Rakshasa Maharajah

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#1 top download on the Paizo email mailer. Congrats, guys!

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Added to wishlist. Looks great - and I love Michael Tumey's starship artwork/maps.

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Paizo is one of the few elements involved in the making of 2017 with which I have no qualms, and much praise. So many congratulations to you all, and looking forward to 2018's new series of ever-amazings to help keep the world brighter (or darker, in some preferred cases).

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SteelDraco wrote:

So it looks like Seltyiel, at 1st level, has spellstrike - which a magus doesn't get until 2nd level.

I didn't see any description of why he gets this ability early. PRD confirms that it's a 2nd level power. Admittedly, it's an iconic (defining, really) power of the class, but it's still only supposed to show up at 2nd level.

Anybody know what's going on there?

He is right. It is still there, even in the current package, and he should not have it at 1st level.

Also, I am looking forward to seeing a pregen for Zova the Shifter. I am working on one right now.

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CRB Appendix 3: Inspiring Reading

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the fantasy RPGs that preceded it took inspiration from the great classics of fantasy fiction. The following list includes those authors and tales that specifically inspired Paizo Publishing in the creation of this version of fantasy RPG rules.

  • Barker, Clive: The Hellbound Heart, Imagica, Weaveworld
  • Beowulf (anonymous)
  • Blackwood, Algernon: “The Willows,” “The Wendigo,” et al.
  • Brackett, Leigh: The Sword of Rhiannon, Skaith series, et al.
  • Burroughs, Edgar Rice: Pellucidar, Mars, and Venus series
  • Campbell, Ramsey: Ryre the Swordsman series, et al.
  • Dunsany, Lord: The King of Elf land’s Daughter, et al.
  • Farmer, Philip José: World of Tiers series, et al.
  • Carter, Lin: ed. The Year’s Best Fantasy, Flashing Swords
  • Feist, Raymond: Riftwar saga, et al.
  • Gygax, Gary: Gord the Rogue series, et al.
  • Kuttner, Henry: Elak of Atlantis, The Dark World
  • Homer: The Odyssey
  • Howard, Robert E.: Conan series, et al.
  • Hugo, Victor: Les Miserables
  • King, Stephen: Dark Tower series
  • Leiber, Fritz: Fafhrd & Gray Mouser series, et al.
  • Lovecraft, H. P.: Cthulhu Mythos tales, et al.
  • Machen, Arthur: “The White People,” et al.
  • Martin, George R. R.: Song of Ice and Fire series
  • Merritt, A.: The Ship of Ishtar, The Moon Pool, et al.
  • Miéville, China: Bas-Lag series
  • Moorcock, Michael: Elric series, et al.
  • Moore, C. L.: Black God’s Kiss
  • Offutt, Andrew J.: ed. Swords Against Darkness
  • One Thousand and One Nights (traditional)
  • Poe, Edgar Allan: “The Fall of the House of Usher,” et al.
  • Saberhagen, Fred: Changeling Earth, et al.
  • Saunders, Charles: Imaro series, et al.
  • Shakespeare, William: Macbeth, et al.
  • Simmons, Dan: Hyperion series, The Terror, et al.
  • Smith, Clark Ashton: Averoigne and Zothique tales, et al.
  • Stoker, Bram: Dracula, Lair of the White Worm, et al.
  • Tolkien, J. R. R.: Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit
  • Vance, Jack: Dying Earth series, et al.
  • Wagner, Karl Edward: Kane series, ed. Echoes of Valor
  • Wells, H. G.: The Time Machine, et al.
  • Wellman, Manly Wade: John the Balladeer series, et al.
  • Zelazny, Roger: Amber series, et al.

GMG Appendix
The Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook presents a list of suggested reading that helped inspire those rules and the fantasy RPGs that preceded the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The following lists include and expand upon those suggestions, drawing also upon a variety of sources inspirational to fantastic adventures and even useful during play.

Recommended Literature
Duplicates from above have been removed. I could have missed some.

  • Alighieri, Dante: The Divine Comedy
  • Barlowe, Wayne: God’s Demon
  • Clarke, Susanna: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
  • Cook, Glen: Black Company series
  • Cook, Hugh: Chronicles of an Age of Darkness series
  • Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm: Grimm’s Fairy Tales
  • Kuttner, Henry: Elak of Atlantis, The Dark World
  • James, M. R.: Ghost Stories of an Antiquary
  • Le Fanu, Sheridan: In a Glass Darkly
  • Malory, Sir Thomas: Le Morte d’Arthur
  • Moore, Alan: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, et al.
  • Morgan, Richard: The Steel Remains
  • Ovid: Metamorphoses
  • Rosenberg, Joel: Guardians of the Flame, et al.
  • The Ramayana (traditional)
  • Sapkowski, Andrzej: The Witcher series
  • Shahnameh (traditional)
  • Sturluson, Snorri: Prose Edda
  • Stephenson, Neal: The Baroque Cycle
  • Verne, Jules: Journey to the Center of the Earth, et al.
  • Wilde, Oscar: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Recommended References

  • Aliens in Space, by Steven Caldwell
  • The Atlas of the World’s Worst Natural Disasters: by
  • Lesley Newson
  • African Mythology, by Jan Knappert
  • Barlowe’s Guide to Fantasy, by Wayne Barlowe and Wayne Duskis
  • Battle: A Visual Journey through 5,000 Years of Combat, by R. G. Grant
  • The Book of Imaginary Beings, by Jorge Luis Borges
  • Bulfinch’s Mythology, by Thomas Bulfinch
  • The Cassell Dictionary of Folklore, by David Pickering
  • Cause of Death: A Writer’s Guide to Death, Murder & Forensic Medicine, by Keith D. Wilson
  • Castle, Cathedral, City, Mosque, Pyramid, by David Macaulay
  • A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology, by John Dowson
  • A Cthulhu Mythos Bibliography & Concordance, by Chris Jarocha-Ernst
  • Deadly Doses: A Writer’s Guide to Poisons, by Serita Deborah Stevens with Anne Klarner
  • A Dictionary of Angels, by Gustav Davidson
  • The Dictionary of Imaginary Places, by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi
  • Dictionary of Symbolism, by Hans Biedermann
  • The Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology, by Michael Newton
  • Encyclopedia Cthulhiana, by Daniel Harms
  • The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, by Rosemary Ellen Guiley
  • Great Tales of Jewish Occult and Fantasy, by Joachim Neugroschel
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond
  • The Illustrated Directory of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures, ed. Ingrid Cranfield
  • Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, by Robert Graves
  • Mapping the World: An Illustrated History of Cartography, by Ralph E. Ehrenberg
  • Military History series, by Osprey Publishing
  • Minerals Encyclopedia, by Petr Korbel and Milan Novak
  • The Mythical Creatures Bible, by Brenda Rosen
  • National Geographic (periodical)
  • People’s Names, by Holly Ingraham
  • A Treasury of Irish Myth, Legend, and Folklore, ed. W. B. Yeats
  • The Voynich Manuscript (anonymous)
  • Warrior: A Visual History of the Fighting Man, by R. G. Grant
  • Weapons: A Pictorial History, by Edwin Tunis

Recommended Music

  • Arkenstone, David; Bush, Tracy; Duke, Derek; Hayes, Jason: various Warcraft soundtracks
  • Beal, Jeff: Carnivale, Rome
  • Bell, Joshua: The Red Violin
  • Carpenter, John: Halloween, et al.
  • D’Ambrosio, Marco: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
  • Dead Can Dance: Dead Can Dance, et al.
  • Elfman, Danny: Red Dragon, Sleepy Hollow, et al.
  • Fiedel, Brad: Terminator
  • Giacchino, Michael: Cloverfield, Lost
  • Goldsmith, Jerry: The 13th Warrior, The Mummy, et al.
  • Grieg, Edvard: In the Hall of the Mountain King
  • Herrmann, Bernard: The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, et al.
  • Holst, Gustav: The Planets
  • Horner, James: Aliens, Avatar, Braveheart
  • In the Nursery: Engel
  • Jablonsky, Steve: Transformers
  • Jones, Trevor: From Hell, Merlin
  • Kilar, Wojciech: Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  • Kronos Quartet: Dracula, Ghost Opera, et al.
  • Kyd, Jesper: Assassin’s Creed 2
  • Mansell, Clint: The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream
  • McCreary, Bear: Battlestar Galactica scores, et al.
  • McKennitt, Loreena: The Mask and Mirror, et al.
  • Morricone, Ennio: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly, The Thing
  • Navarrete, Javier: Pan’s Labyrinth
  • Newman, David: Serenity, The Phantom
  • Nine Inch Nails: The Fragile, et al.
  • Orff, Carl: Carmina Burana
  • Pelican: City of Echoes
  • Poledouris, Basil: Conan the Barbarian
  • Saint-Saëns, Camille: Bacchanale, Danse Macabre
  • Schubert, Franz: Death and the Maiden
  • Serra, Éric: The Fifth Element
  • Shore, Howard: Lord of the Rings
  • Uematsu, Nobuo: Final Fantasy series, et al.
  • Vangelis: Blade Runner, et al.
  • Williams, John: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars, et al.
  • Yamane, Michiru: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
  • Zimmer, Hans: Batman Begins, Gladiator, et al.

Recommended Films

  • The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, dir. Nathan H. Juran
  • Aguirre, the Wrath of God, dir. Werner Herzog
  • Alice in Wonderland, dir. Tim Burton
  • Army of Darkness, dir. Sam Raimi
  • Big Trouble in Little China, dir. John Carpenter {DEG}
  • Braveheart, dir. Mel Gibson
  • Brotherhood of the Wolf, dir. Christophe Gans
  • Clash of the Titans, dir. Desmond Davis
  • Conan the Barbarian, dir. John Milius
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, dir. Ang Lee {DEG}
  • The Dark Crystal, dir. Jim Henson and Frank Oz
  • The Descent, dir. Neil Marshall
  • Dragonslayer, dir. Matthew Robbins
  • Elizabeth, dir. Shekhar Kapur
  • Excalibur, dir. John Boorman
  • The Exorcist, dir. William Friedkin
  • From Hell, dir. Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes
  • Gladiator, dir. Ridley Scott
  • Interview with the Vampire, dir. Neil Jordan
  • Jaws, dir. Steven Spielberg
  • Jason and the Argonauts, dir. Don Chaffey
  • House of Flying Daggers, dir. Zhang Yimou {DEG}
  • Kingdom of Heaven, dir. Ridley Scott
  • Ladyhawke, dir. Richard Donner
  • The Last Winter, dir. Larry Fessenden
  • Lawrence of Arabia, dir. David Lean
  • The Legend of Boggy Creek, dir. Charles B. Pierce
  • Lord of the Rings Trilogy, dir. Peter Jackson
  • Master and Commander, dir. Peter Weir
  • The Mummy, dir. Stephen Sommers
  • The Name of the Rose, dir. Jean-Jacques Annaud
  • The Neverending Story, dir. Wolfgang Petersen
  • Night of the Demon, dir. Jacques Tourneur
  • Ninja Scroll, dir. Yoshiaki Kawajiri
  • The Omen, dir. Richard Donner
  • Pan’s Labyrinth, dir. Guillermo del Toro
  • Pirates of the Caribbean Series, dir. Gore Verbinski
  • The Princess Bride, dir. Rob Reiner
  • Princess Mononoke, dir. Hayao Miyazaki {DEG}
  • Record of Lodoss War, dir. Akinori Nagaoka
  • Rogue, dir. Greg McLean
  • Seven Samurai, dir. Akira Kurosawa {DEG}
  • Sleepy Hollow, dir. Tim Burton
  • Spirited Away, dir. Hayao Miyazaki {DEG}
  • Stargate, dir. Roland Emmerich
  • Suspiria, dir. Dario Argento
  • The Thing, dir. John Carpenter
  • The Thirteenth Warrior, dir. John McTiernan
  • Trilogy of Terror, dir. Dan Curtis
  • The Wicker Man, dir. Robin Hardy
  • Yojimbo, dir. Akira Kurosawa {DEG}
  • Vampire Hunter D, dir. Toyoo Ashida

Dragon Empires Gazetteer Inspirations
...Furthermore, countless movies helped to guide and inspire the development of the Dragon Empires—far too many to list here. Instead, presented here are a few mainstays—“required viewing,” if you will, for anyone who’s looking for more inspiration on running a Dragon Empires adventure.
((Duplicates from above have been removed, and marked as {DEG}. I may have missed some.))

