PTBC - Forge of Ashes


Tales

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

The Price Paid was a clinic for writing in a game setting, in so many ways. Pathfinder Tales may just be fantasy novels to readers who have never played the game, but to me they transcend any other stories in this genre that aren’t backed by some kind of interactive medium, especially one as rich and vivid that we are fortunate enough to have in Golarion.

These four chapters played out just like a Pathfinder Society scenario. We start with characters who know nothing of each other, one traditional and one exotic, with different alignments and agendas, then throw them into a situation where both their strengths and weaknesses can play off each other. As gamers, we have all been at a table when two players with dominant presences try to pull the group in different directions, and often with disastrous results. One wants to roll a Bluff or Diplomacy check, the other wants to roll initiative. One doesn’t care about how much XP and GP they gain, the other cares for little else aside from that. Akina and Ondorum exemplify that facet of the game so well, and just like good players do, they somehow find a way to make it all work. Aside from their ethnic affinity for all things earth and stone, they couldn’t be more dissimilar. Their fighting styles are polar opposites – Akina is a rough and tumble thrasher who can dish out as much punishment as she can take, literally throwing herself headlong into a fray and smashing everything to bits, whereas Ondorum is calm and collected, preferring to avoid being hit before hitting back, and uses his head for more than bashing enemies in the face. Between the traps, the barghest, and the hobgoblins it really felt like a session was being documented, right down to the situation that comes up in almost every game when a player says something without really thinking about it, resulting in groans all around…

Josh Vogt wrote:

The hobgoblin leader snarled. "This is pointless. We're blamed for every mishap, and now we have an army of mercenaries set on us."

Ondorum showed the warband leader an open palm. "Not an army. Merely a dozen or so." He looked to Akina. "Unless you have reserves waiting at a distance?"
Akina stared back at him. "Anyone ever mention that you talk too much?"

Classic.

I can almost hear the metagaming going on at the table before that scene happens:

"Maybe we're supposed to talk here. Less chance of dying, we're low on healing."
"I think it's a trap. They're trying to get us to talk to buy time or something"
"If we deal with this peacefully we'll probably still get experience for them from a story award."
"But what about their items? Some could be magical, and we're just going to let them keep them?"
"My character doesn't care about items."
"Mine does! I say we kill them regardless, they're evil."
"Whatever, I'm trying anyway, my character says..."

We've all had that happen before, right? The interplay with Akina and Ondorum does the game justice, and it’s guaranteed that their dynamic will lead them into even more deep trouble in Forge of Ashes!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Huh. Wow, DB, I hadn't even taken that perspective when reading this! You're right - it even has the whole "suddenly without explanation there's another character there that steps out of the shadows" element. I mean they're wandering the middle of the Andoran countryside - and if they're outside Falcon's Hollow there's so many more creatures they might encounter than an oread monk? Haha I can just imagine - *GM voice* "After attacking the Darkness you see a monk there! You two can talk to each other now!"

Comparing the two of them to the "strong-willed players" at the table makes it even more fun, because on the one hand I want to embrace Ondorum's NOT-murder-hobo strategy, there have been times that I totally relate on Akina's part with the whole "oh my god dude you have no idea what you're talking about."

There's also the other element of Ondorum being far more progressive and open-minded than Akina is, by a pretty large degree. I had actually never considered that Iori's monks could be such great sellers of their religion, but if Ondorum is typical or even just "not uncommon"... I am honestly just very impressed. One of the things that always appeals to me the most about the Pathfinder Tales is the chance to see unusual races, creatures, or religions get showed off. Nidalese theurges as NOT enemies, naga love interests, and then in Forge of Ashes we get our first oread character, our first monk, our first dwarf(?) AND first follower of Iori!

I really appreciate what they've done with using the Tales to flesh out the other parts of the world that don't get much attention.

Also, having the strange ability to continue to do everything in reverse, I am terribly amused at how Josh Vogt has the first thing Akina says to Ondorum be "wow you never stop talking just shut up".

Editor

Hey there! Thanks so much for giving this story a lot of thought. I really enjoy your perspective on the whole experience. I was happy to provide some unusual elements in an entertaining fashion.

Thanks for being wonderful readers!

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

JRVogt wrote:

Hey there! Thanks so much for giving this story a lot of thought. I really enjoy your perspective on the whole experience. I was happy to provide some unusual elements in an entertaining fashion.

Thanks for being wonderful readers!

