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Order of the Amber Die—The Strange Aeons Experiment, Part 3

Friday, December 9, 2016

Despite waking from the nightmare of what sounded like a tough but exciting marathon session, the Order of the Amber Die folks bring up a report from their experience with the third adventure in the Strange Aeons Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Path #111: Dreams of the Yellow King. This adventure promised to bring the weird and surreal into the campaign, and from what I've heard from the Order of the Amber Die, it succeeded.

What follows is their brief report. As always, proceed with caution, as spoilers abound.

So far in The Strange Aeons Experiment we've been stumbling through the horror with the naivety you'd expect from four players who are Lovecraft-ignorant. Dreams of the Yellow King would be no different, and we were determined to fully immerse ourselves for our rookie excursion into the dimension of dreams. We blacked out our walls with floor-to-ceiling panels, dialed up a soundtrack that included plenty of psychedelic trance, and even passed around a miniature staircase just as our characters did for each Dreamlands occult ritual. For the real-world ride on the Sellen River, we created 3-D boats from Rob Lazarretti's maps, with one member managing to create a fully functional sail for the Sellen Starling. Lastly, for the massive amount of research that we'd be performing in this adventure, we borrowed a collection of antique books and piled it around our play area.

This marathon was unique, because joining us at the table for the three-month voyage to Cassomir was a special guest: Paizo former intern, author, and editor Savannah Broadway flew from Seattle to New Jersey to take on the role of NPC Winter Klaczka. Savannah bunked in the command center of the Order, a room we call "The Lair," and it was an honor to game alongside her. We clocked 60 session hours, and even had Savannah with us for the longest day of the AP: a nearly 20-hour run. Her live tweets kept us laughing throughout the marathon and helped present the experience for our fans. Not only will we miss Savannah's perfect accent for Winter, but she did something unprecedented by naming our first party after an NPC: Winter's Wolves! We were also very grateful to add the talents of an Order member (a Boston NBA and NHL cameraman) to help us best capture the occasion.

Highlights from Dreams of the Yellow King

  • We tried nearly everything we could to cure Quinn of the ghoul corruption he picked up during In Search of Sanity. Horrible as it may seem, isolating a manacled Quinn in a barn for a week actually worked. You can imagine his face during this adventure when we discovered a race of ghouls even more powerful and intelligent than any we knew existed: Leng ghouls.
  • Powerful treasure was as abundant as danger in the Dreamlands. We came across our first vorpal blade since 6th grade in '89. And yes, we took off some heads.
  • Dying in the Dreamlands had its price: madness. While we managed to cure some of them along the way, by the end of our trip we had acquired nearly every lesser and greater madness listed in Horror Adventures. Trying to roleplay these over the course of a weekend spent in the same room was a challenge that certainly pushed the envelope of immersion.
  • We attended a grand ball in a city called Celephais, where guests were routinely murdered every few minutes. Only Feiya stayed for "The Sunset Waltz," where the viscount danced with a Leng spider to Shostakovich's "Waltz No. 2." Creepy on so many levels.
  • While in the Dreamlands, we were surprised to face a dragon—a nightmare dragon. Our GM slammed the mini down on the table like we were back in Stranger Things, then woke us with a TPK.

The Experiment

  • This AP doesn't feel like our other Pathfinder campaigns. Others have had highs and lows, but this one just has us run down, freaked out, and anxious. We can't help but wonder if this is what Call of Cthulhu is like.
  • The monsters just keep getting scarier. An indescribable creature, known only as a formless spawn, massacred us in our dreams with what our GM called "a masterpiece of a stat block." At least we got to use our Pathfinder Map Pack: Swallowed Whole as it sucked us down one by one.

Character Deaths

On our first attempt, we botched the Dreamlands occult ritual and allowed an animate dream to follow us out into the real world. It took down Alahazra with a phantasmal killer, and the fight spilled out onto the deck of the Sellen Starling. Skywin Freeling, the ship's captain, came to our aid, but was put to sleep forever with a crit from the Amber Die. The room was silent when it was over.

Best Quote from Marathon 3

Quinn: "Let's assess, it's been a few minutes: Two of us are blind, one can't speak, and Feiya was already ripped out of this dream."
Winter: "Can we leave zis place? I do not like zis place!"

