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

***½( ) (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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***½( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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What a letdown

**( )( )( )

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.

****( )

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

****( )


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1 person marked this as a favorite.

I live in North Texas. What is this "snow" you're talking about? Is it a Lovecraft reference?

Paizo Employee Developer

3 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm from the Texas Gulf Coast. I had to ask people too.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Adam Daigle wrote:
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. :)

As the sages of The Rolling Stones once said, "I can't get no... static traction... 'Cause I slide, and I slide, and I slide, and I slide!"


*groans at Quid's poor cover*

I'm just glad everyone else is doing well. Here's like almost May-like quality in terms of it being almost 60 and only slightly over cast.


Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

Well at least your OK, ice is a lot more annoying and dangerous then snow though I am not a fan ether.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Dragon78 wrote:
"The snow melted by now", that is lot faster then it melts for me and I live in Virginia Beach.

Huh. I somehow had it in my head you were in England. Weird.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Just got my shipping notice for this month.

-Skeld


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Skeld, PDF Prophet wrote:

Just got my shipping notice for this month.

-Skeld

Yay! Hopefully that means mine is coming sometime soon! What are the monsters this time around?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So which two iconics are being chased by otherworldy horrors in this months bestiary?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
FallenDabus wrote:
What are the monsters this time around?

Spoiler:

Ghatanothoa
Kudimmu
Larva of the Outer Gods
Shrike worm

-Skeld


Kevin Mack wrote:
So which two iconics are being chased by otherworldy horrors in this months bestiary?

Ezren and someone I don't recognize. (A little person in a blue robe.)

I haven't kept up with Iconic's names since the APG. Sorry.

-Skeld


Sounds like Enora, the halfing Arcanist.

Paizo Employee Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Yep, it's Enora in that illustration.


Any chance we could get a little more details on the monsters? Like maybe type and CR range?


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Thomas Seitz wrote:
Any chance we could get a little more details on the monsters? Like maybe type and CR range?

Spoiler:

Ghatanothoa - CR29 (Great Old One)
Kudimmu - CR16
Larva of the Outer Gods - CR15
Shrike Worm - CR15

-Skeld


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thanks Skeld! :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm really excited to see how the monsters turned out!

One of them is inspired by my favorite Cambrian critter.


So...

spoiler:
What's under the Lake of Hali?

Silver Crusade

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

So...

** spoiler omitted **

Spoiler:
The Lakebed of Hali?

So, when the blurb was talking about going to different worlds, was it mainly mentioning Carcosa, or can our adventurers go other places as well?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Axial wrote:

So...

** spoiler omitted **

My guess?

Spoiler?:
The nascent god-thing that Hastur is evolving into. No more Great Old One for this fella - he's going for full on Outer God.


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

So...

** spoiler omitted **

Tammy.


So. Anything special if you give the musician his instrument back?


How long is it usually till it ships?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
The Imperator wrote:
How long is it usually till it ships?

Usually 3-5 business days. I am waiting eagerly :) Hopefully mine ships out today T-T


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'll join you for a spot of eager waiting. *refreshes page every five minutes*


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

Could be worse. You could receive the shipping notice and wait for the pdf(s) to show up >.> that's the state I am in.


What are Lowls' class levels in this?

Dark Archive

Yay, finally got the download as well :D


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Oliver Veyrac wrote:
Could be worse. You could receive the shipping notice and wait for the pdf(s) to show up >.> that's the state I am in.

Assuming that you are talking about the shipping notice and not the auth notice, that is something that you should bring up over on the Customer Service board.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Oliver Veyrac wrote:
Could be worse. You could receive the shipping notice and wait for the pdf(s) to show up >.> that's the state I am in.

Had the same problem. Try this: go here. Scroll down to the Product Reviews/Product Discussion/Downloads tabs. Choose the Downloads one.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Plausible Pseudonym wrote:
What are Lowls' class levels in this?

Spoiler:
He doesn't have any. He's essentially Xhamen-Dhor reborn.

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

One element I enjoyed was seeing the "Roaring 20's" versions of a couple of Pathfinder characters in the continuing the campaign section, which includes ways of transitioning to a Call of Cthulhu campaign.


MMCJawa wrote:
One element I enjoyed was seeing the "Roaring 20's" versions of a couple of Pathfinder characters in the continuing the campaign section, which includes ways of transitioning to a Call of Cthulhu campaign.

Whoa, really!?

That's awesome!

I assume that has something to do with whatever became of Paris?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Axial wrote:

Whoa, really!?

That's awesome!

I assume that has something to do with whatever became of Paris?

