A Day in Bastardhall

Friday, May 23, 2014

Last year's Pathfinder Online Kickstarter included a whole spectrum of awesome rewards, with the higher tier incentives becoming increasingly unique. One of the top-level rewards included an advance look at Pathfinder Online, a tour of the Paizo and Goblinworks offices, a gourmet dinner, and a day of gaming with a Pathfinder GM of your choice.

Two groups of high-level backers got that red carpet treatment early in the year, with Erik running marathon sessions of his part of the Emerald Spire Superdungeon. Our third group just came through a few weeks ago and they were very clear about what they wanted to play. They'd been through Carrion Crown, so the natural next challenge for them was Bastardhall.


Cartography by Rob Lazzaretti

So, from 10 AM to 10 PM, I ran the highly coordinated team of Diana, Brandon, Jami, Heidi, Nicole, and Weston through part of my annually expanding terror-themed megadungeon, Bastardhall. This particular foray focused on the adventure I ran at Paizocon two years ago (adventure four in the ongoing series), The Black Gardens of Bastardhall.

Rather than recapping the entire session, here are a few highlights and pictures from the game.

  • The greenhouse near the gardens' entrance looks vine-choked and sweaty. In this party's case, that meant it was nobody's business.
  • Several shrines of the goddess Shelyn watch over the gardens, one still attended by a particularly nihilistic huecuva. The party tried to cheer up the depressed undead, but ultimately determined unlife was a worse punishment than destruction.
  • Hedge mazes can be confusing. One way to get through them is to start a massive fire. Of course, it's probably best not to start that fire when you're already in the middle of the maze.
  • Pathfinder Cards: Chase Cards 2 make a handy and pretty intense way to run a burning labyrinth. Give the party a set number of turns to escape, then start dealing escalating d6s of fire damage per round. Not all will necessarily survive.
  • GM Tip: When someone has driven hundreds of miles to spend a day gaming with you, it's poor form to permanently kill them in hour three of the game. Instead, bring them back as a juju zombie and secretly tell them "When I give the word, attack the paladin."
  • It's handy to have druids and nature sorts on hand. They can tell you that hangman trees don't think you're special just because you have fire.
  • Somehow, hungry flesh is even worse when it's covered in hay.
  • There are a lot of nasty things you can do with mosquitos. After numerous swarms and giant specimens, the group was definitely starting to dread every itch and buzz. Jamming a few mosquito swarms into a skinstitch scarecrow (Bestiary 4) doubles down on the trauma.
  • If the runes on any one of a dozen Kellid totems (see Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Lost Kingdoms) roughly translates in "mosquito god," it might be best to leave it alone.
  • Mosquito proboscises make fine rapiers, but even better flutes!
  • Players love it when you turn to one of them during the climax and say "That thing we discussed. Now."

Overall, the game was an absolute blast. Huge thanks to Brandon, Diana, and the whole hit squad from Oregon for not just backing Pathfinder Online, but for a fantastic day of gaming! Who knows, if the stars align again, maybe I'll see you guys at Paizocon 2014's foray into terror: The Silent Servant of Bastardhall.

F. Wesley Schneider
Editor-in-Chief

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4 people marked this as a favorite.

Seeing Bastardhall in the title of this blog made my day.


12 people marked this as a favorite.

Someday,I would love to see Bastardhall published in some form or another. That would be a long ways off, of course, but I still would love to see it.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I literally laughed out loud at the GM Tip. Which probably says something interesting about my alignment, but oh well...

Editor-in-Chief

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Blackfingers wrote:
Someday,I would love to see Bastardhall published in some form or another. That would be a long ways off, of course, but I still would love to see it.

I don't think anyone else would be interested in that. ;)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Man, this makes me wish I had been crazy enough to pledge that much money to the kickstarter. :P I wouldn't even have to drive hundreds of miles! And of course I'm out of town for Paizocon, so I can't hope to join the game there either. Maybe next year.

What would you charge for just the game? :P

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Blackfingers wrote:
Someday,I would love to see Bastardhall published in some form or another. That would be a long ways off, of course, but I still would love to see it.
I don't think anyone else would be interested in that. ;)

Pretty pwease? :3


5 people marked this as a favorite.

It was a blast. I happened to be the one who lit the fire and be the one to die in said fire. Turning on the party was quite fun ;).

Thanks Wes!

Editor-in-Chief

2 people marked this as a favorite.
wxcougar wrote:

It was a blast. I happened to be the one who lit the fire and be the one to die in said fire. Turning on the party was quite fun ;).

Thanks Wes!

My pleasure! That fire twist was EASILY my favorite part of the game. :D


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Lessons learned: scorching ray is not necessarily the best spell to use in a dried out hedgemaze featuring moving topiarys that are trying to kill you. The fire will definitely be worse and the cleric of Desna will fly above frantically making decisions on whom to save.

It was very fun, a few of us will be at paizocon 2014. We are putting in for the bastardhall lottery for sure. See you in a couple months.


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

I also was one of the players, it was crazy fun. Unfortunately I will be unable to join at PaizoCon this year, but maybe in years to come. Look forward to hearing the adventures that my party members will have.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Sounds like a blast, and an ultra cool time! Kudos to the players and Paizo for doing something like this.

Also, definitely want to see Bastardhall :)


The Black Gardens of Bastardhall? The Silent Servant of Bastardhall? Are either of these sanctioned adventures or upcoming modules?

Dark Archive

3 people marked this as a favorite.

We must have this mega dungeon!


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Another vote for published Bastardhall here!