Current Situation

We reached Cassomir, but with the Sellen Starling whittled down to a skeleton crew and our party riddled with madnesses, we'll be spending a couple of months to recover. After that, we're headed off again in pursuit of Count Lowls!

More Content

Read through the entirety of The Strange Aeons Experiment.

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

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


Mike is 2nd from the left, in his black OAD attire with the well-known Sihedron medallion.

A Tough Goodbye

We wanted to take a moment to say some words about a recent event that has deeply touched all of us here at Order of the Amber Die. This past weekend, the Order lost one of its most respected and admired members to a hard battle against cancer. Mike Dappolone had been with us since 7th grade in 1990, and was one of the earliest members of the group. As kids, Mike showed us how to secretly pack our D&D books and dice in our backpacks during Boy Scout trips so we could play in the tent at night. In college, Mike was pivotal in helping to launch our organized "marathon" method of gaming, so that when we were all together twice a year we could put away an entire module in a sitting. In our adult years, Mike created many of the intricate set pieces that can be seen in our playthroughs (including the fully functional sails on the boats here), and his painted miniatures have always been featured heavily in our game. Throughout his recent struggle, Mike loved the days that he could escape into long Pathfinder sessions, starring as Seltyiel in our Runelords campaign—even brazenly wearing a Sihedron medallion. This fall he spent some peaceful time introducing his young son to the joys of the game. Mike's seat cannot be filled, but the Order and "Seltyiel's Seven" will continue on in his name.

I want to give my heartfelt sympathies to the crew of the Order of the Amber Die and to Mike's friends and family. It's never easy to lose someone.

The crew of adventurers in this Strange Aeons campaign have made it down the river and through the Dreamlands, now they look forward to more research and mystery before they can catch up to their former associate. Keep your eyes on this blog for more reports from the Order of the Amber Die.

Adam Daigle
Developer

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

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Sorry to hear about your loss. I'm honored that Mike was able to work with my adventure before his passing, and make the Sellen Starling a reality.

Order of the Amber Die

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Ron Lundeen wrote:

Sorry to hear about your loss. I'm honored that Mike was able to work with my adventure before his passing, and make the Sellen Starling a reality.

Ron, thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Mike did an amazing job on the Starling. It was a tough weekend for all of us, but Mike was the most positive guy we all knew and never once complained or acted any different through his whole ordeal. Truly a brave person.

The adventure was awesome and presented us with lots of new challenges and experiences, which is what we are always searching for. Great work! We look forward to tackling more of your material in the future.

Thanks again for your kind words.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Pawns, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

It's always very hard when someone close to us is lost.

I imagine each of you is dealing with it in his or her own way.

I just purchased today a sihedron metal today, so I think of Mike every time I put it on.

My sincerest condolences.

-- Andy

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

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Andrew Tuttle wrote:

It's always very hard when someone close to us is lost.

I imagine each of you is dealing with it in his or her own way.

I just purchased today a sihedron metal today, so I think of Mike every time I put it on.

My sincerest condolences.

-- Andy

Thanks Andy, that really means a lot.

Our medallion will have to be passed on to another member, but we'll always think of Mike every time we see it too.
He'll always have a place at our table, and in our hearts.

Order of the Amber Die

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Ron Lundeen wrote:

Sorry to hear about your loss. I'm honored that Mike was able to work with my adventure before his passing, and make the Sellen Starling a reality.

Ron, thank you very much for the kind words. Mike loved to swap epic tales like many of us in the gaming community, so I'm going to share my favorite highlight from your adventure:

In the final encounter, an iconic vs. iconic grand melee ensued as we faced off against nightmare-reflections of ourselves. Our team prevailed through several key plays: Erasmus beheading Feiya with a vorpal blade before chopping down his other self, Quinn's coup de grace against his alter ego (coupled with a hold monster from Feiya), and Alahazra erasing Alahazra from time.

Unforgettable!

Contributor

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Adam Smith wrote:


In the final encounter, an iconic vs. iconic grand melee ensued as we faced off against nightmare-reflections of ourselves. Our team prevailed through several key plays: Erasmus beheading Feiya with a vorpal blade before chopping down his other self, Quinn's coup de grace against his alter ego (coupled with a hold monster from Feiya), and Alahazra erasing Alahazra from time.

Unforgettable!

