Order of the Amber Die—The Azlant Odyssey, Part 5

Saturday, July 21, 2018

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:

The Azlant Odyssey Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

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.

The Odyssey

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!

Character Deaths

  • 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)

Ezren: "..."

Kyra: "..."

Valeros: "..."

Nieran: "What? It's like shooting fish in a barrel. Not that humans could do it."

Current Situation

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.

More Content

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

Follow Order of the Amber Die on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube!

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:

Order of the Amber Die—The Azlant Odyssey, Part 1
Order of the Amber Die—The Azlant Odyssey, Part 2
Order of the Amber Die—The Azlant Odyssey, Part 3
Order of the Amber Die—The Azlant Odyssey, Part 4

Adam Daigle and the Order of the Amber Die

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Tags: Community Order of the Amber Die Pathfinder Adventure Path Ruins of Azlant
Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Huzzah!


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Wow, that's incredible! This is the level of gaming that I aspire to. You all are amazing!


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Awesome job as always, OAD! You handled a difficult quest with style. Impressive stats document the high level of play that was achieved. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Good luck on part 6.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Amazing photos once again. Well done!

The Exchange Order of the Amber Die

4 people marked this as a favorite.
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Huzzah!

Thanks, this one had its close moments!

Order of the Amber Die

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Steph Hanley wrote:
Wow, that's incredible! This is the level of gaming that I aspire to. You all are amazing!

Thanks so much, Steph! Day three of the marathon passed nineteen hours for a single session, and definitely tested the Order. I think I was still talking like a lich when my students walked into homeroom the next morning...

Onward to part six!

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

6 people marked this as a favorite.

I look forward to meeting you (through my words) in your next installment! :D


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Beautiful pictures too! They perfectly capture the murky underwater atmosphere and show off the gorgeous setting!

Order of the Amber Die

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K Vogrin wrote:
Beautiful pictures too! They perfectly capture the murky underwater atmosphere and show off the gorgeous setting!

Thanks for your support both here and with your tasty treats, Karee. I always look forward to eating a blondie or two before Adam eats them all. They help fuel me up before wading into hordes of undersea monsters.

Part 6, here we come baby!


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Erick A. Germer wrote:
K Vogrin wrote:
Beautiful pictures too! They perfectly capture the murky underwater atmosphere and show off the gorgeous setting!

Thanks for your support both here and with your tasty treats, Karee. I always look forward to eating a blondie or two before Adam eats them all. They help fuel me up before wading into hordes of undersea monsters.

Part 6, here we come baby!

Well, then the treats are doing their job. I always aim for the best monster fighting recipes. And lots of blondies are coming so maybe Adam will let you have more than two.

Order of the Amber Die

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Thurston Hillman wrote:
I look forward to meeting you (through my words) in your next installment! :D

Thurston, all these projects over the years and finally Beyond the Veiled Past will be the first one of your adventures that I get to run! Lots of prep has gone down already, and I'm excited to show off some surprises. There are a couple of encounters in particular that I've set aside the Amber Die itself for, so we'll see what kind of magic it can deliver...


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Hey, Rob Pontious here! It was amazing joining the Order for their 150th module! The immersion is all encompassing with the efforts Adam takes and the Order helps contribute toward: scenery, lighting, music, in character discussion. Matt's captaining led everyone well in preparing for an intense underwater exploration! Everyone was incredibly friendly and as excited as I but there was a marathon to be had! Despite my best efforts the fear I had got to me - or Ezren - as he heard that banshee's wail. I'm excited to wipe the X's from his eyes because you can't keep a good Pathfinder down!


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Awesome and inspiring! Thank you for sharing!!

Paizo Employee Developer

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#sorrynotsorry. I love shining children!


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

wow

Order of the Amber Die

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Ron Lundeen wrote:
#sorrynotsorry. I love shining children!

Gotta say to the group, I'm on the side of the author here as usual! The Amber Die approved of the pelagic child, and spoke by gifting it a 20 with a searing ray. I will miss Aoinse dearly, but the Amber Die's word is final.

