From the Desk of the Animancer, May 3rd 2022: Vaz’kin’rai Is Available Now!

Hi folks!

A grey background with a sigil of the Vaz'kin'rai door. Text reads 'Enchiridion: Vaz'kin'rai'. Symbols in the lower left show the Animancer logo and a symbol denoting 5th Edition compatibility.
An image of a large stone door in a cave. Three white salamanders stand in front of it. Text reads 'Vaz'kin'rai'. The Animancer logo, an icon signifying 5th Edition compatibility, and a sigil of the door are featured in the lower left.
A white sigil of a large door sits on a blue background. Text reads "Sonoria: Vaz'kin'rai". The Animancer logo sits in the lower left of the image.

Following on from last week’s issue, I’m very pleased to announce that it’s release day! Vaz’kin’rai, Enchiridion: Vaz’kin’rai, and Sonoria: Vaz’kin’rai are all available…right now!

Vaz'kin'rai Is Available...Now!

Vaz’kin’rai

An image of a large stone door in a cave. Three white salamanders stand in front of it. Text reads 'Vaz'kin'rai'. The Animancer logo, an icon signifying 5th Edition compatibility, and a sigil of the door are featured in the lower left.
Another beautiful cover by Izzy Collins!

Vaz’kin’rai is a dungeon-based oneshot adventure for the 5th Edition of the world’s most popular roleplaying game. It’s designed for 1st level heroes, and sees them venture into the caves beneath the village of Dur, meet some friendly telepathic cave salamanders, delve into the vault of Vaz’kin’rai itself, and confront Keeper Mar’dir, a vor’tai monk of the Silver Staff, and keeper of “The Vessel”.

A red-skinned, blindfolded humanoid faces the viewer. It wears dark blue, practical robes with a hood, and wields a silver staff.
Keeper Mar’dir himself, as depicted by Robin Baxter!

Vaz’kin’rai features:

  • Two new monsters, one of which is a Paragon Monster, using our framework for legendary and solo monsters!
  • Four new magic items!
  • Five premade characters suitable for playing through the adventure – play as a sorcerer on the run, a druid with grim portents from the earth, a retired thug-turned-ranger, a squire of the Circle of Stone, or a bard caught between two worlds!
  • A bunch of original art from Izzy Collins, Emma Durno, and Robin Baxter!
  • A fully supported hook, and suggestions for other hooks should you prefer, as well as aftermath advice for how the events of the adventure might factor into a larger campaign in the future!

It was really important to me that Vaz’kin’rai was maximally useful, and maximally usable at the table, which is half the reason it has all these new monsters and magic items and premade characters – I think that everything you need to run an adventure should be in the adventure itself, and this is one area where Vaz’kin’rai really shines. All you need to play it is a copy or understanding of the Basic Rules!

Layout and structure was also one area where Corwyn received a lot of praise, and we’ve kept that approach for Vaz’kin’rai. Don’t fix what ain’t broke! The adventure layout and design has an emphasis on bullet points for key information (no more reading through screeds of text looking for the info you need), and has the same chapter structure and visual design that drew folks to Corwyn. Turns out adventures can look pretty and be easy to use!

Here’s a sample spread from the adventure!

The Vaz’kin’rai experience covers all three pillars of the 5E experience – there’s NPCs to interact with throughout, and a final encounter where negotiation is possibly the easiest solution; plenty to explore, with environmental conundrums, treasure, and traps; and plenty of opportunities to fight stuff should the heroes choose.

This all means it’s great for new GMs, existing GMs who don’t normally run published adventures, GMs who want to introduce players to the three modes of play 5E can support, GMs who want to kickstart a campaign with cosmic elements, or GMs who want a detour from an existing campaign that can still factor into their game a year from now!

Enchiridion: Vaz’kin’rai

A grey background with a sigil of the Vaz'kin'rai door. Text reads 'Enchiridion: Vaz'kin'rai'. Symbols in the lower left show the Animancer logo and a symbol denoting 5th Edition compatibility.

“But Jake,” I hear you lament, “what about those of us who aren’t GMs, what about those of us who don’t want to run published adventures? Don’t we get anything here?”