  • 13 Assassins, dir. Takashi Miike
  • Curse of the Golden Flower, dir. Yimou Zhang
  • Godzilla, dir. Ishiro Honda
  • The Hidden Fortress, dir. Akira Kurosawa
  • The Host, dir. Joon-ho Bong
  • The Legend of Drunken Master, dir. Chia-Liang Liu and Jackie Chan
  • Master of the Flying Guillotine, dir. Yu Wang
  • Once Upon a Time in China, dir. Hark Tsui
  • Ong-bak, dir. Prachya Pinkaew
  • The Ring, dir. Hideo Nakata
  • The Warrior, dir. Sung-su Kim

Lantern Lodge

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Todd Stewart wrote:
Kvantum wrote:
Lev wrote:
I want the same book for good and neutral upper planes, written by Todd Stewart.
Shouldn't it just be a full trilogy - Planes of Purity, Planes of Balance, Planes of Corruption?

:D

I promise Paizo that I'm not setting up forum proxies to beg on my account. I can do all my begging for such on my own. ;)

LIES! Don't even believe this one for a moment! I caught him just the other day hacking my account for specifically that purpose..... Damn proteans....! ....Can't trust 'em for even a moment.

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Sajan only needs a new year's resolution because the rest of these sloughing lolligaggers are rubbing off on him. If it wasn't for Valeros always taking up a room in the tavern that serves the most bloating ale and food in town, and then working it off with a new wench every night, Sajan might have actually stood a chance at keeping his physique up without a lot of effort. He might even be better off if it weren't for the fact that the two craziest members (the barbarian and the rogue) getting Unchained alongside him... along with... are you kidding me? The gnome summoner? Of course he is feeling like he needs to refine himself. Sajan is probably feeling dirty and unloved right now - an emotion better suited for the magus.

As for Seltyiel - whatever, boy. Eat your heart out. This genie has you in the bag. Maybe you can get those abs without any effort at all - the next time you make an infernal deal with some wretched, dark being, for more personal power.

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<3 <3 <3 THREE CHEERS FOR PAIZO, THREE CHEERS FOR THE JACOBSAUR, AND THREE CHEERS FOR VOLUME ONE HUNDRED!

I was just looking over Escape from Old Korvosa (#9), and showing it to a friend who is a new player, describing how far the product lines have come in that time. The world we live in is better off by having Paizo in it, doing the amazing amount of amazing that they continue to do.

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Adam Daigle wrote:
Eric Hinkle wrote:
Adam Daigle wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:

The Reptoids are based on the aliens from the show "V".

....
To be clear, the idea of reptilian humanoid creatures (from other planets or time periods) posing as humans is MUCH older than that 80s series.

I'm curious, just how old is it?

Myself, I thought the reptoids were based on the, well, highly unique views of David Icke.

As far as I know, Howard's usage is the oldest I'm aware of.

I also always think of Icke, even before thinking of "V."

Myths about reptilian humanoids are old, worldwide. Native American tribes carry several stories, especially out west near New Mexico/Arizona. As do African tribes (specifically the Dogon, among others), certain Aboriginal traditions, and of course, the reptilian nagas of India (I won't go into a long discussion on how PFRPG nagas are more like Conan/AD&D than they are like true naga mythology, but we love them anyway). Plus, how far of a stretch is it from reptilians to dragons, considering more than a few flying snake-beast-things that can often change shape are spoken about in different parts of the globe? I could go on.

Just looking over a few pages of this discussion, all I can say is: Nice work, Paizo. To the rest of you: Clearly, you just need to find a way to get this book. I am still laughing at whoever asked if there were UFOs in here. LOL, no. Maybe vimanas will be featured in a Vudra adventure (...if I don't get to it first).

And to those of you discussing those reptilian shapeshifters, you obviously need to put your tin caps back on - AND, do you need to be reminded once again of the first two rules of the Shapechanger Wars? Think Fight Club. There is no war. There are no shapechangers. You are mistaken. It was swamp gas. Leave it alone. Go back to work.

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To everyone who worked on this, the core-rules stuff for Bestiary 5 +Occult Adventures, and the CS products over the course of this release season: Wow, wow, wow, and wow. Not only did you do the occult/psychic/esoteric genre well, you literally set a standard for gaming material that is truly mind-blowing in scope and imagination.

For everyone who included the bizarre conspiracy-theory stuff - THANK YOU. You just lightened my future design work load by SO MUCH.

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Adam Daigle wrote:
xebeche wrote:
Thank you, Paizo staff and contributors. Thank you for pouring your heart and soul into one of my favorite activities. Thank you for publication after publication keeping the great ideas flowing. After skimming the PDF I'm truly impressed.
It's posts like these that make the stressful days better.

I want each and every one of you Paizonians to pause and take a big deep breath. You all rock. Some of us re-discover this with each new product, but often say very little. Our silence is filled with our joy..... And the sadness of our player characters, as your new critters and villainous NPC options help us destroy their bodies, minds, and souls.

Occult Adventures seriously made me so happy that I couldn't properly respond to its amazing potential for gaming and storytelling. Wow, wow, and oh heck yeah. Waiting for my PDF, whereupon I will also be joining into the happy dance of infinite dooms.

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Cthulhudrew wrote:
What a great way to go out- I have been admiring the artwork in Hell's Rebels part one since it arrived in my mailbox a few days ago. Some of the best artwork in an AP so far- I'm looking forward to seeing what comes in the next several episodes!

I was just commenting recently about how Hell's Rebels design format is some of the best I have seen yet, and how it pushes me to maintain a higher level of design standards in my own next/ongoing projects. It is truly remarkable and broadly appealing in a big way.

I think the art, layout, and general feeling of the adventure path and other products are a driving force behind them remaining marketable and accessible even from an outside audience. It's hard to see changes in staff like this from all angles, but it sure is great to see such a lasting legacy on the game/product, and on the community, from any one of the very many talented people this game brings together. This sort of dedication to creativity and high quality is what sets Paizo apart, IMHO.

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So much love for this. This book clearly cannot arrive fast enough.

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Todd Stewart wrote:

1) You're braver than I am by starting out at such high of a level.

I've got no experience with mythic PCs (as opposed to antagonist NPCs or monsters) in actual play, so I can't help out much there.

Yay, bravery! Wait, does this mean that I actually gained levels in fighter? Sweet!

Clearly, the entire thing would need to be playtested properly and then revised for balance and concept. I should really spoiler the rest of this.

Spoiler:
Given the wild nature of the central plane (Limbo/Maelstrom; and in this case, I have gone for the 3e concept, 'Limbo as the Edge of Reality,' where we are at the furthest edges of the planes - a place where the elements come to die, merge, and be re-born in various ways too bizarre for mortal minds to comprehend), it means the end-result could be wildly different with just a few bizarre d% rolls with uncontrollable magic results.

Quote:
2) Normally, something from the elemental planes of the Inner Sphere affecting things in the Outer Sphere would be a bit rough IMO, just given the seriously vast intervening distance through the Astral between the surface of the Outer Sphere and the Inner Sphere. But the use of artificially established portals (tears in the fabric of space in this instance) is nice.

Silly mortals, attempting to understand the infinite by using linear distance!

I made each major encounter around a central site or elemental dominance that is part of the underlying transition between these connected ancient portal sites. That way, there is a theme - it can be varied - it can be abandoned - and the PCs are still high level and adventuring where they want to go.

Quote:
3) Are the praying proteans attempting to stop or accelerate the activity of those portals? Having multiple -and not necessarily actively aiding each other- groups of proteans might be nice to see, given the very much non-monolithic protean chorus structure.

Agreed. So far, undetermined, but protean groups will be placed on the random encounter tables nearer to that scene. It is possible that the proteans are unaware or complacent about the nature of the portals, being more concerned about worshiping the mythic energy beings inside the asteroid cave. (Looking forward to drawing that map.) Also, please notice I tried to make some cool focal point scenes where 3d movement can be used (aquatic and aerial regions), so everybody's cool abilities, spells, and similar stuff can be worthwhile to everyone. Also, I love Cerulean Seas.

Quote:
4) Don't make the Maelstrom just seem like a wilderness with random encounter rolls. Give a region a theme and adjust that over time to show it shifting either slowly or not so slowly, and influenced by whatever other planes are nearby (if in the Maelstrom shallows) or have it be completely crazy. In the words of your friendly-just-happening-to-wander-by-imentesh, "The Cerulean Void is everything/nothing is constant except for the expectation of inconsistency and oh even not never ever that little mortals. Dance on the cusp of shooting stars a pleasant view of crumbling realities melding/merging/digesting/dyinglivingdyinglivingagain... but this has nothing to do with why you're here hearing my laughing thoughts/poetry in your brains such hissing lovely words on fleshy cerebrums a consistency of pudding... so sorry to ramble cannot help myself/You asked directions?"

And the stuff. Of the things. With those ideas. The cool ones. ;) I'll make a map. It will be nice.

Seriously, though, given the major focus of the "natural hazards" and weather-like phenomena, wild nature of the plane, and purposefully staying away from other major sites after leaving the city of Utopia/Axis - isn't it exactly like a wilderness, in many ways? This would really just be adding a new series of connected locations into a big open vast, rather than trying to tie in anything nearby (save for the first and primary motivator in the story). I was sort of hoping to make the Shimmering Way a new region/sites, and trying to make it really big, old (meaning its influence could be bigger than is easily imaginable), and hopefully at least a little bit undefined. I planned on putting up the original path of the mythic titan that made the breaches, and putting it into the continuation of the adventure.

Please trust me when I say I am not cataloging all of the elemental and astral/ethereal themed creatures in the Bestiaries for no good reason. Madness, yes, but with a methodology.

Air/Sky, Deadly Vapors, Deep Earth, Fey Grove, Fire, Fungal Caverns, Glacier/Mountain, Smoke/Mist, Verminous Pit, Volcanic, Water; also, Invading Outsiders, Astral/Nightmare, Ethereal/Shadow

Any other more specific suggestions about the Maelstrom itself? Or even other regions/interactions?

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Of the 2,000,000 XP plus 3,000,000 XP plus 4,200,000 XP needed to go from 17th to 20th level (9,200,000 XP total), the following encounters make up a portion of that budget, and allow for hazards/traps, and random encounters drawn from specifically-built lists for the regions with elemental, energetic, or other dominant planar traits. Scenes 1-3 provide 633,800 XP (17th level), scenes 4-7 comprise 2,918,900 XP (18th level), and the final scenes 8-10 make up 2,331,300 XP (19th level), including a wide array of traps/hazards in scene 8. These are outlined below, along with the adventure's over-arching concept.

For groups using mythic tiers, I am designating each of these scenes as either standard encounters (negative-CR or CR +0 to +1), M1 common mythic encounters (CR +2 to +4), and M2 powerful mythic encounters (CR +4 or more). Most of these will include how to add more foes or hazards that will work for both additional PC party members, as well as additional mythic tiers.

Scenes 1-3:
Beginning in either the Material Plane world, or after having been brought to the planar city of Utopia (or the subterranean City of Thieves), the adventurer's are asked to accompany a scholarly expert (Elemental Priest, CR 15 - NPC Codex), who is both in need of protection of superior explorers, as well as willing to provide the services of a guide and escort, on his way to the yet-unknown source of the bizarre planar weather approaching the city of Utopia. After discovering the portal which is one of many known as The Shimmering Way, a series of breaches between the planes created by an ancient destructive titan. The mythic hekatonkheires is not encountered in this adventure, but a normal "hundred-handed one" does appear in the arena scene.

Traveling through Limbo includes variable elemental dominance traits, but more and more water-dominant as the PCs approach the first breach. Cold vs. hot water dominance is the primary conflict that will be resolved before the end of scene 2. Scene 1 is mostly random encounters and hazards, peaking with cultists of destruction left behind to deal with groups like the PCs, following the same path. Scene 2 concludes with a battle between elemental groups (air- and water-dominant) who are trying to stabilize the planar breach's elemental output in their own favor (water=cold/ice, air=hot/steam), and takes place in a fully aquatic, underwater region around the central portal. The PCs have the option of allying with one group or another, lowering the challenge and possibly receiving story award XP in place of the rival group. Each group includes an elemental kineticist, and possibly both genies and standard elementals. After this battle, scene 2 ends by traveling through the planar breach (possibly after altering its behavior and traits on either side), to a cavern system on the Plane of Earth. The elemental priests scholar is left behind to study the breach.

