Pathfinder Adventure Path #114: Black Stars Beckon (Strange Aeons 6 of 6) (PFRPG)

3.30/5 (based on 3 ratings)
Pathfinder Adventure Path #114: Black Stars Beckon (Strange Aeons 6 of 6) (PFRPG)
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Death Is Not The End

The Strange Aeons Adventure Path draws to a stunning conclusion! Arriving in the alien metropolis of Carcosa, the adventurers must sever the links that bind it to Golarion. In wandering the parasitic city, the characters navigate frozen elder thing ruins, deal with accursed partygoers in a reflection of an Azlanti city, and encounter a mute musician who can help them find their way through the maddening and monster-infested streets. Can the heroes keep Carcosa from drawing Thrushmoor into its amalgam of stolen cities or do they risk waking the unspeakable nightmare that stirs in the depths of Lake Hali? They must do what it takes to break these links—or Golarion is doomed to greet the King in Yellow.

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

  • "Black Stars Beckon," a Pathfinder adventure for 15th-level characters, by Jim Groves.
  • Advice and suggestions on how to expand your campaign beyond this Adventure Path's conclusion, including a system to bring your Pathfinder character to a whole other world, by James Jacobs.
  • An unsettling interrogation and a troubling revelation in the Pathfinder's Journal, by Adam Daigle.
  • A bestiary containing a new Great Old One and other loathsome monsters, by Benjamin Bruck, Jim Groves, and James Jacobs.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-919-6

"Black Stars Beckon" 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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What a letdown

2/5

Disappointing ending to a disappointing adventure path.

Major issues in this series continue with this installment. Again, the module start off strong with evocative, flavorful encounters upon the party's arrival in Carcosa, but again, as with its predecessors, it falls apart.

However, the highlight of this adventure, as with many installments of this Path, is the absolutely amazing Pathfinder Journal entry by Adam Daigle. Huzzah, good sir.

- Major issues with descriptions matching art: two "pureblood Azlantis" look like completely different ethnicities, Armel is described as being overweight, but is illustrated as quite thin, and with a revolver, despite one not appearing in his description.

- Potentially epic battles are not appropriately foreshadowed and built up, leaving them falling flat.

- The sudden and unnecessary inclusion of firearms into the campaign is jarring and off-putting.

- Not enough of the encounters are directly related to the main plot thread, and instead waste the party's time on errands and sidequests.

- The formulaic nature of these adventure paths is again a weakness, with an over-reliance on violence and battle forced upon the party.

- In what has become a recurring issue for Paizo, creature descriptions do not match illustrations (eg. a creature described as having crimson eyes is illustrated with green; a creature described as having a small mouth has an enormous maw in the illustration).

- Most importantly, the "feel" of the adventure is nothing like you would expect from an elder mythos module. If you aren't going to inject that dynamic and sense into the adventure, why even bother making this path?


Three fantastical diverse locations, but an uninspiring boss fight.

4/5

GOOD:
The artwork is really beautiful and all battle-maps (but the last one) are inspiring, yet easy enough to draw.
The first city location ("ancient Azlant") is ripe with roleplaying opportunities but also has some very cool fights.
The second one (Elder Thing city) has a great "scientific horrific" feel and the third one (Paris) is very flavorful and has a very cool final battle.
The NPC section is solid. The illustrations for Valeros and Seoni as "Call of Cthulhu" characters are great. The "Shrike Worm" from the Bestiary is nice.

BAD:
The arrival in Carcosa is essentially one battle after the other with little reason. I have now read the "continuing the campaign" section for the fourth time and it still fails to excite me, mainly because it stays so vague. "The Watcher in the Bay" seems just like a big monster without any real motivation or connection to Shub-Niggurath. I also can´t imagine a CR 24 beast to remain idly in the Avalon bay for so long.
The "Spirit Essence" mechanic seems unnecessary or at least described too long, i´d rather have had some tips for good introductary CoC adventures for players new to it. I don´t like the "Larva of the Outer Gods" ecology theory. These criticisms are all very subjective of course.

UGLY:
The last fight (the boss battle of the entire campaign) feels unsatisfying, as the main opponents are never met before during the entire campain and they don´t really communicate with the PCs. It is comparable to the end of the "Carrion Crown" AP imo. Also, there is no tactics section for the boss, probably due to limited page count.
The damage of the main weapon of "Armel" (greataxe) is 7 points to low for each attack, as only the normal strenght bonus for strenght 40(+15) is given, but it needs to be 1-1/2 (+22).

