Demon: the Descent – Founding your own personal Hell

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Demon: the Descent is a World of Darkness game, which has since had its name changed to Chronicles of Darkness for reasons. Opposed to Abrahamic notions of God and angels, the real God is the God-Machine, an uncaring cosmic intelligence, and angels are techno-organic constructs created by the God-Machine to do its bidding.

Whatever’s in block quotes is taken directly from the text.

 

From the Book:

In Demon you play one of the Unchained, a renegade angel hiding among the humans of the World of Darkness. Fallen from your loyal, unthinking state as an agent of God, you struggle to reconcile the human life you wear with your nature as an inhuman being designed to fulfill a function, while you decide what to do with your precious, hard-won freedom. Will you oppose God’s plans? Build a life for yourself from the traded lives of humans? Keep yourself safe at all costs? Or try, somehow, to regain God’s favor?

Demons are surrounded by the evidence of their former selves. The God-Machine has gears and facilities all over the world, invisible to the naked human eye but all too obvious to a demon trying to remain unnoticed. The Unchained sense the God-Machine’s workings, see their angelic brethren hurrying on their missions, and wonder what it could be planning this time. Is it finally coming for them, or just victimizing the humans the demon now lives among as part of its never-ending maintenance of the miserable status quo?

Hunted by angels, confronted with the God-Machine’s plans, demons must decide what they will do with their unique perspective. Some interference is prudent — demons hack into angelic communications, learn all they can about their former master’s plans and spy on its facilities out of a sense of self-preservation, making sure they’ll know if they ever become exposed. More than that, though, demons’ ideologies drive them to confront the God-Machine, spurring them into action in defense of their new lives, human friends, or self-worth. Demons disrupt the God-Machine where they can and fade back into the disguise of humanity before the angels arrive. They band together in mutual distrust, never knowing why another demon Fell, their clandestine societies in constant danger of infiltration.

This is life as a demon. The Unchained are undercover, underequipped, and trapped in a hostile world, searching for a way to complete their Descent and reach some new Hell; a world without God where they can be free.

Demon has a lot of terms to throw around (sorta like Changeling does). The game itself is billed as “a game of Techgnostic Espionage.” It’s very, very spy-like, with the GM as Big Brother and the Demons as rogue agents striking back where they can and generally trying to keep safe and secure. One of the interesting thing is that Demons, when they disconnect from the Machine, are shunted into their human cover (almost always given to Angels who have to move among humans without freaking them The Fuck Out). You can have multiple covers, and each cover’s ability to hide you is linked to its metaphysical concreteness: the more you stay in character and do the sorts of things your Cover would, the stronger it becomes, and the more difficult it is for the God-Machine or its agents to find you. The weaker it is, and even normal people might start noticing how your home is on the 15th floor of a 14-floor apartment building, or that you wear literally the same thing every day, in the same condition, with the same stains.

Cover can be attacked/lost by a lot of different things, but the end result is the same: if you drop down to zero, you lose your cover, you manifest in full demon form, and you flare up on the God-Machine’s radar like a solar flare. Watch out!

 

Our game in particular:

So there’s a lot of stuff in Demon, and I’ll pick out pages for you to read if enough people are interested. For our purposes, I’d like to run Demon on Roll20. The difference will be, aside from handout and so on, and maybe crude representations of environments, there will be no board.

Also, the game will be played via text.

What I mean is that, obviously we’ll all be on voice chat, and any talk between us (referred to by losers as ‘out of character’ talk) will be via audio, but the game itself — dialog, choices, descriptions, whatever, will be through text. It’s the kind of thing the World of Darkness system lends itself to pretty well, and I think that, given a less combat-focused game, utilizing text chat will offer a lot of benefits. For one, it’ll be easier to stay in character, and hopefully will be more immersive. It also gives us all an opportunity to think about what we want to say before we blurt it out, which is particularly important for me. It also also gives us a separation between FriendTalk and GameTalk, which should make it easier for people to ask rules questions and discuss intentions/decisions without worrying about talking over others or getting sidetracked/ignored.

So that’s my very brief and short post for now. I’ll edit/add to it later with more specifics. The game will begin in late December/early January, and run for the foreseeable future (after this semester I don’t really have any classes left to take, which is noice). I’m not sure where the setting will be yet; I’m willing to take suggestions. For an example of what kind of weird shit happens in Demon, the provided setting, Seattle, is home to a variety of time shards, within which are periods of time (I think a year long?) from throughout the city’s history, remnants of some God-Machine experiment with temporal distortion. So if you have any ideas of a setting or particular elements like that weirdo guff, please let me know.

 

Some information on character concepts:

First are the Incarnations, which are built into your character. They describe what kind of Angel you were, more than anything else, and not necessarily your current attitude as a Demon. So you can be a Destroyer pacifist, for example. It just means that your demon form will be focused on the destroying parts, and might make it challenging to play.

 

Destroyers: Destroyers are built for precision and shocking overkill. Some are hulking and powerful, designed before they Fell to fight powerful supernatural creatures, but most Destroyers have a disturbing sleekness about them in demonic form, befitting the God-Machine’s assassins rather than tanks. Their demonic forms are usually armored and armed with weaponry fused into the limbs. Many have multiple arms, prehensile tails, or tentacles holding extra weapons.

Concepts: “Retired” assassin, angel hunter, conscientious objector, callous mercenary, martial artist, gear-breaker, penitent executor, self-defense teacher, bounty hunter.

Guardians: Guardians are built for adaptability and improvisation. They often have extra sensory apparatus attached or are highly mobile to better react to new threats. Some Guardians are walls of steel and flesh, physically blocking the enemy away from their charges while others rely on stealth to pick threats off.

Concepts: Hostage negotiator, devoted spouse, spurned lover, hidden sentry, ring security, bodyguard for hire, Agency tactician, stalker, protective parent, assayer.

Messengers: Messengers spent more time disguised as humans than other angels and are more comfortable acting in Cover than their Unchained peers. Their demonic forms are usually built for intimidation and respect, with commanding presences, hypnotic voices and “special effects” like haloes, decorative wings, energy effects, and other ways to hold and command the attention of human witnesses. A few Messengers specialize in stealthy forms, though, and are much smaller and plainer. Many Messengers can emit and receive communications beyond the human range — they can speak in radio waves or control computer networks.

Concepts: Smooth-talker, cynical information broker, cult leader, shock jock, greaser of wheels, drug pusher, conman, motivational speaker, codebreaker, diplomat.

Psychopomps: As their nickname implies, Wheels were not usually humanoid in angelic form. They’re the most likely demons to have inhuman shapes in demonic form — spinning wheels of metal and fire, rotating clusters of spheres and axles, dozens of wings converging on unseen bodies, and other stranger shapes abound. Multiple limbs are common, the more the better. Even humanoid Psychopomps sport unusual forms of locomotion.

Concepts: Obtainer of rare antiquities, traceur, social linchpin, collector, transporter, strategist, Underworld explorer, Cover consultant, installation artist, Infrastructure analyst.

 

 

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TRUST NO ONE

Some teaming-up is prudent to better mitigate threats, work together, and even just have someone to talk to about the stresses of the Descent, but beyond one’s immediate rings, most demons view Unchained strangers with suspicion until they’ve proven themselves. Even then, members of the same ring routinely keep “professional” distance from one another’s Covers and watch for signs of betrayal. The exceptions — Agencies — form when two or more rings decide to work together to accomplish a goal, but agents view one another with even less trust than ringmates.