Thank you for your post! Please feel welcome to chime in at any time, we always appreciate insight direct from the authors, and the PTBC is for you just as much as it is for us readers! On that note - readers, let's get ready to discuss Chapters One through Eleven for this Sat. The chapters are like Akina - they're short, but they pack a punch!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So it's Saturday, guys! Time to settle down with the PTBC and talk about a book!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Full disclosure, I was craving some dwarf material. Like, I needed it bad. Which is odd because I never play dwarf characters, but man do I love me some dorftress, or dorf base-building, or exploring dwarven ruins! It certainly didn't help any that I'd just picked up "Burok Torn: City under Siege" from a used bookstore and was charmed by the utter dwarfness of it all. Getting Forge of Ashes in the mail came at just the right point!

As I mention occasionally, I do like to track "Tales' Firsts" and this opens up with another one - first dwarven city! I was about to write "first underground city" but technically the Redemption Engine beats you there Josh, sorry. Take it out on James Jacobs for his driving urge to have Salim visit as many locations as possible each book! You'll have to settle for the lesser title :(

But it's exciting nonetheless. I know that the market is pretty well saturated with other DnD/fantasy books involving dwarves or taking place underground, but imo they lack a lot of elements that the PF tales kind of automatically come with: Faerun books are almost invariably about duergar or dark elves, the "Last of the Dwarves" series was... a different setting and world and rules system entirely, and then many series that "have dwarves" don't REALLY have dwarves beyond the generic "oh they mine stuff and use axes up in the mountains but we don't really know/interact with them". And all of that is usually blanketed with a... "less progressive" stance on gender, sexuality, gender roles, etc. Whether it's that the women in the party are casters/healers/support, or certainly not main characters, or just always the "acted on" partner in the romantic relationship (meaning that they are passive and wait for the male characters to decide everything), it's really noticeable. Especially with a book like Vogt's, where all of that gets set aside and Akina is the exact opposite of everything I just listed. It adds this breath of fresh air in a way that isn't like, set up with big neon lights either (like she's a rebellious girl fighting the patriarchy). Rather, this is just the way the world is, it's NOT an issue that she's an axe-wielding barbarian, or that she browbeats everyone around her, or even that she is the most active partner in her relationship with the oread. It just is, without excuse or highlighting it with big yellow marker. Imo, this is one of the most wonderful things about the Pathfinder Tales series - like the people who choose to publish and write this stuff are doing genuinely good work. Both in terms of quality and for the sci-fi/fantasy crowd.

Hah, sorry for getting a little emotional there, I was just reflecting on the titles we've read and how I think almost every single one of them has done some very awesome things that I needed to see as a kid, and it makes me happy to know that these books exist. Anyways, back to Forge of Ashes!

DB (and you others who are silent browsers), what did you (as in all of you) think of the shift in the tone of Akina's and Ondorum's relationship from the short fiction to the book itself? It is a very dramatic tone, going from "first encounter" to "strained long-term relationship" where they're both pretty raw and wounded from their personal trauma, but unable to touch or connect each other without causing pain. There's a definite feeling of significant time passing, to be sure - and what does that do for you? Both in terms of adding/subtracting sympathy for the characters, holding your interest, and drawing an emotional response, I mean.

For me it was unusual in the sense that - in previous pathfinder tales - we saw the main characters find love, rather than have them already set up in relationships. With the exception of Elyana in Plague of Shadows (where it was clear that her relationship with Stefan was already over from the start, and only later did we see her pain), the majority of characters presented either have no romance or experience romance over the course of their character development. For some it makes them feel adorably young and innocent (like Salim), while for others it is two wounded souls desperately seeking connection (like Zarine and Vera), or it's a shaky and relatively young relationship still in its foundational stages (like Torius and Celeste, who - despite their time together - know the other only in certain contexts and needed to start seeing the other in different light).


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Okay, eat a ... something, forum coding/spambot jerks. Post at your own peril, guys!

All I ended with was some stuff about how the relationship here is also new, along with some stuff about the perils of going into the darklands as a party of two (with no casters, which is awesome!). Additionally, I wish that they had picked up the wounded characters as npcs/henchmen - it would have been cool to see what the two of them managed with a bit more extra resources...

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

xeose4 wrote:
Full disclosure, I was craving some dwarf material. Like, I needed it bad. Which is odd because I never play dwarf characters, but man do I love me some dorftress, or dorf base-building, or exploring dwarven ruins!

