Thousands of years ago, the skies above northern Avistan on the planet of Golarion split open and bled fire unto the world below. The night grew scarred with streaks of smoke and burning debris, and the ground burst into plumes of ash and ruin as fragments of an immense starship plummeted to its death against the wildlands below. When the sun finally rose over the wracked lands of Numeria, it did so on a landscape pocked with craters and ruined by an alien apocalypse. Those who lived through the night would never forget it, and tales of the fiery devastation would be told for centuries. It became known as the Rain of Stars.
Although the Rain of Stars devastated Numeria over nine thousand years ago, so immense was the event that it still shapes and defines the savage lands today. The craters and furrows torn into the earth that fateful night so long ago have largely vanished, the alien wreckage buried by fearful and superstitious barbarians who, after some early misadventures with explosive and dangerous technological debris, came to view the strange wrecks as taboo. Yet there have always been curious adventurers and scholars and explorers willing to brave the wilds of Numeria to explore these alien wrecks. And indeed, to the adventurer, the navigation of violent barbarian tribes eager to fight to prevent intruders from unleashing more technological horrors on their world can be as thrilling as the actual exploration of a wrecked alien vessel!
Recently, a new group has risen to power in Numeria - a group of spellcasters known as the Technic League, grown obsessed with the recovery and control of the ancient technology hidden throughout the metal dungeons and buried wrecks of the region. The Technic League was founded with altruistic goals, but their original hope to explore the ruins of these ancient wrecks and spread the lore found within throughout the world has been lost to greed, ego, and the lust for power. Today, the Technic League consists of squabbling sadists and cruel taskmasters as eager to secure their own cache of technological weapons and items as they are to hoard them from anyone else who might seek them out. Numeria’s technological treasures have, in effect, traded one guardian for another, but unlike the fearful barbarian tribes of yore who sought only to suppress the technology, the Technic League hopes to keep it for themselves to enhance and extend their power. To what purpose they hope to some day put this power, none can say, although the nature of their cruel experiments and vile personalities bodes ill.
~ Mixing Super Science and Mystical Magic ~
It is this dangerous and exotic realm that serves as the backdrop for Paizo’s newest Adventure Path - Iron Gods. To now, the campaigns and storylines that have appeared in our Adventure Path line have been various levels of relatively traditional fantasy fare, with evil wizards, wicked queens, demon-worshiping elves, lovelorn genies and fey, undead necromancers, dragons and demons and pirates and witches haunting the pages and preparing to wreak untold punishments and danger upon the as-of-yet unsung heroes of the world. True, now and then we got a little strange with some locations and villains along the way, but even when we turned to other planets or historical Earth, the adventure paths themselves never strayed far from their fantasy roots.
And truth be told, with Iron Gods, we won’t be straying as far as one might think. It’s true that Numeria, the setting where Iron Gods takes place, is a realm where fantasy and super-science mix, but the decision to include a realm like this in the Inner Sea region of our official campaign setting was not one we made on a lark. The mixing of fantasy and science fiction has a long tradition in RPGs, both in the tabletop tradition with classic Dungeons & Dragons adventures like “Expedition to the Barrier Peaks” or “Temple of the Frog,” and in the video game arena as well with the Might & Magic and Wizardry franchises. But it goes back even further than that. Fritz Leiber and Robert E. Howard weren’t afraid to periodically have their heroes encounter modern day, futuristic, or alien technology now and then (although never to the extent that the heroes exploring that strange metal cave in the Barrier Peaks would experience), and more recently, entire games like Shadowrun have embraced the mixing of technology and magic as a fundamental element of their game world.
And so it is with Iron Gods. In this, Paizo’s seventeenth Adventure Path for the Pathfinder campaign setting, we finally travel to the land of super science we first started to drop hints about back in the very first volume, “Burnt Offerings.” There, in the Pathfinder’s Journal, we had only this to say:
“...Elsewhere, Gojan the Sharp endures a decade of hardship under the oppressive Ontar, the Black Sovereign of Numeria, in order to gain access to the Silver Mount, a titanic edifice of steel that looms over Numeria’s capital, Starfall. Included in this volume is a complete catalogue of seven different types of skymetal littered about the plains of Numeria and the (wildly outdated) prices each variety is likely to garner in the markets of Taldor and Absalom.”
