Spindlelock Servant

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber. Organized Play Member. 584 posts (585 including aliases). 14 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 3 Organized Play characters.



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Best Urban Campaign Book I've Ever Read

5/5

So, I was planning on writing my review later, after I'd read through the entire book, but I figure I'll post this now, to get this book's rating up before it launches. In response to the first review, I've been reading through this book the past couple days, and so far the slavery thing is the only part of the review I fully agree with. To CoLO's credit, abolition happened pretty recently, and was a big world event, so it makes sense that it would be covered. However, one of the big reasons for this move seemed to be thematic: In your shiny metropolis that's all about showing off wonders and magic from all over Golarion, slavery kind of gnaws at the atmosphere. Torius Vin was also weird. Hoping that gets fixed in pdf updates and future reprints.

That aside, I've been repeatedly blown away by the art, which is simply gorgeous. Out of 402 pages, I've noticed a full-page spread of reused art that seemed to be a callback to 1e nostalgia, and a few pieces for the NPC section in the back. Other than that, I've seen art on about nine out of ten pages the whole way through this book, the vast majority of which is lavish and pieces I've personally never seen before (I own the entire PF Campaign Setting collection, a good chunk of 1e rulebooks, and every 2e book released so far, for reference). The emphasis on illustrating fantasy architecture in this book was a particularly huge draw for me, as were the beautiful illustrations capturing "slice of life" imagery in each of the city's districts.

As for the history bit, there is certainly an emphasis, as Absalom is supposed to be a very old, very storied city. That's part of its whole shebang. The book does things with that background, however, with nary page I've seen (beyond the overview sections in the front) leaving its reader without plenty of plot hooks, rumors, mysteries, and Majora's Mask esque NPC sidestories and interactions. Literally every location ends with a reference describing who can be found there and what they're doing there. Just on a whim, I blind-selected a random NPC: Vanius Cestanian, who serves as an embassy guard at the Chelaxian Embassy. After searching this name in the book again, I discovered this random guard is also a parishioner at a local Asmodean church, dines at the Pitview Pub, lives in Devil's Garden, and is a compulsive gambler frequenting the Second Labyrinth who exploits his good looks and connections to hide a scandalous affair. This is a random guard I selected on a whim. There are 118 pages in the back of the book exploring hundreds of people in this city, what they're up to, and how they interact with each other. There are tables throughout the book telling you where you need to go to visit a museum, buy a drink, get your hair styled, enroll in an academy, rent an elephant, or brawl in a fighting ring. Throughout the book are sidebars indicating local crime and thieves' guilds, cultural information (pants are for the working class!), adventure hooks, popular songs, and connections in the book to other lore books. There's so much here.

These are my reasons for why I respectfully disagree with the former review. I'll update this review later with a more complete thing after I've read through the whole book. Hope you'll give this years-in-the-making masterpiece a chance!


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Here's what you can expect

5/5

Warning: spoilers ahead.

This 64-page adventure is set in Hermea, an island paradise where all is not as it seems. Founded not so long ago by the legendary golden dragon Mengkare, this nation was to be his greatest gift to the world — a grand experiment to perfect humankind and create utopia. But generations of failure has changed this once noble dragon, and where once his grand designs sought to bring peace and growth, now his means threaten to bring great destruction to achieve this first aim. In his fight for good, Mengkare descends ever more deeply into evil. It is up to the PCs to see through the deceptions of Mengkare's counselors, wade through a cesspool of carefully laid traps, and finally confront the gold dragon himself — either to save him, or slay him for good — before Mengkare's good intentions fulfill the will of his unwitting master, and bring to pass the very desolation of world: the Age of Ashes.

This epic adventure was written by Luis Loza, who is a similarly epic person. We need more Arcadia love you, Luis!

What's in the back?? Luis finally unveils decade-long mysteries and gives us our first ever gazetteer of the Island of Hermea, and its capital city of Promise. You'll find details about its history, government, daily life, notable sites (including Mengkare's Lair), and a wealth of information on Promise itself. I can't stress enough what a cool deal this is to finally explore this legendary locale.

