Sunday, September 8, 2013

Tomb of Bonebreaker

Pursued by Ragna, a gargantuan Roc the size of a house, the party entered the "forbidden place," sandstone canyons leading to the Tomb of Bonebreaker. The Roc had crushed two cyclops the party had brought along, but it could not fit in the narrow canyons. Along they way, they discovered standing stones and a portal leading to the Negative Energy Plane. Negative energy permeated the area, as the portal was in a "bad state," nether open nor closed. A skeletal figure lay next to the stones, a hapless wizard who attempted, unsuccessfully, to utilize the powerful magical artifact.

Upon correcting the artifact, the portal was opened. A few minutes later, a badly injured lich emerged. The party parlayed for a few moments, but on his heals were five, gargoyle like creatures, their bodies made of a purple crystal. The evil sceaduinars killed the lich and began attacking the party. Calderon, the wizard, closed the portal, sending back two of the five creatures, as they hovered above the platform. A third cast a powerful spell at Calderon and killed him in a blast of negative energy, enough to destroy the wizard three times over.

The sceaduinars were eventually slain without further mishap and the portal was successfully claimed by the party. The wizard, now reincarnated as a vanara, was able to get the once dominated assassin back under his control and used the portal to alter his memories as a means to make him serve the party without magical compulsion. 

Proceeding on, the party found headless skeletons as they approached the tomb. These were once animated, before the portal was de-activated, but they now were piles of bones, the negative energy that dominated their feeble forms no longer flowing through them. The door of the temple held a nasty decapitation trap, which the party was able to disable.  

Within the temple, they found a large sarcophagi with the remains of bonebreaker, along with a 40 foot tall flagstone golem that attempted to pound the party into mush. Eventually the golem was destroyed and the party moved on, exploring the queen's chamber and discovering a secret staircase down to the treasure chamber.

Herein lies Bonebreaker the Bear, King of Aparnisi, jewel of the forest, and defender of the empire. May the full protection of all abjurations protect our great king.

Within the treasure chamber are various chests, additional sarcophagi of human servants, a reflection pool and a large platform where a servant of the empire should have been located. The plaque read:

The great Galanos, friend to the empire and keeper of men. For 500 years, great structures were built, order maintained and life preserved through the diligent effort of the great guardian from the East.

That's when the great Galanos, now an animated dragon skeleton, emerged from the pool to attack.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Order of the Silver Wolf

After defeating the corrupted bulletes in the farming region of Codaver. The Heroes of Tara headed back to town in hopes of discovering the location of the Tomb of Bonebreaker and the magic cloak that could lead them to a cyclops city. As they walked back to town, One Ball the druid discovered wolf tracks, right around the time the weather turned bad, with wind blowing and storm clouds overhead. Calderon the wizard confirmed that this was no normal storm, his last words before his death.

From atop a bluff, the bumbling soothsayer from the village shot powerful lightning from his hands. It hit One Ball and arced to everyone else, which is when Calderon was slain. The cleric quickly revived the wizard, but the battle raged on, with lightning bolts falling from the stormy sky. Attacks on the soothsayer revealed he was protected from both fire and electricity. Two wolves, perfect specimens, assisted the soothsayer in attacking the party. Eventually the soothsayer, who turned out to be a powerful werewolf druid of the highly secretive Order of the Silver Wolf, was defeated. Towards the end of the combat, a crowd of townsfolk had gathered to witness the spectacle.

Upon returning town and investigating further, the party discovered elements of The Order of the Silver Wolf amongst the people. When pressed, Verdandi the bard, admitted his membership and agreed to assist the party if they brought the werewolf druid back to life. He was too important to the order to be defeated in such a way. Verdandi explained his motivations to the party, and it was agreed they should work together. Meanwhile, the townsfolk venerated One Ball as their new druid, as it appeared he had defeated the soothsayer in mortal combat, a valid challenge under druidic law. One Ball had found a territory by defeating the old druid, his blade having dealt a decapitating blow to the werewolf.

After reincarnating the werewolf druid, who was now no longer a werewolf, and was, in fact, a goblin, Verdandi spilled some of the secrets of the order. The ancient order was created to prevent  robbers and adventurers from discovering the Tomb of Bonebreaker. Once such a discovery was made, it could eventually lead to the hidden location of the cyclops vault of artifacts. The vault contains the most dangerous magical items from ancient times. After the last great war, the order believed humanity could not be trusted with such power.

Verdandi arranged a meeting with the top members of the order. The party argued at the meeting that the malevolent Tuatha, Crannog, posed a great threat to humanity and was after the key in Bonebreaker's Tomb already. It was only a matter of time before he found a way in. The order knew of Crannog and some of his plans, so they listened intently as the party laid out their thinking.

Asked how they were different than Crannog, the party identified themselves as Heroes of Tara, and Verdandi was able to confirm this fact by quizzing them about details of their adventures. The bard had sung enough songs in praise of the band of heroes to be sure they were legitimate. The party argued they could permanently hide the ancient cyclops artifact on another plane, which seemed like an ideal solution to the order, and well beyond their power to achieve.

