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***** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden 13,086 posts (14,107 including aliases). 147 reviews. 3 lists. 1 wishlist. 37 Organized Play characters. 5 aliases.



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Not boxed, and not numbered: a storage nightmare

2/5

I've already complained before about how the pawns in previous Starfinder boxes/AP collections weren't numbered, like they are in Pathfinder 1E sets. This makes keeping them organized and finding a given pawn a lot harder. Why did they remove this useful feature?

This product makes it even worse because there's also no box to store it in. This makes the product much less usable than it could have been!


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Kinda Shadowrun-lite

3/5

I liked the premise of the scenario, and it advances the story nicely. I mean, it's part of a series, but it doesn't feel like it's just obligatory connecting tissue. More like peeling back the next layer of the conspiracy and getting to see something new. (Definitely try to play this scenario in advance of season 2, or you may have been spoiled.)

The map had some interesting bits to it, but I feel it was needlessly huge. That just makes it harder to use at a physical table. It could have been smaller, or perhaps split into separate submaps for specific areas where something happens.

The encounters were a bit too easy, I think because the encounters' CR budget was diluted by using too many enemies that individually have trouble scratching the paint on the PCs. But the choice of monsters was interesting.

Computers are obviously important, so your group is going to need someone competent with them. But it's not crazy over the top high DCs or just only doing computers checks for the whole scenario, so good job on not becoming monotonous.


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Epic carapace-kicking adventure

5/5

This scenario really does a good job of showing the high stakes of the Society's impending showdown with the Jinsuls. I liked just about everything in the scenario. I think for the influence scene I would have liked a handout/overview of the people present though, because it's a bit of an avalanche of information. That presentation could be improved.


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Fun, but with room for improvement

4/5

I ran this for a low-tier table where everyone was neatly in-tier. That made the skill checks doable, but still tough. The players managed to wrangle a complete success out of it at the last moment. Level 5-6 seems to be where Starfinder DCs still work okay, beyond that the differences between skill-heavy and skill-poor classes really start to grate. Also, given how steeply skill DCs scale, playing up in a skill-heavy Starfinder scenario is not recommended. So, it was happy that my party was all of the same subtier.

I think you get out of this scenario what you put into it as GM. It's more a mood piece than a gauntlet of combats. You talk to a lot of people, and if that's just some dice rolls, then it won't be very interesting. If as the GM you're prepared to go a bit deeper than that and have a conversation, then it works nicely. As players, you don't have to like the people that you're talking to; the GM should have made it clear why you badly need something they have. So yeah, you might get a bit squicky feeling about it, which I don't think is a bad thing.

The combat is a bit too easy, because it dilutes its CR budget too much over too many enemies. But it gives a good "intermission" to break up the talk talk talk.

It bugs me a bit that the scenario doesn't have reporting conditions, because I would have liked to see the choices and promises the PCs make have more long-lasting consequences.

Overall I think it's good in the hands of a GM who can handle it, but you do need to invest some extra RP effort into it.


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Short but sweet

4/5

It's a bit on the easy side and runs really fast, but the story works, and especially right now is extremely apropos. I had a good time playing this.


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Elegant

5/5

I had a good time with this scenario. There was some fun RP and interesting NPCs, but also a couple of really nice fights that I'll fondly remember.

I'm particularly impressed with how the scenario gives you a problem to solve, and then gives you surprisingly much freedom to pick your own preferred solution to try. All the while, not being too vague to be usable in PFS.

I'm not so well-versed in runelord lore, but you could clearly tell this city was run by the runelord of abjuration. Some very nice characterization of a location I'd never been to before.


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Easy-going fun

4/5

While prepping to run the scenario I thought it was maybe a bit thin. But when we actually played it, it was quite nice. There's enough NPC interaction to put the action in a story frame. And the combats were reasonably challenging and varied.

I guess not everything needs to be complicated :)


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Great premise, but doesn't really deliver, and ridiculous DCs

2/5

(I played this alongside Quentin.)

