Saturday, August 12, 2017

Sky Islands of the Djinn on Freya

Because of the unusually dense atmosphere on the planet Freya, it's possible for lightweight structures to float in the air. For this reason, certain enterprising djinn have crafted sky islands on which to live. One example of such is this location, the home of Khalid al-Nasr—known to some of the locals as “Jibal al-Nasr,” or “Mountain of the Hawk.” It consists of a large body of rock, with three docking platforms extending off from it. In addition to a broad forested grove, which boasts various fruit trees and contains the island's elemental obelisk, there are a long, low building for stables and storage, and the djinni's tower. 

Please refer to the appropriate maps for the following location descriptions. 

Not far from the docking platforms is this two-story stone structure. The bottom half is filled with barrels, crates and other items; a row of pillars supports the ceiling, twenty feet high. The second story is laid out in a similar manner, but is filled with nests for the griffons that patrol the skies around the sky island. Both floors have sets of double doors on either end. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Flags Post and Compilation PDF

This post finishes up another PDF compilation, to which I link below. At the same time, it presents two flags, and provides suggestions for using flags in a ship-based RPG campaign.

Aetherial Adventures 8


An important element of interaction between vessels—be it at sea or in the aether—is how they communicate with flags that they carry. In addition to drawing up deck plans for their vessels, it behooves players to design the emblem under which they sail. What is more, here are two more flags for organizations in the Sol Space campaign setting.

The Dwarven Mining Guild
This flag includes the crossed pick and shovel, the tools of the dwarves' trade, along with
their organization's initials. The darker grey represents the stone from which they
claim valuable ore, while the lighter color represents the refined metals.

The Sol Society
Central to this ensign is, of course, the sun. It sits amdist a bright blue background,
which represents the light of hope that comes from worshiping Sol.

Using Flags in a Ship-Based RPG Campaign
The flags that ships carry can be used in all sorts of ways during a ship-based campaign; a few of the possibilities are listed below.
  • Since flags provide—ostensibly, at least—confirmation of a ship's loyalty, it should come as no surprise that ne'er-do-wells often carried flags from many different countries and organizations, in order to deceive possible foes.
  • In battle, an important objective for soldiers is to fight their way aboard an enemy vessel, strike its colors, and then hoist their own.
  • Pirates were particularly creative when it comes to designing flags; many incorporate images of death, of course, but others included elements that identified and thus threatened specific locations considered to be enemies.
  • Certain solid-color flags conveyed important messages. For example: white implies surrender, or good intentions for parley; yellow identifies a vessel that is infected with disease; red indicates that the officers and crew will neither ask for nor give quarter in battle.

Friday, August 4, 2017

RPGaDAY 2017 Posts

I apologize for the cross-posting, but I'll share my answers to these questions on all three of my current blogs.

Q1: What published RPG do you wish you were playing right now?

A1: Right now I wish that I was playing more of the Star Wars RPGs from Fantasy Flight Games, especially Age of Rebellion. Right now I really only have time for one weekly campaign, however, and so something more familiar to my players has taken priority. We'll see how the 2016-17 school year develops, though.

Q2: What is an RPG you would like to see published?

A2: I would love to see a space fantasy setting for Pathfinder that's in the vein of the old Spelljammer setting for D&D. The new Starfinder setting is interesting, but I'd rather not add so much technology to a fantasy RPG.

Q3: How do you find out about new RPGs?

A3: I regularly visit sites such as ENWorld and for my general RPG news, as well as the message boards for Paizo Publishing and Fantasy Flight Games when I'm looking for info about their lines.

Q4: Which RPG have you played the most since August 2016?

A4: The clear winner here is Pathfinder, since I'm playing in a monthly campaign (the Skull & Shackles adventure path) with some college buddies an I just finished up a weekly campaign (a more traditional fantasy campaign loosely set on the Freeport setting's Continent).

Q5: Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

A5: For me, this is an easy one; the cover for The Concordance of Arcane Space has always been a favorite, capturing the essence of the Spelljammer space fantasy setting for 2nd Edition AD&D

 Q6: You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do!

A6: My gut reaction here is to say that I'd gather a group of players, create some OD&D characters, and finish Keep on the Borderlands once and for all. That's something we tried to do a number of times when I was younger—including an epic effort on a snow day in college—but for which we never succeeded.

A more serious answer is to say that I'd run a series using one of the rulebooks that currently sits idle on my shelf. This could include Wonderland No More using the Save Worlds rules, or perhaps Pirates of the Spanish Main using the same. 
 Q7: What was your most impactful RPG session?

A7: When it comes to sessions in which I've played, the most impactful is probably a weekend-long, epic campaign finale to a Spelljammer campaign that my brother ran. He and I, along with two buddies, had been playing in that campaign for more than a year. For the finale, my aunt took us all out to the family cabin, where Nick ran the module Under the Dark Fist. We played for much of Friday night before going to bed, and then for as much of Saturday as we could, before finishing things on Sunday. In addition to being the action-packed conclusion to that campaign, it was the first taste that I had of really epic adventuring—our characters save the Known Galaxy from the Vodyanoi threat, and then were granted demi-god status because of what we'd done. That extended session, to me, set the bar for what RPG campaign finales could, and should, be.

Q8: What is a good RPG to play for session of 2 hours or less?

