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.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Two More Reviews

While I've been doing a good deal of writing throughout the spring and summer involving Pirates of the Spanish Main, I've also been running a Pathfinder campaign using Green Ronin's Freeport setting. As part of that, I've made use of several published scenarios to fill in the gaps between The Lost Island, Peril in Freeport and Dark Deeds in Freeport. Here are reviews for two of those adventures.

Anyone who's interested, by the way, could follow my campaign notes over at the Piazza.

Freeport Campaign #4


The Golden Banner
When I picked up this scenario, I was admittedly just looking for an adventure to fill up a session or two, and to let the heroes gain some experience. I was familiar with the author's work, especially his Broken Earth campaign setting, which was my introduction to Savage Worlds, so I figured I'd give it a try. It proved even better than I expected.

The premise of the adventure is that a local nobleman--or, more correctly, some of his people--has found an old relic related to a battle involving local churches; now he's trying to decide to which church to give it. That leads to conflict, of course, including a threat to the merchant's safety.

On the one hand, the players moved quickly through the investigation. That's a good thing, I think, because it's hard when investigations take up too much time at the table. That, in turn, led into solid action, first at a fancy dinner gathering and then in an old warehouse. I tailored some things to better fit the Freeport setting, and we had two fun sessions from it.

The Golden Banner

Scourge of the Steaming Isle
This is another of the Pirate Campaign Plug-Ins from Legendary Games. While intended to be used as an interlude in Paizo's Skull & Shackles adventure path, it proved a good fit here.

The premise is that the PCs have earned the enmity of Captain Sculberd Crags, a pirate who has done harm to them through their associates or property. The PCs, then can seek him out in his island lair for some comeuppance. They can come at the situation in a number of ways.

When I ran this one, the PCs came at it from an unexpected direction, leading into a running battle in which they sniped at the pirates and were eventually forced into a big confrontation. We wound up spending three sessions (with about three solid hours of play from each) in order to finish this business. Here again there was solid action, especially in the dark surrounding the pirates' camp and then between both sides' ships. I recommend this scenario, too.

Scourge of the Steaming Isle

Monday, August 10, 2015

Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

This post wraps up the series of adventures for Pirates of the Spanish Main on which I've been working, ones that combine to form an overarching story.

Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged


Friday, August 7, 2015

New Edges, Hindrances and Relics for Pirates of the Spanish Main

While I've been working on some adventures for Pirates of the Spanish Main, I've had some ideas for new edges, hindrances and relics. These are presented below, as a work in progress that I'll update as I can.


----------------------------New Edges----------------------------

Requirements: Novice.
You possess some kind of relic that has been passed down through your family from generation to generation. This might be a weapon carried in military service, a religious artifact, or something similar. The player or GM could roll randomly using the tables from pages 205-6 of the core rulebook, or work together to choose an item that is appropriate to the hero's background story.
Note that, while this is most appropriate as a background feat, it might also be taken if the hero in question acquires the item while making a discovery about his or her own family history, or through similar circumstances.

Iron Lungs
Requirements: Novice; Swimming skill d4.
You can hold your breath for longer than normal, a number of seconds equal to ten times your Vigor score, before you begin to suffer the effects of drowning.

Requirements: Novice.
You have a useful or colorful pet, such as a dog (see page 224 of the core rulebook), horse (page 231), monkey (page 234) or parrot (page 236).

Trained Pet
Requirements: Novice, Pet edge.
Your pet is even more highly trained than normal. Choosing this edge grants the animal the benefits of a raise, either by increasing an attribute or skill, or the benefits of an edge (limited by the approval of the GM, of course).

-------------------------New Hindrances-----------------------

Secret (Minor or Major)
Unlike other hindrances, this one initially provides no particular penalty—mechanical, role playing-based or otherwise. Instead, it gives the GM the opportunity to make up an unknown background for the character in question at the most opportune (or, as the case may be, inopportune) moment.

