Monday, September 5, 2016

What Comes Next?

Recently there has been some table talk about what our group will do once we've finished our Shining Scorpion campaign. Personally I love running modules. Always have. I like to story-stitch them into an ongoing campaign where I throw in an equal measure of my own personal stuff to create an epic story. But going forward the thought was to offer a list of choices to the crew and see what the majority would like to play. It would be a mix of long form adventure and shorter more focused gameplay. The shorter options would give the players at the table a chance to try out various characters but without the commitment of a full campaign. It would give me, as game master, a chance to knock out some of the modules I'm aching to play yet without the burden of shoe-horning them into a long form story/game.


So let's take a look at the options. I've asked the players to read this list as well and I'll be handing them a form to fill out, marking from one to ten in order of interest and desire to play. I've also asked them not to discuss their choices until after voting has been completed by all. Once the votes are tallied, we will have our answer. Here we go, presented in alphebetical order so as to not show any preference on my part.


Crypt of the Everflame
Levels: 1st
Why?: This is the first module published by Paizo to use the Pathfinder rule set. The modules that came before were all made with the Dungeons & Dragon's 3.5 rules. So that makes this an important classic in my eyes. The module was designed to use the Game-Mastery Flip-Mat: Dungeon which I recently purchased when it was re-released under the Classic Flip-Mat line. This will give me a chance to use it. Having listened to a podcast where a group who ran the module talked to the module's designer Jason Bulmahn about it, well it really sparked the interest for me.
The plan: Just run this for a fun classic dungeon crawl and enjoyment of a piece of Pathfinder history. Then move onto something else - no attachments or plans to start a campaign with it. Just one and done. Although the module is the first part of a three module adventure arc titled "Price of Immortality" it will be completely up to the players whether or not they follow up with the second two modules. Which kinda makes this unofficially the first Adventure Path, albeit a short one.


Dragon's Bane
Levels: 1st to 20th
Why?: This would be a campaign of my creation. The idea behind it being the players are all evil PC's aligned with a powerful evil benefactor who wants them to hunt down and kill good aligned dragons. This would be an oppotunity to utilize all of the "good-aligned" dragon miniatures in my collection. I've already catalogued them based on challenge rating and mapped out the order of their apperance. When would you ever get the chance to fight good dragons like this? I'll throw in some other good aligned creatures to help fill the gaps as the PCs level since I don't have dragons for every CR but I am damn close.
The Plan: This would be an excellerated campaign I'll not be using XP progression. Each level the PCs gain will consist of just a dragon hunt. Finish the hunt, level up, onto the next one. Of course roleplay with the benefactor and such will be involved but not much else. We're skipping all the travel and blah-de-blah. The benfactor provides so no need for shopping and selling treasure every level. At the start of the campaign the players will each draw from a series of cards which will define their relationship to the benefactor, give them a starting bonus, a chance to forge their own fate while manipulating another PCs at the same time and reveal a mysterious mark that they were born with.


The Dragon's Demand
Levels: 1st to 7th
Why?: Another Pathfinder first. This is the first module in the restructuring of the ongoing module line. With this title the page count gets kicked up and a fold-out poster map is now included. Also, its written by Mike Shel. I love his adventures. At the time of this writing I am running his module, Tomb of the Iron Medusa and will be running The Mud Sorcerer's Tomb for my D&D group when they hit the appropriate level. The Dragon's Demand is one of the only modules to have a dragon as the big bad and not just another encounter in an overall story. The village the adventure starts in is fleshed out so well and the story takes characters through a handful of different locales. This is another module where I listened to a group that ran through it interview the designer. It got me fired up. So I bought the two sets of paper minis and now they just wait.
The Plan: Just run the adventure and then close the book.There is plenty on this list to run PCs through to level 20, so why not just play some shorter stuff for the kicks? This module gets a lot of praise, I know why, I would like my players to know it too.


The Emerald Spire Superdungeon
Levels: 1st to 13th
Why?: Superdungeons are cool. They're a staple of RPGs. This is Pathfinder's take and what a take it is. Each level designed by a different designer. Each of them a top designer in the industry and Paizo veteran. Including author Ed Greenwood the creator of the Forgotten Realms. Seven new monsters and a highly detailed local settlement, Fort Inevitable, where the PCs can return to and forge alliances with factions both inside and outside the Spire itself. I bought the set of flip-mats, they were expensive, using them would justify their purchase. I also bought the adventure card deck which will assist the players in keeping all the main quests, side quests, NPCs and factions all in hand.
The Plan: Run the superdungeon and be done. No need to do more than that.


Goblin's Adventure Path
Levels: 1st to 4th
Why?: Because running the goblin adventures would be a blast. The pathfinder goblin has become an iconic symbol for Paizo. Fans of these modules can't seem to praise them enough for their fun and crazy creativity.
The Plan: To run all four of the modules as a mini goblin adventure path.