Yes, I agree – we haven’t seen any main dwarven characters in the past 11 novels we’ve covered in the PTBC, only minor characters like Dukkol in Pirate’s Promise and Karag in Stalking the Beast. Now we have three of them so far, and of different varieties. Gromir, for instance, is particularly interesting to me, not only because of his role in the story, but because as we don’t get to see many dwarven practitioners of the arcane arts. [I’m pretty sure he’s a magus with the myrmidarch archetype since he was using ranged weapons with spellstrike.] It’s a little hard to believe that Akina used to be, um…involved…with Gromir though, as “wiry” doesn’t seem like something that would be appealing to dwarves in general, but I like that their history gives her an edge, as it usually does with exes…

xeose4 wrote:
As I mention occasionally, I do like to track "Tales' Firsts" and this opens up with another one - first dwarven city! I was about to write "first underground city" but technically the Redemption Engine beats you there Josh, sorry. Take it out on James Sutter for his driving urge to have Salim visit as many locations as possible each book! You'll have to settle for the lesser title :(

Finally were going in to the Darklands, I’ve been waiting for this! Yes, we’ve read about an underground city, but I don’t think we’ve gone this deep underground before. After Akina started dropping names like “Nar-Voth” and “Sekamina” and “Orv” I started plowing through pages to get there.

xeose4 wrote:
But it's exciting nonetheless. I know that the market is pretty well saturated with other DnD/fantasy books involving dwarves or taking place underground, but imo they lack a lot of elements that the PF tales kind of automatically come with: Faerun books are almost invariably about duergar or dark elves, the "Last of the Dwarves" series was... a different setting and world and rules system entirely, and then many series that "have dwarves" don't REALLY have dwarves beyond the generic "oh they mine stuff and use axes up in the mountains but we don't really know/interact with them".

Sure, the whole story with the elves and the drow is entertaining (regardless of campaign setting) but it’s about time we got more into the story with the dwarves and the duergar, aside from the usual dismissive account that leaves off with “we don’t like each other so we just leave each other alone” and that’s that. It looks like they’re gearing up to go head-to-head now though, so let’s see what they got! (I’m curious to see how Akina deals with the arguably unfair advantage that duergar have over dwarves with their spell-like abilities.)

xeose4 wrote:
And all of that is usually blanketed with a... "less progressive" stance on gender, sexuality, gender roles, etc. Whether it's that the women in the party are casters/healers/support, or certainly not main characters, or just always the "acted on" partner in the romantic relationship (meaning that they are passive and wait for the male characters to decide everything), it's really noticeable. Especially with a book like Vogt's, where all of that gets set aside and Akina is the exact opposite of everything I just listed. It adds this breath of fresh air in a way that isn't like, set up with big neon lights either (like she's a rebellious girl fighting the patriarchy). Rather, this is just the way the world is, it's NOT an issue that she's an axe-wielding barbarian, or that she browbeats everyone around her, or even that she is the most active partner in her relationship with the oread. It just is, without excuse or highlighting it with big yellow marker. Imo, this is one of the most wonderful things about the Pathfinder Tales series - like the people who choose to publish and write this stuff are doing genuinely good work. Both in terms of quality and for the sci-fi/fantasy crowd.

Well said! Once again, one of the great things about how progressive Pathfinder is comes to light. Not that we’d expect female dwarves to be like this anyway, but Akina is absolutely not the kind of character to fit gender roles. She is a no-nonsense front-line fighter that takes the battle to her enemies - there is no casting, no healing, no support, and I wouldn’t have it any other way with her.

xeose4 wrote:
DB (and you others who are silent browsers), what did you (as in all of you) think of the shift in the tone of Akina's and Ondorum's relationship from the short fiction to the book itself? It is a very dramatic tone, going from "first encounter" to "strained long-term relationship" where they're both pretty raw and wounded from their personal trauma, but unable to touch or connect each other without causing pain. There's a definite feeling of significant time passing, to be sure - and what does that do for you? Both in terms of adding/subtracting sympathy for the characters, holding your interest, and drawing an emotional response, I mean.

It seems like Akina is a lot closer with Ondorum now. It’s not yet clear if they’ve been together, as she kept dodging the questions from Brakisten and Gromir, but I think they make a good couple. Their offspring would have the Dwarf-Blooded feat as oreads, and despite the prejudice they seem to face from the dwarves, I would like to think that they’d make great allies and contribute a lot – martially and artistically – to any dwarven community.

I also found it quite amusing when we found out right away that Ondorum had taken a vow of silence. Not using any dialogue whatsoever must have been tough to write, but it was surely done right. I like how Ondorum sees the world around him while not being able to speak - it makes everything seem that much more introspective, even for a monk. Of course Akina hates it, which is hilarious, and I wonder how many times she’s going to have to play it off to other people with some lame excuse throughout the book. It serves him right though, after his loose lips almost got them killed in The Price Paid, but leave it to monks to take everything WAY too seriously and do something drastic. I actually miss him talking, in a way; it’s not often you get to read about a character with a really high Wisdom score, but NO ranks in Sense Motive, haha.