The Order of the Silver Wolf agreed to allow the party to enter the Tomb of Bonebreaker. Although they had no experience breaching the tomb, they agreed not to attempt to stop them. The horrors of the tomb would be theirs to overcome.

As for the mystery of the disappearances, or "curse," in Codaver, the order was responsible for that. Those of great strength and good heart were convinced to join the order. They left their old lives to defend the tomb, taking on the gift of lycanthropy with their brothers. Those powerful adventurers who were not of good heart or who only wished to raid the Tomb of Bonebreaker, were strongly encouraged to leave, while those who refused to heed the warnings, died at the hands of the order. The party found such tactics very much in line with their own and suggested they combine their organizations.

Monday, June 3, 2013

On to Codaver

The Heroes of Tara set sail for The Wall Lighthouse, an anchorage point half way between Tara and Codaver. They witnessed a caravelle following them from afar with likely bad intentions, but it was too heavily laden to catch the small, fast, empty ship of the heroes. The heroes made their anchorage and left the boat to proceed on foot. The Wall was now heavily defended by soldiers, thanks to income from the nearby salt mine.

They made their way through the badlands without trouble, arriving at Khu Sim Sim in the afternoon. The village in the badlands is in a lake valley, their homes on tall pillars of rock with wood suspension bridges in a semi circle. In the center of the lake is an island with standing stones. The stones draw the salt from the lake and are placed on a conjunction with the elemental plane of earth.

The party was at Khu Sim Sim because Maedoch wanted his follower, White Feather, to visit his home village. White Feather was now a half elf but even more shocking was no longer deaf, as the villagers puncture their ear drums to avoid their top predator, harpies. After much discussion in sign language, the village elder, Black Feather, decided White Feather could go through the ritual when he decides to return to the village for good. A party was thrown, and as is the tradition, new seed was sown, so to speak.

The next day the party returned to their ship and proceeded up the coast. As they slowly threaded the needle of treacherous rocks along the coast, the ship was attacked by an enormous octopus, a giant spyglass. It plucked several crewmen off the deck, including the captain, and submerged in an inky cloud as the party attempted to destroy it. It jetted away, badly injured, as Calderon jumped into the ocean and dove beyond the cloud. His Magic Missile spell, at the far extent of its range, was just enough to kill the creature. Aedh also dove into the water from his position flying over the battle and administered Water Breathing potions to the badly injured crewmen.

With the crew back on board, the ship continued north and again, the caravelle was following far behind. Halfway through the day, they came upon what appeared to be a castaway, an old man on a piece of flotsam off to their left.  As the ship came into range, Calderon, ever suspicious, cast a Detect Magic on the man, finding he indeed radiated magic. With enough time it was determined to be a Transmutation spell, and as the ship got closer, Calderon cast a Dispel Magic, which immediately submerged the bit of flotsam as the man transformed into a large bronze dragon.

 "Well, that's never happened before." Bruneus said in surprise. The dragon went on to tell the party how he patrols these waters for pirates and evil doers, punishing them as warranted. As he's fairly young, he's only been doing this for a hundred years or so.

When told of the caravelle and their clearly evil intentions, Bruneus asked the captain to take the ship further out to determine if their being followed might just be a coincidence. When the captain did so, the caravelle made clear course adjustments to follow and Bruneus became perturbed. He jumped overboard and a moment later a cloud fog could be seen in front of the caravelle. As the ship entered the cloud, flashes from within the cloud and shouts of surprise could be heard nearly a quarter mile from the ship. As the caravelle emerged from the fog cloud, it could be seen both its masts were in shambles, hanging off the side of their ship.

Bruneus appeared back aboard the ship and Calderon insisted they take the caravelle. Bruneus believed the damage done was punishment enough and would not assist in such an act. After much argument the party agreed with Bruneus and they headed to Codaver, albeit at a much higher speed, which Calderon believed was due to dragon magic from Bruneus.

As the party approached Codaver, a small ship came out to great them. It was the young sheriff, Kelda Skeen, and two of her deputies. She warned the parry not to land. Codaver was unsafe. Visitors were not welcome and many people who have visited have simply gone missing. Still, if they wished to dock, she wouldn't stop them. The party thanked the sheriff for her advice and decided to dock anyway.

Codaver turned out to be an insular community, a mixed race group of Northmen and Yan-Ki who cared little for outsiders and who exhibited outward signs of racism, except for Verdandi, a token half elf bard at Seamus' Tavern. The entire town smelled of rotting fish and exposed shoreline and it cloyed on clothing and in nostrils even when left behind. The party was greeted by Strom, the town grumpy soothsayer, who smelled horribly of dog, who threatened bad things if they did not leave.

Everyone told the party to leave, that they were in danger, and when the party discovered a problem with local farmers gone missing, they decided to take up the challenge. People thought they were crazy, except for Strom, who thought it was an excellent idea. He mumbled something about "two birds with one stone."

The party left town and headed to the nearby farms. Two farms were situated next to each other with a cairn on the hillside above. Giant holes in the fields led the party to believe familiar monsters were around, likely bulettes, common nuisances in the badlands. Entering the farmhouses, they discovered large holes in each, with blood around the holes where the hapless family was likely killed.

