Monday, September 16, 2019

Diablerie Revisited

Whereas one of my previous posts provided an update about an earlier article, adding details about how the settlement formerly known as Smith's Crossing would have changed based on the events of the Manifested Destinies campaign, this post changes the details of another--Diablerie--via retroactive continuity. I do this because, when I was working on last year's campaign, I wrote up a theater that I thought would come into play, but it never did. Upon reflection, however, I realized that it would pair well with a supplement that details the Invisible College. For that reason, here's a new version of that post.

-Nate




Overview
The production of a stage play has its own kind of magic, being a combination of emotional acting, elaborate costumes and scenery, music, and even special visual and auditory effects. What few people know, however, is that some theater troupes push beyond such imaginative magic into the actual practice of the arcane arts, using full-blown sorcery to gain influence over the audience. Such is the case with those who run the New Globe Theatre in London; they are, in fact, agents of the Invisible College who guard an entrance to the Winding Way.




The New World Theater
Refer to the maps above and below for the following location details.

1. Entry
Broad double doors provide an entrance to the theater. They are locked at times when no rehearsals or performances are taking place (details); otherwise, they are open to the public.

2. Courtyard
This open area has no roof overhead, and the floor is nothing more than packed earth. Visitors may pay a much smaller sum to stand here, and such individuals are known as groundlings.

3. Gallery
Most of the people who attend shows at the theater stand in this area, with a railing in front of them and a roof over their heads. There are also stairs that lead up to the second and third levels.

4. The Stage
This area is raised five feet above ground level. There are a number of trapdoors that provided access to the under-stage area, along with doors leading to the backstage part of the theater. What is more, a curtained alcove provides an area for actors who need to make dramatic entrances during particular scenes.

5. Backstage
During productions, the actors and stage hands who are involved can ready themselves back here, and a show's director is almost always present. The ground level opens directly onto the stage, while the second level features a balcony for certain dramatic scenes. The top level is generally used for storage, including old costumes and props and the like. Note, too that on the bottom level there is a secret door (Notice check at -2 to detect) that opens onto more spiral stairs leading further underground; this is, in fact, an entrance to the Winding Way.


6. Under-Stage
In order to make certain special effects work, there are a number of trapdoors that lead down to this area. The spiral stairs from the backstage area also lead down here. The walls of this room are also lined with wardrobes that hold all manner of costumes from numerous different productions.


The Winding Way
Refer to the scenario “Beyond the Veil” for more information about the obstacles and other dangers that one might find in this borderland between various places, times and possibilities.

https://d20pirates.blogspot.com/2019/01/beyond-veil.html

Members
Profiled here are just a few of the prominent individuals who are part of this organization.

Zerelda Williams, the Scholar
If anyone can be called the leader of the company, it is Zerelda. She is the one who chooses the plays to be presented, researches them and then plans the productions. To that end she is almost always caught up in one text or another, be it eldritch in nature or something mundane. It's said that Zerelda can trace her lineage to the Puritans who settled in Salem at the end of the 17th Century.
Attributes: Agility d4, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Investigation d6, Knowledge d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d4, Spellcasting d6
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 2, Toughness: 5
Edges: Arcane Background (Sorcery), Ghost Sight, New Power
Hindrances: Bad Eyes (Minor), Small
Special Abilities
Power Points: 10; Powers: Detect/conceal arcana, dispel, grave speak, speak language
Gear: Comfortable clothing, various books, magical trappings and writing materials

Sophie Delacroix, the Dancer
The daughter of former slaves, Sophia grew up steeped in voodoo. At an early age she experiences having a loa take over her body, being “ridden” by it while dancing in a ritual. With that foundation, she began training for combat, and eventually found that she excelled at it. Thus she performs as a dancer for the theatre, but also provides protection for her fellow agents.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d4, Fighting d6, Notice d4, Stealth d4, Throwing d6, Voodoo d6
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 5, Toughness: 5
Edges: Arcane Background (Voodoo), New Power
Hindrances: Impulsive, Obligation
Special Abilities
Power Points: 10; Powers: Armor, Deflection, Smite
Gear: Elaborate but loose-fitting costume, pair of knives (Range 3/6/12, Damage Str +d4+1, RoF 1), conjure bag