Editor

I'll be following along, just FYI, as I'm fascinated what folks draw out of this. If you have any specific questions, definitely toss 'em up! However, I won't spoil anything along the way. ;)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Alright! 12 - 22, lets do it!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I hadn't seen your post earlier, Mr. Vogt. Thanks for being open to take questions - I actually do have a few of my own, especially after what happens this next section.

1) Of the underdark/Darklands races, what made you choose the dark folk? Was it something asked of you by Paizo staff, or entirely your own?

I ask because I find them very interesting and I appreciate the way you humanized them (in the sense that they feel like a genuine race instead of just crazy stabby things that live in the dark). Yet, as we saw with the multitude of creatures at the caravan gate, there is an enormous number of options available, from the generally good (mongrelfolk) to the unequivocally evil (illithid).

2) Who or what inspired the Roper? (I have named him Garrulous in my head because I love him so much).

Garrulous was... like, wow. From the way the scene opened (with showing how orally-fixated ropers are to just how... I guess the word I'm thinking of is "personable"(?) such a talkative beast can be, I was hooked. But more importantly, this redefined ropers for me - previously I had just dismissed them as "alright, w/e I guess even more strange things that are irritating to RP to my players". It would have been very easy to go the cliche fantasy route and leave Garrulous as just a strange impediment to Ondorum's journey, or worse, do the thing some authors do where the villain is simply a means of the author to directly order their character to change. Garrulous isn't used that way, though; in many ways, he is of course self-interested and amoral, looking to devour our hero and sate his own desires - and we do see that he has a set of internal standards of his own, both in terms of the existential (his lecture and enlightenment of Ondorum) and in the physical world (his utter hatred of intellect devourers). I think that last piece, more than anything, brought him to life in a way few DnD writers manage to achieve. Garrulous isn't just an encounter waiting to happen, but a character with his own entire history and backstory and very strong emotions regarding the other creatures of the underdark. More significantly, the way that it was set up - not with him simply announcing that he hates intellect devourers at the start of the encounter, bur instead (again) showing that he has a deep appreciation of free will, intellectual discourse, and the pursuit of personal enlightenment - means that the moment he reaches that conclusion and enrages, the reader is right there with him! I totally understood and was even cheering him on, even though I of course knew that Ondorum wasn't an intellect devourer! Again, it's so very different from the typical "the dragon enrages because _____ (arbitrary reason flung out of the blue)" - it's so organic and natural that I had to take a step back and appreciate it for a while.

Even more amusing is the fact that Ondorum, who was very talkative in the webfiction short, is now faced with this deep-thinking philosopher and now forced to hold his tongue. What a great scene.

3) Does Izthuri have any class levels, or is she just the dark stalker (caligni) creature? Might they reach class levels in the future, or does that run counter to your own stance?

I am always fascinated by monsters that start interacting with "player" characters. Especially when those monsters clearly start gaining XP and pushing through encounters!

4) Did the npcs in the derro torture room survive? Did you have any ideas of what happened to them (half-finished or otherwise)? ... if yes, would you be willing to share? *suggestive eyebrow wriggles*

This is just my own curiosity speaking here. I always get really hung up on side-characters myself. I always wonder "was there a story to THAT character appearing right there, at that time?"

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

Good questions!
I sort of had some of the same ones, so I'll be waiting for those answers too...

I wasn't sure what the "caligni" were at first, as Izthuri referred to her people as rag folk instead of dark folk, and I guess I was also thrown off by them eating light, but the sources never get into depth about their ecology so that was quite interesting to learn.

Also, I liked how their journey through the Darklands with Izthuri was spot on with overland movement and random encounters, continuing the transparency of their story to the game. The characters may have an affinity to underground travel, but as a reader I definitely felt a bit claustrophobic at certain parts, which was a nice touch. Similarly, the encounters with the giant centipede and the earth elemental were just right - they didn't take up too much of the story, nor too little to be totally glossed over, and as such they served as great exposition of what it's really like to be down there for an extended period of time.

Regarding the roper (a.k.a. Garrulous) that encounter reminded me of one I played in just last year:

Spoiler:
The Emerald Spire on Level 16 "The Emerald Root" where our group encountered the roper, Oorivoon. He nearly talked us to death before trying to kill us by more conventional means, but his curiosity got him killed instead - similar to Garrulous - although perhaps not in such a spectacular way as being swallowed whole by a purple worm...nasty...

Actually, one of the characters I considering playing in that module was a duergar Gray Disciple, and after drafting one I realized just how powerful that archetype can be - being able to spend ki points to reactivate their spell-like abilities is borderline broken. When I first read her description on the Long Walk I knew exactly what she was. I thought the odds of getting to play one were better than reading about one in Pathfinder Tales, but I couldn't be happier to be wrong!