Following this absolutely nuclear gazetteer is a megasized adventure toolbox, with plot seeds for adventures set after the main campaign — including advice on what should happen if the PCs fail. Ingenious legacy backgrounds can be awarded to PCs who participate in an adventure set after this main campaign (for instance, you can be the child of one of the Age of Ashes player characters), bridging different campaigns together in thoughtful, intimate ways. OP level 20 items and spells and feats abound — even rules to enlarge your animal companion into a huge-sized, rampaging kaiju-wannabe. Seriously, there's some legendary stuff here to make your PCs look absolutely mythic. To grant your players foes worthy of their newfound powers, a ton of endgame level baddies are awarded to GMs, including an Aiudara Wraith, Dragonshard Guardian, Aztec-inspired Tzitzimitl, Astral Plane-hopping Vazgorlu, Wyrmwraith (dragon ghost), and an honest-to-goodness, emineffin Tarrasque, appropriately epitheted "The Armaggedon Engine." Concluding this final chapter in the Age of Ashes adventure path are statblocked profiles for Hermea's most prolific minds, capable of serving as allies or enemies for PCs, and include the beautiful, scheming sister of a previous villain, a hopeful, stalwart captain of Promise's city guard who hopes to redeem her nation's patron, and Mengkare himself. These revelatory articles were written by James Jacobs, Luis Loza, Alex Riggs, and Owen K.C. Stephens, bless them.

Age of Ashes is an Adventure Path for PCs from humble roots aspiring to greatness, and starry-eyed explorers eager to travel the wide world and uncover relics of the ancient past. All throughout this hundred-page AP you'll find yourself utterly submerged in gorgeous, evocative art, giving context and telling stories of its own about the people and places found within. Witness the legend of the Age of Ashes with your own eyes, and save the future from a dragon's fantasy yet to be fulfilled.


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Here's what you can expect

5/5

Warning: spoilers ahead.

This 64-page adventure is set in Katapesh, a merchant state of northeastern Garund, and largest hub of black market activity in the Inner Sea region. While only loosely ruled by a council of mysterious, alien entities known as the Pactmasters, the swiftly-changing web of alliances that make up the nearly anarchic, everyday power structure of this nation's capital city is ever malleable. Upon entering the city, PCs will learn just how dangerous is their place in it — their quarry, the criminal syndicate Scarlet Triad — is protected by the ruling class of the city itself. To bring this underground slaving network down, the PCs must build a powerful web of alliances of their own, before mustering a final assault against the heart of scum and villainy that's played them since the very beginning. Along the way, the adventurers will brave supernatural storms, fight in gladiator tournaments, plot a daring heist, investigate crime scenes, fight the fire-breathing spawn of Xotani the Firebleeder, and maybe even romance a camel!

This swashbuckling adventure was written by John Compton, a really rad dude.

What's in the back?? John delivers a stellar look at the extraterrestrial ecology of Witchwyrds, their culture and social structure, technology and starships, and places across Golarion where their influence can hurl unwitting adventurers into conflicts of galactic proportion. Following this, James L. Sutter presents an article on the Lost Aiudara: deactivated magical gates that, when activated, can bridge disparate lands together across the planet — or perhaps even across planets.

In this AP's adventure toolbox, you'll find wares as strange as they are ingenious, rarely seen outside the city's endless sea of weird and beautiful bazaars: statuettes of bad luck, magic rings, alchemical grenades, poisons (lots of poisons), and even friendly animal companions. You'll also find training for poisoner feats, and an archetype to become one of Katapesh's very own Zephyr Guards. To bring a little more danger into the mix, a collection of dangerous adversaries are also introduced: the Aluum, Calikang, Crucidaemon daemon, Nalfeshnee demon, Cornugon devil, Immortal Ichor, Solifugid, Witchwyrd, and Xotanispawn, as well as a complete profile on the criminal mastermind leader of the Scarlet Triad — a jaded prodigy whose once grand hopes for humanity have burned to ash upon witnessing its capacity for evil. All these articles were written by John Compton and Tim Nightengale.

Age of Ashes is an Adventure Path for PCs from humble roots aspiring to greatness, and starry-eyed explorers eager to travel the wide world and uncover relics of the ancient past. All throughout this hundred-page AP you'll find yourself utterly submerged in gorgeous, evocative art, giving context and telling stories of its own about the people and places found within. Witness the legend of the Age of Ashes with your own eyes, and save the future from a dragon's fantasy yet to be fulfilled.


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Here's what you can expect

5/5

Warning: spoilers ahead.

