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.
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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!
Today we bring to you guys, a truly awesome showcase of campaign depth and intricacy. The very dedicated and friendly DungeonMasterLoki shares with us a bit about his game, his players and gives us some sound advice. The Spelljoined campaign has been going on since before some of us were born! So ‘ave a seat cutter, and stop rattlin’ your bone box for a just minute and park your ears right here!
So begins the blog post which announces our status as the feature Campaign for the entire month of April on Obsidian Portal! I can’t thank our contributing players, artists, and writers of crunch enough. You are all brilliant!
So rest assured that there is still a lot to go up on the Campaign wiki, we’re talking 30 years of setting development here. I’m slowly getting The Seven Stars and The Misfits formatted and online.
Additionally, all of the campaign journals, rules and such are undergoing a full migration to Obsidian Portal. This website will be transitioning to general RPG news and updates on the forthcoming line of pdf supplements we are working in for Pathfinder.
So here they are, the last three campaigns of the Planejammer series in various states of construction:
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I sit up in a cold sweat and grab the edges of my hammock before I fall out into a heap on the floor. As I look around I see that we’re not on the Spelljammer anymore; in fact, we never left our sleeping quarters.
After waking up the rest and conferring, we discover that it’s still three days previous and we’ve yet to meet Torgan Betts. Great… now I get to hear yet again how that greasy windbag plans on setting us up. As I pack my gear and get ready for the day I notice the remnants of burnt incense in the portal window. Hmmn… it seems the Dream Lord’s warning should definitely be heeded. Someone is making sure we sleep and manipulating our dreams. Perhaps I should talk with Veddis for some advice on preparing myself for the next time?
We go through the motions yet again with Torgan Betts, but this time take a moment to check out the Sphere Arcane on the way. What could it hurt, right? If these people are so big on building helms, maybe they’d have knowledge of the Spelljammer; and if they don’t, I can at least check out the gambling houses for some quick money.
We go through the obligatory inspections from the Elven Fleet who happen to be in system capturing one of OUR marks (I bite my tongue at this), and nod politely when they warn us to “be good or else.” Trust me… I’m not planning on getting into trouble around here, especially after seeing the multitude of Stone Golems floating in rings around their moon.
After a rather uneventful information gathering attempt (though I did make 50gp off of a naïve blue-skinned creature) we take off from Refuge and head from Realmspace to Greatspace.
I stand with Lenotta as she pilots our ship and do my best to keep an eye on Dorbo and his mystery box. I try not to think about what might be in it and instead start comparing Dorbo to Willhomina in my head when something strange happens; for just a brief flicker of a moment, his appearance changes and I swear he went from a sharply dressed military Giff to a savage hippo covered in blood. I shake my head and quickly look away; could this be one of those rips in reality the Kobald spoke of, or is it just my wild imagination?
Before I can ponder this further, a silent-running Wasp ship suddenly buzzes past our windows, bringing us out of warp.Read More
The next morning, after a strong cup of mead to get rid of the headache from that dream, I decide to go to the Seeker library to see if I can dig up any information about incidences where these rips in the continuum might have been encountered before. That, and I still can’t understand why a Kobold? Is he an important figure I’ve just never heard of? It’s worth a shot to check the books just in case.
In the meantime, it seems that Vedis and Ef Utan have managed to stir up some business. We are to meet someone named Torgan Betts at the Drunken Neogi for a job come six bells. At least it’s something to do… my research hasn’t turned up much, other than some characters named Elminster and Merlind who have supposedly dealt with other dimensions of time and space. I highly doubt our Kobold was one ofthem. This just makes me doubt things even more. I mean seriously… a Kobold?!?
The group rejoins for lunch and then we make our way very carefully around the edge of Shu Town to reach a dump of a bar full of opium smoke and smelling of stale beer and rancid meat. Thank goodness I ate light today. We make our way to the back of the bar to meet a gangly human male with slicked back hair and a goatee guarded by the second Giff I’ve ever seen in my life. I wonder if he’s ever met Wilhomina Uft?
I shake myself out of my reverie and focus on the instructions Betts is laying out. Take the sealed metal box and deliver it unopened to someone in Greyspace, and the Giff is coming along to make sure you do it. Got it.
As we leave the bar to make arrangements with the ship, I nudge Ef Utan and mutter “You realize this is a trap, right?”Read More
As the Guard escort them to the Donjon Kenari hides her theives tools in her hair. When all of their gear is confiscated before being led to their cells her tools are missed.
They are all locked into adjoining 5′ x 10′ cells and Ayrun prestidigitizes chalk for Kenari so she can leave off color heiroglyphs on the walls of hers. While doing so he calls out in draconic and gets the attention of the upstairs guards. Determining fairly quickly that they don’t understand the language he uses it to confer with his fellow prisoners. Ef Utan, being the only one who doesn’t speak it, is left out.
The next morning a bureocrat and squad of guards march them out of the Donjon and into the upper city at sword point. All but Vedis are brought to a manor house in the upper city, she continues on towards the grounds of Castle Skyview. When ef Utan asks a guard where she’s being taken he say she has an appointment with Lord Cartan.
Left to wait in a meeting room they are soon joined by an aide to the magistrate. He explains that the leads on the Tenth Pit discovered have made his master inclined to be lenient. The minimum sentence of thirty days hard labor on the Underside has been chosen. After giving them a moment or two to sweat he goes on to say that Large Luigi and Lady Tarilla Moune have interceded on their behalf and as a result the sentence has been downgraded to a fine of 75,000 gold. Additionally the Crown offers 100,000 gp for the Frostfire and it’s helms. The fine will, of course, be deducted prior to disbursement of funds. They accept enthusiastically!
When they ask about Vedis they are told that she is under scrutiny for not having revealed and registered her pyrokinetic talents before now. There is no telling how long she will be or what penalties she might face.Read More
I’m teaching myself iMovie and this is one of the things I’ve been practicing with -a video slideshow of art produced by players from the last three Planejammer games. Here’s to all of them!
-Loki, Dungeon Master and novice film editorRead More