Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Elven Star Fort

Of all the spacefaring peoples, the long lifespans of the elves make them best suited to exploring the mysteries of the aether and the worlds that drift through it. For that reason, their outposts are the most common throughout aetherspace. Detailed below is a typical example of one of their star-shaped forts. Refer to the map for the following area descriptions.

1. Front Gate
In the front of the fort stand two broad, iron-bound wooden doors. They are mostly ornamental, seeing as how longboats coming to the fort actually land in the main courtyard (see below). The exception is non-elven visitors, who are required to land outside of the fort and approach it on foot.

2. Towers
Each of these structures rises above the surrounding fort, providing a position from which guards can watch their environs and fire on enemies if necessary. There is also a privy located in the base of each tower (not pictured).

3. Courtyard
The middle of this area is dominated by a reservoir, one that provides a landing space for incoming longboats. Sixteen mooring posts are positioned for tying up these vessels. While it might seem strategically disadvantageous that this area is open to the sky above, the truth is that ships in orbit provide all of the defense that the fort needs.

4. Barracks
Beds line the walls of this room; there are also tables and chairs for off-duty soldiers. Each elf also has a footlocker, kept under his or her bed.

5. Storage
The walls of this room are line with shelves, and three sets of storage units occupy the middle of the chamber. In it one can find all of the merchandise being transported through the fort, including foodstuffs and other cargo.

6. Mess Hall
Tables and chairs fill this room, providing a place to share meals and recreation for off-duty elves. In the wall opposite the entrance is a door leading to the kitchen (see below).

7. Kitchen
Cooking fires are positioned against the outside wall of this room; the middle is occupied by preparation tables, while barrels of water and wine stand in the outside corner.

8. Meeting Room
A broad conference table is the dominant feature of this room, surrounded by tall wooden chairs. In the wall opposite the entrance is a door leading to the officers' quarters (see below).

9. Officers' Quarters
Four officers staff the base at all times, all captains. Each has a bed, a footlocker, a wardrobe and a writing desk. In the angle of the wall opposite the door stands a statue of a famous elven admiral.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

PDF Compilation

Here's a Dropbox link for the third PDF compilation of space fantasy material.

Aetherial Adventures 3


Monday, January 4, 2016

The Minotaur Heresy

Following up on yesterday's post, this one explores more background for the Church of Ptah by adding some familiar elements from Greek mythology.


The Minotaur Heresy
Legend has it that, back on their original homeworld, followers of Ptah revered a sacred bull. That animal was considered to be a partial manifestation of the deity, and thus was treated like royalty. When it came to pass that this animal died, the priests would search far and wide until they discovered a new incarnation of the bull and brought it back to their temple.

Other stories, however, tell a much more complicated tale, and one that is driven by carnal lust and the desire to gain unimaginable power. According to that tradition, the bull one time appeared on a remote island, walking up out of the sea. The local king knew what it was, but failed to turn it over to the priesthood; instead, he kept it as part of his own livestock. As punishment, the king's god caused his wife, the queen, to become enamored of the bull. Indeed, such was her infatuation with it that she paid a local craftsman to create a device that allowed her to couple with it. She became pregnant from that illicit union, and the result was a human with the head of a bull—the first minotaur. The legends go on to say that the king had this monster imprisoned in a subterranean labyrinth, indeed one that was built by the very same craftsman who had assisted the queen. There it remained, fed with a steady supply of sacrificial victims, until a brave hero came along to slay it. That, it would seem, was the end of that.

Demonic Influence?
The truth of the matter may not be so simple, however. Some say that the queen was not driven by simple, bestial lust, but by a desire to gain tremendous power by coupling with a manifestation of the deity. Others maintain, however, that she had succumbed to the temptations of the demon lord Baphomet, and thus that all of the monsters descended from her progeny are inherently evil.

Among the minotaurs, this has led to a rift in their society. On the one side are those who embrace wickedness and cruelty, and that strive to serve evil masters in order to gain the fiendish power that should have been their birthright. On the other side are those who believe themselves to be descended from Ptah, and therefore who seek to discover the mysteries of the universe in order to better understand the nature of the ancestor and Maker. The latter group views the description of the labyrinth as an analogy for the mysteries of the universe, with space itself being the walls of the maze.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Church of Ptah

This post, which presents a universe-spanning faith for use in space fantasy campaigns, is inspired by the use of Ptah in the old Spelljammer campaign setting. It is adapted for use with the Pathfinder rules.


The Church of Ptah
Fantasy campaigns that take place in space mean that many gods whose influence is limited to a single planet compete for followers in places beyond those worlds. This creates tremendous diversity in those settlements that have arisen since such churches were established, in places such as the Crossroads asteroid colony, but also generally means that no single faith has much authority.

An exception to this is a faith that has had almost universal appeal: the Church of Ptah. Considered by followers to be a creator god—and regarded by some as the creator who brought the entire universe into being via his thoughts and words—this god has proven especially popular among those who travel the spacelanes and spend time contemplating the vast and almost inscrutable nature of the universe. Furthermore, Ptah's faithful claim that his teachings were the source of writing, medicine and engineering among civilized people, an assertion that is disputed by members of other faiths.

