Pathfinder Adventure Path #109: In Search of Sanity (Strange Aeons 1 of 6) (PFRPG)

4.80/5 (based on 10 ratings)
Pathfinder Adventure Path #109: In Search of Sanity (Strange Aeons 1 of 6) (PFRPG)
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Waking Nightmares

The Strange Aeons Adventure Path begins with "In Search of Sanity," a mind-shattering foray into horror where the heroes awaken within the walls of the eerie Briarstone Asylum, their minds wracked and memories missing. Working together to recover their missing time, they soon learn that their amnesia is but a symptom of a much greater cosmic menace. As they struggle to retain their sanity, the heroes must ally with other asylum residents and fight against the monstrosities that have taken over the building and plunged it into nightmare. Can the adventurers defeat the terror that stalks the halls and free themselves from their prison of madness?

This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path launches the Strange Aeons Adventure Path and includes:

  • "In Search of Sanity," a Pathfinder adventure for 1st-level characters, by F. Wesley Schneider.
  • A double-sized article that peers into the dangerous realm of the Great Old Ones and Outer Gods who make up the Elder Mythos, by James Jacobs.
  • A dollmaker's macabre secret in the Pathfinder's Journal, by Jason Keeley.
  • A collection of weird and frightful new monsters, by Eric Hindley, James Jacobs, Jenny Jarzabski, and F. Wesley Schneider.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-882-3

Bring your campaign to life!
The In Search of Sanity SoundPack from Syrinscape is a complete audio solution when playing through the first chapter of the Strange Aeons Adventure Path.

"In Search of Sanity" is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. The rules for running this Adventure Path and Chronicle sheet are available as a free download (723 kb zip/PDF).

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscription.

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One of the best openers to an AP I've ever been in

5/5

To put it simply, I absolutely adored this book. I will never, ever forget the bizarre surreal experience of exploring the asylum and having no idea what was going on, the desperate struggle for survival, the dreamy, jaundiced quality to everything... just absolutely 10/10 on atmosphere.

I was a player, so can't comment on anything behind the scenes.

I want to give huge kudos to Paizo for setting a book in an asylum and not making mental illness the real terror, or making the place terrifying because of its mentally ill inmates. The place was beset by real monsters, which made the challenges faced by the staff who were trying to protect the patients all the more upsetting. The patients were handled sensitively and some were truly tragic, and none were monsters simply because of their afflictions. In a setting often beset by lazy, ignorant writing this was a real triumph.

It's not easy to tackle cosmic horror in a game where the players are accustomed to being empowered and are assumed to be able to kill everything they face. I think this book handled it admirably. The encounters seemed a little harder than I'm used to in a first book (perhaps subjective) and the things themselves were horrifying enough that even defeating them wouldn't exclude us from the psychological trauma of facing them down. It rewards thoughtful roleplay with a thought to real psychological consequences.

After reading other reviews of this entire AP, I realize that it holds much greater delights for those who are extremely familiar with the source material and perhaps comes across as bizarre or underwhelming for those who don't know it, or who have a very limited or stereotyped idea of what weird fiction and cosmic horror should be. That's a shame, but I want to add my voice to say that I think this AP was (largely) a unique and wonderful experience, and an excellent way to bring cosmic horror themes to a combat-oriented role playing game.

One minor point of note - I don't think we'd have made it through this AP if we'd used the sanity system out of the box. Too many things would be utterly ruinous to the point where we'd have been gibbering idiots before even the halfway point. We just ran a houseruled version which worked neatly enough, though I'd be interested to hear how it went for anyone who just went for it as is!


5/5


5/5


Tatterman is more Freddy Krueger than H.P. Lovecraft

3/5

Just okay. I feel this adventure path is a missed opportunity thus far, and steals too many ideas from House on Hook Street.