----------------------------New Relics----------------------------

Apostles ($50): This collection of twelve cartridges provides power and bullet for pistol or musket shots. Additionally, each is inscribed with the name of Christ's apostles: Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, Hames, Thaddeus, Simon and Judas.
In game terms, each of these shots provides a +1 bonus to Shooting and damage rolls—not because of any inherent magical power, but because the user believes they have power. Each is, of course, expended when used.


Monday, August 3, 2015

There Is No Honor Among Thieves

This update presents yet another adventure for the Pirates of the Spanish Main RPG, one that builds off of the previous scenarios and leads toward an important and climactic event.

There Is No Honor Among Thieves


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Here's another scenario for Pirates of the Spanish Main; it builds upon the events of previous adventures, but also works well if run independently of them.

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Additionally, I've update the list of resources for Savage Worlds and Pirates of the Spanish Main (see below).


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Ship-to-Ship Combat in Three Dimensions

Here are the results of some speculation about three-dimensional combat.


Ship-to-Ship Combat in Three Dimensions
The rules in Chapter 4 of Ultimate Combat provide comprehensive guidelines for handling the movements of vehicles as well as combat between them. Even so, the peculiar nature of aethership combat—in which vessels are not constrained by the laws of gravity and thus can move in many relatively unusual ways—requires extra adjudication. Some suggestions for these circumstances are presented here.

Taking Evasive Action
For the most part, changing the relative positions of two or more aetherships can be handled with a maneuver known as evasive action. In this case, the respective pilots make opposed Pilot checks; the one with the higher result gains his or her preferred position. This check is considered to be part of other movements undertaken by the vessel, such as accelerating, decelerating, keeping it going and turning.

Sailing on an “Even Keel”
If they want, aetherships can travel in the same geometric plane as one another, keeping themselves squared up as if they were on a calm body of water together. This is called “sailing on a even keel.” In this case, combat can proceed as normal. The sides of the vessels provide crew members on deck with cover (+2 bonus to AC and +1 bonus to Reflex saves for those within 30 feet of the protecting side).

In the example below, vessels A and B are sailing on an even keel, so all combat between them and their crews is conducted normally. 

Gaining “the High Ground”
Another option is for one vessel to position itself in plane slight above that of the other, thereby exposing more of its hull but less of its main deck and sails. This is called “gaining the high ground.” in this case, bonuses for cover provided to crew members aboard the vessel with high ground are doubled, for +4 to AC and +2 to Reflex saves. On the other hand, attacks against the hull of a vessel that has the high ground receive a +2 circumstance bonus.

In the example below, the crew on the deck of vessel B gains double the normal bonuses due to cover, but attacks made by vessel A against vessel B's hull receive a +2 circumstance bonus. Keep in mind, too, that a ship could claim the high ground on one opponent, while simultaneously giving up the high ground to another. 

Above and Below
It's also possible for one aethership to swoop directly above or below another. In either case, it's unlikely that any of either ship's weapons can fire on the opponent, since they tend to have a fire arc of roughly forty-five degrees above or below the plane(s) in which the vessels are traveling. On the other hand, special attacks such as magic spells and portable missile weapons can still be used.

Plotted, Simultaneous Movement
An optional rule that can add to the sense of realism in ship-to-ship combat is to have the pilots involved plot the movements of their vessels at the beginning of each round, writing them down on a scrap of paper or something similar, and then have them play out simultaneously. Actions by crew members, especially attacks, happen in the normal initiative order.

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Motley Crew (Take 2)

This post takes another look at a topic I previously considered as part of the Come Hell and High Water series; this time around, it's focused on Aetherial Adventures (although it applies just as well to nautical Pathfinder campaigns, too).


A Motley Crew
The ship's crew is an essential part of any expedition into aetherspace. More than that, though, crew members provide an interesting element that can add depth to any space fantasy campaign.

