It’s been a while since we’ve heard from our friends at the Order of the Amber Die, but they’re still at it! There were some scheduling complications and their tackling of Doomsday Dawn for the playtest, but they’ve recently finished their marathon of Pathfinder Adventure Path #125: Tower of the Drowned Dead and sent me their report. I also got a chance to talk with GM Adam Smith at Gen Con a couple of weeks ago, and he let me know that they have more amazing things to share with us once they wrap up the Ruins of Azlant Adventure Path—so stay tuned! Also, keep in mind that this blog contains spoilers for the adventure and Adventure Path, so be careful if you’re playing this one!
If you are new to our work, for the past several years the Order has been completing projects for the Paizo blog. Our most recent work, The Azlant Odyssey, started in 2017—paused to complete the Pathfinder Playtest—and is now nearing its conclusion with volumes five and six of the Ruins of Azlant Adventure Path! For those looking to refresh themselves on the campaign, here are the first four parts:
We have been to the semi-finals of an Adventure Path plenty of times before, but what worried our party about part five of this particular AP was what we knew about our goal. The information we gathered told us that inside the Alabaster Trident, a massive tower built during the age of thriving Azlant, resided a lich who had spent the last few 10,000 years creating a legion of undead abominations. In our chase to stop a veiled master from securing a weapon of catastrophic power, we had to go to the Alabaster Trident and seek out this lich. The tower sank along with Azlant; therefore, we expected to face many levels of undead in a submerged dungeon-crawl, and there was no guarantee we would find air within. There wasn't a single one of us that didn't fear ending up like the lich's name, "Auberon the Drowned."
This marathon also carried with it some out-of-game emphasis for us, as it would mark our 150th published adventure completed since the founding of the Order in 1987. With such an occasion on hand, we'd have a full house with extra live-NPCs throughout. Our talented rookie, Robert Pontious, flew in from Rhode Island with his hair and beard dyed grey to match his role as Ezren. Author and former Paizo intern Savannah Broadway arrived from Seattle to attend her first marathon since The Strange Aeons Experiment; she would take the role of Aoinse, an awakened clockwork servant of Amaznen.
To add to the immersion of this multi-day dive into a submerged tower, our GM turned down the air-conditioning to a cool 63 degrees, and we kept the lights low in the areas that were not lit. Most significantly though, the master craftsmanship of Black Bard Studios took this marathon to new heights, by creating an entire scale model of the Alabaster Trident that stood about 8 feet high! Room-for-room and level-for-level, it was an accurate 3D model which allowed us to perfectly experience this adventure's spatial challenges. Further, as we explored the tower throughout the course of the marathon, we removed each level and kept it on display as a constant reminder of the architectural layout of the tower.
- Adventure: Pathfinder Adventure Path #125: Tower of the Drowned Dead
- Marathon Length: 80 hours, 5min
- Session Hours: 49hrs, 50min
Highlights From "Tower of the Drowned Dead"
- We faced plenty of clockworks in the tower, even a nightmarish gargantuan clockwork infused with the soul of a kraken—and there was no way in the nine layers of Hell we were fighting it. Instead, we scouted the level and brought down the wall closest to the stairway it was guarding. We just needed Valeros (an aquanaut) and Koloshkora (locathah ranger) to go base-to-base with it for a couple of rounds while the rest of us swam past. No worries though, we had aquatic life insurance in the form of freedom of movement.
- Beneath the Alabaster Trident was a level known as the "Vaults," a secluded place of horror and torture. The master of the Vaults, an aboleth nosferatu sorcerer, calmly explained that it must destroy our party to save us from an undead fate similar to itself. A round-one sunbeam from Kyra ended the fight in twelve seconds—lights out.
- Keen senses were vital when trying to stay one step ahead of Auberon, who knew early on that we were inside his home. Our Player Captain, Matt Hardin, managed to get Koloshkora to touch a 68 Perception at just 12th level. Mark it down.
- If you thought the author would keep you in one place the whole time, welcome to the Omen Dominion: a timeless demiplane that predated even the Alabaster Trident. We went from spending forty-five session hours underwater, to being surrounded by the lively sounds of a forest. It was here that we got to choose the ending we wanted and decided to engage in our first-ever negotiations with a lich.
Handling the challenges involved with submerged dungeon-crawling was definitely one of the tougher experiences we've faced as adventurers over the decades. This is OAD though, and we were ready for it with a strong playbook and spell stack: slipstream, life bubble, ride the waves, and greater longstrider were key factors in our win. Actually, between our apparatus of the crab and an Elven folding boat we came across (which we boldly rechristened as the Even Deeper), we're traversing ancient Azlant in style!
- Author Ron Lundeen is no stranger to putting our characters down. Heck, in our playthrough of Dreams of the Yellow King, Ron's animate dream killed one of his own prominent NPCs. He's always fair though. This time a banshee wailed and Ezren missed his save.
- It's quite possible that no creature strikes more fear into the hearts of Order members than a shining child. Apparently, an aquatic shining child does exist, and it's called a pelagic child. They are sometimes encountered in pairs, or even two pairs as happened in this adventure. It didn't take long for the Amber Die to deliver a critical hit with a searing ray, which removed Aoinse from our roster. Adam Daigle bears some responsibility for the cruelty of pelagic children as well, so the author and managing developer could kindly apologize to our party (and Mikko Kallio) for permanently destroying our beloved clockwork priestess.
Best Quote From Marathon 5
(watching Nieran, our Mordant Spire elf ally, surpass 500 damage while clearing a scrag nest in the top levels of the tower)
Nieran: "What? It's like shooting fish in a barrel. Not that humans could do it."
We cut a deal with Auberon for information, and now we're headed back to the undersea city of Talasantri to drop off the daughter of one of our merfolk friends. After that, we'll check on the colony of Talmandor's Bounty for a quick resupply and to make sure things are in good shape before we head to the location of a secret Azlanti facility called the Compass. We learned that this facility stores several (yes, several) doomsday devices, and we expect it to be at least partially underwater. Our equipment is solid, our spell selections are on point, and party coherency is at its peak. Yeah, let's get a little cockier than we were in the previous blog: This is the best position we've had when staring down the final volume of any Adventure Path. Veiled masters, you're not in control anymore.
For character builds, questions about The Azlant Odyssey, additional content and more, see our thread on the Paizo messageboards.
Keep your eyes peeled for part six once the group gets some rest. If you've missed the first four installments, check them out here:
Adam Daigle and the Order of the Amber Die