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Order of the Amber Die—The Azlant Odyssey, Part 2

Monday, January 29, 2018

Those Adventure Path marathoners from the Order of the Amber Die are back again with a report from their play through of Pathfinder Adventure Path #122: Into the Shattered Continent! As usual, there be spoilers! Read the following at your own risk!

In our first marathon of The Azlant Odyssey, we got off to the finest start in any of our projects for the Paizo Blog: we discovered an ample amount of treasure, held party deaths to a zero count, and acquired enough allies to put together a solid team for any challenge that might present itself. For this second marathon, we wanted to capitalize on our early gains by significantly developing the colony of Talmandor's Bounty while exploring the island around it, and "Into the Shattered Continent" offered exactly that.

To enhance immersion, we brought the beach to us by utilizing AdventureScents to make the room smell like a sandy coast. We also engaged several live-NPCs to play the roles of colonists and other indigenous inhabitants of ancient Azlant, complete with a locathah mask that stared back at us the entire time. Lastly, our GM assembled a collection of images to project on the wall that matched locations we'd be visiting, as well as a soundtrack that included hours of waves crashing against the shore.

This adventure was divided into three parts, with the first being one of the largest sandboxes we've ever come across in 145 published adventures that we’ve played. So massive, in fact, that we pushed our GM near the limit and broke our record for the longest single marathon in Order of the Amber Die history!

Highlights from Into the Shattered Continent:

  • The marathon opened with shock and betrayal. Having accidentally chosen to bring two dominated colonists into our midst at the end of "The Lost Outpost", they turned against the colony in the downtime between adventures. Orchestrating a surprise raid by skum, the traitors targeted our spellcasters and caught nearly all of them alone or off-guard. Two of the colony's respected priests were slain, but we fought off the assault with aid from a couple of celedons, whom afterwards insisted on teaching all present how the goddess Acavna (not the party) had granted us a successful defense of the colony.
  • Searching the ruins of Azlant has turned up much in the way of Pathfinder Society lore, and through opportunity three of us are now members (Ezren, Kyra, and Lyra). Alright, we'll stop holding back. We got to follow in the footsteps of an expedition from the first EVER Pathfinder Chronicles! And there's more...
  • The island of Ancorato is not an easy place to traverse, and it literally bled us: blood-sucking stirges, a blood-obsessed sea hag, blood-draining ugothols, a blood-siphoning shark, blood-feeding plants, blood-drinking chupacabras, blood-frenzied sahuagin, blood-empowered vampiric mists, and an evil gillman cleric with the blood subdomain. Lesser restoration, please?
  • In the final encounter, we faced our second betrayal when our closest friend and confidant, Carver Hastings, turned into a faceless stalker who had long ago replaced him. Worse, his allies—also former friends but now stalkers—tried to burn us alive in the colony's government building. All but Ezren escaped out of the windows, when Valeros decided to eschew safety by kicking down the front doors and going back in after the old man. With Kyra's air bubble to protect him from smoke inhalation, the fighter waded into the flames to save our wizard, and gave us one of the best slow-motion rescues of any campaign.
  • The Amber Die itself got behind this adventure and dished out some pain, with nine natural 20s that left some heroes facedown. We dodged the die when it mattered most, though!

The Odyssey

Author Robert Brookes referred to this adventure as "a sandbox of exploration and discovery," and its myriad encounters perfectly expanded the feel of our continuing odyssey. While survival was the premier skill for volume one, diplomacy became the focus skill of volume two. We entreated a water naga for aid, stopped a witch hunt, quelled a hunger strike, bartered with locathah, counseled a larcenous teenager, forged an alliance with indigenous creatures, intervened when tensions rose among colonists, solved a kidnapping, comforted a blind cyclops, and traded magic items with a paguroida.

Character Deaths

While we don't have any iconic character deaths to report, we did want to devote this section to a colonist whom we had come to know and respect. Anya Sandstrider accompanied us on several excursions, where she taught us how to better spot danger, discover tracks, and even hunt boar. Our mistake was taking our friend out of her element on our deepest dive yet: a reef swarming with sahuagin and sharks. When we were surrounded by hammerheads and the future was murky, it was her spear and timely calm animals that gave us a momentary lifeline. Ezren fired off a buoyancy spell and we shot for the surface, but it wasn't until we reached air that we realized Anya wasn't with us anymore.