The premise of the scenario is great. But I wasn't really that thrilled with the execution. You get sent to retrieve some objects, but never really find out what they are. They're mystereeeerious. And you get asked to find out who did it. Which (if you've been playing this season) you could already guess, all you get is confirmation. If this scenario didn't exist then you wouldn't miss it in the story.

The combats themselves were okay, but didn't really do that much for the scenario. I felt that a chase scene/obstacle course (either to get in, or to get out) would have been more interesting.

And the skill checks. Lets talk about the skill checks. They were absurd. The CRB (p. 392) lists a scale for skill DCs with a band where "challenging" is normal, "hard" is above that. You should take this scale with a grain of salt, because only people specializing in skills can keep up with those DCs at higher levels, and you have to play a class that's good at that skill.

But here, pretty much all of the DCs in this adventure were at "prohibitively hard", so a lot harder than what you need to challenge a normal specialist. Either you're a hyperspecialist and scrape the barrel for every cheesy modifier you can find, or you... just go home? And pretty much all of them used the same skill. We had two players trying to do the skill checks, and two players just kinda twiddling their thumbs. (If you thought the DCs were based on 6 players using Aid Another: there's no 4P adjustment for most of the skill checks either.) It just isn't fun or interesting. We weren't feeling challenged. We felt we were just struggling against the absurd numbers cooked up by a writer who thinks high DCs to bash your head against are exciting.

Summary: waste of a good scenario premise.


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A decent dungeon crawl with some very rough edges

3/5

The Good
It's nice to come back to a site where we did something well in PFS1 and get a pat on the back. There were several fun NPCs to interact with.

As a dungeon crawl it's straightforward with some good old classics.

The Bad
There are some weird railroady bits and unexplained inconsistencies with PF1 lore.

Spoiler:

Zarta just taking the dude off your hands comes totally out of left field and you get no choice in the matter.

Outsiders respawning if killed outside their home plane is D&D lore, not Pathfinder (1); I couldn't find anything in Pathfinder 2 that had changed that.

Some enemies take a long time to kill while posing little threat and this can drag things out. It may take some tight reins GMing to finish this one on time.

The Ugly
A 6-player low tier party can end up being forced to play the high tier due to challenge points, but the boss is totally OP for them and this will probably result in a TPK.

Spoiler:
A level 5 monster defaults to counteract level 3, which low tier PCs can only beat with a natural 20 on a counteract check. Also the monster's defenses and terrain advantage negate any "superior numbers" the PCs might have.

If you can make sure that your party is properly in-tier then this is less problematic.


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Needs [horror] tag

1/5

I'm conflicted on what score to give this scenario. As a horror scenario, it was okay. But getting dumped into a "you can't fight this, you can only run" scenario without warning when you thought you were going to do a typical dungeoncrawl, is absolutely miserable. When it became clear what kind of scenario we were in, I was counting my Fame points wondering if I could just walk away and say "here's enough for body recovery and raise dead, I don't want to play this".

As for the actual setup of the horror scenario, it's mostly good but there are some things that I found rather spiteful:

Spoiler:

* Includes hard to find traps but punishes you for spending time searching for them. Apparently you're supposed to find them with your hit points.

* Treasure depends on meticulously greyhawking the place while pursued by an unstoppable monster.

* Adventure is full of red herrings about possible ways to solve your problems, but they're useless.

* CR 1/2 monsters with abilities that would have been considered strong on even a high-CR creature because they're nasty even on a succesful save. But because they're only CR 1/2 the writer got to put a lot of them into the encounter. This cheating with encounter math is just really spiteful.

* Adventure includes instructions to have the unstoppable monster "make a swipe or two at the PCs to create tension" but it can only miss on a 1 and hits for about your entire HP or Stamina. You never got to rest in between encounters either. This is close to "make sure at least one PC dies in this adventure, to create tension".

