I am pleased to report that I finally persuaded my group to convert to Pathfinder!
Specifically, to Pathfinder 1e from 3.5. Now I can finally quit converting between grappling systems in my head on the fly when running PF1 content for 3.5 PCs!
... Eh heh.
The timing may be a bit ironic. See you all in another decade or so! ^_^
I'd just like to add a voice of support for incorporating Dudemeister's changes. They improve the adventure substantially.
My Kingmaker experience lasted seven years. I started as a player in 2010, and the GM did not have the benefit of much added community material, because precious of it had been invented at that point. We made it to the end of Book 3 before the campaign fizzled (the GM developed a severe case of Real Life).
About a year after that, one of the other alumni of that group decided to start a fresh Kingmaker with a new group, and I joined in. By that time, Dudemeister had invented the Monster Kingdom and a couple other modifications, which the new GM integrated, and they made the play experience much better (even though I was going through stuff I'd already done for the first half of the second playthrough).
Later, I circled back and played out the remainder of the original Kingmaker campaign as the GM, for one of the other original players, finishing it as a part of a solo campaign -- though honestly, by that time it was so heavily modified as to only vaguely resemble the original campaign. I cherry-picked bits of Book 5, notably the Rushlight Festival; and ran a good bit of Book 6, but the plotting was drastically different.
Lately, I've been listening to Sugar Fuelled Gamers' Kingmaker, an actual play podcast by a GM running the AP for a solo PC played his wife. He integrated a lot of Dudemeister's additions, as well as some of his own; it's far and away the best run Kingmaker I've seen.
Anyway! Please consider integrating Dudemeister's modifications. They make the entire thing much better.
A really modular approach would be to remove the stat blocks from the main text of the adventure entirely and issue separate bestiaries for each supported system.
- The main text would be easier to read when it's not split up by stat blocks.
- Having the stat blocks in a separate book would reduce flipping back and forth while running the adventure, because you could keep the adventure open to the encounter area, and the bestiary open to the relevant stat blocks.
- You could have PF 1e, PF 2e, and D&D 5e bestiaries.
- It would definitely increase the costs of production and printing.
- It might increase shipping costs, due to extra weight.
I just ran this encounter, and wanted to report back on how it went with my modifications.
The setup I settled on went as follows:
1) I put 12 numbered tokens out on the map to represent the PCs and the Vraxerises (5 PCs, one cohort, and six Vraxerises). Their positions were basically random -- I did not roll for positions or anything, I just sort of spread them around in the available space.
2) Players drew a token from a bag at the beginning of each round, which defined their position on the board and their order in the initiative. The one with the cohort drew two tokens. All the ones remaining in the bag after that were Vraxeris.
I did not re-randomize the positions of the tokens between rounds. After conducting a short experiment on my own, it was immediately clear that that would have been far too complex and slowed things down a ton. Besides, since the PCs were drawing randomly from the bag, that effectively randomized their positions anyway without actually moving any tokens.
3) I did NOT add initiative modifiers to anything; we just counted down from 12 to 1 each round.
4) The source of the effect was the giant peacock statue. I described it as having six gem-encrusted feathers. Each round on Initiatives 8, 4, and 0 two of the feathers lit up, one on each side of the peacock. When all six were lit, we would re-randomize tokens. Each of the six feathers had AC 5 and 15 hit points; once they were all destroyed the effect ended.
5) I used the stock dialog from the book for Vraxeris, but tacked on "Let's dance!" at the end, and described the entire place as flashing bright colors the whole time. I also played "Stayin' Alive" on loop for the whole encounter.
6) I did use a shared pool of hit points for the Vraxerises (600, 100 each) and killed one off each time they crossed a 100 point threshold. The Vraxerises did some damage with scorching rays, and got in a few Phantasmal Killer spells, with no effect (four passed will saves, and the one failed will save was the Barbarian, who got a 40 on the fort save to avoid death). The shared hit point mechanic was odd mechanically, because it effectively prevented the party from focusing fire on one enemy; but the players rolled with it and it worked okay.