Best Quote From Marathon 2

Adam (GM): Alright guys, welcome to marathon two of The Azlant Odyssey. Kyra, make a Fort save or die, coup de grace.
Kyra (nervously): Ummm...ummm...ummm...24?
Adam (GM): You survive. Twelve damage. You awaken from a normal night's sleep to see a skum standing over you, with its trident in your gut and blood spilling out onto the sheets. Roll initiative.

Current Situation

We managed to thoroughly scout the island, discover generous Azlanti lore, and fend off an attack from within by an enemy we know very little about. Despite repeated betrayals from old friends, we couldn't have made it through this adventure without our newfound allies: a locathah ranger named Koloshkora, and a young strix oracle called Oorka. Our party now has the ability to draw on playmakers that excel in specific environments, with the locathah leading underwater, and the strix aiding overland. Our next move is to figure out who or what has been guiding the repeated attempts to subvert our colony—and eliminate them.

More Content

For character builds, questions about The Azlant Odyssey, additional content and more, see our thread here on the Paizo forums.

Follow Order of the Amber Die on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube.

Adam Daigle
Managing Developer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Community Order of the Amber Die Pathfinder Adventure Path Ruins of Azlant

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As always, I am in utter awe of the Order's attention to detail. Those sets look amazing.

And best quotation for a starting scene ever! :)

Order of the Amber Die

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Bellona wrote:

As always, I am in utter awe of the Order's attention to detail. Those sets look amazing.

And best quotation for a starting scene ever! :)

Thank you, a couple of our players in the project worked on the palisade for the skum assault, and it was a blast to play on! We ended up with a fierce battle at the gate as the majority of skum bottle-necked there.

As for the quote, it was a moment I was more than happy to deliver. Two of my favorite GM-lines occurred in the same sentence: "Save or die," and "coup de grace!"

If you're looking for more, I just posted a few more details from the story of that first encounter on The Azlant Odyssey thread over on the messageboards.

Game on!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Ooh, I just looked at the Facebook page too, and decided that the contest would be worth entering.

If I've understood the instructions correctly, please just assume that my comment above included: #TheAzlantOdyssey, okay? :)

Order of the Amber Die

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Bellona wrote:

Ooh, I just looked at the Facebook page too, and decided that the contest would be worth entering.

If I've understood the instructions correctly, please just assume that my comment above included: #TheAzlantOdyssey, okay? :)

No problem Bellona, you're all set, hoping to get some good discussion going. It's been a fantastic AP so far!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

That sounds like a great way to open a session.

What has been the most useful spell for the party so far?

#TheAzlantOdyssey

Order of the Amber Die

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Michael MacComb wrote:

That sounds like a great way to open a session.

What has been the most useful spell for the party so far?

#TheAzlantOdyssey

Hey, Michael, great question! It's nice that Valeros is an aquanaut, but almost everyone else lacks a swim speed and has been having a rough time underwater. It's slow going without spells like touch of the sea, and dropping below 0 hit points is almost certain death without spells like air bubble. These are definitely two spells our party has needed and relied upon throughout our exploration of the Ruins of Azlant so far. Fortunately, we survived this far, and since we're higher level we'll be more prepared for underwater combat moving forward!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Great recap and I love the photos. I'm tempted to show them to my players but no doubt they'll start to think their GM is of the inferior sort. Perhaps one day I can attain such immersion for my players.

#TheAzlantOdyssey


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Anya NOOOOOO! :(

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Berselius wrote:
Anya NOOOOOO! :(

Yes, Berselius, her loss was a terrible tragedy. Five hammerhead sharks was already a tough fight, but throwing the feeder in the depths into the fray made things so much worse. First, it spooked us when it taunted us in Infernal, then it tore into us with multiple bite attacks with bonus bleed damage. With attack and damage rolls each in high 20s we didn't really stand a chance, so if Anya hadn't bravely held it at bay it would've been TPK! She will be missed, for sure.

Order of the Amber Die

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Fumarole wrote:

Great recap and I love the photos. I'm tempted to show them to my players but no doubt they'll start to think their GM is of the inferior sort. Perhaps one day I can attain such immersion for my players.

