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Order of the Amber Die—The Strange Aeons Experiment, Part 4

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

On the trail of the person who condemned them to an asylum with no memory of their former selves, the Order of the Amber Die tackles the fourth adventure of the Strange Aeons Adventure Path. It looks like they had a great time (as usual), and this time around it was great to read the live tweeting from the Order's newest member—former Paizo intern Savannah Broadway.

Here's their report from their marathon experience with Pathfinder Adventure Path #112: The Whisper Out of Time! As always, proceed with caution if you are playing in this Adventure Path or planning to do so, as spoilers may lurk within the following words.

After reaching the Taldan port city of Cassomir and recovering from the madness that plagued several of our party members, our group was eager to chase Count Lowls further into this Adventure Path. We knew we were in for a long run when our GM booked an extra day for this marathon. We ended up setting an Order of the Amber Die record, staying in the same house for 93 hours, and playing over 60 of those. We also saw three of Golarion's signature cities, and traversed nearly 800 miles.

Making this marathon even more significant for us was the return of Savannah Broadway, taking the role of Winter Klaczka and leading "Winter's Wolves" to victory once again. We opened up the first night of play with an official draft ceremony, fully inducting Savannah into the Order—our first new member in three years! After presenting her with an official Order of the Amber Die jersey, it was time to settle in for a few days of Pathfinder.

To keep us fully immersed, we used AdventureScents to overwhelm our olfactory senses with the myriad smells of an alchemist's lab, followed by the moldy paper of an ancient library. For the streets of Cassomir, we combined buildings from Custom Kingdoms with a 4 ft. x 6 ft. gridded cobblestone battlemat from Deep-Cut Studio.

Highlights from The Whisper Out of Time

  • In the top floors of an old infirmary, we chased a three-armed derro vivisectionist through a maze of skin. Enough said.
  • Searching for the Mysterium, one of the oldest libraries on Golarion, we rolled into majestic Katheer to the sounds of Mosavo's "Mystic Caravan." While many dungeons we've crawled have contained a library, in this adventure the largest dungeon was a library.
  • Before we could figure out how to shut off the Mysterium's warped defense system, we faced packs of hounds—of Tindalos! Sixteen slain was the number, with MVP Quinn taking on four at once in a plan gone awry.
  • Going into this adventure, we knew we'd be up against author Richard Pett. Gaming convention crowds and the Paizo messageboards helped confirm that with Xanesha from Rise of the Runelords, he possessed perhaps more TPKs than any contemporary author. Though we managed to best her in 2014, Xanesha still put 4 of our iconics in the ground. Pett delivered again in this adventure. In the extradimensional heart of the library, we faced off against a corrupted archon known only as "The Keeper," who shook off three banishments and two hold monsters while draining over 20 ability points on round one. At a critical moment, he succumbed to the 1st level spell ill omen, and we managed a clean game.
  • In Okeno, we had to navigate a difficult parley with the Hyena Princess Njano. Since two members are lawful good, our party tried everything—which meant slipping into her milk bath to discuss terms.
  • On the rooftop of a gnoll fortress known as Blossoming Thorn, we got ourselves into the largest melee of the campaign thus far. An airwalking Quinn engaged Biting Lash, one of the most notorious slavers in the Yellow City. At the same time, Erasmus took on her bodyguard, scimitar versus scimitar. Alahazra slowed the reinforcements with bursts of radiance, while Winter provided Pharasma's blessing through Fateful Channel. As Feiya engaged their enemy sorcerer in an arcane duel, Daji jumped into the scrap by going after Biting Lash's eagle animal companion. Just as we were about to be overwhelmed, we grabbed our quarry and called for the teleport extraction. Mission successful.

The Experiment

We kept hearing creepy whispers and a strange bell throughout the adventure. We've gotten so used to the unexplainable in this Adventure Path, that we just wrote them off as more Lovecraftian enigmas that will be revealed in time.

Character Deaths

It turns out the cult of Hastur was more widespread than we thought. Cultists hunted us through the damp streets of Cassomir, leading to two deadly ambushes that resulted in casualties amounting to: several townsfolk, a byakhee, a few dire bats, a keeper of the yellow sign, and some members of the city guard. With the help of our cult hunter, we fought our way out of their tentacles, but lost Feiya both times.