Rather than jump into dangerous holes, the party investigated the cairn on the hill above. Calderon used magic to open the door and Sfiri used her tracking skills to determine the caign had been entered before, but perhaps decades ago. The door had a name in Northman engraved on it, Solveig. History spoke of this Northman warrior priestess of Hel. She was a hero of battle who led her troops to victory over the cyclops of Redstone Island. She had little regard for her own men, the legend told, but she was an excellent general. This was likely her tomb.

The party proceeded down the subterranean passage, passing various graves, robbed long ago. As the approached a curve, they noticed a breach in the wall, with debris in the corridor, as well as a flickering red glow next to it, on a solid steel door. A malfunctioning magic mouth asked them to speak the name of the fallen warrior, but refused to open when the password was given. The red glow was a powerful protection ward, infused with infernal energy. The debris pattern indicated whatever came through the wall attempted to bash the door, despite the magical protections.

Proceeding down the breach passageway, the party came to a four way intersection. A loud chirp could be heard as two bulette's emerged from the side passages and a small one appeared ahead, apparently giving orders to the first two and rushing forward heedlessly itself. The small bulette had a red glow about it and exuded a powerful acid. It also turned out to have a poisonous bite, as Aedh, the cleric spent most of the combat attempting not to die from its toxic poison.

Calderon was later able to surmise that the infernal bulette was likely effected by the magic in the cairn. As bulettes are thought to be the creation of a mad wizard, they are perhaps susceptible to magical mutations.

The battle was furious but the bulettes were finally defeated, the small one charmed by Calderon, but not after being enfeebled by Sfiri. With a charmed bulette, Calderon was able to get it to breech the tomb of Solveig, after which the party was happy to loot her of her belongings.

Treasure: +1 Chainmail, +1 Flaming Giant Bane Morningstar, Masterwork Dagger (2),
Belt of giant strength +2, Iron unholy symbol of Hel.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Month of Tinne

As Tara grows, and your influence spreads, various events occur with your projects in town. There are also new magic items available.

In Town Events

Tower of Math
A desperate young man arrives at the tower. His clothes are salt encrusted and his lips are blistered. He claims to have powerful arcane knowledge he can offer in exchange for sanctuary and a place at the school.

Tara Keep (Maedoch's Guildhouse)
One of the men, a talented and enterprising brewer, has been caught diverting kegs for his own purposes, mostly divvying them out to friends and family but selling a few as well.

Shipyard and Temple of Mannanan Mac Lir
A plainly dressed warrior arrives and identifies himself as a Son of Mannanan. He pulls a set of very old, silver items of worship from what's clearly a bag of holding. There are candelabra, bells, incense dishes, and a silver torc encrusted with small emeralds, a clear symbol of the faith. He tearfully presents them to the temple and expresses gratitude that it still exists.

Calderon's Skunk Works
No new activity.

Magical Threat Authority
Training Drill: The MTA engages in a threat take down drill and Sfiri needs to make a successful Diplomacy, Intimidate or Profession (soldier, or other) check to pull it off.

New Magic Items
Tara is a small city and there is a 75% chance that any magic item up to the Purchase Limit price (25,000 gp) is available.

Minor Items:

  • Ring: Ring of swarming stabs; 6,000 gp
  • Wondrous Item: Bag of holding (type III) (Slotless); 7,400 gp
  • Ring: Ring of maniacal devices; 5,000 gp
  • Wand: Aspect of the bear (2nd Level, CL 3rd); 4,500 gp
  • Wondrous Item: Belt of incredible dexterity +2 (Belts); 4,000 gp
  • Wondrous Item: Cloak of resistance +2 (Shoulders); 4,000 gp
  • Wondrous Item: Headband of fortune’s favor (Headband); 7,700 gp
  • Ring: Ring of swarming stabs; 6,000 gp
  • Wand: Heat metal (2nd Level, CL 3rd); 4,500 gp
  • Wondrous Item: Ghostvision gloves (Hands); 4,000 gp
  • Medium Items:
  • Wand: Invisibility, greater (4th Level, CL 7th); 21,000 gp
  • Wand: Invisibility (2nd Level, CL 3rd); 4,500 gp
  • Wand: Wood shape (2nd Level, CL 3rd); 4,500 gp
  • Wand: Magic circle against law (3rd Level, CL 5th); 11,250 gp
  • Wand: Summon monster II (2nd Level, CL 3rd); 4,500 gp
  • Wondrous Item: Amulet of mighty fists +2 (Neck); 20,000 gp
  • Wand: Restoration (4th Level, CL 7th); 26,000 gp
  • Wand: Invisibility (2nd Level, CL 3rd); 4,500 gp
  • Wand: Bear’s endurance (2nd Level, CL 3rd); 4,500 gp
  • Wondrous Item: Mask of the skull (Head); 22,000 gp
  • Wand: Cat’s grace (2nd Level, CL 3rd); 4,500 gp
  • Major Items:
  • Wand: Confusion (4th Level, CL 7th); 21,000 gp
  • Staff: Staff of spiders; 30,200 gp
  • Sunday, May 12, 2013

    The Annals of Denbacan

    Translated from the ancient language of the Early Men

    Centuries ago, the wealthy Phoenician wizard-merchant Sakarbaal travelled to the Island of Redstone after hearing the rumor of a Font of Youth. The aging wizard was willing to travel any distance, compromise any principle, sacrifice everything, to prolong his natural life. The exception was necromancy, as becoming a lich, he would explain, was to give up most of the earthly pleasures Sakarbaal loved.

