Saturday, April 18, 2015

All's Fair in Love and War

While this blog is dedicated to d20-based, pirate-themed RPG adventures and campaigns, I've also spent some time playing around with the Savage Worlds system. In doing so, I've prepared a short scenario set in Port Royal, one intended to bring together a new group of heroes. Of course, GM's who'd rather use it using the Dungeons & Dragons ruleset and the Skull & Bones supplement can easily convert it.

All's Fair in Love and War


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Three Reviews

For today's post I have three reviews. Two are for adventures, while one is for a short story anthology.

Sails & Sorcery

The short story anthology is one I found while searching online, and I ordered it used. (It's even autographed by the editor, albeit to someone named Jeremiah.) This book includes twenty-eight tales. Some take place in mostly historical settings, while others are more fantastic. All share the common element of centering on sailors and their vessels, and in this way it can be source of inspiration for a GM running a nautical campaign. While some of the tales made less of an impression on me, some of them are really interesting; I particularly liked the last one, "The Spinner," and how it dealt with the question of faith.

Spices and Flesh

This scenario is part of the Pirate Plug-Ins series from Legendary Games. I initially bought it when I was going to fill in for the GM of my monthly campaign, who's running the Skull & Shackles adventure path from Paizo Publishing. Instead, I ended up using it in my current Freeport campaign. We'd finished the "Fury in Freeport" adventure from the rules supplement, and needed something to pad our experience and level before starting in on The Lost Island. Spices and Flesh tied in nicely to one of the plot elements from "Fury." It provided a challenging series of encounters, first aboard ship and then in a sea lair. I had to make some modifications in order to run it with second-level characters, but all in all it was fun. I recommend it as a scenario that can easily be dropped into a nautical campaign.

Thormek's Mansion

This is the scenario that I did end up running when I filled in for the monthly session. It's a sequel to Terror in Paradise, which I reviewed previously. In many ways it's like that adventure,but even more so. By this I mean that, while it has a lot of interesting elements in it, it takes some cleaning up to access them. For one thing, the mansion in question has seventy-five rooms in it. Some of them have important enemies, clues or other things in them, but many don't. The plot has a great Island of Dr. Moreau feel to it, but it can be hard to dig out from the scenes. The stat blocks are not very complete, either, and many of them are just nuisances for a party of third-level characters. Even so, it can be fun if one wants to do the work to make it playable.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Interstellar Travel

Although aetherships are impressive things, they have their limits. Such are the distances between stars that, even at cruising speed, the voyage can last for years. Luckily for spacefarers, the elves have devised a means of making such journeys possible. They have built massive vessels known as ark-ships, ones that carry all of the plants, animals and other life forms needed to maintain or create a habitable environment. What is more, their lengthy lifespans make it possible for them to crew the ships that travel between stars.

Interstellar Portal
Aura strong conjuration; CL 17th
Slot --; Price 400,000 gp; Weight NA
Much like ring gates, these devices are always created in pairs. In fact, they are essentially larger versions of those devices, being 150 feet in diameter. Each is crafted from a single chunk of nickle-iron asteroid, in the shape of a hollow, flat, circular structure. The surface of each is engraved with mystic symbols related to its system of origin. Together they allow aetherships to pass into one and out of the corresponding other.
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, gate; Cost 200,000 gp

The interstellar portals are, of course, closely guarded by the elves. Some say that they keep them hidden amidst the rings of a gas giant planet, concealed by a fog shroud spell and protected by elven ships along with more formidable defenses.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Reda Manor

This location is home to the Governor of Crossroads.

6. Reda Manor
On the hillside that rises behind the plaza, tavern, outfitter and warehouse, there stands a cluster of houses. Most are single-story affairs of an ordinary sort (see below for details), but one rises above the rest; this is the personal dwelling of Luciano Reda, the Governor of Crossroads. The manor is a two-story structure of timber and stucco with a tiled roof. The windows can be shuttered in the event of trouble, and the front door has a high-quality lock (DC 25 for Disable Device checks).