Margaret Jameson, the Artist
Although one wouldn't guess it by looking at her, this woman was raised on the American frontier, often surrounded by native people. He father is a famous painter and collector of Indian artifacts, and she followed him from post to post. In doing so she learned to connect with the spirits, and now brings that knowledge to share with her Sisters, whom she also serves in painting, sewing and the like.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d4
Skills: Healing d6, Knowledge d4, Notice d6, Streetwise d4, Survival d6, Tribal Medicine d6
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 2, Toughness: 5
Edges: Arcane Background (Shamanism), New Power
Hindrances: Curious
Special Abilities
Power Points: 10; Powers: Elemental Manipulation, Light/Obscure, Spirit Walk
Gear: Comfortable clothing, knife (Range 3/6/12, Damage Str +d4+1, RoF 1), totem (buffalo pouch)



Monday, September 9, 2019

Watercraft

Presented here are supplemental rules for use with the Savage Worlds RPG in the setting of The Sixth Gun comics (and other supernatural westerns); it includes guidelines for ghost ships.

-Nate




Watercraft
Use the following game stats for these vehicles.

Vehicle
Size
Handling
Top Speed
Toughness
Crew
Cost
Canoe
-1
1
3
5
1+2
100
Rowboat
0
-2
5
8 (1)
1+3
300
Sailing Ship
11
0
10
13 (2)
10+5
15000
Steamship
16
-1
5
15 (3)
10+100
45000
Steamboat
16
-1
9
20 (4)
6+30
90000

Notes:
  • The speed of a sailing ship is dependent on available winds; as such, its maximum speed may never be higher than that of the current wind speed -2.
  • It is possible to use a rowboat for towing a sailing ship, in which case the maximum speed becomes 2.
  • Some canoes can be rigged with a short mast and sail, thereby becoming like a small sailboat. In that case, the maximum speed increases to 6.

Shipboard Artillery
Use the following stats for weapons that are installed on watercraft.

Type
Range
Damage
AP
ROF
Blast
Weight
Cost
Cannon
50/100/200
3d6
4
1

1000
5000
Swivel Gun
20/40/80
2d6
2
1

100
500


Ghost Ships
Whether it was due to carelessness, greed, or some other factor, the steamboat Sultana set sail from Vicksburg, Mississippi carrying two thousand or more passengers on the night of 24 April 1865. They were Union army soldiers, men who'd just been through the hell of the Civil War and who were eager to sail back upriver to their homes. Such was the crowding that nobody was able to keep an accurate record of exactly who was onboard. 

Although the ill-fated voyage managed to last a couple of days, in the early hours of April 27 one of the vessel's four boilers exploded. The resulting hole, it is said, was so large that a smokestack and the wheelhouse fell into it. Fire spread quickly through the remaining hull, forcing passengers to decide between burning to death or drowning in the river. Some managed to float to shore by clinging to debris and even animals, but in all 1,547 people were killed. What is more, the story received little publicity in the press at that time, because it happened on the very same day on which the assassin John Wilkes Booth was capture and killed. Indeed, the official investigation into the matter never resulted in any criminal charges that could bring those responsible for the disaster to justice, and a natural change of course for the river meant that the wreck of the Sultana was eventually buried, and all physical trace of the disaster was lost.

There is still a spiritual trace remaining, however.

Those who ply the waters of the Mississippi River sometimes report seeing a ghostly steamboat, one that moves in an unnatural way and that seems to have an unearthly glow. Skeptics, of course, try to explain away these sightings with notions including tricks of moonlight on the fog and similar ideas. Even so, those who are more attuned to the spiritual realm know that ghosts of the victims, traveling aboard a spectral form of the Sultana still continue their voyage, cursed to haunt the location of their demise, and always looking to bring other helpless victims aboard to share in their fate.