Hell's Vengence Adventure Path
Levels: 1st to 15th
Why?: Because it's Paizo's first foray into an evil character adventure path. I have no idea if it's any good. I'm sure it's a blast and really let's players cut loose as the bad guy. From what I've seen and read there are plenty of good guys to fight; man and monster alike. don't you get sick of playing the good guy who has to defeat the villain and reclaim the kingdom from the evil despot? How about being the evil despot? Sounds appealing, right?
The Plan: Play through the Path. Be the bad man.


Kingmaker Adventure Path
Levels: 1st to 15th
Why?: Hexploration and kingdom building. Now that's a different sort of adventure. Unexplored territory for me and the players. I've always been attracted to the River Kingdoms and this has got to be the best way to experience that region. There is more to it than just the main quest of the AP. There is a seemingly unending amount of side quests and the like so players aren't just clearing hexes, they're scouring them as well. The PCs will forge their own path through the hex based region map so it's like a sandbox adventure in that aspect. Then there's the kingdom building itself. The PCs will build and manage a kingdom from scratch. The kingdom will be built to their specifications and direction. This should make them invested in how the peoples fare being a struggling, growing kingdom in the untamed wilderness. Fun fact: Ed Greenwood (the guy I mentioned before who created the Forgotten Realms) again lends his talents to Paizo and created all the main NPCs and villains for this AP.
The Plan: Just play out the adventure path. When it ends, the campaign ends. But I will add the kingdom to the Golarion map and it will remain there for as long as I play in that world. It would be a hoot to start a campaign in that kingdom with an entirely new set of PCs sometime down the line. Even a fun shout out if one of the player's PC for any future campaign was born and raised there.


Pathfinder Online: Thornkeep
Levels: 1st to 8th
Why?: Again with the River Kingdoms I'm so secretly infatuated with. This is a hidden gem of a module and setting since it was a Kickstarter reward as part of the, sadly, shelved Pathfinder Online game. Much more than an adventure this is also a gazeteer of Thornkeep (which was lovingly dubbed a "hive of scum and villainy") and the surrounding Echo Wood. Just reading the gazeteer got me excited to run this. There is quite a bit here to stretch the adventure out from just the Keep. Which is well and good because the six different dungeon levels are built for different PCs levels and when they may not be at the character level to enter the next part of the dungeon they could gain that XP outside the Keep or on its goblin-infested streets. Yes, goblins are allowed on the streets of Thornkeep. This is almost like a mini Emerald Spire because it too has different levels (six) each designed by a Paizo veteran and powerhouse. Interestingly enough, for as closely tied as Ed Greenwood is to Dungeons & Dragons he must sure like playing in the Pathfinder universe. Because he again designs a level for this. The Emerald Spire also shares the same regional space as Thornkeep. They're both in the Echo Wood! Add to that I bought the flip-mats to make each dungeon level come to vivid life on the game table.
The Plan: Milk this one for all its worth. I wish it did mesh up better with the dungeon levels of the Emerald Spire so the PCs could jump back and forth between the two kick-ass adventure sites. There may be some way to still do that, but that would be a mega-super campaign of dungeon delving awesome! I will utilize every bit of this module when running it regardless.


Plunder & Peril
Levels: 4th to 7th
Why?: The Shackles. The first region I fell for in Golarion. Pirate infested islands and storm filled seas. If you know me at all you know I have a thing for pirates and their vessels. I always get them onto the game table in some format. Interestingly enough this module is right at what I call "the sweet spot" when it comes to RPGs. My favorite level is 5th. The monsters the PCs get to face at that level really start to get good and the PCs themselves are still low in complexity game play wise so players aren't bogged down with so many options and spells to slow down turns. I got off track there. The over all concept for this module is piratelicious. PCs are hired by a captain to join her on a treasure hunt for long lost legndary pirate treasure. It's actually a series of three short adventures that form together into one longer adventure. It was designed to go along with the Skull and Shackles adventure path as an alternate entry point to that AP at a higher level. It comes with a fold-out map that is the most detailed map of the Shackles to date.
The Plan: Sail the Shackles. If the Skull and Shackles AP seems like too much of a commitment, this is a compact way to experience some of what that AP has to offer and to sail the same playground. If this WAS played before Skull and Shackles the table would have a couple options. Using this as the start to Skull & Shackles. This would mean skipping the first two books in that AP and starting with the third at level 7. It would make the AP a shorter endeavor. Another option would be to have the PCs who completed this module be "back-up"  PCs should any death occur during the AP itself. The characters could even become potential crew members for hire when it becomes appropriate in the AP to do so.


Skull & Shackles Adventure Path
Levels: 1st to 13th
Why?: See above. This was the first AP I bought and initially the only one I wanted to run in any capacity. The PCs are pressed ganged onto a ship and over the course of the path work their way up to becoming pirate captains and kings. The Shackles are sailed from one end to the next, port towns, hidden coves, lost ruins on tropical islands - just about every trope of the pirate genre is addressed. Ship to ship combat and pursuit leading to boarding and capturing ... and the booty. Each book in the path also offers lost treasures that can be hunted down in the Shackles as the PCs make their way through the island region. I have a solid collection of ship battlemaps so don't expect to see the shame ship decks and interiors repeated over and again.
The Plan: Again, see above for an atlernate way to start this AP. Although I don't think the proper way to enter an AP is part way through, it's an option I would take if it meant playing Skull & Shackles at all.