All in all a good final chapter to the "Lovecraft campaign", even if the final showdown lacks charismatic villain personality.


Strange but satisfactory ending

4/5


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Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Marco Massoudi wrote:

Where is the point in statting up a creature who´s view turns your skin to immobile stone?

I guess you get a (ridiculously high) fortitude save to avoid that, but for me that pretty much kills the appeal of Ghatanothoa.
Having to blindfold or even blind yourself and working with blindfight or blindsense, blindsight etc. would be much more horrifying.

greater invisibility

Rest assured, a high level party can handle such monster abilities.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Kalindlara wrote:
If it is Ghatanothoa... how perfect will the art be? ^_^

Not nearly perfect enough to make all who view it petrify into a living mummy, fortunately.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Marco Massoudi wrote:

Where is the point in statting up a creature who´s view turns your skin to immobile stone?

I guess you get a (ridiculously high) fortitude save to avoid that, but for me that pretty much kills the appeal of Ghatanothoa.
Having to blindfold or even blind yourself and working with blindfight or blindsense, blindsight etc. would be much more horrifying.

Because it's not automatic; you get a saving throw. But if you're not quite high level, it's gonna be a hard save to make. Especially at a rate of once per round.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

The scary thing of a great old one isn't what it does to a high level party. It's what it can do to a settlement that it enters. Kind of like how people view meteor swarm and invision massive boulders from the sky. This is the reverse, these are engines that can destroy civilizations. For example, PC's are unique, they are the protagonists of the story. They are supposed to be exceptional so they can take down a big great antagonist. If everyone was the same level it wouldn't be nearly as fun to enjoy :) I look forward to the next great old one because I like to use them in my kingmaker game. If 100% encounter happens, a great old one awakens and walks through town. They make their stability check to properly evacuate the settlement.

Dark Archive

Oliver Veyrac wrote:
The scary thing of a great old one isn't what it does to a high level party. It's what it can do to a settlement that it enters. Kind of like how people view meteor swarm and invision massive boulders from the sky. This is the reverse, these are engines that can destroy civilizations. For example, PC's are unique, they are the protagonists of the story. They are supposed to be exceptional so they can take down a big great antagonist. If everyone was the same level it wouldn't be nearly as fun to enjoy :) I look forward to the next great old one because I like to use them in my kingmaker game. If 100% encounter happens, a great old one awakens and walks through town. They make their stability check to properly evacuate the settlement.

Wait, so how doesn't the world end each time that happens?


Marco Massoudi wrote:

Where is the point in statting up a creature who´s view turns your skin to immobile stone?

I guess you get a (ridiculously high) fortitude save to avoid that, but for me that pretty much kills the appeal of Ghatanothoa.
Having to blindfold or even blind yourself and working with blindfight or blindsense, blindsight etc. would be much more horrifying.

Might even be amusing for the GOO to get it's butt kicked by PCs wearing all sorts of concealing headgear. Each strike shatters the headgear so they must scramble around looking for lampshades.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
CorvusMask wrote:
Oliver Veyrac wrote:
The scary thing of a great old one isn't what it does to a high level party. It's what it can do to a settlement that it enters. Kind of like how people view meteor swarm and invision massive boulders from the sky. This is the reverse, these are engines that can destroy civilizations. For example, PC's are unique, they are the protagonists of the story. They are supposed to be exceptional so they can take down a big great antagonist. If everyone was the same level it wouldn't be nearly as fun to enjoy :) I look forward to the next great old one because I like to use them in my kingmaker game. If 100% encounter happens, a great old one awakens and walks through town. They make their stability check to properly evacuate the settlement.
Wait, so how doesn't the world end each time that happens?

That's actually how it is supposed to be each time that happens :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
CorvusMask wrote:
Oliver Veyrac wrote:
The scary thing of a great old one isn't what it does to a high level party. It's what it can do to a settlement that it enters. Kind of like how people view meteor swarm and invision massive boulders from the sky. This is the reverse, these are engines that can destroy civilizations. For example, PC's are unique, they are the protagonists of the story. They are supposed to be exceptional so they can take down a big great antagonist. If everyone was the same level it wouldn't be nearly as fun to enjoy :) I look forward to the next great old one because I like to use them in my kingmaker game. If 100% encounter happens, a great old one awakens and walks through town. They make their stability check to properly evacuate the settlement.
Wait, so how doesn't the world end each time that happens?

