Phew! I always think of the months leading up to PaizoCon and Gen Con as the busiest time of the year, and while that's true, it often downplays the holiday season's tight schedule to get all of the scenarios ready a little earlier so that our colleagues can head off for some well-deserved rest at the end of the year. That doesn't mean you're off the hook, either—remember that you should be voting (and encouraging your friends to vote) in the ongoing Leaders in Liberty event to help direct the Liberty's Edge faction. After that, we have two great new scenarios for you to enjoy.
The first is Pathfinder Society Scenario #9–08: Birthright Betrayed, a Tier 1–5 scenario by Sam Polak. I'm excited about this adventure for numerous reasons, and the one you've likely heard me talk about before is the Sovereign Court opportunities that tie into the upcoming War for the Crown Adventure Path. It's hard to believe that so much time has passed since Crystal Frasier and I first began scheming this crossover. The wait to hear everyone's reactions to various scenes (including several that have left Thurston Hillman calling me "a monster” for the past 6 months) seems unbearable, but at last our first installation is here!
In Birthright Betrayed, the Pathfinder Society has an opportunity to study relics from the Shining Crusade. The problem is that those same exhibits are in a museum the local baron has habitually ransacked to promote his public image, in the process shaming his glorious ancestor. It's as much a service to history as it is a favor for the Sovereign Court faction to take this baron down a peg, particularly once the PCs begin investigating what's really been happening around the Taldan city of Ridonport. Even low-level PCs can accomplish big things in this scenario and walk away not just feeling like heroes but also being told that they saved the day. Sam's made this especially charming by providing numerous opportunities to meet and interact with the people of Taldor—not just the nobles we see in most Taldan adventures, but also the everyday folks just trying to make ends meet. I've included two of my favorite new NPC portraits from this adventure, both by Sebastian Gomez.
Illustrations by Sebastian Gomez
Overall it promises to be a great start to this story, which includes a Tier 3–7 scenario next month and a Tier 7–11 scenario in January (right before War for the Crown launches in February). This is indicative of a trend you'll see in Season 9. Specifically, there are very few officially multi-part series, unlike in past seasons. Instead, each faction has an ongoing storyline that we've tried to spread over the season as appropriate, and in almost all cases these faction scenarios' tiers get higher over time. The hope's that if you want to really play all 2–3 adventures with the same PC, you can, but the stories are typically partitioned in such a way that you can still have a meaningful experience if you use a few different PCs to play the adventures (see the recent pair of Scarab Sages scenarios for a good example). This also means that each of the factions gets a good level spread over Season 9, so you don't need to be low level to experience the Liberty's Edge story or high level to appreciate what the Dark Archive's doing. Overall, we're tinkering with how we've always done things to deliver some fun stories in different ways.
Speaking of traditions, we've made something of a tradition of releasing a new replayable scenario around this time of year. Linda Zayas-Palmer has increasingly taken the lead on these special projects, so it's only right that we hear directly from her about what to expect.
Our second scenario this month is the replayable 3–7 adventure Pathfinder Society Scenario #9–09: Beyond the Halflight Path. Like its older sister Pathfinder Society Scenario #8–07: From the Tome of Righteous Repose, Beyond the Halflight Path is packed with opportunities for the GM to customize her adventure. The story takes the PCs to Kaer Maga, an eclectic city whose ancient history refuses to stay buried. It's up to the PCs to get to the bottom of a troublesome mystery and strike against its source in the vaults below. What is the threat? What is the background behind it? Who even gives the mission briefing? All of these depend upon how the GM decides to assemble the story.
Brian Duckwitz really stepped up to the plate in writing this adventure. I left a lot of room in the outline for him to come up with possible plots, and you'll see many of those ideas in the adventure. I don't want to put spoilers here, so I'll just say: check out the Scintillating Halls arcs. They are delightfully creepy. When it comes to encounters, think about how many encounters are in typical scenario, and then multiply that by around seven. Now imagine adjusting everything for four players and giving every last creature its own tactics. Oh, and make each of the nine possible villains interesting and distinctive while you are at it. It was a serious undertaking, and Brian did an excellent job.
Illustration by Tom Ventre
This was also an opportunity to get some more great Duskwarden art, this time as depicted by Tom Ventre.
That's all for this week! I hope that (as is true for Pathfinders as for players in real life) everyone travels safely if you're heading out of town for the holiday season. Remember to look up local games to share the cheer with others, no matter where you're wintering this year.
Organized Play Lead Developer