They’re back for more! The dedicated gamers from the Order of the Amber Die have taken on another maddening task with their marathon sessions. They tackle an entire Adventure Path adventure in one long session over the course of a weekend. What’s better is that they share their experiences with the world. After their Giantslayer marathon they took a short break, but were eager to take on Strange Aeons. Here’s their first report of the Strange Aeons Experiment. (Careful, there may be some spoilers within.)
Welcome to The Strange Aeons Experiment!
Order of the Amber Die is dedicated to completing published adventures. It's what we do. We don't change modules; instead, we put our labors toward bringing them to life as written. We enforce the complete Pathfinder rules set, ask no mercy from our GM, and utilize four core party members with a 15-point build. We've played through 137 published adventures at this point, and while we're looking for something fresh, we're also continually looking to push the envelope of gaming. Thus, we are attempting to play all six volumes of Strange Aeons in just nine months and document the entire journey.
The Experiment: What happens when you take four players and one GM who are almost completely ignorant about all things Lovecraft, Elder Mythos, and Cthulhu and send them through Strange Aeons? We're about to find out. In fact, assembling a team of gamers that could marathon often and also meet this criteria was much harder than expected! As with almost all of our campaigns, we're playing iconic characters; knowing that James Jacobs personally selected the four iconics, we decided to play those exact four.
A long weekend was blocked out for our run of "In Search of Sanity." When we arrived at the marathon location, our GM had the fog machines set up and our anticipation grew. To best immerse ourselves in an asylum lit by lanterns and candles, we played only by candlelight for the entire 44-hour marathon. We also tapped a fifth member for a cameo as Winter Klaczka, the main NPC.
Going in, our history with Wes Schneider's writing was a storied one. He took down one of our favorite campaigns back in '09 when we TPKed while attempting "The Blackguard's Revenge." Two years ago, we were a few rooms inside his magma level in the Emerald Spire, when Wes took down our paladin with a caustic stalker and we barely edged out a draw. This being our third Schneider module, we had a strong desire to even-up the score.
Highlights From "In Search of Sanity"
- We're not sure what Call of Cthulhu is like, but we found ourselves one part scared, one part challenged by combat, and one part just plain freaked out. In a battle for a 4,000 sq. ft library, we faced off against ratlings skittering atop towering bookcases. On the first two rounds, our starknife, dart, and dagger found their marks, disrupting all 3 summon swarms. In this trial the ratlings were modified to throw anything, and they certainly threw the books at us.
- Our RPG skills were tested from every angle. Between a doppelganger infiltration, the worst dreams our characters have ever had, and six diseases active in the party at one time, we were just relieved to survive this cerebral horror film.
- Our GM reflected that being Lovecraft-ignorant was actually fresh and inspiring, and he had trouble remembering an adventure with so many new facets.
- In the finale, "Enter Sandman" blasted as we faced our worst nightmare-become-reality in the Tatterman. Erasmus stepped up with our best chance: Red Destiny, a magical sword now treated with silversheen and good-aligned. Not one, but two confirmed criticals made short work of a foe that is sure to flay his share of parties that come after us.
- The Amber Die was used sparingly, but showed its approval for Strange Aeons by delivering a natural 20 on the first attack roll of the campaign, followed by a signature 20-20 in the final hours.
- "Dr. Latchke," a crafty doppelganger who got around our Sense Motive, attacked the party from behind while they were distracted with a haunt. One critical hit from a claw left Erasmus depending on the champion spirit of his sister, Nissa, to guide his fighting retreat—yet the asylum's collapsed walls left the medium no choice but to leave his mortal body behind.
- 4 iconics with poor Fortitude saves. 3 Ghouls. 9 attacks. 1 missed save. Coup de grace. RIP Quinn.
Best Quote From Marathon 1Erasmus: "Ignore the sounds in the fog, my friends, they are fear incarnate."
Feiya: "I thought we met fear incarnate last night?"
Despite two character deaths, our party remains strong and we secured a win. The reanimated medium archetype allowed us to welcome Erasmus back, and Quinn's raise dead is first on our to-do list. We're doing fairly well on XP, and while our treasury will take a hit, we do have some magic items left. We're hoping we can convince Winter Klaczka to join us for module two, as she would make an excellent addition to the roster. Oh yeah, and Wes: we're tied.
Read through the entirety of The Strange Aeons Experiment For character builds, questions about Strange Aeons, content and more, see our thread here. Give Order of the Amber Die a Like on Facebook and follow us on Instagram. Iconic miniatures provided by Blue Table Painting.
It looks like they had a tough but fun time on their hands. I can’t wait to see what happens to them when they run through "The Thrushmoor Terror." Check back here later for that report.