The Abomination Arsenal

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Introduction

Order of the Amber Die here, back with our eighth project since 2014! In case you aren’t familiar with our work from past projects, we’ll give you the staccato version. We only play published adventures. We use the complete rules set. We’ve had the same GM since our founding: 1987. We like to push the envelope of tabletop roleplaying. We only play marathon sessions—days at a time. We’ll play on location. Our GM isn’t afraid to kill characters or TPK us; he’ll do it in front of the community, too. Imagine us like a roleplaying team, complete with a captain to help the players. We revere one d20 above all others, and that is the Amber Die. It doesn’t roll more 20s than it should, but it chains them when it does, and doubters have always been converted. After more than 150 adventures, we’ve even gotten rid of RPG absolutes: yeah, we’ll split the party.

A semi-opaque amber colored dice sitting on a wooden table


Past Pathfinder Projects

The Emerald Spire Project, 2014
The Giantslayer Endeavor, 2015
The Strange Aeons Experiment, 2016
The Azlant Odyssey, 2017
The Pathfinder Playtest, 2018
The Slithering Salve, 2020
The Abomination Arsenal, 2022


The Arsenal

In our previous projects for Paizo, we’ve always played iconic characters, and we’ve always put our own spin on things. For The Giantslayer Endeavor, we tried to play the most amount of material in the shortest amount of real time ever recorded. We succeeded, with an entire Adventure Path played in six marathons across six months—fully documented, too. With The Strange Aeons Experiment, we assembled a team of gamers who knew nothing about Lovecraft or the Elder Mythos and sent them through the Strange Aeons AP to see what would happen. The list goes on, but we’ll let you check out each project as you may.

Instead of playing iconic characters again, this project will be different: we’re playing our own characters, and going extreme with the party. Early brainstorming around the release of Guns & Gears had us thinking that it would be cool to see a couple guns interact with a dungeon, which is sometimes considered the “standard unit” of an adventure. As we kept the ideas going, they shifted to this: Why have two gunslingers, when you can have four? Why put them in a dungeon, when you can put them in a megadungeon? Bring on the Abomination Vaults and pass the ammo! That’s right, no bows and spells in this campaign—just guns. You want to play a cameo for a day with us? Gotta be a gunslinger. You’re a friendly NPC offering free healing on our way back to town? Nope, don’t mess with our chemistry. You’re one of the core four players and Adam killed your character in volume two? Gotta be a gunslinger—a 1st level one, now.

Sure, we could have played gunslingers in a firearm-themed setting. This is OAD, though, and we like to be unorthodox. We wanted to see what we could learn about the game and go where others fear to tread. Is party balance really necessary, and how is a party of gunslingers going to overcome the vast array of challenges inside a megadungeon? We have no idea, and that’s usually where our Player Captain comes in. Matt’s been playing iterations of this game since the early 90s and has seen a healthy share of high-level treasure hoards in his time. He’ll get the party in shape for the first marathon and the launch of The Abomination Arsenal. We do know one thing right now: we’re going into this megadungeon fully strapped, always packed.


Meet the Black Powder Cadre

So many gunslingers in one place needs some explanation, so we’ll give you the key points. Vlai Cafellyn, Alkenstar outlaw and founder of the Black Powder Cadre, pulled off an infamous heist at the Alkenstar Gunworks. While everyone might have intended to go their separate way afterward, the authorities’ fierce pursuit ensured that the group stuck together for protection. Over time, a bond developed, and the Black Powder Cadre took shape. Their symbol is the harmona, a fey bird famous for sounding like the biggest gun in the game. The Cadre’s color is blue—like the harmona—and everyone wears a different shade. Vlai’s only rule for membership is that you have to be handy with the steel. Lying low in Otari for a few months has depleted their funds, and it’s time to explore the old ruins nearby in search of some profit…

The core four members of the Black Powder Cadre can be found below. Also listed are the names of each player and the year each became a member of OAD (when a player has reached 100 session hours at our table).

