Paizo Blog Summary for July 21

Welcome, Pathfinders! Another week closer to Gen Con, another Paizo Blog summary. Let’s get stuck in.

In case you thought the faction changes were the biggest Organized Play news, Monday proved you wrong with the announcement of new races (kitsune, nagaji, and wayang) being added to PFS, and old races (aasimar and tiefling) hitting the showers. Needless to say there is a bit of controversy among the membership over the decision. I definitely fall on the side of liking the change; the timing makes sense as we leave the Worldwound behind, and some interesting race options are opened up for new players.

Less controversial was the addition of Pathfinder Quests to Organized Play. Paizo will début the six one-hour quests at Gen Con, after which they’ll be available for use. I foresee these becoming perfect demo pieces for Venture-Officers, allowing us to give people a taste of the game without having to entice them into a four-hour commitment.

Tuesday brought us another Advanced Class Guide preview, the ‘monk’s rowdy cousin’, the brawler. Martial flexibility, light armour, and a knock-out punch she can deliver starting at level 4? Yes, please! I can’t wait to play this, but more than that I can’t wait to see brawlers show up as NPCs in future PFS scenarios. I think they’ll offer a nice little challenge to Pathfinders, plus add an extra treat if there happens to be a brawler in the party. Can you say ‘cage match’?

Wednesday saw the return of free Pathfinder Tales fiction with Chapter One of Steven Savile’s Queen Sacrifice. Set in the Kodar Mountains in Varisia, Queen Sacrifice promises to be a harrowing and chilling tale, if the first chapter is any indication.

Meet the Iconics has been one of my favourite series of posts lately, and Thursday‘s introduction to Kess the Bull continued my enjoyment. It would have been so easy to go with a low-born background for the brawler, so I love that Paizo played against type and made her a young noblewoman on the run. Not only does it make for a great backstory, but it opens up the possibilities for player backgrounds by showing them options outside the usual. I know for a fact Kess is going to show up in my home game as an NPC at some point, maybe with her father’s agents hot on her trail.

In more ways than one, Friday was a gigantic post as Erik Mona revealed three giant figures from the upcoming The Lost Coast miniature set. Come this November you’ll be able to add a female stone giant (Conna, if you’re familiar with her from Rise of the Runelords), a Fire Giant King, and a Hill Giant Chief to your collection. All Large, uncommon figures, if you go in for a case you may be adding a few of each to your collection. Which wouldn’t be a bad thing, though your players might disagree.

Saturday brought us our last look at The Emerald Spire Superdungeon, and a short interview with Rich Baker and James Jacobs. As a GM, if previous interviews hadn’t already pushed me in to ‘shut up and take my money’ territory, this little taste of the two lowest levels would have pushed me there. I can’t wait to terrorize and dismay challenge my players with this beast of a dungeon.

That’s all for this week! I hope that was useful, Pathfinders. Let us know in the comments or on Facebook what you thought of the posts this week. Anything you’re excited about? Anything you’re ‘meh’? Let us know.

Also, we have a new feature on the site: the Question Page! You can send us your Pathfinder Organized Play questions and we’ll answer them in future weekly blog posts. Ask us anything: rules questions, Golarion lore, character build opinions; we’ll try to help you out.

Blog Poll, with PRIZES!

Hello, Pathfinders! It’s your friendly neighbourhood editor, Brent, and I have some questions for you. has been growing its audience, which is very exciting for us. It seems more and more people are stopping by every day, and we couldn’t be happier. But I want to know a little bit about how folks got here, what they like and don’t like, and what they’d like to see.

So I made a very short questionnaire, just so I could collect some of those basic answers. I’ll likely ask more detailed questions at a future date, but for now I wanted to keep it simple. Please answer all the questions if you can. Only a few are required fields, but the more information you can give me the better.

“Sure, sure, Brent”, you say. “What about the prizes!?” Well of course I don’t expect you to take time out of your busy day for nothing. I’ll pick one of the fully completed entries at random to receive a signed and personalized complete set of the Radovan and Jeggare Pathfinder Tales novels, by Dave Gross. I’ll pick two other entries at random to receive a Pathfinder Tales novel of their choice (physical copy or e-pub, winner’s choice). Yes, I will ship world-wide. No, you don’t pay for shipping.

You can take the poll only once (well, you can take it as many times as you want, but I’ll only count your first entry). The poll will remain up until August 14, 2014; prize recipients will be contacted by September 1, 2014, once I’d had a chance to a) recover from Gen Con and b) sort all the answers. You must include your name and email to be entered in the prize draw (I only need them for the draw, and they won’t be used for any other purpose beyond contacting you if you win).

That’s it, Pathfinders! Thanks for helping us out, I look forward to your answers.

Poll Closed! If you responded, thank-you!


Product Review: Blood of the Elements

Player Companion: Blood of the Elements is a great book for those of us that have gotten some of the GM Race boons in the past year from running games at cons. This is a great book with many alternate racial abilities, new archetypes, magic items, and new spells. We are going to go over some of the new stuff in this book we think will be of use to the Pathfinder Society players in general.



Ifrit get a new Cavalier Order, the Order of the Flame. Their Edict is as follows: The cavalier must pursue glory for himself and those with whom he associates. He must strive to heap glory upon his name, no matter the costs. He must challenge and defeat an ever-increasing host of rivals to further cement his illustrious reputation.

As far as their Order abilities go they get the following:

Foolhardy Rush: At 2nd level, the cavalier can charge across the battlefield at a moment’s notice. Whenever the cavalier attempts an initiative check, as long as he rolls an 11 or higher on the die, he can move up to his base speed as an immediate action and he is not considered f lat-footed. If the cavalier takes an action to move during his next turn, he subtracts the number of feet moved during the initiative check from his total movement.

Daunting Success: At 8th level, whenever the cavalier confirms a critical hit with a melee weapon, as an immediate action he can attempt an Intimidate check to demoralize all foes within 15 feet who can see him. This ability can be used only once per combat.

Blaze of Glory: At 15th level, the cavalier can declare a blaze of glory as a standard action. For a number of rounds equal to his Charisma modifier, the cavalier increases his base speed by 10 feet, can ignore difficult terrain while charging, and gains a +4 bonus on his attack rolls (instead of +2). A cavalier can use this ability only once per combat.