* Large characters are likely to get backed into a corner and slaughtered. Large PCs aren't that rare in PFS anymore, this is mean.

I might have enjoyed this adventure a bit more if there had been some warning, like a [horror] tag in the blurb. Just like it's not okay to send someone expecting some nice PG 13 entertainment to a brutal horror movie without warning, this is also not okay.


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Enjoyable scenario, but OP boss

4/5

I enjoyed the scenario itself, it's an interesting dungeon, Larry Wilhelm has shown several times before that he can deliver them. The boss though is really absurdly tough for low tier. I don't think this scenario would be playable if the party includes multiple pregens. (Which, for a scenario with 1-2 tier, is kind of a requirement.)


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Witness!

4/5

Perspective: GMed this at high tier for a 4-player party.

I like the flavor of it a lot. It sets a nice tense situation, and rewards the players with finally finding out more about who these jinsuls really are and what's driving them. (Also, no complaints about the loot.)

I'm a little less enchanted with the mechanical execution. It requires quite some GM prep to run smoothly and ought to have had the [vehicle] tag just to signify you should have those rules fresh in mind.

On high tier I felt the combat was a bit on the easy side, but I suspect it'll be exactly on the sweet spot on low tier.


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A sweet investigation messed up by a broken combat

3/5

I played this yesterday at high tier with a 4-player party. We rather enjoyed the investigation phase of the scenario, although I did feel that it was a bit hard to guess in advance what skills would be called on when going to a particular part of town. Given that you have limited time to investigate, it's kinda a "worker placement" kind of game and spending a phase at a location only to find out you don't have the trained-only skill needed to succeed there is a bit of a bummer. I did think the scenario made a gallant effort not to make Diplomacy the solution to every talky challenge, without making it useless either.

Where it breaks down is the combat part of the scenario. We had a comparatively strong party but the balancing on the high tier final fight is just bonkers. I seriously wonder if this was playtested. It feels to me like the author took the CR from the bestiary on faith and just said "hey this adds up to the right CR/EL for the tier so print it". Well, the bestiary really has it wrong when calculating that CR.

We managed to beat it through a lot of lucky dice, disciplined teamwork and a very strong party. But it's really the sort of encounter that sends the message "you'd better be powergaming because you need it to survive what almost looks like a writer cheating with monster design".

I rather enjoyed the scenario's story, it's got clever connections between setting lore and the PFS storyline and really lets Pathfinders be explorers more than murderhobos. The pacing feels natural, and you have nice agency in how to carry out your investigation.

But the monster is crazy. As a player it kinda feels like playing with a juvenile GM on a power trip designing a monster to kill the PCs by just slapping together mechanics that have crazy synergy and then saying "I can give it whatever CR because I'm the GM". I'm saying this a bit forcefully, maybe it wasn't malice, but it just breaks the boundaries of good monster design and balancing so much, it throws you out of the game. You're not playing a tough combat (which would be enjoyable), you're trying to survive a cheesing author. (Or an author who blindly believes in CR without testing.)


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A great spiritual successor

4/5

I really enjoyed this scenario. It's got a good premise, the Starfinder (and Azlanti) NPCs do fairly intelligent things. The space combat is interesting, I saw some things that I hadn't seen before. I'm just glad we brought the Drake because we needed the firepower.

VampByDay (previous review) doesn't like with how short the mission on board of the ship was; I don't really agree, but I like it because I played King Xeros of Old Azlant before and this setup is a strong callback to that.

The combats did feel a bit on the easy side, especially the 4-player adjustment to the final fight was a bit too generous. Also, you have to make a choice between two different routes to take, but you have so information about your options that it's just a guess. But the choice does determine which of (both pretty nice) things you get on the chronicle sheet. So those things stop me from giving five stars. Otherwise, I think it's a solid scenario.


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The ugly truth

2/5

I ran this scenario, and I tried my best to make it look good. But quite frankly, it doesn't measure up to the high standard set by other scenarios in this season.