Scene 3 is completed when the PCs encounter the main dark folk group who is summoning forth their shadowy overlords, and which is nearby to the currently-hidden first soul gem of the Devil Tyrant. The PCs return from the Plane of Earth to Limbo, before seeking out the next breach.

17th-level Encounters:
1) Departure from Utopia: Along with earning 45,000 XP story award for accompanying the NPC scholar (CN Elemental Priest, CR 15), the Destruction Cultists (EL 16) include the following:
  • Unseen Archer, CR 14 rogue (NPC Codex)
  • Mad Prophet, CR 12 Pathfinder Chronicler (NPC Codex)
  • Death Priest x2, CR 8 cleric (NPC Codex)
  • Cultist x2, CR 8 adept (NPC Codex)

2) Elemental Battle (M1): Each of the two competing factions is led by an air/water elemental kineticist (CR 15), along with a group of genies/elementals (EL 15 combination). PCs may come into conflict with both parties in order to achieve their goals, or they may form an alliance of a temporary or more permanent sort.

3) Dark Folk Incursion Ritual (M2): After possibly encountering a dark folk exploration party in the caverns, the larger group is found conjuring forth owbs and more powerful shadow beings. +1 mythic tier earned for mythic PCs by this scene's completion. This group includes the following:

  • 9x Dark Caller conjurers (CR 9 each)
  • Dark Folk group (EL 15), made up of different types
  • 3x Owb Occultists (CR 14 each)
  • Mythic Owb (summoned, CR 15), plus CR 15 kyton

Scenes 4-7:
When the PCs move on from the first breach with possession of the first soul gem, they can seek out information about the gem's nature, or follow the planar breach path to the air-dominant region floating metropolis. Efreeti and Djinni cultures vie for control of the region (fire/air), as well as possession of the second gem. If one soul gem or the other is missed for any reason, the planar trade excursion group will be the final de-facto method of finding the second of the two gems, to prevent single-fail challenge pitfalls. A competing group of adventurers seeking out the soul gems is the third encounter of scenes 4-6, and these can be run in any order. Finally, either by capture, commission, plot-hook, or other motivator, the PCs are pitted against two opposing titans, and could ally with one or the other to gain an upper hand against the other - and this will lead to a second arena challenge, with the PCs + allied titan against the enslaved hekatonkheires in scene 7. Whether or not the death titan is killed in battle, he leaves the arena (either by escape or other liberation), to head back to his planar fortress in the next scene. It is possible that is impossible, if the PCs kill the titan for good - in this case, replace the titan with an EL 23 group of daemons and destruction cultists.

18th-level Encounters:
4) Elemental Nobility Feud (M1): Two rival groups of EL 17 air/fire genies and their elemental servants must be dealt with to access the planar breach, and provide the opportunity to acquire/steal a soul gem from the site.

5) Planar Trade Excursion (M1): Whether as a group who wishes to take a soul gem away from the PCs, or if the PCs must acquire the soul gem from them, this group of traders of the planes is possible combat or story encounter. A CR 16 mercane arcanist/aristocrat is accompanied by a group of x5 CR 12 witchwyrd magi, and their planar gypsy wagon (vardo).

6) Competing Explorer Group: This EL 20 group of morally-bankrupt CR 16 adventurers (all from NPC Codex) is competing for the acquisition of the soul gems, and the secret goals of those who put these plans into motion. It includes:

  • Herald of Armageddon, cleric of Rovagug
  • Elven Recluse, fighter
  • Black Ice, shadowdancer
  • Spirit Avenger, eldritch knight
  • Vaultbreaker, arcane trickster

7a/7b) Arena Battles (standard/M2): In the first arena battle, the PCs encounter both a thanatotitan and Elysian titan, and could fight one or the other, or both. The PCs have the option of using mythic power to grant divine power to the Elysian titan, increasing it to CR 22 (cleric spellcasting ability). This could include forging temporary or permanent alliances with one of these titan groups, and if allied (or pissing off an arena patron), the PCs will have to face an enslaved CR 24 hekatonkheires titan while battling along with their new titan ally. The death titan is most likely freed or escapes, to be encountered in scene 8, at its own planar fortress.

Scenes 8-10:
As the titan's fortress passes into the Astral Plane, siphoning energy from both Limbo and the nightmare realms beyond to restore it to its prior state, the PCs must infiltrate the floating island fortress, encountering all of its internal hazards/traps, as well as the titan and his minions. Since the destruction cult members have recently begun using the siphoned power to fuel an obscure ritual to begin a new apocalypse of the planes, there is potential for wildly fluctuating planar traits during these encounters, and the fortress could end up in either Limbo, Leng (nightmare realm), or the Astral Plane. Following the leads found in the fortress about the third soul gem near the source of the Shimmering Way's breaches and other motivators, the PCs will finally head to the asteroid-like object formed around the first breach created by the legendary titan in the ancient past. A choir-cult of proteans worshiping at the entrance to the cave surrounding the breach, the third soul gem is located outside the entrance to the cave within the asteroid which surrounds the breach, followed by the final scene with two unique variant plasma oozes which are known as the "Energy Lords of the First Breach." The death titan has unique treasure/gear, increasing the creature's CR +1, most of which is placed at the planar fortress.

19th-level Encounters:
8) Fortress of the Death Titan: Along with a lot of wards, possible haunts/hazards, and the following servants of the death titan, this multi-encounter castle/dungeon delve culminates in the final showdown with the CR 22 titan (CR +1 with unique gear found in the fortress).
  • Mithral Wizard, CR 19 eldritch knight
  • Demonologist, CR 19 loremaster
  • Godstealer, CR 19 arcane trickster
  • Death Master, CR 16 mystic theurge

9) Protean Choir-Cult (M1): This EL 21 group includes the following proteans. +1 mythic tier for mythic PCs by the scene's conclusion, or before scene 10.

  • 2x keketar proteans
  • 2x CR 15 imentesh rogue proteans
  • 5x CR 14 naunet barbarian proteans

10) Energy Lords of the First Breach (M2): Two unique plasma oozes (built to be similar in concept to energons from 3e) form an EL 22 pair, a Huge-sized CR 20 mobile skald plasma ooze outsider, and a Colossal-sized CR 20 advanced caster with slow oracle abilities (possibly Outer Rifts and/or Spellscar mystery abilities). Both energy lords are feeding off the planar breach, enraging them both - lowering the rage energies coming from the breach can make the encounter easier or less wild magic trait effects.

Unsolved Mysteries:
  • 1) Who instigated the soul gem plot? Who wishes to bring about the downfall of Asmodeus/the Devil Tyrant?
  • 2) What is the location of the other soul gems (up to five or more, in total)? What is the ultimate result of the ritual which will use the soul gems? Does it harm or benefit Asmodeus, and is it just another deception?
  • 3) What was the ultimate plan of the dark folk, and who leads the group from the Shadow Plane and other worlds/realms?
  • 4) What will be the impact of the actions by the PCs in the feuds between rival elemental groups, and will there be any new results?
  • 5) Possible expansion of the arena scene (Coliseum Morpheuon), and additional plot hooks, especially concerning the war between the titans and deities.
  • 6) What is the outcome of the PCs actions upon the planar breaches, and the planes to which they were connected?
  • 7) Are the Energy Lords the true dual-deities of the protean race, or is there yet another, more powerful force which they worship/revere?
  • 8) Possible continuation: The original titan, creator of the breaches of the Shimmering Way, could be tracked down and slain to prevent more destruction. Hekatonkheires antipaladin CR 30 + MR 10.
  • 9) Possible continuation: joining the crusades against rival titans (Elysian Titans vs. Thanatotitans).
  • 10) Possible continuation: What happens if the destruction cultists are successful in the first step of their plan to destroy all the planes?

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UnArcaneElection wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

gives me inspiration for at least the concept of a series of Adventure Paths set on Earth, with most covering 3 to 6 years each, and the upcoming pulpy-sounding Occult Adventures sounds like it would fit very well with this.

That's a win. World of Darkness meets Occult Adventures on Earth meets every AP on Golarion happening alongside each other in some form of game-world parallelism. Excellence! ....And 16 chapters and counting....

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Zhangar wrote:

I like mythic play, but certainly can't recommend starting PCs at tier 7. That's just asking for a massive headache.

If you want to do mythic, start with no tiers, but allow people to start gaining tiers after certain critical events. And 1 tier at a time.

Okay, so let's assume that the goal for this is beginning at 17th-level with no mythic tiers, for the sake of argument. That said, I am still writing sidebar material that can help increase the mythic potential. I am much more open to hearing potential major problems, and ways in which they can be "too quickly/easily" overcome by mythic PCs. Please trust that I can make interesting and creative balance factors to the story that will make it worth the time of all involved.

Also, let's be clear: writing the adventure doesn't make decisions for the players at the table - it merely tells the GM how prepared you are willing to make them for such an adventure, and the GMs/players always make the final call about how their game is going to go down. The only thing I can do is provide preparation for foreseeable risks and imbalances.

I agree that 7th-tier is high. It was a maximum-range number, to show that anything higher than that is truly impossible, no matter how much the players want to "break" the system by playing "too powerful." It also allows for further adventuring, rather than a conclusive end-scene at the adventure's finish.

Quote:

Mythic tiers allows PCs to fight things way, way out of the weight class of normal PCs - that's kind of the point, even.

Which means you need to be ready to pit them against foes that are normally way out of the weight class of normal PCs.

Done, done, and done. Like I said, sidebars to describe alternative versions of foes for higher challenges. Not difficult. It's just math.

Quote:
You'll also want to think of the nastier rocket tag things that can come up with mythic, and whether (and how) you want to tone them down should they prove problematic.

Let's also assume for a moment that I have no idea exactly what you just told me here, but that I recognize it's importance anyways. What specific worries are there about high-mythic-tiers, before we go much further into details? What elements allow players to "steamroll" opponents, without enough of a challenge?

Also on the topic of mythic, even though I am uber-interested in the newly-released 3pp mythic rules, I have not had an opportunity to see the new expansions - and will purposefully not include anything from it here until I own the set of new books/PDFs. For the sake of this, all mythic material would just be from the core PF book.

No matter what other elements play into this, only two newly-acquired mythic tiers are possible in this story arc, without further GM alteration, and it will explicitly state not to allow above 9th-tier, to make sure there is still room for expansion beyond the adventure. How many adventures are out there to allow characters to journey above 20th-level within the context and confines of the story/adventure? How many times have you wanted to max out a class to 20th+ level, or felt like being the full 10th-level of a prestige class, but couldn't play an adventure written for it?

If it was up to me, I would take this even higher - and give you all a 137th-140th level adventure. But there are limits to the math as it stands now, and I am not writing new epic-level graph materials right now. I'm trying to actually put real boundaries on this thing, so it doesn't just go on forever. :P ;)

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So excited for this - and it definitely makes up my mind about how to invest in the CS subscription over the next months.

Clearly, I am a fan of everything behind this. There is a lot of demand for more details about a lot of places (you think?), and it would be a great first step toward getting an expanded-world hardcover, which would always be a lovely addition.

Exotic locales always get me, and this includes many of the ones I need to help flavor more of my fan adventure arc, which is set on Tian Xia, Southern Garund, Vudra, Sarusan, Castrovel and other possible sites that help instigate the players' love for the setting. Between the upcoming hardcovers, Occult Adventures, and Bestiary 5 which seems to focus a lot on the occult side of things, it's clear that I am going to have almost everything I need in order to keep moving forward. So awesome!

I'm really glad that Paizo is doing well. I am glad these great authors and designers are still doing such great work, and keeping up at the long-term goals, along with keeping us all in the loop. It's always exciting to see products that can help develop our creativity, and the way in which we all can interact with the game world and its stories.

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Here goes...

Adventure Outline:
Beginning at 17th level (with optional Mythic Ranks up to 7th tier), the adventurers are called by a contact of someone in the planar metropolis of Utopia/Axis - possibly from a Material Plane world, but without a lot of details of how the adventure begins - because an elemental storm is passing ever closer within the vastness of Limbo/the Maelstrom, and may well threaten the stability of the planar laws around the city/plane, along with a scholarly motivation to understand the nature of this planar phenomenon. The adventurers must accompany a lore-scholar NPC on a journey into the watery/icy tail-end of a series of portals/breaches that comprises the arc of the adventure (including their destination planes on the other side of each of them). What unfolds shows the portals to be the places where an ancient hekatonkheires titan crashed through the planes many times during a legendary era long ago, and the journey to discover these breaches, their inner mysteries, to get loot, resources, and mythic power - and possibly even heal or repair the effects these portals are having on the already-wild and chaotic Limbo/Maelstrom, as well as all the destination planes linked to it.

