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