Against the Aeon Throne and Signal of Screams mark the beginning of Paizo’s move to 3-month Adventure Paths. The future is full of a space plagues, space tyrants, and more importantly, variety.
Big changes are coming to Paizo in August. Not only will we see the launch for the official Pathfinder 2nd Edition Playtest, but that’s also when Adventure Paths make the shift to 3-part affairs. The goal here being to see a wider variety of shorter campaigns . This sort of tracks with an emerging playstyle–a 3 or 4-month long “campaign” followed by a break and a new campaign. Which may or may not be with the same characters but might be with (mostly) the same people.
Sometimes sessions get a little out of hand
Players move through modules, they tell their stories against the backdrop of the published campaigns, it’s a trend that seems to stem from the rise of serialized stories in popularity. Each version of any RPG and accompanying lexicon (what do a campaign is, for instance) adapts to fit the current audience. At least that’s the theory put forth by some of the designers of D&D in a recent “across the generations” podcast episode.
I think another cause in this rise of shorter campaigns that have a discrete beginning, middle, and end–which you can play and finish and enjoy and feel like you accomplished something–is that nobody has time for anything anymore. There’s work. Or school. Or kids. Or everything is always on and you’ve got to find some way to make money that won’t get the government called on you. Again. Even though nobody died and what you were doing wasn’t technically illegal.
Whatever the reason, one of the things that Paizo seems to be going for is a wider variety of adventures. This works especially well with Starfinder, because in the sci-fi playground (and yeah I know it’s sci-fantasy, but bear with me) you get a wide swath of genres. There’s sci-fi horrror, comedy, space opera, weird introspective sci-fi things, uplifting sci-fi disaster movies, confusing sci-fi disaster movies–there’s a lot of ground to tread, often rife with adventure, violence, questions about what life is, and sweet sweet soundtracks. And, perhaps because we’re a little more used to seeing Sci-Fi blended with horror/fantasy/whatever–that it feels like a more fertile mixing ground.
The first two Adventure Paths we’ve seen previewed seem to bear out that theory. As far as the proof of concept goes, it seems pretty sound–they offer a pretty wide swath of adventuring territory in between them. First there’s Against the Aeon Throne, which aside from having one of the coolest adventure names in history, is a big sweeping plot that pits adventurers against the Azlanti Star Empire. It’s a very space opera kind of adventure that promises political thrills and intrigue, alongside lots of space battles and daring rescues.
Signal of Screams in contrast is very much about the sci-fi horror end of the genre. A scientist (insane) trapped in the Shadow Plane is conducting weird experiments and they break loose on a station. Even the name of the first adventure in the path: The Diaspora Strain is reminiscent of The Andromeda Strain. Like there’s a lot of room to play in this playground. And it’s kind of impressive to see the authors of these adventures (and Paizo by extension) taking a risk in letting people dabble. I hope to see more of stuff like this, because I like weird sci-fi games that make you feel both pretentious and insignificant, and the more gateways I have to trick my friends into playing Last Best Hope with me, the better.
At any rate, this is a look at the future of adventures (for now). So let’s dive right on in.
Hired to transport supplies to a new Pact Worlds colony in the Vast, the heroes discover that the Azlanti Star Empire has invaded and occupied the colony with a small military force. The heroes must liberate the colony from its merciless oppressors, only to learn that the Azlanti have taken both an experimental starship drive and one of the colonists—an old friend of the heroes—back to the Star Empire!
“The Reach of Empire” is a Starfinder Roleplaying Game adventure for four 1st-level characters. The adventure begins the Against the Aeon Throne Adventure Path, a 3-part, monthly campaign in which players visit and explore some of the worlds of the sinister Azlanti Star Empire. It also includes a gazetteer of the Pact Worlds colony of Nakondis, a collection of new starships and starship options used by the Imperial Fleet of the Azlanti Star Empire, and a selection of new monsters from alien worlds.
Each monthly full-color softcover Starfinder Adventure Path volume contains a new installment of a series of interconnected science-fantasy quests that together create a fully developed plot of sweeping scale and epic challenges. Each 64-page volume of the Starfinder Adventure Path also contains in-depth articles that detail and expand the Starfinder campaign setting and provide new rules, a host of exciting new monsters and alien races, a new planet to explore and starship to pilot, and more!
While relaxing on a posh asteroid resort, the heroes are beset by a plague of madness and horrible transformations and, after dealing with its unfortunate victims, learn these tragedies are part of plot engineered by an insane scientist trapped on the Shadow Plane. Using the funding of an amoral corporation, the scientist has crafted a mysterious signal that will spread pain from world to world. As this corruption begins to infect the heroes, they must stop the transmission at its source to save themselves—and the rest of the galaxy!
The Diaspora Strain (1 of 3): A vacation on New Elysium, a luxury resort located on an asteroid in the Diaspora, goes horribly wrong as the facilities malfunction and the guests and staff turn violent. The heroes must protect themselves and aid those who have remained sane, including a wealthy android tech entrepreneur who might have some information about the cause of this madness—if he can be rescured from the old mining tunnels below the resort. The heroes must find a way to stop the growing delirium, even if it means going through the guests—including a celebrated champion of the vicious sport of brutaris—who have been transformed into hideous abominations!
What do you think of this move? Even if you don’t play Path/Starfinder would you want to see more modules like this in your system of choice? Or big long complex ones?