Not a lot, but certainly enough in a book that was many peoples’ first glimpse into the world of Golarion to tantalize and tease with possibility. We didn’t come out and say there in the first volume of Pathfinder that the Silver Mount was in fact a ship from beyond the stars, but we certainly heavily implied it. By the time we got to the hardcover revision to our campaign setting, The Inner Sea World Guide, all pretense of being coy about the mixing of magic and technology was gone when we opened the four pages of information about Numeria with an illustration of a classic fantasy barbarian facing off against an enormous robot scorpion armed with guns and a plasma-launching tail.
An entire Adventure Path set in this region was, in many ways, inevitable, and not just because I, as Paizo’s Creative Director and the lead on the Adventure Path line was eager to do one (although that certainly didn’t hurt!). Very little in the core Pathfinder rules provided direct support for the types of foes and treasures and hazards and surprises that await those who would explore Numeria’s secrets. When we decided it was time to do something with Numeria for real, we had to go all in. To support the Iron Gods Adventure Path, we’ve created several books to aid GMs and players alike, from the Campaign Setting books Numeria, Land of Fallen Stars and the gadget-filled pages of the Technology Guide, to Player Companions like People of the River and People of the Stars. There’s even a novel, Reign of Stars, which chronicles some of the events that take place in the Technic League a few years before the events in Iron Gods start to play out. These stand-alone books are in addition to the support articles and new robots and technological items we’ll be introducing in each and every volume of Iron Gods itself over the course of its six-month run.
~ Starting The Iron Gods Adventure Path ~
So far, the spoilers have been pretty light. I’m going to try to KEEP them light for the rest of this article, but if you’re planning on playing in the Iron Gods Adventure Path, you might want to stop reading now. Although... you’ve already seen some samples of the amazing artwork we’re putting into the adventures on these pages already, so perhaps it’s too late! I’ll apologize to your GM for spoiling those elements for you the next time I see him or her, I promise!
We start in the Numerian town of Torch, located in the southern reaches of the region. Here, on the Numerian Plains, the Technic League’s stranglehold on the nation’s citizens is less potent than it is in the capital city of Starfall, yet their presence is always felt. The key to Torch’s prosperity is the violet fire that burns atop Black Hill in the center of town. This mysterious flame burns incredibly hot, and is one of the few places not directly controlled by the Technic League where the exotic skymetals can be forged and worked. Torch allows smiths and metalworkers from throughout the Inner Sea access to the village fires, all for a nominal fee, of course, and as long as the town continues to pay the relatively unfair but not completely crippling taxes the Technic League demands, Torch is allowed to continue on its way without much oppression or control.
For nearly a century, the town has grown and prospered in the light of its violet namesake, but as the Iron Gods Adventure Path begins, this fire has been extinguished! Several teams of explorers and mercenaries, including one of Torch’s beloved leaders, have mounted expeditions into a freshly-discovered network of caverns below the town’s Black Hill to seek out a cause for the loss of the settlement’s namesake, but to date, none have returned. With the next round of taxes to the Technic League coming due soon, reliance upon the violet fire for income is greater and greater, and if something isn’t done soon to rekindle the fire, Torch may be doomed!
Of course, by the time Numeria’s newest heroes solve Torch’s problems, they’ll have uncovered a greater threat to all of Numeria - a threat that will have them traveling the breadth and width of the land as they come to learn the true dangers and surprising opportunities offered by the lands newest divinities, the mysterious Iron Gods!
~ Bring Out the Big Guns! ~
The fifth wave of X-Wing starship expansion packs features two heavily customizable, hard-hitting, large starships that offer you all-new ways to obliterate enemy fighters: the Rebels’ YT-2400 and the Imperials’ VT-49 Decimator! Along with their new starship miniatures, each of which is sculpted faithfully at the game’s standard 1/270 scale, the YT-2400 Freighter Expansion Pack and VT-49 Decimator Expansion Pack introduce a wide array of ship cards, upgrade cards, new missions, and new debris cloud obstacle tokens. You’ll also find a large cast of characters drawn from the Star Wars universe, the first Imperial turret weapon, and upgrade cards designed by each of the game’s first two World Champions.