Hiring new crew members provides an excellent opportunity for roleplaying. The PCs probably need to find a table at a local tavern, announce their business, and then wait for interested candidates to interview. In general, every batch of new recruits should be given one set of stats in common, and keep those stats until they advance in level or are killed (see below). In this way, recruiting crew members in different locations introduces different groups of characters.

Generally, crew members should be offered either a steady wage or a share of a voyage's profit when they sign aboard. In the prior case, 3 sp per day is a good starting rate of pay. In the latter case, all crew members are assigned a rate ranging from half a share (for ship's boys and the like) to one share (for ordinary sailors) to a share and a half or even two shares (for skilled characters such as PCs, pilots, navigators, carpenters and the like.

Ship-to-Ship Combat
Having crew members present during shipboard battles can add drama, too. For one thing, having a batch of NPCs who can fire crossbows at attacking creatures means the GM can increase the CR for encounters in space. Of course, this also means that the NPCs are fair game, and attacking monsters might cause casualties that must be healed or replaced. The same goes for combat against enemy ships, which have crews of their own. In either case, it is recommended that the GM divide crew members between the players, allowing them to make attack and damage rolls in order to speed up the process and increase enjoyment for all.

Crew Advancement
Just like the PCs, crew members can also advance in level. It is recommended that each NPC receive 100 xp per character level for each voyage completed, with a bonus of the same amount for shipboard battles that occur involving the crew. For example, if the PCs venture into an old asteroid mine and do battle with the creatures who live there, but the crew is not present for such activities, then the NPCs shouldn't receive experience for it. On the other hand, a run-in with a hive of lunarmas, in which crew members contribute to the ship's defense, would count for XP. Additionally, short voyages (such as from a planet to its moon) or ones that become routine and don't have encounters, might only count for half the normal experience. In this way, crew members become more capable over time, albeit it not so quickly as the PCs do.

Typical Sailor
CR ½
XP 200
Various warrior 1
N medium humanoid
Init +0; Senses Perception +1
AC 11, touch 11, flat-footed 10 (+1 Dex)
hp 6 (1d10+1)
Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +1
Resist None
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Shortsword +2 (1d6+1)
Ranged Light crossbow +1 (1d8)
Special Attacks None
Str 13, Dex 10, Con 13, Int 9, Wis 12, Cha 8
Base Atk +1; CMB +2; CMD 12
Feats Skill Focus (Profession)
Skills Climb +5, Profession (sailor) +8
Languages Common
SQ None
Combat Gear Shortsword, light crossbow, case of 10 bolts

Sailors can be a mixed bunch, but most of them tend to be gruff but capable. To give them a little more personality, however, the GM may wish to use one of the many random generation systems available, or even to let the players roll on those tables. At the same time, it can be beneficial to give them all names. That way, if some of them are killed off during combat, it's easier to keep track of which ones have survived. Finally, in order to know just who is on deck when, they can be divided into separate watches based on the traditional shipboard time schedule.

First Watch
Second Watch
Third Watch

The players could keep one copy of this list, including notes about the NPCs' race, gender and which crew members have advanced in level, while the GM could keep another, with those details as wells as notes about the crew members' personalities.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Aetherial Longboat

Here's an aetherial longboat, small enough to be carried aboard other aetherships for shore parties, emergency evacuation and the like. 


While most locations in space are outfitted with jutting docks so that even the largest vessels can tie up with relatively little difficulty, it can still be nice for aetherships to carry a smaller, more maneuverable craft. That's why an enterprising individual developed the longboat.

Type of Ship Solar Vessel Flying Sails Wind Cordage Orb of Control Total
Longboat 2500 gp 1250 gp 1250 gp 625 gp 5625 gp

Huge space vehicle
Squares 8 (7½ ft. by 20 ft.); Cost 5625 gp
AC 2; Hardness 5
hp 120 (59)
Base Save +0
Maximum Speed 90 ft. (magical); Acceleration 30 ft. (magical)
CMB +1; CMD 13
Ramming Damage 1d8
This boat has a small step-up mast and oarlocks for when it is used on the water.