A8: For me, the first answer that comes to mind is the d6-based Star Wars RPG from West End Games. Although it's been out of print for almost twenty years now, it still strikes me as an excellent rules-light system that really captures the feel of the setting that it's supposed to emulate. While other games can be run in such a way that the rules seem to be “invisible,” that one, to me, still seems like the best.

Q9: What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

A9: This, to me, seems like a good chance to try out something unusual, or something that's not so well suited to extended campaign play. (Pathfinder or D&D and Star Wars strike me as really well suited to long campaigns, by the way.) I've been wanting to use Savage Worlds for a short series inspired by Ash vs. Evil Dead, for example, or even something based on RoboCop. Those, in my mind, would make for good ten-game series: ones that have a higher possibility of PC fatality. For that reason any incarnation of Call of Cthulhu also comes to mind, even though I don't have much experience with it.

 Q10: Where do you go for RPG reviews?

A10: As mentioned above, I spend a good deal of time on ENWorld and If those don't provide what I want, then I just Google “Title of RPG Review.”

Q11: Which “dead game” would you like to see reborn?

A11: This is an easy one: the D6 version of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game.

 Q12: Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

A12: I'll give a shoutout here to the old Al-Qadim campaign setting. The art wasn't fancy, but TSR did a nice job of keeping one artist—Karl Waller—for the whole run of the product line. This established a really consistent feel, and I liked it.

Q13: Describe a game experience that changed how you play.

A13: Running sessions at conventions and for the RPGA had a big impact on how I plan for and run sessions. Much of that comes from the fact that I needed to tell a complete and satisfying story in a four-hour time period, and one in which all of the characters (and thus players) play an active part. That also pushed me to work on my organization and pacing.

Q14: Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?

A14: This is a hard one. On the one hand, I think games like Pathfinder and D&D work really well because the level-based system of character advancement makes for really satisfying development. Eventually, however, characters become so powerful that it's hard to challenge them without having character death become all too common.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Strange Meteorites from Beyond the Sol System

It's relatively common knowledge that the surface of the planet Wodan is pockmarked with creaters caused by meteorite impacts. What not so many know is that some of those meteorites come from beyond the Sol System, and in fact originate in the depths of space between distant stars. What is more, some of those meteorites contain an unusual greenish, liquid metal, one that is known to cause deformities and mutations among those who are exposed to it.

To determine a random deformity, roll 1d12 and consult the following list; refer to pages 180-1 of Bestiary 5 for details.

1. Blind
2. Deaf
3. Fragile
4. Fractured Mind
5. Lame
6. Light Blindness
7. Mindless
8. Misshapen
9. Poor Ability
10. Spasms
11. Useless Arm
12. Vulnerability

To determine a random deformity, roll 1d20 and consult the following list; refer to page 181 of Bestiary 5 for details.

1. Armored
2. Bulbous Eyes
3. Celerity
4. Echolocation
5. Extra Arm
6. Fast Healing
7. Feral
8. Gills
9. Increased Speed
10. Leaping
11. Mental Armor
12. Rage
13. Resistance
14. Rugged
15. Sealed Mind
16. Slam
17. Spell-Like Ability
18. Stench
19. Telepathy
20. Wings

Little is known about the origin of these meteorites. Some claim that they are crafted by unknown but bizarre entities—possibly the goddess Lamashtu, the Void itself, or even some unholy union of those two powers—and then sent drifting toward Sol and its planets. According to that theory, the rocks are a means of corrupting and perverting those worlds and their inhabitants. Others postulate that there must be some area of powerful, weird energy in which they originate, but do not know just what sets them into motion through the aether. Finally, at least one scholar has theorized that they might be produced by a sentient nebula, one that somehow became subject to madness.

Using the Strange Meteorites in an Aetherial Adventures Campaign
There are plenty of ways that a GM can work these unusual objects into a space fantasy RPG campaign; presented here are a few of the possibilities.
  • As mentioned previously, the fire giants of Wodan are known to seek out craters on that world in which these have impacted and then mine them for their ore; they then use them for magical experiments, the purpose of which is not entirely clear.
  • When a meteorite lands in the water near a coastal village, creatures and even people begin to develop mutations; local authorities look for adventures to investigate.
  • One mutant that develops the Telepathy mutation becomes highly valuable as a spy, and its ally or master could use it to steal information from unsuspecting victims. Just what those secrets are, of course, and how one can exploit them, provides nearly limitless opportunities for intrigue and adventure.
  • A ruthless military leader might try to harness the power of mutation for improving soldiers' combat abilities. While some, such as the Disciples of the Destroyer, might embrace such an ordeal, most others would resent it.
  • Indeed, the subjects of those experiments might even turn on their commanders and look for a crew with an aethership who can help them escape.
  • The PCs could encounter a ship that collided with one of these asteroids and must deal with the crew and passengers who have been exposed to its weird mutations.
  • In the aftermath of such an incident, the powers that be might call on the PCs to help find a cure for the mutations; that could entail a visit to the fire giants of Wodan, or even an expedition to the region of space from which they come.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Fire Giants of Wodan, Part 2

Here's the lower level of the fire giants' stronghold.


 14. Watchtower
From the stronghold's ground level, the spiral staircase leads up through the natural rock and into a tower that rises fifty feet above the surrounding cliff face. At the top it is open to the sky overhead, except for a waist-high (for fire giants) railing along the outside. From here, the two giants normally stationed here watch the surrounding terrain for potential enemies and other developments. What is more, four ballistae are located here in the event that the giants need to stage a defense.