~ YT-2400 Freighter Expansion Pack ~
A fast and resilient light freighter, the YT-2400 features no fewer than thirteen weapon emplacement points, making it an attractive vessel for smugglers, mercenaries, and other individuals looking for a heavily armed “transport.” Although a stock YT-2400 light freighter has plenty of space for cargo, much of that space is often annexed to support modified weapon systems and oversized engines.
The YT-2400 Freighter Expansion Pack brings this formidable light freighter to your table as a Rebel starship with two attack, two agility, five hull, and five shields. In addition to its detailed miniature starship, the expansion comes with four ship cards, thirteen upgrades, three debris cloud obstacle tokens, a maneuver dial, and all the tokens you need to fly your YT-2400 into battle.
Of course, you also gain the opportunity to recruit one of the galaxy’s most renowned smugglers, Dash Rendar. He appears in the expansion as both a crew member upgrade and as a YT-2400 pilot. His heavily modified YT-2400, the Outrider, is represented by a new Title card that allows Rebel players to experiment with battlefield tactics designed around striking at foes from distance with a turret-mounted cannon.
Finally, the YT-2400 Freighter Expansion Pack honors the 2012 and 2013 X-Wing World Champions, both of whom worked with the developers to create upgrade cards that appear in the expansion: the Dash Rendar crew upgrade and the elite pilot talent, Stay on Target!
~ VT-49 Decimator Expansion Pack ~
To be granted command of a VT-49 Decimator is seen as a significant promotion for a middling officer of the Imperial Navy. A heavily armed transport, the VT-49 Decimator is one of the Empire’s most feared warships, often used to provide long-range reconnaissance or to deploy raiding parties behind enemy forces.
The VT-49 Decimator Expansion Pack brings this intimidating Imperial gunboat to X-Wing as the game’s largest ship yet designed for Standard Play. Even at the game’s signature 1/270 scale, the expansion pack’s detailed miniature towers over its base and smaller starfighters. In addition to its imposing, pre-painted miniature, the expansion introduces four ship cards, three debris cloud tokens, a new mission, a maneuver dial, and all the tokens you need to fly your Decimator into the thick of combat.
There, the VT-49 Decimator is a truly terrifying warship. It has zero agility, but it can withstand the heaviest of enemy assaults with four shields and twelve hull. Most importantly, as the first Imperial starship with a turret weapon, the Decimator is designed to deliver lethal volley after lethal volley of attacks to opposing starships, all fired from a primary weapon with an attack value of three.
The Decimator also introduces a range of aggressive, new tactics to the Imperial fleet. For example, Captain Oicunn damages enemy ships when he crashes into them, and when his Decimator is equipped with the Dauntless Title upgrade, such collisions may not even cost him the ability to perform an action. All told, the VT-49 Decimator sets a new standard for Imperial aggression, and it’s certain to encourage new tactics at X-Wing tables worldwide!
~ Blast Into Battle! ~
With their new turret weapons and tactical options, the YT-2400 Freighter Expansion Pack and VT-49 Decimator Expansion Pack are destined to blast into the middle of the galaxy’s thickest X-Wing combats!
“Ah, Fantastiman, my old friend. I see the look of surprise on your face. How could I, Ms. Tikal, know how to nullify your Pulse Wave so easily? Of course, you never suspected my alter ego, TV Anchorwoman Felicia Flaxen, that same reporter you gave the exclusive interview to, who you showed the secrets of your Pulse Wave? That’s right! And today I complete my Magnum Opus - and it was all thanks to you!”
Remember minions, the road to super-villainy is a treacherous one. If you want the world to tremble at the merest whisper of your name, for kings and presidents to cower at your feet, you’ve got a lot of work to do. Fortunately, you won’t have to go it alone. If you buy Villainy now, we’ll show you how to: hire henchmen, hatch a plot, plan a scheme, defeat Fantastiman, and finally complete your magnum opus. Still not enough? Wait! There’s more! Our handy dandy Villainy kit also provides you with a villain name generator and all the fantastic dials and power cubes every villain needs to track his progress! Once you complete our program you will have the skills, the persona, and, most of all, the power. So what are you waiting for?
