Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review (Games) - Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

How do you like your goblins, minced or roasted?
Name: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game - Rise of the Runelords
Publisher: Paizo Publishing LLC.
Publishing Year: 2014
Designer: Mike Selinker, Lone Shark Games
Play Time: 90 minutes (+10 minutes per player)
Recommended Age: 13+
Cost: $59.99 ($19.99 per expansion pack)

Summary
Pros
  • Captures the feel of progression that you would get in RPGs extremely well.
  • For veteran RPG players, great to get a bit of that RPG fix in an hour rather than a few hours.
  • For non-RPG players, it can give you a small hint at what an RPG is like.
  • Strong setting.
Cons
  • You're going to need some imagination. There are some portions that are very thematic (monk's ability to flurry), but the exploration needs a touch of imagination to lighten it up a bit.
  • You will not get the most out of the game unless you play multiple sessions. Progressions and upgrading your character deck is a big part of the game.
  • There are many, MANY erratas and FAQs. If you want to go deep, make sure you go onto Paizo's website and read through them.
  • Decently rules heavy. While it's not as bad as heavy Eurogames, it's definitely not Ticket to Ride or Catan easy. Doesn't help there are a staggering amount of card variety, increasing the different ways a card might interact.
  • Costs might be a little high for what you get...
Recommendation (Not For Everyone): This game is a great co-op, but if you do not commit to it long term for the character progression, you're better off finding another co-op game that has a lower entry barrier. The character progression is the essence of this game. However, of all the games I've played, this has come the closest to a full blown RPG.

Overview
Just a few of the 500+ cards you'll be dealing with. 
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is a co-operative game system loosely based off the Pathfinder RPG setting. Players co-operate to complete a scenario objective, usually by exploration locations. During these explorations, they will encounter boons (positive cards such as a piece of armor or a helpful ally) or banes (negative cards such as traps or monsters), where they will try to acquire or defeat. Your allies will be able to assist you, depending on their location and character class. Most of the time, you'll be trying to root out the boss of whatever is causing the disturbance in the scenario by running through the location decks via exploration. By doing so, you'll most likely find one of the boss's henchmen, where you will defeat and shut down the location to prevent the boss from escaping to it. Game ends in your victory when you defeat the boss and he has no where else to flee, or it can end in defeat if everyone dies or you run out of time (about 30 turns).

Components
Here's the innards. Keep in mind I already have the 6 Adventure Path add-ons and the character deck, so the 7 boxes in the upper left do not come with the base game. 
The Components in the base game is just a few dice and a lot of cards. The box is really sturdy and there's a lot of room in the box to hold all of the expansions. I especially like the way they organized the box into sections for the different cards, making it extremely easy to just grab the deck that you need on the fly, which happens more often than you'd think.

The dice and cards are pretty standard. The cards are not poker card quality, but it's decent. It's still pretty thin for my tastes, though, and with the amount of shuffling and card handling, if you're like me, get some sleeves for them. Also, if you are squeamish about writing on your cards like I am, I suggest you grab like 10 or so clear sleeves of the thicker variety. You can use those to sleeve the character cards and use dry erase markers to record your progression.

I'm not sure the base game, or even the total cost of the game, justifies it's cost. The base game is $60 MSRP and you can usually get it for $40 online. You only get about ~500 cards for that price. To put it into perspective, Dominion has 500 cards and it costs about $27. The card thickness is about the same, but there's a lot more unique pieces of art in Pathfinder and they are standard size rather than Euro sized. And then each expansion costs an MSRP of $20, each one giving you about 100 more cards. That makes it even more difficult to swallow because without expansions, the game gets boring really fast. You can only do so much with 3 scenarios.

Conclusion
This game is definitely not for everyone for a lot of reasons, especially not for your casual board gamer. This is a game you want to go in deep and commit fully. The base game only provides you with 3 scenarios, extremely easy to knock out in 3 hours or less. The base cards are also pretty similar to each other. It's only when you start getting the expansions they start to add really interesting and great cards in there. But then that would mean to get the full experience, you're looking at nearly $200 MSRP. Let's not forget all the extra character expansion packs, which expands your options from the base classes. There's a lot of buy ins, and on the financial side, it's definitely not worth it for the causal dip.

Then there's the problem of rules. The rules are not too hard, but the sheer amount of interactions between the cards makes it a headache for casual gamers. Even the developers are having a hard time; check their FAQ section, it's enormous!