#TheAzlantOdyssey

Thanks Fumarole! We shoot a ton of photos each marathon, and it takes a long time to go through them; feedback is always appreciated, and if there is anything people want to see more of from our game we're always excited to hear that too. If you're going to GenCon by chance, we run a seminar there where we discuss what it takes to put these marathons together. Your players are lucky to have a GM who was thinking of them when they saw this blog. :)

Order of the Amber Die

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Berselius wrote:
Anya NOOOOOO! :(

Berselius!

Oh man, Anya. :(

Even I felt the sadness of her death, the feeder in the depths was that nasty. I was already swimming circles around them with sahuagin, and delivered some brutal hits with locathah bane bolts (yup, locathah bane). It was pretty impressive to watch them fight their way out of that trap and head for the surface at record speed.

What's cool about going underwater is watching the tension in the party rise. As soon as they cast their buffs and dove under, all the players became visually apprehensive. I like to drag out the descent a little bit, describe a fish that darts at them, what the sunlight looks like the farther we get from the surface, etc. Can't wait for part three!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I DEMAND DIVINE VENGEANCE FOR THE DEATH OF MADAM SANDSTRIDER! The Feeder in the Depths must DIE!

...but seriously, I hope the party goes back when their more powerful to finish off that hellspawn and give the soul of Anya some closure! :(

...also maybe this time the party could have help in the form of Anya's ghost which wants justice for her death as well by needing that accursed aquatic abomination dead as well? ;) :D

Sovereign Court

2 people marked this as a favorite.

So many GM tips I'm pulling from these marathon blogs! That opening scene is dynamite.

So in the burning building encounter, (I love the flame tokens btw) what rules or mechanics are you using to have the fire spread?

#TheAzlantOdyssey

--VrockLobster

Order of the Amber Die

3 people marked this as a favorite.
King of Vrock wrote:

So many GM tips I'm pulling from these marathon blogs! That opening scene is dynamite.

So in the burning building encounter, (I love the flame tokens btw) what rules or mechanics are you using to have the fire spread?

#TheAzlantOdyssey

--VrockLobster

Thanks Vrock, it's great to know our work is helping other GMs. That opening kicked off this marathon with a jolt, and much credit goes to Dan (playing Kyra) who dropped a natural 19 in response to the coup de grace. He's an experienced player who has been in his share of "save or die" situations across nearly a decade in the Order. I gave him (and Sterling playing Merisiel) only a few seconds to choose their actions, and to represent one of them being asleep they weren't allowed to communicate out-of-game. They responded well--saving their characters--and it was a fine performance from both players.

As for the fire rules, you'll have author Robert Brookes to thank for those, as he details them on p. 56 of PF122. There is even a fun table (d20) to roll on each round, but don't take the smoke inhalation rules lightly. Also, I'd recommend some tokens to track the fire, since it can spread pretty quickly on just a couple of rolls. Once again, quick thinking by a player (Erick playing Valeros) when calling for the air bubble saved a character from death.

Order of the Amber Die

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Berselius wrote:

I DEMAND DIVINE VENGEANCE FOR THE DEATH OF MADAM SANDSTRIDER! The Feeder in the Depths must DIE!

...but seriously, I hope the party goes back when their more powerful to finish off that hellspawn and give the soul of Anya some closure! :(

...also maybe this time the party could have help in the form of Anya's ghost which wants justice for her death as well by needing that accursed aquatic abomination dead as well? ;) :D

Berselius, thanks for engaging once again. It's always good to see your name!

The feeder in the depths encounter was definitely nerve-racking and left us all feeling the hurt of losing Anya (as Aerick touched on). She was really beginning to become a great companion. Underwater combat is definitely a test of patience and vision. Adding the additional axis along with diagonal movement takes its toll. A few of our players cut their teeth using Stormwrack from 3.5, but some were new to detailed underwater encounters. As our GM, Adam, mentioned above, it can put the pressure meter on high as buffs tick off quickly at these low levels.

It might go without saying, but having a firm grasp of the expanded underwater rules from Aquatic Adventures is highly recommended to anyone looking to play Ruins of Azlant.

Wishful thinking of course, but Anya's ghost would be awesome. Incorporeal ally? Yes, please.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Whoa, where'd you get those aerial standees?

Order of the Amber Die

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Cyrad wrote:
Whoa, where'd you get those aerial standees?