I'm glad to see the vorpal weapon get some use, but I was sad to hear about Skywin Freeling's fate. She's just so...so....scrappy! :-)

Contributor

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Sterling Brunsvold wrote:
We look forward to tackling more of your material in the future.

If you'll be taking on the Ironfang Invasion or Ruins of Azlant, you won't be able to avoid me!

Order of the Amber Die

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Avoid you? We're coming right at you, Ron. See you under the waves. ;-)

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

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Ron Lundeen wrote:
I'm glad to see the vorpal weapon get some use, but I was sad to hear about Skywin Freeling's fate. She's just so...so....scrappy! :-)

It was sad to see Skywin go so early, but the NPCs were really well fleshed out and the space left by her death eventually left plenty for the Yellow King to fill with his unique personality. It seemed like Adam enjoyed talking our ears off while we were trying to ask questions, negotiate, plan, or just about anything else we tried to do--the Yellow King was there to offer a few words of advice, then some more words, and then a few more after that. But we'll always wonder how things would've turned out on the Starling if Skywin was with us the whole time.


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Aerick Lim wrote:
Ron Lundeen wrote:
I'm glad to see the vorpal weapon get some use, but I was sad to hear about Skywin Freeling's fate. She's just so...so....scrappy! :-)

It was sad to see Skywin go so early, but the NPCs were really well fleshed out and the space left by her death eventually left plenty for the Yellow King to fill with his unique personality. It seemed like Adam enjoyed talking our ears off while we were trying to ask questions, negotiate, plan, or just about anything else we tried to do--the Yellow King was there to offer a few words of advice, then some more words, and then a few more after that. But we'll always wonder how things would've turned out on the Starling if Skywin was with us the whole time.

Yeah, I really loved the character of Skywin. If it hadn't been for her intervention, we could have easily lost half or more of the party, so her sacrifice was not made in vain.

The Yellow King was definitely fun (and a serious hazard to making your buffs last an excursion) but my (and Winter's) favorite NPC was Snoot, the giant shantak that flew us to the moon. Part of me wishes that we had a chance to have more interaction with Mister Wanderlust, and the other part is afraid of what that might have resulted it.

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

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Savannah Broadway wrote:
The Yellow King was definitely fun (and a serious hazard to making your buffs last an excursion) but my (and Winter's) favorite NPC was Snoot, the giant shantak that flew us to the moon. Part of me wishes that we had a chance to have more interaction with Mister Wanderlust, and the other part is afraid of what that might have resulted it.

I thought we were going to have to fight this gargantuan beast with wings, and instead you ended up naming it and giving it a drink from the decanter of endless water.

Speaking of Mister Wanderlust, Ron, was the Slender Man some of your inspiration by chance?


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

You guys are awesome, and I'm thankful you take the time to present your adventures.

The parting of a dear friend is never easy. I wish you all the best.

Order of the Amber Die

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Elorebaen wrote:

You guys are awesome, and I'm thankful you take the time to present your adventures.

The parting of a dear friend is never easy. I wish you all the best.

Thanks, Elorebaen, I'm glad you're enjoying the adventures so far. This module pushed us, both in and out of game, and helped us tell an amazing story. The opportunities for roleplaying were everywhere, but my favorite was the bogeyman. He's one NPC that I wish I had more of an opportunity to interact with, every time was fascinating and tense since I only had an inkling of how to deal with him. Adam's roleplaying was great for giving that clue I needed, and sometimes being polite and humble is the best route to go when dealing with something that powerful and unknown.

Thanks again for your kind words, Elorebaen, it never is easy. He will be sorely missed, but remembered fondly and always.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Did you find the denizens of leng to be challenging foes? I was really excited to GM them but the PCs in my group rolled them before I could do anything fun with them. Also, how did the Last Night In Sarnath dream quest go?


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I'm sorry to hear of your loss.

I very much enjoy reading your updates, and hope you continue with them!

Doug M.

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

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Spastic Puma wrote:
Did you find the denizens of leng to be challenging foes? I was really excited to GM them but the PCs in my group rolled them before I could do anything fun with them. Also, how did the Last Night In Sarnath dream quest go?