Spoiler:
No, they go to Paris as-is. What MMCJawa was referring to is a way to essentially transform the Pathfinder PCs on Golarion into Call of Cthulhu PCs on Earth. It's part of the Continuing the Campaign section.
Paizo Employee Creative Director

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Yay! I really hope people enjoy that Continuing the Campaign article... it was a fun one to write, if only because I got to tinker with a system other than Pathfinder for once! AND: gangster Valeros and flapper Seoni are adorable.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Yay! I really hope people enjoy that Continuing the Campaign article... it was a fun one to write, if only because I got to tinker with a system other than Pathfinder for once! AND: gangster Valeros and flapper Seoni are adorable.

Dood!

Paizo Employee Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Agreed! Those pieces were among my favorite art ordered for that volume.


Soo...is this AP more about Hastur, or Xhamen-Dor?

Does Hastur make an appearance here? In Carcosa?


James Jacobs wrote:
Yay! I really hope people enjoy that Continuing the Campaign article... it was a fun one to write, if only because I got to tinker with a system other than Pathfinder for once! AND: gangster Valeros and flapper Seoni are adorable.

And I thought I was excited before. This just ramped up my enthusiasm ten-fold! Too bad my blind self can't see those images.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Axial wrote:

Soo...is this AP more about Hastur, or Xhamen-Dor?

Does Hastur make an appearance here? In Carcosa?

The answer to your first question: yes.

Second Question:

No. Keep in mind that Hastur is CR 29 - his appearance would result in a TPK. Instead the PCs duke it out with his servants, including his avatar the Pallid Mask. The final fight against Lowls is also very much like a rematch against Xhamen-Dor, only this time he has assistance.

Maybe this will clarify things a bit. It's confirmed that Hastur is working towards upgrading from a Great Old One (as statted in Bestiary 4) into a full-blown Outer God, on par with Yog-Sothoth and Nyarlathotep. To gather the power necessary for his apotheosis, he absorbs cities such as Thrushmoor, and also uses his pet weaponized fungus god-thing Xhamen-Dor. Lowls is the campaign's true primary villain though. Through his various plots, he...

-Primed Thrushmoor for absorption into Carcosa via activating the monoliths.
-Got himself spiritually infested by Xhamen-Dor.
-Brought enough outsiders to Neruzavin so that Xhamen-Dor became active again.
-Returned the essence of Xhamen-Dor to Carcosa so that it could quickly regenerate, instead of the long and tedious prospect it was facing back on Golarion.
-Serves as the final link between Hastur/Carcosa and Thrushmoor.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Yay! I really hope people enjoy that Continuing the Campaign article... it was a fun one to write, if only because I got to tinker with a system other than Pathfinder for once! AND: gangster Valeros and flapper Seoni are adorable.

That was one of the most unexpected and most welcome parts of the book. Awesome job! Also, speaking of continuing the campaign, there is actually another monster featured there who may be familiar for those who have played Wake of the Watcher...


Generic Villain wrote:
Axial wrote:

Soo...is this AP more about Hastur, or Xhamen-Dor?

Does Hastur make an appearance here? In Carcosa?

The answer to your first question: yes.

** spoiler omitted **

Very interesting:

What happens if the PCs fail?

And is fighting full CR Hastur one of the "Continuing the Campaign" options?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

There are giant, blind, albino penguins.

Spoiler:
Beware them.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Axial wrote:
Generic Villain wrote:
Axial wrote:

Soo...is this AP more about Hastur, or Xhamen-Dor?

Does Hastur make an appearance here? In Carcosa?

The answer to your first question: yes.

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

Spoiler:

- Thrushmoor gets sucked into Carcosa
- The Briarstone Witch returns to Golarion
- Shub-Niggurath permanently manifests her Watcher in the Bay avatar into the waters where Thrushmoor once was.

I don't think there is anything about confronting the King in Yellow directly, but there is a bit about Hauster's cult in further adventures, which could lead to a direct encounter with the Great Old One. There is also a section on what happens if Hauster ascents to become an Outer God.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Fallen,

Wait...did you say...

Spoiler:
Shub-Nigguarth!?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Thomas Seitz wrote:

Fallen,

Wait...did you say...

** spoiler omitted **

Spoiler:
It took 68 volumes of Adventure Path, but the Watcher of Avalon Bay finally gets statted. It just so happens to be one of Shub-N's avatars.

YUSSS!!! *dances around*


FallenDabus wrote:
Axial wrote:
Generic Villain wrote:
Axial wrote:

Soo...is this AP more about Hastur, or Xhamen-Dor?

Does Hastur make an appearance here? In Carcosa?

The answer to your first question: yes.

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **
** spoiler omitted **

I should probably stop asking questions now, but

spoiler:
Who is the Briarstone witch and why would her returning to Golarion be such a catastrophically bad thing?


4 people marked this as a favorite.

If I ever, somehow, got my own avatar, that Seoni would probably be the one I'd ask for.

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