Hi Cyrad, those 3D stands are a custom OAD creation, put together by our players in preparation for Azlant. We've used some others in previous blogs, but most of these are newer and sturdier versions. The players merge a couple of Games Workshop flying bases and use some other modeling tools to make what amounts to be a double-sided flying base, which turns out to be perfectly suited for any underwater or zero-g environment. Thanks for checking out the report!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

These blog posts are so great. I can't imagine how cool it must be to play in such an immersive and focused environment. I look forward to hearing about the next part! Oh, and #TheAzlantOdyssey :)

Order of the Amber Die

2 people marked this as a favorite.
frogseatdogs wrote:
These blog posts are so great. I can't imagine how cool it must be to play in such an immersive and focused environment. I look forward to hearing about the next part! Oh, and #TheAzlantOdyssey :)

Thanks Frogs, it really is that cool being so immersed. That also leaves me with something I wanted to offer up about those 68 hours and 10 minutes you see above. Marathons give players so much freedom of time to work with, that the hours can quickly slip away in unexpected areas. As such, these players are interacting with colonists as if this is some version of The Sims meets Pathfinder. It's awesome, don't get me wrong here, this colony is ALIVE. Somewhere on Saturday or Sunday night, they had me spend an hour role-playing as Ramona Avandth, the colony's facilitator, in an exchange with Lyra Heatherly (live-NPC played by Ian Haberman). Normally, an hour in-character without being plot specific isn't so hard, but after several days of straight play--including a 17-hour session in there somewhere--it's much more difficult. Being able to GM this long for six or more times a year is a gift from the dice gods, but this marathon I got close to the limit, which now I think might be somewhere around 80-90 session hours. I still want to try and put together a 10-day run at some point (with a whole year to prepare), but first just give me a couple of months off from this one...

OAD Life!

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I have to say that even though a sandbox-style adventure has its perks, it also comes with some serious risks. We randomly chose to walk into the hardest encounter on the island first, where we were probably supposed to be at least one level higher, and got a terrible trashing by a chuul. (After the marathon, Adam told us he used the option to tone it down, so I can only imagine how much worse that could've been.) Anyway, we barely survived our retreat, only to accidentally go to the second-hardest encounter the very next day and almost got killed by a HUGE crab! We screwed up the information gathering though, and it wasn't until later that we found the Pathfinder notes that may have been able to guide us somehow, but we had a really hard time just getting to that point. Best of luck to anyone who has the same thing happen, you'll need it!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adam Smith wrote:


Thanks Frogs, it really is that cool being so immersed. That also leaves me with something I wanted to offer up about those 68 hours and 10 minutes you see above. Marathons give players so much freedom of time to work with, that the hours can quickly slip away in unexpected areas. As such, these players are interacting with colonists as if this is some version of The Sims meets Pathfinder. It's awesome, don't get me wrong here, this colony is ALIVE. Somewhere on Saturday or Sunday night, they had me spend an hour role-playing as Ramona Avandth, the colony's facilitator, in an exchange with Lyra Heatherly (live-NPC played by Ian Haberman). Normally, an hour in-character without being plot specific isn't so hard, but after several days of straight play--including a 17-hour session in there somewhere--it's much more difficult. Being able to GM this long for six or more times a year is a gift from the dice gods, but this marathon I got close to the limit, which now I think might be somewhere around 80-90 session hours. I still want to try and put together a 10-day run at some point (with a whole year to prepare), but first just give me a couple of months off from this one...

OAD Life!

Wow yeah, it's an entirely different ball game (dice game?). The longest session I've run was only ~10 hours, and even that took a lot out of me. Hats off to you all, it's really an extraordinary game you have.

The Exchange Order of the Amber Die

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Aerick definitely said a mouthful, haha. This was a really challenging adventure to get through, but overall a fun one. There were a few "classic" gaming moments to be had too, like at the observatory when we couldn't figure out how to get through the front so we risked climbing up the side of the tower instead. Thankfully we had a strix with us to fly up and attach a grappling hook and rope to the top, otherwise Kyra would have fallen to her death.

Anyway, it turns out we skipped a whole bunch of stuff (good and bad) and got straight to the end battle. Apparently that was the right move though, because we needed all remaining healing resources to survive it!

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