That's that. Of course this is still a ways off. There will most likely be a module or two to pop up that I'll wish was on this list before we finish our current campaign and start one of the above. But ... we will ... deal with that when it comes.


Anyways, I'll be sure to announce what the choice ends up being. So place your bets.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Crew Shows Their Quality



The heroes of the Shining Scorpion adventuring party have been exploring the Tomb of the Iron Medusa. During the course of facing its dangers and collecting its treasures they discovered some rather old maps. These maps are of ancient Taldor, specifically of the South-eastern border where Taldor meets Qadira. Of special interest is a couple locations that were no longer marked on modern maps of the same region. So, while the heroes are off ship in the Tomb, they handed the maps over to the crew to study and gather whatever information on these lost locations they could.


The locations of intrest are:
Everforge
House of Senses Awakened


What was also fascinating was the ancient maps did mark the location of the Tomb of the Iron Medusa before any trace of it was wiped from Taldor's history. Secondly of note was the fact that Antios's Crown appears on both current and ancient maps. This just proves how old that burial site and monument truly is. Since the airship was going to be passing right by Mount Antios they wanted to be prepared for what the Crown was all about. Thirdly the Shining Scorpion has shown interest in seeking the lair of the infamous Great White Wyrm and it was hoped that maybe the ancient map held some additional clues as to where the dragon laired.


Lem the iconic halfling bard, Mavaro the iconic occultist and Dihak Nirati dwarven investigator will be involved with every bit of research. The three of them are highly skilled in arcana, history, nobility and local knowledges. Three other crew members swapped in and out depending on what area of research and knowledge was needed. So the crew stacked the deck as best they could. If you look at any general image of adventurers sitting around a map covered table, there's typically four in the group. I decided to keep it at no more than that for this skill challenge. If it wasn't capped you could keep piling on the knowledge via "aid another" and that would basically remove any challenge at all. I've set the challenge rating for this from 12 (very easy) to 37 (heroic). If one of the crew involved has a +10 bonus to any particular skill, I added a +2 automatically to the roll as they aided whomever was leading the charge.


Sooooo ... I've got the crew stats before me. I've got dice in hand. Let's see what they can do without the Shining Scorpion holding their hands.



The Great White Wyrm: Immerstal the Red (human wizard) joined and lead this particular investigation. The three skills used here were Arcana for the nature of dragons, History for any info on when and where it roamed and Local for any tales, truths, rumors and myths surrounding the Wyrm.
The Rolls- Arcana: 40 History: 35 Local: 22
The Great White Wyrm once ruled the Headwater Gap, the break in the World's Edge Mountains south of the Southern Range. From atop Mount Kaltafarr, the tallest peak in Taldor and a dormant volcano, the dragon spread chaos and destruction. When Qadira controlled the area they sent many dragon slayers to do away with the dragon, yet none were successful. It wasn't until the group known as the Shining Blades of Katheer, who were rumored to possess an item capable of defeating the white dragon, marched into the mountains did all dragon activity stop. Although the Blades were never heard from again, neither was the dragon. It's been over a century since the Wyrm has been seen but his legacy lives on through the fear of the locals.



Mount Antios and Antios's Crown: Lem stepped up to lead the investigation and the trio was joined by Tredora Goldenbrow for her religious knowledge. Four skills needed are Nobility if the place is tied to anyone of great import, History for the founding of the locale, Religion for it's purpose and Local for the mount itself.
The Rolls- Nobility: 35 History: 15 Religion: 17 Local: 12
Named after Taldor's tenth emperor who constructed the enormous burial site, it's the final resting place for nobles and self-important Taldans who could afford to be entombed there. It's covered with a massive network of mausoleums, towering statutary, shrines, plazas and fountains. Antios chose the lofty peak since it's one of Taldor's tallest mountains and commands a spectacular view of the Tandak Plains below.


Everforge: The dwarf monk Branock filled Captain Barstool and Dihak with tales of the importance and following shame of the locale, many a night while heavy in their cups. So naturally Dihak lead here and I gave him a extra +2 to his check due to the nights spent hearing the tales spun by Branock. The crew's halfling steward, Anando, joined as well. As a house slave in Qadira, Anando had access to many a history book while in the "employ" of a eccentric merchant. History would be key in learning the origins and founding of the location and Local for making sense of the various stories and songs recited by the dwarven monk.
The Rolls- History: 26 Local: 19
Built in the shadow of the dwarf Sky Citadel Kravenkus, Everforge was a sacred temple said to house a powerful holy relic. It's rumored to be the final resting place of the dwarven oracle Naika Omenspeaker who once controlled the relic and helped the worthy pass onto Magrim, the dwarven god of the underworld. Once a place for spiritual pilgrimage it now lies abandoned. Regular attacks from Darkland creatures forced the dwarves to retreat back to the citadel in order to repel the unending attacks - which continue to this day. Kravenkus itself is also mostly a ghost town. The dwarves there too stubborn to leave despite the loss of the temple and the mines that once provided wealth to the Citadel's populace. Branock often mourned the loss of such a holy place and felt it was shameful the Five Kings Mountains never set about reclaiming the relic supposedly left behind.