This 64-page adventure is set in the Five Kings Mountains region — a proud bastion of dwarven culture and heritage in Avistan, tragically beset with a decline in prestige and growth in the last centuries. Throughout this adventure, PCs will travel through portions of the Darklands (the subterranean underworld of Golarion), Kovlar (a small city on the edge of dwarven civilization), and Saggorak at Kovlar's very gates: a fallen dwarven kingdom conquered by pillaging, starvation, and finally, undeath. While Kovlar has long defended against the horrors of fallen Saggorak, a threat rises within the undead kingdom that threatens to end this balance of power for good. In their quest to save the peoples of Kovlar, PCs must contend with sea serpents, golems, ghouls, and bargain with the ghost of an ancient king, before coming face to face with the mastermind of a terrifying plot.

This haunting adventure was written with the imagination of Linda Zayas-Palmer. Thanks for the nightmares, Linda!

What's in the back?? James Sutter returns to deliver a terrifying peak into the forlorn faith of Droskar, Master of the Dark Furnace, and mythic adversary of the holy dwarven pantheon. His oppressive realm, shackled in chains and sweat, his dogma and worshippers, temples, traditions, priests and texts are all laid bare, with new deity options for evil clerics, a background, feat, domain, and focus spells. Following this, Linda presents us with a comparatively refreshing gazetteer of Kovlar proper, giving GMs all the tools they need to bring this city on the edge of a haunted land to vibrant life, with details on the city's history, government, guilds, culture, everyday life, and prominent locations.

The adventure toolbox of the month boasts all the treasures you'd imagine to be boasted by the forgemasters of a glorious dwarven kingdom: runes, shields, crafting tools, and more, along with an intriguing "Crystal Keeper" archetype. Turning the page, you'll find a host of deadly new creatures eager to bring your overconfident PC's adventure to an ill-fated end: the Carnivorous Crystal, Dalos, Deculi, Devourer, Magma Dragon, Dragonscarred Dead, Forge-Spurned, Gashadokuro, and Soulbound Ruin. Finally, a dramatis personae of intriguing NPCs are detailed to bring some extra gravity to your story: a prodigal daughter and unrivaled forgemaster with a strong sense of duty, a dwarven exile who found solace in the embrace of a dark god when she could not find it in her family or homeland, and a powerhungry dragon longing to prove his worth. All these articles were written by Owen K.C. Stephens, James L. Sutter, Greg A. Vaughan, and Linda Zayas-Palmer.

Age of Ashes is an Adventure Path for PCs from humble roots aspiring to greatness, and starry-eyed explorers eager to travel the wide world and uncover relics of the ancient past. All throughout this hundred-page AP you'll find yourself utterly submerged in gorgeous, evocative art, giving context and telling stories of its own about the people and places found within. Witness the legend of the Age of Ashes with your own eyes, and save the future from a dragon's fantasy yet to be fulfilled.


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Here's what you can expect

5/5

Warning: spoilers ahead.

This 64-page adventure is set in the Silver City of Kintargo, capital of Ravounel — a nation recently liberated from the iron clutches of the infernal empire of Cheliax. In this beautiful coastal metropolis, freedom and justice prevail...for most. Unfortunately, Ravounel plays a delicate game with its powerful and expansionist neighbor, and the latter's malign influence continues to poison the Kintargo citizenry's hope for a better future — most especially in the form of the underground slave trade. While officially abolished throughout Ravounel, slavers boast strong allies in all the regions surrounding this lonely nation. While peace between Ravounel and Cheliax is sung from the rafters, beneath the foundations of this city, a cold war brews between the protectors of liberty and Cheliax's slave-mongering allies.

This comic book-worthy adventure was written by Ron Lundeen and Stephanie Lundeen, a real dynamic duo!

What's in the back?? A panoramic vista of Ravounel's countryside and bright blue sky, alight with the color and personality of Kintargo's explosive kitecraft; a smiling octopus, turtle, sailing ship and more attest to the thriving coastal life depicted in Ravounel's very first gazetteer. Here you'll find all you need to know about the history, government, citizenry, and notable locations of this fledgeling nation, eloquently written by Ron Lundeen. Following this, a thoughtful, in-depth examination of the personalities and behaviors of dragons the world over, by THE James L. Sutter!

