Pathfinder Adventure Path #196: The Summer That Never Was (Season of Ghosts 1 of 4)

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Pathfinder Adventure Path #196: The Summer That Never Was (Season of Ghosts 1 of 4)

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The Season of Ghosts Adventure Path begins!

A terrible curse descends upon the town of Willowshore! Located in haunted Shenmen in the heart of the sprawling continent of Tian Xia, this horror-themed campaign pits the heroes against supernatural threats and the harsh realities of facing an upcoming winter when all contact with the outside world has been cut off by a mysterious wall of fog. What fiendish menace might be behind the Willowshore Curse, and can it be stopped before everyone in town is lost? The Season of Ghosts Adventure Path is a four-part series of connected adventures that form a complete Pathfinder campaign for characters of 1st to 12th level.

In the campaign’s opening adventure, the heroes awaken disoriented and alone in a forest clearing after taking part in a traditional festival on the last day of Spring. They soon discover their hometown of Willowshore has been invaded by monsters and has fallen under a sinister spell. Yet defeating the monsters is only the first step in discovering the frightening nature of a supernatural curse that has gripped the land, and as the days of a summer plagued with rain trudge on, the grim reality facing the people of Willowshore will need true heroes to confront!

The Summer That Never Was is a horror-themed Pathfinder adventure for four 1st-level characters. This adventure begins the Season of Ghosts Adventure Path, a four-part monthly campaign in which a group of adventurers fight to protect their home town from monsters and mysterious events that have isolated them from the rest of the world. This adventure also includes a detailed look at the small town of Willowshore, a selection of new magical items to discover, and several new monsters ready to bring a dose of fear to your table!

Each monthly full-color softcover Pathfinder Adventure Path volume contains an in-depth adventure scenario, stats for several new monsters, and support articles meant to give Game Masters additional material to expand their campaign.

Written by: Sen H.H.S. and James Jacobs.

ISBN-13: 978-1-64078-544-1

The Season of Ghosts Adventure Path is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. The rules for running this Adventure Path and Chronicle Sheets are available as a free download (860 KB PDF).

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

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So well done!

5/5

This is by far the best AP I've read. The first adventure has a nice variety of encounters, full of surprises and foreshadowing. A colourful and well rounded set of NPCs offer multiple options for meaningful interactions and conflict resolutions. It uses a wide variety of P2e's mechanics, all done in a way to move the story forward.

Much like the structure of the greater AP, the first book is written using Kishōtenketsu narrative structure. It's a fun read, and does an excellent job of getting the PCs engaged while laying the foundation for future plot twists and revelations. "The Summer That Never Was" offers a fantastic setting and story. I can't wait to fill it out even more with information from the Tian Xia World Guide. This campaign is the top of my wish list for AP's to run.


Can you save a terrorized town?

5/5

Quick caveat; I've read through the adventure, but not yet run it for my players.

Willowshore is a quiet, remote village in Tian Xia with deep ties to the natural - and unnatural - world around it. The players awake after an annual festival to find the town has been seized by horrific monsters; they must defeat the invaders, rescue what citizens they are able to, and restore the protections of the village before investigating where the monsters came from and why. Many of the village locations (shops and features, etc) are quite detailed, as well as the non-violently opposed factions of the town; we get extensive summaries of the two village elders and shorter ones of other notables, plus more detail and history about the region where Willowshore is located. There's also a handful of thematic magic items, a good helping of new fulus, and quite a few neat but very creepy monsters.

Note that there are quite a few significant plot twists and secrets in the adventure path, so if you are interested in playing through it fresh, I'd recommend you avoid reading it ahead! Otherwise I'd say it's an excellent adventure, either for running it as-is or for harvesting bits for your own campaigns.


One of the best adventures ever written!

5/5

Absolutely one of the best adventures ever written!

No further notes.

Ten stars and a huge round of applause for everyone involved!


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Paizo Employee Sales & eCommerce Assistant

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Announced for October! Product image and description are not final and may be subject to change.


11 people marked this as a favorite.

A four-parter! A Tian AP that starts at level one! A chance to see Shenmen! Being in Tian Xia for AP #200!

SO much exciting stuff here, I’m glowing.

Silver Crusade

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

FOUR PARTS?!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I will get this!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
keftiu wrote:

A four-parter! A Tian AP that starts at level one! A chance to see Shenmen! Being in Tian Xia for AP #200!