House of Senses Awakened: Lem once again led with his bardly knowledge and Anando's familiarity with the history of noble families had the two halfings once again standing on stools to get a good look at the ancient maps. Nobility would reveal the locations origins, History its foundation and subsequent loss to time and Local for any legends of what was once the purpose of the "House."
The Rolls: Nobility- 39 History- 19 Local- 22
Grand Prince Cydonus III only reigned five years but cost the Taldor empire dearly. Overwhelmed by anxiety from the Qadiran invasion he transferred a large portion of the royal treasuries to a hidden location and what he didn't hide away he spent extravagantly. Deep in the wild hill country of Porthmos Gap, Cydonus built a pleasure palace dubbed the House of Senses Awakened. He spent most of his time there away from the capital amongst all his displaced treasures. Cydonus was poisoned and Beldam I took the throne in a near penniless state. Scholars believe the maze-like structure was sealed and forgotten along with one of the largest unclaimed fortunes in the Inner Sea Region.


Well, the crew really knows their shit. There are only a few details that were missed but the vast amount of intelligence they did gather is more than enough to help the Shining Scorpion decide on whether or not to pursue any of these adventure sites. Only time will tell if the crew are ever put into this situation again. But it was a fun experiment and hopefully showcases their value. They're not just bodies to pilot the ship. They have skills and abilities to offer and are worth every coin of their salary.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Meet the Crew of the Iron Wind

When I started this particular Pathfinder campaign I knew one thing for sure. I was gonna get them a ship. The very first adventure I ran for them ended with them possibly sailing away with their own ship. Which they did. A small ship, but a ship none the less. Then I took it away from them by magically transposing them to another part of Golarion against their wills.


Shortly thereafter I got it in my head that I would get them on to the crew of a flying ship. An alchemical dragon to be exact (Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ultimate Combat page 187). I really didn't put much research into it in the beginning. I was willing to handwave the rules for flavor and building a crew that was full of cool characters. As the campaign progressed, it became more important that the ship and it's crew needed to be revisited.


Random encounters of flying beasts, storms and weather made it obvious to me that piloting the ship and protecting the ship had to be done by crew that could actually do those things. Initially I had a captain, first mate and a crew of generic sailors. Yet sailors are not the ideal crew for an air vehicle - the crew I had was actually worthless. There needed to be crew members that knew alchemy and arcana to keep this tub in the air.


So ... it's come to this. I've rehauled the crew.


The Captain: Bartol "Barstool" Ehrdrick
Male dwarf alchemist lvl 6
I discovered "Barstool" in the back matter of the Pathfinder comic book series "City of Secrets" #6. Immediately I knew I wanted him to own, pilot and captain "The Iron Wind." In the brief description it says he believes that dwarves must master flight and what better way then with an air ship?


First Mate: El'eeot
Tengu rogue lvl 6
When I chose this character it was a nod to a young man named Eliot who was part of our public play table at Legend Comics and Coffee. We've since moved the game out of the shop and into our homes and circumstances being what they are, lost a few players. El'eeot cannot contribute to the piloting of the ship in any way. Being one of the original crew he was there for flavor and as a tribute so it didn't matter then. But he is invaluable on the ship. He is the runner, motivator and mouth piece.


Quartermaster: Position unfilled.
The dwarven monk, Branock Ulgrehn, recently took leave of the ship to join the Monestery of Fallen Stars and his position has yet to be filled. Barstool did approach one of the PCs and offer the spot, but they turned him down. He is now accepting applications.


Boatswain: Dihak Nirati
Male dwarf investigator lvl 5
Dihak comes from an issue of Wayfinder. He is a desert dwarf from Osirion. But I transposed him to Qadira and used him to spark a quest line surrounding a magical legacy longsword forged by his father that he wished to reclaim and see put into the hands of a worthy hero of noble blood. The sword was reclaimed. But none of the crew are of a bloodline to unlock the blades secrets and power.


The rest of the crew was added to fill the roles needed to pilot the ship and to do all the physical tasks that accompany day to day living on such a vessel. They are a mix of iconic characters as well as from the NPC Codex, Game Mastery Guide and various third party sources.


Immerstal the Red: Male human wizard lvl 10
Tredora Goldenbrow: Female aasimar cleric lvl 9 (Medic)
Lars Ulverth: Male human fighter lvl 8
These first three are NPCs from one of my favorite D&D 3.5 modules "The Red Hand of Doom." I actually have taken two encounter areas from that module and story stitched them into this campaign to carry that love even further. I found Pathfinder converted stats of the
enemies and allies and put them on the crew.