15. Hallway
A broad hallway leads from the base of the staircase to the other rooms on the stronghold's lower level.

16. Troll Warren
The door to this chamber is barred by a locked iron gate (hardness 10 and 60 hit pints; DC 25 to force or DC 30 to open). It is here that the trolls who serve the fire giants in mining activities and other labor. There are piles of straw for their beds, among which one can find odds and ends that they've kept as trophies or tools.

17. Hell Hound Pen
This room is laid out in much the same way as the troll warren, except that it is slightly cleaner. The hell hounds are kept here.

18. Torture Chamber
Two broad tables, with shackles mounted in their corners, occupy the middle of this room. There are shelves on the inside walls, too, filled with various unpleasant implements. On the inside wall there are four cells, each built for three prisoners and sealed with doors similar to those in the troll warren and hell hound pen. A single fire giant can usually be found here, preparing for the next session.

19. Workshop
One corner of this room is filled by a large furnace, used for heating liquids as well as metal items. There are barrels of fuel to one side of it, and a cask of water to the other. In the middle sits a broad work table, and shelves containing esoteric ingredients, tools and the like line two of the walls. The fire giant oracle and/or an assistant can often be found here, along with the tophet that serves as an unsleeping guardian.

20. King and Queen's Bedroom
A huge bed dominates the center of this room; large wardrobes and storage trunks stand against the walls to either side of it. This is, of course, where the fire giant oracle and magmablade take their rest. As such, the wardrobes and trunks contain many of their personal items, including extra sets of clothing along with any treasure items that the giants don't generally carry on their persons. Note, however that the trunks are sealed with good-quality locks (DC 30 to open and DC 25 to break).

21. Meditation Chamber
This rather Spartan room contains only a low table with an incense burner and writing materials, and a seating cushion. It is here that the oracle performs her rituals and other activities.

22. Trophy Room
Tapestries depicting the glories of the magmablade's deeds hang along the walls of this chamber. Additionally, four suits of armor taken from fallen foes are arranged on stands. At the GM's discretion, one or more of these could even be magical—something that is too small for the magmablade to wear, but suitable for the PCs. Additionally, a DC 25 Perception check reveals the secret door that provides access to the escape tunnel (below).

23. Escape Tunnel
This narrow passage, some ten feet wide and fifteen feet tall, provides a means of escape in the event of trouble that's too much for the fire giants to handle. It leads to an exit in the surrounding hillside.

Stronghold Inhabitants
Detailed here are references for those who inhabit the stronghold.

Fire Giants: Refer to page 148 in the Bestiary for details.

Fire Giant Strongarms: Refer to page 58 in the Monster Codex for details.

Ettins: Refer to page 130 in the Bestiary for details.

Hell Hounds: Refer to page 173 in the Bestiary for details.

Trolls: Refer to page 268 in the Bestiary for details. Note, too, that some of these trolls have suffered deformities and mutations as per pages 180-1 in Bestiary 5.

Fire Giant Doombringer: Refer to page 61 in the Monster Codex for details.

Fire Giant Magmablade: Refer to page 60 in the Monster Codex for details.

Tophet: Refer to page 271 in Bestiary 3 for details.

Using the Fire Giants of Wodan in an Aetherial Adventures Campaign
There are plenty of ways that the PCs could interact with these fire giants during a space fantasy RPG campaign; presented here are a few of the possibilities.
  • Given the inherent power of the fire giants, it goes almost without saying that those who deal with them should rely on diplomacy and skulduggery rather than outright use of force.
  • The lack of natural resources on Wodan means that PCs can find a market for foodstuffs and similar goods here, in exchange for precious ores, worked metal goods and the like.
  • The PCs might be recruited to rescue a prisoner who is being held by the fire giants; whether or not that imprisonment is deserved, of course, is open to debate.
  • It is rumored that the fire giants receive regular efreeti visitors; although the exact nature of their mutual business is unknown, some claim that they've had discussions about the church of Sol on Homeworld.
  • Some of the meteorites that strike the surface of Wodan are ones that originate beyond the Sol System; the fire giants use their trolls to mine those impact craters. Because of the deformities and mutations caused by exposure to that metal, it's possible that one or more of the trolls could approach the PCs seeking to escape from that dangerous job.
  • Finally, other organizations could be interested in studying and even exploiting those mutative properties—especially if and when they are faced with a major threat of some kind.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Fire Giants of Wodan

This post is the first in a series that describe the fire giants who inhabit the planet Wodan.


The Giants of Wodan
Although the sun-scorched surface of the planet Wodan is not habitable for many living things, this world is home to a notable band of fire giants, who reside in a stronghold cut from the mountainside.  
1. Front Gate
Massive iron double doors (hardness 10 and 180 hit points), each ten feet wide and twenty feet tall, seal the entrance to the fire giants' stronghold. What is more, they can drop an iron bar in behind it, thereby increasing the DC for breaking down the door from 30 to 40.

2. Gauntlet
The walls of this room are cut by arrow slits, providing a place from which the fire giant warriors can defend the stronghold. These gaps are some four inches wide at their narrowest, and run all the way from the floor up to ceiling, which is twenty feet high. On the inside wall of this room is another door similar to the front gate.

3. Defensive Positions
This narrow passage provides access to the other side of the arrow slits, each of which is five feet wide at the widest. There are also doors leading into the guards' barracks (area 5, below).