Rules for Ghost Ships and the Sultana
  • Just like with humanoid ghosts, ghost ships have the Ethereal and Fear (-2) qualities. While they still move at a speed similar to their specific vehicle type, they can thus ignore impediments such as sandbars and other snags, they cannot move across land.
  • Additionally, although there are ghostly crew members aboard the ship, they do not individually have the Fear-causing effect; rather, they have become an extension of the vessel itself.
  • The unfulfilled purpose of this vessel, along with its crew and passengers, is to deliver everyone safely to the railroad junction at Cairo, Illinois. Sadly, however, this has become twisted into reliving the nightmare of their voyage every year on its anniversary. For that reason, it appears near Vicksburg on the night of every April 24, and then explodes, burns and sinks a little after midnight on April 27.
  • Those who encounter the Sultana during this span of time find that the passengers try to drag them aboard the ghost ship, intending that they should share in its curse. They use their ability to hurl physical objects as their main attack, and then use it to pull the bodies of those beaten into unconsciousness aboard their vessel.
  • Indeed, any who die during this repetition of the calamity are also turned into ghosts—with the limitations mentioned above—and thus continue the annual attacks.
  • There are a few ways to end this curse. One is to find the culprit responsible for the overloading and bring him to justice, but few can agree on just who that might be. Another is to use magical weapons to destroy the steamboat, thereby sending the souls trapped aboard it to one final rest.
Deck Plans for Vehicles Referenced
Refer to the following resources and scenarios to find deck plans and descriptions of the vehicles listed below.





Thursday, September 5, 2019

Spies for the Void Spirits

Detailed here are two NPCs mentioned in a previous post, "Spirits of the Void," along with plot hooks for working those scallywags into adventures and campaigns.

-Nate


Lady Hasu
CR 6
XP 2400
Female human wizard 7
NG medium humanoid
Init +1; Senses Perception -1
DEFENSE
AC 12, touch 12, flat-footed 11 (+1 Dex, +1 deflection)
hp 34 (7d6+7)
Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +5
Resist None
OFFENSE
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Quarterstaff +3 (1d6)
Ranged Light crossbow +4 (1d8)
Special Attacks Spells
STATISTICS
Str 10, Dex 13, Con 12, Int 16, Wis 8, Cha 16
Base Atk +3; CMB +3; CMD 14
Feats Combat Casting, Eschew Materials, Scribe Scroll, Spell Focus and Greater Spell Focus (enchantment), Silent Spell, Still Spell
Skills Craft (writing) +6, Knowledge (arcane) +7, Knowledge (geography) +7, Linguistics +7, Spellcraft +7
Languages Common, Dwarven, Elven, Draconic
SQ Arcane bond (amulet), arcane school (enchantment), cantrips
Combat Gear Clothing, spellbook, quarterstaff, light crossbow, case of 10 bolts, amulet, pouch with writing materials, cloak of resistance +1, ring of protection +1, elixir of love
Spells per Day: 4/5/4/3/1
Spells Known: All cantrips; charm person, comprehend languages, hypnotism, identify, mage armor, shield, sleep; daze monster, eagle's splendor, invisibility, touch of idiocy; arcane sight, dispel magic, hold person, suggestion; charm monster, lesser geas

Lady Hasu was once a Navigator, but now she is the courtesan of Lord Kyodaina. Her task is to beguile his enemies, winning their confidence and thus causing them to lower their defenses, thereby allowing her allies to take exploit them.


