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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4.80/5 (based on 10 ratings)

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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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1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
Looking forward this. I hope that later in the AP any sanity mechanic will have Will saves appropiate to the level of the characters. That was kind of a problem in Wake of the Watcher, where the Will saves seemed way to low for the character level and I had to raise them substantially to even threaten the player characters with some sanity issues.
A "Sanity mechanic" is not really appropriate to Pathfinder and won't be part of the Adventure Path. Insanity will be handled as part of the story and as GameMastery Guide's rules as afflictions.
Or that. Although apparently it was appropiate to Wake of the Watcher, as layed out in the side bar of that volume of Carrion Crown on page 29.
In fact, feed back and how it worked out in Wake of the Watcher is what helped me decide it wasn't appropriate. AKA: Think of the inclusion of a sanity mechanic in that volume as an experiment, and the results of that experiment are that sanity mechanics don't work well for Pathfinder/fantasy games.

Thanks for the info. It was a bit wonky and also difficult to explain why just seeing certain monsters was a sanity crushing experience while others are the usual "Oh, look, the next XP piñata". ;)


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
The Lonesome Wanderer wrote:
Liz Courts wrote:

“That is not dead which can eternal lie,

And with strange aeons even death may die.”

Announced for August—do you know where your Sanity score is at? Product image and description are not final.

That guy with his hooked serrated sickle thing reminds me of someone... Hmmmmmm.... Looks almost like a question mark. And his robes are yellow! HMMMMMM! Who could that be?

Grandpa?!


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
magnuskn wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
Looking forward this. I hope that later in the AP any sanity mechanic will have Will saves appropiate to the level of the characters. That was kind of a problem in Wake of the Watcher, where the Will saves seemed way to low for the character level and I had to raise them substantially to even threaten the player characters with some sanity issues.
A "Sanity mechanic" is not really appropriate to Pathfinder and won't be part of the Adventure Path. Insanity will be handled as part of the story and as GameMastery Guide's rules as afflictions.
Or that. Although apparently it was appropiate to Wake of the Watcher, as layed out in the side bar of that volume of Carrion Crown on page 29.
In fact, feed back and how it worked out in Wake of the Watcher is what helped me decide it wasn't appropriate. AKA: Think of the inclusion of a sanity mechanic in that volume as an experiment, and the results of that experiment are that sanity mechanics don't work well for Pathfinder/fantasy games.
Thanks for the info. It was a bit wonky and also difficult to explain why just seeing certain monsters was a sanity crushing experience while others are the usual "Oh, look, the next XP piñata". ;)

Great! Now all I want in Bestiary 6 is a Experience Pinata monster. Well guess it's been awhile since Sincubus chewed me out in the Bestiary request thread. :-)


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Now I want a piñata based monster;)


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

A robot Pinata :-D


1 person marked this as a favorite.
djones wrote:
Grandpa?!

Or, perhaps, you mean "Gramma"?


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Yeah, don't get me started on Grandma...

Dark Archive

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Superscriber
Dragon78 wrote:
Now I want a piñata based monster;)

Mimic Pinata would work. Just flavor it to explode and leave behind whatever stuff you wanted to be in a pinata. Just imagine the terrified look on the childrens' faces as it comes to life and tries to eat the kid that is hitting it with a stick.


I see that the campaign speaks of the Yellow Sign and insinuating Hastur as our main enemy. Good. Perhaps it is time to dethrone the King in Yellow once and for all.

Can't wait to read about the lore and making my friends and their characters suffer for this! XD


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

Being a Mythos AP I am definitely looking forward to being able to customize some encounters here and there with the extended lore that is out there. I always wanted to hit my players with a NPC like the Harlot from Fall of Cthulhu and Hexed.


*wants to hit players with a Cthulhu shaped stick some times...*

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Probably goes without saying, but hope there's a few outer creatures in the bestiaries.


I'm pretty sure we'll see more than a few Bholes in this adventure path, Decius.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

And Aholes.


This is going to be a great AP for me. My wife LOVES CoC stuff, and she has a huge fan girl thing for Hastur. Since she's so excited to run this adventure, I get to be a player for an entire AP, so that'll be fun. (I'm usually DM)


*is ready to run to the mountains*

Community Manager

15 people marked this as a favorite.

Removed some posts and their responses. Please don't discuss rape in such an off-handed and casual manner.


I wonder if this madness overtaking Ustalav has something to do with the awakening of a slumbering Starspawn in the northern isles of the Land of the Linnorm Kings?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Just noticed this. I can honestly say I've been waiting for this adventure path since I first started playing dungeons and dragons in the late 70s (I was reading lovecraft at the time...)

Grand Lodge Contributor

Angus Syme wrote:
Just noticed this. I can honestly say I've been waiting for this adventure path since I first started playing dungeons and dragons in the late 70s (I was reading lovecraft at the time...)

I can relate. I have never been so desperately excited for anything ever. Hurry up, August!


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

I'm really looking forward to this AP! :)

Brief aside with regard to piñata monsters: in my Arkham Horror board game group we refer to mi-go as flying piñatas. They explode when you kill them (the monster token has to be returned to the box and therefore cannot be kept as a monster trophy), and leave behind gifts (one random unique item).


Will psychic classes handle this adventure path better than other classes?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Berselius wrote:
Will psychic classes handle this adventure path better than other classes?

Doubt it, though spells with thought/emotion components are can be cast while wearing straitjackets ;)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Bellona wrote:

I'm really looking forward to this AP! :)

Brief aside with regard to piñata monsters: in my Arkham Horror board game group we refer to mi-go as flying piñatas. They explode when you kill them (the monster token has to be returned to the box and therefore cannot be kept as a monster trophy), and leave behind gifts (one random unique item).

