The Abomination Arsenal: Part 3

Wednesday, July 5th, 2023


Yup, that’s exactly what we were shouting at the end of this marathon, since our party of gunslingers was somehow, someway, still alive. Not only that, the Black Powder Cadre is coming off a clean run in this latest marathon, where we rifled out enough critical hits to make clutch situations look easy. In case you need to catch up on Order of the Amber Die’s project, here’s a good place to start:

Part 1
Part 2

Order of the Amber Die: Players sitting and standing around a gaming table with a covered map Order of the Amber Die: Players sitting and standing around a gaming table with a covered map

We plan our marathons around the schedules of the teachers in our group, so we had a little more time off between sessions this time around. This gave us a chance to catch up with Rob Pontious of Know Direction, who put together a closer look at the project so far. Since Rob is also an OAD member, he delved into some of the big questions surrounding our project, including this one: why did we choose to play all gunslingers? Give it a read and find out! In the meantime, here are the stats on the latest marathon:

  • Adventures: Ruins of Gauntlight and Hands of the Devil
  • Marathon Length: 56hrs, 35min
  • Session Hours: 35hrs, 30min

As this was our third marathon, our goal was to finish up Ruins of Gauntlight and head down into the middle levels of the Abomination Vaults. On levels five through seven of the megadungeon, we entered the next volume of the Adventure Path, Hands of the Devil. Most importantly for us, though, was that we squared off against Vanessa Hoskins, an author we hadn’t faced before. After playing more than 150 published adventures by dozens of writers over the years, it’s a fresh treat when we encounter someone whose work we aren’t extensively familiar with. We still have a chunk of the adventure to play through, but here’s one thing that even our most jaded dungeon crawlers agreed on: Vanessa will surprise you, so expect anything.

Order of the Amber Die: Top down view of a black and white square tiled map Order of the Amber Die: Top down view of a black and white square tiled map

Highlights from Marathon 3

  • Just because this Adventure Path focuses on a massive dungeon doesn’t mean that everything takes place there, and it certainly doesn’t mean that there aren’t great opportunities for roleplaying. In search of a Roseguard icon known as the Cooperative Blade, we pursued the slighted blacksmith, Carman Rajani, to a forest cave outside of town. The smith got the jump on us and was able to do to an overconfident Tess what no man had done thus far—maim her with one of the biggest hits of the campaign! Carman had the party’s attention, and Tess listened with bated breath as he talked about being the new, rightful mayor of Otari. She brashly offered the party’s aid—as the future Mrs. Rajani, of course. Carman found his way to Tess’s heart and helped the Black Powder Cadre find their way to a deeper level of the megadungeon.
  • In case you can’t tell, we like to test RPG absolutes. This time, we tackled the adage “never split the party.” Two characters became separated when they were shoved down a chute by an invisible creature on level four. One of them was Maloika, and goblin curiosity being what it is, he led Zoric on a foray of their own. What happened next was a cinematic moment that will stand out long after our project is over—reminiscent of the first time we saw the pirate ship in The Goonies. As the pair waded through a watery passage of unworked stone, into view came the long-sought remains of the rogue Otari himself—one of the original members of the Roseguard!
  • Our old buddy, Joe O’Brien from the Glass Cannon Network, joined us on our third day of dungeon-crawling while rocking the Beast Gunner archetype. We welcomed this new gunslinger into the Cadre by aiming straight for his head, after several characters became confused by a gibbering mouther accompanied by grothlut fleshwarps. Big props, though! Joe survived a precarious PvP shootout and then offered up his Hit Point total for the last few rounds: one!
  • We’ve got a bunch of soccer fans in the Order who are eager for the Women’s World Cup this summer, and we’re also known to grab seats together for Philly Union matches. Many thanks to Vanessa, who gave us something we’ve always wanted: our first VIP box, complete with a screen showing the best camera angles! The only problem was that the box overlooked a creepy arena instead of a soccer field, and that a couple of poltergeists wouldn’t give up their chairs from the last match. Instead of fighting them for the best spot in the house, we simply showed them what they had been struggling to find for the past 500 years: a way out of the megadungeon.
  • While exploring some old holding cells in the Vaults, we came across several disgusting amalgamations of aged flesh and bone known as shanrigols. These unused remnants of fleshwarping experiments seemed like they could be dangerous, but we were just too tempted by a key that gleamed inside one of the heaps. Since they didn’t attack immediately, we seized an opportunity unique to a party of gunslingers. Our front characters knelt, the back ones stood, and we created a perfect two-rank line formation that would have made the Duke of Wellington proud. Weapons aimed, we waited for Vlai’s order. FIRE!

