In the early ’80s we got to see some truly legendary adventures hit the shelves. Some of the deadliest and most memorable were the S series of modules - Tomb of Horrors (S1), White Plume Mountain (S2), Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (S3)and Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (s4). Of these the science fiction / fantasy mashup that was S3 ( ranked the fifth-best Dungeons & Dragons adventure of all time by Dungeon magazine in 2004) was my personal favorite.
Now it is the second decade of the 21st century and I play and design for Pathfinder, so it is only natural that I would be interested in how to pull off that classic adventure under modern rules.
So here are some resources online for the adventurous DM who wants to either run a reboot of S3 or just throw his/her players a curve by throwing some sci-fi elements into the game.
First off is Return Expedition to The Barrier Peaks, a blog post by WotC showing how to use d20 Future to run it under 3.x rules. There are a few things that can be harvested and adapted, but most will require some fine tuning to bring them in line with Pathfinder design. That said it is the one place you can find stats for the Powered Assault Armor in the module.
Then come the juicy bits – official Paizo rules for many of the things you will need. (Note that info on future weapons is in the Robot entry.) All links below go to data on the d20PFSRD, the best Pathfinder resource online and one I am proud to be a collaborator on.
Androids - a full fledged character race from Numeria that will work quite well in our reboot.
Robots - The baseline robot type is presented including four distinct ‘bots – the Annihilator (CR 16), Gearsmen (CR 4), Machine Soldier (CR 4), Mechanical Viper (CR 2) and Myrmidon (CR 11). In addition this entry contains Pathfinder rules for force fields, lasers and plasma weapons.
The Froghemoth (CR 13) – The main entry is the Paizo version as it appeared in the first Beastiary. It also includes links to several variants if you wish to mix things up.
Froghemoth Eggs (CR 2)- Because you always need more things covered in goo.
Vegypygmys - (CR 1/2 – 6)From the Tome of Horrors Complete we get a variety of them from Chiefs to commoners.
The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (CR 8) - The Paizo version from Beastiary 3
So there you have it, a little sci-fi to jazz up your game. Robots are not just for Numeria!
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Up until now almost all of my work in the gaming sphere has been community management. Almost eight years as a manager on Planewalker.com, a time during which we won two silver ENnies, has been fantastic but this is a long-standing dream come true.
Dark Roads and Golden Hells from Open Design is the book in question. A tome of resources for planar adventuring under the Pathfinder rules. I had the pleasure of contributing a plane of existence and a nasty little creature to go with it.
And now back to the mountain of work involved in preparing to move house….
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It is a testament to the quality of Paizo’s products that I am about to do something I have not done since the original Ravenloft module was released in the ’80s. I am going to run an adventure *gasp* exactly as written.
Not only that, but I am committed to running the entire adventure path – levels one to fifteen – as presented. Skull and Shackles is just that good. So far the first installment, The Wormwood Mutiny, is wonderful. From the opening scene where the PCs wake in the hold of a pirate ship after having been press ganged – to the new mechanics for Infamy and Disrepute it is a joy. Major bonus points for both fluff and crunch, something I am coming to expect of Paizo as they continually raise the bar for RPG quality.
Wormwood takes characters from first through third level, giving them a taste of ship board life among a crew of scalawags. Quick and realistic rules for crew interactions, ship board punishments, a fully detailed pirate goddess and other elements combine to give the best take on ship bound adventuring I’ve seen. From these humble beginnings our pirates fight for survival as they work towards mutiny and a ship of their own.
So with ships and pirates and seafaring rules in the mix I’m sure people are wondering how rapidly I’ll be adapting the material to Spelljammer. The answer is 16th Level. You see, the Skull and Shackles adventure path runs from first to fifteenth level taking the PCs from prisoners to Pirate Lords. Conveniently enough there is a sixteenth level adventure in the works, The Moonscar, that will take the party from Golarion to its satellite. It should make a great jumping off point. From there, after they acquire a spelljamming helm, the rest of the solar system awaits.
And what a solar system it is, beautifully detailed in Distant Worlds the gazetteer for Golarion’s star system. Spelljammer DMs take heed – this volume belong on your shelf next to Greyspace and Realmspace. It’s a terrific gazetteer of the strange and terrible things that exist beyond Paizo’s core world. Of course, like Golarion itself, there are science fiction elements here as well. Much like Expedition to the Barrier Peaks or the City of the Gods in Mystara, you will find elements like machine intelligences and neural nets interspersed with the more traditional fantasy fare. It;s easily ignored if that doesn’t fit the style of your game so don’t consider it a down point.
So, to recap the plan.
- Run the Skull and Shackles adventure path as is.
- Run The Moonscar (or liberally pillage it, can’t say till I’ve seen it).
- Use Distant Worlds to take them into space, and perhaps eventually as far as Greyspace…
I’ll be blogging about as I go, and as usual you can follow along with the character journals and such on the Obsidian Portal page for the campaign.
Click the links below to purchase these products (we get a few pennies to support our gaming habit if you do).Read More
As of this evening I am adding in something a bit Arthurian for our home campaign. Dolorous Wounds.