The threat of betrayal isn’t a paper tiger, either. The God Machine wants demons back, whether for “redemption” or recycling, and it assigns angels to counterespionage, infiltration, and assassination roles. Demons spying on Infrastructure often find that they’re being spied on in return by loyalists. If angels uncover a crack in a demon’s Cover, they exploit it until the Unchained can be forced into exposure.

Espionage stories revolve around moral compromise. They’re about shades of grey, professional enemies being forced to act in terrible ways to accomplish their goals. When a ring destroys an Infrastructure, innocent lives may be lost in the crossfire. To gain the trust of smugglers she needs for her Agency’s operation, a demon may have to commit crimes. When an angel comes for a demon, it doesn’t care who gets in the way and it doesn’t matter that the angel is essentially a slave — if the demon doesn’t kill it, his own life is forfeit. Naïve demons talk about the “greater good” or justify their actions as necessary, but those further down the Descent know that it’s not that simple. Sometimes in order to go on living, a demon must cross a line or abandon a moral code. A demon who never had to break his own rules is young, lucky, unstable to begin with, or an infiltrator working for the God-Machine

Rules for how to play Poker Demon

THE MOSCOW RULES

Cold War operatives working in Moscow, under threat of extremely harsh treatment if they were discovered, worked to an unwritten code commonly called the Moscow Rules. As demons face similar circumstances, they’re useful as “good advice for demons” in your games. Agencies teach them to newly Fallen Unchained in order to instill the proper amount of paranoia in young demons. Mistakes happen, of course.

• Assume nothing.

• Never go against your instincts.

• Everyone is potentially under the God-Machine’s control.

• There’s always someone watching you. Don’t look back and don’t run.

• Go with the flow and blend in.

• Avoid building up a pattern, and stay in Cover.

• Lull them into a false sense of complacency.

• Don’t harass the opposition.

• Pick the opportune moment for action.

• Always have a back-up plan

Skulls and Shackles Mod. 2 Part 3 – Sahagin and Tonic (5/22/2016)

"Fifty men went out, only ten returned!"

“Fifty men went out, only ten returned!”

Hi everyone!

Here is the second write-up, this one from May!

Before my long rundown, I realized that while I gave XP and gold for your support crew members since the final part of Module 1, I never added it in to their XP totals. I fixed that, and I reuploaded all the new PDFs in this folder along with a .txt file showing the current XP totals. I also configured all the characters’ Hero Lab sheets to Fast Advancement, which means they’ll level quicker than you all to hopefully encourage swapping out crew members more often.

Or just use Grok every session until she can one-hit kill an entire ship. The blood flowed like loud screaming waterfall! Hilarious!

Oh, and one more thing: all this configuration meant Sandara gained a level! Not sure if you all want to pick what she learns skill-wise, so I’ll leave the level un-gained in her portfolio for now. She’s level 4 now.

  1. Session Rundown –

(Support: Conchobhar, Rosie (Sahagin fight))

The big christening day has finally arrived! All of the residents of Rickety’s Squibs, the crew of the soon-to-be-renamed Man’s Promise, and Merrill Pegsworthy’s crew all gather to celebrate the birth of a new pirate ship and a new pirate crew running wild in the Shackles!

A huge banquet is thrown with the help of the barkeeps of the Demon and Crow and Ambrose Kroop. Long pig—that is, a Shackles pig that is longer than normal—is roasted over the bonfire and rum flows freely as the celebration commences. For good luck, the party asks Pegsworthy (a Free Captain of the Shackles) to help christen the boat and say a few words during the ceremony.

With long pig and pastries in their bellies and the warmth of the rum flowing through them, the party deliberates and decides on a name for the ship: Skôll!

At a signal, everyone gathers on dock, the new name is shouted, and Pegsworthy brings out a bottle of fine champagne to break on the bow and gives a Shackles blessing. Ambrose Kroop says a short blessing as well, and mentions his dream that the ship can one day crack the infamous Tidewater Rock. Afterwards, Merrill asks Likour to come join him as a representative of the crew (and he’s easy to lift) for the bow-breaking.

As the bottle smashes on the ship, a cheer rises up from the assembled and a pirate song is sung! In the tumult, Pegsworthy whispers a hidden message to Likour:

“Don’t be fooled little man, the Rock can be cracked. Hammers and swords may break upon it, but a keen eye and good tongue may cause a fissure once more. So says the one-legged golden eagle.”

After the banquet and a somber farewell to the deceased Lyle Godwin, Pegsworthy pulls his ship into harbor for squibbing. He mentions a job that heard about from an old sailor in Port Peril, and he offers to arrange a meeting between the old man and the crew. The crew, eager to prove themselves with their new ship, agrees.

****

Several days pass. The crew practices sailing their new ship in the harbor until a cry comes out from the new lookout: a ship is approaching! The crew goes back to the Demon and Crow to await his arrival.

The Old Salt, an old bearded man named Pelle, comes bearing a strange tale as a preface to the favor he needs from the Skôll crew:

“A pirate crew of fifty men traveled to the Mwangi Expanse in search of fame and fortune. Only ten came back. They penetrated deep into the Expanse and deep into the sacred hunting grounds of the Mwangi, five men falling by the wayside from the extreme heat. On that hallowed ground, they espied a rhinoceros with a hide as black as coal at midnight, eyes like a blacksmith’s forge, and a soul like a devil’s. In a brutal battle that lasted two days and nights, they managed to end the life of the terrible creature, but not without losing thirty of their men! They decided to take the horn of the creature as a trophy for their crew and as a symbol of their bravery.

The horn was as heavy as lead, and it took all the stamina of the remaining men to carry it back. What they didn’t know was the horn was cursed! It was haunted by a heathen rhino god! As they loaded it onto their ship, the horn came alive and impaled five men to the mainmast! It took all ten men that were left to pull the horn out, and a magic-user among them carved a warding spell in the horn.

Now, the black rhino has a counterpart: the sacred white rhino, its hide as white as milk. It was spotted on the sandbar travelling from island to island in Besmara’s Necklace. A squall has stranded the rhino, but no man wants to make the attempt after hearing the tale. Will you get that horn for me?”

The crew listens politely, noting that the tale sounds curiously familiar, but they agree for the 3000 gold reward being offered. Pelle, skeptical of such a green crew, nevertheless thanks them.

At dawn the next day, provisions are loaded, the crew gets on board, and the Skoll starts to head out. Hrafn Haven-key takes the wheel, and they set a course for an island in the archipelago of Besmara’s Necklace where the white rhino was supposedly spotted. Conchobhar, eager to prove himself, asks to tag along.

As they dock on the southern shore, they notice the remains of a camp and a strange outrigger canoe. Upon investigation, Theodore and Svetlana notice that the canoe is definitely Kuru-made. Members of the cannibal tribe must be somewhere on the island!

Sure enough, when they start following a river upstream from the beach, they run into four strange men who instantly ready their weapons! The primitive men toss atlatl darts and brandish their tepoztopillis in a bloodthirsty rage, eager to make a sumptuous dinner out of the new pirates.

Unfortunately for the Kuru, the hunters become the hunted! Svetlana shoots a crossbow bolt straight through the heart of one cannibal, and Banmoril and Thoka electrocute and cute-snake-bite another! A Kuru named Lago runs into the woods screaming gibberish from Likour’s Cause Fear spell until Hrafn cuts him down. Finally, Theodore quaffs a feral mutagen and crushes the last cannibal’s head like, quote, “A hippo eating a watermelon.” Conchobhar hangs back and sings an inspiring (?) sea shanty.