Speaking of archetypes, I initially thought Ondorum was an oread Student of Stone, but I'm not sure where his ability to shape metal comes from. Perhaps a different archetype? Any other ideas?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

You know, the other good thing about the PTBC is that we get to compare our knowledge of incredibly obscure Pathfinder stuff! For instance, I knew that Ondorum is using an oread trait there that lets him use the spell "shape metal", while you just learned me about the duergar monk having a solid archetype that's actually quite strong. I had just assumed she was using racial BS and cheating!

So hey DB, as a monk player, what are you thoughts so far about Ondorum and his tactics? I ask because reading about monks is rare enough that that it's not quite the same as asking about the tactics of a wizard or something. Are you excited for the (at least hinted at so far) showdown between the duergar monk and Ondorum that's bound to occur? Also as an aside, did you enjoy the Emerald Spire? I like mega-dungeons, but that one seemed to be lacking flavor/theme to me so I never got further into it.

More generally:

For this week, as DB pointed out, we saw some deep diving into the ecology of the Darklands. In some cases it's pretty big stuff - how caravans band together, even if the races hate each other, because of the far, far deadlier creatures out there, and in some cases it's almost minor, like the fact that dark folk "feed" on light. One thing that I thought was spectacular (and again, one of the reasons I so heartily recommend Pathfinder Tales) is the way the earth elemental offered its gem to Izthuri, and the honor with which she received it. Like Garrulous, it makes it clear that these are creatures that have individual relations to each other outside of the encounter context. A) the dark folk don't just view the earth elemental as a mindless guardian that's just an obstacle to be slain, and B) the earth elemental isn't there to act as either a savior OR a mindless guardian! It's just a creature that has empathy to some degree and also has things that it personally cares about (its gem collection). It's a nice touch that makes me really hungry for more Darklands material - and not in the sense of "oh hey let me buy another campaign setting book" but the "let me get a ground-level view of how an encounter between a dark folk and a lampad might go!"

What did you guys find most appealing here? There's a pretty wide variety to choose from, with melee v spellcaster battles (in which Akina kicked butt), monster v monster battles (rootin' for Garrulous tbh!), and even friendship/alliance building (where, rough as she is, Akina is getting some pretty great circumstance bonuses to her diplomacies!). Right now, what's got you hooked?

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

xeose4 wrote:
You know, the other good thing about the PTBC is that we get to compare our knowledge of incredibly obscure Pathfinder stuff! For instance, I knew that Ondorum is using an oread trait there that lets him use the spell "shape metal", while you just learned me about the duergar monk having a solid archetype that's actually quite strong. I had just assumed she was using racial BS and cheating!

Yes! I was hoping you’d figure it out. What book is that in?

I’d also like to know more about where Ondorum is originally from. In the Blood of the Elements player companion, the Oreads on Golarion sidebar states that most are from the Padishah Empire of Kelesh, but they are also found in Jalmeray, which seems more likely for Ondorum as a follower of Irori, who is commonly worshipped there. One of the first things I do when creating a characters is choosing where they came from, using that to influence what their personalities are like. Aside from Akina noting his gravelly voice in The Price Paid, she made no other remark about him speaking with an accent of any kind, and with his current vow of silence, well…
xeose4 wrote:
So hey DB, as a monk player, what are your thoughts so far about Ondorum and his tactics? I ask because reading about monks is rare enough that that it's not quite the same as asking about the tactics of a wizard or something. Are you excited for the (at least hinted at so far) showdown between the duergar monk and Ondorum that's bound to occur?

His tactics as a monk are just about what I’d expect - he’s a defensive combatant and it becomes clear very quickly that he won’t be defeated in single combat, which draws a lot of attackers in order for them to gain flanking bonuses just to hit him. This allows Akina to pick and choose her targets more efficiently and be a more offensive combatant since fewer attacks are coming her way. In close, Akina would gain flanking bonuses of her own and use feats such as Cleave to full effect against the cluster of enemies around Ondorum.

This is somewhat similar with the strategy that I wanted to develop with the Gray Disciple I was building – his strategy was to draw opponents to him while a spellcaster readied an AoE spell, then to get out of range to trigger the action. The Gray Disciple in particular would have been extremely efficient at this, first attempting Acrobatics to get out of the way without provoking too many attacks, supplemented by the Mobility feat in case he did, and could use invisibility as a swift action in more dire situations. But even if he couldn’t get out of the AoE he could still rely on Evasion, and with the +2 racial bonus to saving throws against spells he'd have a really good chance at making the Reflex save. Monks are obviously very capable melee combatants, but their AC and speed also allows them to be used in a utilitarian way to devastating effect with team players.