Shining Children vs. the Order
-Fortress of the Stone Giants
-Sins of the Saviors
-The Emerald Spire (emerald child)
-Tower of the Drowned Dead (pelagic child)

Let me just throw some more salt on the players and say that I'm really excited to see what kinds of variant shining children we'll see in PF 2.0! :)

Paizo Employee Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adam Smith wrote:
Ron Lundeen wrote:
#sorrynotsorry. I love shining children!

Gotta say to the group, I'm on the side of the author here as usual! The Amber Die approved of the pelagic child, and spoke by gifting it a 20 with a searing ray. I will miss Aoinse dearly, but the Amber Die's word is final.

Shining Children vs. the Order
-Fortress of the Stone Giants
-Sins of the Saviors
-The Emerald Spire (emerald child)
-Tower of the Drowned Dead (pelagic child)

Let me just throw some more salt on the players and say that I'm really excited to see what kinds of variant shining children we'll see in PF 2.0! :)

They're right there in the Bestiary!

Order of the Amber Die

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Ron Lundeen wrote:
Adam Smith wrote:
Ron Lundeen wrote:
#sorrynotsorry. I love shining children!
really excited to see what kinds of variant shining children we'll see in PF 2.0! :)
They're right there in the Bestiary!

(slides aside a stack of Ruins of Azlant and Beyond the Veiled Past materials for Labor Day marathon, checks 2.0 Bestiary)

Hehehe...
(evil, evil smirk)

Seriously though, Tower of the Drowned Dead was incredible Ron, I'm looking forward in particular to showing everyone some of the video we compiled of the tower during assembly and play, as well as some end photos of the Omen Dominion.

Thanks for an adventure that was very rewarding to GM!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

As always you go beyond everything expected - it is so inspiring to see the awesome lengths you guys go to to immerse yourself into the game. Kudos to all of you. I look forward to that video!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hopefully you can resurrect Ezren.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Berselius wrote:
Hopefully you can resurrect Ezren.

Hey Berselius!

Ezren may be an atheist, but I think he's likely not a fan of the Boneyard either. After a little time talking to Phlegyas, I expect he'll be thankful for the light of Sarenrae and the help of his friend Kyra! I know I am!

Order of the Amber Die

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Ron Lundeen wrote:
#sorrynotsorry. I love shining children!

Who doesn't?! Actually, I totally get it, if and when, the other players moan and groan as another encounter with shining children unfolds, but I have to give them my respect and admiration: shining children are amazing monsters and make for fantastic opponents. And our battles with them were certainly epic. The battle with the pair of shining children in particular stands out.

First of all, one of them had brilliantly used wall of force to wall off the two best melee combatants, Valeros and Koloshkora, in a chamber. Popping out the other side with its teleportation abilities, we were confounded momentarily. More walls separated other party members; some of our best buffs were dispelled; and desperate combat ensued. There were some extremely tense moments with Kyra squaring off--one-on-one, Seaspike in hand--versus a shining child. After many rounds of hacking, Valeros and Kolshkora finally succeeding in smashing through a section of the chamber's wall. It wouldn't be the last time. Val and Koloshkora had to smash through several more walls before the battle would at last be over. You could say it was a bit of a Pyrrhic victory though, for now the tough decision of whether or not to push on with multiple blinded party members had to be made.

Order of the Amber Die

2 people marked this as a favorite.
DerNils wrote:
As always you go beyond everything expected - it is so inspiring to see the awesome lengths you guys go to to immerse yourself into the game. Kudos to all of you. I look forward to that video!

Thanks DerNils. When it comes to immersion, we like to play around with something new every time we marathon. Throughout the entire Azlant Odyssey we have tried to create a theme around the significance of the sunrise over the ocean horizon. We had already moved the couch outside for this marathon to make space for the setup inside, so something special I decided to try was sleeping outside and waking to the sun on the horizon. It was quite peaceful during the frantic pace of a marathon, other than the morning I awoke to what I thought was the splash of Azlant waves, but was actually morning rain. Needless to say, that couch is no longer part of Adam's household...

Haha, OAD Life, baby!

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