed him like a bird of prey studying a mouse. The guard did not reply. ... Kostin nodded good-naturedly, as if they were two old friends completely comfortable sharing each...
Kostin, sucking on split knuckles, tried to look nonchalant as he waited near the entrance to the courtyard. "Looks like rain again," he said to the hatchet-faced Sczarni blade that eyed him like a bird of prey studying a mouse. The guard did not reply.
Kostin nodded good-naturedly, as if they were two old friends completely comfortable sharing each other's silence. He casually let his gaze wander over the peeling plaster of the courtyard arch, studying the thug out of the corner of his eye as he did so. The man's clothing was a loose-fitting bloused shirt, brocaded at the sides in red and yellow, spilling out from a tight woven vest in crazy-quilt style. His trousers were a faded crimson stuffed into sailor's boots. He wore more jewelry than a dockyard trollop, and his hair hung in heavy black curls to the center of his chest.
Noticing the scrutiny, the guard shifted, hooking his thumb into his broad sash, resting his hand close to the curved knife he wore naked and gleaming at his side like the chip-edged cutlass of some Shackles pirate.
You had to admire the Sczarni, Kostin thought; they really played the whole Varisian thug act to the hilt.
Granted, Kostin himself had been playing at the same game scant hours ago—but at least he didn’t look like he’d just stepped down from a covered wagon.
"Come," said another Sczarni stalking up out of the courtyard proper. "The kapteo will see you."
"Nice talking to you," Kostin said with a smirk to his minder, before pivoting on his heels to leave.
"Muschi-uepoi," the guard spat at his back. Kostin's stride wavered for the blink of an eye, then he kept moving.
It was the old, familiar insult: muschi-uepoi, or “mossback.” One of the highest forms of contempt in the Varisian lexicon. A verbal dart most appropriate for cowards and nestlings who had never gone out to travel the world, citified dandies who had fallen from the true ways of the People and turned away from their heritage. As far back as Kostin could remember, he had been told this—told that he was not a real Varisian.
Rather amusing, then, to think that poor Donal Carent, Kostin's informer at Dockway’s south impound lot, had utterly no notion of this. No, for Donal, Kostin was the sum total image of the Varisian criminal underworld—a veritable Sczarni bandit chief. That was probably why, when Kostin had paid him a surprise visit this morning fresh from sifting through the ashes of what had once been his home, Donal only needed minor persuading to spill everything he knew.
Kostin sucked again at the cut on his knuckle, and thought of the damned box as he followed the Sczarni thug to the kapteo's tent.
Among the Sczarni, a shoemaker is never just a shoemaker.
Tent. Here they were in Magnimar, a city that boasted more buildings than it did people to live in them for much of the year, and the chief of the Wreckwash Blades lived in a damned tent. The courtyard was central to an entire block of tenements, all bursting with the Blades' families, but the kapteo himself maintained the central position in what resembled a typical Varisian traveling camp. Tents and wagons littered the area, as did the slow cookfires of a dozen potato-faced matrons, busy monitoring their spicy chap'vwlash trail stews with one eye while keeping the other fixed on the chaos of their barefoot grandchildren. An ironsmith pounded out nails at an open-air anvil, a turner hunched over a foot-pumped lathe, and a gaggle of women took turns milling at a portable grindstone. If it were not for the clotheslines stretching overhead from window to window, Kostin would have forgotten he was in the city at all.
They came up short of the kapteo's tent, a green silk dome that was as humble in size as it was rich in material. Kostin's escort snapped his fingers for attention and performed a curious gesture, a raising and parting of the hands before the face. "Do this when you enter. Let me see you try."
Kostin obeyed, imitating the gesture perfectly and adding a few flourishes of his own.
"Good enough," the guard grunted. Kostin thanked him.
The man spat on the ground. "I do not show you for your thanks, muschi-uepoi, but only so that you do no dishonor to the kapteo."
"Well, thanks anyway," Kostin muttered as he stepped inside the tent.
In the smoky light of a single, sputtering lantern, the kapteo of the Wreckwash Blades was hard at work mending shoes.
"Ah… Kapteo Giuleppeschi…?" Kostin asked, confused. Could this really be the captain of a criminal clan?
"Sit," said the old man, not bothering to look up from the floor and the simple leather shoe he was hunched over. Arrayed about him were well-worn tools of the shoemaker's trade.
Kostin performed the gesture of obeisance he had been shown, uncertain if the man had even seen it, and sat down cross-legged on a brocaded pillow.
Waiting in silence, Kostin watched the kapteo's strong hands draw sinew thread through the tough old leather of the shoe. After a space of time that Kostin could not measure, the kapteo spoke.
"In life," he said, putting down the shoe and raising his washed-out blue eyes to look directly at Kostin for the first time, "we do what we must. My father made shoes, and so I have the skill. Your father was a good man, Kostinnavolus, and so I wonder why you are perhaps a bad one?"
Startled to hear his full name from the mouth of a stranger, Kostin blurted, "You didn’t know my father."