We did well against the ones at the caravanserai, but we got wrecked by the ones in the prison. There were three of them hiding behind the murder holes, each with a wand of searing light in hand. In addition to the surprise round, our GM beat us on initiative so they got off six shots with sneak attack before we could do anything. Winter was killed by the first two, then Erasmus and Quinn were near death by the time they were done. With all of us still dealing with madness from other deaths in the Dreamlands, we couldn't risk it so we woke ourselves. It was a good thing we did, because on our second attempt with spell immunity to protect against their wands, after we got our revenge we identified them and found out they were CL 10!

Unfortunately, we had to opt out of the Sarnath quest. Erasmus had just recovered from the cognitive block greater madness, which shut down all his abilities for 20+ hours of play, so after seeing how horrible that was no one wanted to push their luck. We also thought we had enough items for the Mad Poet so we just went for it.

Order of the Amber Die

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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

I'm sorry to hear of your loss.

I very much enjoy reading your updates, and hope you continue with them!

Doug M.

Thank you Doug. We will continue on, and we'll also keep up with our PDFs that document each project or campaign. Further, one of our goals is to release The Runelords Relay this spring/summer, which fully describes our Rise of the Runelords campaign that has been running for three years (entering part five right now). I don't want to give away too much, but I'll leave you with this: As a relay, it's seen sixteen different iconic characters in action throughout the course of the campaign.

Paizo Employee Developer

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As always, thank y'all for sharing your experiences at the table with the community!

Order of the Amber Die

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Adam Daigle wrote:
As always, thank y'all for sharing your experiences at the table with the community!

Hey Adam! You are most welcome! The thanks goes to you though. We love sharing our adventures with the community and interacting with everyone. You have created a really awesome (and for us, unique) experience with Strange Aeons and we are incredibly excited for whatever you have in store for us next.

You keep lining 'em up and we'll keep coming up with awesome ways to knock 'em down.

Talk soon!


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

As always, you guys knock it out of the park.

Order of the Amber Die

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Yakman wrote:
As always, you guys knock it out of the park.

Thanks Yakman, and if you are considering this AP, I can offer from the GM's perspective that this path provides some completely different and exciting approaches to the game: sanity, horror, time, wild treasure, dreams, space, freakish monsters, and the list goes on. I know that some of this might just be because I have never had any experience with Lovecraft or the Elder Mythos, but either way it's been incredibly motivating as a GM even when the prep workload is piled high.

For the first time in OAD history I got to watch the players slap hands and scream because they scored a critical hit on a library. How awesome is that? :)

Order of the Amber Die

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Daji?

Daji, my friend, I know you're there. You can come out now, I'm not crazy anymore. I'm really not!

I know I've said that before...


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This makes me curious: what are you and your players picking up from / about the Lovecraft mythos by osmosis? Are you thinking "Okay, I see the appeal of this -- I'd like to sit down and read some of his stuff afterwards?" Or is it more "once a philosopher, twice a pervert?" (1)

Doug M.

(1) attributed to Voltaire, the morning after a walk on the wild side.

Order of the Amber Die

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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

This makes me curious: what are you and your players picking up from / about the Lovecraft mythos by osmosis? Are you thinking "Okay, I see the appeal of this -- I'd like to sit down and read some of his stuff afterwards?" Or is it more "once a philosopher, twice a pervert?" (1)

Doug M.

Doug, thanks for asking. This is a really great question. I'm sure each of the PCs will respond when they get a chance. I definitely plan on checking out the mythos and reading up on things when we are done. I'm sufficiently intrigued at this point. Over the years I've felt a little repelled by some of it, as you quote "twice a pervert" in a sense. I feel differently now and would even like to explore some of the games like Cthulhu Wars, etc. Based on this, it seems our experiment is successful thus far.

After getting the tidbits we have up to now, as our characters are gathering clues to their past and what the ultimate plan is, in tandem we as players are gathering clues to a whole new world that we can decide to pursue further or leave be once it's all solved. This makes for a really great roleplaying experience because we actually are stumbling through it in awe the same as Alahazra, Erasmus, Feiya, and Quinn.

My sentiment: It's all a little strange.

But, in the best way possible. :)

Order of the Amber Die

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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

This makes me curious: what are you and your players picking up from / about the Lovecraft mythos by osmosis? Are you thinking "Okay, I see the appeal of this -- I'd like to sit down and read some of his stuff afterwards?" Or is it more "once a philosopher, twice a pervert?" (1)

Doug M.