I saw this float past me on Owen K Stephen’s Google + Stream and immediately recognized it as something that would be great in a Planescape game. Here is his take on it followed by my own note on how it will be implemented in our home game. Players take heed, it is in effect as of next game and has already been integrated into the campaign wiki!
Some wounds do not answer to even the most powerful magic healing. When a character would normally be killed, the player may instead choose for the character to suffer a “dolorous wound.” The dolorous wound produces some physical ailment, agreed upon by player and the GM (normally a -1 penalty to one category of skill checks, most often Str, Dex, Con, or Cha-based skills, though a penalty to range modifier for losing an eye or a reduction of movement rate for a limp are also appropriate). The dolorous wound is so severe the damage is duplicated on the character’s soul, making it impossible to heal with normal magic. A special ritual may be able to fix a dolorous wound, but it has at least the cost and difficulty of a true resurrection spell.
DM Note: This option will only be available when offered by the DM. Dolorous wounds do not result from regular combat, the circumstances are always something legendary.
Many thanks to Owen for posting this as Open Content. If you use it elsewhere here is the correct Sec 15 entry for your OGL: Rules+. Copyright Owen K.C. Stephens 2010-2011; Author Owen K.C. Stephens.
An interesting discussion came up during our Pathfinder game the other night. Is cooking a craft skill or a profession skill?
Now our gaming group has a mix of pros from different fields in it – insurance, graphic design, web producer, and the one that made this talk most fruitful – a chef. After much discussion it was decided that for our game the logic is as follows:
- Craft: Cooking – denotes skill at cooking on a small scale such as in the home.
- Profession: Cook – denotes one skill at and used to cooking for large numbers of people, such as in a tavern setting.
I love the way that the gaming industry is moving more and more towards a patronage model. For those who might be unfamiliar with it here is the description from Open Design, the pioneers of this new approach to game development:
Open Design uses an old business model called patronage; you directly commission a game designer, mapper, and illustrators to produce an adventure of interest.
As a patron, you can participate in the project discussions, brainstorms, and polls. You’ll read design essays and have the opportunity to playtest and review material. If you’re a senior patron, you’ll have more access: maybe suggest an NPC or a monster, maybe write whole sections, but there’s no requirement to contribute text! Senior patrons also preview maps and artwork. While Senior Patrons have a lot of pull, but a particularly inspired idea can often be snapped up from the lower tier. A great idea is, after all, a great idea.
I’m just getting my feet wet with the process thanks to my lovely wife. Having lived with a Planescape junkie for over a decade she snapped me up a senior patronage for Dark Roads and Golden Hells, the new planar book being developed by Open Design.
It’s quite an experience, while couched in the familiar environment of forums the mere knowledge that you’re working on something that will be going to press seems to supercharge the creativity. It’s also forcing me to really address one of my own weak points – monster creation under the Pathfinder rules. It’s something I have not done a lot of. (I’ve got so much 3.x stuff I just convert or add class levels most of the time.) And having people like Colin McComb and Wofgang Bauer drop in and add commentary is always worth its weight in star rubies!
Then there is Mysteries of the Dead Side, another Patronage project launched using Kickstarter by Zombie Sky Press. It’s not a full book like Dark Roads and Golden Hells, but it is a nice pdf supplement with an interesting set of ideas behind it.
Join the ranks of the undead! Help create the sacred necromancer, a new class for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
This specialist class will explore all the possibilities of necromancy: revenants, “white necromancers,” ancestor worshipers, sin eaters, ghost detectives, exorcists, and more.
The man behind this one is Scott Gable, editor of Kobold Quarterly (magazine, blog, and patron projects) among many other things. The really interesting aspect of this project is that rather than using forums for the development discussions it is test driving Google +, the first RPG project like this to do so as far as I know.
All in all it’s fascinating to see the ebb and flow between patrons and creators. The brainstorming, the pitches, the voting and then the really fun part – the design!
I’ll be posting more about my initial experiences with patron projects as I find more to write about.Read More
As a Spelljammer DM this little project thrills me. The fine folks over at Clockwork Gnome Publishing look like they have a real winner on their hands with the forthcoming release of Sailing Starlit Sea, a fantasy space supplement.
Now here is the part I really love. You see, every attempt at fantasy space since Spelljammer has felt obligated to address space travel differently. This project allows for a lot more versatility by allowing you a number of options including the traditional Spelljamer perspective [emphasis below is my own]:
However, one of the key parts of Sailing the Starlit Sea will be the Campaign Overlays. These will provide advice on how to alter the standard assumptions to your tastes. Campaign Overlays will address everything from methods of interstellar travel to adjusting the physical laws of the universe. So if Platonic inspired crystalline spheres are your preference,Sailing the Starlit Sea will provide a way to accommodate that choice while still preserving the rules and setting presented in the book.
With the final product not due out till early 2012 how can we judge what to expect from it? Easily, my dear cutter, they’ve just released a few teasers with info about their main solar system and more. Check them out:
- The Major Planets of the Seren System
- The Moons, the Shattered Wanderer, and Other Celestial Bodies of the Seren System
- Monsters of the Starlit Sea
This looks like fun, here’s hoping the crunch is as good as the fluff is so far.