Ifrit Race Traits:

Unflappable Arrogance (ifrit): You laugh in the face of your aggressors. The DC to demoralize you with the Intimidate skill increases by 5. If an opponent’s Intimidate
check would be high enough to cause you to become demoralized for more than 1 round, you are instead demoralized for only 1 round.

There is some other cool stuff for the Ifrit, but we don’t want to spoil the entire book.


Oreads get a new Racial Trait that replaces their Earth Affinity. Basically they can use gems to augment spells at the cost of the Gems. I am not going to cover all 17 of them, but rather will just put the ones I feel are awesome!

Binding Earth, MassARG: As binding earth augmentation, affecting all targets of the augmented spell. Cost: Garnets worth 250 gp.

Elemental Body: Duration increases to 10 minutes/level. Cost: Amber worth 250 gp for elemental body I, +100 gp per spell level for greater versions.

Spike Stones: +1 piercing damage; spikes deal 1 point of bleed damage. Cost: Topaz worth 300 gp.

Stoneskin: The cost of this spell’s expensive material component can be reduced or increased to affect the spell’s power accordingly. With reduced components, the spell grants DR 10/silver (instead of adamantine); with increased components, the spell absorbs 15 points of damage per caster level before it’s discharged. Cost: Diamonds worth 150 gp (reduced); diamonds worth 500 gp (increased).

New Race Traits:

Earthsense (oread): You were inexplicably transformed in the womb by elemental forces, making your connection to the earth exceptionally strong. As a swift action, you can gain tremorsense to a range of 60 feet until the beginning of your next turn. You can use this ability once per day at 1st level, plus one additional time per day at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, to a maximum of five times per day at 20th level.

New Regional Race Trait:

Alabaster Odalisque (Jalmeray): The rajahs of Jalmeray favoured you for your stately physique and flawless skin, and so endorsed your candidacy for tutelage at the Conservatory on the island of Grand Sarret. Trained to be the perfect bard, courtesan, or undercover operative, you gain a +1 trait bonus on two Charisma-based skills of your choice. In addition, once per day as a swift action, you can brush your fingers against a closed door or stone wall up to 1 foot thick. Doing so allows you to ignore penalties on Perception checks to listen through the designated object for 1 minute.

This basically acts like Gloves of Reconnaissance but with a more limited use, still a great trait. My understanding of this trait is you will have to be both Oread and from Jalmeray.



 Barbarians have something to look forward to with this race: Elemental Totems.

 Elemental Totem, Lesser (Su): The barbarian selects one elemental type (air, earth, fire, or water). Once selected, this choice cannot be changed. While raging, the barbarian gains a +1 bonus on saving throws against spells with the selected elemental descriptor. This bonus increases by 1 at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, to a maximum of +6 at 20th level. The barbarian gains access to the elemental totem rage power matching the element she selected.

 Air Totem (Su): Once per rage, the barbarian can move for 1 round as if affected by air walk.

Fire Totem (Su): While the barbarian is raging, any opponent that confirms a critical hit against her with a piercing or slashing melee weapon is sprayed with liquid fire. (Creatures with reach weapons are immune.) The attacker takes 1d6 points of fire damage per barbarian level (Ref lex halves; DC 10 + 1/2 the barbarian’s level + the barbarian’s Con modifier).

 New Race Traits:

Dualborn (suli): You were not born of a janni—your non-human heritage can instead be traced back to some dualistic power between elemental realms. Choose two energy types other than sonic (acid, cold, electricity, or fire). Once made, this choice cannot be changed. You gain racial energy resistance only to the energy types you choose, and not to others. When using your elemental assault ability, you can only sheath your arms in the energy types selected, but you can choose to sheath your primary hand with one of the selected energy types and your off-hand with the other. Attacks made with each hand (or a weapon held in each hand) deal bonus energy damage of the selected type. While wielding a two-handed weapon, half of the bonus energy damage is one energy type and half is the other.


 Slyph got some new spells. Here we will give a review of one of them:

 Storm Step

School: conjuration (teleportation) [electricity]; Level magus 3, sorcerer/wizard 3, witch 3
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Target: you
Range: close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Duration: instantaneous
Saving Throw: Reflex halves; Spell Resistance: yes
You are able to harness the power of the storm to transport yourself a short distance, by taking the form of a furious, sizzling bolt of elemental electricity. You must either have line of sight to your destination or you must specify a direction and distance within range. Creatures and objects in the path of your passage take 1d8 points of electricity damage per 2 caster levels (maximum 5d8). A successful Reflex save halves the damage.

If your path intersects with a solid object, you damage the barrier accordingly. If the damage is enough to break through the barrier, you continue beyond the barrier as long as the spell’s range permits; otherwise, your movement stops in the square adjacent to the barrier and the effect ends.

 New Race Traits:

Thunderborn (sylph): The rumble in your voice and the spark in your eyes hint at a lineage of lightning and thunder, possibly tracing back to lightning elementals from the Plane of Air, or else to a magic-touched birth during a powerful thunderstorm. Once per day when you cast a spell that deals electricity damage, you can choose to make half of the damage electricity damage and the other half sonic damage.


 Undine get a couple new sorcerer archtypes. We are going to preview one of them:


Your soul is infused with the restorative and life-giving powers of elemental water.
Associated Bloodline: Elemental (water).

Bloodline Arcana: Anytime you cast a spell with the cold or water descriptor, you gain a number of temporary hit points equal to the level of the spell cast. You can grant up to half of these temporary hit points to an adjacent ally, in which case you gain the remaining temporary hit points. These temporary hit points last 1 minute.

Bloodline Powers: Your powers are revitalizing rather than destructive.

Lifewater Stream (Su): At 9th level, once per day, you can unleash a surge of restorative elemental water that aids your allies. This ability affects creatures in a 30-foot line extending from your palm, and you can select one of the following conditions to remove from the affected creatures: fatigued, shaken, or sickened. Creatures affected by a more extreme version of the chosen condition (such as exhausted for fatigued, frightened for shaken, and nauseated for sickened) have their condition reduced to the less extreme version. At 17th level, you can use this ability twice per day, and you can choose from the following additional conditions: blinded, deafened, dazed, and staggered. At 20th level, you can use this ability three times per day. This bloodline power replaces elemental blast.