They missed the mark when it comes to the "feel" of injecting the Elder Gods mythos to Pathfinder. In this adventure, the "Tatterman" feels more like Freddy Krueger than anything from H.P. Lovecraft. As well, Briarstone Asylum is too large and becomes a slog. On the positive side, there are some creative elements here and the NPCs are well-developed.


Another excellent opening of an AP

5/5

In Search of Sanity is something unusual for Paizo's opening adventures - it is effectively a massive dungeon crawl set entirely in one building. The dungeon oozes atmosphere, has many unique encounters and events, a smattering of RP opportunities and some really memorable fights.

I'm very sad to see F.W.Schneider leave Paizo - I was a bit afraid that this adventure will be written in his signature, somewhat melodramatic style, but I was overjoyed to see that it reads easily while retaining all the spooky quirks which Wes is famous for. My players enjoyed In Search of Sanity very much and we will have many fond memories of the adventure. On to the rest of the Adventure Path, and a warm farewell to Wes!

Oh, and never, EVER trust small dogs found in grim dungeons. Never.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Did anyone catch The Music of Erich Zann easter egg in room A1B? Interesting that he's being foreshadowed this early on.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I thought red destiny was a finnish metal band...


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So I love this adventure. There's no two ways about it. But I do have some quibbles about the very beginning.

Adventure spoiler:

Right out of the gate, the PCs are required to hunt down and kill 3 doppelgangers, one of whom has a level in Mesmerist. And that of course means her stats are quite a bit higher than a standard doppelganger, which are already formidable CR 3 opponents. I would have much preferred if the orderly in the very first scene survived and vouched for the PCs, thus allowing them an opportunity to rest and recuperate between hunting foes far more powerful than they.

Another solid option would have been to swap the doppelgangers with some less intimidating ghouls, and move the doppelgangers elsewhere.

To make matters worse, the hypnotic doppelganger has crazy high (for 1st-level PCs) Bluff, Diplomacy, and Disguise skills, and explicitly tries to fool the party into sneaking her into the survivors' encampment. But the PCs need 3 doppelganger bodies, and Dr. Oathsday is one of them by necessity, so they can't technically even acquiesce to her request.

Also - and this is a comparatively minor quibble, though still bothersome - page numbers stop after page 25. Still, an awesome adventure by master of the macabre Mr. Schneider.

Dark Archive

Generic Villain wrote:

So I love this adventure. There's no two ways about it. But I do have some quibbles about the very beginning.

** spoiler omitted **

As someone stated before:

:
you can use the corpses of the 3 dead doppelgangers to the north

Good catch with the Erich Zann reference! :-)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Marco Massoudi wrote:
Generic Villain wrote:
So I love this adventure. There's no two ways about it. But I do have some quibbles about the very beginning.
** spoiler omitted **

Oh I get that. In fact...

Adventure Spoiler:
It's required that the PCs kill all three doppelgangers before proceeding to the next part of the adventure (that is, the refugee camp). The three shapeshifters to the north are literally the only option. Unfortunately they are very much alive and kicking, and not exactly willing to lay down and die for the PCs' benefit.

Yes the doppelgangers are cut off from their compatriots. But still, the three of them (one of whom has a level of Mesmerist) are formidable opponents indeed for a party of approximately 4 1st-level adventurers. Even if the PCs gang up on them and manage to take them one at a time, a doppelganger can do serious damage and likely bring down even a well-built tank. According the the Core Rulebook, creatures with a CR 2 high than the PCs pose a "hard" encounter. Dear Mrs. Oathsday, at CR 4, is an "epic" fight. This just seems like a really poorly planned start to an otherwise awesome adventure. I can't help but imagine some TPKs, unless the GM really fudges things in his hapless PC's favor.

Just my thought on the matter. I haven't run this adventure. Though I certainly would like to - with a few adjustments.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I had your same concerns, however I noticed.