It was a fairly complicated combat just because it forced the players to figure out who was who each round. But they quickly adapted. The one complaining about how terrible these robes look was obviously the incredibly vain ranger, while the barbarian had been enlarged earlier and was therefore obvious because he was the only large-sized Vraxeris. I described all of them as holding wands; but when the archer proceeded to fire some shots using her bow, and appeared to be firing small wands from another wand that implausibly bent like a bow, it became pretty obvious that she was the archer.
The PC who had the hardest time with this encounter was the bard, many of whose abilities (Inspire Courage, for example) rely on being able to distinguish between friend and foe. It was the first battle in a very long time when they didn't have Inspire Courage giving them ridiculous attack and damage bonuses.
The PCs very quickly figured out that the peacock was what was shuffling them around, and they destroyed the last feather towards the end of round 3, at which point I had the peacock open it's beak and say "Organic lifeforms have no sense of fun". After that things went pretty quickly.
All in all, I am very pleased with how it went, and the players seemed to enjoy it. So I'm going to account the session a success.
Good points all round. And yes, it is going to be complicated.
1. I'm going to give everyone a Will save to resist the Seeming effect. If they pass, they don't look like Vraxeris, and get to put their regular mini on the board instead of the wood token.
2. I think I'm going to replace the big pillar in the middle of the room with an enormous statue of a peacock, and have that be the source of the randomization/seeming effect. They'll be able to see it "powering up" right before the effect goes off each time. If the ready an action to cast Dispel Magic on the statue, they can interrupt the effect. I probably won't make them roll for it, even -- hit it with Dispel and the effect fizzles for that round.
3. Detect Magic would show strong illusion for the Seeming effect, and a lingering aura of illusion for the teleportation effect -- it's based of Shadow Walk, because Thassilonian pride specialists don't have access to conjuration spells (and thus cannot use more normal teleportation effects).
4. Faerie Fire and Glitterdust would persist across randomizations. The targets would still look like Vraxeris, but they'd be shiny. It'd be a good way of marking people. I'm inclined to think that non-magical means -- like paint or flour -- would get covered over the next time the randomization effect occurs.
I'll consider hand signals.
I'm planning on reducing their offensive spell loadouts. The goal of hte false Vraxerises is to trick the party into fighting one another, so there will probably be a bunch of Bluff checks as standard actions to try and get them to do so. That should help reduce the lethality.
Thanks for the feedback!
Interesting ideas. I've been thinking about this some more, and I think maybe I could do something like this:
1) I get a bunch of little one inch wooden disks at the local craft store. I would need 24 of them.
2) I make two sets of twelve, numbered 1-12.
The wooden circles are going to be used for two things.
One set of them will be minis, placed on the map to show where creatures are.
The other set will go in a bag. At the beginning of a round, each player draws one token from the bag, and that's who they are that round. Once they've drawn them, they pass me the bag and I use the rest as Vraxerises.
I am contemplating replacing the ordinary initiative mechanic for this encounter, and instead having the number you draw from the bag serve as your character's initiative. I'd start from 12 and count down, with the result that creatures would go in a different order each round.
Randomizing the Vraxerises would make it really hard to track their hit points. So I might do a health pool -- give them a total of 600 hp, and every time the party reaches 100 damage, one of the Vraxerises goes "pop!"
For added mayhem, I'm also considering randomizing every creature's position each round. As written, the map is just a big rectangle: 24x18 squares, which I will label 1-24 along the long axis and A-P on the short axis. Then -- before game time -- I would roll out a series of positions, thus:
Round 1: 1 to A3, 2 to E12 ... etc
And then move all the tokens. I'd probably roll out 5 or 6 sets of positions and if the fight goes longer than that start looping or roll a d6 to pick a set of positions.
Now, the problem with all of this is that the Vraxerises also would have no way to tell friend from foe. So I'm thinking of giving them all True Seeing scrolls that they would pop right before the fight, while the party is dealing with the Mirror of Opposition.
At least one of the PCs also has True Seeing, and has already announced that they intend to use it, so that would give that PC a major advantage. And that's 100% okay.
Our next session isn't till Nov 11th, 16 days from now, so I've got time for prep. Any thoughts or suggestions? I'm excited by this idea, even though it's going to be super complicated to run.
I've got a pile of five totally different enchanters at this point. Waiting to learn a bit more about the world before I finalize anything. I like to make characters that fit the world.