The kapteo nodded. "True. I only knew of him. There was a time when I knew all the comings and goings of the People from Rag's End to the Underbridge. He was a good man, as you know. He would not cross silver with us, with any clan. And for that we loved him in our way—he was as the stone that does not feel the storm. A strong man is like that, yes? Do you follow?"
"I…" Kostin was at a loss for words. He glanced down at his dirty breeches, ash-smeared from the scorched remains of his father's home. He was conscious for the first time of smelling like smoke.
"But you are here, now." The kapteo grinned, leaning back in evident satisfaction. "And that can only mean you have failed him, yes? You are a boy in trouble, a boy in a man's body, just as any nestling who has hid like a child from the world." It was said mildly, matter-of-factly, but the venom of the old man's words was palpable.
Kostin, anger kindled, locked eyes with the kapteo and bared his teeth.
"A friend is an enemy's enemy," Kostin quoted the old Varisian saying. "It's the same in every language, kapteo. I'm not here for a handout, and Desna take your insults. I'm here to make a deal about the Shoanti."
The kapteo raised one bushy white eyebrow and gestured for Kostin to continue.
"The worst scum in Beacon Point—what do they call themselves? The Iron Eaters? Something ridiculous. We both want them out of the picture—only you have an agreement with the Night Scales not to touch them. They're the Scales' blunt instruments in this part of town, and they push and push at you and all you can do is complain to navedo bosses that life isn't fair." Kostin stopped, took a breath, and noticed his hands were knotted into fists. "I can get rid of them."
A calculating look crept into the old man's eyes. "If one pretends the Scales will ignore what they can surely find out about such a deal, what do you want from us?"
Kostin named his figure.
The kapteo licked his lips before speaking. "A lot of coin. It will take time to raise such a loan."
Kostin hissed a choice Varisian oath and slammed his hand into the ground between them, sending a leather-punch skittering across the carpets. The old man's eyes flashed fire, and his hand slipped to the hilt of his blade.
"It isn't a loan, you old cheat. Either I get it done, in which case it's payment. Or I don't—in which case I'm dead, either at their hands or yours. And I don't need coin. Hacksilver, trade bits, ingots—hell, dinnerware is fine, just have it for me by this time tomorrow. I have people that need to get paid."
The kapteo shook his head, his anger giving way to amusement. "Too much risk. I cannot say yes to this. But it is good to see the spirit of the People is still in you, mossback."
Kostin leaned back and smiled. "You don't know the best part yet, kapteo. I admit that I'm an unknown quantity to you—my abilities in this area cannot be seen as a guarantee. But the real risk you’re talking about is retaliation from the Scales." Kostin scrutinized the old man, noting his interest. "But the Scales grow tired of their alley dogs, and they've already tried to arrange the killing of the Shoanti Azahg, the mad shaman that holds their leash."
"And I am to take your word at this? You would say anything; I see revenge in your eyes."
Kostin stood. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled forth a wad of fire-blackened cloth, its former intricate and multi-hued pattern barely discernable. It was his kapenia, his family scarf. The story of his parents and his parents' parents, the story of his life before it had been given him. He dropped the ruined thing before the old man.
The kapteo smoothed the garment with bent fingers, and said nothing.
"This time, tomorrow. It's enough time to check my story. One of Symirkova's brats down at the Bazaar can tell you all about the Kellid freelancer who took a shot at Azahg, and how the deal was brokered by a couple of town guards called Marster and Dennebris. Maybe you've already heard of that pair—they certainly run their mouths enough. The girls of half-a-dozen Lowcleft dance halls had plenty to repeat about those two, about how they like to go around spending Night Scales silver and playing the big men."
Kostin declined to mention the remaining link in the chain of information he had uncovered this morning—that it was Donal Carent that had sent him sniffing after Marster and Dennebris, the two men that had rolled into Dockyard impound one day with a cartful of supposedly confiscated sundries and a false bill of lading. Their cargo had disappeared by the end of the day, gone home in the pockets and pouches of a score of guards and officials. All their cargo, that is, except for a black, wizard-locked box.
The kapteo spoke after a moment's consideration, "If this is true, then the Scales will take care of our problem for us."
Kostin shook his head. "The Scales want to cut off the head of the beast, to better control it. If they do that, your problem doesn't go away. If you back me on this, what's left of the Shoanti will turn tail and scatter and the Scales won't press the issue. It's the navedo way—they won't blood feud over a pack of foreign gutter grubbers that they have already grown tired of."
Kostin paused, studying the kapteo as he sat motionless in the dim interior, the old man's hands moving delicately over the ruined fabric of the Dalakcz kapenia.
"Let it be Sczarni silver," Kostin interjected into the silence that had fallen between them, "and a Varisian hand that accomplishes this task. That is our way."
The kapteo nodded, once, decision made. "Tomorrow you will have your silver, if what you say is true. Desna walk with you, Kostinnavolus, and may she light your path."
"And yours, kapteo. My thanks." Kostin bowed and slipped from the tent, fighting to keep a grin off of his face.