4. Entrance
Visitors to the stronghold are received here by an escort, usually two fire giants and sometimes more depending on dangerous they seem to be. The double doors on its inside wall are not built to be sealed against intruders. It is otherwise featureless.

5. Guard Barracks
Each of these two rooms is filled with eight large beds, arranged around the walls. There is also a table and chairs at which the fire giants lounge while not tasked with other duties. Beneath each of their beds the warriors keep footlockers that contain extra clothing and various personal items. Each room provides quarters to seven normal fire giants and one strongarm, who acts as a sergeant. At the GM's discretion, there could be some valuable items among the otherwise mundane possessions.

6. Throne Room
Two rows of large chairs face each other along the length of this broad, open chamber; at their head stands one that is even taller and more ornate. That is where the fire giants' leader (a magmablade) receives guests and makes pronouncements to his underlings.

7. Dining Hall
A pair of long tables, each surrounded by chairs, dominate this room. Here the fire giants take their meals, and at any given time there's the chance that a few guards, who've recently finished duty, are having a bite to eat here.

8. Kitchen
A massive hearth with a roasting spit fills one wall of this room; there is also a broad table for preparing food, along with barrels of fuel and beer, and shelves filled with cooking implements and other supplies. One or more ettin servants can generally be found here, preparing the next meal for the stronghold.

9. Pantry
Shelves line the walls of this room; they are laden with all manner of foodstuffs, along with more barrels stacked on the floors beneath them.

10. Stairway
This spiral staircase leads up to the watchtower, as well as down to the level below.

11. Storage Room
Another room that is lined with shelves, this one contains extra chairs, linens, tapestries, torches and the like, all things that the ettin servants use to keep the stronghold in good order.

12. Servants' Quarters
This room is also filled with beds, for use by the eight ettin servants. Typically, half of them can be found here, resting, while the others are working.

13. Guest Room
Furnished much like the ettin's quarters, this room is kept for those rare occasions on which visitors come to the stronghold.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Worlds of the Sol System

This post fleshes out some of the details provided in the map of Sol Space.

Map of the Sol System


Worlds of the Sol System 

 Detailed below are each of the planets or other bodies from the map above.

At the center point of the system sits its primary star. This medium yellow sun might seem to be unremarkable when compared to other such bodies around the galaxy, but it is the focus of all life here. As such, Sol forms the basis of one of the more influential religious sects, who view it as the embodiment of a deity who is a shining beacon of hope and light. 

According to legends, numerous creatures inhabit this star. One is believed to be a phoenix, a bird-like being of elemental fire who periodically rises up from the depths of the sun, only eventually to fall back into it again. It is said that the phoenix is very old and has much knowledge to share, provided that one can find it and win its favor. Other tales tell of a coven of witchfires—hags whose ship strayed too close to Sol and was immolated by its heat—that haunt the surrounding space, preying upon unwary travelers.

This small world lies too close to Sol for anything much to live on it. It is covered mostly by broad areas of stony or sandy plains, along with low ridges pushed up by tectonic or volcanic activity. The plains also feature numerous craters caused by meteorite impacts. There is very little water to be found; what does exist usually pools in some of those craters, forming small oasis communities. That reason—along with the fact that nighttime temperatures fall well below freezing, while daytime heat becomes unlivable for all creatures except those who are immune to fire—means that many have had to adapt to survive. As such, they generally retreat into burrows during the worst of the heat, and emerge during a “twilight” period when it is more tolerable.

Creatures that can survive on this harsh planet include the magma ooze, rast, thoqqua and shasalqu, with the cherufe being the top of the local food chain. The conditions here have also led it to be a popular place for fire giants to settle, and they bring with them monsters such as hell hounds and trolls. Those settlers build elaborate underground strongholds in which they forge weapons and other items using metal gathered from the surrounding terrain. It is also believed that certain efreeti maintain palaces on this world.

Of all the planets in the Sol System, this one is perhaps the most beautiful—and the most mysterious. That is because the world is shrouded in a dense, acidic atmosphere. While that feature makes it glow brilliantly in the night sky of Homeworld, it also renders the surface almost completely uninhabitable. Only a few bizarre monsters are known to live there, such as the bhole, plasma ooze and shard slag. Even then, however, these creatures dwell in expansive underground tunnel networks.

What is worse, the planet's sky is home to the dreaded colour out of space, along with any blighted victims that it has managed to claim. Indeed, there are multiple legends regarding lost aetherships that drift through the dense clouds, crewed by eerily glowing victims or their ashen remains.

Of greater interest to interplanetary travelers are the islands that drift high up in Freya's atmosphere. Because of its dense nature, intrepid individuals have discovered that they can drag in asteroid and similar bodies that have air pockets trapped in them; those, then, float in the air. These have been developed into floating retreats via an elemental obelisk, a bottle of air, or the like. Such sky islands are already known to be favored by beings such as angels and djinn, among others, and it is believed that the Royal Interplanetary Company has been considering building one of its own.

As mentioned previously, this world is an ideal place for most living creatures. As such, it is the only one known to be widely populated, with numerous native races and species that have developed myriad different civilizations and cultures. It is also believed by some to be the very embodiment of Gaea, the Earth Mother goddess. It is home to numerous organizations that wield influence throughout the Sol System, including the Royal Interplanetary Company and the Church of Ptah.

This planet consists of one vast, cold, red desert, sprawling amid low-lying mountains and the occasional volcano. In many ways it is very similar to Homeworld, but lacking the vital warmth and moisture that makes its neighbor so verdant.