Mr. Osoroshi
CR 7
XP 3600
Male ogrekin wizard 7
CN Medium humanoid (giant)
Init +0; Senses Perception +0; low-light vision
DEFENSE
AC 16, touch 11, flat-footed 16 (+5 natural, +1 deflection)
hp 55 (7d6+28)
Fort +7, Ref +3, Will +4
Resist None
OFFENSE
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Quarterstaff +8 (1d6+5)
Ranged Light crossbow +3 (1d8)
Special Attacks Spells
STATISTICS
Str 20, Dex 10, Con 18, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 5
Base Atk +3; CMB +8; CMD 18
Feats Greater Spell Focus (divination), Greater Spell Penetration, Improved Familiar, Scribe Scroll, Skill Focus Spellcraft), Spell Focus (divination), Spell Penetration
Skills Appraise +13, Knowledge (arcane) +13, Linguistics +13, Profession (sailor) +10, Spellcraft +16
Languages Common, Draconic, Giant
SQ Deformities (thick skin, weak mind); arcane bond (familiar); arcane school (divination)
Combat Gear Clothing, cloak or resistance +1, ring of protection +1, spellbook, component pouch, writing materials, quarterstaff, light crossbow, case of 10 bolts, elixir of vision
Spells per Day: 4/5/4/3/1
Spells Known: All cantrips; comprehend language, detect secret doors, feather fall, identify, mage armor, shield, true strike; detect thoughts, fox's cunning, locate object, see invisibility; arcane sight, clairaudience/clairvoyance, dispel magic, tongues; locate creature, scrying

Mr. Osoroshi is a diviner, and acts as navigator for the crew of the Void Spirit. While his services are thus valuable, he is often mistreated by the others—by Lord Kyodaina because his is inferior, by Lady Hasu because he is ugly, and by the ogres because he is not as strong. For that reason, his loyalty to his fellows may not be so strong as they suspect.


Mrs. Kireina, the Cat
CR --
XP --
N Tiny animal
Init +2; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +5
AC 18, touch 12, flat-footed 16 (+2 Dex, +2 size, +4 natural)
hp 27 (half of Mr. Osoroshi's)
Fort +1, Ref +4, Will +6
Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +4 (1d2-4), bite +4 (1d3-4)
Space 2½ ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Str 3, Dex 15, Con 8, Int 9, Wis 12, Cha 7
Base atk +0; CMB +0; CMD 6 (10 vs. trip)
Feats Weapon Finesse
Skills Climb +6, Perception +7, Stealth +14; Racial Modifiers Climb +4, Stealth +4
SQ Alertness, improved evasion, share spells, empathic link, deliver touch spells, speak with master, speak with animals of its kind

While most people think of Mrs. Kireina as nothing more than a comforting pet kept by a lonely and unhappy person, she is in fact Mr. Osoroshi's secret weapon. In her feline way, she often rubs herself against people's legs; what they don't know is that this allows the ogrekin to deliver touch spells against them. Given her small size and natural stealth, too, she can spy for him on situations in which he would not be so secretive.


Using these Pirates in an Aetherial Adventures Campaign
The Spirits of the Void can be used in all sorts of adventures, including a few of the following options.
  • The pirates of the Void Spirit make their living by prowling the Asteroid Belt between Tyr and Thonar, waiting for hapless victims on whom they can pounce. In this way they have made themselves particular enemies of the Dwarven Mining Guild, the Elven Navy, and the Royal Interplanetary Company.
  • As mentioned above, Lord Kyodanai uses Lady Hasu and Mr. Osoroshi as his spies; the prior is adept at charming the unwary, while the latter uses his divination spells to reveal secrets whether people suspect him or not.
  • Indeed, Lady Hasu has also become a favorite courtesan of various Navigators; they, in turn, are part of her unwitting information network.
  • Lord Kyodanai and his entourage can sometimes be found at the asteroid settlement known as The Grotto, where they sell stolen cargo, spend money on rest and entertainment, and purchase supplies for new voyages. They are, in fact, one of the most bloodthirsty crews that is part of the Freebooter's Fellowship.
  • An especial interest of Mr. Osoroshi is the mysterious Wyrmholes that sometimes appear throughout the Sol System. He believes that they can lead to other star systems and possibly even different planes of existence, and intends to find some kind of pattern in their seemingly random appearance and disappearance.
  • What is more, the ogrekin's loyalties to the other officers and crew members of the Void Spirit have worn thin due to the harrassment to which he is often subjected. Should he be offered a new employment, something that would be more comfortable for him (and, more importantly, Kireina), then he might turn on his old comrades.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Arabella Traitor of Mars Review

Here's my review of the latest novel of the Arabella franchise.