Time commitment is also a factor. When I first played a game, I was very "meh" about it. It took me a few games to start to see that the game wasn't so bad, as I was able to add more cards into my deck and replace basic cards with elite versions of themselves. That's when I really started to lay down the hurt.

Given all these problems, I still recommend this game, but only if you're an RPG player or if you're looking to commit long term to just 1 co-op game. RPG players will get a similar feel of progression, but at a much lighter and faster pace (compared to a RPG campaign). It gets you a bit of that fix when you're out of a GM or don't have as much time to commit. Also, this is the game to go for if you're looking for the co-op that ends all other co-ops. There are so many options and with all the expansions, you're going to have a tough time finishing them, especially if you die along the way. It's costly, but it has much more replayability than other co-ops. The more you invest in this game, the more it gives back.


Monday, February 16, 2015

One Shots - The Runaway Groom

Party Cast
Adam + David
Adam hails from the unknown lands, and together with his centaur eidolon David, they've struck out to see the world.
Bootlegolas (Pregenerated Stand In)
Damiel (Iconic Stand In)
Hawk
A tiefling with a mysterious past. He holds himself strictly to his own personal code and his motives are unknown, but he proves to be an efficient solider. He is focus is unrivaled; once he sets his sights on a target, he will not relent until one of them is dead.
John Smith
Hailing from the far lands up north, John Smith moves now from town to town buying and selling just about anything he can get a good deal on. He joined the military in hopes that he can gain access to the military supply lines and, of course, more customers. He has a weird obsession with the mysterious black powder that recently appeared in the lands and is frequently seen using a few gadgets that is fueled by that powder, though his true power lies in his fist.
Kyra (Iconic Stand In)
Rin
Rin is blessed with a silver tongue, good looks, and a deep sense of wanderlust. She just appeared one day, with her good friend Lulu, to explore the world and to seek the riches it holds.
Sajan (Iconic Stand In)
Wendy + Luna
An inseparable pair, Wendy and Luna grew up together. They've faced many harsh trials (Luna almost dying once to save Wendy) and have forged a bond harder than steel. Their current motives are unknown, but what is known is their frightful effectiveness in battle as arrows and claw works together in perfect unison.

In an alternate timeline, our party emerged from their respective dimension gates to find themselves in front of a beautiful seaside town. The sea breeze was fresh on their faces and the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks by the waters were soothing to their ears. The party made straight into town to ask directions for the Tavern and they were lead to the Blind Boar's Tavern.

Blind Boar was medium sized tavern, constructed completely of wood. It's exterior is well worn, showing it's age. The party noted as they stepped inside however, that the place was very well kept. There wasn't that many people in there at this time of the day, so Wendy went over to start up some small talk with the barkeeper. She learned that this was the coastal town of Tilan, quite famous for their seafood. Wendy and John picked up some lobsters to snack on while continuing the talks while Hawk tried to engage the few people at the bar. They all turned up with the same thing though, the Mayor's son has disappeared 2 days ago and his marriage ceremony was in 5 days. The group split off, with Hawk, Damiel, and Bootlegolas staying behind at the tavern while the rest made for the mayor's house.

The group found the mayor's house, or more accurately, the mayor's keep, at the top of the hill a decent walk away from the tavern. Sajan went to circle the house, trying to find an alternate entrance while the rest made straight to the front door. Two guards stood there, denying their entrance, until they made mention that they wanted to see the mayor to help him with his son, and then they were ushered in. They found the mayor in his office, unresponsive. They shook him up a bit and he woke up, looking completely tired and drained. He explained that he had arranged a marriage with his son a two months ago and he wasn't opposed to it. Yet, he couldn't explain his disappearance 2 days ago. He told them they last saw him up in his room before he went to bed. The group asked to go upstairs to inspect the room.

Outside, Sajan realized it was impossible to scale the walls and went back to the tavern to find out that Bootlegolas was completely drunk and unconscious after consuming 5 pints of Fire Dragon's Ale. Damiel brought him back around with some of her concoctions, and then started to head down to the docks to find some work to make money. Bootlegolas and Sajan followed him while Hawk went to catch up with the rest at the mayor's place.