Best Quote from Marathon 4

Alahazra (after slaying a Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath): "We just pissed off a Great Old One."
Winter (in a Russian accent): "It is having a thousand young, I don't think it is going to miss one..."

Current Situation

We've exchanged dark and fog-shrouded Ustalav for more sun and heat than we ever expected coming into this AP. Armed with a map, ample supplies, and gnoll guides provided by the untrustworthy slaver named Biting Lash, we're headed deep into the Parchlands of Casmaron for part five. Semi-finals, here we come!

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!

So, they made it through and are on the move again. Tune in next time to see if they can survive the Parchlands and the mysterious ruined city of Neruzavin.

Adam Daigle
Developer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Community Order of the Amber Die Pathfinder Adventure Path Strange Aeons
Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Impressive!

Order of the Amber Die

2 people marked this as a favorite.
John Compton wrote:
Impressive!

Thanks John! This was one for the record books for sure, but well worth the time. We are about to tackle your module! I don't believe any of us has ever faced off against any of your scenarios and the group is very much looking forward to the challenge. Your piece on the Graveknights in PF94 (We're also really psyched that Jim is capping off SA) was nice.

Is PF113 your first full module for an AP? Either way we are honored to be experiencing an in-depth ride into your imagination.

Looking forward to seeing you at PaizoCon.

Game on!

Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Sterling Brunsvold wrote:
John Compton wrote:
Impressive!

Thanks John! This was one for the record books for sure, but well worth the time. We are about to tackle your module! I don't believe any of us has ever faced off against any of your scenarios and the group is very much looking forward to the challenge. Your piece on the Graveknights in PF94 (We're also really psyched that Jim is capping off SA) was nice.

Is PF113 your first full module for an AP? Either way we are honored to be experiencing an in-depth ride into your imagination.

Looking forward to seeing you at PaizoCon.

Game on!

Yep, #113 the first Adventure Path I've written (fewer variant graveknight horses, but plenty of other fun encounters). I look forward to hearing how the Order of the Amber Die handles it!

Order of the Amber Die

3 people marked this as a favorite.
John Compton wrote:
Sterling Brunsvold wrote:
John Compton wrote:
Impressive!

Thanks John! This was one for the record books for sure, but well worth the time. We are about to tackle your module! I don't believe any of us has ever faced off against any of your scenarios and the group is very much looking forward to the challenge. Your piece on the Graveknights in PF94 (We're also really psyched that Jim is capping off SA) was nice.

Is PF113 your first full module for an AP? Either way we are honored to be experiencing an in-depth ride into your imagination.

Looking forward to seeing you at PaizoCon.

Game on!

Yep, #113 the first Adventure Path I've written (fewer variant graveknight horses, but plenty of other fun encounters). I look forward to hearing how the Order of the Amber Die handles it!

Without giving anything away, I'm just going to say that I'm really liking where you went with it John; as for the maps, they have me excited to see what I can do with them on the full-scale grid. Wish I could say more right now!

In regard to PF112, one part of Richard's adventure that delightfully surprised the entire group was the Okeno section. We were actually behind schedule in the marathon, despite leaving so many days to complete this one; however, the group couldn't resist a lot of immersive role-playing at the Laughing Fleshfair, the Temple of Gozreh, and especially the Hyena Princess's estate (twice). A great time!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Quote:
We kept hearing creepy whispers and a strange bell throughout the adventure. We've gotten so used to the unexplainable in this Adventure Path, that we just wrote them off as more Lovecraftian enigmas that will be revealed in time.

Hmmm...has your party had any harrowing battles against some incorporal undead by any chance in the previous AP? ^_~

Paizo Employee Developer

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Thanks to the Order of the Amber Die for another excellent report! Best of luck with the rest of the Adventure Path.

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Berselius wrote:
Quote:
We kept hearing creepy whispers and a strange bell throughout the adventure. We've gotten so used to the unexplainable in this Adventure Path, that we just wrote them off as more Lovecraftian enigmas that will be revealed in time.
Hmmm...has your party had any harrowing battles against some incorporal undead by any chance in the previous AP? ^_~

Hi Berselius! I think I know where you're going...but please clarify for our readers! ;)

Order of the Amber Die

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Adam Daigle wrote:
Thanks to the Order of the Amber Die for another excellent report! Best of luck with the rest of the Adventure Path.