Sokurah of the Stormbrides: Female suli ranger lvl 9
The crew picked up Sokurah from the module Feast of Dust which we recently completed. The Stormbrides are a band of wandering female desert rangers that the PCs aligned with during the course of that adventure.


Mavaro: Male human occultist lvl 7
Lem: Male halfling bard lvl 7
Lirianne: Female half-elf gunslinger lvl 4
Three of the iconics chosen for their skills in arcana and alchemy. Nothing more to it.


Havah: Female human expert lvl 1/rogue lvl 3
Tomax and Xamot: Male twin half-orc experts lvl 4 (Carpenters)
Frotix: Female halfling commoner lvl 4 (Cook)
Miriyam: Female human expert lvl 2/wizard lvl 2
Anando Veresisi: Male halfling aristocrat lvl 2
Brad: Male human expert lvl 1/warrior lvl1 (Shipmate)
Craig: Male human expert lvl 1/warrior lvl 1 (Shipmate)
Washington: Male human expert lvl 1/warrior lvl 1 (Shipmate)
Joseph: Male human expert lvl 1/warrior lvl 1 (Shipmate)
Cass: Female human expert lvl 1/warrior lvl 1 (Shipmate)
Seekrit: Female human expert lvl 1/warrior lvl 1 (Shipmate)
Marie: Female human expert lvl 1/warrior lvl 1 (Shipmate)


I'll be posting a bit of a follow up to this post wherein we will be putting some of the crew to the test as they do some research for the PCs while they are off ship exploring and looting the Tomb of the Iron Medusa.









Friday, June 24, 2016

Tomb of the Iron Medusa - Hanoris' Handwritten Notes

Hanoris Dellum pushed his chair back, away from the table and the guests that were sitting there. He rose and turned to the bookshelf behind him. There he grabbed a rather plain looking leather bound journal and upon returning to his seat at the table, casually tossed it to the two gentlemen sitting there. Ajadeen, desert ranger, and his companion Gaan, wizard of wind and lightning, tensed a bit. Gaan quickly scanned the book looking for any magical wards or properties and upon finding nothing, reached for the book and leafed through its pages. Only the first half-dozen pages or so contained handwritten notes, the majority of the book remained blank.

"There is a copy of all my notes. Everything I could dig up on the Adella family. That's yours to take with you. May my efforts to uncover the mystery of why the Adellas were pronounced damnatio by the government guide you as you explore the family necropolis." The three men returned to their meal and wine. Spending the rest of the evening going over the terms of their partnership.

Later back in his quarters, Gaan spent an hour or two reading and rereading the pages before handing it over to Ajadeen to do the same -

The Tragic and Mysterious Fall of House Adella

Within several generations, three distinct branches had emerged among the Adella family. The Sardisi, the Voxus and the Daellum clans. Pride like a cancer had wormed its way into the Adella psyche. It polluted the noble house. It spelled the end for each of the three branches in succession, in both insidious and dramatic ways.

The Sardisi Clan - House emblem: The Howling Medusa
The Sardisis became preoccupied with pleasure and self indulgence. The last of the clan, Drusus Adella, was known more for the fanatical devotion of his five daughters than for any significant accomplishments. His lack of achievement so profound that he eventually retrereated into a shameful self-imposed exile. His daughters had been married off to important aristocrats who forbade them any contact or correspondence with their disgraced father for fear of public humiliation. Lonely and destitue Drusus committed suicide, opening his veins in a seedy Absalom brothel and bath house. His five daughters murdered their husbands in 4222 before vanishing from society and retreating into obscurity.

The Voxus Clan - House emblem: The Mocking Medusa
Known for their nautical prowess, the Voxus clan traces their lineage back to Pasco Adella. During the 42nd century, Pasco was admiral of the Taldan Third Fleet and veteran of over a hundered sea battles. Later generations would exploit this renown to become import/export tycoons, controlling vast fleets of merchant ships throughout the oceans of Golarion. But this branch of the family withered into a civil war between twin brothers. Vespacio and Vincenzo, who went so far as to field armies against each other in typical Taldan fashion. The fratricidal fued dealt utter ruin to the Voxus clan. Whether or not this fued was spurred by the action of their five murderous cousins is a matter of debate.

The Daellum Clan - House emblem: The Cross-eyed Medusa
Bartolomae Adella, leader of the Daellums, was a cunning and ruthless commander in the Taldan military. His examplary and highly successful leadership seemed like it might help the Adella name weather the ignominous end of their cousins. Yet Bartolomae went on to suffer a crushing military defeat against Qadiran forces on the frontier between the two warring countries. Humiliated to the point of blasphemy he threw himself on his sword, the powerful Infernus Murco, in an act of contrition. Yet this act was not enough to atone for the military failure. Bartolome's siblings, his younger brother Cadimus and beautiful sister Lucretia, mysteriously disappeared shortly after. Their fates, unknown.