Every portion of the adventure's duration spent journeying through a vast expanse would be spent in an elemental-dominant or generally chaotic planar space, with focal scenes on the portal sites themselves, with wild magic and law-defying effects being the major theme besides each of the elemental focal points. Beginning with a Water-dominant region, into the Plane of Earth (and back to Limbo), the adventurers will also delay an incursion by members of the Shadow Plane intent on spoiling the energies brought on by these planar breaches.

After this, diplomatic and war efforts will be needed to ally against a mutual foe with members of either Fire or Air elemental nobility, who are at war with one another near the next planar breach. Along with coming across a planar trade caravan of Mercanes and Witchwyrds for a very specific meeting purposes (either combat or dialogue/story award), and an EL 20 group of prestige class member NPCs on a competitive trajectory to the PCs, there is the possibility of an expanded planar arena scene, or a more limited basic plot: the PCs are captured or coerced into participating in an arena battle with an Elysian Titan and a Thanatotic Titan (with the potential of allying with one of them, and fighting a further shackled hekatonkheires), and the freed or escaped Thanatotitan becomes the next major antagonist, after he heads back to his ruined planar castle fortress.

Sieging the planar fortress of the titan means dealing with magic traps, minions, and the titan himself, who is accruing more dark power for itself to destroy the creation of the gods, and all mortal life as well. Daemons get involved here, to try and influence things toward destruction and armageddon. All the elemental themes were wrapped up in the prior segments, and the rest will tend to deal more with Astral, Nightmare, and Ethereal natives being more involved and antagonistic. Finally, at the "headwaters" of this planar anomaly, a group of proteans is praying to a mythic energy being inside the core of a large asteroid-shaped earthen object, and resist the involvement of the PCs at almost any cost. Following this encounter, after journeying into the interior of this stone structure, they encounter a pair of variant plasma oozes that are siphoning planar powers from the last breach in the series (and ironically, the first place the original titan used its Planar Leap ability to crash through the planar boundaries in a far-ancient time).

Along the way, the PCs learn that each of these portals is just the lingering effects of one single titan's planar leaps and boundary-crashing, and can affect the outcome of the future of these portals and their use, or even closure or other "repair" as the adventure progresses. A series of incredibly interesting and priceless Soul Gems of the Denier (Asmodeus) is laid out as MacGuffins along the way to be collected - three in all over the course of this adventure, but possibly more at the GM's discretion - most players will end up being more interested in collecting the calcified atheistic soul gems of the god of devils than they are in repairing any portals or studying planar anomalies in the Maelstrom. The goal with all of this is to make an adventure that leads to other adventures, and dropping a few extra occult/mystery aspects to it, to make sure that players and GMs can make their own epic story out of any decent included plot hook. The first gem is discovered when confronting natives of the Shadow Plane (dark folk) as they attempt to conjure their masters into an underground region within the Plane of Earth, but are mostly unaware of its presence there. The second gem is found or won during the encounter with the Air/Fire elemental nobility (or with the Planar Traders, as a backup); it's possible that the PCs will have these stolen from them, destroyed, or otherwise put in peril, to be recovered during the titan's castle scene. The third gem is in the asteroid structure as part of the energon/plasma oozes' horde, and it may not hold any significance to them whatsoever. It is assumed that five or even more gems exist, as arcane components for some terrible ritual that could make or break the divine power of Asmodeus, the Prince of Lies, and his denial of his godly peer's power, which formed into the ruby soul gems during his rise to divine power (basically, his denial of the angel, Ihys' godly power, as well as the murder of the being, sealed his fate, gained him divine power, but also created the atheist soul gems as part of this infernal pact of the long-lost past, and a potential heresy against the Church of Asmodeus).

The whole Limbo segment would make sure to include trait-dominance and weather-like effects to solidify the random nature of the region, and random encounter tables for high-level elemental and other planar foes would be included in each section in between major encounters detailed. The mythic set up would be built to begin at either no mythic tier, or 7th-tier for alternate stats for those PCs who begin play with mythic power. Mythic tiers would be gained +1 at the acquisition of the first soul gem, and +2 before the mythic energon/plasma ooze concluding scene.

I have already begun putting together elemental foes for random encounter tables, and compiling all the wild magic/primal magic information, including spells, Stable Spell feat and metamagic rod, and unique effects. There are many ways in which this adventure could have multiple possible outcomes, all of them fulfilling the basic requirements of finishing the adventure.

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Very much looking forward to this, now for a variety of reasons. Also sad to see SMH toward psionics. Oh well, DSP products still sell, so some people can just continue to cry all they want; luckily, it won't make any difference to the industry.

As I continue to write and flesh out my fan-created adventure series, Return of the Annunaki, I will certainly continue using DSP materials (via Ultimate Psionics), and once this product is released (as we did with Advanced Class Guide), the amazing Justin Sluder and I will put together NPCs that include a diverse set of materials, including both psionics and psychic magic. I don't plan on including these materials until the mechanics are finalized, however - which means that these new classes and material will not be included in Book One, which already has a completed outline and drafts (along with the completed 1st-level adventure, 'The Crime Ring').

Kundalini energy will be talked about by NPCs/PCs in 3rd-level, 'To Enter the Serpent's Den,' revealed by a young naga patron of the Nagajoran nobility. This energy system is represented by two intertwined curving lines on the floor of an encounter area within the Nagajoran Royal Palace, and serves as the basis for ancient naga spirituality, which is linked back to Vudra. So, yay for Kundalini being included in core materials!

Going to download the playtest materials now. ;)

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Very exciting. :) Glad to see this.

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Skeld wrote:


** spoiler omitted **

-Skeld

Explain?

Spoiler:
Hivebrain Symbiote?

Man, I want this to ship out, like, now.

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But not too soon to start pulling out our hair (if any), and screaming at the screen, "WHEN, DAMN YOU?!? WHENNNNN?!?!?!"

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After making some of the more grueling decisions about the long-term opponents and plot hooks, I also made a post about a general outline of all the books/levels on this thread: http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2miv3&page=2?Design-your-AP#54

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Title: Return of the Annunaki

This can be run as a sequel to Serpent's Skull, or as a standalone AP. As each segment is compiled and published, it will be posted here. This adventure arc is meant to include psionics, mythic, technology, a tad of third-party publisher (3pp) material, and the use of the options presented in Ultimate Campaign, such as Downtime, Kingdom Building, and Mass Combat.

If Serpent's Skull is run first, it is recommended that it include mythic adventuring options applied to the pre-mythic published adventure.

Themes: Reptilians, ancient history, world travel (gates, space travelers), planar themes, and mythic adventuring

Locations: Tian Xia, Southern Garund, Vudra, Sarusan, First World / Planar, Castrovel / Planetary

Book 1 (Level 1-5): Revealing Serpent's Blood
What begins with a crime ring setting up shop in a small and isolated town in southeastern Tian Xia leads the PCs on the trail of a worldwide conspiracy. After making unlikely allies with the patrons of Nagajor, they are sent with an ancient gateway to Southern Garund, to unlock more secrets of the past, and to secure global resources in their ongoing battles against isolated cultists and fanatics bent on world domination. Resources include a section on Minatan Pirates (Tian Xia), a full Ecology of the Naga-Kin, a Player's Guide, and information on the ancient mythological beings known as the Ancient Ones, or the Annunaki.

Book 2 (Level 6-8): The Rise of Giants
As the PCs explore the ancient ruins of subterranean serpentfolk bases filled with exotic technology, they finish some of the alliance they began in Book 1 (Southern Garund), and across several continents they find the rising up of genetically-enhanced reptilian giants has become a real threat to their goals, and to those all around the world. Finding ancient mythic, psionic, and technological resources can tip the balance in their favor, so long as they stay ahead of the yet-unknown enemy. Resources include a full description of the descendants known as the Blood-Kin of the Ancients, and a section on Southern Garund.

Book 3 (Level 9-11): A Legacy of Bloodshed
After dealing with one of several processor stations for the AI used by the Annunaki's ancient tracking systems, and discovering several key pieces of clues of further technology to help tip the balance in their favor, the PCs head to Vudra at the behest of their Nagajoran allies. As they uncover more plots to kill them, cultist groups, and powerful psionic and reptilian villains with plots for world domination, the revelation of a powerful undead leader and its sleeping lover colors an already bizarre secret culture of fanaticism and psychosis. PCs will temporarily take on the mantle of undeath (mythic) in order to properly infiltrate the final underground base, and will have the option of retaining this undead nature when the adventure segment is completed, if they so choose. Resources include a section on Vudra, and a detailed section on the new goddess, Amaditi-teratsu, created specifically for the adventure.

Book 4 (Level 12-14): Creations of Blood and Scales
Further continuing their descent into the ancient underground bases of the serpentfolk and other Annunaki blood-kin, the combination of cultists, assassination attempts by similar parties coveting the accomplishments and resources of the PCs, and revealing more details of the wicked past which once and again afflicts Golarion with despair and malevolence, all stand in the shadow of the great tyrant that is growing in the depths of space and time. The PCs must destroy this newest menace, even though the return of even more powerful beings is already in place, and this leads to the final confrontations in Book Six, while also wrapping up the themes of sacrifice and bloodshed presented within Books 1-3. Resources include a section of the Valashmai Jungle, and the Ancient Valashmaian Culture which once ruled there.

Book 5 (Level 15-16): Destiny in the Stars
All planar and interplanetary themes are explored, detailing all manner of notions of the ancient past, alternate parallel Material Plane worlds, and the ancient pacts between the progenitors of the nagas and serpentfolk, as well as dragonkind. The draconic menace is not only dangerous, but interplanar in origin, with strong ties and holdings in Tian Xia and Sarusan. The PCs must first travel to Sarusan - a feat in an of itself, at least if they wish their memory to remain intact after their visitations - in order to temporarily ally with the Primal Lords of that distant land, and once again take on the draconic armies of eastern Tian Xia and their reptilian leaders. Resources include a section on Sarusan, and on the extinct race of mysterious technologically advanced humans known as the Ancient Taumata.

Book 6 (Level 17-18): Return of the Ancients
Wrapping up their allegiances to the Primal Lords of Sarusan, and closing off the route/method used to access the ancient lands, ties to Castrovel and the First World are explored, revealing the final pieces to an ancient mystery, and the inevitable return of the pantheon of mythic rulers who claim superiority over technology and the mortal races. Various threats seek to take what the PCs have acquired in their travels, while advanced psionic technology and giant robotic suits from the ancient past seem to be the only thing stopping them. When the Annunaki finally arrive in their massive sky-vessels the size of ships and cities, descending to the world's surface to reclaim their ancient empires, will it be the beginning of the end, or an age of liberation and enlightenment? Travel off-world will occur, and the final AI menace plaguing the Pantheon of the Royal Mantles will finally be confronted. Exploring the possible outcomes of the adventure arc, as well as a wide variety of post-campaign adventuring ideas, will take PCs all the way to 20th-level and full mythic potential, including more adventuring sites on other worlds and planes. Resources include a section detailing the Technology of the Serpent Overlords, and a section on Annunaki worlds, detailing the many world over which the empire rules across the Material Plane and other realms.

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Very, very nice work. My next goal is to figure out how/where to incorporate making it mythic.

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Samy wrote:

I think the thing that bugs me about Shardra is that it's not explicitly stated that she's trans. It's subtext that one can choose to pick up on, but I think the text is hedged enough that one can also choose the interpretation that she's not trans.

I mean, I would never have even thought she was trans if I hadn't read this thread. All I took home from the text was that she was born biologically female but her parents tried to raise her as a male, and that her awakening was just her asserting her original biological gender. Which is an interesting enough angle in itself. And frankly, that's the way it still reads to me.

I'm fine acknowledging that officially, apparently her genitalia actually changed. But the picture I have painted in my head so far, she's not trans, she just had messed up parents.

sarcasm:
Messed up parents?!?! But those don't exist!!! All parents are endowed with the wisdom of the ages since birth. To even imply otherwise is offensive to me in every way possible. I cannot believe you would even waste the digital letters to make such an audacious and self-righteous comment. Such an idea is a complete waste of my time, and I can't believe this discussion board thread exists at all, given its potential to incite ideological rhetoric like this!

