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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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
I’m guilty as all hell.
Guilty of working on the Obsidian Portal wiki for the game rather than posting here. It’s my own fault and I make no apologies. You see, we started the new game last night. Ad Astra Per Arcana has kicked off the latest campaign in the Planejammer series as it enters it’s thirty-first year!
Before I go on about the new game and our experiments with video conferencing I’d like to thank everyone who voted for us. Our Spelljoined campaign, affectionately referred to as the Cincinnati game, won Obsidian Portal’s Campaign of the Year for 2011. I’ll be sharing photos of the trophy full of dice as soon as it arrives in the mail!
With the new game we decided to bring in one of the players from The Spelljoined via video. With modern technology four state lines should be as nothing to a bunch of determined gamers. First we tried the Hangouts function on Google+ which held up reasonably well for a while. Unfortunately as time wore on and we had been using it for an hour or so the video and audio artifacts began to multiply like orcs in an adventurer free zone.
Since we had Mac devices on each end we decided to try Facetime from the Mac desktop here in New Orleans. Without an available external mic we were limited to the factory offering. This was still not cutting it.
Then I had an inspiration – what about my iPhone? It’s got Facetime and relatively decent volume when in speaker mode.
At first it was clunky, but I think it turns out to be the best bet when only bringing one player into the came virtually like we were. I ran an audio-out to my stereo system and we adjusted her volume to the average conversational level of the room and it worked out perfectly.
We used a small stand for the iPhone so we could rotate her view, which took a bit of work. One terrific aspect of this approach, despite the extra work of playing camera-man as well as DM, came when doing combat. Unlike a stationary webcam I could easily rotate her view of the battle mat and miniatures, even setting the iPhone down on the battle mat itself. This afforded an on the ground view most players never see, one that garnered quite a look of surprise from Emily when we tried it.
While we have not looked into Skype yet, a service I use a lot but that was not available on the other end, I don’t thing we will need to. Despite the trailing audio cable using the iPhone in the way seems to offer the easiest way to really bring a single player to the table over long distance.
Between that and Obsidian Portal for managing character sheets and game data we have the makings of a great tool set for bringing in guest stars and other long distance gamers. In the future we will be trying to reboot the Spelljoined as a purely online game. Whether Hangouts, Oovoo, or Skype end up being our best bet for a game where everybody is on webcam remains to be seen, but I’ll make sure to report on our experiments as they evolve.
One last quick announcement. If you’re looking for a new fantasy novel to read on your Kindle? Check out Eria by Andrew Sanderson with the cover done by Planejammer artist, Emily Vitori, as it’s free for the next two days!
If you’ve been gaming over video I’d love to hear about what has and has not worked for your group, let us know in the comments or circle the Planejammer page on Google+ and interact!Read More
The Spelljoined won Campaign of the Month last April on Obsidian Portal. That means we are in the running for Campaign of the Year, and voting ends on the 31st!
Being a bit of a narcissist I would love to win this purely for my own egotistic satisfaction, however there is more than that in the equation. You see, we have two brand new game artists on our team and their imagery is what really brings it all to life. Just read through the Journals and you’ll see some amazing illustration as well as some truly entertaining writing.
As the DM I am the overall architect of their fate, but as you can see from the journals we have hit on a really good streak of gaming at it’s best – collaborative storytelling. Even if my rules design doesn’t grab you their art and the fiction they’ve produced most assuredly will.
Check them out our artists’ galleries on Deviant Art:
- RavenKin did our logo and the more Manga looking artwork while
- Syreene did the majority of the illustrations found here and on Obsidian Portal.
It would be a great kick in the pants to see them get this sort of recognition.
Vote Here for The Spelljoined because we would all really appreciate it!
Statblocks are wonderful things. They are a nice, compact, and standardized was of presenting information ranging from cities, to ships, to NPCs.
Since it seems there are so many gamers out there bereft of a game, and so many DMs looking for players, that a stat block for campaigns might be in order. After all, if you’re looking for a game wouldn’t it be great to be able to get the pertinent details about play style and options right off the bat?
I’ve been using a simple one for years now and it’s worked very well, saves a lot of time when screening new players. It’s basically as follows:
Rules: List the rules system and whatever add on’s you plan to use – critical hit decks, additional source books, etc. .
Setting: What world will you be playing in? Is it an established setting like the Forgotten Realms, a homebrew world, or something else?
Rating: I generally use movie style ratings (G, PG, R, etc.) along with warnings if adult themes will be addressed.
Emphasis: It is mostly combat, mostly role playing, or a blend of the two. Will it be heroic in nature or grim and gritty?
Psionics: Are there psionics in this campaign, if so are they treated as standard or differently.
Firearms: Do they exist? Are they primitive or advanced?
Starting Level: This is where you denote low, medium or high level games
Starting Characters: List any options beyond the core rules that players have access to while generating their characters.
Game Night: How often, how long per session, and location.
For Example, the statblock for my main game is:
Planejammer: The Spelljoined
Rules: Pathfinder, augmented with a large variety of non core WOTC books and third-party publications as well as extensive house rules. We also use the Paizo Critical Hit and Critical Fumble decks.
Setting: Spelljammer / Planescape [This means that most standard / homebrew settings can exist somewhere in the multiversal framework.]
Rating: Adult themes, NSFW.
Emphasis: Role Playing, not roll playing. XP bonuses for good characterization and role-playing are standard. XP Bonuses are standard for creating setting material- character journals, sketches, etc.
Psionics: Yes, using Psionics Unleashed for core psionic rules. Psionics are different, limited.
Firearms: Emerging Firearms
Starting Level: 3rd, Generated according to our campaign standard.
Starting Characters: Due to the multiplanar nature of the setting all character concepts will be considered. Eberron, Ptolus, Ravenloft, Greyhawk, Planescape, d20 Modern, Dragonstar, Dragonlance, Spelljammer, Iron Kingdoms and most other d20 based settings are subsets of the main game and are valid choices.
Game Night: Thursday Evenings 7-11 pm, starting early October 2010 at Mardi Gras Manor in Northside Cincinnati. All attendees must follow the rules of the house.
I have a campaign statblock on the home page of each of my games on Obsidian Portal as well. I find it makes it easier on casual readers.
Hope you’ve found this useful, good gaming!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.
In which the gentleman in question (in the guise of Factor Evensong of the Dustmen) regales you with the dark of the Bodak, an undead monstrosity from the chaotic and evil Abyss.
In gentleman question which the in (guise in the Factotum of Zeenerdee of Xaositects the) gives you dark those cutters the on lawful modrons known as the Mechanus of.