 New Race Traits:

Whiteout (undine): When the air is full of water, your elemental blood allows you to blend with your surroundings and become one with the precipitation. In areas of nonmagical fog, rain, snow, or similar conditions (such as the spray of a waterfall), you gain the effects of concealment, but with a miss chance of 10%. If the precipitation would already grant you concealment, the miss chances stack.

New Equipment:

From the Plane of Air we present:

Stagnant Fog Sack Price 80 GP WEIGHT 1 lb.

Gathered within this tightly woven, alchemically treated canvas sack is a sample of the pervasive fetid fog that looms near the border of the Plane of Air and the Plane of Water. When opened, the fog billows out in a 30-foot-radius area. Sight is extremely limited in an area of stagnant fog. A creature within 15 feet has concealment (20% miss chance), while creatures farther away have total concealment (50% miss chance, and the attacker can’t use sight to locate the target). In addition, creatures that end their turn within the cloud must succeed at a DC 14 Fortitude save or become sickened for 1 round. Stagnant fog dissipates naturally after 1 minute. A moderate wind (11+ mph) disperses the stagnant fog in 1 round. This item can be crafted with a successful DC 20 Craft (alchemy) check.

From the Plane of Water we present:

Elemental Brine Price 500gp Weight 1lb

This alchemical substance is produced from saltwater from the Plane of Water. It has no effect on natives of that plane, but grants unusual properties when consumed by creatures from the Material Plane.

Any creature with the water affinity racial trait, including undines, that drinks elemental brine finds her innate magic bolstered. If the creature is a sorcerer with the elemental (water) bloodline, she casts her bloodline powers and spells at +1 caster level. If the creature is a cleric with the Water domain, she treats her Wisdom modifier as 2 points higher for Water domain powers and spells. This does not grant early access to level-based powers; it only affects powers that she could already use without this trait. This benefit lasts 24 hours.

Creatures with the aquatic subtype that imbibe elemental brine become immune to poison, although poisons active when the brine is imbibed still run their course. If the creature dwells in saltwater, it also becomes undetectable by scent for the same duration. Both of these effects last 24 hours.

Finally, elemental brine can be used as a splash weapon with a range increment of 10 feet. While it has little effect on most creatures (other than soaking them in salty water) when used in this way, a bottle of elemental brine is quite lethal if it’s flung at a creature with the fire subtype. On a direct hit, a creature with the fire subtype takes 2d6 points of damage, and creatures with the fire subtype in adjacent squares take 1d4 points of damage. In addition, a direct hit against a creature with the fire subtype creates a unique interplay between elemental brine’s salt and water and the creature’s flames, making the target more conductive and thus more susceptible to electrocution. Anytime the target would take electricity damage within the next minute, it must succeed at a DC 20 Reflex save or take 1-1/2 times as much electricity damage as normal.

There is many more things to this book, but we don’t want to give it all away. It is a great resource for those that have those coveted race boons. Well worth the purchase. The authors of this book (Tim Akers, Judy Bauer, Jim Groves, Chris Lites, Dale C. McCoy, Jr., and Cassidy Werner) along with the people involved at Paizo did a great job putting this book together.

Weekly Paizo Blog Summary for July 14

Another week, another Paizo Blog summary for your reading convenience. A bit light on the blog this week, but that’s to be expected the week after PaizoCon. Let’s dive in!

Monday brought with it Part 4 in the Faction Evolution series, with a look at the future of the Qadiran and Sczarni factions. A not unexpected development, and I’m looking forward to the ‘strange bedfellows’ situations which could arise, especially among the new faction’s leadership.

Our next look at Advanced Class Guide goodness came on Tuesday with the Skald. As someone who has tried many ‘warrior-poet’ multi-class builds to get close to this idea, I’m really excited to see the skald come in to play. And there are some pretty cool features I’m looking forward to; while I hope not to use it regularly, the idea of a ‘death curse’ intrigues me.

Thursday introduced the iconic skald, Hakon. With a background every bit as bad-ass as the class suggests it should be, Hakon is sure to be a pre-gen favourite for new players looking for a bard with a bit of ‘oomph’. I was also intrigued by the connection between Hakon and a certain Ostog the Unslain; I can’t wait to see what develops from that.

Friday saw another three figures revealed from The Lost Coast miniature set: the Haughty Avenger, Shoanti Barbarian w/earthbreaker, and ‘The Forest Shadow’. All three look beautifully detailed, and I foresee these popping up on PFS tables, either as PCs or NPCs, with great frequency. Anyone playing the iconic bloodrager will want that barbarian figure for sure. Erik also revealed the Pathfinder RPG Monster Codex was off to the printer, so we are all one step closer to having that in our hot little hands.

And if your looking to add to your Pathfinder PDF collection, Paizo is running a 30% off sale through to August 13, the day before Gen Con. Might be a good time to fill out your collection, or pick up the books you need to make some new PFS characters.

That’s it for the Paizo Blog this week. But if you didn’t get enough Paizo-laced goodness, check out the Know Direction podcast for some PaizoCon recordings. There are a number of panels up, plus the Preview Banquet, so it’s the second-best thing to actually being there.

What did you think of the Paizo news this week? Let us know in the comments here or on Facebook.

Running Season Two Scenarios – for GMs (SPOILERS!)

This article is for GMs only, and contains many spoilers for scenarios and the overall plot. Reading this is considered the same as reading the scenarios before playing them, and must be declared to the GM as per the Guide to Organized Play.


The scenarios of Season Two are the hardest to integrate into a current PFS campaign because they deal with the Shadow Lodge meta-plot, a long-running campaign of betrayal and corruption, the results of which are already common knowledge. Season Two has some great scenarios, though, so being able to reconcile the scenario with the current version of history opens up many more stories for your players.

Since the disappearance of the Shadow Lodge faction at the end of Season Four, using these scenarios has become much easier. When some of the players around the table may have had “Shadow Lodge” written on their character sheet, it was hard to make them understand why they were not on the side of the bad guys! Now they can at least understand where their loyalties lie. Still, it is best to tailor the scenario introduction and certain NPCs to fit your players’ personal experiences with the Shadow Lodge.