With meat back off the menu, the crew explores the spring, and finding a hidden waterfall cave! Remnants of a corpse on a crude pyre molder here, unseen. Thoka notices a sharp looking spear made of obsidian clutched in the corpse’s grasp. It’s enchanted with some older, more primal, magic. She takes it as her eidolon Snickerdoodle watches, apprehensive but hopeful.

On the scent of the rhino’s tracks, the Skôll crew starts their trek through the jungle. Eventually, they climb up a hill to a sandy clearing at the top of a cliff. There, they see inhabitants they were not expecting: a family of Parasaurolophii and a clutch of eggs! Theodore, thinking back to his childhood, remembers being imparted with a key life lesson from Grandma Hobbs:

“Now Theodore, if you ever come across a Parasaurolophus, never get in between it and its eggs!”

The group soon learns the wisdom of their elders. As the crew moves around the perimeter, the protective creatures let out cries but make no motion to attack the group. The party continues on up another hill, and soon they reach the spring on the top of the island plateau. On the edge of the spring is the object of their quest: the white rhino! In addition, an old temple can be seen nearby, along with a massive pile of bones.

However, as the crew examines the rhino, they make a terrible discovery: it appears it is already dead from a massive bite on its midsection. As they try to guess what happened, the culprit reveals himself: a five-ton allosaurus! With a huge roar, the prehistoric menace charges at the party, eager for some raw Pathfinder!

The massive creature uses its dagger-sized teeth and claws to rip through the frontline of the party, but the Skôll crew has faced too many dangers to be scared of a simple dinosaur! Even Conchobhar, a notable coward, is singing at the top of his lungs to inspire the group (albeit a little tremulously).

As her own fury reaches its apex, the taciturn Svetlana Dragunova hoists her crossbow, says simply “Die,” and then proceeds to shoot a crossbow bolt straight through the bottom of the beast’s head and into its walnut-sized brain. The huge dinosaur collapses, causing the ground to quake in its death throes.

After healing up and recovering both the horn and the rhino’s hide, the Skôll crew makes the decision to take the allosaurus skull to mount on the ship as a warning. That warning is: Take note milksops and clotpoles, while you were drinking quarter-rations of grog before night-night, we killed ancient history and nailed its skull to our ship!

Likour, Thoka, and Theodore have their curiosities piqued by the small stone temple. It appears to be bare except for a mural depicting a massive cyclops king sitting atop a strange black throne, and being worshiped by Kuru. Markings on the throne and on the walls indicate that this is a representation of the fabled Cyclopean Throne of Ghol’Gan. The crew makes a note to find out more about this artifact.

With the item of their quest in their possession, the crew makes their way back to the beach and back to their ship for the ride back to Rickety’s Squibs! But a peaceful night’s sleep is not in the cards for the intrepid crew…

As the majority of the crew sleeps, several of the crew on night-watch are attacked by sahagin! While the aquatic humanoids are not normally much of a threat, this particular band has an almost military-like efficiency and a strange degree of coordination.

However, they’re still easily dispatched by the crew. Upon the corpse of the leader, the crew finds a pendant made of the strange material known as deep platinum. They take the pendant, knowing that the material has an almost religious-significance among water-dwelling humanoids.

Eventually, the crew makes it back to the village where they present the horn to Pelle, whereupon they give another amazing embellishment story:

The White Rhino Horn:

  • Svetlana: “The rhino corpse was mauled by an allosaurus who attacked us with an earth-shattering roar!”
  • Hrafn: (Raises a spear and roars.)
  • Svetlana: “We got that spear from a cyclops in his temple. When we took it, cannibals started pouring forth from that murder pyramid like a tidal wave!”
  • Hrafn: (Attempts to interject, chokes on his beer, and coughs it up on Pelle.)
  • Likour: (Pledges with Svetlana to always be of service for someone like Pelle.)

As the story comes to a close, and payment from an incredulous Pelle is given, the crew is left wondering: what is the secret of the strange throne they saw in the temple? What is the mystery of Tidewater Rock? What was with the sahagin?

And finally, how did Theodore’s grandmother know so much about parasaurolophii?

  1. Encounters –
    1. 4 Kuru outrigger rowers (barbarian 3) – CR 6
    2. 2 adult parasaurolophi and 2 young parasaurolophi – CR 8/2 (resolved peacefully)
    3. Ugg’s Bane (allosaurus) – CR 7
    4. 3 Sahagin battle scouts (Sahagin tactician fighter 1) – CR 6
  1. Loot –
    1. Base camp –
      • 50 gold coins stamped with a skull and crossbones
      • Slightly tarnished jeweled anklet
      • Wand of Shocking Grasp (25 charges) (wand with a topaz lightning bolt at the end)
    2. Buried Treasure –
      • Bottle stopped cork banded with gold and dotted with topazes
      • Scroll of Dread Bolt (scroll that reads KRADMIRG)
      • Violet garnet
    3. Kuru Bodies –
      • Assortment of purloined gold jewelry
      • Atlatl launchers (4)
      • Atlatl darts (20)
      • Crude obsidian idols (4)
      • Hide armor (4)
      • Tepotzopillis (4)
    4. Waterfall Cave –
      • +1 animal-bane obsidian spear (an obsidian-tipped spear)
    5. Bone Pile –
      • A brown-green garnet
      • Nunchaku (masterwork), seemingly discarded in error
      • A Ring of Arcane Signets (ring with a large green jewel)
      • A single embroidered and bejeweled glove
    6. White Rhino –
      • Rhino Horn Plunder
      • Rhino Hide Armor
    7. Sahagin Scouts –
      • Armor crafted from treated seaweed (3) (functional equivalent: leaf armor)
      • Dark platinum pendant
      • Spears (3)
  1. Module Handouts –
  1. Customized Module/Character Sheets –
    1. Kuru Fight –
    2. Sahagin Scouting Party –
  1. Session Totals –
    • XP: 1350/1750 XP/person (was not/was on deck for Sahagin fight)
      • 1350 XP to Conchobhar
      • 400 XP to Rosie
    • Gold: 1500 GP/person (Bad DM’ing adjustment made)
  1. Current Infamy Totals –
    1. Infamy: 9 (+4, 3 for rhino horn, 1 for sweet skull)
    2. Disrepute: 9
    3. The crew can purchase DISGRACEFUL impositions.
    4. Current crew level: 2 (A SCRAGGLE OF SCURVY SCALLYWAGS)

Skulls and Shackles Module 2 Part 2 – Just Bee Yourself (1/31/2016)

Your horse rolled a 1 on Stealth.

Hi everyone!

Sorry for waiting for so long to make the last two write-ups. I need to do better on getting these out sooner because even though I took notes, I start to forget things. With all the wedding planning over and done with, I hope to start doing games again once every 4-6 weeks.

I’m liking everyone’s enthusiasm so far for Skulls and Shackles Part 2: The Skullening; it’s definitely a more sandbox-like module compared to what I’ve seen in Part 3.

Anyway, on to the summary! I’m going to do the session we did wayyyy back in January!

  1. Session rundown –

(Support: Grok)

The morning of day three at Rickety’s Squibs starts off like the other days before it: strong coffee and breakfast at the Demon and Crow followed by some very pirate-ish loafing. After the excitement with the water naga yesterday, the crew of the Man’s Promise is ready for a little more relaxing tropical vacation.

Unfortunately, Rickety Hake has other plans, and he bursts into the Demon and Crow with a surprise! As he leads the group outside, he mentions that the payment of the Heidmarch Manor has secured them a special gift: a brand-new light ballista and four ship-mounted crossbows!