And YES – I can’t wait to see a showdown between Ondorum and the Gray Disciple! I’m picturing a slow motion sequence with dynamic camera angles (a la Michael Bay) to capture every move of their dance of death, but given the Fade from Sight and Gray Heart abilities of his duergar counterpart, I really think Ondorum is going to need help from Akina to take her down...

xeose4 wrote:
Also as an aside, did you enjoy the Emerald Spire? I like mega-dungeons, but that one seemed to be lacking flavor/theme to me so I never got further into it.

I loved the Emerald Spire, and I would play it again in a heartbeat [hopefully with the Gray Disciple next time] as there are several ways to take on a superdungeon of this magnitude. Yes, there have been many similar criticisms, and although it can seem like it lacks a theme it surely wasn’t that way for us. Our GM really made it come to life for us and tied everything together nicely while still playing the module as written - not removing or otherwise changing anything, only adding embellishments where creative license was granted by the authors. A good way to bring out the flavor in any module is (after reading it in entirety of course) to prep it backwards, because being able to track everything in reverse from the grand scheme of things allows you to bring out plot points more ostentatiously when you know which of the smaller parts should be made to seem larger for the players to pick up on. [I’m avoiding spoilers again, so if you'd like full disclosure check our documentation in The Emerald Spire Project.]

Editor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Finally have the chance to pop in and respond a bit! Wow, awesome discussion you've got going on. It is excellent to see the compare-and-contrast of knowledge and experience you bring to the game and the world.

Let me try to tackle at least a few questions!

1) Of the underdark/Darklands races, what made you choose the dark folk? Was it something asked of you by Paizo staff, or entirely your own?

When researching for the novel, the dark folk caught my eye as a race that, while present, hadn't been explored in too much depth. It left me with a lot of room to explore and play around with Izthuri and her people, trying to find ways to make creatures that could come across as vile or distasteful in some contexts and making them more relatable.

2) Who or what inspired the Roper? (I have named him Garrulous in my head because I love him so much).

Oh, that was a scene I couldn't wait to write for the longest time. Again, as you point out, ropers themselves haven't really been given "personalities" or shown as much more than obstacles/monsters to be overcome. I wanted a way to really mess with Ondorum's perspective on reality, even if he's being enlightened by what would be considered an evil monster. (Love the name, Garrulous, by the way!)

3) Does Izthuri have any class levels, or is she just the dark stalker (caligni) creature? Might they reach class levels in the future, or does that run counter to your own stance?

She was brought into the story as just the dark stalker, yes. I'm certainly not against creatures gaining class levels, even if it's via a home-brew set of rules.

4) Did the npcs in the derro torture room survive? Did you have any ideas of what happened to them (half-finished or otherwise)? ... if yes, would you be willing to share?

I left their fate a bit ambiguous on purpose. Obviously a few perished or were well on their way to doing so. One or two might've wandered out of the warren, maybe even made it back to their original homes, on the surface or otherwise--but doubtful that their half-mad mutterings of small underground lunatics would be taken very seriously.

Editor

As a random aside, DB, the Gray Disciple wasn't actually a planned character when I set out to first write the story. Kind of like the Roper opposing Ondorum's mindset in ways, though, the Gray Disciple posed a unique opportunity to be something of another dark mirror.

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

[Sorry...I posted from my phone again yesteday, but it didn't go through...]

What a finish, that was a full-on war! We've seen mass combat sever times in the PTBC, dating back to the battle of Silverlake in The Ccrusader Road, but the loss of life we were just witness to was staggering. It seemed to take hundreds of dwarven warriors to take out the scanderigs, which at first I thought were modified (ES), but are actually related to the Rise of the Runelords adventure path. Then I got thinking about all of runes that were brought up throughout the novel, especially at the soul forge, and although I don't recall it being correlated, does anyone think the device was Thassilonian in origin, perhaps having been created by one of them?

Does anyone know what the Forge Spurned are? Is it an interpretation of the fiery template, or is something more, or entirely different? The chains made me think of kytons...

Although Vaskegar was the leader of the duergar, I liked how Ularna took the spotlight from him as the main antagonist, and also how she survived in the end. Vaskegar being killed in gruesome fashion sated me enough that Ularna retreating wasn't anticlimactic. Maybe we'll see her again if there’s a sequel, as enemies who escape in the game often return for revenge!

Editor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

DB, per the Forge Spurned: http://pathfinder.wikia.com/wiki/Forge_spurned

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

JRVogt wrote:
DB, per the Forge Spurned: http://pathfinder.wikia.com/wiki/Forge_spurned

Yes! Thank you!

Of course it was Logue, I'm a big fan of his work - The Emerald Spire Level 13 and Iron Gods Part 2, plus so much more...amazing stuff!