Back at the keep, the group scour the area for any trace of information about his son, Odwic. They found some sketches of many scenes by the beaches, as well as a lot of research papers about the local wildlife. It turns out he's a very respected researcher locally and has submitted many papers detailing the local area's wildlife. They also dug out a strange bronze disc from his desk, which had a strange polish to it. It certainly did not looked manufactured, but no one could tell of the origin. After finding nothing else of interest, they took off down to the beach to see if they could find some clues.

Back at the docks, Sajan decided to do some quick muscle work to get some cash while Bootlegolas and Damiel searched for some information. They were pointed to Begger Pete, who turned out to mostly be a big waste of time and silver. However, they left with a bit of information about the caves nearby, that they might be occupied by beautiful women. They made way for the beach and found the other group a little further down the shoreline, in front of a giant cave.

A river flowed out from the cave into the open ocean. It was dark inside, but a combination of Dark Vision and light guided the group inward. They stopped shortly inside, with 4 paths to take. They checked for wind flows and located 2 of the paths with it, while one of these had the river flowing from it. Ducking into one of the other pathways, they found a giant mother crab with her babies. Wendy spoke with them with Adam translating for the rest, learning that the cave was once a dangerous place, but something came here awhile ago and things died down. The mother crab was uncertain about what was deeper in the cave as it gave her a bad feeling, but they parted on amiable terms. A quick look in the other cave revealed another giant crab, but sleeping. The party chose not to disturb it and made headway into the path without the river.

The path wasn't terribly wide and the hike was slow and long. Along the way they noticed the wall was dimly lit by some strange colored crystals. Then they hear, first faintly, singing, then as it grew louder, they saw natural light up ahead. The pathway ended in a large cavern with a small opening in the roof, showing the skies. In the middle of the cave was a large pool of water, and in the center, atop of a small land, was a female elvish figure, bathing and singing. Sajan, tried to stealth in, while Wendy, Rin, and Luna peeked in, but they were given away Sajan. The girl looked up with a start to see the rest of the party filing in and grabbed her shawl nearby and wrapped herself in it, sinking back a bit into the water. John tried to get information out of her, but she didn't respond. He thought she might not understand him and was about to ask Adam to speak with Aquian when Wendy figured out that she was a Nereid and could perfectly understand Common. Some realized the rudeness of the intrusion and left, but Bootlegolas stay rooted. He was completely enchanted by the Nereid's perfect beauty and couldn't look away. Luna snorted and chomped on his legs and dragged him out of the cave until he got back his senses.

With the other 3 paths explored, the group hurried down the final route, and emerged in an even larger cavern, with the skies wide open above them. Vegetation covered the ground and a rushing waterfall of crystal clear water kept the pool in the middle fresh. Near the back was a young women, along with Odwic, clearly identifiable with his strange blue hair coloration. They immediately sprung up as they entered the cave and were cautious as the group introduced themselves. Odwic introduced the girl as Adina, but when asked questions about her, he was very silent about it and asked to not pry. When asked to return to his worrying father, he refused, stating that he never agreed to the marriage in the first place and he tried to talk his father out of it, but his father was also stubborn. This conflicting statement caused some level of concern in the party and Wendy, Luna, and Sajan ran back to the keep to see the mayor.

Luna ran fast, as fast as she could with Wendy on her. They shot down the streets until they reached the keep with Sajan far behind, left in the dust. Wendy told the guard that she found her son, and the maids took her to the office to wait for the mayor. He was down shortly afterward and demanded to know where he was. Wendy was very reluctant to tell him, asking him to answer some questions first. However, the mayor had already seen past her when she confronted him with the conflicting account of his son in regards to his willingness. He immediately suspected he was taken into the cavern networks by the beaches and went to his desk to take out a roll of parchment. He's pretty sure Odwic has been enchanted by a Nereid and handed Wendy 3 scrolls loaded with dispelling magic to remove the influence on him. He told her to try that on him, which should reveal the truth. "If the magic is too strong, bring him back by force," he said.

Wendy rushed back on Luna, picking up the struggling Sajan on the way back. She pondered a bit, because the young women with Odwic certainly didn't look like a Nereid. But nonetheless, she launched the dispelling on Odwic. Though she tried her best to conceal it, Odwic and Adina were suspicious and were inspecting Odwic when both Wendy and Adam launched the remaining dispells at both Odwic and Adina at the same time. On striking, Adina flared up, confronting the party, demanding to know why they were both on the receiving end of disspellment. When told the truth, she scoffed, telling the casters to look at Odwic and see if there were any trace of magical manipulation, which they realized to their horror, there was none. Odwic, was now resolved on leaving. Though he did not want to do so, he realized his father was extremely adamant about getting him to marry, so he thought to leave with Adina to another place, where the winds takes them. He requested the party to give him until dawn to write one last letter to his father before leaving.