    Speaking of which, Sakarbaal brought his young apprentice, Urumkiiki. The boy knew he would not see his family again and might spend the rest of his short life in the wilderness with his old master. Regardless, he thought himself lucky if he could partake in immortality at the side of his master. They sailed the long distance in the wizard’s opulent ship, selling the gold plated pleasure vessel, a family heirloom, in Northman controlled Tara to fund their expedition. 

    The two enlisted Early Men explorers in town to take them to cyclop ruins in the north. There was ambush and betrayal as the unscrupulous guides misled the explorers. However, they had not counted on the cleverness and ruthlessness of Sakarbaal, and when the wizard arrived at the Early Men village where the scouts originated, fire claimed the lives of half the inhabitants, with one slain every hour until a true guide was brought to him. 

    That is when I, Denbacan, stepped forward. As I write this, I wonder if history will view me as a brave explorer or betrayer of my people's heritage. In any case, with my help, we headed for forbidden lands. Since gaining our freedom from the cyclops centuries ago, it has been forbidden to enter those lands, for fear that unknown horrors may be awoken. The admission that I knew the lands well would forever cloud my peoples view of me, and perhaps this is why Sakarbaal allowed me to live. We are maybe not so different from each other.

    We took to the mountains and over the next several months, half of the explorers died along the way, either through illness or attacks from monsters, especially the vile green dragon, Chrysox. Sakarbaal eventually parlayed for safe passage with Chrysox, offering him a magical sword of some sort. With the dragon allowing passage, we soon discovered an ancient Cyclopean city, and in its center, a powerful artifact. It was not the secret of youth, as Sakarbaal had desired, but a device rumored to be far more powerful, The Machine of Creation.

    Sakarbaal was angry and despondent, but thankfully did not take out his frustration on me or the men. Eventually he came up with an idea. If he could not be immortal through some font or elixir, perhaps there was another way. 

    The Font of Creation, according to Sakarbaal's research, could create a demiplane, if given enough energy. A demiplane was nothing to Sakarbaal, but an infinite number of demiplanes, populated by worshipers, would be something else entirely. Sakarbaal could populate these realms with followers and achieve immortality through godhood!  But such a plan would require enormous, near infinite power. 

    On the way out of the mountains, Sakarbaal convinced his men of the merits of the plan, joking that each would be a high priest in the faith of Sakar, the reference to his family god Baal dropped completely at this point. And where would he find these people to worship him?

    I snuck out of the camp that evening, leaving the crazy old man with his enormous machine, small army of porters, and his high priests. How and where they would go to harness such great power will remain a mystery to me.

    Thursday, April 25, 2013

    Gebel of the Phoenician Acadamy

    Over 6,000 years old, Gebel is the oldest city in the world and the first Phoenician city, although it may have started as a Badaran colony. The city worships the mother of Gebel, Ba’alat Gebel in The Great Temple overlooking the sea. She’s a god of the sea, love and beauty, and the women of the town are known regionally as the most beautiful.
    The town’s scenic beauty, openness to ideas, embracing of nature and worship of the goddess of love, and a population with a lot of young students (and a ‘non-lawful” alignment), has resulted in a “romantic” reputation.
    The city exports cedar and pine, along with salt and red pottery. It has a large number of farmers who wish their children to one day attend the local Academae, so there is an abundance of food in the town, much of which is exported. Its primary draw is The Phoenician Academae, an academy focusing on practical magic.
    The Phoenician Academae is the most respected arcane school in the region and builds up slowly in its study from what was lost in Barothai, teaching ethics and philosophy along with magic in hopes of avoiding past mistakes.
    Purple robed wizards study arcana, along with history, nature and nobility, with expectations they will one day be advisors to kings throughout the world.  Students are required to take a level in druid through their training, and are brought into the druidic mysteries as well. To be admitted to the Academae, students need to be neutral somewhere in their alignment or flexible enough in one axis that they can be “turned” through study.
    Those of the academy believe their teachings have appeased the various forces of nature who hunted  other cultures for their past transgressions.
    GEBEL (Gebal)

    NG Large city

    Corruption +0; Crime +1; Economy +3; Law +3; Lore +8; Society +4

    Qualities abdundant, academic, peacebonding, religious tolerance, romantic, well-educated
    The settlement has access to extraordinary natural resources: rich farmland, a deep lake, excellent hunting grounds nearby or even a convenient source of magical sustenance. The local food surplus makes the settlement a major exporting hub, and increases the standard of living for its inhabitants.
    Reduce the purchase price of most forms of locally-grown food and livestock by 25% or more.