Unbeknownst to many, Tyr was once home to a small but advanced civilization—the troglodytes. These reptilian humanoids built impressive structures and achieved important discoveries in medicine, astronomy and other fields of study. For some reason, however, thousands of years ago their society collapsed and fell into ruin. Explorers have found some of their structures and even encountered a few of the remaining creatures, and while it's clear that they retain a few vestiges of their old accomplishments, they have long since devolved into what is little better than lives of primitive hunting and gathering.

For a list of creatures that can be found in this world's vast underground warrens, refer to Some of those cave networks, warmed by volcanic activity and containing traces of water long since lost from the surface, have become oases of fungal life.

The Asteroid Belt
For the most part, the bodies in this region of the Sol System are little more than rocks, big and small, floating through space. Those, in turn, are home to the unusual worm-like creatures known as somalcygots. There are exceptions, however.

One such settlement, founded by the Royal Interplanetary Company, is the Crossroads asteroid colony. It provides a hub for trade, but is also developing its own population. For details, refer to Another example is the Grotto, a place that is home to various scallywags: Finally, the Dwarven Mining Guild has outfitted numerous floating forges that mine and refine ore throughout the Belt:

Scholars have long debated how the Asteroid Belt came to be. While many argue that it is just a planet that never managed to coalesce out of the aetherial debris like the ones around it, some claim that it was actually a world in its own right, but that it was obliterated in some kind of tremendous, cataclysmic event. Some collectors even claim to have found artifacts of a lost civilization among the asteroids, but others dispute those claims.

One of two gas giant—or Jovian—planets in the Sol System, this one is best known for its giant red spot, which is actually a massive and unending storm. Just what caused it, and why it is unceasing, is a topic of interest among scholars. Thonar is also home to the mutable, telepathic beings known as brethedans. While they have not built any structures in their own right, they are known to attract the massive, aether-swimming oma, which the brethedans have tamed for use as interplanetary transports. The planet also has dozens of moons that are ripe for further exploration.

In many ways, Kronos is very similar to Thonar. Instead of a giant red spot, however, it is most easily recognized by the prominent set of rings surrounding it. It, too, boasts numerous moons, only one of which has been fully explored. That is Enceladus, a moon that is frozen on the surface but that features hidden seas warmed by thermal vents. For a list of creatures that can be found in its seas, refer to

Enceladus is also home to Starfort Station, an outpost of the Elven Navy. To find a layout of that facility, refer to Additional details about the location and those who can be found at

In addition to their aetherial galleons, arkships and other vessels, it is believed that the elves maintain interstellar portals hidden amidst the debris of the planet's rings, ones that they use for traveling to worlds beyond this solar system.

The Beyond
Little is known about what lies beyond the Known Worlds of the Sol System. The region not far outside the system is believed to be the origin of the comets that periodically drift through the system, although just how they are created and sent drifting toward Sol is unknown. Some scholars speculate that there could be additional planets further out than Kronos. Finally, the elves are known to have sent their arkships on interstellar voyages in search of other star systems.

One such mission took them to the planet that is home to the kasatha and shobhad, the world on which gunpowder was first devised: It is believed that there are more stars and planets, of course, some of which might be the original homes of such interstellar travelers as the lunarma, mercane, mi-go and witchwyrds.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Sixth Gun RPG Miscellany

This post contains miscellaneous images and other material related to The Sixth Gun RPG. I'll add to it as more items and ideas jump out at me.


To start, here's a map of the United States during this time period (1887).

Next, here's how the American flag looked when there were thirty-eight states in the Union.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Map of Solspace and Days of the Week

As I've been working out some of the details for the Solspace setting, I finally decided on a naming convention for the planets. With that in mind, here at long last is a map of the solar system.

Additionally, this decision settles how the days of the week are named in the setting, taking their names from the heavenly bodies visible in the night sky.

Days of the Week 


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Pre-Generated Heroes for The Sixth Gun RPG

Back when I wrote the scenario "The Grand Tournament" for The Sixth Gun RPG to use at Con of the North this year, I also wrote up some characters for it; finally, I've typed up a PDF that can easily be printed.

Pre-Generated Heroes

Also, here's a link to the post with that scenario.

The Grand Tournament

Langston Calhoun, Gambler
This professional gambler has a good mind for cards and an eye for other players. He enjoys little more than risking fame and fortune on the turn of a single card. Although he usually tries to talk his way out of conflicts whenever possible, he is prepared to back up his words with bullets if and when it becomes necessary.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d4
Skills: Gambling d8, Notice d8, Persuasion d6, Shooting d8
Charisma: +2, Pace: 6”, Parry: 2, Toughness: 4
Edges: Attractive
Hindrances: Impulsive

Gear: Fancy clothing, pocket watch, Colt Navy pistol, $400 stake 

Anna Smith
While she plays the role of nothing more than the lady on Langston's arm, Anna Smith brings her own well-honed set of skills to the table. She is an accomplished thief, one who believes that if people can't protect their valuables, then they don't deserve to have them. Anna prefers to avoid altercations using guile and charm but who can certainly take care of herself when trouble starts. In this way she is a valuable ally for Langston Calhoun, someone who can watch his back and help him work on certain marks.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d4, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d4, Lockpicking d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d4, Stealth d6, Streetwise d6
Charisma: +2, Pace: 6”, Parry: 4, Toughness: 5
Edges: Attractive
Hindrances: Curious, Doubting Thomas
Gear: Fancy dress, mirror, lockpicks, $25, Derringer pistol 