As the sun rose, Odwic handed a letter, sealed to Wendy to deliver. He walked the party to the exit and made his way up to the cliff. There, both him and Adina dove off, but rather than crashing into the rocks below, Adina was covered and surrounded by a magical storm of glittering dust, and when it broke, she was revealed to be a dragon, covered from head to toe in bronze scale. With Odwic on her back, they quickly disappeared over the horizon, leaving the party speechless.

When the party returned to the news to the mayor, he couldn't believe the party. Adam scanned the mayor, and to his horror, he found out he was under some kind of spell. However, before he could do anything about it, the spell shattered, as the mayor, reading the letter, collapsed into a sobbing mess. They were quickly rushed out by the guards and maids and they found themselves back out in town.

With heavy hearts, our party turned to leave, but Wendy, along with other arcane casters felt a pulse from her bag. Riffling through it, Wendy realized it was the dragon scale that was pulsing. She notice the pulse quickens if it points to a certain direction. Nodding in agreement, everyone took off under the morning sun, following the pulses, arriving at a beach, but in front of a giant rock wall of another hill. A quick inspection reveals an imprint in the walls where the scale can fit. Slotting it in, energy poured out of it, filling into the cracks of the wall, tracing out a magic sigil. It flashed once, twice, and all the energy disappeared, followed by a rumble as a 10 foot hole opened up to reveal a hidden pocket in the wall with a small pile of gems and assorted trinkets. This was perhaps a parting gift left both by Adina and Odwic to them, perhaps a small token of thanks for letting them leave peacefully. And thus, our party left the town of Tilan, with their pouches a little heavier, but for some, their hearts even more heavy.

Of Blood and Demons and... Bricks?! (Part 3 - The Worker and the Artisan)

Dusting themselves off, the party continues to explore the chapel. They left the room and decided to save the Training Room for last and went next door and entered another small, sparsely decorated room. Painting hangs off the walls, depicting sailors, blacksmiths, and other working people. At the center of the room was a sarcophagus. Reading the description, the party inferred that in order to open up the sarcophagus, they had to sacrifice something to the person residing within, something that he liked. As the person residing within was the patron of the working people, they tried to donate items and tools, none of which worked. Everyone was stumped on what to do, when Rin noticed a white shadow in the corner of the room. The motion it made was similar to a smithy working at the forge, and then it clicked. The party had Wendy put together a bow made from the dead body of the twisted tree and immediately after sacrificing it, the lid open to reveal another item.

Moving to the other side of the chapel, they found a mirror image of the room they were just in, but rather than working men, the pictures were bards and minstrel. But before they could take anything in, they noticed a female human sleeping on top of the coffin. John walked over and punched her, which woke her with a start, and she returned the favor with a kick to his groin. Her name was Bonbon, and she has absolutely no recollection of what she was doing here, but she decides to join the group, perhaps regaining her memory in the process. The party at this point figured out they probably have to perform something to open this coffin up. However, after many fruitless attempts, including one where John was trying to market his wares to the coffin, they gave up and searched around the room for other clues. Instead, they found a secret passageway in the back of the room, and it lead to a mostly empty storage room. They managed to salvage along the way an enchanted crossbow, but they also found a ring sitting strangely in the far side of the room. Wendy ordered Luna to approach it to pick it up, but the minute she touched it, she was crushed and hurt terribly by an invisible force. Luna quickly dropped it, but rather than hitting the floor, it maintained it's location, hovering in midair. Clearly, this was the cursed ring they were looking for. Rather than tossing the ring to each other, Rin ran back to get the chalice and placed it right under the ring, letting the liquid in there consume it.

Still baffled by the second coffin, the party was getting desperate. None of them really knew any way to perform any art. Rin tried to copy some performances she saw at taverns on her travels while Wendy got fed up and spent hours reciting the Iliad to coffin. At the end of it, the magic seal dissipated and they claimed another key item, tossing it into the chalice.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Of Blood and Demons and... Bricks?! (Part 2 - Drunken Books, Hidden Revenant)

Confused by the disappearing person, the party heads back inside to continue exploration. With the outside searched, they turned to the deeper parts of the chapel.