This AP's regular adventure toolbox boasts hoards of unique items (from magical cauldrons and alchemical poisons to vigilante toolbelts and extradimensional gourds), very flavorful mystical feats PCs might learn upon earning a certain someone's trust, and an archetype for a Bellflower Tiller — operatives of the abolitionist network of slave liberators. A variety of interesting creature statblocks rounds out this collection of GM tools, including the Blood Boar, Kalavakus demon, Osyluth devil, Shadow Giant, Remnant of Barzillai, Rusalka, and a variety of Velstrac fiends. Finally, there are special NPC articles featuring a cunning, bootstrap gnoll villain, an elven headmistress of an academy of spies, and a happy-go-lucky halfling with a grim past forged during her long war against slavery. All these articles were written by Lyz Liddell and Ron Lundeen.

Age of Ashes is an Adventure Path for PCs from humble roots aspiring to greatness, and starry-eyed explorers eager to travel the wide world and uncover relics of the ancient past. All throughout this hundred-page AP you'll find yourself utterly submerged in gorgeous, evocative art, giving context and telling stories of its own about the people and places found within. Witness the legend of the Age of Ashes with your own eyes, and save the future from a dragon's fantasy yet to be fulfilled.


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Here's what you can expect

5/5

Warning: spoilers ahead.

This 64-page adventure is set in Akrivel — a settlement founded by Ekujae elves to safeguard a magical artifact of terrifying potential — and portions of the Mwangi Jungle. The village of Akrivel itself is a strangely festive place considering its proximity to danger, which speaks to the character of its residents. Locked in a restless conflict with an ancient foe, the Ekujae elves have learned to balance caution with fun, living life to the fullest at every opportunity. PCs earning these elves' trust will be invited to grand hunts, feasts, dancing, storytelling, and for the helpless romantics, maybe even a little matchmaking between starcrossed lovers — all from the elevations of a scenic treetop paradise. Yet dangers belay this idyllic home, as threats from the jungle beyond soon manifest in a terrible curse, and PCs must contend with a brazen cult hellbent on bathing the world in fire — coming to the aid of kobolds, celestials, and even a reformed red dragon — all while exploring this sandbox, hexploration-based adventure.

This magical story was written by Eleanor Ferron — thanks for the good times Eleanor!

What's in the back?? Eleanor Ferron gives us a peak at the fascinating history and culture of the Ekujae peoples, including information about the story of their conflict with the dragon god Dahak, their faiths and traditions, fashion, societal makeup, art and music, philosophy, and relations with the outside world. Inside the adventure toolbox, you'll find rules for surviving in jungle biomes (along with diseases), a magical charm and weapon, and rules for administrating and reconstructing the PC's home base acquired in the previous adventure.

Following this are articles for major NPCs found in this adventure, including a boggard cultist who hears the voice of an imprisoned god, and a well-traveled elven lorekeeper with a chip on her shoulder, and a debt to repay. Finally, you'll find a new collection of creatures: the Asanbosam, Bida, Biloko, Charau-ka, Grippli, Kishi, Living Sap, Mokele-Mbembe, and Sabosan. These articles were masterfully composed by Eleanor Ferron, Leo Glass, James Jacobs, Jason Keeley, and Owen K.C. Stephens.

Age of Ashes is an Adventure Path for PCs from humble roots aspiring to greatness, and starry-eyed explorers eager to travel the wide world and uncover relics of the ancient past. All throughout this hundred-page AP you'll find yourself utterly submerged in gorgeous, evocative art, giving context and telling stories of its own about the people and places found within. Witness the legend of the Age of Ashes with your own eyes, and save the future from a dragon's fantasy yet to be fulfilled.


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Here's what you can expect

5/5

Warning: some spoilers ahead.

This 64-page adventure is set in Isger, a vassal state of the diabolic empire of Cheliax. Fortunately for statistically numerous chaotic PCs, Isger exists far enough away from the regimented life of the empire that nice villages like Breachill can live a quiet, peaceful coexistence — so long as money from Isger's trade routes continue flowing into her infernal majestrix's coffers. Some of the people who protect this trade are Hellknights — brutal mercenary enforcers of law and order — who long ago founded a citadel in the forests outside Breachill proper. Yet when prolonged peace prompted the Hellknights to abandon their citadel, something sinister moved in to take their place. In this adventure, you engage in small town mystery hijinks, ally with friendly goblins, and discover an incredible, ancient secret locked away beneath a fortress claimed by monsters and neglect.

Accolades to Amanda Hamon for writing this really awesome inaugural adventure for Pathfinder 2e!