(1) attributed to Voltaire, the morning after a walk on the wild side.

Yeah, definitely a great question Doug. I think when we're considering the initial results of "the experiment" after 3 adventures so far in the path, one thing has certainly been clear for all of us: You don't have to be familiar with Lovecraft, Call of Cthulhu, or the Elder Mythos to have a great time in this AP.

As soon as the campaign is over, I am looking forward to reading Lovecraft, Chambers, and many of the other authors I've seen referenced in the modules so far. Keeping with that, I really appreciate Paizo including so many of the real-world origins of monsters and mythos--it makes a great bibliography from which to start.

As GM, I've really enjoyed playing new monsters, since running a good many published adventures over the years it's hard to be surprised anymore. The research and investigative elements of the campaign have been really unique too, it's fun to just watch the players piece it all together. We are all so into the research (and research rules) that we even have a "research theme" on our soundtrack that we use every time we tackle some of the immense quantity of written material in the path. In that sense, this AP reminds us that there are just so many facets to Pathfinder, there's really no one standard way to play the game, nor is there any set way an adventure should unfold. I think it's fitting to mention this in the blog for Dreams of the Yellow King, as this adventure just broke so many boundaries by having us halfway between two worlds throughout--it was really an incredible marathon experience.

There have been a few challenges to GMing this AP without any background knowledge, the main one being that I've definitely done a lot of page-flipping because the names are all so unfamiliar. Carcosa had me confused for a bit; it seemed almost as if there was a tad of expectation that I should know what it was, where it was, or its significance. As events unfolded in the path it all became clear to me though, so there's really nothing I'm too concerned about understanding at this point. One thing I didn't mention yet about the project is that I've also tried to be disciplined about not asking Adam Daigle (or any of the other Paizo staff I interact with) about some of the Lovecraftian elements of the campaign--even when I've felt I might need to know. The list of questions I'm building is two pages long, and getting longer with every volume of this AP. The thing I wonder about most is how significant certain foes or places are in Lovecraftian culture. For example, where do the Great Old Ones rank in regard to each other (OOG too)? I can't tell who's been written about the most, or which is respected/feared the most, except that I suppose we've all probably heard the name Cthulhu. Don't tell me yet! :)

Order of the Amber Die

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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

This makes me curious: what are you and your players picking up from / about the Lovecraft mythos by osmosis? Are you thinking "Okay, I see the appeal of this -- I'd like to sit down and read some of his stuff afterwards?" Or is it more "once a philosopher, twice a pervert?" (1)

Doug M.

(1) attributed to Voltaire, the morning after a walk on the wild side.

This AP has definitely piqued my interest in Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos. Once we are finished, I plan to dive into the books to see what we missed and to help bring some kind of understanding to it all. I'm sure there are fine points that I have missed along the way, that fans would have picked up on easily, but I'm realizing that is half the fun for me. It's much easier for me to slip into character when I'm just as confused about the situation as Quinn would be.

I only had second and third-hand knowledge of what to expect from a Cthulhu game, I had always heard it was difficult and intense. The authors have managed to translate that well into Pathfinder and have managed to humble our players a few times. Even though our characters are growing more powerful, we have now witnessed powers that are beyond our belief and know that this is only beginning. I'm looking forward to the next module with trepidation and excitement.

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
This makes me curious: what are you and your players picking up from / about the Lovecraft mythos by osmosis? Are you thinking "Okay, I see the appeal of this -- I'd like to sit down and read some of his stuff afterwards?" Or is it more "once a philosopher, twice a pervert?"

Regarding the Lovecraft mythos, it’s hard to believe that people came up with these things a hundred years ago (it seems WAY ahead of its time) because I can’t imagine anything else that could’ve be out there back them that’s even remotely as horrific. I’m definitely curious about where all this came from, so after The Strange Aeons Experiment is over I’m going to look and see what I’ve been missing out on, but for now I prefer it to be a mystery to me.