Their search brings them into a large room with bookshelves covering every wall that extends to the ceilings. As they entered, they caught sight of an open book left at the center of the room, resting atop a lonely table. On closer inspection, it was not a book, but a hollowed out container shaped of a book. Inside, they found a note of an angry bishop scolding an acolyte for hiding alcohol in the books and threatens for each book he finds with them in there that he will give him a fit of lashings. Our party was not interested. They noticed in the note that the bishop mentioned that the alcohol was all in books of the same name, in different language. The thought of free booze was too much and the party raided the whole library in search of the elusive booze.

Meanwhile, Hawk had just fallen asleep after a long day's of hard work in the field. He quickly woke up to find himself in the chapel along with the rest of the party. He was quickly brought up to date and immediately joins in the booze hunt. While raiding the shelves, both Wendy and Rin noticed another note buried in the books. The librarian left a note to the acolyte, thanking him for his alcohol. In return, he left something special for him in the most expensive book in the library. This sent the whole entire party into a looting frenzy. The result of all of this was some magical scrolls and 12 bottles of very rare wine. 

Satisfied that there were nothing else valuable left, the party left the library and moved on into the next room. The room they entered was very small and unfurnished. Standing the side of the room were 4 sarcophagi. On the far side of the room was a door labeled "Training Room". They decided to save the Training Room for a later time as it sounded a little unsettling. Instead, they surrounded a plaque near the doorway. A small logic puzzle was there, indicating what might be in the coffins. Two of those coffins holds materials for the chalice. Within minutes, the party had the puzzle figured out and pried open two of the coffins, extracting the mummified bodies as ingredients for whatever terrible concoction would result in the chalice. 

Two coffins were left, and Hawk got curious, along with John. What else was in there? Perhaps treasure? Greedy and curiosity quickly overtook them and they decided to crack the last two open. The rest of the party weren't in agreement and waited nervously by the exit of the room. Before the first coffin door even hit the floor, an enormous blast of electricity erupted from the insides, flooring both John and Adam immediately into a spasing mess.Hawk shrugged off the blast and got ready to greet the emerging revenant, electricity crackling from its eye sockets and mouth.

The rest of the party hurried to help Hawk, but couldn't do much as they were all jammed around the doorway. Hawk and his companion, Sad, tried to keep the revenant occupied while John struggled to throw off the stunning effect of the shock. Hawk was not holding the revenant too well as it kept hurling blasts after blasts of electricity. One of the party members managed to hurl a bottle of Holy Water onto the revenant, terrifying it and causing it to lose control momentarily. That pause was more than enough for John. Shaking off the unwanted electric therapy, John let loose an enraged roar and proceeded to entangle the revenant in a bear hug. He maneuvered the undead being into Hawk's chopping sword stroke, taking out a set of the ribs. Wendy managed to get two clean shot off at the revenant, firing over Adam's twitching body, igniting it. With the body burning rapidly, John wrestled the revenant's hands out and proceeded to bludgeon it with it's own fist until it stopped moving.

Not content with just 1 coffin left, John opens up the last coffin, and earned an explosive surprise for his troubles.

Chvatil's Brooch

This brooch has a large ruby embed into it's center. It is very well decorated, but it gives off a very uncomfortable feeling when you look at it. You swear it's trying to rip something out of you.

Type: Minor Artifact
Aura: Faint (Strong) Transmutation and Moderate Conjuration
Caster Level: 17
Slot: Neck
Weight: 1 lb.

This brooch holds all of Chvatil's research on himself. Chvatil was born with a a strong affinity for magic, but it manifested itself in the strangest way, in the form of control of blood. He was, at first, able to influence his own blood, instantly clotting it up when he was cut. As he grew, his power grew exponentially and he started to understand his abilities further. Using a special ruby infused with his own blood, he created this brooch to serve as a controller and amplifier to his already scary control of the red liquid.

The brooch grants the following to non-spellcasters who wears it:
Blood Filtration - The brooch constantly maintains the user's blood, purging it of foreign bodies and repairing damaged cells. User is immune to all blood based toxins and is immune to bleed effects.