SO much exciting stuff here, I’m glowing.

It also means we're very likely to be getting a tie in lost omens (or rulebook I guess) product concerning Tian Xia, my excitement is very very high.

Dark Archive

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

May be there are going to be 4 seasons that never were.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
The-Magic-Sword wrote:
keftiu wrote:

A four-parter! A Tian AP that starts at level one! A chance to see Shenmen! Being in Tian Xia for AP #200!

SO much exciting stuff here, I’m glowing.

It also means we're very likely to be getting a tie in lost omens (or rulebook I guess) product concerning Tian Xia, my excitement is very very high.

Nope. We’re getting TWO Lost Omens tie-in books!!!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

12 people marked this as a favorite.
keftiu wrote:

A four-parter! A Tian AP that starts at level one! A chance to see Shenmen! Being in Tian Xia for AP #200!

SO much exciting stuff here, I’m glowing.

Not quite... Season of Ghosts is volumes #196–#199. Volume 200 is not part of this Adventure Path, but is something else we haven't yet announced.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
keftiu wrote:

Being in Tian Xia for AP #200!

It looks like this AP ends with 199.


9 people marked this as a favorite.

I might not be able to count, but at least I can feel gratified that "spiders" did indeed seem to point at Shenmen!


*and preordered*

Grand Archive

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

HUZZAH! GHOSTS! I LOVE GHOSTS!


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
willfromamerica wrote:
The-Magic-Sword wrote:
keftiu wrote:

A four-parter! A Tian AP that starts at level one! A chance to see Shenmen! Being in Tian Xia for AP #200!

SO much exciting stuff here, I’m glowing.

It also means we're very likely to be getting a tie in lost omens (or rulebook I guess) product concerning Tian Xia, my excitement is very very high.
Nope. We’re getting TWO Lost Omens tie-in books!!!

lmao i saw right after, so damn exciting

Dark Archive

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Is this case of "ya know we decided we won't name the town Willowshore in an asian language since to locals it would still be Willowshore, so it would be silly" or case of ap starting outside of Shenmen? :O I'mma curious


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

A four part AP, interesting. AP #200 must be something really special.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

15 people marked this as a favorite.
CorvusMask wrote:
Is this case of "ya know we decided we won't name the town Willowshore in an asian language since to locals it would still be Willowshore, so it would be silly" or case of ap starting outside of Shenmen? :O I'mma curious

Because Shenmen is a region that doesn't map directly to a real world region. Just as Ustalav brings in horror tropes from multiple countries, so does Shenmen, and by naming the town as a compound word rather than making up a nonsense word that sounds Asian or by picking a specific real world Asian language, "Willowshore" is on equal footing across all languages.

It's also easier to translate a compound word for products that are translated into other languages.

And by using a compound word, we give the reader some immediate flavor to associate with the settlement. You know willow trees and shores are a part of this brand new town already.

It also follows traditions we've used in the Inner Sea, in naming some towns like Sandpoint, Riddleport, Westcrown, Carrion Hill, Highhelm, Whitethrone, Bloodcove, Starfall, etc.

Sometimes we make up a nonsense word for a place. Sometimes we use a compound word.

The Adventure Path starts in Willowshore with the expectation that the PCs are all locals, or at least have lived in Willowshore long enough to consider it their home town.

Silver Crusade

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

It sounds like we're getting an adventure path that will allow for some actual down-time during and between adventures. I love that.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

11 people marked this as a favorite.
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
It sounds like we're getting an adventure path that will allow for some actual down-time during and between adventures. I love that.

Season of Ghosts is 100% built to play out over the course of 1 year, with each volume covering 3 months (one season). Which is plenty of time for some groups to do lots of downtime stuff (and absolutely each adventure will include downtime play elements)... but also too short for other groups who prefer the idea of going from 1st to 12th level be something that takes multiple years rather than just a single year.

But yes. This Adventure Path will have some significant parts that lean into exploration and downtime play as well as encounter play.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This definitely sounds like an interesting AP. And the two tie-in books look to be very promising. I think I may have to subscribe for this AP when it comes out. A first for me in 12 years of playing Pathfinder.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
It sounds like we're getting an adventure path that will allow for some actual down-time during and between adventures. I love that.