Save for Matilda, however, none of the crew knows how to operate the ballista, so Rickety decides to illustrate with a tabletop game. He corrals the party into the Demon and Crow, breaks out a set of dice, puts two wooden ships and figurines on the table, and explains the basics of pirating.

After a few rounds of “combat”, Rickety knocks over his captain piece in frustration, and declares the game over. The crew is exhausted by this point, so they decide to take an early rest.

The next day, Rickety again disrupts the crew’s morning breakfast with a mundane business deal. He haggles for some of the Man’s Promise ship stores to arm the townsfolk against invaders. Just as they’re about to close the deal, however, a loud buzzing sound emanates from the jungle!

Swarms of giant bees displaced by the drought start attacking the townsfolk! Grok, eager for some bloodshed, hurls herself at the nearest giant bee, while the others use their spells and weapons to beat back the bugs!

Everything seems back to normal, but suddenly there’s a shout at the docks! In the confusion of the attack, it seems as though the lookout did not signal the town that a ship was approaching. Merrill Pegsworthy, a Free Captain of the Shackles has brought the Strix to the small town to be squibbed. He begs the Man’s Promise crew to attend to one of his buccaneers who was stung in the bee attack. Likour manages to heal him up well enough to stave off death and enough to earn the Captain’s thanks.

Rickety is still nervous; Lyle Godwin was on lookout duty and he should’ve signaled the town that a ship was in harbor. The Man’s Promise crew is asked to investigate, so they trek through the jungle west of town.

Tropical trees along the path are drooping from the extended drought, and the walk seems long and arduous. The monotony doesn’t last for long though, as a full-grown bull hippopotamus charges out of the trees! Afflicted with poison and enraged, the hippo tries to trample and bite its way through the crew. Theodore drinks his mutagen, turning into an even more savage beast! While the group distracts the hippo, he uses his claw and bite attacks to rip the hippo apart, quelling the danger.

As the crew nears the lookout’s post, they can tell that something’s very wrong. Godwin’s parrot Rotgut is flying around the area, and shouts to the post are unanswered. The truth is revealed when the crew reaches the summit: Godwin suffered a severe allergic reaction to the bee stings and has died already.

The group takes his body, along with his possessions, to Rickety. Everyone in town is despondent about losing one Rickety’s Squibs most valuable but remote residents. Rickety decides to give Lyle’s morning star and house to the crew in memory of him.

Godwin’s death seems like a poor omen on the day before the Christening of the new ship, but the crew gains a new member: Rotgut has decided to tag along with the new pirate crew on their adventures.

  1. Encounters –
    1. The Palm Tree Pirates – CR 5 (cut in half)
    2. “Not the Bees!” Fight: (4 Giant Bees, 1 Shacklized Honeybee Swarm, 1 Queen Bee, and a Giant Wasp Trying to Fit In) – CR 8
    3. Poisoned Hippopotamus – CR 5
  2. Loot –
    1. Rickety’s Squibs –
    • 3 lumps of royal jelly
    • 2 alexandrites
    • 1 citrine
    • Ring of Force Shield (wedding band with a single diamond embedded in it)
    • Tarnished wayfinder
    • Shaving kit
  1. Module Handouts –
  2. Customized Module/Character Sheets –
    1. Training Fight –
    2. Rickety’s Squibs Jungle –
  3. Session Totals –
    • XP: 1175 XP/person
    • Gold: 65 GP/person
  4. Current Infamy Totals –
    • Infamy: 5
    • Disrepute: 5
    • The crew can purchase DISGRACEFUL impositions.
    • Current crew level: 2 (A SCRAGGLE OF SCURVY SCALLYWAGS)

Skulls and Shackles Module 2 Part 1 – Ship of Fools

I may or may not play "Brothers in Arms" during a ship fight.

I may or may not play “Brothers in Arms” during a ship fight.

Hi everyone!

Our next session is coming up this Sunday at noon, so hopefully the earlier time makes it easier for everyone to attend. After this session, the adventure path goes into more of a sandbox-style format with an occasional event, so the group will need to decide as a team what to do next.

I made a short list of possible things you could do, but if anyone has different ideas I’m all open for designing something:

  • Pirate Ship Raiding – Raid a pirate ship, kill/capture the crew, loot the ship for plunder, then sell the ship to Rickety Hale.
  • Big Game Hunting – Explore the jungle of one of the prehistoric throwback islands of the Shackles and hunt a powerful monster from the ancient world.
  • Slaver Camp Landing – Talk (or blast) your way into a camp of slavers.
  • Dungeon Exploration – Get a tip about a possible treasure or dungeon on one of the many islands of the Shackles.

Also, try to think of a name and a flag for your pirate crew.

1. Session Rundown –

After weeks of rest in the port city of Magnimar, the party is finally ready to set out to Rickety’s Squibs, a secretive shipyard village in the Shackles. Here, the workers will alter the “lines” of the Man’s Promise to evade detection by anyone who may be allied with Barnabas Harrigan. Sheila Heidmarch gives the group a map and a chest of platinum bars to cover the cost of the “squibbing”, along with a letter of recommendation to the proprietor of the village, Rickety Hale.

Only two intrepid sailors volunteered for the billet that the Heidmarch Manor put out: an elven wizard named Garrin Malvane (and his tiny dinosaur), and a dark-skinned Ulfen Pathfinder named “Iceflinger” Matilda. Both seem eager to hit the open sea with the group, having heard of the reputation of the crew that spit in the eye of the infamous Barnabas Harrigan. After some introduction to the crew, the ship charts a course back to the Shackles.

A few calm days at sea later, the crew nears the peninsula where the hidden village is supposed to be located. They’re hailed by a fisherman—actually a shipyard worker on lookout—and after some dialogue about the nature of their business, the worker flashes a sign to another lookout. The ship is directed to sail into the bay behind the rocky promontory, and to ask for Rickety.

The Man’s Promise sails quietly into the bay, and finds a small jungle village steaming in the oppressive heat of the Shackles. They sail towards the docks, which are overseen by Rickety himself and his workers. Rickety introduces himself and his pirating credentials: he served under the Free Captain Ella Gurnett who, as Rickety likes to say, “Fed the kraken at Nollis Point!” He “graciously” accepts the letter and the money, explains the nature of squibbing and says that it’ll take 5 days to complete the work. He tells the crew that room and board have been set up at the only inn in the village, the Demon and Crow, and that the crew is not to steal, hurt the villagers, or go upstream on the river.

With that, the crew is given free rein to explore the village. Rickety’s Squibs seems to be comprised of little more than some farmland, the buildings used to squib ships, the bar, a small magic shop, and some worker barracks. The villagers are very friendly though, and the crew members waste no time in making their acquaintance.

Theodore finds a small shaded pool and the passed-out form of Pearl, the mermaid (and alcoholic) Keel-specialist of the shipyard. Garrin talks to two farmers, Edevich and Purnell, about the recent drought plaguing their farmlands. Banmoril talks to AwkAwk and Shiza (the tengu bartender and tiefling barmaid) about why they’re here. Likuor, wary of strangers, keeps to himself, but he does take the time to watch the shipyard workers at night.

One villager in particular piques the curiosity of Theodore. A strange confectioner named Grimm Darkknife has set up a shop that specializes in nothing but saltwater taffy. Despite his intimidating appearance he seems friendly to the alchemist, and even directs him to a strange magical object that he insists carries a terrible curse: The Bag of Infinite Taffy.