Adam, thanks for the well wishes! It's always exciting going into higher level adventures, and we never take it for granted when a campaign makes it as far as this one has (231 session hours and climbing). I know the group is dying for some answers to the mysteries of this AP. More than anything, they'd love to maybe--just maybe--get to meet Count Lowls in the flesh...


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Great stuff! Love the visual aids too. How did the players like the extra work in the physical maps and aids?

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

4 people marked this as a favorite.
DunkinDoNot wrote:
Great stuff! Love the visual aids too. How did the players like the extra work in the physical maps and aids?

We love it, of course! That's one of the things that makes marathons special, because our GM has the time to put in maximum effort. Adam's maps are the best we've seen, especially with the 3D pieces added to them, and the complete 3D setup to flesh out the city encounters have been tons of fun to play on. Then there's the artwork and other images on the 70" that definitely help put things into perspective for us. (You'll see plenty of shots including those aids in the post-marathon photos on our Facebook.) Also, the players - even those not currently playing in the project - try to pitch in however they can in for the "showcase" elements, as long as they won't give away any spoilers. It all goes a long way to providing total immersion.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

nice


4 people marked this as a favorite.
DunkinDoNot wrote:
Great stuff! Love the visual aids too. How did the players like the extra work in the physical maps and aids?

As someone who came from a group that uses little in the way of minis and maps (which is fine, just different), I have to say that playing with the Order is *amazing*. Everything from miniature bushes to townhouses with balconies not only helps with immersion, but also gives a great staging ground for the group's tactical savvy.

Order of the Amber Die

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Yakman wrote:
nice

Hey Yakman! We appreciate you taking the time to follow along.

Just curious:

What is your favorite part of our projects?

Are you currently playing Strange Aeons? If not, do our reports make you feel more inclined to do so?

It's always nice to get feedback from fans and other GMs/Players in the community.

Thanks!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Aerick Lim wrote:
Berselius wrote:
Quote:
We kept hearing creepy whispers and a strange bell throughout the adventure. We've gotten so used to the unexplainable in this Adventure Path, that we just wrote them off as more Lovecraftian enigmas that will be revealed in time.
Hmmm...has your party had any harrowing battles against some incorporal undead by any chance in the previous AP? ^_~
Hi Berselius! I think I know where you're going...but please clarify for our readers! ;)

LOL...well, I didn't want to spoil anything for your campaign but if it's okay with you then I'll just go out and say it: "perhaps one or more of your PC's might be suffering from a rather possessive corruption." ;) :D

Order of the Amber Die

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Berselius wrote:
Aerick Lim wrote:
Berselius wrote:
Quote:
We kept hearing creepy whispers and a strange bell throughout the adventure. We've gotten so used to the unexplainable in this Adventure Path, that we just wrote them off as more Lovecraftian enigmas that will be revealed in time.
Hmmm...has your party had any harrowing battles against some incorporal undead by any chance in the previous AP? ^_~
Hi Berselius! I think I know where you're going...but please clarify for our readers! ;)
LOL...well, I didn't want to spoil anything for your campaign but if it's okay with you then I'll just go out and say it: "perhaps one or more of your PC's might be suffering from a rather possessive corruption." ;) :D

While it might have had something to do with another element of the campaign, I love where you're going! Stay tuned, Berselius! ;-)

Order of the Amber Die

6 people marked this as a favorite.

Daji, I'm so proud of you! You looked after me when I was ruined by that insanity spell. And that feeblemind spell too, nasty little halfling. Well, let's keep it our secret that you've held everyone together throughout this entire journey. Also between you and me, is that we know you're now smarter than almost the entire party. I love you, my gorgeous fox!

Order of the Amber Die

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Jody Gerst wrote:
Daji, I'm so proud of you! You looked after me when I was ruined by that insanity spell. And that feeblemind spell too, nasty little halfling. Well, let's keep it our secret that you've held everyone together throughout this entire journey. Also between you and me, is that we know you're now smarter than almost the entire party. I love you, my gorgeous fox!

