Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Lost Arkship



Because of their long lifespans, the elves have held a distinct advantage over others in the field of interstellar space exploration. While many of their expeditions have been successful—consider, for example, making contact with the arborlings of Sylvanus and the kasatha and shobhad on their planet of origin—at least one such voyage, to explore a black hole and its stellar companion, went terribly awry. 


The cause of this calamity was an entity known as a colour out of space. It dwells in this location because of the powerful gravitational effect that the black hole exerts upon its companion star, an effect that the colour finds rejuvenating. When the arkship arrived, the colour attacked its crew; the elves were forced to flee in their longboat back through the interstellar portal that they were towing, and then to seal it off from the other side. Since then, the colour has slowly been preying upon the animals aboard the arkship, driving some into a frenzy and draining others until they succumb and acquire the colour-blighted template. 



Colour out of Space: Refer to pages 38-9 of Bestiary 4 for stats.

Additionally, there can be all manner of colour-blighted animals aboard the arkship, along with others that have become aggressive because of hunger. Indeed, the rectangular compartments that have been installed on the arkship's main deck each house different types of creatures, ones that are normally kept separate from each other but that are now running wild because of the crew's absence. There could even be more fantastic types, especially a unicorn or a pack of blink dogs. It's also possible that some crew members were left behind; base stats for them can be found in a previous article.



Using the Derelict Arkship in an Aetherial Adventures Campaign
This lost ship can work into numerous space fantasy adventures, including the following possibilities.
  • It's always possible that the PCs, while pursuing other business, simply discover the arkship adrift in space and decide to explore it.
  • The cargo hold in the vessel's lower deck contains valuable supplies and equipment, enough that it could tempt profit-seeking characters to do so. This could include an elemental obelisk and other materials for establishing a colony, or a captain's log that holds valuable, but secret, information.
  • A relative of a crew member left behind on the vessel might seek to recover that elf's remains, possibly needing to circumvent Navy hierarchy to do so. In that case, a band of adventurers would be likely candidates.
  • Because the colour-blighted animals are not evil by nature, dealing with them could present a particular challenge to characters who won't just kill them outright.
  • Deranged individuals, especially the Cult of the Void, might seek to visit this location, regarding it as the embodiment of entropy, and even to communicate with the colour out of space.
  • If that entity gained control of a crew member who could pilot the arkship, then it could have that individual steer it through space toward a particular destination.
  • Should the magic that seals the interstellar portal—likely a wall of force spell—ever fail, then the colour out of space could pass through it to wreck havoc in a more civilized region of aetherspace.


 


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Gnome Pepperbox

Inspired by the story "Act of Faith," here are game rules for a gnomish pepperbox pistol.

-Nate



New Weapon: Gnome Pepperbox
The gnomish variation on the pepperbox has eight barrels and incorporates a more complicated mechanism. The benefit of this is that each shot causes the mechanism to turn the barrel, bringing a fresh round into place for firing. Because of that, it can be fired once per attack that a character has, including an extra attack granted by feats such as Rapid Shot. On the other hand, it is more prone to misfiring; it should be treated as an “early firearm” insofar as the chance of explosion is concerned, and inflicts damage equivalent to a critical hit in a ten-foot square, determined by rolling scatter as per a grenade-like weapon. 

Gnome Pepperbox

The gnomish variation on the pepperbox has eight barrels and incorporates a more complicated mechanism. The benefit of this is that each shot causes the mechanism to turn the barrel, bringing a fresh round into place for firing. Because of that, it can be fired once per attack that a character has, including an extra attack granted by feats such as Rapid Shot. On the other hand, it is more prone to misfiring; it should be treated as an “early firearm” insofar as the chance of explosion is concerned, and inflicts damage equivalent to a critical hit in a ten-foot square, determined by rolling scatter as per a grenade-like weapon.

Weapon
Cost
Dmg (S)
Dmg (M)
Critical
Range
Misfire
Capacity
Weight
Type
Special
Gnome pepperbox
2000 gp
1d6
1d8
x4
20 ft.
1-4 (10 ft.)
8
6 lbs.
B and P



Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Sol System Planetary Tracker

This post provides a means of determining planets' relative locations, and thus knowing the travel time between worlds.

-Nate



Using the Planetary Tracker
For players and GMs who want more precision, however, refer to the accompanying diagram. At the start of a campaign, each planet is placed in a position of its orbit, at the GM's discretion. Then, as time passes, the planets move through their orbits at the following speeds.
  • Wodan moves one step every five and a half days.
  • Freya moves one step every fifteen days.
  • Homeworld moves one step every twenty-four days.
  • Tyr moves one step every forty-six days.
  • The Asteroid Belt is spread around its orbit, but bodies such as Crossroads move one step every eighty-six days.
  • Thunar moves one step every 270 days.
  • Kronos moves one step every 662 days.
GMs are free, of course, to make this system even more precise by breaking down those periods into smaller increments; for example, Homeworld could move half a step every twelve days. 

To determine the amount of time for an interplanetary voyage, then, just use a straightedge to connect the planet of origin and destination. Every space through which that line passes represents five days of travel time. While this might seem a little skewed as one moves further away from the sun, it reflects the fact that aetherships gain speed as they move away from the gravitational influence of Sol. 