Way to be a jerk, Samy. Now I am going to go back to what I was doing before, thinking only about things that line up with my own personal ideology, because ATLAS SHRUGGED.

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Thanks, Monrail. I have zero idea what that creature is in your profile image, but I am going to take a wild guess and say that you will probably really enjoy the overall themes of the adventure arc. Reptile people, psionics, advanced technology, genetic tampering in the ancient past, you know - all the good stuff.

I had this idea for a very very long time now, and originally wanted to set it on ancient Earth, but would obviously have taken a lot of extra effort, support, etc. - and then, after Paizo put out Dragon Empires, and included gigantic reptile people in the ancient past in southern Tian Xia (the Valashmai Jungle expanse), it was like, "Uh, yeah - done, and done." As far as I am concerned, this is the perfect setting for it, and the only way to do it is free.

So my hope is to make it one of the best free adventures out there, and for people to really be able to make it their own, and play it in the way that best suits their own gaming groups - whether that is core-rulebook-only, advanced options, psionic options, mythic, using mass-combat and downtime rules, or whatever. I'm really glad you like it, and hope you get a chance to see it played in action. It's a really fun 1st-level adventure, and I think it should turn out to be a pretty amazing and thought-provoking adventure series. So I don't make any extra money off it? Meh. It's all good. It's a lot of fun. :)

Oh yeah, I should add: in case you're only seeing the content on this forum thread, make sure you check out this page: https://sites.google.com/site/returnannunakiadventure/ - this is the actual adventure content as it is posted. Currently, the Player's Guide and 1st-level adventure is published and posted up. (Not sure if everyone is aware of this, but it is there.) This also gives the actual proposed scope of the project. Ambitious? Yes, a tad. I like it. :D

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Ok, since I seem to be the only one to say it: the VALASHMAI JUNGLE on Tian Xia?!?!? Awesome. Joygasm. Now if only my budget were that excited. Damn you, Paizo. Damn you straight to the Abyss. I cannot even define how badly I need this now. Damn you - damn you good.

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I love the fact that so many people feel that the notions of time and space somehow present actual problems or limitations for a divine being (of Divine Rank 0 or higher, by 3.5 standards). Deities are not mortals, and limiting them in the same way as mortals show just how unimaginative we little critters can be.

Desna is a recent focus of mine, because I am working on a new deity who is sort of an aspect of her. I have taken significant time going over her origin, story, and lore about her evolution and coming to Golarion. In addition, in any publication I have on deities, while the deities are noted as performing many activities at certain times, or even in relation to some other event at another time, there is nothing written anywhere that would definitively prevent a deity from performing their actions in the past, future, or far away on another world.

Time and space are mortal limitations, and constraining deities to them unnecessarily limits and constrains their divine potential. Especially when you consider how Paizo no longer uses Divine Rank, simply stating that the gods are gods, and either more or less powerful than one another usually by "how old" they are, etc., it really goes to show that trying to break them down into neat little categories that all make perfect sense to mortal reason is a vain and purposeless effort. Divine power is one of the few things that is allowed to just be what it is, without having a bunch of reasons and crutches to prop it upright.

I'd love to hear the official word on that one, but it seems to me that putting these kind of boundaries on a truly divine being is the first mistake one makes when categorizing them.

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Sarpah is actually a really decent and reasonable choice, I think. In any case, I think what we would be defining would be the word used in any given language to define a race that simply thinks of itself as "people" without the comparative equality to humankind to worry about how that might get confusing for them in their silly audible noise-communication.

Perhaps Sarpah (or Sarpati; sounds feminine to me) is the Vudrani word (and the most precise and respectful when acknowledging them in person), which is the root of Taldane's "serpent." In Tian Xia, it could perhaps be Jian-Zi (Orochi-bito in Minkaian), and my earlier suggestions might be in Aklo or another language, while in their own telepathic communication, they are simple "people" or "folk" (with the subtle, underlying emphasis on the fact that they stand on two legs, again under-handing naga-kind like any other race).

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I am in agreement - Set's idea is pretty wicked awesome. Sounds like the beginning of an Ecology to me. ;) :P

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Yeah, I am going to stick with my urge to wrap the Dominion up into the biomechanoid Alien/Prometheus mythos, using genetic manipulation and transformative reproduction of organic and inorganic materials. That would be the coolest notion.

This thread should have been named, "Ask James Jacobs all your COLD DEATH SPACE-ALIEN DARKNESS BLOODY GRIT METAL DOOOOOOMMMMM!!!!!...... here."

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In Stargate: Atlantis, the Wraith have a whole bunch of types of technology which are essentially organically-based, can heal themselves, have limited energy production/efficiency, and based on digital data, processed almost like thought patterns. A ship can be grown from a seed, which infects a humanoid victim, using their own nervous system to grow, expand towards electro-magnetic fields (energy conduits), and protect itself from harm - this infection is an organic-metallic compound which begins soft and pliable, becomes tough like leather, and finally solidifies into a substance which is almost completely immune to high temperatures (often from entry into an atmosphere), solar radiation, and other harmful effects of the void of space. It also assimilates both organic and other materials as it grows, eventually becoming a "hive ship" with its own personality and 'designation.'

There is something VISCERAL, which is the key component of Giger's work, which makes it so personal and terrifying to empathize with. If DotB is anything like this, then Mikaze's ideas are definitely on the right track. It's funny how so much of the "critical analysis" of this subject seems to end up sounding more like dark poetry than anything else, as if the mortal mind is attempting to understand something so foreign and beyond measure that it can only define it in subtle, intuitive, adjectives and emotions.

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I am a fan of M101,not that that is an arguable reason to place it there. Unfortunately, eliminating galaxies based on unrelated mythos is probably not the most effective or methodical means of ascertaining Golarion's location in our universe. Dragonstar galaxy (even though it is a previous edition) is a good bet.

My mythos has always seemed to be a complete destruction and re-creation of the universe through each new edition, which means that Golarion would only exist in one of a multitude of possible realities in which the universe was made manifest in one of an infinite possible number of ways. Although my last universe was not completely destroyed, it is assumed that the localized interplanar event which caused the "home" world's destruction at some point probably spread out to the rest of the universe, or at least a decent chunk of it. In addition, an AI being named Goth was poised to assimilate at least one entire universe (Material Plane realities) and possibly many others, and I can only assume that at some point this did in fact occur. When you consider the interplanar implications, and the infinite possibilities of the universe based on the information we have about quantum mechanics, it's actually much more difficult to try and discern a world's possible existence in our own, as opposed to one of an infinite number of others which are unrelated and disconnected from our own, except through said quantum mechanics.

Let me just say how squee-ish I get about someone including Goa'uld in a discussion on fantasy RPGs. :P I love me some Stargateses.

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Runelord of wrath, riding a barded T-Rex with mounted wands of scorching ray, surrounded by orcish barbarians wielding Numerian ship-guns.

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Erik, in case you missed them, there is also a thread on Verces (the one that inspired me to put this one up), and now there is also one starting for Eox. I suspect the lovers of all things fantasy/SF will continue this legacy, until all the Distant Worlds have been covered. I know I, for one, am enjoying the way that these discussions are opening up new possibilities, and striking off inaccuracies or impossibilities.

Thank you for clearing up the formian issue. Jeff Erwin shared some links earlier in the thread on the Farley Radio series, as well as some general stuff from the Pulp Venus line. Those helped me immensely in my own musings.

It seems to me, that now that we have a clear and decisive ruling on formians, and since we know so much about them from earlier RPG sources, that would make a good next-big-thing to discuss here. Some of the people on this thread even felt that, while monstrous humanoids make sense, it would also be cool to have some of the castes be something else - as an example, the queen being an aberration, and the smallest drone-like bugs perhaps being magical beasts (Improved Familiars). Erik, I am talking to you here - you have more strings to pull than we do.

Also, we may still need some clarification on Castrovel's satellites. Someone even said that Castrovel's moon orbits closer to the planet than Golarion's, so making Castrovel have much more dynamic weather - but I do not remember reading that anywhere. Confirmation?

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Huzzah! A Paizonian has found this brainstorm! *dances*

These concepts of the sleep-inducing and trance-like effects of a sentient mist of colorful, disembodied intelligences are about enough to make a sci-fi fan cry in sheer joy. Possessed lashunta and elves, and a concept for the Ocean of Mists, all at once. Very nice.

Okay, okay, Jeff - the Eden can have a weird pulpy dark side - but it has to be elusive and mostly stays inactive - there has to be a persistent enough reason to call Castrovel heavenly or Eden-like, that doesn't go up in a puff of smoke as soon as you say that it's been there for thousands of years.... Again, I just wish we could stray far far far away from the restrictive norms of Golarion (the freaking PRISON PLANET, mind you), and all its aboleth-y, demon-hordes, devil-pacts, Leng-natives, etc. Just once, I'd like to describe a planet where the current disaster isn't one that has taken a thousand different faces over the years, just tearing civilization apart and letting it reform again and again and again in a nightmarish cycle of continuously new and unique disasters (or the same old things over and over).

Obviously this "pulp Venus analogue" is going to have Paizo's own unique spins on it, and I welcome them - but I don't think all of them need to fall on old tropes of the Golarion sort.

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Yes, but why is it colorful, and why is it ocean-like? I am thinking hallucinatory terrain in a psionic variation, which takes on physical substance (ocean-like water), made to conceal a secret and ancient civilization below the "waves." Obviously, it's Mythical if it's anything. ;)

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James Jacobs wrote:
I can't say for others here at Paizo how they felt—don't wanna put words in their mouths. For me... while I do appreciate that the thread got us to re-examine our policies and priorities as regards FAQs and errata, and in a few cases resulted in some "about time" posts from Paizo on some long-term unanswered rules questions that had been festering... I think that the way the thread started and evolved was pretty humiliating and antagonistic and unfortunate. And I'm not sure how much, in the end, has changed, apart from the fact that I now feel quite a bit more self-conscious and timid on replying to some of the questions that get posted here, which if I were a customer and not an employee of Paizo, would annoy me even more.

I just want to say something kind and honest for a moment, as a complete derail. I know that one person cannot possibly hope to make up for the atrocities that some people are capable of, but I for one see *exactly* how awe-inspiring and wonderful the work that you all accomplish, and how you treat your customer base - even this thread is an example of incredibly high caliber of human understanding and care that goes into your work. If no one has said "thank you" enough to you today, "thank you." Paizo devs and all people I have had the good fortune to deal with, are kind and personable people, who care about the game and the community that grows around it. If not enough people have apologized to you today for indiscretions made without much care or thought, I can only hope that one "I'm sorry" is enough to let you know that I - and many others like me - see exactly the level of professionalism and personalism that goes into everything you guys do. And I appreciate it so much, I can barely put into these words, and still feel like I am sharing my truest thoughts. You all rock, and I am so glad that you do what you do, and that you take the time for things like this - that I'm sure doesn't have to be your high priority!

I could list off the people that I feel share this caliber, but it would be more prudent to simply name the people I haven't actually personally dealt with. All Paizo employees and developers I have dealt with are, in my opinion, exquisite examples of ethical business in practice, and succeeding. And that makes me one happy gamer.

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Following up on a spamming permission allowance. I have been pondering an adventure series based on the idea of the ancient serpentfolk returning - and no, I mean an even more epic one than Serpent's Skull.

I began putting it together when I realized all the necessary bits were there, and Paizo's setting even had a decent setup for it too. 'Return of the Annunaki' is the working title of this idea. It is definitely a full Adventure Path worth of scenarios, challenges, and ways to follow-up on the adventure series itself (epic campaigns).

http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2p9dz?Campaign-Arc-Idea-POSTSerpents-Skull-AP

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When finishing up 'The Naga Financier' (2nd level), the PCs will be able to deal with the final fall-out from their alliance with other groups from their home island (this place needs a real name soon), and if they are in need of any XP due to lack of other encounters or other losses, it can be made up by making sure to secure a few things in the final portion of this adventure.

If the PCs have allied with the people of Rimija, these locals must be safely returned home, and contact made with the council and Major Captain of Rimija. Tell them of the events that have taken place, and answer any questions they have - in return, make sure to compare knowledge against their own. Find out that one of the council members of Rimija is, in fact, the sister-in-law of one of the culprits involved in the crime ring (the half-elf monk is the brother of a human, the husband of the council member in question), but she had no knowledge of his involvement, besides a general sense of his upset with the region and its authorities, including the lead members of the northern Temple of Amaditi-Teratsu.