On a totally unrelated note, it annoys me when Paizo's site tells me that there are two new posts, and I click the link to go there, and wind up staring at old posts because the two new ones are the top of a new page and the site has inexplicably sent me to the bottom of the old page.
My PCs are about to go into the Illusion wing. I'm down for the Mirrors of Opposition, that seems like good illusion-based defense.
But the Vraxeris simulacra rely almost entirely on evocation and enchantment spells, which seems odd for illusionists. Then I went and read every illusion spell on the sorcerer/wizard list up to 5th level, which reveals the problem: there are precious few illusion spells that they *could* use offensively. I mean, there's Phantasmal Killer, but that's about it.
I'm toying with the notion of using a custom effect that blacks out the room, shakes everyone up to change their positions, and then when the lights come back on everyone looks like Vraxeris and there are six new Vraxerises in the mix. Ideally, the PCs would wind up fighting one another under false pretenses.
But it'd be difficult to pull off. I could replace everyone's minis (I have a ton of Vraxeris minis, I bought a case of the Runelords minis way back when). But each player has to know which mini is theirs, and as soon as they move the mini, that reveals (in a metagame way) that that one is a PC, not an enemy. It'd be hard to avoid metagame knowledge influencing player actions.
I don't know, this encounter bugs me, I guess. Maybe I should ditch it and put in something else entirely.
Eye halve a spelling chequer
Eye strike a quay and type a word
As soon as a mist ache is maid
Eye have run this poem threw it
Well! Considering mustache was kind enough to add some keywords pointing at things I'm interested in, I should reciprocate. My next keyword is:
So this country/region will be quite mountainous, perhaps with dark pine forests blanketing their slopes, high altitude glacial lakes, and many tiny settlements squirreled away in tiny flash-flood prone canyons. That should get some wilderness into the picture. We can have one big city in a larger valley.
Yeah. I'm basically not a gnome fan. The way they're flavored in D&D and Pathfinder -- the obsessive curiousity, the mad alchemy and tinkering, all that stuff -- strikes me as unbearably twee.
There may be a reason why, when my soloist got turned into a werewolf, I arranged for her first group of victims to be a bunch of gnomes. Ah, it was a glorious session. One of them survived (as a gnome werewolf bard) and is now, essentially, the PC's spymistress. She spends a lot of time lurking in the shadows and not on screen.
Tell us about this ancient prophecy that might be finally coming true. What's commonly known about it? Who prophesied it? What is it commonly thought to portend?
Oh boy, gnomes. Well ... at least they're not kender?
And unfortunately I have zero interest in any of the occult classes.
The character concept that first came to mind is an enchanter-psychologist, who uses mind-affecting spells to help people. That includes things like using Detect Thoughts, Detect Anxieties and Detect Desires to diagnose assorted mental illneses, using Calm Emotions to help people face trauma they've suffered and deal with it, or in extreme cases Modify Memory to blur the details and take the raw edge off. It might include behavioral modification counseling, like helping people kick addictive or destructive habits using Sow Thought to build in persistent thoughts like "No, I don't need drugs to get through this". In the case of extreme violent offenders who have proven resistant to any other rehabilitation, the spell Amnesia could be used to make them a whole new person who could then be given a new identity and reintegrated into society somewhere far away from their past offenses.
Unfortunately, something like that sounds like a profession you would only find in a really big city, probably one verging on modernity. It doesn't fit especially well in a medieval forest kingdom.
So I took a long hard look at the Feyspeaker druid archetype, that switches spellcasting to Charisma and lets you pick up enchantment spells from the sorcerer wizard list. That would fit the setting better, but ... what would I use those enchantment spells for? Why would my character want them? I keep coming up blank on the answer to that question. Besides which, I've made literally dozens of druids over the last seven years, and I'm kinda tired of them. It's a powerful class, but the mechanics can get nightmarishly complex once wild shape kicks in.
Third attempt involved a witch, and it kinda worked, but was also rather spooky. I'm okay with spooky, but if I'm going that route there are other things I'd go to first.
Basically -- I don't think the enchanter is going to work. I may need to scrap it and come up with something else.