You do!

Enchiridion: Vaz’kin’rai is a player options supplement building off the organisations, people, and themes of Vaz’kin’rai. It gets you:

  • A lineage option for vor’tai characters like Mar’dir!
  • A lineage option for salari characters!
  • A background for characters from the Silver Staff!
  • The Way of the Silver Staff, a monk subclass for playing as a member of the Silver Staff – psychic space-monks!
  • Six magic items, one for each rarity, from the Silver Staff vaults. A comet in a sling! A veil that lets you fly using the power of your mind! Ilio, the Shackled Sun!

Enchiridion: Vaz’kin’rai is a bit of an experiment, but one I feel very positively about. Between it and the adventure itself, there’s something for everyone in this release, and I’m really excited to see what characters and stories people create using the options presented here.

Vor’tai characters originate in the Starscape, a servitor species from long ago, created to serve in the Astral War. Originally blindfolded to shield themselves from the horrors of their masters’ enemies, their blindfolds now serve to hone and focus their psychic powers. These folks see through other people’s eyes!

Salari characters originate…in the caves around Vaz’kin’rai! Ordinary cave salamanders slowly granted psionic intelligence through exposure to the vault’s energies, these friendly little pals love everyone, basically!

A pale salamander presents a rock to the viewer, beaming widely.
Another stellar piece by Robin. Gosh, I love this wee guy! And now you can play as him!
An excerpt of 'Enchiridion: Vaz'kin'rai' detailing the Coiling Texts of Shattar-sin
Gotta love some sentient scrolls, huh?

Characters from the Silver Staff originate in the Argent Halls of the Silver Staff in the Starscape, a place with great vaults of knowledge and relics, where the order train tirelessly to better themselves in body, spirit, and mind. Those that use the subclass option will become adept at using telepathy to gain an edge in combat, striking someone inside their perception of reality rather than reality itself, and at high levels, mastering forbidden knowledge of the Astral War to just…kill someone outright! Boom! You are past tense, my friend!

The vaults hold all sorts of great magic items too, and with one at each rarity there’s something you can drop into your next adventure, regardless of level. Whether that’ll be something relatively mundane like the Lunar Light that shows the phases of the moon, something a bit spicier like the Coiling Texts of Shattar-sin, or something truly gamechanging like the imprisoned sun god Ilio (in flail form)…that’s up to you!

I love all the options in here, and I’m really excited to see what folk come up with using them!

Sonoria: Vaz’kin’rai

A white sigil of a large door sits on a blue background. Text reads "Sonoria: Vaz'kin'rai". The Animancer logo sits in the lower left of the image.

But that’s still not all!

We’re also releasing a collection of free audio content designed to supplement and enhance the adventure! Sonoria: Vaz’kin’rai comes with:

  • Five sound effects: a monster in the adventure, a trap, and three variations on the main vault door (depending on the method)
  • Three loopable, five-minute ambiences for the main areas the adventure spans.
A variation on the vault door opening.

I am, by day, a sound person and musician, so audio content is something I’ve been wanting to offer for some time, and I’m really excited to see the reception this gets. This is another experiment for us, but likewise I feel good about it and plan to offer it for future releases too, unless people really aren’t into it for some reason.

One of the things I’m most excited about with the Sonoria is the ambience formats. All of the sound effects and ambiences obviously come in a regular stereo mix, but I said to myself “anyone can do stereo, Jake, let’s offer something nobody else is doing. Something really cool!” and that’s why the ambiences also come with a binaural mix!

The sounds you hear in real-life, the sounds that arrive at your left and right ears, get affected by the shape and density of your head – that’s how we can localise the position of something based on a sound. A lot of this localisation comes down to our brain figuring out the difference in loudness of a sound at our left and right ear, and the difference in how long it takes to arrive. If a sound is louder in our right ear and arrives faster than it reaches our left ear, we figure out that that sound is most likely somewhere off to the right.