Grandmaster Torch (GMT) started it all. A former Pathfinder agent, he created the Shadow Lodge as a way to get back at the Decemvirate for leaving him to die instead of sending a team to rescue him. His plan (at first) was to work within the Society to shift their priorities towards better supporting their field agents, but he soon realized he needed to take more direct action. As GMT recruited more agents to his cause, several other members who were more radically-minded joined the Shadow Lodge. As time went on GMT lost control of the Shadow Lodge, which splintered into various groups pursuing their own agendas. A prominent Shadow Lodge operative known only as  “The Spider”, who was secretly working for the Aspis Consortium as well, decided to remove GMT and claim leadership of the Shadow Lodge herself.  GMT was targeted for assassination by The Spider, and this is why he came back to the Pathfinder Society for the beginning of Season Three– to protect himself. For Season Three, Grandmaster Torch heads the player-legal Shadow Lodge faction, essentially a Pathfinder union looking out for the well-being of the Society’s field agents and keeping an eye on the Decemvirate. This offers him a measure of protection as well.

At least, that’s what we were all led to believe at the end of Season Two. In fact, GMT came back to the Society for aid in eliminating his rival, The Spider, while still pursuing his own agenda. The Spider had hired the Red Mantis to kill Torch, and the Grandmaster wanted revenge – and not just on The Spider.

In Season Four, GMT shows his true colours. After finally destroying the Spider (with the aid of PC Pathfinder agents), he gained from her the most closely-guarded secret she had – the true identities of the Decemvirate. GMT then escapes with this knowledge, betraying the Society again and leaving his former followers to swing for his crimes. Fortunately, the Society welcomes these agents back into the fold, as many of them were also misled by Torch. So, as of now (the end of Season 5) – GMT is persona-non-grata in the Society, his “shadow lodge” is a shadow of its former self (but may still haves some independent cells active), and many Pathfinders want the Grandmaster dead. This complicates any older scenario which features Torch as an ally.

As with previous seasons, there are a few ways to handle this incongruity. You can ignore the contradictions and just play – assume the scenario is a “flashback” or alternate time line, and don’t worry about contradictions. If your players are fine with this it is a simpler way, but it may also set up unrealistic expectations for your players if you ignore current events.  One advantage of the PFS campaign is that player actions influence future events, so it’s best not to destroy these connections just for ease of prep.

Another way to handle Shadow Lodge scenarios is to take a quick look at the play record of your table. Glance through their Chronicles, and see which GMT scenarios they have already played. Then tailor your portrayal of the events around what the characters already “know”. If they haven’t yet played any scenarios which show Torch as the bad guy, let them believe he is the same guy he was in Season Two. If they have already played scenarios revealing his deception, then suggest the mission requires working with him even though they can’t trust him.

In general, I usually start any Shadow Lodge scenario with the reminder that not all of the rogue agents rejoined the Society under Grandmaster Torch’s leadership – several militant cells remained at large, working to further their nefarious agendas. This actually keeps the details out of the way, since for most scenarios it really doesn’t matter if the Shadow Lodge is led by GMT or not.

Season Two also maintains the awful (Tier 1-7) scenario, which has three tiers to prep and significant changes in encounters and story lines for the different tiers. You can legally wind up with level 1 and level 7 PCs at the same table (playing sub-tier 3-4), which should be avoided like the plague. As with many older scenarios each faction has a mission handout, and these should still be provided to players even if they choose to ignore them. Despite not earning prestige any more, the information contained in these missives can often spell the difference between success and failure.

[As requested, some more spoiler-rich details on several scenarios are provided.]

2-00 Year of the Shadow Lodge (Tier 1-11) – Season Two sees the introduction of the first “Special” scenario, run at Gen Con to kick off Season Two. This is a multi-table event, requiring at least 3 tables to run it simultaneously, and it includes rules for inter-table interaction while still providing level-appropriate challenges. The treachery of the Shadow Lodge is revealed with an audacious attack on the Pathfinder Society’s Grand Lodge. This is a good way to kick off a mini-campaign of the Shadow Lodge story line, either for players who have joined since Season Four, or for experienced players wishing to go back and experience the story line chronologically.

Before the Dawn Series (Tier 1-7)– 2-01 The Bloodcove Disguise, 2-02 Rescue at Azlant Ridge: A two-parter in the Mwangi expanse, meant to be played back to back. The first part features the Aspis Consortium and some great non-combat situations, and part two delivers a unique combat (against a CR 15 creature!) as the finale.  The players can recruit enough aid to overcome, so don’t worry about it being a TPK.

2-03 The Rebel’s Ransom (Tier 5-9) – Set in Osirion, this is Pathfinding at its finest – charting a lost tomb for the first time. There are desert monsters, traps, puzzles, competing interests, and combat situations which test a group’s resourcefulness. [This was our Lodge’s first Tier 5-9 scenario, and it was overly deadly for us – but that was because of the changes in the game at mid-levels and not due to any inherent issues with the scenario. Follow the tactics as written! -L]

2-04 Shadows Fall on Absalom (Tier 7-11) – A Shadow Lodge scenario with several twists and turns, as someone is attempting to assassinate Venture-Captain Drandle Dreng! Who wants him dead? [Besides every Pathfinder he’s ever woken up at 3 a.m. to send out on a mission, I mean. -L]  This one has a lot of NPC stat blocks which take more prep than the standard “3 monsters” encounters, so spend a bit more prep time with this one.

2-05 Eyes of the Ten Part 3 – Red Revolution (Tier 12)– Part Three of the level 12 Seeker arc which started last season. This scenario continues the previous scenarios which deal with betrayal at the very highest levels of the Society. This is the first scenario which takes PCs to another planet in the solar system, and can benefit a lot from some setting prep. The location doesn’t really come through unless you make it, though, so consider some colour maps, specially-painted minis, or 3D terrain for this.

The Heresy of Man series — 2-06 The First Heresy, 2-07 Where Dark Things Sleep, 2-09 Beneath Forgotten Sands (Tier 5-9) – This is a three-part quest in pursuit of an ancient Jistka Imperium citadel, set against the Shadow Lodge meta-plot. PCs will visit Rahadoum, where divine magic is illegal, which provides interesting role-playing moments for divinely-inspired characters. The series also takes characters throughout northern Garund, and they discover a HUGE reveal in the Shadow Lodge story line – the membership of one of the faction heads in the Pathfinder Society!