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

Let's keep this going until the end of the week, so if you have anything else to add before we move on now is the time.

Josh - it was nice to meet you at GenCon, and if I had only finished Forge of Ashes there instead of started it on the way I would've had a more in-depth conversation with you. This was a really a fun read and I hope we see more of Akina and Ondorum (and Ularna) sooner rather than later! Thank you very much for participating, and please feel free to stay with us as we continue on to your colleagues.

As discussed last month, we'll be reading Gary Kloster next, starting with The Gem, then onto Firesoul the following week...

Editor

A pleasure as well, DB! I should be at the next one as well, so I'm sure we'll cross paths again in meatspace. Thanks for reading and enjoy Gary's story. I certainly did.

Scarab Sages

Any furture plans for Akina and Ondorum?

Editor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Belabras wrote:
Any furture plans for Akina and Ondorum?

I would love to continue exploring their adventures if given the opportunity, and I definitely have a handful of ideas where they might wind up next. I doubt this is the last we'll see of them, but it depends on the publication schedule and author line-up they've already got in place for 2016-2017. Excited to see what other folks create as well!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Darkborn wrote:
[Sorry...I posted from my phone again yesteday, but it didn't go through...]

Dude that bites! I have gotten paranoid about posting on these boards because of the paizo post monster that keeps eating EVERYTHING.

Darkborn wrote:
What a finish, that was a full-on war! We've seen mass combat sever times in the PTBC, dating back to the battle of Silverlake in The Ccrusader Road, but the loss of life we were just witness to was staggering. It seemed to take hundreds of dwarven warriors to take out the scanderigs, which at first I thought were modified (ES), but are actually related to the Rise of the Runelords adventure path. Then I got thinking about all of runes that were brought up throughout the novel, especially at the soul forge, and although I don't recall it being correlated, does anyone think the device was Thassilonian in origin, perhaps having been created by one of them?

You know, when I first saw the dwarven forge I thought for sure it was going to be a creepy eldritch horror-forge - I was actually kind of disappointed it was just a thing to the dark dwarf god. I was hoping to see Akina fight horror-terrors from the great beyond! But it was kind of cool I guess that there was an awesome battle. Even if I was also super disappointed that Akina and Ondorum didn't just lead the scraelings into the rust monster nest! After seeing what the first one did to ONE of them, I thought for sure they would put two and two together and draw the whole hive down on them! I mean like I said I guess the hardcore battle scene with lots of action at the end waaaas soooort of coooooool... but man it would have been funny to see some dread rust monsters invade the evil metal dwarf god's plane.

I think it was stated in the book that it was originally built by the founder of the settlement in honor of Torag, DB. And maybe Mr. Vogt was just using runes in recognition of their typical pairing with dwarven lore? Although having Akina bump up against some runelord cultists would be sort of neat in the future...

Darkborn wrote:
Although Vaskegar was the leader of the duergar, I liked how Ularna took the spotlight from him as the main antagonist, and also how she survived in the end. Vaskegar being killed in gruesome fashion sated me enough that Ularna retreating wasn't anticlimactic. Maybe we'll see her again if there’s a sequel, as enemies who escape in the game often return for revenge!

Yeah, I noticed that too. Ularna was definitely the one in the spotlight for the battle scenes, although as far as villains go I thought that Vaskegar was solid. If it weren't for the irrational hatred of surface dwarves thing I would have felt more like rooting for him. I, too, am very interested in seeing a sequel, particualarly if Akina is serious about setting up shop in that settlement! More hardcore dwarf books are always the best.

Now that the book is over, where do you, DB, or you, Belabras (since you broke lurker ranks to step forward) see Akina and Ondorum going? We saw Ondorum definitely go through some major growth spurts, and as a result it seems their relationship has returned to whatever passes for normal. For that matter, was this one that spoke to either of you? There's a lot of promise for Akina's family too (should more show up), as well as her swearing to find her mother's soul...

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I've got to get that feat that lets you lurk again right after breaking your lurk...

I can't speak to JRV's plan, of course. So what I as a reader would like to see in future stories:
- Further exploration of Ondorum's past and partial elemental nature (and how that is both alike and different than the dwarven bond to elemental earth).
- More Darklands adventure. We have only one other Tales novel that deals with the Darklands, so the place is ripe for adventure. Akina and Ondorum are the perfect team for it.
- Dwarven history, Sky Citadels, and perhaps some of the other evil Darklands races (as long as it is not Drow).
- Exploration of our protagonists as a couple. Most stories focus on the courtship period of a couple, and I really like that Akina and Ondorum are past that. Not that the can't have romance, just that they have already reached the point where they are a solid partnership; anticipating each other's actions and complementing each other's strengths. Where do they see that going?