The Manor
Refer to the appropriate map for the following area descriptions.

1. Sitting Room
Visitors to the manor are received here. Comfortable sofas line two of the walls, and end tables fill in the corners. Reda's manservant, Bartholomew, greets guests and brings them refreshments while they wait for the Governor.

2. Dining Room
A broad wooden table, surrounded by chairs, fills the center of this room. It is used for important meetings in addition to meals.

3. Kitchen
A stove occupies one corner of this room, and a food preparation table stands opposite it. There is also a barrel of water, and commonly used implements hang from the ceiling.

4. Pantry
All manner of dried and otherwise preserved foodstuffs line the shelves on the walls of this room. There is really an impressive selection, especially when one considers the remote nature of the asteroid colony. What is more, a trapdoor in the floor provides access to the wine cellar; Reda is particularly fond of elven wine.

5. Servant's Quarters
Bartholomew takes his rest—when he has it—here. There is a comfortable bed, a storage chest, and a small table and chairs. The chest contains changes of clothing and mundane personal items. Beneath it is a loose floorboard, however (DC 15 Perception check to notice), which conceals a pouch that holds Bartholomew's saved wages: 57 gp, 31 sp and 12 cp.

6. Storage
At the top of the stairs stands this closet, which holds typical household items such as linens, candles, cleaning supplies and the like.

7. Guest Bedrooms
Each of these rooms is furnished with a bed and bedside table, a wardrobe, and a writing desk and chair.

8. Reda's Bedroom
This room is furnished much like the guest bedrooms, except that materials are of higher quality. The wardrobe is filled with Reda's fancy clothing. There is also a portrait of the king on one wall; hidden behind it (DC 25 Perception check to notice) is Reda's hidden strongbox. The box is protected by a high-quality lock (DC 25 Disable Device to open) and a poisoned needle trap (treat as a poisoned dart trap; see page 420 of the Pathfinder core rulebook). In it are the funds used for running the colony: 218 pp, 612 gp, 952 sp and 320 cp.

Governor Luciano Reda
CR 7
Male human aristocrat 9
LN medium humanoid
Init -1; Senses Perception +13
AC 10, touch 10, flat-footed 9 (-1 Dex, +1 Dodge)
hp 42 (7d8+7)
Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +6
Resist None
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Walking Stick +5 (1d6)
Special Attacks None
Str 10, Dex 8, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 13, Cha 16
Base Atk +5; CMB +5; CMD 14
Feats Alertness, Dodge, Leadership, Skill Focus (Appraise, Diplomacy)
Skills Appraise +15, Bluff +16, Diplomacy +19, Knowledge (local) +12, Knowledge (nobility) +12, Perception +13, Sense Motive +13
Languages Common, elven, dwarven
SQ None
Combat Gear Sumptuous clothing, purse containing 50 gp in mixed coins, circlet of persuasion

Luciano Reda has grown up leading the easy life of a nobleman, but he regards himself as a daring entrepreneur who has worked hard for—and thus is deserving of—all of the comforts he has. If not for the backing of the King, and thus the support of the Order of the Lion, he would be in big trouble. Even so, his goal is to prove himself as a capable administrator at Crossroads, and thus to earn a “more civilized” posting back on his homeworld.

Bartholomew, Reda's Manservant
CR 4
Male human commoner 5
LN medium humanoid
Init +1; Senses Perception +X
AC 11, touch 11, flat-footed 10 (+1 Dex)
hp 30 (5d6+12)
Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +2
Resist None
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Knife +6 (1d3+2)
Special Attacks Details
Str 15, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10
Base Atk +2; CMB +4; CMD 15
Feats Cleave, Power Attack, Skill Focus (Craft: cooking), Weapon Focus (knife)
Skills Craft (cooking) +11, Perception +8
Languages Common
SQ None
Combat Gear Clothing, cooking implements, masterwork knife