It's true, the system does generate some good setting info. If we were sitting around a table in person, we could easily build a playable kingdom in one session.
In a PbP, however, it might just delay things longer than we'd really like.
I've spent some time looking at enchanters, and boy, they have a ton of obstacles to surmount.
1. Many of their key spells are restricted to a particular creature type (e.g. humanoid).
There are ways to address all of those -- class features, feats, and so on -- but cramming them all into a build is really freaking hard and tends to push you to weird niche things. I've built three so far, and it's telling that I've never even considered human, ordinarily one of the stronger and more flexible racial choices. The best one I've come up with works pretty well mechanically, but comes with the sharp downside of not having legs (Merfolk!), which basically renders the build unplayable barring an aquatic campaign.
It would be nice to work out some more about the setting. I vastly prefer making characters that make sense within the context of the world they inhabit.
Okay, so I've reviewed the Kingdom rules. If we want to do it, I think we could. We could probably get by with just one of us having the PDF, but if you guys wanted to get yourselves a copy, that would definitely be helpful.
Just to give you a quick idea of the system, we would:
Play proceeds as a series of Crossroads. Each of those is a question that we must answer in the course of a series of role-played scenes. For example, we might set up a crossroads of: "Will the kingdom outlaw the new religion?" With a three player game, there will be at least four scenes necessary before we can answer that question. So, for example, I might do a scene with my PC observing one of the new
More on roles: The player who has Power makes things happen. They decide what the kingdom does. They might order someone arrested, for example, or impose a new tax on adherents of the new religion, or whatever. They can't control another player's actions.
The player who has Perspective predicts the outcomes of the yes/no choices in the Crossroad. They're always right. They might say, "If we outlaw this religion, its faithful will just go under ground and work against us." And they would be right, because the have Perspective. The same player can issue multiple predictions, for either side of the yes/no equation. They might also say "If we do not outlaw this new religion, the crown will lose the support of the traditional faith." Followed by "If we do not outlaw this new religion, it will overtake our land within a generation." And again, they would be correct.
The player who is the Touchstone always reflects public opinion. Whatever the Touchstone thinks about the current situation is the most common opinion on the matter. They might say "I don't know about this new religion, but I don't like the thought of persecuting people just for finding faith." And that would be an accurate read on the mood of the people. In essence, the Touchstone controls what the people of the entire kingdom, exxcluding PCs, think or believe. He could say "The new religion speaks to me so much more than all that old claptrap!" And suddenly, everyone in the kingdom feels that way. The people want the religion to remain legal, and there may be hell to pay if it's not. Particularly since Touchstone has the power to push the kingdom into Crisis pretty easily.
Roles can change. You can abdicate in favor of a new role, or you can challenge another player and take their role from them. So it's not necessarily static.
There are trackers built in for several things: Crossroad, Crisis, and Time Passes. At the end of a players turn, the get to put a checkbox on one tracker (and Touchstone can add or remove one from Crisis as well). With three players, those tracks are set at 4 each for Crossroad and Crisis, and 3 for Time Passes. When one of them fills up, we interrupt the normal flow of play to resolve the card. When the Crossroad fills up, Power makes the final decision of what to do, Perspective decides whether or not their predictions come true (they can change their mind on that point), and Touchstone defines the popular reaction (including, potentially, moving the kingdom closer to or away from Crisis).
When the Time Passes track fills up, well, time passes. It could be months or years. The crisis track may or may not change during this time.
When the Crisis card fills up, the kingdom has reached some breaking point, and there's a procedure to decide whether it survives -- or falls.
If we're going to do this, I think probably we should just do 3 crossroads. The fastest a cross-road can potentially be resolved with 3 players is 4 scenes, and that's if everyone chooses to advance the Crossroad track at the end of their turn, instead of advancing Crisis or Time Passes.
What do you think?
In terms of lethality, I prefer middle of the road. Death should be a real possibility, but I'm not a fan of every fight being deadly. Too many PC deaths makes it hard to maintain any kind of consistent narrative.
It would be helpful for each of us to have the PDF, but it may not strictly be necessary. I've already got a copy -- let me review it and get back to you on whether anyone else needs a copy.