-Nate



Pros
  • I enjoyed the ship-to-ship combat scenes in this novel more than either of the previous novels.
  • What is more, it's fun to read a series of novels that develop interesting characters from one book to the next.
  • The gravitas of the big confrontation at the end carried more weight than either of its predecessors, too.

Cons
  • Once again it took me a little while to get into this book, with the action being somewhat slow to develop.
  • Early in the novel the main character, Arabella, made a decision that made me ask, “Would she do that?” At first I was more troubled by that question, but after a while it made more and more sense to me.

Additional Notes
  • The end of this story presents some huge questions about what will happen next, and only time will tell the answer.
  • There is still the lingering question of Aadim and his sentience.



Thursday, August 29, 2019

Spirits of the Void

Here's a band of pirates for use in space fantasy campaigns.

-Nate


Spirits of the Void
While there are more than a few pirates who ply the vast open spaces of the Void, none is more feared than those known as the Spirits of the Void. They have a reputation for appearing as if out of nowhere, fighting with quarter neither asked nor given, taking what they want, and leaving few if any survivors.

Note: The oni image used in the flag was created by Delapouite.


The Crew
All of the vessel's crew are detailed as follows.
  • The captain, Lord Kyodaina, is an oni (refer to page 221 of the Bestiary for details).
  • His marines are ogres, sixteen in number (refer to page 220 of the Bestiary for details).
  • There are thirty human crew members who man the rigging (see below for details).
  • The navigator is Mr. Osoroshi, a half-ogre diviner (see below for details).
  • Lord Kyodaina's companion is an enchanter, Lady Hasu (see below for details).
  • She has bonded with a spirit oni as her familiar (refer to page 209 of Bestiary 3 for details).

The Ship
Use the deck plan for a junk, which can be found at the following link.


Each of the private cabins (area 2) provides quarters for a pair of ogres. The captain's cabin (area 3) is home, of course, to Lord Kyodaina. Lady Hasu has a private cabin (area 5) to herself. The cargo hold (area 7) is filled with both piles of contraband and hammocks for the ordinary sailors, along with Mr. Osoroshi.

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Structure of Aetherships



Note: This article establishes a distinct change from content previously presented for Aetherial Adventures. It is made for aesthetic reasons.



The Structure of Aetherships
The following details regarding the structure and operation of aetherships are hereby changed, as detailed below.
  • The orb of control is no longer needed to operate an aethership; instead, it can be steered using the rudder that is already part of the vessel.
  • This reduces the prices of these ships to following sums: longboat, 5000 gp; dhow, 50,000 gp; bark, 100,000 gp; junk, 150,000 gp; merchantman, 200,000 gp; galleon, 250,000 gp.
  • The cost for constructing each of the vessels, then, is reduced to half of the purchase price.
  • For each vessel, the Driving Device changes to aerial rigging, and the Driving Space changes to the square or squares at the front of the whipstaff or tiller.
  • An aethership that has its rigging shot to pieces—that is, reduced to the wrecked condition—its movement is reduced to 30 feet per round. In effect, it can still hover while the hull is yet intact.
  • When the hull is reduced to the wrecked condition, it loses the ability to hover and begins breaking up, meaning that it has no more movement. If it is the presence of a gravity source, it is then drawn toward that body.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Return to Freeport Campaign Notes

This post should be the first of many with notes from my current Pathfinder campaign, Return to Freeport.

-Nate


Return to Freeport Campaign Notes

The PCs:
  • Al—Leonard Melachion, human male inquisitor
  • Aric—Kenton Fuso, human male fighter
  • Brent—Birgir, human male fighter
  • Geof—Templeton, human male rogue
  • Michael—Hector Nicolai, half-elf male sorcerer
  • Todd—Abinacki of Ibstock, human male cleric of the Sea God

Session 1—Curse of the Brine Witch—20 August 2019
(We took the first part of this session for creating characters.)