    By local law, any weapon larger than a dagger and all wands and rods must either be peacebound or stored at the local sherrif’s office or jail (at the settlement’s option) for the duration of the visit. Peacebonding a weapon involves winding a colored cord tightly around the weapon and its scabbard, and then impressing the local seal in wax. Removing the peacebond requires a full round action before the item can be drawn. (Disable Device DC 12 to untangle the bond as a move equivalent action; bond HP 5, no hardness).

    Religious Tolerance
    The settlement is known for its widespread religious tolerance, and many faiths have temples, cathedrals or monasteries here. Religious debates in the public square are common.

    The settlement’s inhabitants are renowned for their stunning beauty and charm, and the location has been made famous in dozens of romantic songs, poems and bawdy limericks. Affairs of the heart are common here, among the town’s hotblooded, lusty inhabitants.

    Increase Society +1. Double the amount of minor magic items available for sale in the marketplace. Such trinkets are a popular, if expensive, token of affection here.

    Well Educated
    The settlement’s inhabitants are incredibly well educated and known for their sharp wits.

    Danger +10


    Government Magical

    Population 24,000 (90% human, 5% elves, 5% other)

    Noteable NPCs
    Grandmaster Tanith
    Mistress of the North Wind, Unmashtart

    Adad the Groundskeeper


    Base Value 8,000 gp; Purchase Limit 50,000 gp; Spellcasting 9th
    Minor Items 8d4; Medium Items 3d4; Major Items 2d4

    Wednesday, April 24, 2013

    Magic items for the Month of Duir

    Since Tara is now a small city, there is a 75% chance that any magic item up to the Purchase Limit price (25,000 gp) is available.
    divine scroll of stabilise (caster level 1) 12 gp
    arcane scroll of true strike (caster level 1) 25 gp
    divine scroll of hide from undead (caster level 1) 25 gp
    potion of cure light wounds 50 gp
    divine scroll of reduce animal (caster level 3) 150 gp
    potion of undetectable alignment 300 gp
    potion of lesser restoration (2) 300 gp
    potion of scent trail [APG] 300 gp
    arcane scroll of phantom steed 375 gp
    arcane scroll of hydraulic torrent [APG] 375 gp
    arcane scroll of solid fog (caster level 7) 700 gp
    wand of bless water (caster level 1), with 47 charges 705 gp
    arcane scroll of level 5 spell, dismissal 1,125 gp
    +1 small sized heavy wooden shield 1,157 gp
    Medium sized heavy mace, +1 2,312 gp
    golembane scarab 2,500 gp
    wand of fester [APG] (caster level 3), 35 charges 3,150 gp
    druids vestments 3,750 gp
    +2 medium sized heavy steel shield 4,170 gp
    horseshoes of the zephyr 6,000 gp
    ring of forcefangs [APG] 8,000 gp
    stone golem manual 22,000 gp
    rod of splendour 25,000 gp
    +5 medium sized heavy steel shield 25,170 gp
    ring of protection +4 32,000 gp
    tome of leadership and influence +4 110,000 gp

    Wednesday, March 13, 2013

    Greetings from Djanet

    Greetings good sirs of Tara,

    We bring you solemn tidings from the city of Djanet, capital of the lands of Badar. I trust that the tome the vizier has sent, detailing the secrets of pyramid construction, have reached your head wizard safely and promptly. As agreed between us and Azmelqart, this text must remain a Badaran state secret and must be returned on your projects completion, which I trust will occur soon.

    Perhaps on returning the sacred tome, you would like to engage in additional trade with our people. We have a steady supply of top quality paper products, such as Phoenician papyrus we've tailored for spell books and scrolls. Also, our Kapet and Ihmut incenses are perfect for religious rituals and we offer a rich variety of incenses that match the worship of just about any god.

    Finally, our once great empire is only now recovering from dark times. We are in need of experienced explorers to uncover the riches of the past. Taxes on discovered treasure is reasonable and there is state sponsorship to help find lost sites of wonder and riches.

    May the holy triad of Amun, Mut and Khonsu smile upon you,

    Sekhmet, Advisor to Vizier Nebmarenakht

    Monday, March 11, 2013

    Ships of Crannog

    The Heroes of Tara liberated six dryads with the help of clever magic, a friendly elephant and an old druid. In the process, they learned much about Crannog's plans. "Dozens" of dryads had been captured in their trees, turned into "dryad poles" against their will for use in creating "live ships." A sentient ship allows a sea captain to harness the dryad to do his bidding.

    In rare cases, a dryad may be convinced to give her life towards creating a live ship, but it would be rare, requiring a dryad with a sense of adventure and desire to experience everything the world offers. Dryads, by nature, don't travel far from their home oak, so such a one would be very rare indeed. That ship would be as unique and amazing as the dryad within it.