I can't believe a fox is smarter than most of our iconic characters. What in the world....

Grand Lodge

Sterling Brunsvold wrote:


Are you currently playing Strange Aeons? If not, do our reports make you feel more inclined to do so?

Regretfully not! Would love to GM or play SA, but with PFS as a player, GMing an irregular Emerald Spire (thanks for the Amber reports!) and GMing another irregular Runelords campaign.. I'm stretched thin for this year as well. U_U


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Big Amber Die fan, love these reports.

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Very cool!

I'm curious: some of the comments/reviews suggested that this leg of the AP was too easy. Did you all find that to be the case?

Order of the Amber Die

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

Big Amber Die fan, love these reports.

Doug M.

Thank you Doug! It's been a great ride so far, and I'm eager to see how this party of iconic characters does against some of the tougher challenges coming in the last two parts of the AP. Stay tuned!

Order of the Amber Die

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Porridge wrote:

Very cool!

I'm curious: some of the comments/reviews suggested that this leg of the AP was too easy. Did you all find that to be the case?

Hi Porridge, thanks for checking out the report! By this leg of the AP, I assume you are just referring to part 4. We found it to be a little above average in the way of difficulty, and we still experienced two character deaths (zero would have been better). It has the potential in some places to wipe out a party: The mirror that spawns hounds of Tindalos, and getting overwhelmed while taking on the gnoll fortress being two examples. The archon can be nasty too, especially considering your party might be low on resources and there is little chance of escape; we were fortunate in that fight, as Erasmus ended up throwing down an awe-inspiring series of attacks while engaging it in mid-air. The ill omen bought us another round, and the medium did it again, with back-to-back critical hits.

Wait, I almost forgot! Retelling this encounter is going to sting the players a bit, but it's worth mentioning. The room full of derro saw our grouped-up party hit by eleven sound bursts in a single round. Quinn dropped, and with him, the legendary sword known as "Red Destiny" that had made it this far through the AP with us. The blade fell through the boards of the catwalk into the water, only to be grabbed up by the derro upon our retreat. After returning, we tried to locate it with spells--but to no avail.

Order of the Amber Die

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Varun Creed wrote:
Sterling Brunsvold wrote:


Are you currently playing Strange Aeons? If not, do our reports make you feel more inclined to do so?
Regretfully not! Would love to GM or play SA, but with PFS as a player, GMing an irregular Emerald Spire (thanks for the Amber reports!) and GMing another irregular Runelords campaign.. I'm stretched thin for this year as well. U_U

The Emerald Spire, excellent! What a summer that was, I'm glad you liked the report.

Speaking of feats of GMing endurance, I set a personal record with this marathon. Over the course of the 60 session hours we played in PF112, I did not take a single break. We stopped to sleep at the end of the night, and were rolling 30 minutes after rising each morning. We ate all of our meals as we played, since our kitchen area connects to our play area. The players have really invested themselves in the role-playing opportunities available with Strange Aeons, I didn't want to deny them the chance to enrich the experience. It's also very easy to lose track of time during a marathon. Whereas in Giantslayer we often fell behind schedule due to incredibly long combats, this AP has complex investigative elements that are hard to adjust for sometimes. Not to mention, the Mysterium in this adventure had rooms full of lore that were irresistible, and practically begging players to put down their packs and start browsing titles.

Good luck with Runelords and the Spire!

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Companion Subscriber

Sadly I have to admit this is the first I have seen of any of your reports, but I am loving this! I am currently gearing up to run this for several groups, just not marathon style. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information with the rest of us.

Order of the Amber Die

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Useplanb wrote:
Sadly I have to admit this is the first I have seen of any of your reports, but I am loving this! I am currently gearing up to run this for several groups, just not marathon style. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information with the rest of us.