Season of Ghosts is 100% built to play out over the course of 1 year, with each volume covering 3 months (one season). Which is plenty of time for some groups to do lots of downtime stuff (and absolutely each adventure will include downtime play elements)... but also too short for other groups who prefer the idea of going from 1st to 12th level be something that takes multiple years rather than just a single year.

But yes. This Adventure Path will have some significant parts that lean into exploration and downtime play as well as encounter play.

A year in the life where the players get to put down roots, and make a difference to the town is actually amazing, and would definitely lure me into running another Tian-Xia themed adventure path after running Jade Regent for 11 Years (and 3 of those years in Tian Xia)

Silver Crusade

7 people marked this as a favorite.

Horror Story? Sppoky horror stuff? Seasonal Theming????

HYPEEEEEEEEEEEEE!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

If only there was a shaman class to fit the spirit themes of this adventure. Hint hint at Paizo


I love Tian Xia.Wanna see more exciting fashionable modern Asian theme.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Will this come out on Foundry pre-built at the same time?


2 people marked this as a favorite.
SnowBeast90 wrote:
Will this come out on Foundry pre-built at the same time?

It's likely, but probably too early to get Paizo confirmation.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

This is an adventure I have longed to see. I will 100% buy this adventure path and can’t wait to see the first instalment. Shenmen has been the one country in Tian Xia I’ve most wanted to run an adventure in. I lived in Japan for a number of years and Japanese ghost stories and indeed chinese ghost stories too, have a flavour all their own. I know Shenmen is not supposed to be Japan or China, but its going to be a fantastic place for a horror adventure, rainy, overcast, forested and full of ghosts, evil fey, spiders and Jorogumo…….what could be better!


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

So I guess we now need a 2-3 part high level adventure to cover levels 13-20? Combine that with a single adventure covering levels 11-12, and we would have yet another sequel to all of the low level 3-parters we already have.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
David knott 242 wrote:


So I guess we now need a 2-part high level adventure to cover levels 13-20? Combine that with a single adventure covering levels 11-12, and we would have yet another sequel to all of the low level 3-parters we already have.

Could also just be very slightly OP for the first book of Ruby Phoenix.


James Jacobs wrote:
keftiu wrote:

A four-parter! A Tian AP that starts at level one! A chance to see Shenmen! Being in Tian Xia for AP #200!

SO much exciting stuff here, I’m glowing.

Not quite... Season of Ghosts is volumes #196–#199. Volume 200 is not part of this Adventure Path, but is something else we haven't yet announced.

Doubtful it will be a 2-book AP, so perhaps an 8-book AP?

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I mean, nothing says the numbers have to all line up. Could very well do a three book from 200-202.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
GGSigmar wrote:
SnowBeast90 wrote:
Will this come out on Foundry pre-built at the same time?
It's likely, but probably too early to get Paizo confirmation.

I would bet (a tiny bit of) cash money that, even if they somehow fall behind on other things, Sigil Entertainment is going to be asked to give this AP's conversion a *priority* treatment so that the Foundry version is available day-and-date with the magazine.

This is probably one of the bigger, more visible APs in years. I'm sure it'll get treated right.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm hoping that the bestiaries in this AP tap into Asian folklore and horror cinema. Paizo's adoption of real world folklore into there books has been a huge draw for me.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Since Paizo has completely abandoned the "there must be a 1st issue of an AP at GenCon" assumption, the gloves are off!


4 people marked this as a favorite.

I also realized that you can combine this AP with Fist of the Ruby Phoenix is to make a Tian Xia centric campaign that goes from 1 - 20.

Dark Archive

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
keftiu wrote:

A four-parter! A Tian AP that starts at level one! A chance to see Shenmen! Being in Tian Xia for AP #200!

SO much exciting stuff here, I’m glowing.

SHENMEN!!!

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

On a scale of 1-10, how much of the Flavor of this AP is -- from monster-encounters, to themes, to bits of mythology -- are Oriental? (My gut tells me a 9 or 10.)

The only reason I ask is that, when I read the three-paragraph intro at the top, excluding the opening sentence's "Located in haunted Shenmen in the heart of the sprawling continent of Tian Xia," everything about the AP Screamed Issia & Rostland to me. Like, this AP is destined to be dropped in the Finadar Forest, or some other stretch of heretofore not-yet-written-up-in-detail chunk of that region.