What's in the back?? We've got even more Amanda awesomeness in a Breachill gazetteer, which does a good job mixing small town charm and daily life, sprinkled with scandal and secrecy around the town's mysterious founder — who saved its people when he found them lost and wandering, with no prior memories of who they were. Breachill is a fun peak into daily life in Isger (a long neglected region of Golarion) with a hero-friendly town ripe with low-stakes adventure — an ideal place to rest, found a home base, and just have fun.

Following this, we have an "Adventure Toolbox" written by Logan Bonner, Amanda Hamon, James Jacobs, and Jason Tondro. You'll find a lot of lore articles here exploring both some of the campaign's backdrop as well as some genuinely fascinating stories about Golarion's past: magical elven-made mirrors that cross between worlds, the depradations and narrow defeat of a malicious dragon god, and the tragic fall of noble dragon's vision of paradise.

Yeah, this adventure path has a lot of dragon stuff going on. Probably should have mentioned that sooner, right?

After this, there's some handy treasure, NPCs written for the adventure (a spider disguised as a human, an elven bookshop owner with secrets, and a booksmart goblin with impeccable fashion-sense), and a collection of new creatures: Anadi (spider people!), Doorwarden, Emperor Bird, Grauladon, Graveshell, Hellcrown, and Tixitog.

Age of Ashes is an Adventure Path for PCs from humble roots aspiring to greatness, and starry-eyed explorers eager to travel the wide world and uncover relics of the ancient past. All throughout this hundred-page AP you'll find yourself utterly submerged in gorgeous, evocative art, giving context and telling stories of its own about the people and places found within. Witness the legend of the Age of Ashes with your own eyes, and save the future from a dragon's fantasy yet to be fulfilled.


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A game-changing book for anyone with even a passing interest in lore.

5/5

This book has probably been one of my most anticipated Pathfinder books I've ever purchased. And it's a book I frankly never expected Paizo to release, prior to being announced. At least across the tabletop systems I've played, it's been pretty rare to see a book dedicated entirely to the dramatis personae of a campaign setting's world. I assume this is because, unlike the setting's locations or monsters or gods (which usually receive lots of attention), the PCs themselves are the only characters that any given party is guaranteed to spend a large amount of time exploring. So the world outside of the PC's immediate sphere of influence is often treated as an afterthought.

Not here. After more than a decade, Golarion has turned into one of the most complete and lifelike fantasy worlds in tabletop RPG history, with history and heroes worth reading about, and never has that been so apparent than in this book. These are the stories of the champions, explorers, tyrants, inventors, healers, warlords and revolutionaries that made Golarion what it is, both throughout its past and into its present. Each entry has just the right, concise content to give you a feel for who this character really is. For her Infernal Majestrix, Abrogail Thrune, a dark tragedy worthy of stage adaptation. For Artokus, a charming insider-take on the elusive Einstein-esque alchemical genius from the eyes of his ever-loyal meekrat familiar. For Old Mage Jatembe, the enlightened ancient hero who disappeared in ages past after inventing the art of wizardry, a selection of famous parables and myths of his greatest deeds and adventures. And so many more. Each turn of the page brought a new atmosphere, a new story, and new exciting secrets revealed for plot threads that have been unfurling through years of storytelling.

To go along with the gorgeous artwork that captures each character to perfection, each entry also explores the complex relationships many of these "legends" share with each other, giving a fascinating view of the dynamic power struggles and alliances that are playing out in Golarion on a global stage (evoking plots that feel like they could belong in some of the best seasons of Game of Thrones). Also included are tools GMs can use for players, including abilities that these legends might bestow as patrons to worthy heroes (or villains). Baba Yaga can teach witches who call upon her name to animate household objects a la Disney's Fantasia. Avarneus can equip characters with the most advanced spy equipment this side of a dimensional portal to an MI6 armory. Players can attempt to outmaneuver Abrogail Thrune herself in negotiating infernal contracts (if they dare), awarding power at hidden costs.

There's so much here, for players and GMs both, and it's all SO INCREDIBLY WELL DONE. Like, seriously. The passion and imagination and enthusiasm that's packed into this book just spills out on every page. I can't praise it enough. Easy five stars, and I sincerely hope this book sees a sequel. Legends has transformed Golarion from a world inhabited by monsters, into a world inhabited by monsters with motivation, and allies that might stand with you against them.


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5/5


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5/5


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5/5


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5/5