Bartholomew has a good taste for food, and little interest in much else. He spends his spare time reading recipe books, always on the lookout for ways in which to devise new dishes for his employer's table. Those with some guile might be able to take advantage of him.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The R.I.C. Warehouse

Next door to the outfitter is the warehouse owned and operated by the Royal Interplanetary Company. It is one of the more impressive structures in the settlement, standing two stories in height and built of stone. The banner of the RIC hangs at the front of the building. Two sets of iron-banded double doors, one at ground level and one elevated to the height of a horse cart—provide means of delivering and retrieving goods. There is also a single door for personnel along the side of the building.These doors require a DC 25 Disable Device check to open, or a similar Strength check to force. Failing that, they can be beaten open (hardness 5 and 25 hit points).

Inside the building, one corner is occupied by a waist-high loading dock (Area 1), with a wooden ramp running down from it to the floor. Most of the space, however, consists of a broad, open area lined with shelves (Area 2). These, in turn, are filled with all manner of goods. Heavier items like barrels and crates rest on the floor, with sacks on the lower shelves and smaller items like jars, bottles and smaller boxes placed higher. All of the non-living goods from table 6-3 in the Pathfinder core rulebook can be found here, as can other items at the GM's discretion.

There is also a small side room which IRC soldiers use between shifts (Area 3). It has a water barrel and ale keg in one corner and a hearth in another. There is also a table and chairs, along with a side table containing foodstuffs and the like. Two guards remain in the warehouse at all times, even when it is locked up after normal business hours (from the start of the forenoon watch to the end of the second dog watch). Two more are present during business hours, along with Lieutenant Vanderwald and the Company bookkeeper.

Mounted Patrols
In addition to guarding the warehouse, the cavaliers also conduct mounted patrols throughout the settlement, based out of the stables.

Lieutenant Cornelius Vanderwald
CR 1/2
Male human cavalier 7
LN medium humanoid
Init +0; Senses Perception -1
AC 15, touch 11, flat-footed 14 (+1 Dodge, +4 chain shirt)
hp 57 (7d10+14)
Fort +7, Ref +2, Will +1
Resist None
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Longsword +10/+5 (1d8+2)
Ranged Light crossbow +7/+2 (1d8)
Special Attacks Challenge 3/day, cavalier's charge, banner
Str 15, Dex 11, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 12
Base Atk +1; CMB +3; CMD 13
Feats Cleave, Dodge, Leadership, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (longsword)
Skills Climb +12, Diplomacy +11, Handle Animal +9, Ride +10, Sense Motive +9
Languages Common
SQ Mount, order (Lion), tactician, order ability (lion's call), expert trainer
Combat Gear Chain shirt +1, longsword +1, light crossbow, case of 20 bolts, signal whistle, cloak of resistance, potion of cure serious wounds

Cornelius Vanderwald has a personality very similar to those of his men, only more so. Although he serves Governor Reda faithfully, his secret hope is that his superior will one day be transferred to a planetary post, and thus he will be able to take command of Crossroads for himself.
Cavalier Soldiers
CR 1/2
Male human cavalier 1
LN medium humanoid
Init +0; Senses Perception -1
AC 15, touch 11, flat-footed 14 (+1 Dodge, +4 chain shirt)
hp 12 (1d10+2)
Fort +4, Ref +0, Will -1
Resist None
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Longsword +4 (1d8+2)
Ranged Light crossbow +1 (1d8)
Special Attacks Challenge 1/day
Str 15, Dex 11, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 12
Base Atk +1; CMB +3; CMD 13
Feats Dodge, Weapon Focus (longsword)
Skills Climb +6, Diplomacy +5, Handle Animal +3, Ride +4, Sense Motive +3
Languages Common
SQ Mount, order (Lion), tactician
Combat Gear Chain shirt, longsword, light crossbow, case of 20 bolts, signal whistle

These men are servants of the Royal Interplanetary Company (and thus of their King), and they take their jobs very seriously. What they lack in imagination, they make up for in unswerving loyalty.