In addition, if the user has is at least a level 1 arcane spellcaster, they are granted the following:
Blood Pool - The brooch can store blood from other sources to be used to fuel it's power. These will be referred to blood points (BP). For every 4 (2) points of damage the user takes, 1 BP is added to the pool. Whenever you deal melee damage, for every 6 (3) of damage done, add 1 BP to the pool.

Blood Magic - The caster may cast a spell they have memorized/prepared for the day by using an amount of BP equal to 3x (1x) the spell's level. This does not use up the spell slots. Spells with metamagic feats uses their new combined level. Magic cast this way have their descriptor modified to blood. This is acts in all ways as if the spell was modified by a water descriptor.

Blood Sacrifice - The caster may purposely drain her own health to fuel the power of the brooch. As a standard action, the caster takes 1d6 per 4 caster levels (up to 6 damage per 4 caster level) [minimum 1] damage and transfers the damage amount to the blood pool as BP.

Crimson Lance - The user can use BP to summon a spear made of blood as a standard action and hurl it at it's foes. Summon up to 1 spear per 3 caster level (unlimited) at the cost of 2 (1) BP per spear. Each spear deals 1d4 damage with unerring accuracy to any foe within medium range. The user may instead focus and charge the spell up as a full action and continue to maintain the spell each turn after as a full action. For each turn after the first, increase the damage dice by 1 (2) stage and drain 2 (1) BP.

Soul of the Sanguine River - This has been cryptically referred to many times in Chvatil's research papers, but has never been fully explained. It's suppose to unleash the full potential of the brooch even if the user has lesser powers than Chvatil.

.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Of Blood and Demons and... Bricks?! (Part 1 - The Birds, the Bees, and the Trees)

After the frightful surprise attack, Rin, Wendy, Adam, and John all woke up to find themselves in a creepy chapel. The chapel was situated on top of a hill and nothing but plains and more hills could be seen for miles around. Dark clouds floated in the skies and the occasional lightning struck far away. They tried to leave, but some strange barrier prevented them leaving the chapel grounds.

Returning inside, they noticed at the center of the large chapel a large floating red orb. Beneath it they found a chalice and a cryptic message with a list of items. Seeing as they had no way out, they set out to find these items in hope that it might give them some clues as to where they are. 

The party decided to explore the western door of the chapel and they exited to what appears to be a small garden. The dirt here was dried up with dead weeds wherever. Some stone statues were in the back, littering the front of a rundown mausoleum. And at the center of the whole mess stood an enormous tree. At the foot of the tree stood a tombstone. As the party moved in to look, a loud and chilling caw startled them. A large and, oddly enough, evil looking crow landed on top of the tree and gave them the start. Before they could gather their courage again, the tree shook violently and a wave of spores were unleashed.

The tree turns out to be a Hangman Tree and the spores were a hallucinogens to make weak willed people think the tree is harmless while it works to take them out. Adam's, John's, and Wendy's were immediately hazed and the tree used the opportunity to entangle them in it's roots. Rin frantically tried to bring down the tree slashing at it and hurling insults in Sylvan. The tree mocks her as it continues to slowly strangle the rest of the party as they tried to break out of their stupor. Rin notices the crow still perched on top of the tree, and in the moment of desperation, shot and killed it. The tree suddenly freezes up and the remaining members quickly regains their senses and untangles themselves. Taking advantage of the situation, the party made short work of the tree and moments later, the tree can crashing down. Searching around the now down tree, they found a skeleton, but also a blackened, half rotted heart buried underneath it. It appeared to be one of the items they were searching for and was confirmed when they returned it to the chalice to see it dissolve into liquid. To ensure that the party would be protected from troubles in the area, Wendy took the skull off the skeleton and stuck it on a long branch torn from the hangman tree to warn future aggressors to be careful.

The party decided to take a look to the eastern exit and discovered a small courtyard. The floor was layered with beaten cobblestone and at the center of the courtyard was a chest. Suspicious, John approached cautiously. His caution was spot on, as the floor gave away to reveal that the chest was surrounded on all sides by a pit. He almost fell in and grabbed the ledge, but that wasn't the end of it. Ghouls has taken up residence in the pit and seeing a new prey, they immediately jumped and clawed at him. He manages to kick them off before rolling back onto the ground. At this point, Rin makes a leap across the pit and lands near the chest. She easily pops the lock open, scooping out a small pile of coins, She then secures one end of a rope into the ground and then throws it across to the other side with a hook and walks it back to mainland. John, not content with getting clawed, brings out his shotgun and wipes out all the ghouls as revenge. However, as he descends into the pit to check their bodies, a swarm of killer wasps erupts from each of their body. He climbs up as fast as he can, but they catch up to him easily and proceeds to sting him. Combined with the poison from the stings and the venom from the ghouls, John slams into the floor immobile. Wendy rushes to his rescue, summoning a small fire elemental to try and burn the wasp, though it met with little success. The swarms were too large and many, but it served it's purpose as a distracting, allowing everyone to rush back into the chapel and slam the door shut behind them.