After Theodore purchases it, he tells the alchemist his story. Grimm was the son of two famous assassins in Absalom and groomed in the arts of assassination and shadowcraft. After a chance meeting at a confectioner’s shop, Grimm knew he found his true calling. He fled to the Shackles to evade the wrath of his parents, and eventually opened his shop in Rickety’s Squibs. Theodore talks over this encounter with the crew, and they offer Grimm the chance to sail with them in order to perfect his craft(s). Grimm accepts, becoming the first crewmember recruited for their new ship.

Besides talking with the villagers, the crew is also occupied with other tasks. Rickety explains the nature of naval siege engines and gifts them with a brand new light ballista, ten ballista bolts, and four mounted heavy crossbows. Kroop advises the crew that they need to fence the plunder they’ve acquired: the tapestry, the horn, and the gun. They talk to AwkAwk, who offers to call his mercantile contacts at Port Peril a day’s sail away.

On the second day, the stifling heatwave and the lack of anything pressing to do leads the main party to the dock to engage in some friendly games of tenpins with two off-duty workers. After a few wins by the Pathfinder, one of the workers is suddenly pulled into the water! A young water naga, crazed by the heat and the salt of the bay, attacks!

Matilda and Theodore jump into the water to save the worker as Garrin, Likuor, and Banmoril launch an assault of spells on the creature. The naga throws out spells with the proficiency of a seventh-level sorcerer and bites with its fearsome poisonous jaw, but eventually the crew knocks it out. Rickety explains that the water naga and the village have an agreement not to interfere with the territory of the other, but the naga must’ve gotten stuck in the bay due to the heat wave and drought. In gratitude, Rickety refunds a bar of platinum from the Heidmarch chest.

Tired from the ordeal of fighting in the heat, the group heads back to the Demon and Crow for the night, whereupon they find AwkAwk’s merchant contacts ready to buy their plunder! The crew taps into some well of creativity to craft stories to embellish the value:

 

The Carved Rhino Horn:

  • Likuor: “The horn came from the last black rhino, and the crew lost ten men recovering it.”
  • Garrin: (tries to read the merchants’ expression, mistakenly thinks the merchants are attracted to him)
  • Likuor: “A crew member accidentally impaled himself on the horn, and it took three men to get him off.”
  • Garrin: “Let me tell you some things you may not know about rhino horns.” (gives a remarkable list of facts about rhino horns)
  • Theodore: (intimidates the merchants with a nasty look)

The Pepperbox Pistol:

  • Garrin: (holding the gun) “Here you can see the different parts of the gun are like the parts of a ship. Here’s the starboard side, the port side, the fore and aft…”
  • Likuor: “And we got it from fighting a ghoul gunslinger in an island fortress!”
  • Theodore: (at a loss) “We saw palm fronds!”
  • Likuor: “We crashed landed on an island, but we found the island already occupied. One of our number was captured by grindylows!”
  • Theodore: “And we killed a giant dire boar!”

A Battle Tapestry of Rahadoum:

  • Likuor: (fumbling) “Uh, you can see from the sand and camels that this battle took place in the… Land of the Linnorm Kings?”
  • Garrin: “On our journeys here, we fought a giant anaconda longer than a rowboat!”
  • Banmoril: “And if there’s one thing we learned it’s that…” (pause, uncomfortable silence)
  • Garrin: (tries again to read the room, thinks the nervous merchant is flirting with him)
  • Garrin: (wary eye on merchant) “…rowboats don’t have yardmamarms.”

Through their actions, the group receives a total of 3400 gold pieces, along with 4 points of infamy! Happy with the result, the group turns in for the night. There are three days left before the ship can be rechristened; what will happen next in Rickety’s Squibs?

2. Encounters –

  1. Selissa, young water naga – CR 6

3. Loot –

a. Rickety’s Squibs –

  • One bar of platinum
  • 3400 gold pieces (from sale of plunder)

4. Module Handouts –

a. Rickety’s Squibs –

5. Customized Module/Character Sheets

a. New crew members –

b. Rickety’s Squibs inhabitants –

6. Session Totals –

  • XP: 480
  • Gold: 560 a piece (3900/7 – One share for crew)

7. Current Infamy Status –

  • Infamy: 5
  • Disrepute: 5
  • The crew can purchase DISGRACEFUL impositions.
  • Current crew level: 2 (A SCRAGGLE OF SCURVY SCALLYWAGS)

Skulls and Shackles Module 1 Final – I Have Friends in Grindylow Places (6/12/2015)

Powergaming.

Hi everyone!

Sorry for the huge delay in getting this written up. I’ve been super busy the past few months and I wanted to take a break before starting the next module. Things are shaping up pretty nicely, though the first one or two sessions will be a lot of tutorial stuff.

On that note, we’re going to be using the Fast Play Ship Combat rules for ship-to-ship combat, but I’ll get into what you need to know in a little bit.

This is going to be a summary of the last two sessions, and somewhat abridged, as I have forgotten a few of the last hit details in the past several months (sorry!).

1. Session Rundown –

With the last of Arron Ivy’s guards and now Arron Ivy himself neutralized, the party finds itself running out of time. Based on clues found on the island, Rosie is set to be sacrificed to the Kiss of Croatoan in less than five hours! Star Killer, using a spyglass that’s been locked into place on the stockade, finds that there’s a small cave in the side of the island only visible during low tide. Deducing that it could be the place where Rosie was carried off to, the party quickly heads down the beach and over the now-exposed tidepools to the cave entrance.

It’s cramped and waterlogged inside the cave at low tide, but the party manages to navigate its way through the front environs, until they come across a pack of grindylow guards! The guards leap into a battle stance and send their ten-foot long shark minions to attack! Likour manages to stymie one guard with Cause Fear, making him flee for life. With a few blows from a Lucerne hammer and a couple of snake bites from Thoka’s eidolon, the other guard and the shark minions are sent to meet their strange, inhuman god.

Theodore decides to scout ahead and finds a large cove with a high-ceiling… currently inhabited by stirges!

“Guys, these bugs look like trouble. Let’s go around,” Theodore justly advises.

The party creeps around the strange insects and continue on. They soon come across a fork in the soggy road, with multiple paths large and small leading around the cave. Several of the party members learn the hard way that the grindylows were expecting them; a trap involving jagged hooks embedded in cork hinders the movement of the group. Hrafn, Banmoril, and Star Killer take out their weapons and clear out the irritating trap, and the party decides to head east.

Despite being the stronghold of the grindylows, the party finds the cave oddly quiet. Even after looting the treasure from a derelict ship, the group finds little in the way of resistance or any sign of the ghouls from the Infernus. Eventually, the party finds a large metal grating at a dead end of a tunnel. Imprisoned below are two lacedon sailors!

Hrafn and Star Killer deliver the coup de grace to the trapped creatures, and Likour and Banmoril both notice a special coat button on one of the lacedons. A secret compartment reveals an anchor feather token! A strange prize, but one the party takes willingly. With Star Killer in the lead, the party pushes forward, and soon they come across a pool of what looks like black blood.

To their astonishment, a creature like a five-legged squid emerges and speaks to them!

“I am Gul’Tarrab, Herald of the Brinebrood Queen! None who trespass in the lair of Her Majesty shall live!” the devilfish bellows, and soon the party is launched into a furious round of combat.

Star Killer suffers a grievous injury at the tentacles of the herald, but he soon pays the magical creature back many times over with the point of his Lucerne hammer along with a barrage of ice spells from Banmoril. Thoka’s eidolon helps clear the way for Hrafn to jump into the action, and both launch a full-scale assault.