Useplanb, thank you! Playing through material at the rate we do and with strict adherence to the way it is written takes a lot of effort, not to mention the long weekends of marathon play; knowing that our reports are contributing to the community makes all the effort well worth it. Since you're just finding us for the first time, I'll just point out a few ways you can dig deeper into the projects if you're in search of more. We keep a living PDF of each project, and you can find all three (The Emerald Spire Project, The Giantslayer Endeavor, and The Strange Aeons Experiment) in our Dropbox. Each PDF contains more than 30,000 words, including: player reflections, module analysis, soundtrack information, photo galleries, map galleries, and even production stills. There's also our Facebook, where we post photos from current projects, convention play, and our home campaign: The Runelords Relay. Since you'll be GMing Strange Aeons for several groups, you might be interested in our map giveaways, as we have still have several maps to release from Dreams of the Yellow King and The Whisper Out of Time. Thanks again for the kind words, and feel free to reach out as you begin your first Strange Aeons run!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

So I finally took the time to check out this Experiment and wow. I love playing Pathfinder, I'd even like to be able to have the time to become a member of the Amber Die but after looking at all this, I have a way to go. I have to know, how much has this project cost the group? The furnishings, the 3d terrain, painted mini via pro service, custom maps, all of this seems quite expensive but quite immersive.

So how much has this cost as a whole and what were the expenses for each group of things? Like the custom maps, 3d terrain, painted minis, grouping it like that.

And I would also like to know what this group considers the best investment, for this project and for any campaign in general. I have a good collection of books and mats and some other things but I was wondering what may be a good investment.

Order of the Amber Die

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Adam Yuhasz wrote:

So I finally took the time to check out this Experiment and wow. I love playing Pathfinder, I'd even like to be able to have the time to become a member of the Amber Die but after looking at all this, I have a way to go. I have to know, how much has this project cost the group? The furnishings, the 3d terrain, painted mini via pro service, custom maps, all of this seems quite expensive but quite immersive.

So how much has this cost as a whole and what were the expenses for each group of things? Like the custom maps, 3d terrain, painted minis, grouping it like that.

And I would also like to know what this group considers the best investment, for this project and for any campaign in general. I have a good collection of books and mats and some other things but I was wondering what may be a good investment.

Adam,

Thanks for taking the time to check out the Experiment, and you ask a great question there! Aside from the time commitment involved, there are indeed financial investments as well. We have developed relationships with companies that help provide us with much of the immersive elements you see, and the rest our members chip in for. It definitely helps that we have been doing this for a very long time--30 years and 140 published adventures--so we've built quite an extensive collection of material (and experience) to draw from for each project. Being part of the Order is much like belonging to an athletic team or a league of any kind. For us to function at the level you see here, we expect a lot from our members, but if playing tabletop RPGs with this much immersion is something a person wants the opportunity to do, we've found that they're always excited to contribute.

The largest expenditures are for travel and food, as our members are spread out across the country and many fly to attend each marathon. It's fairly easy to estimate by figuring six marathons, with plane tickets and food for each. Since our members use their time off from work to do these projects, most just consider it a typical vacation expenditure. The majority of marathons are played at my house as GM, because it's free to do so, and also our hoard of gaming materials is stored there. Order members have dubbed the place "Fort Rannick," and we're not afraid to pack the house for a long weekend with members who are either part of a project, or just want to watch the current group take on a module.

Discussing expenditures does warrant mentioning that cost is often the last thing on a member's list before deciding to join a project. When we approach our members to set up a "Core 4" party of players for a new project, they have to consider foremost what it will do to their personal lives for the next nine or ten months. Once every six weeks they will have to come together for days to play an adventure, but in-between marathons there is an incredible amount of work to be done. For more on this, we've written about it in our PDFs for each project, and we also cover it at our GenCon (and upcoming PaizoCon) seminars on marathon gaming.

As for a recommended investment of your own, I have always tried to fill gaps in my collection when possible. If you find that you have extra maps that aren't used during adventures, maybe it's time to focus more on miniatures or some of that new Pathfinder Battles terrain from the recent sets. Other GMs might have a preference for a better gaming table to use them on; much of it depends on what you find most enjoyable in the game, especially if it's solely your money. I like to make the room much like my classroom, and offer the players visuals on a large screen, so in that case maybe a projector or big TV might be useful. One of the greatest things about Tabletop RPGs is that there is no set standard for what makes one group's game better than another. More than cash, put your precious time into each encounter and make sure you tell a great story. :)

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