Funny, we called them the same thing. The phrase "Get the Candy" was heard quite often.


Might have to wait till Paizo Con to fine out more about this one.

Paizo Employee Developer

Berselius wrote:
Will psychic classes handle this adventure path better than other classes?

No better or worse than other classes.

Dark Archive

Could Ultron solo this AP?


Since this book and Hell's Vengeance part 6 come out the same month does that mean I can't get this item as a subscriber without getting hell's vengeance as well?

Silver Crusade

But... Hell's Vengeance Part 6 is out in July, and Strange Aeons Part 1 is out in August.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dragon78 wrote:
Since this book and Hell's Vengeance part 6 come out the same month does that mean I can't get this item as a subscriber without getting hell's vengeance as well?

From what I understand, not at all. You may just need to check the page more frequently to spot when this one becomes available.

Honestly, finances are causing me to consider dropping my subscriptions temporarily until this one comes out.


On that topic, since I've never ordered a subscription before...

If I wanted to start an AP Subscription beginning with this, when would be the most appropriate time to sign up?


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

When you sign up for a subscription, you have the option of going with the current entry or the next one. So the earliest you could do it would be after Hell's Vengeance 6 hits stores, at which point you'd subscribe and have it start you with the next installment.


Ah, much appreciated. ^^


Don't Trust Me wrote:
Could Ultron solo this AP?

Probably since he can make like more than one copy of himself.


Will there be a great old one in each of the bestiaries?

Dark Archive

Nick O'Connell wrote:
Will there be a great old one in each of the bestiaries?

Yes, this has been told so at Paizocon.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Marco Massoudi wrote:
Nick O'Connell wrote:
Will there be a great old one in each of the bestiaries?
Yes, this has been told so at Paizocon.

F+~@ YEAH!


I remember reading somewhere that each book will have the obedience/PrC info for the respective Outer God/Great Old One ?

Paizo Employee Developer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Harleequin wrote:
I remember reading somewhere that each book will have the obedience/PrC info for the respective Outer God/Great Old One ?

This is true only in the cases of a full-sized deity article, not in the bestiary entries for a Great Old One.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Oooh..

Is it going to feature the deep seeded racism of lovecraft?

Or have we forgotten how basically everything in lovecraftian themes is soaked in the terrible trembling fear of people who have slightly darkened skinned tones?


10 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Soilent wrote:

Oooh..

Is it going to feature the deep seeded racism of lovecraft?

Or have we forgotten how basically everything in lovecraftian themes is soaked in the terrible trembling fear of people who have slightly darkened skinned tones?

I really don't think this is the place to dig into a discussion like that.

If you would like to read James Jacob's opinion on that point, you might start here

But - again - I don't think this is the place to continue a discussion on this topic.

Dark Archive

Have you seen this:

http://paizo.com/products/btpy9n14?Pathfinder-FlipMat-Asylum

I hope this is "the eerie Briarstone Asylum" - that would be awesome!

Paizo Employee Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Marco Massoudi wrote:

Have you seen this:

http://paizo.com/products/btpy9n14?Pathfinder-FlipMat-Asylum

I hope this is "the eerie Briarstone Asylum" - that would be awesome!

In order to manage expectations, I have to let you know that the Flip-Mat is not a direct copy of the map for Briarstone Asylum that appears in this adventure. It's just way to big to be represented on even two sides of a Flip-Mat. I did, however, give a copy of the map to Stephen (who designs the initial maps that we give to the cartographer) so that he could use it as reference to make the Flip-Mat at least similar.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adam Daigle wrote:
Marco Massoudi wrote:

Have you seen this:

http://paizo.com/products/btpy9n14?Pathfinder-FlipMat-Asylum

I hope this is "the eerie Briarstone Asylum" - that would be awesome!

In order to manage expectations, I have to let you know that the Flip-Mat is not a direct copy of the map for Briarstone Asylum that appears in this adventure. It's just way to big to be represented on even two sides of a Flip-Mat. I did, however, give a copy of the map to Stephen (who designs the initial maps that we give to the cartographer) so that he could use it as reference to make the Flip-Mat at least similar.

I think most people realize that any solid location is too large for a flip-mat.

That said, i applaud you for this early planning, Adam.

If we get a map that is usable for a key part of the adventure - even if only a small part (like "Town Square for RotR AE) - it will make the AP much more memorable.
:-)

I wish every AP had one Flip-Mat for a key battle of it's first book.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Adam Daigle wrote:
This is true only in the cases of a full-sized deity article, not in the bestiary entries for a Great Old One.

OK cool.... I do love Paizo deity articles! :)))

Any chance of more coming out in the near future for Great Old Ones/Outer Gods? I gather the only ones in Strange Aeons are for Hastur and Xhamen-Dor.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Soilent wrote:

Oooh..

Is it going to feature the deep seeded racism of lovecraft?

Or have we forgotten how basically everything in lovecraftian themes is soaked in the terrible trembling fear of people who have slightly darkened skinned tones?

I did find that very annoying when I read some of his works, but I'm sure that the only racism in Pathfinder is against Gnomes (which is totally justifiable and acceptable).


Hey folks, probably too early to tell but if I were looking to add a bestiary to go along with this AP, which would like be the best value for usage here? I have Bestiary one but am not too familiar with the mix of Lovecraft monsters in 2,3,4 or 5. Bestiary 4 looks like an obvious one but just because of the cover which I realize doesn't necessarily reflect the rest of the options inside the other books. Just curious on anyone's thoughts/opinions thanks! Looking forward to re-subscribing for this one as well!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns Subscriber

Any word as to when the cover art will be updated?

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