Fav. Weapon
God of craftspeople and architects
Artifice, Community, Knowledge

In literature and temple inscriptions, Ptah is depicted as an old man dressed in regal garments and wearing a stylishly shaped beard. Given Ptah's creative powers, however, some believers maintain that he can assume any form he desires. Their preferred holy symbol is the ankh.

Due to the universal appeal of this deity, followers of Ptah can be found on many worlds. They are largely respected in cosmopolitan space settlements, but run into greater opposition in areas controlled by a particular race or culture. This is especially the case in areas controlled by elves, who resent the fact that Ptah is not depicted as, well, an elf.

Competition among Churches
A potential source for adventure hooks in a space fantasy campaign is the competition between rival faiths for followers and influence. In the best of situations, this leads to theological debates when members of competing sects come together, which happens whenever evangelizing clerics set up shop in a new settlement and try to win converts from the local inhabitants. At their worst, these conflicts can lead to physical violence between the sects, even erupting into full-on crusading wars between the faiths.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Nautical Fantasy Compilation

This year, my blog has seen a lot of material for the Pirates of the Spanish Main RPG. I am anticipating more Pthfinder material in 2016, however, as Green Ronin begins releasing the adventures in the Return to Freeport series. Until then, here's a link to a PDF that compiles more traditional fantasy material from back in 2014.

Nautical Fantasy Compilation


Monday, December 21, 2015

Corsairs of the Mediterranean

This PDF takes previously published material regarding the corsairs of the Mediterranean Sea and adapts it for use with the Pirates of the Spanish Main RPG.

Corsairs of the Mediterranean


Friday, December 11, 2015

People, Places and Plots in Port

This post is the first in a series that will take old d20 material and convert it for use with the Pirates of the Spanish Main RPG, providing locations that pirate player characters are likely to visit while in port. 


The Sign of The Fortunate, Tavern and Inn
When it comes to pirate-themed adventures and campaigns, no location is more important than the tavern and inn. After all, it is here that many a sailor has been convinced to take up life on the account, and it is to here that successful scallywags return when they seek to spend the fortunes they've won. 

The Sign of the Fortunate
Refer to the map above for the following location descriptions.

1. Main Room
This broad, open area is filled from wall to wall with tables for guests. Stairs near the front door lead to the rooms on the upper level, while a long bar occupies the wall opposite. Behind the bar, another door leads back into the kitchen.

2. Kitchen
This room boasts tables for preparing food, a broad hearth, barrels of water, wine and ale, along with all of the implements necessary for its purpose.

3. Pantry
The walls of this room are filled with shelves containing all manner of foodstuffs, including sacks of flour and rice, jars of pickled meats, baskets of fresh fruits and vegetables, boxes of spices and the like. There is also a trapdoor in the floor that leads into the cellar in which the rum, wine and ale are stored.

4. Private Rooms
There are two of these areas, where guests can enjoy food and beverages with a little more privacy.

5. Upstairs Hall
The stairs in the front of the main room lead up to a landing, from which hallways lead back to the guest rooms.

6. Guest Rooms
Each of these rooms is furnished with a bed, wardrobe and storage trunk (but no lock). It's a comfortable space, if not a fancy one.

7. Double Rooms
These corner rooms are outfitted much like their smaller counterparts, except that they have two beds in them.

Kenneth Ward, Proprietor
At one time, this fellow aspired to be Captain Ward, and to pursue a career at sea. All of that changed when he undertook the maiden voyage of his ship the Fortunate. It was a disaster. The vessel ran aground on a reef during a storm and was gradually broken apart. Ward managed to escape, clinging to a piece of debris in the water—the piece of the transom that bore the ship's name. Upon returning to Port Royal, he invested his money in a tavern and inn, and used that item as the sign for it.
Kenneth Ward is a friendly, outgoing soul. While he has sworn off of a life at sea for himself, he still delights in hearing of other people's nautical adventures (and misadventures). For those reasons, he is sometimes willing to extend a bit of credit in exchange for a rousing tale.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Boating d4, Fighting d4, Knowledge d6, Notice d8, Persuasion d8, Shooting d4, Survival d4
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 4, Toughness: 5
Edges: Rich
Hindrances: Bad Luck
Gear: Clothing; blunderbuss (kept behind the bar)
Wealth: Equivalent of Pillage! (also kept behind the bar)

Typical Patrons—Use the stats for Citizens from page 222 of the core rulebook.

Rough Customers—Use the stats for Pirates from pages 237-8 of the core rulebook.

Pickpocket—While Mr. Ward tries to prevent such ne'er-do-wells from frequenting his establishment, there's always the chance that a pickpocket makes an appearance here; use the stats for Thieves from pages 245-6 of the core rulebook.

Plot Hooks
A few of the many ways in which the Sign of the Fortunate can become involved in adventures and campaigns are suggested below.
  • First and foremost, of course, it provides a place for the heroes to meet with contacts before a voyage, as well as to recuperate and celebrate afterward.
  • When business picks up here, some of the entertainments include wrestling, knife throwing, carousing and gambling. (See below to find rules for passage, a popular dice game.)
  • Since members of various crews frequent this establishment, it could become a place in which to build alliances or to confront enemies.