2-08 The Sarkorian Prophecy (Tier 7-11) – This scenario foreshadows much of Season 5 and the Siege of the Diamond City. The Sarkorian Prophecy is a century-old series of prophecies which seem to have come true, the only ones to do so since the god Aroden died. The Prophecy were lost in the Worldwound when it formed, and the Society wants it. So does the Shadow Lodge, of course. This is the only scenario pre-Season 5 to feature the other Venture-Captain in Nerosyan, V-C Thurrl. It also sends PCs into the Worldwound to face the horrible environmental and demonic hazards they’ll come to know and love in Season 5.

2-10 Fury of the Fiend (Tier 7-11) – In this spiritual successor to Season Zero’s 0-22 Fingerprints of the Fiend, Drandle Dreng sends PCs to explore the ruins of Rachican in Western Cheliax, a former Jistka Imperium city.  As part of the mission the PCs must sneak into Cheliax without permission, and likely run afoul of some Hellknights. Now that Hellknights are a legal option for players, this can provide some interesting personal conflicts for some players.

2-11 The Penumbral Accords (Tier 1-5) – It’s back to the Blakros Museum, in a scenario that is a precursor to many events in future seasons. The PCs help the Blakros family break an agreement with the Onyx Alliance, their former trade partners from the Shadow Plane. Successful PCs can rescue twin sisters Michellia and Eleanir Blakros, setting up Michellia’s appearance in later scenarios such as 4-09 The Blakros Matrimony. Unsuccessful PCs can find one of the few “TPK unrecoverable deaths” in Society play.

2-12 Below the Silver Tarn (Tier 7-11) – This scenario is awesomely creepy, and a great challenge since players can easily get in over their heads. Sent to a small town in the mountains, players discover an apocalyptic scene with dozens of monsters sent by a sentient lake to destroy the population. There are unique monsters here, and GMs can play with the sense of mystery by revealing information slowly and in pieces using Knowledge checks. Some great role-play opportunities with groups of frightened villagers, and brush up on your water combat rules in advance. It’s also a good one to try out background music for (in a home game!) to help set the mood. [Written by Crystal Frasier, this is my all-time favourite high-tier scenario. -L]

2-13 Murder on the Throaty Mermaid (Tier 1-5) – This one is a murder mystery, with the killer’s ID  dependant on the faction make-up of the party. The mystery occurs aboard ship, and of course the PCs are blamed, so they have a ticking clock to solve the crime. The scenario has a lot of NPCs, so you will want to use face cards or voices to make them distinct (check the GM shared Prep drive for materials). The faction missions are essential even though they give no prestige, as they contain important info for players and provide contacts aboard ship.

2-14 The Chasm of Screams (Tier 7-11)This scenario has ties to the fallout of Eyes of the Ten, although since it’s for lower-level PCs you won’t be able to play them with the same PCs. Both 2-14 and 2-12 take place in the border area between Nidal and Cheliax, so they work well geographically in series without being tied together in plot.

Shades of Ice series2-15 Written in Blood, 2-17 Exiles of Winter, 2-19 Keep of the Huscarl King (Tier 1-5) –  This three-part series is intended to be played in order, since each story builds upon the previous and spoilers are revealed throughout the series. The PCs are sent to the Land of the Linnorm Kings on a simple delivery mission, and wind up targeted for death. As the series unfolds, they travel across Irrisen and to the Realm of the Mammoth Lords to track down a Shadow Lodge stronghold set on destroying the Pathfinder Society’s reputation in the north. PCs can also fight a dragon in one of these scenarios, a rare occurrence.

2-16 The Flesh Collector (Tier 7-11) –  VC Brackett sends PCs to recover the stolen Fleshforge Manuscript from an island of the coast of Nex. PCs will fight some interesting monsters and NPCs, which may take a bit more prep time than the average scenario. There are also some interesting effects for partial success on the Chronicle, something a regular group can play out in the flavour of future adventures.

2-18 The Forbidden Furnace of Forgotten Koor (Tier 7-11) – Set in Qadira, PCs are sent to the ruined city of Koor to find a missing agent and face an imprisoned genie. Rules prep should include environmental effects and the insanity rules from the Gamemastery Guide.

2-20 Wrath of the Accursed (Tier 7-11) – Another Shadow Lodge scenario, this time in Osirion. PCs must investigate a rash of murders and thefts perpetrated against the Society. Along the way, they come across several cursed items.

2-21 The Dalsine Affair (Tier 1-7) – This scenario provides a key bit of history for Taldan and Qadira factions, with the former Qadira faction head killing the former Taldan faction head and then escaping.  As GM you will need to explain the situation – this is one scenario where it is best to run it “in the past”, or to explain who these people were as former faction leaders settling a grudge. Again, PCs are operating without legal permission from the host country (in this case Taldor). The final encounter is deadly as written due to circumstances – be sure to give the PCs every opportunity to detect and react accordingly.

2-22 Eyes of the Ten—Part IV: Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained (Tier 12) – The final instalment of the Seeker arc, bringing the series to a close. A great end to a memorable experience for high-level PCs. This scenario requires some specific prep, not only due to the number of unique combatants but also some of the environmental conditions. The PCs actually enter Skyreach, the home of the Decemvirate at the Grand Lodge. Thematic and mechanical considerations for running this will be covered in the special “Eyes of the Ten” column slated for late summer.

Shadow’s Last Stand series – 2-23 At Shadow’s Door, 2-24 Web of Corruption (Tier 1-7) – A significant milestone in the Shadow Lodge story line. PCs go after the Shadow Lodge base in Andoran, and discover The Spider is behind everything. Some good investigative moments allow PCs to uncover a wealth of background and detail on the Shadow Lodge, including a significant discovery which explains the events of the Heresy of Man series – ensure any players who played 2-09 get the chance to play this soon thereafter!

2-25 You Only Die Twice (Tier 5-9) –PCs travel to the undead land of Geb, where few of the living dare tread. Their mission is complicated by the fact that their disguise gives them the appearance – and vulnerabilities! – of undead as well. Rewards careful planning and thoughtful players.

2-26 The Mantis’s Prey (Tier 7-11) – Grandmaster Torch is targeted for assassination by the Red Mantis on the orders of his one-time ally, The Spider. This scenario explores a lot of GMT’s motivation and sets up his ascent to head of the Shadow Lodge faction in Season Three.  When the scenario was written, GMT was an independent friend of the Society; now, many players may not wish to save him. Again, either reconciling the storyline with current events or playing this as a flashback is the best route.