While John was recovering, the rest of the party noticed the mausoleum they left unchecked in the back of the garden. Rin scouts ahead and notices a Basilisk sitting in there. Then it clicked, the statues were all former living beings frozen in stone by that beast. Rin rushes in with cover from Wendy and Adam and makes short work of the stone lizard. Using the blood, Rin tries to bring back one of the statues back to life. She luckily manages to get a captain, who was in charge of leading a group of vampire slayers to kill a vampire lord who was rumored to live here. Thanking them for freeing him, he gave them a choice of one of his weapon, with Wendy taking a flaming shortbow. He proceeds to leave the chapel, and as he approaches the barrier, he just vanishes, leaving the party even more mystified.

Of Blood and Demons and... Bricks?! (Cast List)

Player Characters
Adam + David
Adam hails from the unknown lands, and together with his centaur eidolon David, they've struck out to see the world.

Bonbon + Squished
A amnesic wizard found in the chapel ruins. Has no idea who she is or how she got there, but she luckily, she still remembers all her enhancement spells... Squished is the name of her hedgehog familiar. No one really understands why it is named as such.

Fetus
An extremely manly bloodrager who wears only a loincloth for protection. He hails from a tribe from a far off land where males greet each other by flashing their genitals at each other and comparing them.

Hawk
A tiefling with a mysterious past. He holds himself strictly to his own personal code and his motives are unknown, but he proves to be an efficient solider. He is focus is unrivaled; once he sets his sights on a target, he will not relent until one of them is dead.

John Smith
Hailing from the far lands up north, John Smith moves now from town to town buying and selling just about anything he can get a good deal on. He joined the military in hopes that he can gain access to the military supply lines and, of course, more customers. He has a weird obsession with the mysterious black powder that recently appeared in the lands and is frequently seen using a few gadgets that is fueled by that powder, though his true power lies in his fist.

Rin
Rin is blessed with a silver tongue, good looks, and a deep sense of wanderlust. She just appeared one day, with her good friend Lulu, to explore the world and to seek the riches it holds.

Wendy + Luna
An inseparable pair, Wendy and Luna grew up together. They've faced many harsh trials (Luna almost dying once to save Wendy) and have forged a bond harder than steel. Their current motives are unknown, but what is known is their frightful effectiveness in battle as arrows and claw works together in perfect unison.

NPCs
Agrog/Boric/Cedric/Delore/Edrian
These 5 dwarves were great friends and had many adventures together before they settled down at Carrion Hills. As of right now, Agrog is still making the bricks in town, Boric, Cedric, and Delore has been found unconscious and held captive in a demonic sigil, and Edrian has turned against the party and almost obliterated them.

Fort Captain Rohan
The fort captain of the new Fort Gelhan. Has given orders for the party to track down the shipment of bricks and to find the reason as to why the shipments have halted.

Chvatil Hellblood
Chvatil was once a renowned demon hunter. Together with his 3 comrades, they were to take down a demon responsible for an invasion. He was found later in a chapel, apparently sealed away to prevent further corruption by the many centuries he has worked to keep the demon sealed. The party has temporarily managed to free him of his corruption, where he requested a duel to the death with them. He usually gets mistaken for a vampire because of his mastery over blood.

Enya/Ayne
A member of Ondrea's crew, she suffers from a split personality disorder. Enya is the better and benevolent half, while Ayne is her darker, more exploiting half. She has an extremely bright mind and churns out inventions after inventions. Her pride and joy is her personal firearm, which is heavily modified for many different needs. She was killed by the party, but Enya's soul continues to assist the them.

Ondrea
Briefly mentioned by Chvatil as their squad leader. Not much information is known about her, but Chvatil quoted his slight unease around her and that she once wielded an enormous bastard sword.