IIRC, it comes down to the fact that a Great Old One's rise is extremely rare and requires specific circumstances. That's sort of the point. This is something that happens once every few millennia, if not longer. So either the last time was long enough ago that no current civilizations remember it, or the world was lucky enough for a band of adventurers to banish it or put it back to sleep or stop the summoning ritual. (After all, in the old stories, the entities of the Mythos aren't traditionally stopped by sword-wielding adventurers, they're stopped by luck and sacrifice and knowing how to prevent their appearance at all.)

Dark Archive

MythicFox wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
Oliver Veyrac wrote:
The scary thing of a great old one isn't what it does to a high level party. It's what it can do to a settlement that it enters. Kind of like how people view meteor swarm and invision massive boulders from the sky. This is the reverse, these are engines that can destroy civilizations. For example, PC's are unique, they are the protagonists of the story. They are supposed to be exceptional so they can take down a big great antagonist. If everyone was the same level it wouldn't be nearly as fun to enjoy :) I look forward to the next great old one because I like to use them in my kingmaker game. If 100% encounter happens, a great old one awakens and walks through town. They make their stability check to properly evacuate the settlement.
Wait, so how doesn't the world end each time that happens?
IIRC, it comes down to the fact that a Great Old One's rise is extremely rare and requires specific circumstances. That's sort of the point. This is something that happens once every few millennia, if not longer. So either the last time was long enough ago that no current civilizations remember it, or the world was lucky enough for a band of adventurers to banish it or put it back to sleep or stop the summoning ritual. (After all, in the old stories, the entities of the Mythos aren't traditionally stopped by sword-wielding adventurers, they're stopped by luck and sacrifice and knowing how to prevent their appearance at all.)

I meant that if he uses a system in kingmaker where rolling 1 in 100 wakens up the great old one, wouldn't campaign end instantly when that happens?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Apologies, I misunderstood the larger question. Yeah, unless the adventurers have an opportunity to prevent the awakening or a deus ex machina ready to go, an awakened and present Great Old One should effectively end the campaign.


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

Who is the lady on the cover again.


Looks like a garbage tier waifu to me.


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

Kinda lost me there. :-)

Dark Archive

captain yesterday wrote:
Kinda lost me there. :-)

Dank memes can be googled ya know :D

(though thats just me saying that trying to explain that joke would give me headache)

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Anime kids and their memes and goggles...


Plausible Pseudonym wrote:
Looks like a garbage tier waifu to me.

YOU CALLED?


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

So, all good times and all.

But, I'm still curious who the lady with the (I suspect) Sphere Of Annihilation is. :-)


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Garbage-Tier Waifu wrote:
Plausible Pseudonym wrote:
Looks like a garbage tier waifu to me.
YOU CALLED?

I only call up that which I can put down. So yes.


Plausible Pseudonym wrote:
I only call up that which I can put down. So yes.

Nice reference. ^_^

(And quite apt, given the product. I don't think we have stats for those creatures yet, unfortunately.)

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

captain yesterday wrote:

So, all good times and all.

But, I'm still curious who the lady with the (I suspect) Sphere Of Annihilation is. :-)

Any guesses?

Sovereign Court

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

I already made mine, way back at the start of the thread. ^_^


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

Yay for incremental progress!

Now, if you would explain it for someone that hasn't read a bit of Lovecraft but is genuinely interested. :-)

Use spoilers if you want to, I'm GMing it so no big deal. :-)

Sovereign Court

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

This is even older and more obscure than Lovecraft's work, and the specific reference is obscure within the source.

Spoiler:
Cassilda is a character from the play The King in Yellow. While there is little to go on in Chambers's work, she is likely a victim of Hastur - the plot of the play is implied to be comparable to Poe's Masque of the Red Death.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

any chance on getting some beautiful beasties from Frank Belknap Long in this one? my Hounds of Tindalos are getting kinda lonely... (makes a half-attempt at hoping we'll see Cahugnar and her Brothers, as well as her servants, the Miri Nigri)


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

This is even older and more obscure than Lovecraft's work, and the specific reference is obscure within the source.