The combined onslaught destroys the devilfish, causing a massive explosion of blood and viscera in the cave! A strange bracelet from the innards of the creature falls into the water, and the party identifies it as a lesser bracer of archery. After some debate, the party decides to backtrack close to the front of the cave and head a different way.

They soon come into a room dominated by an octopoid statue, but before they can investigate, they are attacked by a group of six grindylows! Strangely, they each seem to be garbed in a way similar to the party members; one even carries a burlap snake to look like Thoka. Despite their attempts to emulate the group destroying their tribe, the grindylows are quickly defeated.

After another debate, and a way that is seemingly blocked by two giant sea anemones, the party goes back to the devilfish’s chambers and heads south through a small passageway. When they emerge, they find themselves on the rim of a giant water-filled chamber. They aren’t alone, however, for in the middle of the room there floats Rosie Cusswell on a raft. She’s surrounded by a freakishly-huge grindylow and a smaller female grindylow, and about to be sent to be eaten by the lacedons from the shipwreck!

The party springs into action in a desperate attempt to save their Halfling friend. Croatoan, the huge grindylow, is so massive that he easily devours some of the party, but this proves to be the creature’s Achilles’ heel, as those who are devoured find they can easily slice its belly from the inside! Chanting furiously, the female grindylow sends her octopus familiar and her water elementals to flank the group. Likour, thinking quickly, gets up to the raft, frees Rosie, and has someone toss her the Cusswell Cutter.

She joins the fray, and despite several party members being knocked unconscious, the group defeats the grindylow monarch and her freakish son along with their chained lacedons. The party spends some time looting the environs of the cave before heading back to the Man’s Promise. A spike trap and a swarm of ravenous sea urchins nonwithstanding, the trip back is uneventful, and soon Rosie is reunited with the rest of the mutineers.

The party triumphantly sails back to Magnimar and to the Heidmarch Manor to report their success. After a celebratory feast with several other high-ranked Pathfinders, and even the mayor of Magnimar himself, the Heidmarch Manor presents the party with an audacious proposal: become privateers in the employ of the Pathfinders and eventually become Pirate Lords and Ladies of the Shackles!

2. Encounters –

  1. 2 Grindylow sharktamers (grindylow ranger 4), 2 Shackle sharks – CR 5
  2. 8 Stirges (only 2 alarmed and killed) – CR 1
  3. 2 Imprisoned lacedons (coup de grace killed) – CR 3
  4. Gul’Tarrab the Brinebrood Herald (devilfish) – CR 4
  5. The Grindylow Pathfinder Cult (and one burlap snake) (6 advanced grindylows)  – CR 6
  6. Croatoan the Whale, The Brinebrood Queen, and 2 chained lacedons – CR 8
  7. 2 Ravenous sea urchin swarms (fled) – CR 2

3. Loot –

a. Entrance –

  • 2 sets of Cheliax-issued leather armor
  • 20 Cheliax-issued javelins
  • Small cloth bag containing 3 silver pearls
  • 2 Cheliax Navy-issued canteens, each containing a Cure Light Wounds potion

b. Abandoned Ship –

  • A wand of Magic Missile (9 charges) (a black wand tipped with an opal)
  • A black pearl wrapped in a purple silk cloth
  • A fossilized Megalodon tooth

c. Lacedon Prison –

  • A battered greatcoat with 5 large silver buttons
  • A feather token (anchor) (a red cardinal’s feather)
  • A collection of coins totaling 120 GP

d. Devilfish Chamber –

  • Lesser bracer of archery (recovered other from Cauldron) (a dull metal bracelet)

e. Octopus Altar Guards –

  • 3 polished ammonite fossils, each the size of a gold coin
  • 4 Cheliax Navy-issued spears with the shaft chopped in half
  • A long red silk scarf
  • Rosie’s bag

f. Altar –

  • A scrimshawed hammerhead shark skull with a piece of driftwood nailed into it
  • A wand of Mirror Image (23 charges) (a piece of polished driftwood)
  • An ivory walrus tusk set with gold with a scrimshawed map of the Shackles
  • A harp made from parts of an orca jaw and set with pearls
  • An Aquatic Cummerbund (a blue cloth belt embroidered with dolphins)

g. Cauldron Alcoves –

  • A jawbone of a shark scrimshawed with a giant octopus eating a shark
  • 6 gold rings and 6 silver rings
  • An enormous whale tooth with a plugged cavity containing 6 pearls
  • A whale skull scrimshawed with several spells (see handout)

h. Cauldron Throne –

  • 4 +1 heavy crossbow bolts
  • A silver spearhead
  • 8 4-pound silver ingots
  • 312 silver coins
  • 186 gold coins
  • 86 platinum coins

i. Queen’s Gear –

  • A +1 Returning Harpoon (a viciously-barbed harpoon)
  • A wand of Summon Nature’s Ally (14 charges) (a driftwood wand tipped with tanzanite)

j. Queen’s Pot –

  • A decorative gold shortsword
  • A gold-plated wakizashi
  • A masterwork cold iron scimitar
  • A masterwork cold iron sickle
  • 2 masterwork daggers
  • A scrimshaw ivory blade depicting an octopus devouring a shark
  • 2 longswords
  • 3 daggers
  • A punching dagger

 4. Module Handouts –

5. Customized Monster/Character Sheets –

a. Grindylow Cave

6. Session Totals –

  • XP: 3335
  • Gold: 3000 (from mission completion, other loot not divvied up yet)

7. Next Game –

Tomorrow!

Skulls and Shackles Module 1 Cont. – Welcome to the Jung- Oh Wait You’ve Already Been Here (5/16/2015)

splat

Hi everyone!

I’m glad everyone seemed to have fun Saturday night! I had a great time running the encounters and I hope you like the rest of the module! Sorry for the late write-up.

You guys are getting close to the end of the module, so I’ll just say that if you have ideas for alternate characters start drafting up the character sheet!

In addition, I was looking through the loot and I realized that there are a lot of bauble-type items that you guys have collected. I had an idea for a house rule for the Appraise skill that would make all these items more manageable from both my perspective and yours: If you have ranks in Appraise, you can automatically assess the real value of an item as long as the value’s at or below (50 GP x your modified in Appraise). Let me know what you think of this idea.

 1. Session rundown –

It’s slightly after midnight. The party has just finished the fight with the ghoulified remnants of the ship’s prostitutes. Just as the group finishes exploring the environs of the Boudoir, an elongated croak sounds throughout the island, a hideous noise that shatters the night air. Some of the more perceptive members of the group discern that the croak seems to be coming from the west side of the island, so the group moves on, intent on solving the mystery and saving Rosie.

The path through the jungle at night is long and arduous, but the group members eventually reach the fields outlined on the map they found on the sailor’s corpse. A gruesome sight awaits them though: corpses are strewn around the ruined fields, and several decayed heads have been impaled on pikes in each of the four parts of the field. Worse yet, each decayed head is home to a hive of botflies!

Tiptoeing around the heads, Theodore notices a long mound reaching from one field to another. Banmoril decides to check out one of the corpses for clues, but as he steps in the field the ground explodes in front of him! He has disturbed a tropical variant of a large magical earwig-like creature known as an ankheg. It lets out a screeching cry, and three others—two ankheglings and another adult—burst from the ground!

Theodore realizes a unique danger to this battle: as the tropical ankheg is about to die, its carapace takes on a wild appearance of red, yellow, and orange. It then uses its last ounce of strength to move around erratically to imitate a fire. The party realizes that if the ankhegs hit the severed heads it could spell trouble, so they start to lure the creatures towards the middle of the field.