Character Creation: The Crunch

When creating a character for PFS, many of the questions you would usually ask the GM have already been answered for you in the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play, or on the Additional Resources page on the Paizo website. This can actually make character creation faster and easier, especially because most of the options that Paizo publishes are legal for play. As always, the first step is to come up with a character concept.


Though there are some roleplaying considerations when designing a character (which will be covered in Character Creation: The Fluff), there are very few restrictions placed on the concept of your character. The chief among them is: No Evil Characters. You can still have a character who worships an evil deity, but your alignment must be within one step of that deity.

If you have a few different character concepts that you’re considering, fear not! Not only can you create as many PFS characters as you’d like, you can also change every aspect of that character before playing at 2nd level. That’s right! According to the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play, “Before you level up a character for the first time, you may change any aspect of it except its Pathfinder Society Number. Changes may only be made between adventures and before playing as a character above 1st level.” (pg. 10) So create a character and play it through a scenario. If you don’t love it, make any adjustments you like before the start of the next scenario and try again.

I recommend finding a concept which contributes to overcoming the obstacles of a scenario both in and out of combat. Most of the scenarios are not combat heavy slug-fests, and a few of them can be completed without ever rolling for initiative. Your character may be able to do one thing really well, but you’re going to have nothing to do at the table if that one thing won’t solve the problem the party is trying to overcome.

Class and Race Choices

Almost all of the Core and Base classes released by Paizo are available for play, with the exception of the Antipaladin. Some of the other classes have minor tweaks,  outlined in the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play. You may choose any race from the Core Rulebook, or Aasimar, Tengu, and Tiefling if you have a resource which contains that race. Special racial boons are given out to players at regional conventions, so attend those events to open up additional racial options.

Don’t be daunted if you don’t have access to a “unique” racial boon; all of the core races are very effective. With some of the alternative options in the Advanced Players Guide and Advanced Race Guide, you can tailor the core races to fit almost any need.

Character Options

Paizo allows many of their published character creation options (feats, traits, archetypes, spells, and items) to be used in Organized Play. However, you need to have the appropriate resource book that features that item. To find out what is allowed or disallowed, reference the Additional Resources page and look up the source book in question.

Bonus languages from a high Intelligence score can be selected from all of the options listed for your race, plus any Modern Human Languages listed in the Inner Sea World Guide (pg 251). Humans also gain the benefit of knowing the language that matches their ethnicity.

Characters will also join a faction within the Pathfinder Society. While this faction is largely for roleplaying purposes, it does open certain options for traits, boons purchased with prestige, and scenario specific benefits. Read through the faction entries in the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play, and choose the one which seems most appropriate for your concept. A few changes for Factions have been announced for Season 6, so take those into consideration as well.

When looking at different options, try to focus only on what fits your character concept; everything else is rules noise. If you start to feel overwhelmed, begin by limiting your search to just one or two sourcebooks. When in doubt, contact your local Venture Officer or another friendly player. For me, character creation is one of the most fun parts of the game and I love helping people find the perfect build for their playstyle.


Instead of rolling out stats, PFS uses the point buy option listed in the Core Rulebook. You are given 20 points to build your character. A table for point buy costs can be found in either the Core Rulebook or The Guide. You can only buy a maximum stat of 18 and minimum stat of 7 before racial adjustments. Once you add adjustments based on your race, each stat will range between 5 and 20.

Hit points are also not rolled from level to level. Instead, you receive maximum hit points for your first character level, and a static amount each character level you achieve beyond first.

I highly recommend trying to avoid min-max builds. Though they can be very satisfying at times, having a nasty weakness can not only hamper you in certain situations, it can get you killed. A burly combat character can die in one or two hits of ability drain, if they’ve dumped their mental stats too low. Whatever you do, don’t neglect Constitution. A low Constitution can get you killed very quickly in almost any combat situation.

Post the Character

Register your character on the Paizo website. At a minimum, enter the character name associated with each character number. This will greatly help game day and convention organizers when trying to report who played what games. Additionally, if you lose your chronical sheets, you can use the records online to rebuild your character. If you can, enter the basic build information for the character including race, class, and statistics. This can save you a ton of time later if you ever have to rebuild that character.

Poll the Audience

Do you have any recommendations about the crunch behind creating a PFS character? If so, leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your advice on building an effective and versatile character for Pathfinder Society.

Weekly Paizo Blog Summary for July 7

Welcome, Pathfinders! This past weekend was PaizoCon (as if you didn’t know), so this week’s Paizo blog summary is naturally full of updates and snippets from that. But let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start!

Monday brought us Faction Evolution, Part III, with a look at the changes ahead for the Taldor and Osirion factions (players should be aware of some slight spoilers for some Season 5 material). John Compton hinted at some of these things on the Know Direction podcast a few weeks ago, but the actual details and direction are interesting to say the least. I have characters in both factions, and while my Osirion character will likely find the change exciting, I’m not sure how my Taldan fighter will react. Check it out for yourself and see where you fall.

Monday also saw a short interview with Erik Mona about his level of The Emerald Spire Superdungeon. Level 14: The Throne of Azlant, promises to be non-linear and pay off many of the plot-lines built in previous levels. Erik also said, “It also contains the meanest trick I have ever played on a player character, a bind so nasty that I continue to giggle just thinking about it.” How can you not look forward to that?

Tuesday brought us another preview from the Advanced Class Guide, with the arcanist. Combining aspects of the wizard and sorcerer, the arcanist uses her abilities to break the laws of magic, achieving feats neither class could dream of. I’ll admit, when I first heard one of the classes was going to combine the two main arcane casting classes, I was underwhelmed. Having read the preview I’ve achieved a satisfactory level of whelm, and I can’t wait to take the arcanist for a spin.

The Crusader Road marks the first Pathfinder Tales novel by veteran author Michael A. Stackpole, and Wednesday brought with it a sample chapter from that novel. I’ve been excited about this book ever since I heard he was writing it. I was a huge fan of X-Wing: Rogue Squadron, and I couldn’t wait to see what he did with Golarion. The sample didn’t disappoint.

The first of many PaizoCon blog posts began on Thursday, along with a look at the arcanist Iconic, Enora. I love her story, and I especially like seeing the halflings get some love as something more than tricksters and thieves. I have to say, I haven’t wanted to play pre-gens before the Advanced Class Guide; now I sort of want to play them all.