I was hoping this scenario would do a couple of things: show off the Idari and give us an idea of who Jadnura is. Sadly, it does little of either. We're put on a railroad on the Idari, spend most of our time talking to a lashunta about how we will be talking to a kasatha later on, and then it turns out there's really not much to talk about with the kasatha. Then there's a pointless fight and we're off again. The whole investigation really isn't one, it solves itself.

We go to a place that should be an amazing set piece, but there's no description at all. We fight a monster with an ability that seems to have become weirdly powerful in the transition from Pathfinder to Starfinder, but is otherwise mostly a nuisance. Then we get to a genuinely cool place, and face a boss that's way over the top. And if you succeed at all that (and my players didn't) you take Jadnura home.

I feel this scenario really wastes the opportunity to explore the Idari (which could have easily been one or more adventures on its own). Which is sad because I don't know if we'll get another opportunity for a long time, now that it's had its turn. This is also the second time we meet Jadnura only for him to immediately get shuffled off-stage because the act is over. Third chance for a second impression?


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Strong concept with a couple of rough edges

4/5

Perspective: played it and ran it.

I liked this scenario; it's tough but not mean. There's good use of recognizable movie tropes and some properly scare moments. Some of the mechanics are a bit awkward to run though. Let's chalk that up to a new game system. Overall Hoskins shows the lessons learned in PFS on how to write an interesting and challenging scenario.


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Awesome, scary, epic, and yet not overcomplicated

5/5

I was very impressed by last year's Seeker scenario, and this year does not disappoint either. I also played at Monkhound's table.

I like the epic premise of the scenario. It lends itself well to playing with characters that had gone mostly into retirement a long time ago, coming back to settle a score with an old foe. This is a good difference with the S8 Seeker scenario, which you really should have played a lot of S8 for. But that's hard with Seeker characters, those often have a lot of their levels in much earlier content.

I think the difficulty in this scenario is decent; there were quite a few scary moments, even for our powerful group, but we never felt that the author resorted to cheap mean tricks. The Hard Mode made things a bit harder in clever ways. This is not "the AI cheats with higher numbers", it's odd wrinkles that make it a bit harder to rely on standard tactics.

I suppose there could have been more socialization, but you can't do everything in one scenario. I liked the ethical considerations put into the mission briefing too. Although it's a fighting mission, it's not a murderhobo mission.


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Nice artwork, bad scaling, and a big timebomb flaw

2/5

When I first laid hands on this baby I was pretty happy. I like the artwork a lot, there's a lot of pawns in here that I think I can use. There's a nice range of races covered, as well as more core races. Two things irk me though;

1) Again the artwork keeps getting cut off. Pictures are scaled to basically let the top of people's head but up against the ceiling of the pawn, and for lashunta that means their antenna get snipped off. And for a lot of other people, the end of their weapon or their wings get cut off. I think this is really sloppy and could have easily been prevented by scaling the picture 90% just to keep everything in the frame.

2) The pawns don't have the name of their pawn set on the pawn. Sounds trivial? It's not.

I store my pawns in the original cardboard in their boxes - easiest way to keep them sorted. If I need a monster from Bestiary 17 starting with Q, I pop open box 17 and flip cardboard until I come to monsters starting with a Q. After I'm done playing, I have a hand of pawns from five boxes, but each pawn has a box name printed on it so I now where to put it back. It's very easy and efficient.

Bestiary boxes, as well as Pathfinder AP pawn collections, the Villain Codex, NPC Codes all have this handy system. But the Starfinder sets don't. Neither Alien Archive, nor Pact Worlds, nor Core Rulebook. So if I've used pawns from all three in an adventure (which is really not that unlikely) I have to do a lot of looking up to see where to put them back. And Alien Archive 2 is going to hit the shelves in a couple of months. This problem could get bigger and bigger.

PLEASE PAIZO PUT THE NAME OF THE PAWN SET ON THE PAWNS. Also please the number in that set. You've done this for years and it's really useful. Why did you stop?