While the PCs were passing through the Fool's Market, Gamey Rind reacted to Hector, spewing information about “the biting eye,” “the crone's red claw,” “the black blood of the poisoned earth,” and “too many missing and not enough dead.” When the passersby started to crowd the PCs, Templeton (more subtly) and Birgir (less so) managed to back them down.

Shortly thereafter they met Little Nell, who led them to Scurvytown for a meeting with Lady Jane at the Torchlight Academy. They heard her story, mostly via Nell, and decided to help. The PCs set up watches to keep an eye on Lady Jane, while Templeton patrolled the street outside the Academy.

During the night Hector had a nightmare about a ship crewed by damned souls, disembodied arms reaching out at him from the fog, and a fleet of ships flying Mazin flags. Kenton woke him up from it. While on watch, Birgir fell asleep, but Leonard was awake when a ghostly hand appeared and struck Lady Jane with some kind of curse. It caused her considerable harm, but Leonard raised the alarm and Hector hit it with a magic missile to dispel it. The PCs decided to continue their investigation in the morning.



Session 2—Curse of the Brine Witch—27 August 2019
The next morning the PCs started investigating. Hector took the black powder to the Wizards' Guild, but they couldn't identify it. Abinack went to the Temple of Procan, but had similar results. Templeton did some asking around the Eastern District and Scurvytown, and met some people who'd suffered various afflictions. There was also talk of strange disappearances. Eventually the party ran into some pirates who were attacking a woman they said was cursed; the PCs defeated them and saved her. At another time they found a man who was being attacked by a sand-blighted swarm of rats, which they managed to slay. 

From there they picked up a trail of black sand and followed it to the Chambers Asylum, which had been boarded up. The PCs forced open the door and entered. They were ambushed by a trio of azhar buccaneers, but turned the tide against them. After some more exploring they found three more buccaneers, led by First Mate Nejhira; they outfought the pirates and captured her.


Session 3—Curse of the Brine Witch—3 September 2019
Continuing their exploration of the Chambers Asylum, the PCs set off a trap in the kitchen, and then found a krenshar in the pantry. Its howl brought more of the creatures, and the PCs fought them off with a brave stand in the common room. Abinack stood over the uncounscious First Mate Nejhira to ensure that she was unharmed. After confirming that the ground-floor dormitories were unoccupied, they headed upstairs.

Templeton tried to sneak up on the cultists, but failed; Birgir attempted to vault their barricade, but crashed into it instead. Even so, Hector put to of the cultists to sleep, and the rest of the part slew the other one. From there they met and talked with Clement Moore, and decide to bind him with shackles and bring him with them. They also found three more cultists in the treatment rooms and defeated them, too.

Finding the stairway that led to the underground level, they headed downward. After examining the high-security cells, Kenton found the secret door to the hidden laboratory. Zabreen the Magnificent, protected by a shield spell and moving on the ceiling because he could spider climb, caused the party considerable harm with his burning hands. Abinack kept the PCs on their feet by channeling positive energy, however, and using a combination of ranged attacks, spells, and creative melee efforts (such as rolling a large barrel under their foe, or having one character boost another—they won the day.


Session 4—Curse of the Brine Witch—10 September 2019
Following their business in the Chambers Asylum, the PCs kept First Mate Nejhira with them; they decided to let Clement Moore go after questioning him. The next morning they headed to the Docks to visit the Scalded Man, which they found occupied by a half dozen crew members. After some consideration, they decided to leave Nejhira there, with the possibility of doing business in the future.

Heading back into town, they were ambushed by Eyebiter, Constance and a pair of snipers with crossbows; they won the fight using weapons, spells and pursuit up to the rooftops to outflank their foes. They were also attacked by a doru, which they defeated. Arriving at Kafe Ilkin, they learned more about the divs and what they might be doing in Freeport.