Vlai Cafellyn, a human gunslinger wearing a blue coat holding a long red rifle over his shoulder Rome, human gunslinger holding a gun in one hand and drawing a sword from a scabbard over his shoulder Maloika the Miserable, goblin gunslinger wearing a feathered hat and blue vest Breen Danaan, a half-elf gunslinger with long red hair and wearing a blue cloak

Vlai Cafellyn, human gunslinger
Way of the Vanguard
-Background: Alkenstar Outlaw
-Armed with: dwarven scattergun
-Played by Matt Hardin, Player Captain (member since 2003)

Rome, human gunslinger
Way of the Drifter
-Background: Fogfen Tale-Teller
-Armed with: dueling pistol & short sword
-Played by Erick Germer (member since 2007)

Maloika the Miserable, goblin gunslinger
Way of the Sniper
-Background: Market Runner
-Armed with: harmona gun
-Played by Sean Linville (member since 2016)

Breen Danaan, half-elf gunslinger
Way of the Pistolero
-Background: Eldritch Anatomist
-Armed with: dragon-mouth pistol, dueling pistol
-Played by Karee Vogrin (becoming a member in 2022)


Highlights from Preparing Abomination Vaults:

□ We still love being around the table together and the setups that go with it. For our launch marathon, we’ve got one of the sickest builds of any project so far: the Gauntlight ruins, completely according to scale and fully 3D. Two photos on this blog only scratch the surface of what our friend Morgan at Black Bard Studios can produce, so there are more to come.

□ Another thing we love about being around the table is our props. One of our members built an old-style ammo crate to hold extra copies of Guns & Gears, and maybe some of that tasty Otari coffee! During one of our “you know what would be cool?” discussions, someone suggested a couple of Nerf guns being custom-painted to look like the ones our characters use. Got those now, too.

□ PCs show up with their own look for their character, so Sean’s rocking a goblin mask for Maloika, and Karee’s wearing a set of half-elf ears for Breen. In future blogs we’ll also see a cameo from our spellshot gunslinger in a ghillie suit. Yup, he’ll be wearing the whole getup!

□ Since we’re playing our own characters instead of iconics this time, we wanted some portraits. That’s where our artist and prospective OAD member, Doug Handlon, comes in. Our GM and Doug had classrooms down the hall from each other for years, though you can probably guess which was history and which was art. Even as a cameo, Doug has to play a gunslinger, so he’ll show up as the unexpected sharpshooter.

□ We have a couple more cameos lined up: Theodora and Auralee from our work with The Slithering. Theodora is in the ICU most of the time and can start an IV faster than a 46 initiative roll—extremely useful in a marathon if you’ve heard our stories. Auralee is studying psychology at Rutgers and won’t leave us alone about getting into any Lovecraftian adventure we come across. Both will play gunslingers, of course.

□ Our GM put together a custom soundtrack, including a theme song for each level of the megadungeon, much like he did for The Emerald Spire Project. Characters choose songs too, and we couldn’t leave out certain NPCs and standout locations.


Gauntlight tower and surrounding landscape on a foggy table  Close up top down view of Gauntlight Tower battle map and ruins

What’s Next

We’ll drop a blog for every marathon we play, with a plan to finish this AP in six or fewer marathons. As Adam likes to remind us, a TPK ends the project. Expect to hear from us again soon with part one!


Follow Order of the Amber Die:

Our table was brought to life with the help of Blue Table Painting for our miniatures and Black Bard Studios for custom adventure-specific miniatures and terrain.

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Interested in trying out the Abomination Vaults yourself? Try the Abomination Vaults Hardcover Compilation, or pre-order the fifth edition adaptation! This adventure path is a dungeon-delving campaign like no other, including support articles, rules, monsters, and more!

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Tags: Community Order of the Amber Die Pathfinder Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Second Edition

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

Amazing photos as always. The Order of the Amber Die has inspired me to start week-long marathon sessions with my group. We've only had one so far, but are looking it make it a yearly, perhaps twice-yearly thing. Well done!

Grand Lodge Contributor

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This sounds fantastic! Let me know if you'd want a guest author appearance. ;-)

Congrats, Karee! I'm so excited for you!!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Interested...!


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Vanessa Hoskins wrote:

This sounds fantastic! Let me know if you'd want a guest author appearance. ;-)

Congrats, Karee! I'm so excited for you!!

Thanks so much, Vanessa. I've had an absolute blast playing with OAD and am excited to be a member!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Exciting! Looking forward to seeing how it all turns out, and that Gauntlight model is a delight!

Paizo Employee Senior Designer

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This looks like it's going to be a blast!

Grand Lodge

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This looks like a wild ride right up until the party gets that TPK. I see no way they survive the Abomination Vaults. I doubt they make it past Level 6.

That's not a knock on the team. That's just AV and how tough it will be for a party of gunslingers only.

But yes, I'm going to watch this run because it will be fun no matter what the outcome is.