There's no reason plants and cities have to be incompatible. It could be very much an arboreal city -- most of the buildings are grown rather than built, with only a bit of finishing here and there to make them livable. They could be built high in the branches of the trees with catwalks and rope bridges connecting them; they could be in gigantic fungi on the forest floor. They could be enormous gourds that are grown in a few years, hollowed out and lived in for a few years, then discarded and replaced with new ones, yielding an ever shifting array of streets as people grow new houses and discard old ones.
The city might have a thousand and one problems -- but environmental issues ain't one of 'em.
@Asgetrion I don't think they're painted by people; they're mass produced. The painting is done by machine-driven airbrush; there is no washing or dry brushing, and any highlighting is done by more spraying. And the more layers and colors you plan on, the longer each mini has to stay in the airbrush booth, which pushes up manufacturing time (and hence costs).
So the painting is just never going to be as nice as something done by a human. I paint minis, and I like to think I'm reasonably competent at it. But I spend about fifteen or twenty hours per figure. So I'm grateful to have some half-way decent prepainted ones to supplement my own work, because there's not enough time in the world to paint all the minis I need.
Okay, here goes.
Length: longer is fine. I am kind of wary of something the length of an AP, though -- those take multiple years even in normal at-the-table gaming, and PbP just elongates things even further. This may be a side-effect of the fact that it took me seven years to finish playing Kingmaker, and I've been GM'ing Rise of the Runelords since 2011 and we're not quite done with book 5 yet.
One thing I've been thinking about is that since play-by-post games are inherently slower than other approaches, it might make sense to use the fast XP track. That is, if we're using XP at all -- I'm generally a fan of milestone leveling.
Rate: That's fine.
Pillar elements: eh? Pillars? This sounds like a bit of gaming theory that I'm not familiar with.
Rules: I like playing with the feat tax rules in effect, and I love background skills. I generally like rolling stats rather than point buy, but point buy is better suited to online play because it's easy to verify. Either the numbers add up, or they don't. So point buy is fine. As for the point value, I've been accustomed to using the heroic NPC stat array (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8) for almost all my builds for years, and that's a 15 point build. So anything higher than that seems like pure luxury to me.
Story elements: I'd like an urban setting. I've been running a campaign for a solo druid for years and years, which involves an awful lot of wilderness. Plus Rise of the Runelords involves a ton of dungeon crawls, which I don't actually like. It always struck me as crazy that all these enemies just sit in their own little rooms ignoring the sounds of fighting down the hallway and waiting for the PCs to kick down their door.
So it'd be a nice change to just be in a big city and stay there, building up relationships with NPCs and getting to know the place well. Plus I like playing rogues, wizards, arcane tricksters and the like, which work nicely in an urban setting.
Thinking of threats to urban settings, I think it would make sense to have some kind of internal threat rather than invading armies or similar. Maybe there's a succession dispute? Or perhaps the whole city has a general problem with corruption -- bribery, self-dealing by office holders, rampant crime and drug use, etc. Or maybe the internal threat is some new religion that's starting to take over. Or all of the above at once: a succession dispute in a corrupt city where a new religion is sweeping the land.
I might want to play an enchanter. I've kind of wanted to for a long time, but never found quite the right campaign for it.
Got mine yesterday, and unboxed about a quarter of it. Generally looking good!
One gargoyle had a broken wing, but what really puzzles me is this green ... thing. It's a lumpy piece of green plastic about the size of a mini snickers bar, with brown streaks on it.
I have two theories: either it's a shrubbery, or else it's something that an extremely ill dog left behind.
Paizo, seriously. Your site was down for a week. In the early stages of a vitally important playtest.
Down time like that costs you revenue, tarnishes your brand and erodes your relationship with your customers. You have got to get a handle on the reliability issues. They pose a very real threat to the viability of your business.
The Healer's Hands feat from Planar adventures says:
Benefit: You can use the Heal skill to treat deadly wounds as a full-round action. You do not take a penalty for not using a healer’s kit when treating deadly wounds this way ...
So I don't need to use a healer's kit. But if I do use one, how many uses are expended?
A) Two uses, because if you use it at all you have to use two uses as per the Heal skill description.
B) One use, because if you don't expend at least one use you can't get the +2 circumstance bonus from the Healer's Kit.