If the PCs have allied with the pirates of Belem, it will be mostly dependent on the specific pirate clan they allied with for the strike on the crime ring, though in most any case, the PCs will have made a temporary peace with the most honorable of the pirate clans, and secured a peaceful truce with them and the town of Rimija for at least the duration of this strike. If the PCs can convince them to swear never to attack or raid Rimija again (or for a specific period of time), or even to help guard the city against rival pirate clan attacks (obviously with a very serious payment or exchange for such measures), award them additional XP, even if they are not deficient for the level (at the GM's discretion). If the PCs have allied with both factions (Rimijan locals, and any pirate clan) for the purposes of this strike on the crime ring leadership, award them a +2 circumstance bonus to any checks made to secure these deals at the end of the adventure (+4 if they have allied with the most honorable of the pirate clans). Payment or exchange of services/goods can influence these checks as normal.

The captured artisan that is being held here does not want to fight, but he will defend himself (concerned that the PCs may just be pirates with just as terrible intentions for him), and he is commanded to defend the Chaos Priest verbally (or with an item) - when the priest and all other opponents are defeated, he will surrender, begging to be spared. The PCs can Diplomacize or Intimidate the captured artisan (blacksmith, who aided the alchemist in the first adventure portion to build his explosive devices) into revealing his background and purpose here. He is actually from another world/plane altogether, sent on a minor errand of significance to the Temple of Amaditi-teratsu, when he was captured by the pirates and sold to the crime ring leaders, who found his purpose to be helping them with their grandiose schemes. He can also reveal other information about their activities prior to the PCs' arrival, or even plans he may have overheard them conspiring, but only if he believes his life is not in any danger. By returning him to the Temple, the monks there have the means by which he was originally supposed to return to his own lands, which exist in another dimension. He may be able to return in a later part of the adventure, to help the Temple monks/clerics, or to reveal more information from the edge of the planes about the serpents or other related activities. He is not a major NPC, but the encounter with him (and dealing with him following the strike) will be the first of many benchmarks where the actions/alignment highlights of the PCs will form the basis of their continuing and future activities. Dealing with this NPC harshly or not helping him do something very simple to return to his own world could make future opportunities for the PCs simply disappear, or become significantly more challenging. Much like dealing with the runelords and sin (the themes of Azlanti dualistic cultural schisms), the actions of the PCs will inevitably be defined in their comparison to the behaviors and actions of the Annunaki and their followers - and though it is not meant to be a clinical perspective on their individual alignments, players will not be able to help but compare the outright evil and neglect for personal rights of the Serpent Overlords. This is to be the first of many events which will come to highlight this comparison and analogy. Evil-tending characters may naturally find the enticing allure of the overlords appealing, but this should be presented as time goes on as the most self-destructive of all options available, considering how the Annunaki and their minions view the other races. By slowly being exposed to their cultural and behavior, the PCs have a chance to easily contrast their own views to those of the Annunaki Overlords.

This adventure concludes with the PCs gaining one level, and an extra 50 XP if all of the standard encounters are met for the adventure segment (3,050 XP total for these encounters: Serpent Mage-Priestess [CR 4], Chaos Priest [CR 2], Captured Artificer [CR 3, passive enemy], Emperor Cobra [adult, CR 5, fragile & conspicuous mitigating item present], Nagaji Chaos Lord [CR 3] & Nagaji Grunts [CR 4], 1x Advanced Necrophidius [CR 4], 1x Young Emperor Cobra [CR 4], Begrudged Monk [CR 2], Serpent Summoner [CR 2], and Hired Ship Captain [CR 1] & 3x dogs [CR 1]).

The powerful necrophidius are meant to serve as emblematic of the deep funding that has gone into this tiny little crime ring, as a means to ensure its success. Any items or wealth in the canyon hideout can also help enforce this notion. All wealth should be in addition to the serpentfolk statue that is discovered, since this is a unique item which cannot have any real value attributed to it, as it plays an integral role in the next adventure segment. Naturally, the pirates will discover it first (if the PCs have not allied with the pirate clans, the statue could be placed in another nearby site to be discovered at the same time, or any non-PC character could attempt to do the same), hide it away to make sure they get to keep it, and will then wish to do away with it by forcing it upon the PCs during the next adventure segment.

The other item worth noting is the magical serpent-charm device in the larger cavern chamber, which is seen controlling the adult cobra, and all its children still present outside the lair. This is a strangely fragile and conspicuous item, which is incredibly unique - it is unlike any other item or style of craftsmanship that anyone on Golarion has ever seen before, no matter the outcome of the Appraise or other skill checks made on it. It hangs from the ceiling of the chamber, suspended by what look like metal claws or insect legs, grasping firmly onto the stone above. The bulbous crystal casing glows a pale orange-magenta, with a deep crimson serpent symbol inscribed on its exterior, lined with black, and inside the semi-transparent shell can be seen some sort of throbbing creature, which appears dark against the glowing liquid it floats within, and moves only occasionally, and in quick jerking motion, like a baby kicking inside a mother's womb. The crystal shell is contained within metal braces, which form a protective and ornamental casing for the strange pod.

This ceiling-mounted magic item is 40 feet up from the floor, and emits an effect which produces charm animal, dominate animal, and speak with animals that affects all snakes within 1,000 feet of the item, and charms these animals to a single creature (the Serpent Mage-Priestess, and her intended allies, which she designates prior to the fight). The creature inside the item acts as the carrier of these commands, and maintains a telepathic link between the designated commander and the serpentine animals. The snakes can send and receive communicated messages to the Vishkanya commander, but they cannot receive new commands - the snakes retain the last command given ("Defend" commander and allies), and it takes one minute while communing with the strange item within 50 feet to give it a new command, which the Serpent Mage-Priestess will not do under the normal circumstances of the adventure. This item has an AC 10 (touch 5), hardness of 2, and 10 hp - destroying it immediately ends all effects, and always kills the creature inside. When inspected closely, the item is shown to be completely unique (from the Annunaki culture pre-dating the Serpent Empires of history, and coming from the nagas of Vudra), and the creature inside the red crystal shell appears to be a fetal humanoid creature with heavily snake-like features, and several times larger than a normal human fetus, with a massive over-sized cranium which has throbbing veins - this fetal creature floats in a vat of vital fluids, and cannot survive without these fluids and the functioning item. PCs that destroy the item to release the snakes from their commands always kill this fetal creature, and they cannot repair the item under any circumstances, lacking the technology and magic necessary to create it. Even though the Emperor Cobra is a CR 5 encounter (with full XP rewards), the placement and ease of destruction of this item lowers the encounter danger significantly. It is up to the GM to decide how to handle it if the PCs do not destroy the item during the encounter, for the purposes of appraisal, sale, or other use. It is not intended to survive the encounter, but to present a relic of a bygone era and culture so advanced and sickening that it uses psionic fetuses of its own kind as a means of producing mind-controlling magic. In reality, this fetal creature was likely genetically produced for the specific purpose of inhabiting and fueling this magic relic, long, long ago - and the means to recreate it is simply gone. The captured artificer can relate this fact to the PCs, either through simple examination and knowledge of the world accrued thus far by the NPC, or from overheard conversations by the crime ring leadership.

The naga's identity can be specified in this adventure portion, but the PCs will not have a chance to deal with the being one-on-one. This naga represents a conglomeration of groups within naga culture among Nagajor and Vudra which has a specific set of goals, and these goals are not necessarily those of naga-kind as a whole. While all nagas are descended from the Annunaki, not all of them are loyal or compassionate toward the goals or philosophy of the ancient Overlords.

The pirates may wish to deal with the hired ship captain on their own, and depending on the circumstances of his involvement, deals made with the crime ring, and the honor of the allied pirate clan, this good be for good or bad. Most NPCs involved in this segment are either fanatical and willing to die for the cause, or else help enlisted to this end (who may be much less willing to fight and die for a questionable cause). Fanaticism and racial heritage of ancient promises by the Annunaki color the perceptions of most involved in this adventure arc, and that can be presented heavily during this portion.

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Mikaze wrote:

It's actually a really cool new spin on ghouls Pathfinder introduced in Classic Horrors Revisited, I think initially to explain the otherwise seemingly arbitrary elven anti-ghoul immunities and the reason some ghouls look fresh and some rotten(and not dependant on age):

Kabiri, the Demon Lord of ghouls and possibly the First Ghoul was apparently an elf. His role as the progenitor of ghouls shows in their appearance in "fresh mode" - Ghouls that curb their diet and stay "fresh" in appearance wind up looking like white, hairless, red-eyed elves.

Although there is absolutely no precedent for a connection between elves and the first world, I tend to think of elves as being fey-kin, and perhaps influenced by the activities of the First World (which does connect to Castrovel, and may have very strong ties). Even though this is not detailed anywhere, the idea that the ghoul-elf relationship is one that makes a non-elf undead take on an elf appearance, sounds to me a bit like a twisted variant on the effects of the First World, in a warped undead variant. Since these are essentially polarized groups, and since undead behavior/physiology is often a warped mockery of more "pure" things, it makes a little sense to me. Perhaps Kabiri was once a native of El/Sovyrian/Castrovel.

MMCJawa wrote:
And new plant/fungoid races might be expected.

I have always wanted to play an intelligent vegepygmy. And - ooohhhh - maybe a plant/fungus race-creature that has an insectoid appearance...? Two birds with one stone! Ha!

I learned a long time ago, while writing about "furry" races - that even if you're not a "furry" but you still write about them, you're pretty much one of them. lol! :P I do love catfolk - I think it's a rub-off from one of my friends in high school, who had a catfolk tarot deck, and always talked about loving kitty people.

I am considering all psionic material from DSP's Psionics products on the table here. Even though it doesn't necessarily have to be a "high psionics campaign" and the world doesn't need to be littered with psionic items and their highly-progressed builders, it is the perfect setup for anything from those books. I own both Psionics Unleashed and Psionics Expanded - and look forward to Ultimate Psionics, which may include them both, and then some. Ophiduans (a reptilian psionic humanoid race similar in appearance to serpentfolk) would be a perfect inclusion.

Lastly, "beast men" - as I have learned in my own research for Nymian Beastlands - can mean a huge number of things, none of which seem to carry many limitations with them. In that sense, this is a very open niche, and could be filled by any one of a number of savage or primitive races. I made one called the Rubili (Rubil, singular), which is a more creative and realistic rendition of the Wildren race presented in D&D's Planar Handbook. That race was sort of crude and unwelcoming, so I made a severe revision to it (both mechanically and visually), to make a primitive beast-folk that could be thought of as a savage common race. They sort of look like strange warthogs, with big fore-claws for digging, hoofed toes, and a hunched appearance.

I didn't realized the many-legs things was Akiton. I thought it was Castrovel's own thing. I have been wrong before. But as Jeff pointed out, these two planets have the strongest ties and trading connections with one another, and nothing limits them from having pulled many-legged saurian critters from Akiton far in the past, and now have a native breed of their own on Castrovel!

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Dragon78 wrote:
Also Catfolk can be found on this world as well another reason I like this planet.

I cannot find text confirming this, even though I believed it was true. I remember reading that catfolk are found in southern Tian Xia, and decided that they could be on Castrovel, too - but this is not substantiated by anything. I welcome corrections.

Neothelids could work very well here - nothing big is mentioned regarding the subterranean depths of Castrovel. Any psionic races might be expected - however, I would be hesitant to just go plopping in any race without purpose or proposed origin. Distant Worlds does mention savage and beast-like humanoids of the wilderness who are less used to new faces, but does not specify them. While it could seem easy to just add any race we might enjoy or want there, they really need a specific origin and purpose, no matter what. It's important that we don't go too far overboard in how much we ascribe to the world, if there is indeed no precedent for it.

I personally think that the Serpent Empire of Golarion's ancient past could probably have been a much more potent and diverse force, and like Jeff Erwin's comments regarding Vudra and the nagas/nagaji, I think there is the real possibility of ancient ties to the serpent races. On that same line of thinking, lizardfolk/troglodytes make sense both as savage races, as well as possible tie-in's to the serpent races of the ancient past.

I personally also prefer a world where the massive looming darkness of the Dark Tapestry nightmares, undead horrors, and other hellish figures are not completely ransacking the place. Instead, a quiet and enjoyable place worth defending or made more interesting through something bad which is completely out of place, seems much more interesting for a change of pace. Maybe there is something protecting them from these things - ancient pacts, deteriorating ancient magics, etc.