Order of the Amber Die

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Xathos of Varisia wrote:

This looks like a wild ride right up until the party gets that TPK. I see no way they survive the Abomination Vaults. I doubt they make it past Level 6.

That's not a knock on the team. That's just AV and how tough it will be for a party of gunslingers only.

But yes, I'm going to watch this run because it will be fun no matter what the outcome is.

Glad to have you along for the ride! It’s proving to be wild indeed. You are not the only one concerned about TPK, believe me. As Player Captain, it is constantly on my mind. I am running through as many permutations and combinations of tactics, strategies, and options possible.

To that point, one thing we are implementing in this project, is a pooling system for treasure. That’s a whole separate topic on its own (and I’m sure I’ll write about it in greater detail at some point), but throughout the decades in OAD, we have basically tried almost every treasure distribution system you can think of.

In a nutshell: The pooling system involves taking the sum total of treasure found and—instead of dividing it into equal shares amongst each party member—you “pool” it together to buy the most effective item available. Right now, I am eyeing up a magic weapon early. Trying to keep ahead of the curve!


4 people marked this as a favorite.

This sounds like a lot of fun!

Though I will also confess I'm a bit disappointed. I saw the blog title and was hoping it was some new project featuring an arsenal created for, by, or of abominations.


Michael Sayre wrote:
This looks like it's going to be a blast!

Linkified for your convenience.

Order of the Amber Die

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So many kind words here, thank you to all! I’m also glad that people are as interested as I am to see what happens. From the party lineup to the props, this might be the first project where I’m a little jealous of how cool things are from the players’ side of the screen. Really though, it’s just awesome to be launching another project again. Our team right now is predominantly teachers and nurses, so it’s an understatement to say that COVID tried to beat on the Order pretty hard – but we’re still here.

As for that model of the Gauntlight, it looks even better up close, and it did most of the work to make those photos! Heck, even the fog is real and not editing. I'll see if I can get the Black Bard himself to chime in about it, but only if he can get some time away from working on our next build. I can promise that you’ll see more of the Gauntlight -- a lot more -- on the upcoming blog. We’ve already played the first marathon and put a bunch of pictures of it on our media, but the best ones are yet to come. With a little coaxing, we might be able to drive the whole setup across the bridge into Philly for PAX Unplugged…


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This is the first time I hear about the Order of the Amber Die.. I went back to the first project and its a PDF of the Spire. Are there recordings about the live gameplay or was that in future projects?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Could the owner of the excessive vape pen please come collect your belongings.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Awesome! Thank you for sharing. Always inspiring!

Order of the Amber Die

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Pervilash wrote:
This is the first time I hear about the Order of the Amber Die.. I went back to the first project and its a PDF of the Spire. Are there recordings about the live gameplay or was that in future projects?

The Spire was a great run! Our goal there was simply to play the entire megadungeon in a summer of continuous marathon format and thoroughly document the experience. 195 hours in 35 days was the result. We never broke down the setup the entire time -- we lived in the Emerald Spire. The hardest part was assembling a team that could do it. We brought our data to GenCon that year (2014), and the rest is OAD history.

The Spire is primarily the PDF, photos on our Facebook, and the advice I left on the forums during our run. For the other projects it varies between PDFs, still photos, and video on our YouTube and Patreon. For six of the eight projects, there are blog reports from each marathon. It's fun to reminisce about the Spire, so feel free to ask about anything that you can't find in the PDF!


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Adam Smith wrote:
I'll see if I can get the Black Bard himself to chime in about it, but only if he can get some time away from working on our next build.

Its true, I'm knee deep in several projects and orders, but its all good thanks to the Scotty Principle.

Gauntlight was a fun build, I love pushing my limits and trying new techniques. Much like a good DM pulls inspiration from a variety of sources, I have a wide range of skillsets that contribute to my crafting. Adam can attest to seeing plumbing and woodworking in the past.

The main two goals of all my builds is playability and shipping efficiency. How many awesome terrain setups out there are just a pain to fit minis inside of or to transport anywhere? There's a reason modular tiles like Dwarven Forge or Fat Dragon exist. (Shameless plug, I'm a licensed vendor for Fat Dragon 3d printed tiles! Come get some!)

For Gauntlight, the goal was removable walls using magnets, with the main board being basically a full size version of the map from the adventure. Great 3d representation, great ease of play, in the same box. If the compliments Adam has given me have been any indication, the attempt was a success!

Now, to wrap up a Thistletop build, and then on to one of the dungeon levels of Abomination Vaults! And if anyone else is curious about a build of their very own, let me know!

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