:
there are three dead doppelgangers in B11. Of course, they have to kill a doppelganger to get them, and they're riddled with crossbow bolts and had strips of flesh ripped off, so I can see how what's his face would be dubious if you brought them back. :-)


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I haven't read the book yet, but that additional option, and it's complications, is great. Good design gives players multiple paths and solutions to a problem.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
captain yesterday wrote:

I had your same concerns, however I noticed.

** spoiler omitted **

Ah okay, yeah I totally forgot about that. Whoops.


May I have it now? Pretty please, with a cherry on top?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I already have it, it's pretty sweet. :-)

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Now I don't know about the physical edition but in the pdf pages 25-55 inclusive have their page numbers missing. Now I know the adventure's supposed to be set in an asylum and meant to have the pc's questioning their sanity but the gm shouldn't have to find himself questioning his own sanity simply trying to read the thing :P.

There's no artwork that would cover up the page numbers or anything. They simply aren't there.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Page numbers are there in the print edition.

Sovereign Court

Generic Villain wrote:
Did anyone catch The Music of Erich Zann easter egg in room A1B? Interesting that he's being foreshadowed this early on.

If anyone keeps the viol, they're dreaming parts of the story. Just needs to be done.


DanyRay wrote:
Page numbers are there in the print edition.

Once again proving why I like print over PDFs. ;)

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Thomas Seitz wrote:
DanyRay wrote:
Page numbers are there in the print edition.
Once again proving why I like print over PDFs. ;)

PDFs are easier to update though :3


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Rysky wrote:
Thomas Seitz wrote:
DanyRay wrote:
Page numbers are there in the print edition.
Once again proving why I like print over PDFs. ;)
PDFs are easier to update though :3

Hm good point Rysky. You're so smart! :D

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Thomas Seitz wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Thomas Seitz wrote:
DanyRay wrote:
Page numbers are there in the print edition.
Once again proving why I like print over PDFs. ;)
PDFs are easier to update though :3
Hm good point Rysky. You're so smart! :D

*beams*


5 people marked this as a favorite.

My physical Advanced classes Adventure path is a good proof of that ;)

Silver Crusade

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
DanyRay wrote:
My physical Advanced classes Adventure path is a good proof of that ;)

I got Jason Bulmahn to sign mine, it's my most cherished AP :3


People have gotten the PDF and hardcopies of this?

I'd say that is affirmative from what I'm reading in this thread.

How long ago did it ship for you guys?


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
GreyWolfLord wrote:

People have gotten the PDF and hardcopies of this?

I'd say that is affirmative from what I'm reading in this thread.

How long ago did it ship for you guys?

They finished shipping subscriptions August 26th. Like the post says, if you didn't get yours, you should contact Customer Service and see what's up.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

No they didn't. Mine was shipped August 30th, and arrived today. To be fair, a couple things had to be put back in the sidecart, 'cause they weren't in the warehouse.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

This adventure has reinforced the dangers of sitting above an irritable bhole.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Plausible Pseudonym wrote:
This adventure has reinforced the dangers of sitting above an irritable bhole.

I think sitting anywhere near one is a bad idea at any time Plaus.

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Will this adventure path be sanctioned for PFS play?


I would be happy to leave a review for this, but I can't find the 'post a review' button. Amazing adventure!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Kethoth wrote:
I would be happy to leave a review for this, but I can't find the 'post a review' button. Amazing adventure!

You have to click on the 'Product Reviews' tab at the top of the page first... basically, you have to be on the page with the existing reviews (rather than this discussion of the product) to post a new one.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Kethoth wrote:
I would be happy to leave a review for this, but I can't find the 'post a review' button. Amazing adventure!

Click on the Product Reviews tab, then look right under the average product rating. ^_^


Yep. I was there. I read all 3 reviews, but I don't see a button for posting my own.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Found it! Thanks, Kalindlara!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm getting ready to run this AP next weakend and it's seems very good :)

However...

One thing that I find odd is that there is monsters in this AP has extremly low damage like the Pickled Punks attack, Im guessing its just to see if they attach ? or activate their abilities ?