C) Zero uses, because the feat negates that requirement.
For myself, I'd happily house-rule that your healer's kit never gets expended if you have this feat; it's just a set of tools, like a set of masterwork artisan's tools (which grant an identical +2 circumstance bonus at 55gp instead of 50gp).
But I'd like to hear what other people think.
Crud. It's gotta be Crystilan. And I've been planning on using that in my Rise of the Runelords game. My PCs are going to have to carve their way into Crystilan with a runeforged weapon opposed to abjuration to retrieve some ethillion from a laboratory in there, and it could easily happen in the next 1 or 2 sessions.
Now there's going to be a whole bunch of new world lore to tap-dance around that I won't even know anything about until November at the earliest. That makes twice this month I've had to rejigger major plotlines to conform to published lore (the other was the update on Nocticula's goals in Planar Adventures).
Sigh. Such are the risks of doing homebrew in a setting with ongoing updates. Maybe I'll luck out and they'll go a different direction, at least long enough to get my hands on this issue ...
Touching base -- didn't get a chance to work on her backstory last night, but I can definitely do it tonight after work.
GM, could I get a bit more detail about the town?
Roughly how many people live in Issen?
Is Kagen's mansion in the middle of town? At the edge?
What did Kagen look like before he vanished? My PC will have interacted with him at least once in backstory.
Climate: It's northern and cold obviously, but can I assume there is in fact a summer (however brief) when plants bloom and such?
Terrain: What's the terrain like? Forested? Wide open plains? Hills? Flat? I'm looking at taking the Highlander trait (+1 stealth, and it becomes a class skill), but the flavor calls for mountains or hills to grow up in. If that doesn't suit the terrain, I'd be happy to just adjust the trait's flavor so it suits the area while keeping the same mechanics.
Incanter. No specialization, currently. She has the following talents:
One of those came from the Extra Magic Talent feat at 3rd level. For her bonus feats from Incanter, Cantrips and Spellcrafting.
I'm kind of considering taking the channel energy specialization, which would basically cost me one of those two bonus feats at this level. But I worry that we've got plenty of healing and not enough damage.
Oh, and using Charisma as her spellcasting stat. I was tempted to go with the boon that lets you use Constitution as your casting stat, but it didn't really suit the character in my head.
Great. On the languages thing, I'm building a half-elf (the plant-like features are cosmetic differences with no mechanical benefit). She's got Common, Elven, and can pick any one other language. I was thinking maybe a regional tongue? Or Sylvan. That's a fairly handy one.
I have her stats worked out, I think, but I need to spend a bit more time on her backstory. She's great at healing and buffing but has almost no offensive capability at all, so she absolutely needs party members around for combat, otherwise she's in big trouble.
Will post the finished version soon-ish -- probably tonight, possibly tomorrow. Oh, I've been assuming average HP.
A couple of queries:
First, to double check: 9-level Paizo casters are out, but you're okay with Spheres high-caster classes? Or do you want to limit to low- and mid-casters?
Second, do you plan to allow Advanced Talents?
Third, when you say that most magic comes from rituals, are we talking about flavor or occult rituals? Flavor would be something like "I trace the sign of the Heliat on my forehead with the blessed chrism and invoke the names of the Nine Angels", but it's still a standard action to that results in the spheres equivalent of Protection from Evil. The other would be something like "I have to pass six skill checks over six hours to do anything and don't get to do much else with my day."
Fourth, what races are allowed?
I have a weird idea for a plant person healer/buffer with talents in Nature and Life. Each night she must rest on fertile soil, and as she sleeps she grows flowers in her hair. In order to cast a spell, she has to pluck a flower from her head, dealing nonlethal damage to herself as per the Draining Casting drawback (p. 156). She'd probably also have the Magical Signs drawback, making her casting super-obvious with relevant nature-themed bits of flavor, like healing that consists of ethereal butterflies who swarm around the wound and then dissipate leaving it healed. Or similar.
I was thinking perhaps she's a Townsfolk who is the way she is because of Kagen. Maybe he blessed her when she was a baby. Maybe his abandoned tower has been seeping alchemical runoff all this time, and she's been mutated into a plant person by it. Anyway, one way or another he'd be responsible for her condition. I would need to put more thought into the exact details.