Friday saw the opening of the PaizoCon update floodgates, which continued pretty much through the weekend. I’m not going to try and link to them all, but if you missed any, start here and keep going. You won’t be sorry.

Saturday night at PaizoCon was the banquet, and with it came the official announcements for the coming year. If you missed any, Paizo had you covered with their own Announcement Round-up posted Sunday. Among a host of product announcements, the ones I’m most excited about are a Giantslayer Adventure Path, and an actual metal Sihedron Medallion from Campaign Coins.

The banquet also saw the presentation of the Paizo’s Volunteer of the Year Award. This year it was co-awarded to PaizoCon UK founders Dave Harrison and Rob Silk. Congratulations, Dave and Rob, and thank-you for all your hard work!

What did you think of the posts this week? Anything catch your eye? Let us know in the comments, or on Facebook.

The More Things Change…

The Pathfinder RPG is based on the 3.5 version of the World’s Oldest Role-playing Game, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely the same. There are many differences unique to the Pathfinder RPG system which makes it stand out from its predecessor. The Conversion Guide covers quite a few of these and is available as a free download at This article will address three specific changes, and how they impact Pathfinder Society Organized Play.

The first mechanical change I want to address is the Traits mechanic. Traits were first introduced as a free download in 2009. From a design perspective, they are “half-feats” roughly equal in power to half a feat. They provide an excellent way to flesh out a character’s background. Each player starts play with two, though the feat Additional Traits grants additional traits beyond that. The Basic traits consist of Combat, Faith, Magic, and Social; additional sources since have added Campaign, Equipment, Racial, and Regional. No character can have more than one from any given category. The Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play v2.1 (published in December of 2009) introduced Faction Traits. These replaced the Faction feats from the earlier version of that same guide and acted as Campaign traits for Organized Play. Faction traits encourage players to tie their character’s background or motivation to the particular Faction he/she supports, while providing an interesting bonus for being a member of a Faction.

Introduced in the Advanced Player’s Guide, the archetype mechanic allows a way of altering a character’s base class in minor ways by swapping certain class features with replacement abilities. While the Pathfinder RPG system still supports the prestige class format of its predecessor, archetypes allow a player to gain substitution abilities without having to abandon the base class, and generally allows access to those abilities sooner. An insightful web article by Sean K Reynolds explains why the design team for the Pathfinder RPG focused on archetypes instead of the traditional prestige class. Quite a few archetypes fill the same role held by prestige classes, and once again tie a character’s background to a specific region or culture. This provides a way for players to add background for their character, alongside the mechanical benefits granted.

Lastly, a Pathfinder Society character earns a positive reputation through successful play and completion of missions in the form of Fame and Prestige. Introduced in its original form in the Guide to Pathfinder Society Play v1, Prestige was a mechanical measure of how well-known a character is and what special magic items a person could purchase directly from their Faction. This was changed in v2 to allow access to all magic items, regardless of Faction, but with the amount of Prestige earned acting as a spending cap on those items in an effort to maintain campaign balance. This mechanic was renamed Fame in v4 with only the amount spent referred to as Prestige. Fame as a mechanic accounts for the political favors and personal influence a player gains through their success; Prestige is the calling in of those favors, and usually provides a service or bonus to the character. The Pathfinder Society Field Guide introduced a new way to spend Prestige in the form of a Vanity. These are permanent purchasable favors, such as a noble title, property, or unique wayfinders and can be found in both that book and the Pathfinder Society Primer from the Player’s Companion line.

Easily the most important function of Fame, though, is as a cap to a character’s maximum purchasing ability for magic items. The more Fame a character has earned, the more likely it is people will be willing to part with expensive magic items outside of those more commonly found and cheaply made. Remember when calculating the cost of armor and weapons that the base cost is always a factor; a common mistake made by new players is to calculate only the enchantment cost, forgetting the base cost of the weapon. Not only is the base cost a factor but players also have to account for any special materials and the cost of masterwork quality in the case of weapon’s and armour. Knowing an item’s total cost for a future purchase is not enough; a Pathfinder Society player also must know the Fame cost of obtaining that item. This sometimes puts items outside the purview of normal Pathfinder Society play, since the PFS Organized Play system caps out at 12th level for most scenarios.

I hope this has been both helpful and informative to new players and old players alike. In future articles, I hope to address other differences and how they impact Pathfinder Society Play.

Know Your…Con Etiquette!

You’re at PaizoCon and you want to do it all! Great! Now take a deep breath. Done? Good, let’s talk about con etiquette.

You want to have the best time possible at the convention, which is great. But so does everyone else. If you keep these simple etiquette tips in mind, not only can you have a good time yourself, but you make everyone else’s experience better as well.

Hygiene and Health – Shower every day. Eat at least one good meal every day of the con, not consisting of pop/chocolate bars/chips/assorted other junk-food. Shower every day. Get at least four hours of sleep each night, and shoot for six. Shower every day. You will enjoy the con much more if you are clean, rested, and not laboring under junk food crud.

Seriously, shower every day. Body spray is not showering. Lathering on deodorant is not showering. Showering is showering. So when you get up after your 4-6 hours of sleep, drag your funky-smelling gamer @&% into the shower. You may think the fact you haven’t showered in days is something to brag about. It isn’t. It’s disrespectful to your fellow gamers who have to sit next to your stink for four hours. I’ve sent gamers away from my table at cons because they stunk, and I will continue to do so when necessary.

Shower. Every. Day.

Politeness – At a convention there are hundreds to thousands to tens of thousands of people, all inhabiting the same smallish space for 3-4 days. I know you don’t want to miss anything, and it is tempting to rush and forget basic courtesy. Don’t. It takes a second to say things like ‘please’, ‘thank-you’, and ‘excuse me’. Hold a door open for someone loaded down with game material. Let the GM late for a game get off the elevator first. Stand to the right on escalators so folks can walk on the left. Take off your backpack in crowded areas so you aren’t smacking folks in the face. These little courtesies keep cons running smoothly, they’re what allow people to cram into a venue and play games in cramped rooms, without the bloodshed leaving the tabletop.

Besides, when people leave the con and remember you, what do you want them to remember? The rude jerk who snarked at people all weekend? Or the good guy who was enjoyable gaming company? Second one sounds better? Cool. Then remember Wheaton’s Law (“Don’t be a Dick”) and keep it wholly.