Outside the sky had cleared, and the first stars of early evening stood out like hard diamonds in the fading blue. A day ago he had brought the box into his home, the home he had watched burn from the fifth floor of the Rope Works building while bucket teams scrambled to douse it. A day ago his life had changed forever.
It was time to hit back. Time to cash in some favors, make some promises, and build his team.
Coming Next Week: Careful scheming and creative recruiting in Chapter Three of Bill Ward's "The Box."
Bill Ward is the author of more than 40 short stories for venues like Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Every Day Fiction, Morpheus Tales, Rogue Blades Entertainment, and more, as well as game work for companies such as i-Kore and Urban Mammoth. A diehard fan of pulp adventure, he’s also an editor at the flagship sword and sorcery magazine Black Gate. For more information, visit his website at billwardwriter.com.
Advanced Race Guide Playtest Tuesday, October 4, 2011 ... Illustration by Francesco GrazianiFor over two years now, we've released a plethora of new classes, feats, spells, and other options for your character, but the one area we've never really explored too deeply is races. The Advanced Race Guide is going to change all that with a bunch of new races explored in detail and new options and tools based specifically on your character's race. ... Included in this mighty tome is a system for...
Advanced Race Guide Playtest
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Illustration by Francesco Graziani
For over two years now, we've released a plethora of new classes, feats, spells, and other options for your character, but the one area we've never really explored too deeply is races. The Advanced Race Guide is going to change all that with a bunch of new races explored in detail and new options and tools based specifically on your character's race.
Included in this mighty tome is a system for building your own race, using a simple point-based mechanic. While this won't be legal for Pathfinder Society Organized Play, this system will allow players and GMs to add new and innovative races to their game, as well as to add some of the more monstrous options to the party roster. Building a system like this is not easy, and balancing it is even trickier, which is why we want you to playtest this system early and give us your thoughts, opinions, and suggestions for making it better.
This system is available now. Go grab the document right here and read through it. Build a race or two and introduce them to your game. Post your ideas and feedback to the Advanced Race Guide Playtest Board. Make sure to add your custom races to the New Races thread. This playtest will be open for the next two weeks. We look forward to seeing what you come up with.
Looking Backward into the Future Monday, October 3, 2011One of the results of an early-August Gen Con and a Pathfinder Society release schedule based on putting out material at the end of the month is that it always seems like an eternity between when a new season of Pathfinder Society Organized Play kicks off in Indianapolis and the next set of scenarios comes out at the end of September. But the wait is over and Season 3 continues with two exciting new adventures, released last week. ... As...
Looking Backward into the Future
Monday, October 3, 2011
One of the results of an early-August Gen Con and a Pathfinder Society release schedule based on putting out material at the end of the month is that it always seems like an eternity between when a new season of Pathfinder Society Organized Play kicks off in Indianapolis and the next set of scenarios comes out at the end of September. But the wait is over and Season 3 continues with two exciting new adventures, released last week.
As we mentioned in the store blog last Wednesday, both of this month’s scenarios include elements from past scenarios—in this case from the very first season of the campaign! One of my goals as developer on the Pathfinder Society Scenarios line has always been to give a larger sense of continuity within the campaign. Now that we’re into the first full season that I mapped out from square one, it was the perfect opportunity to start implementing some of this.
Brand new threats from Bestiary 3 are sure to torment poor, unfortunate souls in two new Pathfinder Society Scenarios. Illustration by Alberto Del Lago.
In Pathfinder Society Scenario #3—05: Tide of Twilight, the Pathfinder Society sends the PCs on a mission resulting from research into a relic attained way back in Pathfinder Society Scenario #23: Tide of Morning from June 2009. While the two scenarios can be played in either order and the ties between them are loose, players and GMs who played Tide of Morning at PaizoCon two years ago will recognize some thematic elements and subtle allusions to the early scenario. And who knows, if folks like this spiritual sequel style, more missions may come about as a result of the information gleaned from the lorestone of the Verduran Forest next season.
Going back even farther, Pathfinder Society Scenario #3—06: Song of the Sea Witch features a prominent NPC from the very first scenario ever, and one of the most popular scenarios to date, Pathfinder Society Scenario #1: Silent Tide. In Silent Tide, the PCs spent much of the adventure working to undo the effects of hapless historian Yargos Gill’s meddling in things beyond his understanding, and yep, you guessed it; Yargos is at it again. Players from a certain faction who saved Yargos from his first adventure with the Pathfinder Society will also note that the effects of their actions have impacted the storyline, and their fulfilled faction mission from Silent Tide speaks to their new faction mission in Song of the Sea Witch.
I’m eager to hear what folks think of these homages, both what you think worked well, and what could make the campaign’s internal continuity even stronger. Further, what NPCs, locations, magic items, or dangling plot threads would you like to see woven back into the Pathfinder Society tapestry in scenarios to come? Comment below!
Next week, Campaign Coordinator Mike Brock has some exciting announcements to make about the organization’s growing army of volunteer coordinators.