The Grand Prince Bedlam II was so appalled by the family's impressive descent into murder, hubris and blasphemy that he proclaimed the entire family damnatio - their memory wiped from every public record and monument. Pronouncing that all members of the family be forever stripped of noble status.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Feast of Dust Continues - Gaan's Preparations

Tobacco smoke creeps out from under the door of the small cabin on Barstool's airship where Gaan and Sayid study the Oblivion Keys. Occasionally Gaan emerges, his blue tattoos swirling like the wind which follows him, face buried in a book, and Vestro on his shoulder. He half consciously flies around the ship, getting water and food, and popping in and out of his quarters before returning to Sayid and their studies. A keen observer might notice that the tiny dragon's eyes are open wide, paying attention to where they are going. He's likely using his telepathy to tell Gaan to avoid obstacles so the wizard isn't interrupted while he reads.

Three days after obtaining the Calabash of Last Draughts, Gaan suddenly materializes on the deck of the ship with the artifact slung across his chest. He also carrying a number of books, scrolls, and small leather backpack that is nearly identical to his own handy haversack. He immediately sets the items he's carrying down on the deck and pulls six golden colored glass bottles from the backpack which seems too small to have been carrying them. "Straight from the bee-keepers of the Plains of Paresh, seasonal honeywine for the crew!" he yells, and sets the bottles down. He then produces several small packages wrapped in colored cloth that would each fit in the palm of one's hand. "Qadira's finest tobacco!" Gaan tosses a few to nearby crewmembers and sets the rest down on the deck. He retrieves the books and scrolls, and addresses the group again.

"The desert sun burns down upon us, but the cool winds embrace us and keep us alert and ready for what comes next. Sayid and I are inching ever closer to unlocking the secrets of the Oblivion Keys and Finding the Jackal Prince." Gaan grasps Calabash that rests over his chest. The winds around the ship pick up. "We are developing a plan to take him down and to restore the desert to it's rightful state, and honoring the sacrifices of the Sentinels of Meraz that came before us!" He raises a clenched fist into the air, displaying the tattoo that marks his membership in the secret society. "You will all be a part of history, and bards across all of Qadira, nay, all of the world and among the outer planes will sing our song!"

With the books and scrolls in hand, Gaan heads back into the cabin to Sayid, and they commence their studies.



Whoa! Long Time no Post!

The Shining Scorpion game has been going on, but we haven't been posting. Maybe we'll start blogging it again?

At this point only Tribad and Val have survived. Craig, Steelheals and Ehlum are dead. The party now consists of:
  • Tribad, Vishkanya Ninja
  • Valeros, Human Fighter
  • Ajadeen, Half-Elf Ranger
  • Gaan, Sylph Air Wizard
  • Eggal, Halfling Cleric of Cayden Cailean
 Right now, we are in the Meraz Desert of Qadira taking on the Feast of Dust, and we're level 13.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Shining Scorpion - Disintigration is in the Eye of the Beholder

Good ol Kevin Coffey reminded us that we have a blog last week when he wrote up a bit of fiction about his character, Wilster. After reading it, I told Jared that we need to post pics every week from our game. And guess what... I remembered! I even added some special effects to one of the pics...

A knowledge check tells us that ropers hate fire. Wall of fire and summoned fire mephits it is!

These custom made Legend Comics and Coffee d6s are maxing out on some healing!

The irrational and impatient Tribad finds the beholder. The beholder says hello with a death ray.

Before being turned to stone, Jho Kruusha gets in a critical hit on an opportunity attack! Those custom Legend d6s max out again!

With two PCs knocked out and one turned to stone, it's up to Craig and Ehlum!

After a few barrages of arrows from Craig, Ehlum finished the beholder with another wall of fire!

Well, we'll be back next week with more pics! And maybe some other cool stuff in between. In the meantime, the Shining Scorpion crew is going to level up!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wilster Moonshadow: Adventuring in the River Kingdoms

After adventuring for almost a year with the Shining Scorpion and captaining their ship, which a title he earned after killing its former captain in battle, Wilster spent an afternoon being regaled with tales of great ale and strong wine by his new friend, Jak Kruusha, whose frozen stone form Wilster had saved from a basilisk's lair.

After a few too many cups, Wilster's mind went fuzzy. After a few more, it went completely black.
He awoke later on the decks of a ship without his gear. The few men milling about the deck were obviously pirates, but the small band was not dreadful to an experienced warrior such as Wilster.

Closing his eyes, he thought of his blade. Mysterious words whispered through his mind calling his weapon.

With a thud, a door in the deck of the ship flapped open and Wilster's black scimitar flew to his right hand as his left fifst flared with lightning.

"Take me to the captain," he said.

This was a keelboat, no large brig like the ship he captained with the Scorpions. And this captain was no feared sailor.

"I... I'm the captain," he stammered.

"What did you plan to do with me?" Wilster asked as he danced toward the skinny, tattooed man.

"We were going to sell you," he replied without hesitation. "You and that fancy sword."

"You're not selling me now," Wilster said. "You're going to give me the ship."

The captain glanced past Wilster and he gave a quick nod. As Wilster turned, two of the pirates lunched at him with cutlasses. He took a swinging step toward them. One received the shock of lightning from Wilster's balled fist. The other received a slash across the chest from Wilster's fast-moving scimitar.