Be Prepared – As we’ve already noted, you have a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it. Blink and it’s Sunday. So don’t waste your time or the time of the GM and other players. Show up on-time to your game, on-time meaning 5-10 minutes early. Make sure you brought everything you need to play; dice, pencils, miniatures, character sheet, any books you need to reference. That last is especially important for PFS, as is having your chronicles and inventory tracking sheet up to date. Chances are the con GM doesn’t know you, so she is less likely to take your word you played the scenario belonging to that missing chronicle. If you forgot the chronicle, don’t argue with the GM if she asks you to play another character; you forgot it, deal. Just grab another character or a pre-gen and get that chronicle for next time.

At the Table – You’ve started playing and your con weekend is off and running! This is the time to double-down on etiquette. Con games are much stricter, time-wise, so make sure you’re not wasting time. It will be tempting, playing with new people, to want to bond over old gaming stories. Don’t. Save them for the breaks, or go grab a meal with your new-found gaming buddies (which they just might be, if you remembered Wheaton’s Law). You’re there to play a game, so play.

Don’t be that guy. You know who I’m talking about, the guy playing the ‘silent loner’ character. His sheet might read Chaotic Good but he’s really playing Neutral Jackass. Barely helping during encounters, combat or otherwise; hoarding his healing while demanding the cleric look after him; always with a snarky comment about what the other characters or the GM are doing. Pro tip: nobody likes that guy. Get involved. Ask questions. When in doubt do something cool, and encourage others to coolness. Boldly go, and help your group. Part of the Pathfinder credo is ‘cooperate’; remember that and I promise you’ll have more fun.

Turn off your devices, unless you need them to run your character. If you do, that’s cool, but then don’t spend your ‘off time’ watching funny cat videos when you should be paying attention to the GM. Your game is right now, those cute widdle kitties will be there when you’re done. If you are trying to blog the convention, don’t let it take attention away from what you and the rest of the table should be doing. It’s not fair to your fellow gamers and especially not fair to the GM, who has put a lot of prep time into the scenario. And make sure to check in with your GM at the start of the game, so she knows what you’re doing.

Thank Volunteers – This should rightly fall under politeness, but I think it’s important enough to warrant its own section. No convention can run without the hard work of a multitude of volunteers. Thank them. Usually they are wearing a special badge or shirt, so they aren’t hard to find. Start with your GMs, after all they’re sitting right in front of you. Volunteers work hard to make these events run, and they do it with no expectation of compensation. Your thank-you will mean the world, and they certainly deserve it.

Follow these few simple etiquette tips, and I guarantee you’ll have a much better con experience. And so will all the new friends you’ve made.

Know Your….Convention Planning!

Greetings Pathfinders!

This week, Lady Ophelia is on leave from Know Your Nations, and instead her normal counterpart Venus, is posting a fun bit about convention travelling! (Don’t worry; Lady Ophelia will be back next week to continue the Know Your Nations series.) If you are planning on GMing at PaizoCon, there is a lot to consider. So below are some tips to help you be prepared!

Paper vs. Electronic

Paper: Easier to carry, can lose or get messed up, and killing trees.

  • Print out everything in advance at Kinkos or local printing place
  • Make sure you have copies of all handouts and chronicles.
  • Especially if you are running the same scenario all across the board as it will expedite your adventure.
  • Remember weight restrictions for bags/carry-ons for your books.

Electronic: Great to run combats and maintain stats.

  •  But the PFS room is very electrical outlet starved.
  • Unless you are willing to bring the necessary extension cords, you may have issues.
  • The location is wi-fi starved as well. So whatever you plan on using, make sure you don’t need internet.

Great Non-Wifi Apps for Pathfinder:

Compromise: Bring both!

  • Bring the scenario in paper and then bring any resources you need additionally via electronic. Doing so, keeps you from being electrically strapped, and at the same time if you need a resource, you can pull it up with ease!
  • What many do, myself included, is print all of the scenarios I am going to run. Then I will put them in one binder and print out all the needed stat blocks and put them in an appendix. If I am doing a special, I will create a separate binder to keep everything in the right place and not get lost.

Additional tips to make your life easier:

  • Pre-fill out all your chronicle sheets and sign in sheets. So help me, it makes things so much easier. The same can be said for initiative cards, or other things you need for the scenario.
  • Mini-Spellbooks! If you are running a scenario that has heavy casters, make a copy of their spell list to have on hand. Perram’s Spellbook is one of the easiest and fastest ways to print out a spell book so you know how the spell works! Save time looking through books!
  • Also, in order to not lose all the minis I need, I pack them in a separate zip-lock bag. If you have the paper pawns I recommend getting business card holders, or if you have any of those CCG card binders, they are a good place to put pawns as well.
  • On a personal GM note, make sure you drink plenty of water, soothe your voice where you can with tea/honey and if you have a chance buy some Ricola’s to keep your voice from fading. The air in the room can get rather dry so it’s helpful in order to keep things going! Nothing is worse than to lose your voice and try to facilitate a game!

Things you can do as a player, to make the GM’s job easier:

  • Have PDF’s or books for everything your characters carry. There are GM’s who will do book and source checks. (I personally will check if you plan on bringing Snowball) Don’t get told no! If you don’t want to carry extra crap, print out the pages needed (make sure you have your watermark) and keep them with the character sheet!
  • Have an Additional Resources lists for GM. If you have a lot of customized items, spells and options from AR, do your GM an awesome favor and provide them the list. It not only gives you backing during an audit, but you just become an all-around great player!
  • Be prepared when your turn comes up! The number one thing that slows down play is players not knowing what to do when their turn comes. A simple tip: roll your damage die along with your d20 to speed up combat. Also, if someone stops you from plan A, have a plan B and C just in case. A lot of our scenarios this weekend and summer are going to be tight time crunches, so the more prepared you are, the better!
  • Know your stats and characters! I catch this a lot when I quick question a player character’s archetype and special abilities and they look at me like a deer in headlights. Know the cool stuff your character does! Know what their spells do and don’t do. Know a bit of your background, character development, and how you want to play them.

Above all else, remember, HAVE FUN! You have traveled as far as you have to play a game and have a good time. Take advantage of the opportunity to play with some of the most awesome people in the world!

That’s all for me, have fun this summer Pathfinders! May Sarenrae’s light be a lamp onto your feet and a light upon your paths!