Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Abyssinial Chain Review



This is the second installment in the new Return to Freeport series from Green Ronin Publishing. Please refer to my previous post about the first installment, "Curse of the Brine Witch," for a disclaimer about my bias in favor of this setting.

With that said, I think this is a good second entry in the series. It builds on events from the first adventure, revealing that some of the disappearances from around Freeport weren't caused by the enemy from that scenario. This leads into some more investigation, eventually taking the PCs to the lairs of some local villains. I like the flow of events that this adventure uses, with evidence gathering that makes sense, although I worry that the players might start to feel tired of investigation. There are some interesting new villains in this adventure, too, ones that really make use of different options from The Advanced Bestiary and other Pathfinder books. The proofreading could be tighter, something that I find distracting; hopefully that'll be cleaned up in future versions of the PDF.

All in all, it seems like a solid scenario; I'll post an update after I run it.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Books Review: The Daedalus Incident, the Enceladus Crisis, the Venusian Gambit

I'm including this review on the blog because I think these three novels would appeal to fans of the old Spelljammer campaign setting. That is, in fact, the reason why I tried out this series in the first place, since I was looking for space fantasy novels. While they weren't entirely what I expected, in the end I enjoyed them quite a bit.


The first novel, The Daedalus Incident, starts with two parallel storylines. One is the aforementioned space fantasy type, an alternate history in which the New World does not seem to exist on Earth, and the Age of Exploration took humans into space aboard alchemically-treated wooden sailing ships. The story uses a main character's journal entries for a lead-in, and then creates an interesting setting with engaging characters and action. The parallel storyline, however, takes place in a realistic sci-fi future on the planet Mars, In that setting, the main character finds the journal, which has writing appearing on its pages. The two storylines are gradually interwoven in a plot involving extra-dimensional powers, and builds into a slam-bang finish.


The second novel, The Enceladus Crisis, takes this premise one step further by splitting up groups of characters into four separate storylines, While this might seem overly complicated, in fact the author does a good job of using all four streams to weave a complicated but engaging plot. There are likable characters, too, making for a read that grabbed my interest and held it.


Finally, the last in the series, The Venusian Gambit, brings everything to a satisfying and exciting conclusion. Throughout the series there were surprises, but no disappointments. All in all, I found myself wishing that there was an RPG campaign setting for these novels so that I could play a character in its worlds. (On that note, I think Pirates of the Spanish Main could be a good ruleset to use for such an undertaking.) I recommend these novels strongly for anyone who enjoys space fantasy, but I think that harder sci fi fans would enjoy them, too.

-Nate


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Curse of the Brine Witch Review


I should preface this review by saying that I can't be unbiased in writing it.

Back in 2000, when there were only two full adventures to be had for the newly released 3rd Edition of Dungeons & Dragons--the other one being Three Days to Kill from Atlas Games--I purchased Death in Freeport at Gen Con to kick off new campaigns once I went back home. That launched the first of four such endeavors, run with the D&D 3.0 and 3.5, and Pathfinder beta and release, rulesets. For that reason, Freeport has been the most consistent campaign setting in which I've ever run scenarios. Many of my players have played in multiple campaigns, allowing me to weave a real sense of history into the setting. This new adventure marks the beginning of a new story arc that takes Freeport into the time period represented by the massive Freeport: The City of Adventure hardcover, starting a whole new era.

With that said, I was satisfied with Curse of the Brine Witch. It introduces a mysterious situation, the investigation of which leads the heroes to various locations and personalities throughout the city. There are some seven encounters leading to a small dungeon crawl situation, followed by four more and then another such crawl. What is more, there's a table for introducing more conflicts for GMs who prefer slower advancement. The story is weird enough to be appropriate for Freeport, with hints toward an even greater plot.

All in all, this scenario is definitely worth the $4.95 price for GMs running urban Pathfinder campaigns, and it goes without saying that Freeport fans will get their money's worth.

-Nate




Sunday, April 10, 2016

Cape Coast Castle Revisited

For all the Savages out there, this is a link to a short PDF presenting Cape Coast Castle for use with Pirates of the Spanish Main.

Cape Coast Castle

-Nate

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Sampan

Presented here is a deck plan for use with any number of nautically-themed RPGs.

-Nate


The Sampan 

This small boat is a familiar site in the East. It has a relatively flat bottom, and can be propelled with a single sail or oars, or even with poles in shallow water. Given their small size and low profile, sampans are generally used close to land. They are commonly used for fishing as well as for transporting small groups of passengers or amounts of cargo. Sometimes the owner of a sampan erects a small shelter over part of the deck, leading to them being used as floating domiciles in certain areas. In this way the model presented can be used as something of a template for larger vessels or ones that have more elaborate structures built onto them.



The deck plan below is sized so that it can be printed and cut out for use with miniatures or other figures on the tabletop. 


Finally, here's a link to the information above presented as a single PDF. 




Sunday, March 20, 2016

Variations in the Void

Presented here are some suggestions for ways in which a GM and players can customize existing character classes for use in space fantasy adventures and campaigns.

Fighter
  • When selecting a group of weapons for the weapon training ability, the fighter may select Artillery (cannon, catapults, ballistae, etc.)

Ranger
  • When choosing a favored enemy, a ranger may select the Void type; this includes all monsters that have the Staflight extraordinary ability.
  • When selecting a type of favored terrain, the ranger may choose Aethership as a type.