Both slumped to the deck.

Wilster turned back to the captain.

"Who are you working for?"

"The Bloodstone Swords. A reward of 200 gold pieces has been offered for an elf swining a black blade etched with red runes. We wanted the money," the pirate explained. "Nemas Ricasso hired us. He's building an army in the River Kingdoms."

"Well, let's go see about that reward."

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Nightscale - A Peek Behind the GM Screen


So here you have the cover artwork for the Forge of Fury module, minus logos and other cover elements. Upon reading the module for the first time I immediately took issue with the image. Not only is the environment not a cave, Nightscale herself looks bigger then the medium-sized stats within the module. Minor quibbles to be sure, but it still bothers me to this day.

So when it came time to convert Forge of Fury to Pathfinder rules, and to accommodate a larger AND higher level party - I knew Nightscale would need to be addressed.

Immediately I knew I would crank her size to large, but then how to raise her challenge rating (CR)? I found some old D&D 3.5 starts for a CR 11, male black dragon. Now when using stats from 3.5 directly in Pathfinder, it is advised you lower the CR by 1. This would take the dragons down to CR 10. Well, I found CR 10 black dragon stats built for Pathfinder and decided to just use those. She should be a suitable challenge for a party of six to seven, 6th level PCs. For the most part she was, I just played her stupid - which is a shame, because dragons are anything but.

HOW NOT TO PLAY A DRAGON-

Attacking from the depths of the Black Lake, Nightscale's armor class raises +4, due to being mostly submerged. Nightscale can breathe underwater indefinately as well, so really, she has no reason to leave that extra protection at all. She could use her breath weapon, swim down the underwater river and attack the party from the rear, and repeat this process. But I always want dragons to be big and tough and after her first (and only) use of the breath weapon had her burst out of the water to engage two members of the party in melee. I mean, she does have six attacks when using all of them in a single round. My first mistake. A clever dragon would have used her natural habitat and her advantage gained by it, to stay alive, kill these intruders and add their shit to her hoard.

Not only that, my second mistake was to let her stay in melee too long. The fighter hit harder than anticipated and when she did decide to return to the lake, the rest of the adventuring party had arrived to support their friends.

Nightscale was wounded and her thoughts went to her treasure. She wouldn't let them have it. She again appeared out of the water and climbed up onto the small island in the middle of the lake where her hoard was strewn about. She began to kick it all into the depths of the Black Lake where she could retrieve it later if needed and these air breathers would have a very hard time getting to it. Next thing she knew, one of the spell-casters was on the island with her. She turned her full fury upon him, yet this was another mistake. A smart dragon would have fled. She does have an underwater tunnel which leads out of the mountain and could get away clean. But again, I wanted Nightscale to instill fear. But the wizard had a bunch of mirror images going and they took some of her fury and the wizard lived. Arrows from the shoreline was the end of Nightscale after that.

Foolish me. I wanted Nightscale to escape and become a returning villain. But I pushed it too far. I always do when playing a dragon. But hey, the players had a blast and they feel awesome after slaying their first dragon so that's pretty cool.

One of the players gave me an idea on how to continue Nightscale's legacy though ... so maybe all is not lost after all.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Idalla, the succubus - A Peek Behind the GM Screen



Area 49:) Idalla's Den
A member of a previous expedition into Khundrukarr, a cunning and malicious wizard, died near this spot. Before he died he summoned and bound a succubus to this room with the condition that she is stuck there until someone of good intentions (any good alignment) attacks her or gives her enough verbal permission to leave the room. The succubus, who calls herself Idalla, doesn't know why the wizard summoned her or that he is dead. She does know she is fucking bored and will do just about anything to get out of the room.

I was super excited for the PCs to meet Idalla. It almost worked in Idalla's favor too.

The heroes of the Shinning Scorpion had just fought over a dozen orc and dwarf skeltons just outside the old library, which happens to be the room where Idalla was bound. She heard the paladin, Steelheels, descimate almost all of the skeletons at once with prayer and blessings, powered by her god. Idalla was then able to prepare herself for someone's arrival. She used her natural ability to detect alignment and literally got tingles when she felt the paladin's goodness.

At this point the party decided to rest in the great hall and Idalla was left to plan for their return. The next day the Shinning Scorpion debated where to continue their exploration of the Foundry level and the paladin, Steelheels, walked in the direction of the old library. She began to call up her ability to detect evil when the remainder of the Scorpion called her into another direction. Almost discovered Idalla.

When the Scorpion had finally reached her, Idalla had changed her shape to appear as a human woman. She knew the party members that had opened the door to the library were not good, but she begged them to rescue her from a wizard who had trapped her here. She claimed that he used her for experiments on extending life, which would explain how she was here after 100 years. She easily took the minds of those who she first interacted with and sent them to bring their "good" friends to her to beg for release and rescue.