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A good product with one big timebomb flaw

3/5

I'm a fan of pawn sets. They're size-efficient and cost-effective. Who has enough money and room in their house to store 500 new 3D minis per year? And their flatness makes them very convenient when packing luggage.

In this pawn box Paizo succeeded quite well at keeping the whole image on the pawn (something which they haven't always done well). Maybe because Alien Archive is noticeably thinner than the Bestiaries, you get fewer different critters but a lot more of each (4-6 of things where a Bestiary box might give you 2-4).

I particularly like the elementals. This one has Huge elementals, which the Pathfinder Bestiary doesn't have. Each size of elemental has new artwork, and the bigger they get the angrier they look. Wouldn't want to run into the huge earth elemental in a dark alleyway :P

The big, BIG PROBLEM though is that the name of the pawn set isn't printed on the pawns, nor do they have numbers. That sounds trivial but it isn't. I store my pawns in the original cardboard in their boxes - easiest way to keep them sorted. If I need a monster from Bestiary 17 starting with Q, I pop open box 17 and flip cardboard until I come to monsters starting with a Q. After I'm done playing, I have a hand of pawns from five boxes, but each pawn has a box name printed on it so I now where to put it back. It's very easy and efficient.

Bestiary boxes, as well as Pathfinder AP pawn collections, the Villain Codex, NPC Codes all have this handy system. But the Starfinder sets don't. Neither Alien Archive, nor Pact Worlds, nor Core Rulebook. So if I've used pawns from all three in an adventure (which is really not that unlikely) I have to do a lot of looking up to see where to put them back. And Alien Archive 2 is going to hit the shelves in a couple of months. This problem could get bigger and bigger.

PLEASE PAIZO PUT THE NAME OF THE PAWN SET ON THE PAWNS. Also please the number in that set. You've done this for years and it's really useful. Why did you stop?


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Doesn't get more "Land of the Linnorm Kings" than this!

5/5

Just played this. Amazing. It's got vikings, feuds, bogeymen, honor and that thing on the cover. That thing's scaaary.

It's a story that makes sense once the pieces start coming together, uses flavorful things that would only work here in the Linnorm Kings, and the difficulty seemed to be spot-on.


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Now this is how you set up a bigger story to come

5/5

Perspective: GMed this at low tier.

I think this scenario does "taking the offensive against the Aspis" well - it's got a straightforward plan and reasonable mechanics. And of course no plan ever survives contact with the not-so-uninhabited ruin.

Afterwards the scenario very deftly anticipates the players taking different approaches to completing their mission and either of them is "correct", making this scenario much less of a dumb railroad than many of its peers.

The combats I found to be fair but challenging. Likewise for the other mechanics; the difficulty seemed to be at a sweet spot where a regular party can do what is really needed but it takes something extra to get 100% score, and only the hopelessly incompetent or bitterly unlucky party should court total disaster.

Set-up stories often get a bad rap because they feel like they don't have a satisfying conclusion of their own. This scenario elegantly dodges that problem. When you finish it you'll feel like you accomplished something.

There's a lot of backstory in the GM preamble that the PCs won't find out, but in this case I don't think that's a flaw. I'm pretty sure it's being saved for a later installment in this story arc, but the GM is being clued in a bit so he actually understands the context of this story.


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Flavorful setup, but (high tier) not really filling

3/5

Perspective: played at high tier with a fairly strong group.

I enjoyed the setting of this story quite a bit. It gives an insight into Kwanlai and Tianjing, and develops a plot thread hinted at in Shores of Heaven. It's got the potential to be a bit of a horror adventure.

At low tier, that is; at high tier the enemies are just not able to do the job. Sure, action economy is a thing, but actions only count for the economy if they can actually affect the PCs. Deploying more of the same goons as low tier just feels like conservation of ninjutsu striking back.