Virgil Grimaldi
This hombre isn't the smartest person on the frontier, but he is strong, stubborn, and skilled when it comes to fisticuffs. That, of course, is why he travels around with Langston Calhoun and the rest of the entourage, providing some intimidation when necessary and a strong right hook as needed. When not engaged in those activities, Virgil enjoys drinking strong beverages and fraternizing with female company.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d8, Vigor d6
Skills: Boating d4, Climbing d6, Fighting d8, Swimming d6, Throwing d6
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 6, Toughness: 6
Edges: Brawler, Brawny
Hindrances: Illiterate, Short Temper
Gear: Fancyish clothing, brass knuckles, Bowie knife, $68 

Fat Chow
This frontier doctor combines the best in modern teachings with ancient traditions, including Chinese alchemy. In this way he can stitch up a wound, set a broken limb, treat someone for scarlet fever, or even scare off an enemy, provide an edge in a fight, or detect magical doings by others. He is willing to play the part of the subservient Chinaman as long as it helps him gain an advantage over unsuspecting opponents, but shows his true grit when the chips are all on the table. He poses as Langston Calhoun's private doctor, but also seeks opportunities to advance his own magical abilities.
Attributes: Agility d4, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d4, Healing d8, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Science) d6, Notice d6, Spellcasting d6
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 4, Toughness: 5
Edges: Arcane Background (Sorcery)
Hindrances: Bad Eyes, Code of Honor, Outsider
Special Abilities
  • Boost/Lower Trait: Increase a character's ability by one step on a success, or two on a raise.
  • Detect/Conceal Arcana: Sense supernatural persons, objects or effects within line of sight.
  • Fear: Cause characters to make a fear check (-2 on a raise) in a larger burst template.
Gear: Fancy clothing, folding knife, spectacles, $68 

Howling Coyote
Ostensibly the “spiritual advisor” for Langston Calhoun, this Dakotah shaman seeks to learn more about the White Man who is invading lands once occupied by Howling Coyote's people. To do so, this winkte has struck an unlikely alliance with a group of frontier ne'er-do-wells, but has also come to enjoy their company and even trust them in dangerous situations. All in all, Howling Coyote wishes that this land could return to the old ways, instead of yielding to the insatiable push of modernization.
Attributes: Agility d4, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Notice d6, Survival d6, Tracking d6, Tribal Medicine d8
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 5, Toughness: 5
Edges: Arcane Background (Shamanism), Power Points
Hindrances: Code of Honor, Outsider
Special Abilities
  • Beast Friend: Speak with and guide the actions of animals.
  • Deflection: Cause a -2 penalty (or -4 on a raise) on enemies' attacks against you.
Gear: Functional clothing, war club, $82  


Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Crossroads Tunnels

Although I was by and large satisfied with the material I wrote about the Crossroads asteroid colony, one element that I always wanted to expand upon was the tunnel system inside it. At long last, I've done so. Presented below is a map of the tunnels, along with area descriptions and suggestions for stocking them with enemies for an adventuring party. Additionally, I've updated the PDF version of the compilation for Crossroads, which is available in my Dropbox.

Crossroads Asteroid Colony


10. The Tunnels
Those who are familiar with the history of Crossroads know that the asteroid was once mined by dwarves, but they sold it to Luciano Reda after the veins of ore stopped producing. What most people don't know, however, is that those mines aren't entirely empty. There are rats, of course; that's no surprise, but other, deadlier things lurk here, too. The exact nature of what's inside is left for the GM to develop.

Tunnel Inhabitants
Listed here are some possible creatures that might inhabit the tunnels, ranked by CR.

CR – Creature
1/4 – Scarlet spider
1 – Darkmantle
1 – Giant spider
2 – Cave fisher
2 – Choker
2 – Slime mold
3 – Crysmal
3 – Giant black widow spider
4 – Aranea
4 – Gray ooze
5 – Cloaker
5 – Ochre jelly
5 – Spider eater

A. Entry
The entrance to the tunnel system is located on the western side of the asteroid (that is, when one considers the docks to lie on the south end), right around its centerline. In order to keep people from wandering into the tunnels, the powers that be have covered the entrance with a permanent image that disguises it as just another part of the rock's face. Those who encounter the illusion may attempt a DC 20 Will save to recognize its falsehood. 

As a general rule, tunnels are about as half as tall as they are wide. In that way, the narrower passages range from ten to twenty feet in height, while the larger caverns rise up to a hundred feet in height or more.

B. New Diggings
Those who succeed at DC 15 Knowledge (dungeoneering) or (engineering) checks may notice that one part of the tunnels has been more recently dug—that is, within the past few months. A similar Knowledge (local effort) reveals that this section passes underneath some of the settlement's notable buildings, including the Sign of the Ourobouros, the Crossroads Outfitter, the R.I.C. warehouse and the home of Governor Luciano Reda. At the GM's discretion, there might also be tracks in the area (that one can find with a DC 20 Survival effort) that could lead to the responsible party. Just what that character intends to do, however, is left open to interpretation.

C. Fungus Farm
The tunnel leading to this area slopes downward, and the walls here are slick with moisture. What is more, a tremendous variety of fungus lines the floor and walls of the area. While many of these growths are harmless—and, according to many halflings, delicious—some are downright deadly. That latter group could include violet fungus and shriekers, and possibly even phantom fungus or mindslaver mold.