Propulsion magic (1 mast, 15 squares of sails, 75 hp)

Driving Check Profession (pilot)

Forward Facing the boat's forward

Driving Device orb of control

Driving Space the square or squares occupied by the pilot with the orb of control

Crew 1 + 6 passengers (or 200 lbs. cargo per passenger space)

Decks 1

Weapons None

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Crossroads PDF

Presented here is the last bit of information for the Crossroads asteroid colony, including adventure hooks. There's also a link to the entire document as a PDF in my Dropbox.


Crossroads PDF

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.

Adventure Hooks for Crossroads
There are many ways in which this asteroid colony can be worked into space fantasy adventures and campaigns; just a few of the possibilities are listed here.
  • When the powers that be discover the monsters inhabiting the tunnels beneath Crossroads, they seek a band of adventurers who can deal with the problem.
  • The dwarves who sold the asteroid to Luciano Reda still work out in the belt; when space pirates begin jumping their claims, they turn to the people of Crossroads for help.
  • A rowdy ship's crew in port—such as the orc hunters—brings plenty of boisterous celebration, but such a raucous mood could also lead to violence.
  • Should one of the PCs anger a cavalier of the Order of the Lion, that individual might challenge said character to a duel.
  • When an aethership crashes during its approach of the Crossroads docks, the PCs could be called in to help find survivors; the matter also begs the question of just what it was that caused the ship to crash.
  • The settlement could be attacked by lunarmas, or visited by brethedans or mi-go.
  • One of the locals has an enemy who decides to attack the settlement's elemental obelisk, thereby forcing an evacuation of the facility.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Encounters for Pirates of the Spanish Main

Presented here is a link to a short PDF with encounters for Pirates of the Spanish Main.

PotSM Encounters


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Idle Hands Do the Devil's Work

Following up on "Not All Who Wander Are Lost" is a short scenario involving a raid on a Spanish pearl fleet.

Idle Hands Do the Devil's Work


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Here's a link to another Pirates of the Spanish Main adventure, "Not All Who Wander Are Lost." It builds directly on the events of "Not All That Glitters Is Golden," but can also be run as a standalone scenario.

Not All Who Wander Are Lost


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

MisCon 2015

I'm not good about taking pictures. Happily, somebody who works for MisCon (in Missoula, Montana) is better at it than I. This is taken of my Sunday morning/afternoon round, a scenario called "No Honor Among Thieves." I had eight players sign up for five slots, so my brother Nick acted as shotgun GM, we doubled up a couple of characters and went ahead with a big party.

The Ship of the Dead, by the way, is Nick's work.

For more information about MisCon, check out their website and Facebook page.

MisCon Website

MisCon Facebook


Monday, May 18, 2015

More of Crossroads

After some technology-related delay, here are a few more area descriptions for the asteroid colony known as Crossroads.

7. Typical Homes
A typical home in the Crossroads colony is a simple affair. It has a common room (A) which is furnished with a table and chairs, along with a hearth for heating water and cooking meals. There is usually one larger bedroom (B) for the parents, along with smaller ones (C) for the children. All have beds, of course, but the larger bedroom boasts a wardrobe, while the smaller ones might have storage trunks. Finally, there is often a storage room (D) that can be used for other purposes as needed.

Unusual Inhabitants
Populating the Crossroads colony provides the GM with a good opportunity to introduce characters of unusual races into adventures. As such, here's a list of suggestions.