You could just publish it in segments. The thing about a Megadungeon is that it doesn't have to be published all at once, it can be ever-expanding.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Blackfingers wrote:
Someday,I would love to see Bastardhall published in some form or another. That would be a long ways off, of course, but I still would love to see it.
I don't think anyone else would be interested in that. ;)

U do realize ur sitting on a gold mine with that right? :-)

i second or thirdbor fourth or whatever publishing it in segments. Shoot each building and bridge could have its own book and the masses would line up to buy :-)

Editor-in-Chief

Thanks for all the interest folks! For now, though, the best way to get more Bastardhall is to be at Paizocon or.... you, know, abduction.

The Paizocon 2014 event schedule just went up, so if—like me—you're not a fan of kidnapping, you can soon put your name in the lottery for this year's foray: The Silent Servant of Bastardhall. (Event Lottery Details)

Hope to see a bunch of you at the show!

Sczarni

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Thanks for all the interest folks! For now, though, the best way to get more Bastardhall is to be at Paizocon or.... you, know, abduction.

Can't make Paizocon - so abduction it is.... thanks for saying its an option, now its voluntary and not kidnapping, right?

Editor-in-Chief

F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
NOT a fan of kidnapping

Scarab Sages

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

I would love, love, love to see Bastardhall published. Living in Australia, my chances of ever going to Paizocon are the same as, and related to, winning the lottery.


Sounds like a really fun adventure locale, and the juju-zombification as continuing the player's adventure after death? You speak my language. Sweaty greenhouse's FTW!!!

Sczarni

I just wanna say, what a fantastic-looking map.

Scarab Sages

'The Baby-Eating Bishop of Bastardhall'?

'The Bubbling, Black Blob of Bastardhall'?


SO, SO JEALOUS


1 person marked this as a favorite.

As another member of that adventuring party, the fiery hedge maze was also my favorite part. (And the chase cards worked really well, too.) I'm ridiculously stoked for Paizocon.

Also, for the record... Diana made a GREAT zombie. <3


sanwah68 wrote:
I would love, love, love to see Bastardhall published. Living in Australia, my chances of ever going to Paizocon are the same as, and related to, winning the lottery.

I'm in the exact same boat here.

I'd love to see this as a kickstarter.

Editor-in-Chief

Snorter wrote:

'The Baby-Eating Bishop of Bastardhall'?

'The Bubbling, Black Blob of Bastardhall'?

Noted!

Shadow Lodge

What is it that every campaign setting needs a mega-dungeon? Greyhawk had Castle Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms had Undermountain – is Bastardhall Golarion's answer to this quandary?


ArVagor wrote:
What is it that every campaign setting needs a mega-dungeon? Greyhawk had Castle Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms had Undermountain – is Bastardhall Golarion's answer to this quandary?

I thought Bonekeep or Emerald Spire perhaps? Granted my Paizo/Golarion-fu is weak.


sanwah68 wrote:
I would love, love, love to see Bastardhall published.

Yes. I agree.


Oceanshieldwolf wrote:
I thought Bonekeep or Emerald Spire perhaps? Granted my Paizo/Golarion-fu is weak.

I'm fairly certain that Emerald Spire has been labeled a superdungeon, having a smaller scope than a true megadungeon. That particular discussion has been going in the Emerald Spire product discussion, with Owen Stephens and Erik Mona participating in the discussion.

As for Bastardhall, it must happen. Soon. Or else.

Editor-in-Chief

ArVagor wrote:
What is it that every campaign setting needs a mega-dungeon? Greyhawk had Castle Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms had Undermountain – is Bastardhall Golarion's answer to this quandary?

I don't know how much of a quandary it is, but Golarion—like many campaign settings—is thick with large structures that would make exciting places to have extended adventures.

I'd say Golarion's most iconic is the Starstone Cathedral in Absalom, but others like the Spire of Nex, El Raja Key, Viperwall, Kaer Maga, and the Well of Lies all come to mind as well. In fact, every one of the dungeons presented in Dungeons of Golarion (both featured in the dozen or so mentioned in the introduction; of which Bastardhall is included) is called a megadungeon.

So the concept's not one we've avoided.

As for what makes a megadungeon...

Editor-in-Chief

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Heine Stick wrote:
I'm fairly certain that Emerald Spire has been labeled a superdungeon, having a smaller scope than a true megadungeon. That particular discussion has been going in the Emerald Spire product discussion, with Owen Stephens and Erik Mona participating in the discussion.

Any single dungeon or series of closely linked dungeons that fill multiple adventures and carry characters through numerous levels of play can probably be argued as a megadungeon. If the idea is that a dungeon covers one adventure, a megadungeon covers multiple adventures—the more, the better suited the term. Calling a dungeon that covers two adventures a megadungeon seems like a pretty paltry use of the word, while I don't think many would disagree that a dungeon you can advance from 1st-level to 20th-level inside feels like a megadungeon. The gray area between dungeon and magedungeon is an imprecise, subjective span. Throwing in the word "superdungeon" suggests a whole additional spectrum of semantics for what are ultimately entirely invented, imprecise terms.

Rather, I'd avoid considering "superdungeon" and "megadungeon" as units of measurements on some implied scale of dungeon-ness and take them as meaning:

Superdungeon: Big @#$%n' Dungeon.

Megadungeon: Even Bigger @#$%n' Dungeon.

Editor-in-Chief

Trinite wrote:
I just wanna say, what a fantastic-looking map.

Thanks! You can get a suggestion of the size of Arudora Island on that spread from my 2012 moleskine (the one next to the giant mosquito). :D

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Who/what is depicted by the giant statue?

Editor-in-Chief

Thomas LeBlanc wrote:
Who/what is depicted by the giant statue?

Who/what indeed!

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