Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Looking Back and Moving Forward

The year 2014 saw some notable changes for this blog. First and foremost, I finished the series of adventures on which I'd been working, which I called Come Hell and High Water. What is more, I started adding material of a more high-fantasy nature, including space fantasy articles. Even so, I wanted to post a link to the PDF compilation of this year's historical material.

2014 D20 Pirates Blog PDF

I'll likely do the same for the other material in the near future.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Review of Terror in Paradise

There's an old saying: "Don't judge a book by its cover." I'm guilty of doing that sometimes. Such is the case with an old D20 OGL adventure that I purchased years ago when running one of many Freeport-based D&D and Pathfinder campaigns. The adventure is called Terror in Paradise, from Mhorann Games. I didn't read it too closely at the time, for two reasons; one, I had plenty of other material to use in my campaigns, and two, the art wasn't as nice as what I found in other products.

It turns out that that was a mistake on my part.

Two and a half months ago I was called on to run a session for the monthly campaign in which I play. The GM was coaching a football game, and so I offered to run a pick-up session with the regular players and characters. Since we were traveling by sea to a distant port, it provided me with a good opportunity to run a one-off involving a relatively uncharted island. Looking over the material that I had but hadn't used, I remembered Terror in Paradise. I gave it another read.

I was wrong. While there's at least one part in the scenario that is more heavy-handed than I prefer--and that I circumvented by letting the players see what was happening and have their characters decide accordingly--it proved to be a fun scenario. The premise is solid, involving a tribe of primitive islanders and marauding sahuagin. We played through it in one long session (eight to twelve hours, depending on how much we lost to cooking meals and other breaks), and the adventure provided plenty of nautically-themed action. In fact, I've just downloaded the next one from Mhorann Games, Thormek's Mansion, because the GM has another conflict. I'm looking forward to running it.

Terror in Paradise


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Freeport: City of Adventure Review

It was Freeport that started me down the piratical path. When I went to Gen Con in 2000, excited to play the new 3rd Edition of D&D, one of two adventures available was Death in Freeport. That first scenario hooked me on the setting, leading to numerous campaigns. Now, more than fourteen years later, Green Ronin has published its dedicated Pathfinder version of the setting. This is my favorite setting, and so I can't help but be biased in reviewing the new book. Even so, here goes.


Freeport: City of Adventure Review
This book weighs in at 545 pages. It includes a brief introduction, one chapter with a history of the city and one that presents an overview of Freeport. Chapters 3-12 detail each of the city's neighborhoods in turn, while Chapters 13 and 14 detail the surrounding islands of the Serpent's Teeth and the greater World of Freeport. In Chapter 15 are detailed some of the major players in Freeport life, complete with color illustrations of the characters. That is followed by the crunchier parts of the book, with chapters dedicated to races, classes, supplemental rules, goods & gear and spells & magic. Finally there is a sixty-page adventure, "The Ironjack Legacy," which is designed to immerse characters thoroughly in the city.

The Old and the New
One major question people might have about this book is now much new content it provides. After all, there's already a Pathfinder rules supplement for the old, system-neutral Pirate's Guide to Freeport. What this book does is to update the timeframe for the setting by two years. It adds new characters and plot elements, including the dreaded salt curse. It also incorporates many of the additions that Pathfinder has made to d20, including rules for settlements and vehicles. Some of the classes that were added in the PFRPG rules supplement have been modified for use as archetypes instead of as separate classes. All told, it does a much better job of weaving the rules into the setting. That, along with the aforementioned advancement of the city's history, helps to keep the setting vibrant and makes this an excellent supplement for those who want to run an urban and nautical Pathfinder campaign.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sweet Video

Since I've been writing about space fantasy recently, I thought I should include a link to a video I just watched on It provides some sweet visuals for different types of worlds that beg to be used as backdrops for adventures.

Wanderers video


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Grid Markers for Ships

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Here is a link to a PDF containing top-down images of ships for which I've made deck plans, suitable for printing and use on a combat grid.

Ship Markers


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Docks and the Plaza

This post continues to develop the asteroid colony of Crossroads, focusing on the first locations that a newcomer is likely to visit.


1. The Docks
One end of the asteroid is equipped with broad wooden platforms, fifteen feet wide and 150 feet long, for mooring aetherships. The nature of maneuvering in space allows captains to draw their vessels right up along the asteroid, requiring a DC 15 Profession: pilot check. Failure by five or more causes a collision, resulting in damage based on the size of the aethership in question to both the vessel and the docks. Those who make landfall are likely to be met by one of Luciano Reda's cargo inspectors and some dockworkers; those latter individuals double as enforcers if there is need.