Wizard
  • A wizard may choose an orb of control as the item for an arcane bond.



Saturday, February 20, 2016

More Elves

Presented here is the flag of the Royal Elven Navy, along with stats for the clerics who serve alongside its sailor-soldiers.

-Nate


The flag of the Elven Navy combines numerous elements. A field of dark blue represent the night sky and the depths of aetherspace. The yellow crescent moon is a symbols of the Elven Goddess. An eight-pointed star, of the same color as the moon but notably smaller, depicts the notion that the elves serve their goddess but are pinpoints of light compared to the waxing and waning of her much brighter illumination.

Ships' Clerics
In addition the soldier-sailors who crew the vessels of the Royal Elven Navy, the ships' clerics form a vital part of vessels' crews. In addition to ministering for the faithful, they provide moral and magical support in combat as well as acting as healers. Frequently one senior cleric is accompanied and assisted by multiple junior ones; a high priest might serve at a fort, or could accompany an important mission into the void. Indeed, such is sometimes the case when an exploratory expedition sets out to travel between the stars. (It should be noted that vessels on such assignments also usually tow an interstellar portal behind them, making such journeys less of a sacrifice than they might otherwise be.

In contrast to belief systems such as the Church of Ptah, which welcomes worshipers of all races, the religion of the elves is built upon the notion that they are a special group specifically chosen by their deity to accomplish great deeds throughout the galaxy. This has contributed to the general perception among others that they are haughty and even arrogant. Such notions do little to diminish the elves' convictions however.

During normal shipboard activities, elf clerics tend to prepare spells that aid in navigation (in particular divination spells) and that enhance the abilities of other crew members. When combat is likely, however, they focus on more aggressive offensive magic, ready to call upon their god's influence in order to crush their enemies.

Elf Junior Cleric
CR 2
XP 600
Various elf cleric 3
LN medium humanoid
Init +0; Senses Perception +4; low-light vision
DEFENSE
AC 14, touch 10, flat-footed 14 (+4 armor)
hp 17 (3d8)
Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +5
Resist Elven immunities
OFFENSE
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Heavy mace +3 (1d8+1)
Ranged Sling +2 (1d6)
Special Attacks None
STATISTICS
Str 13, Dex 10, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 15, Cha 14
Base Atk +2; CMB +3; CMD 13
Feats Combat Casting, Extra Channel
Skills Diplomacy +8, Heal +8, Knowledge (religion) +7, Sense Motive +8
Languages Elven, Common
SQ Low-light vision, elven immunities, elven magic, keen senses, aura, channel energy 2d6 (7/day), domains (Knowledge and Law), orisons
Combat Gear Chain shirt, heavy mace, sling, 10 bullets, silver holy symbol, healer's kit
Spells per Day: 4/3+1/2+1
Spells Known: Varies depending on mission and circumstances

Elf Senior Cleric
CR 6
XP 2400
Various elf cleric 7
LN medium humanoid
Init +0; Senses Perception +5; low-light vision
DEFENSE
AC 15, touch 10, flat-footed 15 (+5 armor)
hp 35 (7d8)
Fort +5, Ref +2, Will +8
Resist Elven immunities
OFFENSE
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Heavy mace +7 (1d8+2)
Ranged Sling +5 (1d6)
Special Attacks None
STATISTICS
Str 13, Dex 10, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 14
Base Atk +5; CMB +6; CMD 16
Feats Combat Casting, Extra Channel, Selective Channeling, Spell Penetration
Skills Diplomacy +12, Heal +13, Knowledge (religion) +11, Sense Motive +13
Languages Elven, Common
SQ Low-light vision, elven immunities, elven magic, keen senses, aura, channel energy 4d6 (7/day), domains (Knowledge and Law), orisons
Combat Gear Chain shirt +1heavy mace +1, sling, 10 bullets, silver holy symbol, masterwork healer's kit
Spells per Day: 4/5+1/4+1/3+1/1+1


Spells Known: Varies depending on mission and circumstances

Elf High Priest
CR 10
XP 9600
Various elf cleric 11
LN medium humanoid
Init +0; Senses Perception +5; low-light vision
DEFENSE
AC 16, touch 10, flat-footed 16 (+6 armor)
hp 53 (11d8)
Fort +7, Ref +3, Will +10
Resist Elven immunities
OFFENSE
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Heavy mace +10/+5 (1d8+3)
Ranged Sling +7/+2 (1d6)
Special Attacks None
STATISTICS
Str 13, Dex 10, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 17, Cha 14
Base Atk +8; CMB +9; CMD 18
Feats Combat Casting, Extra Channel, Greater Spell Penetration, Selective Channeling, Spell Penetration, Turn Undead
Skills Diplomacy +16, Heal +17, Knowledge (religion) +15, Sense Motive +17
Languages Elven, Common
SQ Low-light vision, elven immunities, elven magic, keen senses, aura, channel energy 6d6 (7/day), domains (Knowledge and Law), orisons
Combat Gear Chain shirt +2heavy mace +2, sling, 10 bullets, silver holy symbol, masterwork healer's kit
Spells per Day: 4/5+1/5+1/5+1/3+1/2+1/1+1

Spells Known: Varies depending on mission and circumstances