As the player captain, it’s been stressful having to deal with a lot of events and encounters that have me at a disadvantage for not knowing anything about Lovecraft, but as challenging as that it is, it’s also part of the fun. It’s one thing to be facing TPK against an army of giants, but I’ve been there before and know how to handle that kind of pressure. However, the Lovecraft mythos has me at a great disadvantage. From what I’ve heard about CoC, if you meddle in things you don’t understand, you either run screaming, lose your mind, and/or you die--that pretty much sums up Strange Aeons, at least the way I’ve seen it through Erasmus’s eyes. At the midpoint of this module, he was devoured by the formless spawn and woke up with a greater madness that took away his ability to communicate. Losing his class abilities was rough, but what was just as bad was not being able to lend my voice to the others when we were reacting to a lot of the crazy things we were going through. When someone would look to me for advice, but all I could do in-game was pantomime as much as I was able to, play the best that I could without having access to any of his abilities, and hoped that we’d survive, if only to experience everything else this AP has to offer.


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Some brief, general and non-spoilery discussion of Lovecraft and his world-view. I don't think this is anything that's going to affect your enjoyment of the AP, but I'll put it behind a couple of spoiler tags just in case.

Adam Smith wrote:
As GM, I've really enjoyed playing new monsters, since running a good many published adventures over the years it's hard to be surprised anymore. The research and investigative elements of the campaign have been really unique too, it's fun to just watch the players piece it all together. We are all so into the research (and research rules) that we even have a "research theme" on our soundtrack that we use every time we tackle some of the immense quantity of written material in the path.

Brief note about Lovecraft the man:
This goes all the way back to Lovecraft himself, who was a book-loving research nerd of the highest order. He grew up in a house full of books, and his day job was working as a ghost-writer, including what today we'd call popular science articles. Books and libraries play an important role in several of his stories, and protagonists are more likely to be academics and scientists than two-fisted pulp heroes.
Aerick Lim wrote:
Regarding the Lovecraft mythos, it’s hard to believe that people came up with these things a hundred years ago (it seems WAY ahead of its time) because I can’t imagine anything else that could’ve be out there back them that’s even remotely as horrific.

Why it feels so modern:
Well, there were a couple of things in the zeitgeist that Lovecraft really picked up on. One was the psychic aftershock of World War One. Twenty million young men had died, and... for what, exactly? The horrors of the trenches, the billions spent on new and devastating ways to kill, empires destroyed, millions thrown into misery and poverty... and at the end a few borders get shifted and there's a League of Nations that nobody takes seriously.

Meanwhile, there were all these absolutely insane advances in science, especially astronomy, geology and physics. In 1900 you could still believe that the Earth was 20 million years old. By 1920 it was clear that the Earth was billions of years old, and the universe was much older. In 1900 it was thought that the universe consisted of the Milky Way galaxy. A generation later, it was clear that there were thousands, perhaps millions of galaxies, each with billions or hundreds of billions of stars. And then of course there was relativity, which announced that matter and energy were interchangeable, that time and space were the same thing, and that space itself was expanding over time. For two hundred years, Western science had been built on Isaac Newton's complex but comprehensible clockwork foundation. Now that had been replaced by a rubbery funhouse.

Most people just shrugged and went along with their lives, of course. But if you were a studious young man who took this stuff seriously, it was absolutely mind-blowing. The universe is incredibly huge and incredibly ancient. Maybe humanity isn't that important after all. Maybe we're just a local epiphenomenon thrown up by the cold laws of physics. And -- given the recent history -- maybe we're not likely to be around for too long.

To bring it back: Call of Cthulhu models this by setting up a game-world where PCs are fragile, both mentally and physically; where the "win" conditions are often quite difficult to achieve, and failure is very much an option; and where victory, when you do somehow manage to pull it off, is usually contingent, heavily qualified, or temporary. As Adam notes in the introduction to the first book, this is radically different from the default heroic fantasy setting for a Pathfinder campaign. So it's a testament both to the flexibility of the Pathfinder system and the talents of the writers that they've been able to make a CoC-like Pathfinder game.

Doug M.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Condolences on your loss. It was clear that Mike both brought a lot to the table and to the friendships as well.

Order of the Amber Die

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clavejones wrote:
Condolences on your loss. It was clear that Mike both brought a lot to the table and to the friendships as well.

Thank you Clave, and you're right, the table and friendship is one and the same with all of us, as it is with so many gaming groups. Mike was our resident jokester; no matter how grim things were for our characters, he could spin the situation with humor. Outside the game he was always there to help anyone who needed it, and left an example for others to look up to. It's been really nice during this time to see so many supportive comments from the community.