In normal stereo audio, we can mimic a sound being more to the left or right by making it louder in the left or right channel, and this works…fine! But, when you listen on headphones it never quite sounds like it’s actually six feet to our right, it sounds more like it’s on the right-hand side of our skull. This is called ‘in-the-head-locatedness’ in the biz, and it happens because all the other ways our head affects a sound aren’t accounted for.

The binaural mixes account for that.

Sonoria: Vaz'kin'rai – Cave D&D / RPG Ambience (Binaural)

I won’t bore you with the details of how that works (but you can look up head-related transfer functions if you’d like), but suffice it to say that using the binaural mixes on headphones will result in much more believable spatialisation, localisation, and externalisation of the ambient sounds. Now that drip in the cave will actually sound like it’s coming from somewhere to the right of you, or you’ll be able to hear some of the strange chimes and sparkles in the vault moving around your head!

Unfortunately, I don’t know exactly how your head affects sounds, so I’ve had to make do with an average head. Your results will vary slightly based on how close to the average head your head is, and it only works through headphones, but it’s still very cool! As far as I know, this is a bit of a first for tabletop ambiences too, I don’t believe anyone else is doing binaural…anything!

What can I say, we do things the Animancer way. Maximally useful! No half measures!

Alright, You’ve Convinced Me. Where Do I Go For This Stuff?

A grey background with a sigil of the Vaz'kin'rai door. Text reads 'Enchiridion: Vaz'kin'rai'. Symbols in the lower left show the Animancer logo and a symbol denoting 5th Edition compatibility.
An image of a large stone door in a cave. Three white salamanders stand in front of it. Text reads 'Vaz'kin'rai'. The Animancer logo, an icon signifying 5th Edition compatibility, and a sigil of the door are featured in the lower left. A gold banner with the words 'Deluxe Edition' sits at the top of the image.
An image of a large stone door in a cave. Three white salamanders stand in front of it. Text reads 'Vaz'kin'rai'. The Animancer logo, an icon signifying 5th Edition compatibility, and a sigil of the door are featured in the lower left.
A white sigil of a large door sits on a blue background. Text reads "Sonoria: Vaz'kin'rai". The Animancer logo sits in the lower left of the image.

Great! All of this stuff is available right now, in PDF format or as a virtual tabletop conversion.

Vaz’kin’rai retails for £4.95 in Scotland money – ~$6USD.

Enchiridion: Vaz’kin’rai retails for £3.95 – ~$5USD.

You can get both of them bundled together as Vaz’kin’rai: Deluxe Edition for £7.49 – ~$10USD.

Sonoria: Vaz’kin’rai is totally free!

PDF Format

Virtual Tabletops

We’ve converted Vaz’kin’rai and Enchiridion: Vaz’kin’rai for Foundry VTT, Roll20, and Fantasy Grounds. Not all of those conversions are available right now though, each platform has its own processes, checks, and confirmations that they need to go through before this stuff goes live, and that all takes time.

Right now, everything is available for Foundry, but not yet for Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds.

Follow us on Twitter, come by the Discord, or join the mailing list and we’ll keep you posted about Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds!

Sonoria

You can download the Sonoria here in FLAC and MP3/OGG formats, or through DriveThruRPG in just the MP3/OGG formats.

Extended binaural ambiences are also available on our YouTube channel, as that seemed like a useful thing to be able to offer to folks.

The VTT conversions of Vaz’kin’rai will also have the Sonoria folded in with them, for VTTs that support audio (Foundry and Roll20), so you don’t need to worry about them!

Uncover The Secrets of Vaz’kin’rai

An illustration of a corridor criss-crossed with beams of light. The walls and ceiling are glass, on the other side can be seen wheeling stars and nebulae, cosmic portals, and spaceborne vessels. A door stands at the far end of the corridor with a symbol of a tree.
A beautiful rendition of one segment of the vault by Emma Durno!

And… that about covers everything! A first level oneshot for 5E, a collection of player options inspired by it, and free audio content to bring it to life. All available right now!

We’re off to start working on whatever’s next. The best place to keep up to speed with that, and everything else Animancer, is through the mailing list below.

We really, really hope you enjoy what’s releasing today, and can’t wait to see what stories you tell with it.

Over and out,
Jake

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