1d3-4 is even negative damage, whats the Point of this ?


Junker,

Some times in horror, it's not about the kills, it about the wounds you suffer.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Thomas Seitz wrote:

Junker,

Some times in horror, it's not about the kills, it about the wounds you suffer.

Well I figured as much , but as a plain rule question why do tiny creatures have damage stats that doesn't actually do damage, The To hit chance would have been enough in this case ?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Junker wrote:
Thomas Seitz wrote:

Junker,

Some times in horror, it's not about the kills, it about the wounds you suffer.

Well I figured as much , but as a plain rule question why do tiny creatures have damage stats that doesn't actually do damage, The To hit chance would have been enough in this case ?

They still deal 1 point of non lethal when their damage is like that. So they can still hurt you in a fashion. They can also get crits. Or their damage boosted.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

You could boost their stats to over 9,000...

Ruyan.

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Those are called Atropals.


Or if some how they manage to gain a size modifier...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Rysky wrote:
Junker wrote:
Thomas Seitz wrote:

Junker,

Some times in horror, it's not about the kills, it about the wounds you suffer.

Well I figured as much , but as a plain rule question why do tiny creatures have damage stats that doesn't actually do damage, The To hit chance would have been enough in this case ?
They still deal 1 point of non lethal when their damage is like that. So they can still hurt you in a fashion. They can also get crits. Or their damage boosted.

Ok..Thanks , that clears things abit.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Np:3


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Thomas Seitz wrote:
Or if some how they manage to gain a size modifier...

Woudn't that mean they would get a totally diffrent damage stat from their bite attack ?, if they somehow became "Normal" sized fetuses, hmm grotesque


Junker,

Well yeah but that's just one idea.

Grand Lodge

I wish this had PFS chronicles tied to it for Halloween themed Hobby Stores. Anyway to get this PFS sanctioned before Halloween?


Dear Paizo,

Can we please have the unholy symbols of the Elder Mythos published in the Community Use Package? We have a use for them.

Thanks

Wiki Minister


About to start running this. There are six PCs and I want to establish their relationships to Lowls, so that I can drop hints and clues here and there. My thinking here is that Lowls sacrificed the people who were closest and most useful to him, not just random minions. I have a pretty good notion what three of the PCs were:

Paladin -- I think he used to be Lowls' muscle, chief of the thugs he sent out to enforce instructions and terrorize the locals. The high Cha might suggest some sort of caster, though? Or maybe he was just optimized for high Intimidate checks.

Wizard -- The wizard was a wizard, and he's going to find a spellbook with spells going up to 4th level. I think he was Lowls' companion in investigating the Great Old Ones.

Oracle -- The Oracle starts at middle age. He was Lowls' servant -- a valet, or perhaps an accountant.

That leaves three more: a Sczarni swindler rogue, a mesmerist, and a bard. Possible options might include lover, sibling, child, best friend, overseer, drinking buddy... but ideally, I'd like something that relates in some way to the build, and/or that will be interesting for the player to discover over time.

Thoughts?

Doug M.

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.

the most maddening thing of all? Getting the maps to line up with the grid in roll20. That main, large map TONS of uneven squares that make it maddening to line up with the grid. Surprised Paizo's map is that far out of whack.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This has been driving me mad extracting the maps for use in MapTool to play online. I'm ok with having to screencap the maps from the interactive PDF because of the layering, but the base resolution is only the same as in the print volume, so it expands pretty terribly. That alone is ok.. but the map squares are constantly out of true! Laying a digital grid over the map requires constant adjustment as they move around the board. Reviewing some maps, it seems to be the very large maps, such as Redlake Fort in 92 or as you mention the asylum in 109. I'd bet it's an artifact of working on them at a higher resolution and then shrinking them to fit on the page, it just works out terribly going in reverse for digital use.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

WARNING SPOILERS

We finished the first book "In search of Sanity" this weekend and here are my thoughts about it.