All the time we were thinking the guy on the front cover would be the big bad hinted at in the whole scenario which looked quite dangerous. Well, for low tier these guys might be quite scary; not so much at high tier. At high tier we're kinda left feeling like this episode ended up just setting up the next one.

Advice: enjoy as a horror story at low tier


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A fun RP adventure nicely grounded in lore

5/5

Played this yesterday with a party mostly level 3, playing up with the 4P adjustment. I haven't looked up DCs but I think the difficulty was fine - if you're paying attention to the story and thinking things through you should be able to accumulate enough advantages to get the happy ending.

The story is well-integrated in existing Taldor lore which is nice; and there's a lot of RP options with NPCs with enough background to have a good talk.

The scenario does something interesting with treating noble PCs (and aspiring noble PCs) differently. It's not necessarily ideal to have an all-noble party, which helps spread the spotlight.

But for our noble-wannabe-PCs we had a great deal of fun heaping our righteous scorn on the BBEG.

There are combats in the scenario; we steamrolled them. They worked fine for the story though, and gave some change of pace between all the talking.

---

Finally, the SovCo boon is really really nice.


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A long-overdue follow-up and the beginning of something exciting

4/5

It seems season 9 will be the season of the cameo. Just about every scenario has had callbacks to earlier scenarios in it, and this one as well. Think back - when did you encounter a copper gate before? (I'm liking this new trend.)

This is a pretty neat Lovecraftian adventure. You meet interesting people and... things... and fight creepy stuff. Opponents were original and reasonably balanced (we had a 5-player APL 5.4 party playing the 4-player high tier, it was dicey but not unfair). There were some pretty tense moments.

I think the adventure caters nicely to a variety of party roles; you'll be happy going into this with a diverse party rather than all-arcane-specialists or all-muscle-lummoxes.

I have just one gripe, and it's something that happens in a lot of occult-themed adventures. Spoilers!

Spoiler:
The adventure is quite occult-themed, so it makes sense to bring occult classes. But almost all of the enemies are immune to mind-affecting effects. So most occult classes can only do stuff at the fringes. I was able to be useful with my psychic by having superb knowledges and a spell selection built to deal with enemies immune to 90% of my class, but only barely.

By the way, the Dark Archive part of this adventure was really cool!


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Lashuntas get their antennas cruelly cut off by bad picture scaling

2/5

At first I thought, hey, this is a really useful pawn set. A lot of pawns for each race, which is nice with oddball new races for which there isn't a lot of art out there to make your own pawns with.

But what really annoys me is that the pictures are often slightly too big for the pawns they're printed on so that bits get snipped off at the edges. Like the lashuntas antennas. Or like the guns and other cool weapons people are holding (lots of sawed-off laser rifles).

This is bad. It could have been prevented by shrinking the picture 5% so it would fit on the pawn. And it's something Paizo has been doing wrong for years.

---

ADDENDUM

A big, BIG PROBLEM with this set though is that the name of the pawn set isn't printed on the pawns, nor do they have numbers. That sounds trivial but it isn't. I store my pawns in the original cardboard in their boxes - easiest way to keep them sorted. If I need a monster from Bestiary 17 starting with Q, I pop open box 17 and flip cardboard until I come to monsters starting with a Q. After I'm done playing, I have a hand of pawns from five boxes, but each pawn has a box name printed on it so I now where to put it back. It's very easy and efficient.

Bestiary boxes, as well as Pathfinder AP pawn collections, the Villain Codex, NPC Codes all have this handy system. But the Starfinder sets don't. Neither Alien Archive, nor Pact Worlds, nor Core Rulebook. So if I've used pawns from all three in an adventure (which is really not that unlikely) I have to do a lot of looking up to see where to put them back. And Alien Archive 2 is going to hit the shelves in a couple of months. This problem could get bigger and bigger.

PLEASE PAIZO PUT THE NAME OF THE PAWN SET ON THE PAWNS. Also please the number in that set. You've done this for years and it's really useful. Why did you stop?


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