** spoiler omitted **

Neato! Thanks! I've learned so much from this adventure path. :-)


wishing i could time travel, but don't want to anger the hounds of Tindalos


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
CorvusMask wrote:
MythicFox wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
Oliver Veyrac wrote:
The scary thing of a great old one isn't what it does to a high level party. It's what it can do to a settlement that it enters. Kind of like how people view meteor swarm and invision massive boulders from the sky. This is the reverse, these are engines that can destroy civilizations. For example, PC's are unique, they are the protagonists of the story. They are supposed to be exceptional so they can take down a big great antagonist. If everyone was the same level it wouldn't be nearly as fun to enjoy :) I look forward to the next great old one because I like to use them in my kingmaker game. If 100% encounter happens, a great old one awakens and walks through town. They make their stability check to properly evacuate the settlement.
Wait, so how doesn't the world end each time that happens?
IIRC, it comes down to the fact that a Great Old One's rise is extremely rare and requires specific circumstances. That's sort of the point. This is something that happens once every few millennia, if not longer. So either the last time was long enough ago that no current civilizations remember it, or the world was lucky enough for a band of adventurers to banish it or put it back to sleep or stop the summoning ritual. (After all, in the old stories, the entities of the Mythos aren't traditionally stopped by sword-wielding adventurers, they're stopped by luck and sacrifice and knowing how to prevent their appearance at all.)
I meant that if he uses a system in kingmaker where rolling 1 in 100 wakens up the great old one, wouldn't campaign end instantly when that happens?

That actually happens in the Kingmaker game I am DMing. The game takes place in Obsidian Apocalypse which is where I am DMing Strange Aeons as well. We apply different campaign worlds for each DM, as just different campaign worlds add different challenges that players must play in. .

Mine = Obsidian Apocalypse
Jonathan = Shadows over Vathak (Ravenloft)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
captain yesterday wrote:
Who is the lady on the cover again.

Cassilda if I recall is her name. She be cool as can be! Hopefully she is akin to a soulbound doll. There is also a moth named after her in the real world. Another reason I love Desna worship in Strange Aeons :) I will also be afraid if there is a Vampire Named Carmilla who is Cassilda's sister ;)


no, Carmilla is different from Camilla. Cassilda and Camilla is Robert W. Chambers, Carmilla is Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Also, If Camilla and Cassilda will be present, I hope Uoht and Thale are as well ;)

Dark Archive

I´m curious about the stats for "Erich Zann" in this.
He´ll most probably be a bard.

Ah well, the first subscribers will be getting this on monday 6th of february.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Woot! Can't wait!


So question, this AP is not showing up under my subscriptions nor my purchases, is that normal?


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

Yup, it's the transition between no pending order and order pending. :-)


Ah, ok, good, I was worried :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
CorvusMask wrote:


I meant that if he uses a system in kingmaker where rolling 1 in 100 wakens up the great old one, wouldn't campaign end instantly when that happens?

Not necessarily, chances are instead people will seek out an elder sign. Which is a campaign in of itself. It's pretty easy to do in kingmaker as well.

spoiler:
Replace the eye of the cyclops lich with an elder sign.


I´m just curious... would it matter if the PCs just happen to have brought one particular musical instrument all the way from part 1 when they meet this mute musician?


I'm assuming they jam out to Call of Ktulu...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Flute type? Flutes are very important :) So are Basso's and Clarinets


I prefer electric Les Paul myself..


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

I'm a big fan of Telecasters myself.

Or a nice deep red Gibson SG. :-)


Captain,

Those are nice. But I was thinking Les Paul because that's what Kirk plays a good bit. (Kirk Hammett btw.)


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

Yeah but Tony Iommi, of Black Sabbath plays a red Gibson SG. :-)


I understand that, Captain. However while I love Black Sabbath, I have Metallica tattooed on the inner walls of my heart and on my brain stem.


Perhaps, but when the game just happens to give you a masterwork violoncello (without a bow) in the second or third room, I would expect someone to keep it.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Anyone have there copy yet?


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

Doubt it, the snow storm in Seattle Sunday night into Monday prevented most from making it to the office.

Hopefully, they're all safe and sound and the snow has melted by now. :-)


Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

"The snow melted by now", that is lot faster then it melts for me and I live in Virginia Beach.


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

It's amazing how quickly it can melt out there. As a Wisconsin native I was always shocked at how fast it would go away. :-)

"You mean, it's not going to be here in May?... are you sure..."

Edit: though they did get a bit of it, so I guess it could stick around for an extra day or so. :-)

Paizo Employee Developer

3 people marked this as a favorite.

While this is all incredibly off topic, the snow melted into slush by the evening, and then promptly froze into sheets of ice overnight. I slid right into work today. :)

Silver Crusade

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

Glad to hear you are safe though ^w^

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