    Putting the pieces of the puzzle together, the "dryad poles" were meant to be used as main masts, turning a newly built ship without memories, into a living ship. The elven silk and rope were also destined for a ship, providing fire resistant "masterwork" sails ready for enchantment. But why all the iron? Wooden boats use some iron, but not in the quantities Crannog was stealing from Tara's iron mine. The plans uncovered in the lair of The Beastmaster, where the dryads were liberated, tells the story.

    As many as 600 slaves are to be stored in the hold of one of Crannog's ships, the iron used as shackles after another ritual that creates a permanent "Cure Disease" to those "wearing" the item. With a couple dozen ships, Crannog could enslave a city of 14,000 inhabitants. Tara, with it's 5,000 people would be a short stop along the way.

    Humanity, according to Crannog and his followers, is simply too dangerous to let run loose on the surface of the earth. They have shown themselves to be irresponsible with magic, amoral when it comes to war, and unable to learn from their mistakes. Killing them all is drastic. One does not kill chickens or cattle, one controls them and uses them for the benefit of all. Yes, proper stewardship of humanity, according to Crannog's philosophy, requires control.

    Monday, March 4, 2013

    Typical Ships Crew

    Hero Lab Portfolio Captain Morgan    CR 8
    XP 4800
    Male Human Expert 4 Fighter 6
    LN Medium Humanoid (human)
    Init +1; Senses Perception +10


    AC 19, touch 12, flat-footed 17 (+7 armor, +1 Dex, +1 dodge)
    hp 85 (6d10+4d8+30)
    Fort +8, Ref +4, Will +6 (+2 vs. fear)
    Defensive Abilities bravery +2


    Speed 30 ft.
    Melee +1 Trident +15/+10 (1d8+8/x2)
    Ranged Masterwork Composite longbow (Str +4) +9/+4 (1d8+3/x3)
    Special Attacks weapon training abilities (thrown +1)


    Str 17, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 10
    Base Atk +9; CMB +12; CMD 24
    Feats Blind-Fight, Dodge, Master Craftsman (Profession [sailor]), Persuasive, Quick Draw, Rugged Northerner, Skill Focus (Profession [sailor]), Toughness +10, Weapon Focus (Trident), Weapon Specialization (Trident)
    Skills Acrobatics +3, Climb +15, Craft (ships) +5, Diplomacy +12, Escape Artist -1, Fly -1, Intimidate +2, Knowledge (engineering) +5, Knowledge (geography) +10, Knowledge (history) +5, Knowledge (local) +5, Knowledge (nature) +10, Knowledge (nobility) +5, Linguistics +5, Perception +10 (only -1/20' while using a spyglass, instead of -1/10'), Profession (merchant) +5, Profession (sailor) +21, Ride -1, Stealth -1, Survival +10, Swim +10
    Languages Auran, Common, Northman
    Other Gear +1 Breastplate, +1 Trident, Arrows (20), Masterwork Composite longbow (Str +4), Gloves of swimming and climbing, Spyglass, You have no money!

    Special Abilities

    Blind-Fight Re-roll misses because of concealment, other benefits.
    Bravery +2 (Ex) +2 to Will save vs. Fear
    Master Craftsman (Profession [sailor]) +2 to chosen craft skill, its ranks count as CL for Craft Magic Arms and Armor and Craft Wondrous Item.
    Quick Draw Draw weapon as a free action (or move if hidden weapon). Throw at full rate of attacks.
    Rugged Northerner Frostbite, hypothermia, and extreme cold effects lessened
    Weapon Training (Thrown) +1 (Ex) +1 Attack, Damage, CMB, CMD with Thrown weapons

    Crewmen    CR 1/2
    XP 200
    Male Human Expert 1 Warrior 1
    N Medium Humanoid (human)
    Init +1; Senses Perception +6


    AC 14, touch 11, flat-footed 13 (+3 armor, +1 Dex)
    hp 12 (1d10+1d8+2)
    Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +2


    Speed 30 ft.
    Melee Dagger +2 (1d4+1/19-20/x2)
    Ranged Longbow, Comp. (Str +1) +2 (1d8+1/x3)


    Str 13, Dex 13, Con 12, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 9
    Base Atk +1; CMB +2; CMD 13
    Feats Alertness, Skill Focus (Profession [sailor])
    Skills Acrobatics +5, Climb +5, Craft (ships) +3, Knowledge (nature) +3, Perception +6, Profession (sailor) +8, Sense Motive +2, Survival +4, Swim +5
    Languages Common
    Other Gear Masterwork Studded leather armor, Arrows (20), Dagger, Longbow, Comp. (Str +1), You have no money!