The Order of the Lion
The cavaliers on Crossroads are members of this order because it is tied to a sovereign; the details of to whom they owe their fealty are kept vague, allowing the GM leeway in working them into an existing campaign setting.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Crossroads Outfitter

Here's another establishment.


4. Crossroads Outfitter

Second only to the tavern and inn as a center of local business is this general store. It is run by an aasimar named Ella Song, a woman with the blood of the azata running through her veins. She is a benevolent soul, and treats the locals fairly; for this reason, she is highly respected by the general populace. It also makes her a rival of the Royal Interplanetary Company, who control the warehouse but aren't able to cut in on her mercantile business.

The Outfitter
The shop is a single-story structure with a flat roof. Out from hangs a simple sign bearing the word Outfitter. Ella Song keeps it open from the start of the forenoon watch to the end of the second dog watch (8:00 am to 8:00 pm).

1. Shoproom
The walls of this broad room are lined with shelves, and more standing shelves fill most of the floor. They are filled with all manner of goods including foodstuffs, equipment and other supplies. There's also a waist-high table at which Song conducts business.

2. Office
The table and chair here are used for keeping the ledgers and other such activities. There is a hidden panel in the floor (DC 20 Perception check to locate), beneath which Song's cashbox is concealed. Someone with the key, or who can make a DC 20 Disable Device check, can find 1000 gp, 200 sp and 50 cp inside it.

3. Storeroom
Any goods beyond the ones on display are kept in this room.

4. Kitchen
This is where Song and Mako spend much of their down time and take their meals when not over at the tavern. There is a table and chairs, a small stove for preparing meals, and other such expected features.

5. Song's Quarters
A comfortable bed stands against the wall opposite the door, flanked by a desk and chair and a large wardrobe. The wardrobe contains the aasimar's extra clothing, along with a lockbox which holds those valuables she doesn't carry on her person: an elixir of love.
6. Mako's Quarters
The bed in this room is big and not well made. There is also a writing desk that sees little use. Beneath the bed is a storage locker that holds 100 gp in mixed coins.

Ella Song
CR 5
XP 1600
Female aasimar sorcerer 6
NG medium outsider (native)
Init +2; Senses Perception +4; Darkvision 60 ft.
AC 12, touch 12, flat-footed 10 (+2 Dex)
hp 23 (6d6)
Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +7
Resist Acid, cold and electricity 5
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Dagger +2 (1d4-1)
Ranged Dagger +3 (1d4-1)
Special Attacks Daylight once/day
Str 8, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 14, Cha 18
Base Atk +3; CMB +2; CMD 14
Feats Dodge, Point Blank Shot, Skill Focus (Diplomacy)
Skills Appraise +10, Diplomacy +15, Spellcraft +10
*+2 racial bonus to Diplomacy and Perception
Languages Common, Celestial, Orcish
SQ Bloodline powers and spells
Combat Gear Amulet of natural armor +1, cloak of resistance +1
Sorcerer Bloodline: Celestial
Sorcerer Spells per Day: 6/5/3
Sorcerer Spells Known: Daze, detect magic, flare, mage hand, read magic, resistance, touch of fatigue; mage armor, protection from evil, ray of enfeeblement, shield; daze monster, eagle's splendor; deep slumber

Ella Song is try a good and kind person. She uses her powers to help keep the peace among the people of Crossroads and to protect them from dangers. She is curious about the plans the higher powers have for the worlds, and as such is a frequent guest of the local shrine and observatory.
CR 5
XP 1600
Female half-orc barbarian 6
NG medium humanoid
Init +1; Senses Perception +9; Darkvision 60 ft.
AC 16, touch 12, flat-footed 14 (+1 Dex, +4 chain shirt, +1 Dodge)
hp 56 (6d12+12)
Fort +7, Ref +3, Will +2
Resist Rage
Spd 40 ft.
Melee Greatsword +10/+5 (2d6+6)
Ranged Longbow +7/+2 (1d8)
Special Attacks Orc ferocity, rage, rage powers
Str 18, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 12
Base Atk +6/+1; CMB +X; CMD X
Feats Cleave, Dodge, Power Attack
Skills Acrobatics +10, Climb +13, Perception +9
Languages Orcish, Common
SQ Orc blood; improved uncanny dodge, trap sense +1, uncanny dodge, rage, rage powers (clear mind, raging climber, raging leaper)
Combat Gear Greatsword +1, chain shirt +1, masterwork longbow, quiver with 20 arrows, potion of cure serious wounds