Idalla was set to banter back and forth with the PCs, she had many lies and a few half truths ready to go. But the party pretty much attacked her on sight. Maybe it's their past encounter with Ned, back in Saltmarsh, that they no longer trust anyone found in dungeons and ruins. Either way, she did have a lot of free time on her hands, due to being bound, and had gained much knowledge on Khundrukkar and some of its current inhabitants. She had read the whole library multiple times, the things of value learned, she could have shared if the PCs had just talked her up a bit. But their near immediate attacks really pissed her off. She focused all of that attention onto Steelheels once she strode into the room.

Good vs. evil. Although Idalla did her best, it wasn't enough. Steelheels did not fall for the seduction of the demon. Not even with her enchanted kiss did Idalla sway Steelheel's blade. Powered by her god, the holy blade sent Idalla back to whatever hell she spawned from.




Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Forge of Fury - A Peek Behind the GM Screen


As the heroes of the Shinning Scorpion make their way through the Foundry level of Khundrukar they find themselves in dwarven halls that once served as living quarters. These rooms and passages seem filled with undead, the remains of the 100 year gone battle that was the fall of the dwarven stronghold.

As GameMaster I am privy to the details of these halls, yet the players only get a fraction of that info. Even when they do explore rooms only so much can be shared with them as they go, which leaves behind a lot of cool story they may never learn. Story which could be hard to separate as character knowledge and player knowledge. 
 
But now that they've already explored most of the area I thought it would be nice to detail them here, away from the table, where it can be extra story that will not influence the game. Nor will it cause the players to make choices solely based on this extra knowledge picked up during their gameplay.


Area 41) The Kitchens
A century ago, one of Durgeddin's chief advisors was a high-level cleric of Moradin who prepared many defensive spells in and around the Foundry. One of the surprises he left was an animated object - a large table - in this room, with orders to attack any non-dwarf who entered. The cleric's exact orders were "Attack any non-dwarf who enters this room, unless a dwarf tells you to stand still."

I guess Durgeddin didn't have any guests over for dinner who weren't dwarf.

Area 42) Desecrated Shrine
Durgeddin made his last stand in this very chamber, laying about with his sword until his orc enemies finally overwhelmed him. The orc war-priests wanted to make sure that their terrible enemy would never return; they pronounced dire curses over the remains of their hated foe. Then they chose a fierce orc warrior to remain here forever in undeath to slay any who found this place. The orc champion became a wight and was supported by three large skeletons, powerful creatures who once served the orcs. In life they were a minotaur and a pair of equiceph (similar to minotaurs but horse humanoids).

Areas 43 & 46) The Dwarf Halls & Common Room
The dwaves of Khundrukar lived in private rooms to the north of the Great Hall. The orc horde pillaged most of these rooms, cutting down all the dwarves they found and carrying off any treasure they came across. These areas became the demesne of an undead dwarf - the cleric Arundil - who now exists as a wraith. Once the leading priest of Khundrukar he fled during the final assault using his magic to escape the slaughter. He returned later to find all of his kinfolk dead. In his despair and guilt he attempted to repair some of the defenses for the complex, animating dead warriors - both dwarf and orc, to kill intruders who may return. Arundil went mad in his grief and perished a mere few weeks later.

Well, there's some detail on the recently explored areas. Who knows what the players will stumble into next as they search the ancient halls? Well, the GameMaster knows ...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Douglas and Dragons - Episode 2!

Return of the Funky Ones!

http://douglasanddragons.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/episode-2-the-return-of-the-funky-ones/

The guys do a little investigating and find that the Dockway in Magnimar is infested with Goblins! After talking to Rory the Town Guard the guys remember the whereabouts of the Midnight Milk warehouse. Are they ready for what they will find within..?


Friday, June 20, 2014

Centaur Miniatures - D&D and Pathfinder

Thanks to Jared (@WoolyToots on Twitter)

"Centaurs! D&D got Pathfinder on size but the latter added a female, so they take the prize. Although my fave is still D&D's centaur hero miniature. The black and white color scheme which flows through the mane and beard is pretty original."

"The whole clan rides out together! Nine centaurs strong!"

 "Pathfinder left, D&D right"

"D&D centaur war hulk on left, Pathfinder on the right"

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Shining Scorpion - Forge of Fury - June 18th 2014

After defeating a magically animated table, the crew stumbles across some big, undead monsters! From Jared: "Forge of Fury - Desecrated Shrine. Once dedicated to dwarven gods, now defiled by orcs. Orc war-priests bound a fierce Orc warrior to slay any who found this place. The Orc champion, now a wight, is flanked by minotaur and equiceph skeletons."

Steelheals softens them up by channeling positive energy.

Not wanting to waste the haste spell Ehlum cast, the crew sprints to the next room, kicks down the door and fights an incorporeal monster!

Time to search for loot. What do they find?

... a magically animated floor rug of death that wants to squeeze the life out of the Shining Scorpion adventuring party!


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Blue Dragons - Miniatures

Here are some photos of Jared's D&D blue Dragon minis along side my Pathfinder gargantuan blue Dragon mini.