By the way if, like most Pathfinder DMs I know, you scavenge old 3.x material for your game you might be interested in this old chestnut I wrote looking at some that are very useful for a PFRPG/3.x campaign: Contraband – Some Third Edition Spelljammer Resources.
Deities: Celestian of Greyspace, Ptah
Spelljamming Adept (Su): The cleric gains +2 SR when manning a spelljamming helm, and can Locate Portal in an adjacent crystal shell as a spell-like ability twice per day as long as the cleric is within 400′ + 40′ /level of the sphere’s surface.
Inspired Flight (Su): At 8th Level the cleric gains an additional +2 SR that stacks with the one from Spelljamming Adept. In addition the cleric also gains a +4 to all Pilot Spelljammer skill checks. The later ability may be used for a number of rounds per day equal to 3 + Wis bonus + 1 per every five cleric levels.
1st Create Air. Provides air, 2nd Contact Home Power. Contacts your god from any crystal sphere, 3rd Chill Fire. Makes the phlogiston less flamable, 4th Create Portal. Opens a portal in the adjacent crystal shell, 5th Create Minor Helm. Makes a temporary minor helm, 6th Find The Path. Shows the most direct way to a location, 7th Repair Ship. Repairs major damage to a ship, or builds a liferaft, 8th Renew Ship Atmosphere. Completely refreshes most ship’s air envelope, 9th Living Helm You become a major spelljamming helm.
Please note: the spells linked are still in their 3.5 configuration. They are next on my list.Read More
Not wanting to catch anyone by surprise I wanted to throw up a few quick notes on some of the changes between 3.5 and Pathfinder. As I have noted to our players, anything for 3.5 that have is probably legal. It is almost a case of adding something rather than taking something away when converting to Pathfinder, they designed it that way. I think you will enjoy the new rules once you’ve had a chance to try them!
So here are some of the basics:
Character Advancement: Pathfinder built characters use the XP chart found here: Classes; using the Slow Progression as the default. It will take more XP to level at higher levels than in 3.5; but this is offset by the fact that Pathfinder awards larger XP values and the DM’s bonues for role playing. In addition, works that expand on the campaign universe- character sketches, in character journals, etc. – receive XP bonuses as well.
I’m sure everyone will be pleased to hear that in Pathfinder characters gain a feat at every odd level rather than every 3; allowing for more and earlier customization (getting your 3rd feat at 5th level, then 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th, etc).
Skill Changes: Firstly cross class skills now cost the same as class skills, to make up for this you get a +3 to each class skill to balance it out. In addition several skills were consolidated in Pathfinder. The skill info can be found here: Using Skills and Skill List.
Favored Classes: Multi-class penalties no longer exist. You may multiclass freely as you wish. However upon character creation you may declare a favored class for your PC (not a prestige class). Each level you take in that class grants you either +1 HP or +1 skill point for each level in that class.
Combat Changes: Pathfinder combat is mostly like 3.5 combat, but has had a few major changes.
- Concentration is no longer a skill. A caster making a concentration check rolls 1d20 + CL + key ability + other modifiers (such as feats). Concentrating while being grappled is now much more difficult; having a DC of 10 + grappler’s combat maneuver bonus (see below) + the spell level.
- Combat Maneuvers: All the colorful stuff -Bull-rush, Disarm, Grapple, and Tripping, etc. were rolled into a single mechanic. All PCs have a Combat Maneuver Bonus (CMB) and a Combat Maneuver Defense (CMB) for combat maneuvers. A character’s CMB is their BAB + Strength + Size Modifier + other modifiers. This is rolled versus a character’s CMD, which is 10 + their BAB + Strength and Dex + Size modifier + other modifiers.
- Size: Creature size modifiers to combat maneuvers were halved (+1 large, +2 huge, +4 gargantuan, +8 colossal, reversing it for small, tiny, diminutive, and fine). Now success in these maneuvers relies more on skill and training.
- Acrobatics (Tumble) checks to avoid opportunity attacks now are rolled against the attacker’s CMD as a DC (thus a 20th level fighter is much more difficult to tumble past than a 1st level hadozee shaman).
- Use Rope was removed. Tying someone up can now be done as part of a grapple (with a -10 penalty to attempt to tie them while they struggle), or if they are unconscious or otherwise unable to resist it is done without checks. The DC to escape the bonds is 20 + CMB of the person who tied you up; and it keeps you pinned; and suffer from the Pinned condition.
- Poison now deals its damage over multiple rounds rather than all at once.
- Disease also changed mechanically.
- Wild Shape and all the polymorph spells (such as alter self, polymorph, shapechange and similar spells got nerfed into very effective but far less abuse friendly forms.
- Some Spells got reduced in power due, which corrected a lot of the casters are gods issues.
- All the classes got adjusted. Most of them simply gained new toys that make them viable through all 20 levels. Druid and Cleric had a variety of changes -druid because wild-shape doesn’t allow you to min-max-murder and cleric lost heavy armor proficiency and some spells, but now gets a free martial weapon and better turning mechanic.
-Loki, DMRead More