Mako is utterly loyal to Ella, who found her as an orphan and raised her. While she seems brutish and unfriendly at first glance, the half-orc can develop a fierce fondness for those who win her respect.

The Sign of the Ourobouros

Due to technical difficulties and real-life business, my work on this blog--and especially on the space fantasy material for it--has been delayed. Now I'm getting back to it, however.


3. The Sign of the Ourobouros
While the elemental obelisk is the source of life on this worldlet, the center of activity is this tavern and inn known as the Sign of the Ourobouros. This tavern and inn is the place for gathering to share food and drink, and thus also a hub for speculating about voyages, hiring crew members and the like. A shingle hanging out front is adorned with the image of a serpent biting its own tail, which the proprietor says represents the beginning and ending of a successful voyage.
Most patrons assume that the proprietor is a human, and he is happy to let them make that assumption. In truth, however, Kane Prentiss is a serpent person, as are his followers; they simply take on human forms in order to make things more comfortable for said visitors. What is more, they can change their forms (becoming dwarves, halflings, elves, humanoids, etc.) as needed.

The Sign of the Ourobouros
Refer to the appropriate map for the following area descriptions.

1. Common Room
This broad, open area is filled with tables and chairs. Depending on the time of day, it is also filled with noisy patrons sharing food and drinks. There is a bar with numerous stools along one wall, and two stairways lead to the upper level just inside the front door. One door, behind the bar, provides access to the kitchen, while two others provide access to the private rooms (see below).

2. Kitchen
The kitchen is dominated by a broad hearth with a chimney, along with a preparation table, cabinets, water barrels and wash basins. There's always a strong smell of roasting meet and simmering stew, and the ceiling and walls are festooned with pots, pans and other cooking implements.

3. Pantry
A truly impressive amount of food is stockpiled here: fresh and salted meats, fruits and vegetables, beans, flour, oils, beer and wine, etc. Should someone ever lay siege to the asteroid colony, it could hold out for some time.

4. Private Rooms
Each of these rooms boasts a large table with eight chairs. Visitors who wish to conduct important (and discreet) business reserve one of them; usually there is no more demand than can be handled with the two of them.

5. Hallways
The front stairways lead up to the sleeping area; there are two parallel hallways, each line with rooms.

6. Typical Sleeping Rooms
These rooms are furnished with comfortable beds, wardrobes and sea chests.

7. Larger Sleeping Rooms
Each of these rooms has an extra bed, in addition to the furnishings provided in the smaller rooms.

The Staff
Stats for the tavern and inn's staff are presented here.

Kane Prentiss, Proprietor at the Sign of the Ourobouros
CR 6
XP 2400
Male serpent person Fighter 3/Rogue 4
N Medium monstrous humanoid (reptilian, shapechanger)
Init +5; Senses Perception +10; Darkvision 60'
AC 13, touch 11, flat-footed 12 (+11 Dex, +2 armor)
hp 45 (4d8+3d10+7)
Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +2
Resist None
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Short sword +8/+3 (1d6+1)
Ranged Short bow +7/+2 (1d6)
Special Attacks Armor training 1, bravery +1, evasion, rogue talent (major magic and minor magic), sneak attack +2d6, trap sense +1, trapfinding, uncanny dodge
Str 12, Dex 12, Con 12, Int 16, Wis 11, Cha 16
Base Atk +6/+1; CMB +7; CMD 18
Feats Alertness, Arcane Strike, Deceitful, Improved Initiative, Point Blank Shot, Stealthy, Weapon Focus (shortsword)
Skills* Acrobatics +8, Appraise +11, Bluff +13, Diplomacy +11, Disguise +13, Escape Artist +3, Knowledge (local) +11, Linguistics +11, Perception +10, Sense Motive +10, Sleight of Hand +9, Stealth +11
*Serpent people receive racial bonuses of +4 to Escape Artist and Stealth, and +8 to Swim, and +10 to Disguise when using their Change Shape ability.
Languages Serpent person, common, elven, dwarven
SQ Trapfinding, evasion, trap sense +1, uncanny dodge, minor magic, major magic
Combat Gear Leather armor, short sword, spell component pouch
Spells Known: Message, comprehend languages