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

xeose4 wrote:
Now that the book is over, where do you, DB, or you, Belabras (since you broke lurker ranks to step forward) see Akina and Ondorum going? We saw Ondorum definitely go through some major growth spurts, and as a result it seems their relationship has returned to whatever passes for normal. For that matter, was this one that spoke to either of you? There's a lot of promise for Akina's family too (should more show up), as well as her swearing to find her mother's soul...

Obviously I'd like to see Akina and Ondorum doing some more adventuring together. The dire events in Forge of Ashes will surely have brought them closer together than any of their adventures prior put together, so before they go back out into the Darklands it would be interesting to see how they help rebuild the defenses in the aftermath of the duergar war (which will likely need a name) and during the ordeal perhaps they will serve to dissuade the negative feelings the dwarves have about oreads. As progressive as we know Pathfinder to be, this could be an opportunity to enlighten another race rigid in their ways about interracial relationships, or maybe it would even be interspecies in their case. So I guess I'm going to stick with what I said awhile back about wanting to see offspring with the Dwarf Blooded oread feat. They'd probably look like infant versions of a certain member of the Fantastic Four at first, then start growing crystalline beards, and once they're of age they could even become brawlers to accentuate their hybrid parentage even more. So I guess I'm saying I'd eventually like to see where they'd be at a few years from the end of Forge of Ashes, or decades depending if there are limitations the authors have to abide by regarding the Golarion timeline. Maybe once they're one big happy family they could all go looking for the soul of Granny Jannasten...

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

Good morning, all!
Here's the link to the new thread, starting with the four chapters of The Gem this weekend, then onto Chapters One through Eight for next weekend in Gary Kloster's first Pathfinder Tales novel:

Firesoul


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

I didn't get time during the week to post. Just doing it now because I'm late to everything!

Darkborn wrote:
Obviously I'd like to see Akina and Ondorum doing some more adventuring together. The dire events in Forge of Ashes will surely have brought them closer together than any of their adventures prior put together, so before they go back out into the Darklands it would be interesting to see how they help rebuild the defenses in the aftermath of the duergar war (which will likely need a name) and during the ordeal perhaps they will serve to dissuade the negative feelings the dwarves have about oreads. As progressive as we know Pathfinder to be, this could be an opportunity to enlighten another race rigid in their ways about interracial relationships, or maybe it would even be interspecies in their case. So I guess I'm going to stick with what I said awhile back about wanting to see offspring with the Dwarf Blooded oread feat.

Haha, you know, I feel that Akina would only be mad at Ondorum and blame him 100% for her getting pregnant. "You were there too" he might say, but that probably wouldn't help anything because him talking never solves anything. ever!

Darkborn wrote:
They'd probably look like infant versions of a certain member of the Fantastic Four at first, then start growing crystalline beards...

Even the girls? :P

No I kid. I like the idea. In fact, I guess I wouldn't be surprised if the next book jumps ahead, the way the online piece did, past the fairly traveled territory that Belabras mentioned of new relationships and the Vogt sank his teeth into the heart of the matter again. Sky's the limit, I guess (or the cavern ceiling, whichever a dwarf will hit first).

My final thoughts were similar to Belabras's - more exploration of underground races (I so badly want to see more of the darkfolk and expansion of them as characters), more elementals, maybe even some of the underdark fey (like the lampads!). The return of Garrulous - and this time he's even more talkative than ever! Even drow would be fun, so long as it's in the context of them adding to the dwarf/dark folk/whatever story... I mean I'm not going to lie, I do enjoy a good, evil dark elf. And it's also old news when it's like "bleh I'm a dark elf, bleh I'm evil what a surprise!"

Forge of Ashes hit a really fun itch and scratched it perfectly. The underdark/Darklands is so wide open, and I do hope Paizo continues with Vogt's presentation of it - it does a lot of make the world come to life. I have to say, I didn't want to put the book down because I was always excited to see what strange things they might interact with/encounter next (and I aws really really hoping for some base building action!).

In terms of what I liked less... I guess I didn't get the best feel for Akina and Ondorum. That's partly why I checked in with you guys. It feels like there's still a lot of room open to see what matters to them, and while they served well enough to get through this one short quest I am curious to know where they'll grow as people (since, relatively, we've seen so very little of them). I'm pretty open to another novel, I guess is what I'm saying.

Thanks for delurking Belabras, welcome to the PTBC! Thanks to you too for answering some questions, Mr. Vogt!

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I haunt the Tales forum. If neutralized, I reset in a week.

Community / Forums / Archive / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Tales / PTBC - Forge of Ashes All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Pathfinder Tales