The overall adventure is VERY good, maybe abit to railroaded but ok..The CREEPINESS IS A TOTAL BLAST.

But there is ONE HUGE complain thou, and that is TATTERMAN not the characther or the idea of a Freddie Cruger like villain , that is awesome.

BUT..

Hes just impossible to beat without cheating as GM or metagaming as a player.

And yes..I could let the players roll a knowledge whatever, but..this is a unique characther and remember the charachers are lvl 1 when they enter with a fugue state, It makes Little to no sence at all that the characthers would be able to know anything at ALL about this mythic beiing. Once they all got all the stupid silver weapons up from their backpacks mid fight they would be dead.

1 I could have made him easier as a GM, but why ? , isn't this suppose to be an adventure for 4 Characthers , I played it with 5 but I'd argue that hes still impossible, Hes at AC 20, most of the time they wont even hit him, and when they do he will just regenerate it back. And he also has DR 5, and flying ...

2 Yeah I know you get silver daggers and silver Sheen etc etc, but thats metagaming, infact it's rather silly having the cultist running around with silver daggers, just because this is the loot they need to kill the last boss. As an experienced Pathfinder player you would probably see this as a hint/clue ..but thats just a stupid clue/or matagamey since the characthers has no WAY of knowing that they should have changed their own weapons against a silverweapon that i worse than what they are carrying to beat a boss, It's daggers after all and silver.

AS a GM you could certainly ADD hints, books or other such thing and in this case the best way you could have hinted about how to beat him in the Dreams, but for that to happen you would have to be very experienced as a GM, this should have been done BY THE Authors of the adventure.

Finally they could flee , but to where ? Seriously :)

It's a cool concept to figure out how to kill a Nighmare Creature like Tatterman, but when half of the team has been running away like scared rabbits and the rest is trying to beat him with waterguns it's not fun, just frustrating. and I absolutly didnt wan't to TPK the party after the first episode because it's just poorly thought trough, did they even playtest this ?

My team was also composed of classes recommended from the players guide, like Gravedigger , detective, cleric, inqiusitor. and a rouge type

Dark Archive

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Honestly, silver is classic anti evil creature material, so thats not really that meta gamey. And its plausible to identify unique creature's weakness with knowledge check even if they don't know what creature precisely is. YMMV though I guess


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
CorvusMask wrote:
Honestly, silver is classic anti evil creature material, so thats not really that meta gamey. And its plausible to identify unique creature's weakness with knowledge check even if they don't know what creature precisely is. YMMV though I guess

What kind of Knowledge Check would that be ? A creature that is not mentioned anywhere, how could anyone notice that a creature has a particular weakness without actually trying, this is also a very poor solution and a flaw in this game , if this is the only way to do it. Besides, If they mid fight actually succeded in a knowledge check with I guess super high DC and found it out, they would most likely be dead already.

Yes, for you and the players it's just that, a "Classic anti evil" material thats just why it is a poor clue and even meta gamey, Hey now we have found 3 silverdaggers and Silver Sheen , maybe we will encounter a warewolf soon, better equip these more/less useless weapons so that we are prepared.

They atleast could have made some other beeings Before Tatterman require silver weapons, that way they would have had them ready more naturally, maybe :)

My players didnt even remember that they had those daggers, since they had better weapons like Red Destiny for example..

Well you get the idea, It could have been done so much better.


It would IMO be totally legit to have the Tatterman toy with the PCs like a cat with mice. Suboptimal, yes, but legitimate. He enjoys instilling fear just as much as he does killing.

I agree that his fear aura means that it's possible for half the party to fail their saves, leaving the others in a very sticky situation. If you like, you could replace this with some weird/creepy terrain effects -- undulating surfaces, time slowing down (maybe instead of fleeing, PCs get hit with a Slow spell), bizarre sensory effects, you name it. That's the good thing about being on the borders of the Dreamlands: you really have carte blanche to get weird and creative.

Doug M.

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