Jungle-ish races are nice and all (and definitely following the themes of The Nymian Beastlands, which I enjoy), but the origin and purpose of any race added to the Castrovel docket should be very specific and necessary to the inclusion of any race not specifically mentioned. Since we can pretty much expect not to get a whole slew of comments regarding newly-revealed Golarion lore, we should try and keep it as clinical as possible, and let each GM add/delete as they see fit, but try and not add a whole bunch of stuff that doesn't have any real precedent. As much as I want to say the serpentfolk ancestors were there, it's not right to say it if there's no proof or surefire possibility of it.

It does say that the inter-world gates between Castrovel and the other worlds (except Aucturn) are sometimes used, and outsiders are not completely unknown to them. Castrovel and Akiton have the closest relationship via these gates of any world in the planetary system. That would mean that the races of Akiton would then become the highest possibility for inclusion, above those of Golarion. There are red-skinned lizardfolk on Akiton, but they are acclimated to the desert temperatures of Akiton - they could have descendants on Castrovel who are now acclimated to the jungles (once more, perhaps).

Jeff, I'm not sure what you are talking about, with the connection between ghouls and elves, although if it involves drow, I am not entirely sure that Castrovel has any drow - the event that spawned them being on Golarion, they might not be there. Can you explain the connection between elves and ghouls?

Mold-storm yellow musk zombies are an excellent idea.

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Ever since The Inner Sea World Guide included descriptions of the other worlds outside Golarion, along with the spell, Interplanetary Teleport, the potential to visit some of these distant worlds have made them take on quite a bit of mystery and flavor, and with some recent releases - most notably, Distant Worlds, and in fact, the deceptively-named Inner Sea Bestiary - there is some real material to begin fleshing out several of these worlds in much more vivid detail. Much like the thread on Verces which inspired this one, this is an open space to discuss the world called Castrovel, the Green, and its everyday goings-on, its culture, and how it may have gotten that way. It might even be helpful to use this space (and the Verces thread) as a drafting space to help make the information available freely on PathfinderWiki.com more detailed and comprehensive about these alien worlds.

Castrovel is a lush planet of humid jungles, where huge beasts roam, and the lands are tended and looked over by several humanoid groups - the lashunta and the Sovyrian elves - as well the native outsiders, the formians. Because of its dense atmosphere and close proximity to the sun, Castrovel is lush, humid, warm, and savage. The elves of Sovyrian are of the same heritage as the elves of Golarion, and share their relationship during the events of Starfall and the beginning of the Age of Darkness. Little is written of the Colonies of the formians, save that they are the eternal enemy of the Lashunta and the elves. They are ruled by many queens, by a conceptual figurehead called the "Overqueen" (rather than a real figure), which were allied during an event called the Meeting of Queens.

Finally, the Lashunta - are included as playable character race/NPC stats in the Inner Sea Bestiary - are the last piece of the social puzzle on Castrovel, and by far and wide, seem to be the most interesting and complex of the groups. Psionics (telepaths and telekinetics, especially) are common, and their spell-like abilities exhibit this theme as well. They are sexually dimorphic - the males are very different in appearance and mentality from the females - but all of them seem to share a scholarliness and civilized nature, despite the loose feudal system that is in place between the segments of this race and its lands. These are the antennae-bearing humanoids which ride on saurian lizards (sometimes depicted with multiple additional limbs, and some without), with psionic powers, often scantily clad (it's because of the hot weather, I swear!), which rule in a sort of civilized savagery that borders on tribal governance, but with the apparent sanctioning by the elves of Sovyrian.

The capital of Sovyrian is called El, and lies in the central eastern portion of the island continent - and this continent lies on the southeastern portion of the map. A much larger continent to the north, called Asana, is the land of the lashunta, and its capital is on the western shore, and called Qabarat; to the east on this continent is the strange and magical Ocean of Mists. Far west of Sovyrian lies the island continent referred to only as The Colonies, is the land of the formians.

An unnamed and unmarked continent lies to the northwest on the map, and no details are given anywhere in the written text as to its nature, one way or another. Nothing is mentioned about it at all. I have some ideas which I am working on in another thread on here, which lay out some of these possible natures/origins.

The planet also appears to have a vibrant undersea ecology, however it is not well documented in the text, except for a few specimen examples: cannibalistic selkies - semi-intelligent schools of fish - massive isopods with glowing shells, which have a symbiotic relationship with delicate creatures like seahorses, which live in the cracks in their shells. On land, similarly strange creatures are described: enormous saurian horrors - segmented centipede ticks - bug-eyed mountain eels - poison-beaked sky fishers.

In addition, the weather can be quite intense (Castrovel has a larger moon, assumedly only one), and can be host to moldstorms, which can be quite deadly and sickening in their scope of havoc. There is assumed to be some measure of protection against them for the native peoples, although formians may in fact live underground in their massive hives, and avoid the issue altogether. The lashunta and the elves of Sovyrian seem to have a passive sort of peace accord, and the formians are said to be the eternal foes of the lashunta - whom they fought in the past for territory, and which I assume is now mostly settled by the formation of the Unified Hives, under the Overqueen (the alliance of the Hive Queens). No monster stats are given for formians, but it assumed that your old 3.5 material is still valid to a degree. Until psionics is released by Paizo, Dreamscarred Press' Psionics Unleashed will have to do for now.

I am under the impression that several Pathfinder Society adventures may deal with the relationship between Golarion and either Akiton, Castrovel, or both of them - and I would be open to helpful input which further defines this guess-work, if anyone knows for sure which adventure modules do, in fact, cover anything to do with Castrovel in particular. I'm thinking it may in fact be Akiton, the Contemplatives of Ashok, and the red doorway in the Mwangi Expanse, which are dealt with in an adventure, but I would rather know for sure, if anyone has any information for or against this.

More to come....? ;)

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I'm pretty sure it's well known by now that I, too, love me some prehistoric megafauna (and other fauna) and dinosaurs.

I don't want to completely spam this thread, but there is free playtesting material for The Nymian Beastlands Campaign Setting, which is available here on Paizo's store for download. link Our planned setting material will cover it extensively.

I also get really happy when I see how many people favorited the post about the dinosaurs with laser weapon gear. lol - I have considered that setting idea many many many times. It's actually not too difficult of a homebrew to conceptualize, with wands of scorching ray, and advanced technology based on other magical effects. They cover this and talk about it in the Inner Sea Bestiary (robots general description), which I just got for holiday. :D Love it!

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ADVENTURE ASSUMPTIONS

Long ago, thousands or more years leading up to the Age of Serpents in the Inner Sea, a race of dragon-like serpent beings ruled over much of Golarion, and had other outposts on worlds such as Castrovel, and beyond. Having long ago mastered the art and science of space travel, the Annunaki are like a great plague across the stars to many of the most informed scholars, though the threads of this ancient mystery have never truly unfolded or been revealed to any one person... Until now.

Return of the Annunaki begins with the PCs finding the tail end of a trail to powerful and rich ancient naga lords who have hidden away in Vudra, isolating themselves from the rest of the world in an attempt to maintain their strongholds and their investments in local assets. While revealing an ancient bloodline that is older than the whole universe, and with it the distinctive timing of an ancient prophecy of their great return, the PCs find themselves on the destined path of detectives of a mystery so vast that each step on its spiraling path becomes more dangerous, and more fateful than the last, by a hundred-fold. When the Annunaki overlords finally return to Golarion in the final chapter of the adventure arc, descending in their massive metal sky-ships, the PCs will have been let in on a truth that has defied the notice of many others - and the destiny of Golarion and its peoples will not be dictated by those mortals who would call themselves gods.

Many descendants of the Annunaki overlords still remain on Golarion, some of them still retaining their ancient power and dominion - especially the naga lords of Vudra and Nagajor. But along with them, the serpentfolk (known as Ti'khan-akim in their native tongue), the nagaji, and other minor races still share their blooded traits. Most notably, the Annunaki gene which is most especially the central concern of their kind, that which allows them access to ancient Annunaki data and weapons technology, is a central tenet of their eons-old society. Despite millenia of evolution, various interplanetary outposts, experimental stations, and genetic engineering bunkers, and a host of lesser races with varying degrees of the Annunaki gene strength, the central bloodline of the overlords has remained relatively intact for all of known history, including as far back as the race's previous cosmological incarnation - this predates the known universe, and most likely took place in a parallel Material Plane, or perhaps one which was destroyed, and from which they successfully fled.

Far before they left their home realm, the ancestral Annunaki had mastered knowledge of both the planes, and the advanced engineering of science, physics, and kinetics. Knowing far in advance that their universe was doomed by an eventual interplanar catastrophe - some say they might even have been the cause of it - they were able to salvage most of their people in great ships which sailed between the planes, eventually led them to another Material Plane, a realm which they came to call home. Somewhere, on the current Annunaki homeworld, a vast distance away from Golarion and its neighboring planets, rests their base - a planet completely under Annunaki control, which boasts the most powerful resources of magic, psionics, divinity, and force resources to help bolster their technology. This world was among the first settled by the ancient races when they emerged from the planar veils, and it is where they made the majority of their discoveries about the nature of worlds and their inhabitants.

Long, long ago, the Annunaki had mastered space flight, and entered the massive voids between stars and planets. Their deep understanding of science and technological innovation, including chemistry, robotics, and even the use of arcana and divine power, which they eternally sought to find the rational source of these strange forces. In their findings, they discovered an incredibly rare element, which they called Ignisium; a pure heavy element which occurs in nature, only in the void of space, and only in the rarest of star explosions of huge magnitude during supernovae. This element would collect in deep-space asteroids, colliding into an infinitesimally small number of worlds during their early formative years, and in a specific set of ranges of planetary density, pressure, and internal planetary temperature - this substance would form rare crystal pods, which they called proto-nodules, and which, upon reaching a critical-mass number of individual crystals rotating around the inside of a planet at a proper speed, will begin to vibrate and resonate into new crystal forms. The Annunaki, during their first explorations of our star systems, found evidence that these evolved crystal nodules would form the basis of the systems known commonly as arcana, psionics, divinity, and the electro-plasmic frequencies used for plasma cannon technology. On worlds where these rare forms of Ignisium would take root, evolving life would begin to exhibit signs of powers and engineering innovations which were not possible on other worlds.

Many, many centuries later, when their empires were already well-established elsewhere in the galaxy, and their natural resources almost completely diminished, they sent out exploration parties to neighboring star system which held the possibility of Ignisium and its children minerals, as well as the existence of arcana, psionics, divinity, and electro-plasmas elsewhere, in order to prove their theories, study variance in the distribution among worlds, and find new planets to inhabit and rule. Many hundreds of years passed, and new worlds were finally discovered, including Golarion and the Distant Worlds, many of which boasted supreme resources, and distribution of all four different types of nodule crystals in the proper deep-earth formations. While many worlds boasted races and monsters already many well evolved, most were still primitive, and those few with civilized races were either avoided - such as Eox and the worlds once called Daviar and Iovo (now the asteroid belt of the Diaspora) - or conquered, like Castrovel and Golarion. The Annunaki fought against the eons-old aboleths, and defied the temptations of dealing with the Dark Tapestry beings known as the Elder Gods, ultimately maintaining their stranglehold on the worlds where they settled, creating vast outposts and underground bases.

Having a far superior knowledge of genetics and evolution to the lesser native races of these new worlds, they toyed with the bloodlines of various races, from pre-humans and their lesser races (nagas and ti'khan-akim) to monsters such as the behir, giant serpents, and many various monstrosities of wilderness vasts such as the Mwangi Expanse. Many of these experiments have become ecological members of the worlds they inhabit, many of the successful experiments done to guarantee the ability to reproduce over vast periods of time without genetic degradation or eventual impotence. None of their experiments, outside the creation of lesser serpent races which they created to help establish and maintain their eternal rule, have the specific Annunaki gene which allows them access to their technology, which is inaccessible to any creature which does not possess it.