What do you think?
I didn't create it, just came across it, but this sunken ship would be perfect for a battle map for PCs who want to explore the wreck of the Paradise.
The best part is that it's just a photo of a 100% real ship. There's a version in the comments on that Reddit thread with the diving robot photoshopped out.
Re-read Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell.
Reading it as a kid I focused on the awesome adventure aspects. Karana struck me as brave and resourceful. I admired her total independence. She had the skills to start with nothing but some rocks, sticks, and dirt and wind up with a house and clothing and food and a bunch of awesome pets. I remember being particularly taken with the scene where she discovers what appears to be the burial cave of one of her own distant ancestors and gets trapped in it over night.
Re-reading it as an adult, what I totally missed was the dire, aching loneliness. All of those cool things she did were more than just a means of physical survival -- keeping busy was a coping mechanism, to keep her mind off the unrelenting emptiness of the island. And she accumulated all of those cool pets because she was desperate for company, any company.
The prose lends itself to overlooking her chronic distress. It's spare, lean, and focused almost entirely on physical action. It addresses what she does and how she does it. Her emotions are referred to only in constructions like "I felt" -- turning the classic "show don't tell" on its head. Doing so mirrors her own coping method -- Karana cannot allow herself to think about her loneliness, because to do so would give it power. It would eat her alive, take all her motivation, plunge her into a pit of depression that would be lethal both to her chances of survival and the book's pace. It is only at the very end, when she rejoins a human community, that she can finally allow some bare acknowledgement of the situation.
Deservedly a classic.
For the last few days I've been noticing that the "page loading" indicator for any page on the Paizo site keeps going for a long time after the page is apparently loaded. Further investigation has revealed that the pages are trying to load this file:
... but that subdomain is not responding to requests. So the loading indicator just keeps going until the connection times out.
While I'm here, I noticed a couple of other errors while I had the JS console open:
Blocked loading mixed active content “http://paizo.com/include/fonts/OpenSans-Regular/OpenSans-Regular.woff”
Prob ably means you've got a hard-coded HTTP somewhere which needs to either be HTTPS or else be protocol-relative (which has downsides of its own).
Since that's minified code I don't know that I can give you much more useful detail than that, but it appears to be something that's called when someone is creating a new post.
I use Photoshop. It's got a learning curve for sure, but you can make anything your heart desires.
Other options include:
Dungeon Painter, a program that I've never tried but that some people like.
Mapforge, a very recent program that uses tile-based content sets. I've played with it a bit but haven't taken the time to really master it.
That said, there are a ton of free maps out there. Take a look at:
The Battlemaps Subreddit, where there are quite a lot of maps of varying quality available for free. Styles vary wildly and there's no good way to search them, unforunately.
The Cartographers Guild has quite a lot of free stuff. Look at users' albums. Here's mine, and you should also take a look at madcowchef -- he went professional a while ago under the name Gabriel Pickard, but his older freebies are still there in his album.
#battlemap on DeviantArt has a bunch of cool maps. Once you've identified an artist whose work you like, go look at their gallery; you'll probably find more. Some names to check include Neyjour, Torstan, hero339, gogots and RonPepperMD.
If you're willing to spend a little money, there are about a bazillion pre-made maps, tiles, and mapping assets available in the Roll20 marketplace and in places like DriveThruRPG. A number of mappers also maintain smaller independent storefronts for their own work, such as Zovya RPG and 2-minute tabletop.
Hope this helps.
163. Rovagug's seal was on the verge of breaking; he spent his life's energy to reinforce it.
164. Rovagug's seal is on the verge of breaking; Aroden has departed this Existence in order to prepare a new one.
165. Aroden knew that so long as he existed, humanity would depend on his guidance -- and thus never find their own true destiny. Thus, he laid down his life to force humanity to grow into what it must, in time, become.
166. The Starfall Doctrine was correct -- Aroden really did return to Golarion in 4606 AR. By virtue of forsaking his godhood and being reborn once more as a mere mortal, whose works over this past century shall prove foundational to the age of prosperity yet to come, even though it won't be recognized for many years yet.