For example, if Thunar and Kronos stood on opposite sides of the sun, then a line between them would pass through twelve spaces; the duration of that voyage would be 120 (12 x 10) days.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Rest of the Galaxy


Inside the Sol System, the locations of the known bodies—Wodan, Freya, Homeworld, Tyr, the Asteroid Belt, Thunar and Kronos—can be represented by their relative positions on a single plane. When it comes to the planets that orbit other stars, however, the system of location becomes more complicated. Given that they were the first to explore beyond Homeworld's system, it was the elves who devised a means of finding one's heading for interstellar voyages. 

For this they use the eighty-eight commonly recognized constellations, names given to groups of stars based on what people thought they resembled. They also assigned letters to the stars that comprised them, such as alpha, beta, gamma, etc. For example, the North Star, otherwise known as Polaris, is alpha in the constellation ursa major, the Great Bear. Taking a heading on it means that a vessel is traveling straight upward from the plane in which this system's planets orbit Sol.
More information about the creatures that inhabit these worlds can be found in another article, Planetary Ecologies:


Sylvanus
This world orbits the triple stars Alpha, Beta and Proxima Centauri, some 4.25 lightyears from the Sol System. It was the first planet beyond the Sol System to be visited by an elf arkship, and the crew of that vessel was astounded to find it filled with plant and animal life. Sylvanus is almost a perfect natural paradise, with few intelligent inhabitants except for the arborlings, creatures similar to treants who act as caretakers. For this reason the elves have kept the location of Sylvanus a closely guarded secret, hoping to preserve its pristine environment.

More information about arborlings can be found in a supplement from Clockwork Gnome Publishing.


Wyrdworld
Orbiting a single red dwarf star, this world lies six lightyears from the Sol System in the direction of Ophichus. It his home to two main intelligent species, the shobhad and the kasatha. The prior live in nomadic bands that survive by hunting fearsome wild creatures, while the latter form small enclaves and are known to trade with visitors. This world was discovered by an elf arkship, but has been further explored by an agent of the Royal Interplanetary Company, Captain Eli Barnard, who trades imported goods for the shobhad's two most famous inventions—black powder and firearms.

Details of a kasatha caravanserai can be found in a previous article.


Interstellar Space
While it might seem unusual to include this region—it is, after all, a vast nothing—it's important to note that the open void is sometimes home to the greatest dangers that spacefarers can encounter. These include the oma, which is sometimes used for transporting passengers; the enigmatic entity known as a sentient nebula; and the massive astral leviathan. There have also been reported sightings of dragons, ones different from the kinds that once lived on Homeworld. Finally, although explorers have not heretofore encountered travelers from other star systems in craft of their own, most believe that it's only a matter of time before they do.

The Black Hole
Although the elves and their arkships have made numerous discoveries on their interstellar missions, at least one ended in tragedy. That crew had set out to visit a body shaped like a star, but utterly black. It was located next to a star from which it continually drained light, heat and material. Lurking in that volatile area was something that attacked the crew, corrupting the elves along with the animals that they were transporting. Some of them turned murderous, and eventually only a handful of survivors escaped aboard the arkship's longboat. After passing back through the interstellar portal, they used magic to seal it against pursuit. 

More information about elf arkships and their missions can be found in a couple of previous articles.


Other Stars and Planets
At this time, elven exploration beyond the Sol System is still in its early stages; having made contact with the inhabitants of two worlds. They have other expeditions underway, however; these are left up to the GM to develop further. For inspiration, Wikipedia has a good list of other stars with orbiting planets not so far from Homeworld's sun.




Monday, April 23, 2018

PDF Compilation #11

Here's another PDF compilation of recent Aetherial Adventures material.

Aetherial Adventures #11

-Nate

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Freebooter's City Review


I downloaded this adventure, Part 4 of the Return to Freeport campaign, more than seven months ago, and it's been sitting on my hard drive since then because I've been busy with other things—and I'm still waiting to see Part 6 published before I start preparing to run this campaign. Just now I finished reading it, however, and thought I should review it. First and foremost, this scenario involves plenty of roleplaying situations, with very little combat actually required. That is, in my mind, both good and bad, for the following reasons. 

On the downside, I think a GM wanting to use it with a typical group of players would need to add more fighting to it. I've run the occasional session that didn't have any combat, maybe once each campaign, but having that happen over and over again would eventually be disappointing for may players. The scenario suggests using random encounters from the table in Part 1, but I fear that they'd not be challenging enough for eighth-level characters. Even so, there are lots of potential enemies in the Freeport: The City of Adventure and Freeport Bestiary books, so it shouldn't take too much for a GM to create more combat-oriented subplots for the PCs. 

The upside of the emphasis on roleplaying is that it really weaves the PCs into the fabric of the city. That is, after all, for me the most appealing element of the campaign setting; it starts to feel familiar, and like the PCs are an important part of the city's history and future. With that in mind, I'm pleased with the direction this campaign is taking, and I look forward to the next two installments.

-Nate