Cargo Inspector
CR 2
XP 600
Male human bard 3
N medium humanoid
Init +1; Senses Perception +9
AC 13, touch 11, flat-footed 12 (+1 Dex, +2 armor)
hp 13 (3d8)
Fort +1, Ref +4, Will +4
Resist Bard abilities
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Shortsword +1 (1d6-1)
Ranged Light crossbow +3 (1d8)
Special Attacks Bard abilities
Str 8, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 15, Wis 12, Cha 14
Base Atk +2; CMB +1; CMD 12
Feats Alertness, Dodge, Persuasive
Skills Appraise +8, Bluff +8, Diplomacy +10, Intimidate +10, Knowledge (local) +8, Perception +9, Perform +10, Profession (Sailor) +7, Sense Motive +9
Languages Common, Dwarven, Elven
SQ Bard abilities
Combat Gear Leather armor, short sword, light crossbow, case of 10 bolts, musical instrument, pouch containing 1d20 for each type of coin, logbook, quills and ink

Each of these fastidious individuals values the cargoes brought into Crossroads and levies a 1% tax on them. Although regarded as somewhat aloof, they also enjoy sharing a story or a song in the tavern, and hearing new material from those passing through port.
CR ½
XP 200
Male human fighter 1
N medium humanoid
Init +1; Senses Perception +1
AC 13, touch 11, flat-footed 12 (+1 Dex, +2 armor)
hp 8 (1d10+2)
Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +1
Resist None
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Longsword +4 (1d8+2)
Ranged Light crossbow +2 (1d8)
Special Attacks None
Str 15, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8
Base Atk +1; CMB +3; CMD 14
Feats Cleave, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (longsword)
Skills Climb +6, Profession (sailor) +5
Languages Common
SQ None
Combat Gear Leather armor, longsword, light crossbow, case of 10 bolts, pouch containing 1d6 sp and 1d12 cp

These rough, tough individuals handle the loading and unloading of cargo in Crossroads. What is more, they act as peacekeepers should it become necessary. When not on duty, they can usually be found at the local tavern, or sleeping off recent festivities in one of the typical dwellings on the hillside.

2. The Plaza

More of an open expanse of rock than any kind of structure, this area sees a steady stream of traffic when ships are in port. At the same time, it can be home to impromptu marketplaces that pop up when locals or visitors have wares to sell. This is especially the case during the Festival of the Comet, an event that occurs annually.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Back in the epic Spelljammer campaign that we played in junior high and high school, one location that really stands out to me is the Rock of Bral. Although we flitted from Krynn to the Realms to Greyspace, it was the Rock that provided a sense of cohesion and familiarity. With that in mind, this post begins to detail an asteroid city known as Crossroads. Future posts will continue to flesh out this floating city and its inhabitants.


A History of Crossroads
When brave explorers decided to leave their home planet and explore the unknown reaches of space, one of the first locations they visited was the asteroid belt. After all, each of the drifting space rocks contained valuable ore, and reaching them in an aethership wasn't as difficult as making landfall on a full world. It wasn't long, then, before a savvy entrepreneur realized that having a place for the miners to go for some downtime, without having to sail back to their home planets, could be a lucrative enterprise. That's why a human merchant named Luciano Reda invested in transforming one from an a mined-out rock into a habitable planetoid, one complete with docks for landing aetherships and all the benefits of a port town.

At first Reda had to hire people to live on his asteroid. Before long, though, other like-minded entrepreneurs recognized good business opportunities when they saw them and decided to try opening their own establishments there. Reda had made sure to build a tavern and inn, an outfitter and a warehouse, knowing that such places were vital to the fledgling economy. Soon those three structures were joined by a public shrine, an observatory, stables and an apothecary, and an enthusiastic halfling druid even began to develop orchards and gardens. Now Reda's colony, a village in its own right, has come to be known by the name Crossroads.

N village
Corruption +0; Crime -2; Economy +2; Law -1; Lore +1; Society +1
Qualities Insular, Prosperous
Danger +0
Government Council
Population Approximately 100 (the exact number, along with the breakdown by race, varies according to the ebb and flow of traffic through Crossroads)
Notable NPCs
Luciano Reda (N human rogue 7)
Base Value 500 gp; Purchase Limit 2500 gp; Spellcasting 3rd

The Lay of the Land
Presented here is a key to buildings listed on the map of Crossroads; individual establishments are detailed below.

1. Docks

2. Plaza

3. Tavern & Inn

4. Outfitter

5. Warehouse

6. Manor House

7. Ordinary Dwellings

8. Obelisk

9. Grove

This list is by no means comprehensive, of course, and individual GM's should feel free to adapt the floating city as they see fit.