Order of the Amber Die

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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

To bring it back: Call of Cthulhu models this by setting up a game-world where PCs are fragile, both mentally and physically; where the "win" conditions are often quite difficult to achieve, and failure is very much an option; and where victory, when you do somehow manage to pull it off, is usually contingent, heavily qualified, or temporary. As Adam notes in the introduction to the first book, this is radically different from the default heroic fantasy setting for a Pathfinder campaign. So it's a testament both to the flexibility of the Pathfinder system and the talents of the writers that they've been able to make a CoC-like Pathfinder game.

Doug M.

Lots of great information there, thanks Doug! I'm not sure all of the players will want to/should look at the spoilers, but as a history teacher I came into the project with some of the background knowledge that you noted, though you certainly provided me with more. I'll let the other players chime in as they get a chance, but I definitely wanted to add something to what you mentioned about this AP. I agree with you about the flexibility of the Pathfinder system, and I can remember being at the Adventure Path Seminar at GenCon 2015 where someone asked if Strange Aeons was just going to be "Call of Cthulhu-Pathfinder," and I believe it was Adam Daigle or James Jacobs who said it would still have plenty of traditional elements of Pathfinder and fantasy (and you would get to fight, not just run away). I really like that this has been true so far about the path, where there have been places like Fort Hailcourse in PF110 that had our players doing some classic planning to raid a fort, complete with a massive melee once they got inside (on third attempt). The trip down the Sellen River was much the same way too, and our rescue of the senator from Galt felt like dashing fantasy. Paizo always seems to find ways to put their own spin on things and keep you on your toes, even when you're expecting to say, fight giants the whole way through Giantslayer. When they opened Giantslayer with a murder investigation and then had us in a druidic demiplane halfway through the second book, we knew it wouldn't be a perfunctory slog through innumerable giants for six volumes. I think I speak for the group when I say that all of us are looking forward to the twists that are still to come in Strange Aeons!

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

AAAAAAAAARGH! DEMOGORGON!!!

Order of the Amber Die

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Purple Dragon Knight wrote:
AAAAAAAAARGH! DEMOGORGON!!!

Yes! And you know what's funny about that, when I slammed the nightmare dragon miniature down it was entirely out of the hype of the moment: It was late Sunday night, and we had just played for so many hours in the darkness that everybody was feeling a little woozy--I partly did it out of habit to try and jolt the pace back up. Well, that combined with the fact that I was super-excited to see a dragon in this AP. :)

It was actually Maxx (doing camera work) who called out what you just did: "DEMOGORGON!!!"

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16

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Can you tell us more about how you crafted your scenery? Ships, water, buildings, docs, etc.
They are fantastic.

Order of the Amber Die

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Banesfinger wrote:

Can you tell us more about how you crafted your scenery? Ships, water, buildings, docs, etc.

They are fantastic.

Thanks Banesfinger! What you see in these photos, our PDFs, and on our Facebook is the culmination of decades of collecting tabletop RPG scenery. It's hard to know where to begin, so I'll just address the stuff you see in these photos. The docks are from the Desert of Athas dungeon tiles (2010), while the ships are straight from the maps in this module. I created a PDF that walks you through the process of turning the maps into a 3D boat during our Giantslayer run, and it can be found in our Dropbox. As for the water and grass you see, we used Deep-Cut Studio gridded 4x6' battlemats. The buildings were created by terrain artist John Robertson of GeordieJohn Studios.

So typically what we do to make these setups is I read the adventure, then try to envision the map the way I want it to look with our terrain options available. It's one of those tasks that falls solely on the GM, as even if the players want to help out, I can't often divulge the information to them because it's encounter-specific. However, other members in the Order that are not part of this particular campaign still lend their talents (as they are usually part of a different campaign and\or veterans of a prior project). For the fully functional sail, along with all of the other sails, Mike Dappolone spent time documenting how he created those, and we'll be releasing that information on our Facebook soon. One of my favorite pieces is the mausoleum you can see if you look closely behind the gug.

Hope that helps a bit. Feel free to reach out with more questions!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

Congratulations Adam to another awesome-looking marathon session!

The second picture in the first group, is that a printout of the map straight from the PDF? And if so, how did you blow it up to that size with such a great quality?

Order of the Amber Die

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Nullpunkt wrote:

Congratulations Adam to another awesome-looking marathon session!