Likour, noticing the dead grasses and weeds, starts a fire to burn up one of the hives. As the flames engulf the field, the ankhegs grow desperate and start to regurgitate acid! Star Killer’s Energy Heart of Desna is able to absorb the majority of the damage, and Hrafn, Thoka’s snake, and Theodore launch a counter-offensive. Despite their hard carapaces, the ankhegs are defeated, and the party explores the rest of the field. The corpses yield little beyond some small pieces of treasure, so the party moves towards the eastern beach.

Likour and Banmoril, able to see through the dark, notice large crabs gathered around a withered corpse. They relay this information back to the other members, and Theodore gets an idea: he’ll toss the dire boar flank he carved earlier in an attempt to lure away the crustaceans. It works! The crabs are so delighted by the meal that the party is able to scoot by them and search the corpse. Judging from the wound on the skull, the party deduces that the person died from some sort of bullet wound.

Besides a scroll of Remove Disease, the only other thing on the body is a note about the three guards at the Stockade. According to the note, Arron Ivy used wanted criminals as his bodyguards, and the bounty for the three totals 5000 gold pieces! The party member discuss the possibility of collecting the bounty then start to move south.

Banmoril takes the lead but the soft beach sand makes the movement slow-going, causing the party to lose several hours of time. By the time the party reaches the beach on the southern tip of the island, it’s nearly mid-morning. While exploring the beach, Star Killer finds the Cusswell Cutter embedded in a tree stump, indicating that the grindylows had been in the area with Rosie. Theodore notices the mast of the Infernus sticking out of the water, and the party debates exploring the shipwreck. The alchemist reasons that there could be clues out in the wreckage, or even Rosie herself.

Theodore readies a Touch of the Sea extract and swims out through the calm water to the submerged Chellish hulk. He finds a small bit of treasure, a valuable looking circlet (found to be a Headband of Vast Intelligence +2 calibrated for Knowledge (geography)), and a metal cage that looks to have been violently ripped open. In the midst of his exploration, a giant moray eel bursts out from a hiding place! The eel is too dangerous for him to take on alone, Theodore flees back to the beach.

The party examines the treasures from the ship—Banmoril laying claim to the headband—and decides to head northwest to the stockade indicated on the old map. With only half a day left to save Rosie, the group hurries through a jungle clearing and a mountain path to the stockade gates. A small building has been erected on the edge of the stockade as a shelter, but there are three figures in front of it. To the group’s surprise, the stockade is still being guarded! Three fugitives—pressed into the service of the Cheliax Navy—guard the area, even after they succumbed to ghoul fever!

One ghoul, a samurai wielding a flaming katana, challenges Hrafn to one-on-one combat, while another ghoul in a leather duster readies a pepperbox pistol. The third appears to be an arcanist who has somehow learned to control three Thassalonian rune guardians. As the guardians hum to life, the party braces itself for the onslaught! Thoka and Hrafn both try to take on the heavily-armored samurai, while Star Killer and Banmoril move to attack the arcanist. Likour tries desperately to keep the party healed, while Theodore uses his bombs to blast the runes and the gunslinger!

Battling furiously despite their decayed forms, the three mercenaries manage to land a number of heavy blows. The samurai deals Theodore a grievous injury with his katana, and the arcanist blasts the Likour with magic missiles and Sleep spells. One of the rune guardians shrinks Star Killer with a Reduce Person spell, but the Shoanti warrior’s rage could not be shrunken, and he swings his lucerne hammer mightily. Using his pepperbox pistol, the undead gunslinger fires six bullets into the group and hits six times, a testament to his skill with the strange weapon.

They’re no match for the party members in the end though, as Banmoril skillfully maneuvers the battlefield to deal the final blow to the arcanist, the samurai, and the gunslinger, and Snickerdoodle bites enough chunks from the rune guardians’ ley lines to disable them permanently.

As the party examines the magical gear of the mercenaries, a now normal-sized Star Killer finds a mounted spyglass rigged to point to a small cove down on the southwest portion of the island. Taking note of this, he and Theodore open the flap to the shelter to find a grisly scene: blood and viscera coats everything in the shelter, and Captain Arron Ivy has hung himself in the middle of it all. Worse yet, the Captain has already fallen to ghoul fever, leaving him as a ghoul with a broken neck.

Star Killer takes pity on him and delivers a coup de grace to finally put the Captain out of his misery. With the ghoul dispatched, the party examines what is left of the Captain’s possessions for clues as to how to save Rosie. They eventually find a writing desk with Arron Ivy’s last logbook entry, along with a sheaf of other papers.

The log entry notes that Arron Ivy saw a group of grindylows carrying someone away on a raft into a cave visible during low tide. He describes a raft remarkably similar to the one Rosie was carried away on, so the group deduces this cave must be where the halfling’s been taken.

Also among the discarded papers is a decade-old toxicology report describing the horrors of “Carrion Hill Ghoul Fever”. The fever, which seems to have originated from a ghoul enclave in Ustalav, allows the person with the sickness to retain his or her intelligence even after becoming undead, resulting in the bloodthirsty monstrosities the party fought on the island.

Shockingly, the report is signed by none other than Habbly Quarne, the ship’s doctor from the Wormwood, in his capacity as part of the Egorian Research Unit of Cheliax! The party commits this information to memory and decides to rest up for the final confrontation. After resting for 8 hours, they only have five hours left to save Rosie from the Kiss of Croatoan!

2. Encounters –

  1. 2 Tropical ankhegs (ankheg variant), 2 tropical ankheglings (young ankheg variant) – CR 6.5
  2. 4 Coconut crabs – CR 4 (mollified by boar meat)
  3. 1 Young giant moray eel – CR 4 (fled from)
  4. Stockade confrontation – Uchiyama the Ronin (ghoul samurai 3), Six-Shot Sidney (ghoul gunslinger 4), Anara the Rune-Thief (ghoul arcanist 3), 3 rune guardians (Lust, Gluttony, Greed) – CR 7.5
  5. Captain Arron Ivy – CR 1 (coup de grace) 

3. Loot –

a. Farmland –

  • A rotting leather belt with a gold belt buckle (25 GP)
  • A potion of Water Breathing (a glass flask containing an orange liquid that smells faintly of blood)
  • A rusty iron dagger in a pearl scabbard (75 GP)
  • A small blue purse containing 3 obsidian stones (30 GP) and 45 gold pieces

b. Beach –

  • A scroll of Remove Disease (a scroll with the inscription SUSLECARAP)

c. Infernus Wreck –

  • A pair of chopsticks made from manticore spikes (20 GP)
  • Four bottles of fine perfume (20 GP/bottle, 80 GP total)
  • A Headband of Vast Intelligence +2 (Knowledge (geography)) (a slightly tarnished silver crown inset with a single amethyst) ***TAKEN BY BANMORIL***
  • Knowledge that a giant moray eel is mean as hell

d. Stockade Outside/Guards –

  • A gunsmith’s kit
  • A leather duster (studded leather)
  • 20 firearm bullets
  • 20 doses of black powder in two powder horns
  • The Ram’s Head – a pepperbox pistol with a ram’s skull engraved on the barrel (2 points of plunder)
  • Akashi the Flame-Sheathed – a +1 flaming katana ***TAKEN BY HRAFN***
  • A set of black masterwork splint mail with red flames
  • A frayed black samurai’s robe with a red flame motif
  • A pair of geta sandals
  • Goggles of Minute Seeing (a pair of silver goggles with crystal lenses) ***TAKEN BY THEODORE***
  • A wand of Make Whole (7 charges) (a porcelain wand with several repaired hairline fractures)
  • Golem oils (an assortment of strange oils in glass vials)
  • A tarnished golden spyglass ***TAKEN BY STAR KILLER***

e. Stockade Inside/Arron Ivy –

  • 2 scrolls of Cure Light Wounds
  • 1 scroll of Cure Moderate Wounds
  • A suit of leather armor with a lion’s face
  • 6 spears in decent condition
  • 7 finely tailored courtier’s outfits in all the colors of the rainbow
  • 5 pounds of black pepper in a waxed bag (50 GP)
  • A silver tankard (30 GP)
  • A silver locket depicting a beautiful blonde woman (45 GP)
  • A Ring of Swimming (a platinum ring set with an aquamarine in the shape of a fish)
  • A bloodied Chellish naval captain’s uniform
  • 2 gold medals and 2 platinum medals (130 GP total)
  • A rotting leather belt with a tarnished gold buckle (50 GP)