    Special Abilities

    Lieutenant MacCorquodale    CR 7
    XP 3200
    Male Human Expert 4 Fighter 5
    N Medium Humanoid (human)
    Init +4; Senses Perception +10


    AC 20, touch 14, flat-footed 16 (+6 armor, +4 Dex)
    hp 68 (5d10+4d8+18)
    Fort +7, Ref +6, Will +6 (+1 vs. fear)
    Defensive Abilities bravery +1


    Speed 30 ft.
    Melee +1 Shortsword +13/+8 (1d6+6/17-20/x2) and
       +1 Shortsword +13/+8 (1d6+5/17-20/x2) and
       Whip +12/+7 (1d3+2/x2)
    Ranged Heavy crossbow +12/+7 (1d10/19-20/x2)
    Special Attacks weapon training abilities (light blades +1)


    Str 14, Dex 18, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10
    Base Atk +8; CMB +10; CMD 24
    Feats Athletic, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Whip), Improved Critical (Shortsword), Improved Two-weapon Fighting, Quick Draw, Two-weapon Fighting, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (Shortsword), Weapon Specialization (Shortsword)
    Skills Acrobatics +10, Climb +10, Craft (ships) +4, Diplomacy +5, Escape Artist +2, Fly +2, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (geography) +3, Knowledge (nature) +3, Linguistics +3, Perception +10, Profession (sailor) +12, Ride +2, Stealth +2, Survival +5, Swim +8
    Languages Aquan, Common
    Other Gear Masterwork Breastplate, +1 Shortsword, +1 Shortsword, Crossbow bolts (10), Heavy crossbow, Whip, Everburning torch, You have no money!

    Special Abilities

    Bravery +1 (Ex) +1 to Will save vs. Fear
    Quick Draw Draw weapon as a free action (or move if hidden weapon). Throw at full rate of attacks.
    Weapon Training (Blades, Light) +1 (Ex) +1 Attack, Damage, CMB, CMD with Light Blades

    Mate    CR 5
    XP 1600
    Male Human Fighter 5 Rogue 1
    LN Medium Humanoid (human)
    Init +5; Senses Perception +3


    AC 16, touch 12, flat-footed 14 (+4 armor, +1 Dex, +1 dodge)
    hp 44 (5d10+1d8+5)
    Fort +6, Ref +4, Will +0 (+1 vs. fear)
    Defensive Abilities bravery +1


    Speed 30 ft.
    Melee +1 Rapier +9 (1d6+4/18-20/x2)
    Ranged Masterwork Light crossbow +7 (1d8/19-20/x2)
    Special Attacks sneak attack +1d6, weapon training abilities (light blades +1)


    Str 15, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 15
    Base Atk +5; CMB +7; CMD 19
    Feats Combat Reflexes (2 AoO/round), Dodge, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Power Attack -2/+4, Weapon Focus (Shortsword), Weapon Specialization (Shortsword)
    Skills Acrobatics +8, Appraise +6, Climb +10, Diplomacy +10, Intimidate +10, Perception +3 (+4 to locate traps), Profession (sailor) +8, Sense Motive +5, Stealth +5, Swim +10
    Languages Common, Northman, Phoenician
    SQ trapfinding +1
    Combat Gear Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds, Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds; Other Gear Masterwork Chain shirt, +1 Rapier, Crossbow bolts (20), Masterwork Light crossbow, You have no money!

    Special Abilities

    Bravery +1 (Ex) +1 to Will save vs. Fear
    Combat Reflexes (2 AoO/round) Can make extra attacks of opportunity/rd, and even when flat-footed.
    Power Attack -2/+4 You can subtract from your attack roll to add to your damage.
    Sneak Attack +1d6 +1d6 damage if you flank your target or your target is flat-footed.
    Trapfinding +1 Gain a bonus to find or disable traps, including magical ones.
    Weapon Training (Blades, Light) +1 (Ex) +1 Attack, Damage, CMB, CMD with Light Blades

    Ship Crew Costs

    Your ship has a minimum crew of 20. There are penalties when you fall below 20 crewmen and severe penalties below 10. It would make sense to have a crew larger than 20 to account for illness, death or injury, and other eventualities.

    A ship also needs a captain, and according to the 1E DMG, for every 20 men, the ship requires a captain, lieutenant and two mates (add additional mates for each 10 crewmen over this). I'll use generic stats for each officer position as a baseline that corresponds with the ocean going challenge ratings. We're assuming competency, non-evil, stable crew who can manage the entire operation.

    I'm using a hybrid of 1E and Pathfinder when determining costs. You're paying 3sp per day for trained men (Pathfinder), multiplied by their level (1E would have been 10 times higher). It looks like this:

    Minimal Crew Cost (20 crewmen, Captain, Lieutenant, 2 Mates)
    Position Qty Rate/day/level/sp Level Total/Day/sp
    Crewmen 20 3 1 60
    Captain 1 3 8 24
    Lietenant 1 3 7 21
    Mates 2 3 6 36

    Daily Total

    Monthly Total


    My recommended crew of 30 looks like this:

    Recommended Crew Cost (30 crewmen, Captain, Lieutenant, 3 Mates)
    Position Qty Rate/day/level/sp Level Total/Day/sp
    Crewmen 30 3 1 90
    Captain 1 3 8 24
    Lietenant 1 3 7 21
    Mates 3 3 6 54

    Daily Total

    Monthly Total



    If you were to have some sort of "ship's share" of treasure, here's how it would work out with the crew, if you divided it by their station:

    Minimal Crew Cost (20 crewmen, Captain, Lieutenant, 2 Mates)
    Position Qty Share % Each %
    Crewmen 20 43 2
    Captain 1 17 17
    Lietenant 1 15 15
    Mates 2 26 13

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

    Design Diary - 1 month

    Here was what I was thinking about a year ago ... I've got a private blog to journal my notes on the campaign.