~ Villainy by Numbers: Hiring a Henchman - the right tool for the wrong job. ~
When you learn how to be a villain from Villainy, we want you to succeed, and that means giving you the proper support. Other villain training programs expect you to go it alone, but we will show you how to hire the right henchmen and turn your dark dreams into reality.
Testimonial: “I was in a rut, just hanging around my secret lair all day. Then Villainy helped me hire Dr. Blake Dark and my evil schemes really took off!” - Rex Roofer
~ Meanwhile… Night in the City! ~
Once you have a good right-hand man and maybe another henchman, it’s time to start building your nefarious nihilistic legacy! Villainy gives you a complete guide to the perfect alter ego to keep your cash flowing in-between crimes. And speaking of crimes, we also give you a complete run-down on the crimes that will train you in all the skills you need for the plots and schemes ahead.
Testimonial: “I never would have known about all the advantages of posing as TV anchorwoman Felicia Flaxen if it weren’t for Villainy!” - Ms. Tikal
~ Wheels with Wheels: Hatching a Plot and Making it Pay! ~
Becoming a super-villain requires a certain something your common criminal just can’t match. You have to set yourself apart from the wretched scum around you. Villainy will show you how to become an infamous household word, shushed by mothers at dinner tables everywhere. Erect your evil statue into a monument of villainy, turn your evil theme song into the most inappropriate ringtone ever, or just design the ultimate imposing visage. These paths and more to infamy are waiting for you!
Testimonial: “Sure, I had robbed a bank or two, but it wasn’t until Villainy showed me how to dye the city’s lake red so that the Mayor really took notice. Everyone in the city turned red in their showers!” - Eye Carrumba
~ They will Fear You! Planning a scheme and rising through the ranks. ~
You’ve gotten the public’s attention and now it’s time to build on that success by committing a series of villainous acts. Every villainous act has rewards that will help you further your plans! So build a secret base, frame your opponent, or steal city hall!
Testimonial: “You should have seen the look on Fantastiman’s face when I hit him with the laser built into my private satellite. Thanks Villany!” - Allie Gator
~ At Last, We Meet! Fighting your rivals and getting ahead. ~
As you rise through the ranks of rank aggression, you’ll have to deal with more than just the police - and even that disgusting hero of the masses, Fantastiman. You also have to be on guard against your fellow villains. That’s right, it’s a villain-eat-villain world out there, and sometimes you have to take a fellow nemesis down a peg if you want to be the top villain in the city. Villainy will show you when to start a free-for-all with a rival villain and how to come out on top!
Testimonial: “When Ms. Tikal came at me with that monocle laser I thought I was done for. But thanks to the radioactive hamster bite Villainy suggested I get, I was able to win the free-for-all!” - The Craig
~ Not so Fast, Chum! How to battle Fantastiman and become notorious. ~
You’re ready to begin your magnum opus, but first you have to get rid of that annoying, cloying, too-cool for school do-gooder, crossing guard with superpowers: Fantastiman. Fighting the “Fist of Justice” might seem daunting at first, but worry not, fearsome villains! Villainy will give you all the tips and tricks you need to overcome every last one of Fantastiman’s annoyingly expansive powers, from the Gamma Ray Barrage to the Mindsnap Beam!
Testimonial: “The first time I fought Fantastiman, he threw me off the bridge with his gravity whip. Then I got Villainy and they gave me the intellect to avoid the whip and continue my attack!” - Rat Lady
~ Magnum Opus: Becoming the Top Villain. ~
It all comes down to this. You’ve plotted, schemed, battled, and now the time has come to bring the city to its knees! Will you delete the internet or decaffeinate the world’s coffee supply? So many choices, so little time. Let Villainy help you make the choice that’s right for you, right for your henchmen, and right for your budget!
Testimonial: “Villainy was essential to letting me know the four easy steps to publishing Fantastiman’s browser history to the web. Since I did, he hasn’t shown his face in the city!” - Doctor Loom
~ Disclaimer ~
The following was an advertisement for Villainy. All super-villains appearing in this advertisement were compensated for their appearances. Villainy not responsible for any acts of mayhem, plots, schemes, or free-for-alls. Villainy is a registered trademark of Mayfair Games and is intended for 2-4 villains ages 12 and up. Requires 30-minutes per player to complete the course.