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.
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
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, 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.
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!
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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!
The Abomination Arsenal
Tuesday, September 20, 2022