    So what has happened in a month?

    • The Word doc is up to 140 pages of detail
    • The map has been re-done to use the hex numbers. What a mistake that was. 8 hours re-do it, including re-doing the Word doc.
    • Wandering monster tables by terrain. Then re-done wandering monster tables by specific terrain. So the Fey Wood is different from the forest in the Awin Rivery Valley.
    • Lots of integration of Tome of Horrors monsters, animals and plants, especially those wandering monster tables.
    • Increased addition of over-powered challenges, always with some built in advanced warning. 
    • Character background sheets for the two people who submitted them. Lots of hooks and even additional content was created from those. Can't wait for the other two.
    • Some skeletal creation of the competing folks "out there." Mostly competing goblin tribes, giants, the remnants of the cyclops civilization showing up, and the BBEG linked to these folks. I made a EL13 encounter, so I figured I've gone far enough in THAT direction. I now see how we could be playing at high levels. 
    • Need to make regional map of the whole island now. I think I've gone roughly half way across it, so I need to know what it looks like.
    • Discarded a lot of the advice from before: competing adventurers are mostly dead (or captured). Don't really need to advance the NPC story arcs. Not starting out with any sort of hook or adventure. The handouts have hooks. They just have to prioritize. 
    • Starting to worry about the details: the look and feel, not forgetting to describe the weather and the sounds, and having the tactical stuff like battlemats and random encounters ready to go. It's probably about done then.
    • Starting to worry about the older stuff I've written not being as good as the new, which shows how I've advanced in my sandbox thinking but also how I can lose interest in things.
    • Worried that 1st level characters could get creamed. Thinking that having backup characters is not such a bad thing.

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

    Khartographia of Oracle Ismela of Erythrea

    Thus I came to the island of red stone where the men of the north worshiped their gods of war, while I silently prayed to Athena for protection. While most of the towns were of Northmen, some Yan Ki remained, not entirely driven from their homes. This includes  one peculiar town, where the two races intermingled in the mud. Codaver it was called, a word in the Northmen tongue that referred to the smell of rotten fish, a smell that will invade your nose and permeate your clothes the first day you spend in this wretched place.

    In Codaver I asked many questions of the cyclops, enduring much laughter as usual. When they were assured I cared little about visiting the Cyclops Head, as so many adventurers are wont to do, they relaxed and told me a tale over ale and their special dish, unfortunately a fermented, rotten fish.

    The limestone cliffs held secrets, I was told over my putrid meal, including the tomb of a cyclops chieftain named Bonebreaker. This was supposedly from back in the times of early men, when the folk of this backwards island were advanced in their knowledge, but enslaved by the cyclops. Perhaps they gained their knowledge from the cyclops or perhaps, inconceivably, it was the other way around.  I made a notation on my map to where it supposedly is located, nestled in the curve of the hills.

    In any case, my guide explained that Bonebreaker's tomb held treasures to be sure, but had powerful guardians both magical and mundane. The best engineers of the early people were brought in to build the tomb, and legend has it they were sealed inside after its construction, some foul ritual turning them into guardians from beyond the grave. 

    I am almost certain that this Bonebreaker is Bonebreaker of Aparnisi, one of the Fabled Eight. This will be my ninth year looking for clues of the eight. Could such a backwards island as this be the location of the City of Abjuration?

    If it is the same Bonebreaker, and really there could be dozens by that name, it will mean that within the tomb will be the Bearpelt of the Bonebreaker from the legendary Tales of Winter Night. The evil king in the story, as every first year historian knows, was lured out into the blizzard by the great white elk, but the king was able to find his way back to his beloved city unerringly by means of his magic bear pelt. Such children's stories.


    Our initial attempts at the expedition was met with failure, first due to the theft of our equipment by these odd mud men, then last night our guide disappeared, his daughter near catatonic and senseless babbling of flying bird women. I will return in two months time with a contingent of warriors and proper tomb explorers and engage this expedition properly. Perhaps a month away will restore my sense of smell.

    Monday, February 25, 2013

    Letter from Crannog to Ravana


    You have done well with your duties. Once you have made your final shipment, you may inform the maharaja that our debt is settled.

    The final shipment of dryad poles will be enough to complete the project. Cessation of iron shipments caused the project to slow, so focus on finishing up your operation in the Fey Wood.

    Consider a final strike against the elves. They have something I want. I am told they have a map in their library locating the Tomb of Bonebreaker. Within the tomb is rumored to be a spellbook with a map to Aparnisi. It may be the foothold I need to locate the first part of the rod.

    Finally, although your debt is paid, consider another task for me. We have suffered an incursion of undead from a valley to your south, much as you describe against Tara. I believe it is from the same source as Bloody Erik and the hill army that has vexed you and Aillyn. 

    I wish to understand who is responsible for this, and why they both attack and protect the Tarans. This incursion has taxed our resources.  There are many fine young ladies available to you if you complete this task.