So I guess the question is, how much homebrew work from the DM of this awesome-sounding four-part AP would be needed to move it from Shenmen to somewhere in Issia or Rostland? Would it just be switching half of the monsters from Oriental to Western -- and maybe a little Flavor here and there? Or is this AP so thick of Oriental Adventures Flavor that, once a DM starts reading over it, there's just no way to take it out of Tian Xia?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

22 people marked this as a favorite.
W E Ray wrote:
On a scale of 1-10, how much of the Flavor of this AP is...

0 "Oriental" flavor (that being an outdated and obsolete and offensive term unless you're talking about rugs).

10 for "Asian" though. Maybe even 11. The entire adventure path takes place in Shenmen, and is primarily inspired by Asian horror movies (particularly those from Japan, China, and South Korea) and myths. Shenmen itself isn't meant to be a specific "stand in" for any real-world region, and there's influence and inspiration from across Asia in this Adventure Path. Thematically and lore wise, it'd be a very awkward fit for somewhere outside of Tian-Xia, down to and including the very structure of it being a 4-part story built off of not a 3-act structure but a 4-act one based on Kishōtenketsu, a classic storytelling structure used in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean narratives.

If you DO want to transplant this Adventure Path into the Inner Sea region, somewhere in Ustalav is probably the closest choice, thematically, from a horror tropes standpoint. But it'll probably be a lot of work, especially since I and the authors are doing everything we can to make it be the best Shenmen-located campaign we possibly can.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Shenmen is explicitly the Asian Horror Land in the theme park palette of Golarion. I don’t really see any similarities to Brevoy other than the shared existence of forests. You might have something if you’d said Ustalav, but even then… this is the AP they’re pairing with a massive Tian Xia push - it’s gonna feel Tian.


why does waiting on all of this feels so terrible????


2 people marked this as a favorite.

We JUST started Gatewalkers, my table is already talking about the "Tian Xia" AP--glad to see the horror inspired aspects.
I am VERY excited to see a four-part story. Six books can be too long for our local group, and three can be too short.
Up next: AP of Elemental Evil, Horsey's of the AP-ocalypse, the Clover Conspiracy, Renaissance Turtles.


OOOOH!


7 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Facinating tidbit got dropped in another thread.

James Jacobs wrote:
Kobold Catgirl wrote:
Actually, it sounds like Season Of Ghosts is set in the past, which is cool, and I didn't know it at the time. I think it's probably about as far as they're going to go into that concept.

Season of Ghosts begins on the first day of summer in the year 7108 IC (which converts to 4608 AR), so 2 years or so after the Age of Lost Omens begins.

This is sort of an experiment in that regard to see how folks react to something like this, but also, the entire adventure path is pretty tightly constrained to a small region in Willowshore. There's not going to be a chance for your PCs to swoop around the world and take part in historical events in other words.

We'll see if we want to do something like that again in the future after these tentative first steps.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
FallenDabus wrote:

Facinating tidbit got dropped in another thread.

James Jacobs wrote:
Kobold Catgirl wrote:
Actually, it sounds like Season Of Ghosts is set in the past, which is cool, and I didn't know it at the time. I think it's probably about as far as they're going to go into that concept.

Season of Ghosts begins on the first day of summer in the year 7108 IC (which converts to 4608 AR), so 2 years or so after the Age of Lost Omens begins.

This is sort of an experiment in that regard to see how folks react to something like this, but also, the entire adventure path is pretty tightly constrained to a small region in Willowshore. There's not going to be a chance for your PCs to swoop around the world and take part in historical events in other words.

We'll see if we want to do something like that again in the future after these tentative first steps.

I wonder if this AP then is tied somehow to the death of Aroden? Kind of like how Tyrant's Grasp tied into his earthly shenanigans and then when he died it messed things up. He seems to have liked to stick his fingers into many different pies.


Probably not.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

They've said that it isn't.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

"Aroden died on his Asian vacation" is a pretty funny thought, though.

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Just a note that Aroden did not just die. He was murdered.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

13 people marked this as a favorite.

This Adventure Path has nothing to do with Aroden, and is set in a region where Aroden has never had any presence or influence, and is about something else entirely.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

So this is set before/during Rise of the Runelords?

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.

A little over a century in the past.

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