D. Cess Pit
Over time, those who have made use of these tunnels—smugglers, thieves and the like—have dumped their rubbish here. Now one end of the tunnel is filled with years' worth of rusting and rotting detritus. The pile is also home to various vermin, such as centipedes and rats, and possibly including other, even more dangerous creatures.

E. Underground Lake
What from the settlement on the surface of the asteroid has trickled down through the soil and rock to form a pool here. Although cold, the water is clean and safe for drinking. At the GM's discretion, it could contain living things, ones that run the gamut from harmless cave fish up to aquatic snakes, giant frogs or even some electric eels.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Bear-Folk

Building off of a previous post, this article presents a small community of people who can present trading opportunities along with plot hooks for a nautical or space fantasy campaign.


An Ursine Longhouse
The typical home of a bear-folk family is a relatively simple but comfortable structure. It is built from roughly-hewn logs lashed into A-frames; more logs, packed with straw and clay, form the walls of a single rectangular room some twenty feet deep and fifty feet long. In this way, the bottoms of the A-frame logs protrude beyond the outside walls. A roof of thick thatch covers this structure, and the rafters beneath it create additional room for storing household goods. Inside, the building's broad double doors are flanked by two raised platforms on which the family's younger members keep their bedrolls. A similar platform stands in another corner, the sleeping place for the parents. Opposite the doors is a hearth for cooking and warmth, usually with a couple of chairs for sitting in front of it. There is also a table and chairs for meals and other activities. Storage is provided in the form of barrels, chests and baskets.

Typical Ursine Warrior: Use the stats for a werebear from page 181 of the Bestiary 2.

Using the Bear-Folk in an Aetherial Adventures Campaign
This group can provide plenty of plot elements for a space fantasy or more traditional RPG campaign; presented here are a few of the possibilities.
  • At first glance, the bear-folk might seem to be an odd fit for a space fantasy campaign. If there is truth to their legend of being the first starfarers, however, then they might possess some important lost relic or lore.
  • That would especially be the case if the aforementioned enemy, the furmah, ever returned to threaten Homeworld's solar system.
  • In a more mundane way, the bear-folk could also be trading partners for PCs who have their own vessel, exchanging fish, sealskin and even scrimshaw for foodstuffs, metal goods and other items that they can't produce for themselves.
  • The PCs could be called in to help mediate or otherwise resolve the conflict when an orc whale hunting vessel moves into the bear-folk's territory, killing off the very animals that they need to make their living.
  • Clerics or other followers of Luna might journey here to learn about the stories and other traditions of the bear-folk.
  • With the GM's permission, one of the PCs could hail from this tribe of primitive but powerful people—a proposition that entails, of course, all of the expected benefits and drawbacks of lycanthropy.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Faction: Disciples of the Destroyer, Part 2

Here are stats for some of the NPCs that one might encounter when dealing with this organization.


Running Pit Fights
These matches can be single events pitting a particular champion against another competitor or even some exotic beast, or a grand tournament in which eight or more contestants compete in a series of fights. They are usually fought until one opponent surrenders or is incapacitated, but sometimes result in death. In either case, Kurtz and his guards collect the entry fee from spectators and handle any additional money that they care to wager. Fighters are allowed to prepare themselves in one of the rooms provided by that purpose, and are often accompanied by an ally who can tend to their wounds, whether they win or lose.

Finding Foes
The NPC Gallery section of the GameMastery Guide can be an excellent source of opponents to use in the fighting pit; here are a few suggestions.

Page—Character (CR)
282—Caravan Guard (1)
266—Slaver (3)
257—Monster Hunter (5)
280—Raider (5)
263—Beast Master (6)
283—Sellsword (7)
281—Viking (7)
263—Champion (9)

Leopold Kurtz
CR 6
XP 2400
Male human bard 7
NE medium humanoid
Init +5; Senses Perception +13
AC 16, touch 13, flat-footed 14 (+1 Dex, +3 armor, +1 deflection, +1 Dodge)
hp 31 (7d8)
Fort +3, Ref +7, Will +7
Resist Bard abilities
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Shortsword +5 (1d6-1)
Ranged Light crossbow +7 (1d8)
Special Attacks Bard abilities
Str 8, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 15, Wis 12, Cha 15
Base Atk +5; CMB +4; CMD 15
Feats Alertness, Dodge, Extra Performance, Improve Initiative, Persuasive
Skills Appraise +12, Bluff +12, Diplomacy +14, Intimidate +14, Knowledge (local) +12, Perception +13, Perform +14, Profession (merchant) +11, Sense Motive +13
Languages Common, Dwarven, Elven
SQ Bardic knowledge, bardic performance, cantrips, countersong, distraction, fascinate, inspire courage +2, versatile performance, well-versed, inspire competence +3, lore master 1/day, suggestion
Combat Gear Leather armor +1, masterwork short sword, masterwork light crossbow, case of 10 bolts, pouch containing 10 of each coin, cloak of resistance +1, ring of protection +1
Spells per Day: 5/4/1
Spells Known (6/5/4/2): Daze, detect magic, know direction, mage hand, message, read magic; cause fear, feather fall, identify, sleep, unseen servant; hold person, invisibility, silence, tongues; confusion, dispel magic

Leopold Kurtz is a ruthless opportunist who will exploit any opportunity to gain wealth or influence for himself. Although he once worked for the Royal Interplanetary Company, he now makes a comfortable living organizing pit fights for the Disciples of the Destroyer. He maintains a tough front, as is appropriate for that kind of business. In truth, however, he is something of a coward and isn't too proud to plead for mercy if faced with an overwhelming opponent.