When the Age of Serpents was first recorded, the Annunaki already held significant power among all the lands, and had established their empire on several continents, as well as a contingent colony on Castrovel, where they dabbled in the genetic evolution of pre-humans on that world. When they departed once again for their homeworld, they promised to return during a future era, one in which their secret underground chambers' sanctity had been breached, and in which they would return to once more claim their prize and re-assert their racial and destined dominance over both worlds. With their lasting plans in effect for such an era, one in which the serpent race might once again rise to power if they were ever to fall, the Annunaki overlords left in their massive ships, secure in the knowledge that their plans would not be found or foiled for many generations, while the lesser races of naga and the serpentfolk ruled over their minions. Having built massive underground complexes and genetic breeding chambers for their engineered army of mutant giants - most of which constructed through the toil and countless deaths of slaves under the whip of serpentine masters - the overlords left for the stars, far away from the notice of any mortal for a long time to come.

With the rise of the Azlanti empire under the direction of the aboleths, the serpent empire was laid to ruin long ago, and when the humans of Azlant no longer served their masters' purpose, the aboleths wiped them from existence in the catastrophe of Starfall, when the serpents and their technology no longer protected the planet from such havoc. The arrogant Annunaki had believed the aboleths wiped from existence, but had not anticipated their ability to hibernate in the ocean depths to avoid their notice during the later warring ages that they still lived on the planet. Since that time, knowledge of arcana, psionics, divinity, and planetary composition has waned to near-total ignorance, as it pertains to the knowledge and mysteries of the ancient serpent empires. Even the lesser serpent races had neglected their own history and heritage, confident and eager in their arrogant notions of ruling over the other races, and lacked the massive understanding of their forebearers, or their ancient technologies and massive underground complexes.

On Castovel, having been forbidden to enter the northeastern continent now known as the Cursed Lands, the pre-humans of that world occasionally clashed against serpent forces left over from the overlords' departure, and the ancient bases left untouched and undiscovered since their leaving. During the final years of their activities on Castrovel, spiteful, protective beings from the First World reached out to touch several of the pre-humans which had been genetically modified by the Annunaki, to cause them to change into something which could not be as easily controlled or manipulated. And so, while the humans of Castrovel were eradicated and supplanted with the Annunaki-bred Lashunta, monitored and ruled by the lesser serpent races, the elves were born from humanity through the touch of the fey beings of the First World. During the following thousands of years, their lineage has grown to find its own destiny and culture, and the Lashunta with which they share their world retain peacefulness with their ancestral cousins. After the rise of the elves, and the rebellion of the Castrovellan peoples against their serpent masters, the lesser serpent races fled to Golarion, leaving Castrovel to a golden age of rebirth and peace - however, it came with a price. One of the last motions to win the war against their serpent masters was the summoning of the Formians: the elves and lashunta agreed that they needed some outside help, and planned to summon outsiders to help them defend their planet - they agreed to summon lawful outsiders, in order to guarantee anarchy following their victory over the serpent empires, but never foresaw the problems this race would eventually cause.

The formians, summoned forth with powerful magic with long duration and massive numbers of summoned individuals, not only attacked the enemies of the humanoid races of Castrovel, but began to populate their world during their free time, creating the first native formians. When the war was won, and the summoned formians dismissed, the remaining members defended themselves violently from the humanoids who wished to banish or slaughter them, and this birthed the ancient grudge between the ant-creatures and the humanoid races of Castrovel. In fact, it is from this event that the demonization of summoning magic stems on this world, and conjurers and summoners are almost never found here, and always treated with deep suspicion by natives. When the formians could not win by staying in the same place as the humanoids who lived across several continents, they instead burrowed their way to another continent, ridding it of any humanoids, and calling it their own. Thus, was formed, the Colonies of the southeastern continent. Elves and Lashunta continue to evolve on separate racial lines, but half-elven lashunta do exist - and are simply called lashunta, and share their same traits. There are no native humans left on Castrovel.

Castrovel's planetary composition has incredibly powerful vibrations of psionics, moderate vibrations of arcana and divinity, and low vibrations of electro-plasmas, but all of them present. Golarion boasts the same vibrations, but all of them are higher than normal. The Annunaki even once discovered the potential for natural magical formations, such as the Mana Wastes, the Worldwound, and others - but their knowledge went unseen following the demise of the Serpent Empires before the Age of Azlant and Starfall. In fact, most of the lore of the Annunaki has not been seen or heard of since their return, or since the fall of the Serpent Empires, on either Golarion or Castrovel.

Despite the Annunaki's vast legacy of tyranny, power-mongering, and injustice against other races, there is a sliver of hope: before the planar cataclysm that destroyed their original home world/plane, their was a massive cultural divide between two groups within the original Ancient Serpent Empire: one group held that they should seek spiritual ascension as a means of escaping the catastrophe, using their understanding of psionics, the soul, and divinity; and the other group held that they should attempt to survive through physical means, making the best of their technological innovations and increasing understanding of magic and planar/space transportation. While the majority of Annunaki ancestors took the path of the body, some of them retained the path of the spirit, and also survived the cataclysm, outside of the watch of the Annunaki descendants. These beings, who evolved into spiritual beings of light energy, adopted a nature-revering philosophy much like druidism, and refer to themselves and their spiritual culture as Benei'Elohim, or Servants of the Light. These beings have continued to monitor the activities of their lesser kin, and have come to sympathize with the races they have overtaken. They even feel like they may use their powers and understanding to help turn the tide of a war for the freedom from oppression from these Annunaki overlords, once and for all. While the schism between good and evil grows more and more blurry over time, the PCs will eventually come to find the truth - that they have had someone watching over their actions the whole time, and hoping that they will lead the mortals of Golarion on a crusade against tyranny and domination.

In the eras since the Age of Serpents, the followers of both Desna and a Vudrani deity named Garuda have held the lore and philosophy to protect the peoples of the land against the serpent overlords, and few events have proven any of this information to be true, save for one major event which no one seems to be able to confirm its origin, but of which many are aware: when the ship which fell from the sky, and eventually came to be known as the Silver Mount, was brought low from the skies, it was because of a massive Annunaki weapon stored deep underground, which is capable of destroying ships made of technology which is not of their own design. It has been said by the naga scholars who keep records of such things, that the Shory flying city-ships were either always flying too low to be detected by this weapon, or else were created using harvested technologies from discovered Annunaki vessels or machines, in order to avoid detection and destruction. Circumstantial evidence shows that both could possibly be true. It is unknown whether the Annunaki are the progenitors of the Aballonian robot beings, however they are far better known for genetic experimentation, as opposed to advanced artificial intelligence in robotics and cybernetics, despite their use of similar laser and plasma cannon technology. It may be possible that other civilizations, including those from among the planets of the Distant Worlds outside of Golarion, have successfully harvested and reverse-engineered technologies from the ancient Annunaki, and it also remains possible that there exist bases or outposts on other worlds in the system: it is a common contingency plan in Annunaki history to establish and construct massive underground complexes on off-world sites near planetary resources they control or wish to control. Using planar magic and reality-warping technology, they can safely conduct a raid on a world from another nearby world, without much risk to their own base of operations.

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ADVENTURE ASSUMPTIONS

This section is the first of several text blocks to help provide background for the adventure. These ideas are highly influenced by Paizo's own setting materials, but wherever you see the all-caps title above, it means that it is also heavily influenced by my own ideas, which may have ABSOLUTELY NO CONNECTION to Paizo's writing, aside from their inspiration upon my own. There are a lot of instances in their books where they plop in a tidbit or phrase, often as a written-in plot hook - and this is my follow-up on some of those bits. I may also completely re-interpret Golarion's culture, history, and even these same things from nearby worlds ("Golarion's Distant Worlds" or simply "Distant Worlds," for short), such as Castrovel and worlds out beyond Aucturn. In fact, you will find, sprinkled into this adventure arc, many of my old ideas as well - such as previous, now-dead universes, cosmological rebirths, and even the soul-progression of the playable races. Consider it my addition to Golarion, without the necessary full-adherence to mythos material, but only in the best interest of the adventure's needs.

That said, if you have comparison material to which you can refer, which shows *actual* Paizo mythos material for Golarion, you will be in a much better position to tell these tidbits apart from the 'official' or 'core' mythos of Paizo's amazing fantasy environ. The following publications have helped me immensely in putting together these concepts (in addition to your favorite core-rules PFRPG publications, such as the ARG, APG, UC, UM, all Bestiaries, and the rest of the good stuff):

  • Dragon Empires Gazetteer
  • Into the Jungle (Mwangi Expanse)
  • Sargava, The Lost Colony
  • Distant Worlds
  • The Inner Sea World Guide
  • The Serpent's Skull Adventure Path (#1-6)

If you don't have these materials, some of the information about these locations can be found on PathfinderWiki.com. I have also been told of a future Paizo work regarding Vudra, which we should be able to expect in the coming year or so - and which I am eagerly anticipating, on pins and needles. As soon as that publication is released, consider that it is automatically added to this list - and hopefully, my bookshelf as well.

In addition, until Paizo puts out their own version or rendition of psionics, I am including material from third-party publishers, Dreamscarred Press, for their work in Psionics Unleashed. I also own Psionics Expanded, and may throw in some options from that book. Any third-party materials introduced or used in this adventure arc material will be noted. So far, the Artisan base class (Drop Dead Studios) has been used for one of the NPCs in 'The Naga Financier.' The use of psionics plays heavily into the story as the adventure plays out, and more so especially in the higher levels. The most powerful of the Annunaki and their minions are almost assuredly going to have psionic and/or magical power - so PCs having a thorough understanding of the nature of psionics and magic (and their history on Golarion and the Distant Worlds) will be important. Furthermore, allowing players access to psionic base classes and other options is a good idea in this adventure arc - however, even magic-only classes should be able to have access to the basic nature of psionics (as a variant on magic) even if they are not practitioners of the mental arts.

About This Adventure & Spoiler Lore:
While you may have noticed I didn't actually post any new content in this posting, I will begin soon in revealing some truly monumental information about the story's background. Consider this entire thread to be a spoiler of itself. If you plan on running an adventure like this, make sure your players don't view this thread. Like, at all....

I will make another posting very soon regarding true revelations about the story background, and my own personal ideas within the greater story of Golarion. By the time the Annunaki arrive in the final showdown, most of this lore will have been revealed through stories or physical evidence, and the rest will be shown directly through the actions of the arriving Serpent Lords as they arrive and descend to meet the peoples of Golarion.

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Lloyd Jackson wrote:

I bring word from the mighty Sutter, Master of the Universe!

"In answer to your questions: there are definitely still continents, and in fact Darkside likely has frozen oceans under there."

From this I assume he means that there is still tectonic activity, so hot spring are viable. Also, the oceans thing.

That may also mean that the "river" which winds down the line is a man-made feature. I would assume the jaggedness of its course means that they would have attempted to follow natural topographical valleys, and it probably means that this project would have been one of the largest in recorded history.

They might have technological or magical means to allow these features to be maintained despite tectonic activity, giving them a longer lifespan than might normally be possible. I say this because natural tectonic activity would make it increasingly difficult over time to keep the "river" from being degraded or completely altered. Obviously, this would also be a big deal, since water must be one of the resources on which they must solidly monitor, given our earlier conversations on the difficulty of maintaining precipitation/weather phenomena for a viable biosphere.

I am about to find/make a thread like this for Castrovel. Does anyone know of any already formed on here? I'm also going to be expanding the social stuff beyond the books for Castrovel, for another adventure arc I am working on (Return of the Annunaki).

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Something I did specifically want to thematically define this adventure arc is the quick-jumping between setting locations (gate use), with each new exploration only being undertaken when a specific need arises. And while each region I have chosen for this arc is definitely exotic in and of themselves, they also have a uniting element, in being primarily warm-climate regions of dense foliage (an environment you would expect to find lots of snakes). Once you have the PCs familiar and comfortable with one setting region, it's easier to bring them back there from another familiar region further down the line - and still keep the exploratory nature of re-visiting the old location, or another. I have run other groups in the past, where the players really enjoyed being able to jump all over the place, because they had all sorts of contacts in these different regions, which helped them in different ways.

[To Set:] I think you also have a very good point about the PCs having a "stomping grounds" of sorts, so that they are not free-roaming ramblers without much desire or incentive to defend the home turf. I think Rimija (my own little quaint, secluded town in Minata) can make a good place to come back home to for the PCs, and might even grow on them. And for once, I would like the hometown of the PCs to not be infested with dark horrors of the nightmare realm of Leng, demons, devils, or other hope-shattering beings of terror. What a concept. By making this tiny little town the last bastion of hope in the PCs personal plight to protect Golarion's little microcosm from the impending tyrants from the skies, I think gives it a little bit of distinctive flavor.

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