Bestiary / Creature
1 / Aasimar
1 / Lizardfolk
1 / Tengu
1/ Tiefling
2 / Fetchling
2 / Ifrit
2 / Oread
2 / Sylph
2 / Undine
3 / Catfolk
3 / Kappa
3 / Ratfolk
3 / Vanara
4 / Kitsune

8. The Obelisk
The center of life in the colony, albeit one that might easily be overlooked, is the elemental obelisk that provides warmth, breathable atmosphere and gravity to the asteroid city. This one stands in the middle of the grove, surrounded by a fence for protection—but nobody in one's right mind would try to damage this important structure. Right?

9. The Grove
As life continues to develop on this island in the void, this grove is a notable development. In addition to more common deciduous and coniferous trees, there are also some that bear fruit. It is all part of the druid Maelyrra's plan to turn this into a self-sufficient colony with its own recurring flora.

CR 7
XP 3200
Female elf druid 8
CG Medium humanoid
Init +1; Senses Perception +2; Low-light vision
AC 14, touch 13, flat-footed 11 (+1 Dex, +1 Dodge, +1 natural, +1 deflection)
hp 36 (8d8)
Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +9
Resist Elven immunities
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Weapon +6/+1 (None)
Ranged Weapon +7/+2 (None)
Special Attacks Elven magic
Str 10, Dex 12, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 18, Cha 16
Base Atk +6/+1; CMB +6; CMD 17
Feats Dodge, Natural Spell, Sea Tongue, Self-Sufficient
Skills Handle Animal +14, Heal +15, Knowledge (nature) +11, Survival +15, Swim +11
Languages Elven, Common
SQ Spells, nature bond, nature sense, wild empathy, woodland stride, trackless step, resist nature's lure, wild shape 3/day
Combat Gear Druid's vestments, amulet of natural armor +1, ring of protection +1

Born and raised in the embrace of the sea, the elf druid Maelyrra considered herself a protector of the waters and the plants and animals that inhabit it. To that end she spent most of her time in the form of an orca, traveling with her dolphin companion and bringing comfort to animals in need. She considers violence to be abhorrent, except for that which is required to survive per the natural order of the world. Her life changed drastically, however, when she found the corpse of an oma floating dead in the water, killed by an orc whaling crew. When another oma—the mate of the deceased—appeared in the air, seeking it, she realized that her mission had taken on a much broader scope. Eventually her travels led her to Crossroads, where she works to create a livable biosphere while also looking out for the orcs that killed the oma.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Not All That Glitters Is Golden

Here's another Dropbox link for a Pirates of the Spanish Main adventure. It continues the series introduced in "All's Fair in Love and War" and "To the Victor Go the Spoils."

Not All That Glitters Is Golden


Sunday, April 26, 2015

To the Victor Go the Spoils

Here's a Dropbox link to another adventure for use with Pirates of the Spanish Main, but again one that can easily be converted for use with Skull & Bones. This one serves as a sequel to "All's Fair in Love and War."

To the Victor Go the Spoils


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Resources for Pirates of the Spanish Main

As I mentioned in the last post, I've been playing around with the Pirates of the Spanish Main rules. In doing so, it occurred to me that some of the deck plans I've created for Skull & Bones would work well as rough approximations for PotSM. For that reason, I've assembled a PDF of them.

PotSM Deck Plans

Additionally, I've been impressed by some of the resources that Savage Worlds fans have created. In addition to using them for Pirates of the Spanish Main, they might also be useful for players and GM's of Dungeons & Dragons and Skull & Bones.

Cap'n Greywolf's Bonepile

The Bonepile website has, among other resources, lots of great artwork.

Island Rituals

This supplement presents rules for Vodoun, Savaged by HawaiianBrian.

The Agency Star

This website has a handful of adventures along with other resources.

PotSM on Pinnacle's Website

Downloads on the official website, including templates, one-sheet adventures, maps, character sheets, pre-generated characters, and more

Savage Stuff Blog by Richard Woolcock

Lots of interesting articles, including information about converting d20 material to Savage Worlds.

I'll add to this last as I find more resources.


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 6
XP 2400
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
XP 200
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.