The Arsenal

We’ve tried to describe our GM’s style a few different ways over the years, but for this campaign, just imagine yourself in the bullet ballet of a John Woo film. Think muzzle flashes in the dark, black powder cartridges falling in slow motion to the dungeon floor, the distinctive crack of a ricochet as it mars a statue, and the crunching sound that wood makes when a door gets splintered open with a scattergun. Oh, and there are plenty of “click-clicks” around the table, because reloading is just plain fun and it happens A LOT. Adam loves to make sound effects, and for this campaign we all join in. Toss in some of Zack Hemsey’s “Nice to Meet Me” in the background, and you’ve got a feel for what it’s like at our table.

Character Deaths

Zero. We might be getting cocky.

Best Quote from Marathon 3

(Maloika, being severely mauled by Jaul Mezmin, a werewolf)

Sean: “Dude, please, I can’t die to this guy; it’s part of my character’s story. I have to defeat him and tell Keleeno.”
Adam: (stands, picks up the Amber Die) “Forget your PC’s story. The Amber Die writes the stories here! (throws it across the entire table) NATURAL 20, BABY!”

Order of the Amber Die: Close up view of mini figures in a dungeon Order of the Amber Die: Close up view of the mini figures fighting a werewolf

Current Situation

Breen’s dragon-mouth pistol and Vlai’s scattergun helped us get past Volluk, the swarmy mini-boss on level four. We proceeded to shoot through level five, but when we said author Vanessa Hoskins will surprise you, we meant it. We eventually found ourselves on a balcony overlooking an arena, and down on the floor—lying dormant—was a reddish, gargantuan-sized mound of discarded fleshwarping materials. Better yet, behind this monstrosity was a 15ft. diameter gong, suspended by sturdy chains. What red-blooded adventurer could resist the temptation to shoot a patio-sized gong with the biggest firearm in Pathfinder Guns & Gears? Thus, a harmona gun was loaded, shouldered, and discharged. The gong shuddered loud enough to be heard over in the Emerald Spire. Then, the behemoth shuddered.

We’re about to blow open a whole new meaning for pink mist.

More Content

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

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Cool to see Joe joining y'all! Praise Log!

Order of the Amber Die

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GreatGraySkwid wrote:
Cool to see Joe joining y'all! Praise Log!

We had a great time! Being in the same NJ/NY area helps, and also makes it likely the Beast Gunner will see action again. Speaking of which, our next marathon just happens to be this weekend. I tweeted out some pics of the level six map in progress -- we're set to launch Saturday morning!

Praise log.

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Loving the photos once again!

Order of the Amber Die

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Fumarole wrote:
Loving the photos once again!

Thanks again Fumarole! A lot went into taking these photos and we're very pleased with the way they turned out. The picture of Otari (bottom left picture) was particularly tricky to shoot. We used low lighting and even had to cut through our awesome setup just to get the right shot. Love the reflection from the resin that Black Bard Studios used for the water in the hallway. It adds a whole new dimension to the game, particularly seen in that photo.

We've been doing still photography for years and hope we've gotten better in that time, but the community has been asking us for a while to show video of our sessions. We finally put together a video showcasing our Slithering Salve project, so everyone can see what it's like to be inside an OAD marathon.

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Awesome! Thank you for sharing. Always an inspiration.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thanks! Having a blast at my first full project!

I always love opportunities to flirt with the GM! Erm, I mean, Carman!

Anyway, I am curious about the community’s thoughts on places to rest down in the Vaults. We found a nice, cozy room on the second level that we lock ourselves in for healing and downtime activities (it had the rogues in it at first). But I have an itching feeling (maybe it’s my trigger finger) that our time there won’t be as safe as we think!

Players who have explored the Vaults before us—where is your favorite spot for resting?

Grand Lodge Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

This was a delight to read. I'm so happy you're having a good time playing Hands of the Devil.

And congrats to Tess and Carman on their nuptials!

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