Despite waking from the nightmare of what sounded like a tough but exciting marathon session, the Order of the Amber Die folks bring up a report from their experience with the third adventure in the Strange Aeons Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Path #111: Dreams of the Yellow King. This adventure promised to bring the weird and surreal into the campaign, and from what I've heard from the Order of the Amber Die, it succeeded.
What follows is their brief report. As always, proceed with caution, as spoilers abound.
So far in The Strange Aeons Experiment we've been stumbling through the horror with the naivety you'd expect from four players who are Lovecraft-ignorant. Dreams of the Yellow King would be no different, and we were determined to fully immerse ourselves for our rookie excursion into the dimension of dreams. We blacked out our walls with floor-to-ceiling panels, dialed up a soundtrack that included plenty of psychedelic trance, and even passed around a miniature staircase just as our characters did for each Dreamlands occult ritual. For the real-world ride on the Sellen River, we created 3-D boats from Rob Lazarretti's maps, with one member managing to create a fully functional sail for the Sellen Starling. Lastly, for the massive amount of research that we'd be performing in this adventure, we borrowed a collection of antique books and piled it around our play area.
This marathon was unique, because joining us at the table for the three-month voyage to Cassomir was a special guest: Paizo former intern, author, and editor Savannah Broadway flew from Seattle to New Jersey to take on the role of NPC Winter Klaczka. Savannah bunked in the command center of the Order, a room we call "The Lair," and it was an honor to game alongside her. We clocked 60 session hours, and even had Savannah with us for the longest day of the AP: a nearly 20-hour run. Her live tweets kept us laughing throughout the marathon and helped present the experience for our fans. Not only will we miss Savannah's perfect accent for Winter, but she did something unprecedented by naming our first party after an NPC: Winter's Wolves! We were also very grateful to add the talents of an Order member (a Boston NBA and NHL cameraman) to help us best capture the occasion.
Highlights from Dreams of the Yellow King
- We tried nearly everything we could to cure Quinn of the ghoul corruption he picked up during In Search of Sanity. Horrible as it may seem, isolating a manacled Quinn in a barn for a week actually worked. You can imagine his face during this adventure when we discovered a race of ghouls even more powerful and intelligent than any we knew existed: Leng ghouls.
- Powerful treasure was as abundant as danger in the Dreamlands. We came across our first vorpal blade since 6th grade in '89. And yes, we took off some heads.
- Dying in the Dreamlands had its price: madness. While we managed to cure some of them along the way, by the end of our trip we had acquired nearly every lesser and greater madness listed in Horror Adventures. Trying to roleplay these over the course of a weekend spent in the same room was a challenge that certainly pushed the envelope of immersion.
- We attended a grand ball in a city called Celephais, where guests were routinely murdered every few minutes. Only Feiya stayed for "The Sunset Waltz," where the viscount danced with a Leng spider to Shostakovich's "Waltz No. 2." Creepy on so many levels.
- While in the Dreamlands, we were surprised to face a dragon—a nightmare dragon. Our GM slammed the mini down on the table like we were back in Stranger Things, then woke us with a TPK.
- This AP doesn't feel like our other Pathfinder campaigns. Others have had highs and lows, but this one just has us run down, freaked out, and anxious. We can't help but wonder if this is what Call of Cthulhu is like.
- The monsters just keep getting scarier. An indescribable creature, known only as a formless spawn, massacred us in our dreams with what our GM called "a masterpiece of a stat block." At least we got to use our Pathfinder Map Pack: Swallowed Whole as it sucked us down one by one.
On our first attempt, we botched the Dreamlands occult ritual and allowed an animate dream to follow us out into the real world. It took down Alahazra with a phantasmal killer, and the fight spilled out onto the deck of the Sellen Starling. Skywin Freeling, the ship's captain, came to our aid, but was put to sleep forever with a crit from the Amber Die. The room was silent when it was over.
Best Quote from Marathon 3
Quinn: "Let's assess, it's been a few minutes: Two of us are blind, one can't speak, and Feiya was already ripped out of this dream."
Winter: "Can we leave zis place? I do not like zis place!"
We reached Cassomir, but with the Sellen Starling whittled down to a skeleton crew and our party riddled with madnesses, we'll be spending a couple of months to recover. After that, we're headed off again in pursuit of Count Lowls!
Read through the entirety of The Strange Aeons Experiment.
For character builds, questions about Strange Aeons, content and more, see our thread here on the messageboards.
A Tough Goodbye
We wanted to take a moment to say some words about a recent event that has deeply touched all of us here at Order of the Amber Die. This past weekend, the Order lost one of its most respected and admired members to a hard battle against cancer. Mike Dappolone had been with us since 7th grade in 1990, and was one of the earliest members of the group. As kids, Mike showed us how to secretly pack our D&D books and dice in our backpacks during Boy Scout trips so we could play in the tent at night. In college, Mike was pivotal in helping to launch our organized "marathon" method of gaming, so that when we were all together twice a year we could put away an entire module in a sitting. In our adult years, Mike created many of the intricate set pieces that can be seen in our playthroughs (including the fully functional sails on the boats here), and his painted miniatures have always been featured heavily in our game. Throughout his recent struggle, Mike loved the days that he could escape into long Pathfinder sessions, starring as Seltyiel in our Runelords campaign—even brazenly wearing a Sihedron medallion. This fall he spent some peaceful time introducing his young son to the joys of the game. Mike's seat cannot be filled, but the Order and "Seltyiel's Seven" will continue on in his name.
I want to give my heartfelt sympathies to the crew of the Order of the Amber Die and to Mike's friends and family. It's never easy to lose someone.
The crew of adventurers in this Strange Aeons campaign have made it down the river and through the Dreamlands, now they look forward to more research and mystery before they can catch up to their former associate. Keep your eyes on this blog for more reports from the Order of the Amber Die.