Acolyte of Lamashtu
CR ½
XP 200
Various cleric 1
NE medium humanoid
Init +0; Senses Perception +3
AC 15, touch 10, flat-footed 15 (+4 armor, +1 shield)
hp 10 (1d8+2)
Fort +4, Ref +0, Will +5
Resist None
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Falchion +2 (2d4+2)
Ranged Throwing dagger +0 (1d4)
Special Attacks Channel negative energy 1d6
Str 14, Dex 10, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 16, Cha 12
Base Atk +0; CMB +2; CMD 12
Feats Combat Casting, Extra Channel
Skills Knowledge (religion) +3, Spellcraft +3
Languages Common
SQ Aura, domains (evil, madness), orisons
Combat Gear Chain shirt, small steel shield, falchion, silver holy symbol, vial of holy water, throwing daggers
Spells per Day: 3/2+1
Spells Prepared: Bleed, detect magic, guidance; bane, lesser confusion, protection from good

These new adherents to the cult of Lamashtu may lack in power, but make up for it with ruthless zeal. They revel in bloodshed.

Adept of Lamashtu
CR 4
XP 2400
Various cleric 5
NE medium humanoid
Init +0; Senses Perception +3
AC 15, touch 10, flat-footed 15 (+4 armor, +1 shield)
hp 36 (5d8+10)
Fort +6, Ref +1, Will +7
Resist None
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Falchion +7 (2d4+3)
Ranged Throwing dagger +3 (1d4)
Special Attacks Channel negative energy 3d6
Str 14, Dex 10, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 17, Cha 12
Base Atk +3; CMB +5; CMD 15
Feats Channel Smite, Combat Casting, Extra Channel, Weapon Focus (falchion)
Skills Knowledge (religion) +7, Spellcraft +7
Languages Common
SQ Aura, domains (evil, madness), orisons
Combat Gear Masterwork chain shirt, masterwork small steel shield, falchion +1, silver holy symbol, vial of holy water, throwing daggers
Spells per Day: 4/4+1/3+1/2+1
Spells Prepared: Bleed, detect magic, guidance, read magic; bane, divine favor, lesser confusion, protection from good, shield of faith; align weapon, hold person, silence, spiritual weapon; dispel magic, prayer, rage

Those cultists who survive the initial ordeals of joining Lamashtu's faithful become even more zealous about doing harm to others, and gain the martial and magical power to inflict those desires on their victims. In addition to conducting the profane rites of their goddess, they become skilled combatants and even leaders in battle.

Priest of Lamashtu

CR 8
XP 9600
Various cleric 9
NE medium humanoid
Init +0; Senses Perception +4
AC 17, touch 10, flat-footed 17 (+5 armor, +2 shield)
hp 62 (9d8+18)
Fort +9, Ref +3, Will +11
Resist None
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Falchion +11/+6 (2d4+4)
Ranged Throwing dagger +6/+1 (1d4)
Special Attacks Channel negative energy 5d6
Str 14, Dex 10, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 18, Cha 12
Base Atk +6/+1; CMB +8; CMD 18
Feats Channel Smite, Combat Casting, Command Undead, Extra Channel, Improved Channel, Weapon Focus (falchion)
Skills Knowledge (religion) +11, Spellcraft +11
Languages Common
SQ Aura, domains (evil, madness), orisons

Combat Gear Chain shirt +1, small steel shield +1, falchion +2, silver holy symbol, vial of holy water, throwing daggers, cloak of resistance +1
Spells per Day: 4/5+1/5+1/4+1/3+1/1+1
Spells Prepared: Bleed, detect magic, guidance, read magic; bane, deathwatch, divine favor, lesser confusion, protection from good, shield of faith; align weapon, death knell, hold person, silence, spiritual weapon, status; animate dead, bestow curse, dispel magic, prayer, rage; confusion, divine power, tongues, unholy blight; dispel good, unhallow

The senior clerics of Lamashtu are fearsome foes, ones who can go toe-to-toe in combat with foes as well as leading their underlings into battle. What is more, they are able to animate the bodies of slain foes, calling on them to continue the work demanded by their wicked goddess.

Using the Organization in an Aetherial Adventures Campaign
This organization can provide plenty of plot elements for a space fantasy RPG campaign; presented here are a few of the possibilities.
  • Needless to say, members of this organization make natural enemies for followers of Gaea and Sol. Even those who revere Ptah and Luna have no love for them, given the Disciples' obsession with blood sacrifice.
  • There is an interesting connection between the Disciples and certain efreet who've infiltrated the Church of Sol. Those fire genies, who are more chaotic in mindset than their fellows, embrace the destructive nature of fire as another weapon in Lamashtu's arsenal. In that way, they seek to pervert the worshipers of Sol by luring them to embrace the “cleansing” nature of that element.
  • It is rumored that one or members of the Royal Interplanetary Company are also secret adherents of this order, since they view Lamashtu and her offspring as the embodiment of the fierce nature that is needed to succeed in business. If that were proven to be true, then it would be quite the scandal indeed.
  • In order to win the trust of certain Disciples, one or more of the PCs might need to participate in or otherwise infiltrate Leopold Kurtz's fighting pit.