I have previously discussed the great horror-themed supplements that Paizo is putting out for the Pathfinder RPG, but they aren’t alone in this. With the advent of digital publishing and crowdfunding sources like Kickstarter, there’s an array of new, independent publishers who are finding under-served niches in the gaming industry and creating projects to serve them.
One of these current Kickstarters, The Dread House by Hammerdog Games, is currently fully funded and building toward its initial stretch goals. It has some really unique features:
A 128-page hardcover (or digital) adventure/setting book of a haunted house, containing adventures for the Dungeons & Dragons (5e), Pathfinder, and Call of Cthulhu roleplaying games, including multiple possible time periods within these games.
Rules for powerful new creatures, including the Dread Ghost.
Optional Fear, Sanity, and Soul Point rules.
Fictional “ghost stories” written by Kevin Andrew Murphy and Richard Lee Byers.
A set of haunted house tiles, matching the maps within the adventure book.
Sets of room decoration miniatures, including furniture pieces such as beds, bookcases, bathtubs, and, yes, even a couple of privies!
Additions of more adventures, miniatures, and tiles as stretch goals are reached.
I’m a fan of Frog God Games. Rising from the ashes of Third Edition D&D’s Necromancer Games, they make RPG products for Pathfinder, 5th Edition and Swords & Wizardry. Way back in 2014, I wrote here about The Lost Lands, the campaign world that would synthesize almost all of the Necromancer and FGG products — from classics like Rappan Athuk and Gary Gygax’s Necropolis to newer deadly adventures like The Slumbering Tsar saga.
I’ve happily backed several Lost Lands Kickstarters the past few years (including Sword of Air, Cults of the Sundered Kingdoms) and there’s been a ton of Pathfindergoodness for me (Don’t let the list price put you off — the PDFs are more affordable). The latest Lost Lands Kickstarter, which wraps up October 2 (and is 75% funded as I type this) is one I have anxiously been awaiting.
In 2010 and 2011, Frog God released the first four modules in Kenneth Spencer’s series set in the Northlands. The first two had a bit of an American Eskimo feel, then moved into pure Viking territory in the third and fourth. You can read my thoughts on the series here.
Then, the modules stopped coming. Greg Vaughan, PathfinderCreative Director (and author of the previously mentioned Slumbering Tsar epic), told me that The Northlands was on hold and that it would become a separate campaign book for The Lost Lands. So, I waited… and waited…. and waited. Wait no more!
Game Masters are getting a lot of appreciation these days. According to Wizards of the Coast, all of February was Dungeon Master Appreciation Month, a fact that they celebrated with a hilarious series of videos of a “Dungeon Master Support Group.” These are clearly intended to promote the recent 5th edition Dungeon Master’s Guide, but I’m a sucker for a brilliant viral promotional campaign. If you you’ve ever played a tabletop RPG, definitely check them out.
That being said, I’m not sure that the work we do as as Dungeon Masters (or Game Masters) quite warrants a full month. Turns out that we also have a day, which seems a bit more proportional!
March 4 was the “official” GM day, to celebrate Gamemasters everywhere. Some digging shows that this sacred gaming holiday dates back to 2002, when it was proposed on the EN World forums.
Paizo LLC, the makers of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, are celebrating the event by having a massive GM’s Day sale that runs through March 10. It’s a great time to buy the Core Rulebook, Bestiaries, GameMastery Guide, and other books to begin playing Pathfinder, but for those who already play Pathfinder RPG, here’s my tip of the top 5 books may not yet have but definitely want.
If you’ve played fantasy roleplaying games for any length of time, you’ve no doubt fought your fair share of goblins, orcs, and trolls. They can certainly begin to blend together. If you’ve fought one, you’ve fought them all, right? One of the jobs of the Dungeon Master is to find ways to keep things interesting. As I said in a post last week, “A fantasy roleplaying game is defined as much by the caliber of the villains and monsters as it is by the caliber of the players and heroes.”
One way to mix things up is to introduce more monsters, and certainly fantasy roleplaying games have no shortage of supplements that outline new and varied types of monsters.
But another way to keep things interesting is by varying up the existing pool of common monsters, giving them rich backstories and cultures, motivations and plots. In short, finding ways to really make what should be a common monster into something completely new. If you take a basic goblin template and add on 12 levels of barbarian, you have something decidedly more challenging to face!
Of course, creating all of this variability takes time and planning, which seems to be in ever-shorter supply these days. And this brings us to the Pathfinder RPG‘s newest solution: Monster Codex (Paizo, Amazon)
If you’re one of the generation of gamers who cut their teeth on 20-sided dice, you know that the mythology around the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy settings often hinge upon the machinations of deities, at times capricious and petty, at times aloof, at times all too ready to lend a not-particularly-helpful hand. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Fizban.)
The gods also play a central role in the D&D-stepchild game of Pathfinder RPG, produced by Paizo Publishing. Their setting of Golarion puts an interesting twist on the gods, by featuring a number of deities that were once mortals who ascended to godhood. The gods of Golarion are controversial and the cause of much conflict, with the desert nation of Rahadoum going so far as to outlaw the worship of any deity under penalty of death. (The atheism of Rahadoum is a central theme in James L. Sutter’s fantastic novel, Pathfinder Tales: Death’s Heretic.)
But the gods are not the only otherworldly beings that have designs on Golarion. In their recent Pathfinder Campaign Settings release, Chronicles of the Righteous(Amazon, Paizo), Paizo dives more deeply into the Empyreal Lords. These are supernatural beings from other realms who have ascended to prominence in the Outer Planes, becoming almost like lesser gods who focus on their domains of interest and gather smaller groups of dedicated followers and servants to further their interests on Golarion.
Magic permeates fantasy settings, but even in these realms, there is a type of creature that typically embodies these magical forces in a more fundamental way than anything else. I am speaking of the ubiquitous fey, creatures who are often depicted as being born of magic .
Now many of the major fey races have been collected together into the PathfinderCampaign Setting supplement Fey Revisited (Paizo, Amazon). The fey creatures in Pathfinderare natives to the First World, which was the gods’ first draft of reality, and as such they have only a tenuous grasp on mortality … and, often, on morality, for that matter.
The timing on this supplement is extremely good for me personally, since I’m running a campaign that is set in the Pathfinder world of Golarion, in Nirmathas. The forest in Nirmathas, the Southern Fangwood, currently has a situation going on where there’s a fungal disease that infects only fey. So having a sourcebook that outlines various different types of fey is extremely useful.