The second picture in the first group, is that a printout of the map straight from the PDF? And if so, how did you blow it up to that size with such a great quality?

Many thanks Nullpunkt! As long as people keep appreciating the effort and gaining something from it, we'll keep on documenting--it's great to hear so many positive comments about how this marathon turned out.

The map is indeed the exact one from the adventure. I'd rather not say how short the prep schedule for this one was, but it set an OAD record for the least amount of time I've ever had to prepare a module. As such, I didn't even have time to draw many of the maps as I usually do (just the viscount's ball). We ended up having to print many of them out at full scale; however, the Order is fortunate to have the talents of Axion Studios at our disposal. While Axion specializes in music production, they also have considerable skill in graphic design and photo editing. They were able to both expand and remaster Rob Lazzaretti's originals from the module and we simply took them to the printer.

The best part for all Strange Aeons fans? We're giving the maps away!

We just finished our first contest and gave away some remastered maps from In Search of Sanity; this week we'll be starting a new contest for maps from The Thrushmoor Terror. Keep checking our Facebook for updates.


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RIP Mike. I'll always treasure our times sitting across the table, gaming together. You were truly one of a kind. Gone too soon my friend.


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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

This makes me curious: what are you and your players picking up from / about the Lovecraft mythos by osmosis? Are you thinking "Okay, I see the appeal of this -- I'd like to sit down and read some of his stuff afterwards?" Or is it more "once a philosopher, twice a pervert?" (1)

Doug M.

(1) attributed to Voltaire, the morning after a walk on the wild side.

As the only person at the table who had experience with Lovecraft, it was difficult not to disrupt the osmosis process with direct injection, but I think I did a solid job of letting them experience the horror organically ;) That said, the Dreamlands are a Lovecraftian facet that I'm not quite as familiar with (mostly through Horror on the Orient Express) and it did make me eager to read those parts of the mythos.


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Savannah Broadway wrote:
That said, the Dreamlands are a Lovecraftian facet that I'm not quite as familiar with (mostly through Horror on the Orient Express) and it did make me eager to read those parts of the mythos.

Minor spoiler for Dreamlands stuff:
The Dreamlands stories are mostly earlier and mostly slighter, though they do have some interesting bits. They also tend to be a bit more experimental in form -- "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath", for instance, is a 30,000 word novella without a single line of dialogue. Possibly for this reason, reactions to the Dreamlands stories are often quite varied, from "pfft" though "meh" to "OMG that was amazing!"

But anyway: if you want to dig deeper into the Dreamlands, do yourself a favor and dig down past Lovecraft to Lord Dunsany. Dunsany was a huge, huge influence on young Lovecraft. A lot of Lovecraft's early stories are Dunsany pastiches, plain and simple. But Dunsany did Dunsany better, yes? He wrote a lot of stuff, and the quality varied, but the better stories are just fantastic. And while they were very influential, they haven't survived nearly as well as Lovecraft has. So there'll often be the pleasant shock of discovering something familiar but altogether new.

Doug M.


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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
Savannah Broadway wrote:
That said, the Dreamlands are a Lovecraftian facet that I'm not quite as familiar with (mostly through Horror on the Orient Express) and it did make me eager to read those parts of the mythos.

** spoiler omitted **

Doug M.

Ah, those recommendations sound great! I've already been meaning to read Clark Ashton Smith's Empire of the Necromancers, so I'll definitely have to add Dunsany to my winter reading list. Thanks, Doug!

The Exchange

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm so very sorry for your loss of a long time friend and original with The Order. My thoughts, prayers and heart goes out to you and his family. Speed of the geek energies to convey him to a more peaceful and long deserved rest from pain.

Order of the Amber Die

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Flynn Greywalker wrote:
I'm so very sorry for your loss of a long time friend and original with The Order. My thoughts, prayers and heart goes out to you and his family. Speed of the geek energies to convey him to a more peaceful and long deserved rest from pain.

Thanks so much Flynn, it's really been incredible to hear that so many people understood what Mike meant to us. When we noticed your comment, it was a bit ironic because we were in the middle of an Order conference call to decide on this next year (our 30th anniversary year)--and what Mike would have wanted to see us do for the occasion. We've got some great plans forming, so thanks again for being with us throughout!

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