Publisher: Paizo Inc
Authors: Quinn Murphy, Alison Cybe, Anthony Dolinger, Ivis K. Flanagan, Andrew D. Geels, and Jason Keeley
Artists: Rodrigo Gonzalez Toledo, Biagio d’Alessandro, Hamilton, Sophie Medvedeva, Nicholas Phillips, Riccardo Rullo, Yunior Susanto, and Igor Tyutyunnikov
Genre: Starfinder science fantasy roleplaying adventure path chapter
Pages: 63 pages
MSRP: $24.99 in softcover or $19.99 in PDF
As the Drift Crisis continues to worsen across Alluvion, players must unite Trinue’s factions and unwind an overwound clockwork museum as they continue their battle against the Architects in Clockwork Demons.
Clockwork Demons balances high intensity exploration and combat with high stakes social maneuvering. Even with proof of the Architects’ sabotage, players will have to use all of their social graces in order to help bring the three factions together in the face of a common threat. Both Drift Crashers and Drift Hackers have gone out of their way to capture the dire state of the world in the face of the Drift Crisis, highlighting the impacts on the macro and micro levels and allowing players to intervene and assist as they can. While staging a successful summit may not have the same adrenaline-fueled excitement of a desperate rescue mission, its outcome is no less important and allows players with a variety of skillsets to step up and help save the day.
While clockwork may seem like a strange injection into the otherwise high tech world, the execution is natural. The wonders of Brigh’s Bend are every bit as sophisticated as one would expect from Alluvion, even if they may take on a very different appearance. The battle through the museum blends truly excellent scenery with a clever take on a ‘cat and mouse’ game through the exhibits — and, of course, nets players some well-earned rewards.
Clockwork Demons also recognizes that in the midst of a crisis, narrative safety nets can help players take risks without punishing them for a bad roll. Whether it’s rescuing those trapped by the Architects’ sabotage or freeing an Iridia fused to a clockwork dragon, the adventure allows for players to stabilize and sustain even badly wounded NPCs. In doing so, Quinn Murphy maintains the illusion of tension without inflicting serious risk for players who may be sensitive to such a situation.
The additional material on the Church of Triune, providing insight into each of the three aspects, may prove helpful to GMs in making the summit feel authentic and appropriately tense, while the supplemental world information included in the Adventure Toolbox will have uses far beyond the adventure itself. Mewclocks may be the cutest addition to the roster of potential Starfinder companions in sometime, while Razordolls are instead a terrifying new adversary ready to be dropped in on unsuspecting players.
As always, the art delivers on the visual worldbuilding aspect with style. The emphasis on warm golds and bronzes in the clockwork creations stands out against the cool blue and greys of the page art, a contrast that the artists use to fantastic effect.
In a world that often feels messy, unfair, and chaotic, finding catharsis in fictional crisis may seem strange. However, with Clockwork Demons, Paizo continues to create space for players to do just that — acknowledging the hardship and loss while still allowing for change that is immediate, impactful, and visible. Building on the tension of the situation, the second act of the Drift Hackers Adventure Path stands strong on its own while still setting up for an exciting finale.
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