Locations

Credits
Zenith Games - Borrowed Mr. Jacob's Tower Fl. 7 as the basis of the first part of the adventure. Head over there for some great Pathfinder resources. Thanks a lot Jacobs!


Monday, February 2, 2015

Of Blood and Demons and... Bricks?! (Prologue)

In another time, another world, we find our adventurers in a strange situation. Our adventures are soldiers, part of a restoration division tasked with keeping the people of the fledgling kingdom safe as they rapidly expand into uncharted territory. The War King has decided to build a military fort along the fabled Mirage Desert, where tales of the strange are common. The fort, named Gelhan, was to serve both as a military stronghold, but also as a base of operations for the brave seeking the unknowns in the desert.

Captain Rohan was tasked with the job of overseeing the construction of the fort. For weeks the fort was building up smoothly, but a snag was hit. The shipments of the building blocks has gone missing. The captain was stretched thin already by the few men he had trying to keep order as people started to flock to the fort to seek their fortunes. A transfer was set up and thus, how our adventurers were sent there and given the orders to go to the source of the materials and find out why shipments were halted.

Taking a few weeks to travel by horseback, they arrived at the location, and immediately were informed that there has been some strange disappearance. The secrets of creating the materials were heavily guarded and not a lot of people knew how to make them. Of the 4, 3 of them has mysteriously gone missing in the past few months. The mayor implored them to look into the disappearance. The missing dwarves were critical to the economy of the town and their primary export. Interviewing with the residents, meeting with the remaining dwarf, and scoping the area, they found out a common link to all the missing people. In addition to 1 other dwarf, the 4 makers were long time friends. Many years back they were exploring the mines and got lost. While they were down there, they found an odd chamber along with a beautiful red jewel. That jewel was already shattered into 5 pieces, so they divided it among themselves and soon found their way back up. Fast forward to present, 4 of them has discovered the way to make cheap and effective stone for building and set up shop here. In the mean time, one of them has become extremely illusive, constantly staying in his house. Our adventurers, upon visiting the last dwarf, found him in the middle of being abducted by some creature, but managed to save him before he was dragged away.

The last of the dwarf was mentally unstable. He claimed the shadows were after him everywhere and his house was his last safe sanctuary. The adventurers would have dismissed him as a lunatic if it weren't for the history of the town. The town was a violent area, built upon many wars. Centuries ago, a demon army captured this location and for many decades lived here until they were driven off. Suspecting demons at play here, the party convinced the dwarf to lead them to where they they found the jewel.

They quickly descended into an abandoned tunnel without much trouble. After many hours, they arrived at the location of the jewel. Investigating the area, they discovered the back wall of the cave was shrouded in an illusion and a large demon was chained up there, unconscious, along with the 3 missing dwarves. Attempts to remove them was prevented by a strange, large sigil on the floor. As they attempted to return to the surface, the last dwarf suddenly attacked everyone, incapacitating all but Rin. Seeing as how he failed to knock her out, he tried to kill her, but a sudden blast of energy unleashed from one of her swords knocked both of them out.

An unknown amount of time has passed, and the party wakes up to find themselves in a strange chapel. And this is where their story begins. 

HOLY ****! (Also known as unboxing Small Worlds Designer's Edition)

Well an hour ago, this showed up on my door steps:
What's this?
Holy ****! A few months ago, I Kickstarted the Designer's Edition of Small Worlds, and finally, after many months of delays and wait, it's here! I'll probably never stop gushing if I started to talk about this, so I'll use pictures instead.
Knife? Check. Let's get this operation started.

Ew... It's just packaging. 

Or not...

Very. Heavy. Let's crack this thing open.

NOOOOOO!! IT'S A TRAP!!

Finally, the real meat. Layer one, resin pieces.

Layer two, races!

Layer three, even more races!

Of course the map would be down here.

The book, the wooden tokens, and the metal victory coins that you can't really see.

Because I can.

Overall, I am deeply impressed by the job. This is definitely worth way more than the amount I paid for. The wood appears to be extremely high quality and the metal coins are exceptionally beautiful. The only real disappoint I had was that I believe the map board is the exact same one that you get from the normal version of this game. I think it's a little bigger, but it kinda feels the same. However, the rest of the box just blew me away, especially the sheer size of it. I was not expecting something this big. I'll fully unwrap it another time and review it, you can probably guess I really like it already.