Saturday, June 16th is Free RPG Day ‘12
and with it comes a slew of new and interesting little releases. They can usually be divided between tasters for new games that will be released at Gen Con this forthcoming August and support for existing RPGs or pieces of gaming ephemera. In general, the tasters for the new, “hot” games are highly anticipated and on the day itself, in high demand, but come the day, it would be remiss of us to ignore the less-in-demand titles. Many of these it should be made clear, are worth your time and effort to make it to your friendly, local gaming store to get hold of a copy. Every year one of these is always the support that Paizo Publishing provides for its very popular Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
For this year, that support comes in the form of Dawn of the Scarlet Sun, a scenario designed for a party of six fifth level characters. Alternatively, it can be played using four characters of sixth level, but it really is designed to be played by fifth level characters, as evidenced by the six pre-generated characters provided. These six are the signature characters for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game which originally appeared in Rise of the Runelords, the first Pathfinder Adventure Path. Each of the six includes suggestions as to how it can be customised to make more interesting and more fun.
Dawn of the Scarlet Sun is set in Magnimar, the Varisian coastal city more fully described in Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Magnimar, City of Monuments and which is starting point for Shattered Star, the next and eleventh Pathfinder Adventure Path. Indeed, it is suggested that Dawn of the Scarlet Sun could be run as a short adventure between the second and third parts of Shattered Star. Although not necessary to run the scenario, Dawn of the Scarlet Sun does make use of the villains featured in the Pathfinder Battles Champions of Evil Encounter Pack. If the GM does decide to make use of them, the adventure also suggests the GameMastery Flip-Mat to be used for its first encounter.
That first encounter begins with the heroes lying wait ready to spring a trap upon someone – or something – that is stalking and killing worshipers of Sarenrae, the goddess of the sun, on the streets of Magnimar’s Shadow District. On each morning of the past few days, the mutilated body of a worshipper has been found and with the killer having eluded the efforts of the City Guard, the player characters have been hired to find and stop the culprit before he kills again. After all, the City Guard lacks the finesse that such a task calls for, plus one of the party’s number is a worshipper of Sarenrae, and thus the perfect lure.
Sooner or later – preferably sooner because that means another victim has been murdered – the culprit falls into the trap, and if captured or killed, will possess clues as to the location of his lair. If the culprit escapes the party’s clutches, then he flees back to his lair and must be faced there. The lair itself is a fairly small location, though not necessarily an easy one to deal with. The adventure is not quite as straightforward as it seems at first and the GM should have some fun with the final encounter.
Just sixteen pages long, Dawn of the Scarlet Sun is a neat and tidy affair as you would expect for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The maps are nice and clear, and whilst the book does not make a great deal of colour, where it does, it is always appropriate.
After the delightful We Be Goblins!, Paizo Publishing’s title for Free RPG ’11, Dawn of the Scarlet Sun might be seen as something of a disappointment. Although the adventure could be said to be not quite as inventive, and certainly not as humorous, the comparison is an unfair one. Dawn of the Scarlet Sun is a more straightforward and traditional style of adventure, one that packs a lot in its few pages while still leaving room enough for the GM and players to improvise.