Kane Prentiss is the proprietor at the Sign of the Ourobouros, the tavern and inn on Crossroads. Ostensibly, the choice for a symbol—a serpent biting its own tail—represents the safe departure and return of outgoing vessels. What nobody but Prentiss and his family know, however, is that he and his staff are serpent people. Their shapechanging ability allows them to take on the more familiar forms of humans, elves and dwarves. In this way they can gather lots of information about what is happening in the settlement. So far they have only used what they've learned to help keep the peace and prevent trouble, but should they have a more lucrative opportunity, they might not be able to re resist taking advantage of it.

Prentiss usually presents himself as a human. He is friendly with guests, but none too quick to share information about himself.

Ourobouros Servers
CR ½
XP 200
Female serpent person rogue 1
N Medium monstrous humanoid (reptilian, shapechanger)
Init +6; Senses Perception +4; Darkvision to 60'
AC 13, touch 12, flat-footed 11 (+2 Dex, +1 natural)
hp 8 (1d8)
Fort +0, Ref +4, Will +0
Resist None
Spd 30 ft.; swim 20 ft.
Melee Dagger +2 (1d4)
Ranged Dagger +2 (1d4)
Special Attacks Sneak Attack +1d6
Str 8, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 15, Wis 10, Cha 17
Base Atk +1; CMB +0; CMD 11
Feats Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse (dagger)
Skills* Acrobatics +6, Bluff + 7, Climb +3, Diplomacy +7, Disguise +7, Knowledge (local) +6, Linguistics +6, Perception +4, Sleight of Hand +6, Stealth +10
*Serpent people receive racial bonuses of +4 to Escape Artist and Stealth, and +8 to Swim, and +10 to Disguise when using their Change Shape ability.
Languages Serpent person, Common, one other
SQ Change shape, sneak attack +1d6, trapfinding
Combat Gear Clothing, dagger

These ladies play the part of friendly, outgoing, attractive types, such as humans, half-elves and elves. They are prone to fawning over customers and gossiping, which is just part of their role as spies for their father.
Ourobouros Bouncers
CR ½
XP 200
Male serpent person fighter 1
N Medium monstrous humanoid (reptilian, shapechanger)
Init +5; Senses Perception +1; Darkvision to 60'
AC 15, touch 11, flat-footed 14 (+1 Dex, +3 studded leather, +1 natural)
hp 11 (1d10+1)
Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +1
Resist None
Spd 30 ft.; swim 20 ft.
Melee Longsword +4 (1d8+2)
Ranged Light Crossbow +2 (1d8)
Special Attacks Point Blank Shot
Str 15, Dex 13, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 12
Base Atk +1; CMB +3; CMD 14
Feats Improved Initiative, Point Blank Shot, Weapon Focus (longsword)
Skills* Climb +6, Survival +5
*Serpent people receive racial bonuses of +4 to Escape Artist and Stealth, and +8 to Swim, and +10 to Disguise when using their Change Shape ability.
Languages Serpent person, Common
SQ Change shape
Combat Gear Studded leather armor, longsword, light crossbow, case w/10 bolts

These fellows assume the forms of various rough-and-tumble types such as humans, half-elves or half-orcs. They keep matters at the Sign of the Ourobouros from becoming too raucous. At the same time, they listen for lucrative information, and are always ready to support their sisters.