4. Module Handouts –

5. Customized monster/character sheets –

a. Farm Fields –

b. Stockade –

6. Session totals –

  1. Experience: (Forgot to write this part down)
  2. Gold: 580 total (non-equipment treasure)

7. Next game –

June 6, 2015

Skulls and Shackles Module 1, Part ? – Shipwrecked Off the Coast of Boar-neo (4/10/2015)

Hi everyone,

Hopefully you all had a good time on Friday, despite the technical issues we encountered. I’m going to split up the island map so hopefully it isn’t too taxing on all your computers. It shouldn’t take too long. During the module there was a lot of enthusiasm, which was great! It was one of those sessions where everyone—both your characters and my monsters—seemed to hit.

1. Session rundown –

After taking a well-deserved rest on the beach, the party wakes up at about noon to continue the exploration of the island. They find a weed-choked dirt path through the jungle, which they follow into a burnt-out village. Before they can explore further, a pack of murderous vultures attacks! One in particular is especially loathsome; its wingspan reaches well over twenty feet long, and its stomach is so engorged with carrion that it hangs in fleshy rolls over its legs.

Despite their battle experience, the party suffers heavy injuries: Star Killer is first to be impaled by the giant bird’s halberd-like beak, and Hrafn falls to the ground bleeding out as the repulsive bird lands a powerful stab. With a sustained assault from all the party members—including Hrafn heroically stabbing up at the bird from the ground and Theodore quaffing his feral mutagen—the avian menaces are eradicated and the party moves on.

Hrafn and Theodore examine a pile of burnt bones and determine the creatures that lived in this village were definitely human. Star Killer and Theodore also examine a crucified skeleton clad in red and black, and find evidence that this village was ordered to be burnt by a Captain Arron Ivy. In addition, an extremely emaciated ghoul crawls through the weeds to grab at Star Killer! With a flourish of his mighty lucerne hammer, Star Killer delivers a coup de grace to the undead, which strangely thanks Star Killer for the courtesy.

This puzzles Theodore, who was in earshot, as ghouls are typically mindless and not prone to communication. The party members keep this in the back of their mind and continue.

The road from the village leads to a burnt out bridge spanning a stinking mire. Little more than timbers remain of the bridge, so the group has to use their skills at acrobatics to cross the marsh. Before any of the seven members can make it very far, a ten-foot long anaconda slithers its way across the swamp! The massive reptile delivers a punishing blow on Theodore, first by biting him with its huge jaw, then crushing the life out of him with its body!

Desperate to save their friend, Banmoril launches an icy assault from the shore with a Snowball spell, and Likour overcomes his innate cowardice to leap across the ruined bridge and heal his allies. Thoka decides to fight fire with fire, and sends her snake to bite and snap at the anaconda’s tail to distract it. Eventually, the creature is destroyed, and the party makes its way deep into the jungle.

The jungle path eventually leads to a large tree, and the path forks to the east (towards a beacon), and south towards something called “The Boudoir”. Banmoril suggests taking the eastern path first, but as the party moves under the tree, the vines seem to come alive and attack! The tree is infested with vine chokers—a jungle variant of the aberration—and they’re out for blood! Though one choker manages to land his vines around Banmoril’s neck, the group of chokers is no match for the party, and they’re quickly dispatched.

With a whoop and a Shoanti war-cry, Star Killer climbs the tree looking for the chokers’ hideout. He finds a small pile of treasure and a strange potion, which he eagerly shows the party before they continue east.

As the sun sets, the group makes it to the path leading to the beacon, but an obstacle hinders their progress: a full-grown dire boar! Tiny Likour attempts to use his Wayang race’s natural mastery over stealth to creep by the thing, but the boar detects him with his keen perception! The boar madly charges with all the porcine fury its nearly one-ton body can manage, and gores poor Likour!

Using an encircling maneuver, the party manages to kill the large beast before it can inflict further injury. Theodore slices off a large piece of the creature for himself for later in the hopes Kroop knows a recipe for primal boar.

Examining a clearing nearby, the group finds a naval uniform, a ceremonial saber, and a box of torches and tindertwigs. A note within the uniform suggests that these oddments belonged to a naval officer dying of ghoul fever who was ordered by the Captain to light the beacon. Theodore examines the medal on the uniform, and deduces that the uniform belongs to the Cheliax Navy. The burnt skeleton at the beacon fire pit, along with a note she scrawled on the back of the letter, suggest that the officer committed suicide rather than let herself become a bloodthirsty ghoul.

The group sees little use in lighting the beacon, so they gather the assortment of items from the clearing and backtrack to the fork in the road to head south.
Night falls, and the party lights lanterns and torches to illuminate the dark and mysterious jungle. Travelling on the southern path, they eventually come to a crude wooden gate. Star Killer uses a technique colloquially known as the “Shoanti Lockpick” to break the gate down, and the group is repulsed by what they find lying in wait for them!

Past the gate, the ghoulified remnants of the ship’s (male and female) prostitutes have banded on the path under the guidance of their now-undead madam, a cleric of Calistria. In addition, their star attraction, a muscular bard named Magic Mikael, has become a murderously-insane ghoul! Far from being mindless undead automatons, these ghouls present a coordinated and intelligent fighting force!

The muscular ghoul uses his bard magic to diminish the party’s fighting effectiveness; first by willing Star Killer’s hammer to be covered in grease, then by inflicting Unnatural Lust on Theodore! Star Killer, not missing a beat, whips out his claws and goes to work dispatching the undead minions. The other members of the party are also under attack: Thoka is on the ground paralyzed after a ghoul claw hits home, and Hrafn is disarmed after an attack from one depraved ghoul! Banmoril’s locked in combat with the Madam, and Likour busies himself with channeling positive energy to counteract the Calistria cleric’s negative energy.

The battle is tough and slow-going, but the tide turns in the group’s favor. The weaker ghouls are ground to dust, and the party’s heavy hitters manage to take down the madam and the crazed bard with powerful hits. Rifling through the reeking brothel, the party members find a heap of jewels and treasure, along with a sorely-needed Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds.

With midnight approaching, there are only 24 hours left to save Rosie!

2. Encounters –

  1. Vulture pack (3 slightly advanced vultures, 1 giant vulture) – CR 6
  2. Anaconda – CR 5
  3. Choker pack (4 chokers) – CR 6
  4. Dire boar – CR 5
  5. Boudoir fight (ghoul (whip) fighter 3, (2) ghoul rogue 2, ghoul cleric 3, ghoul bard 3) – CR 6-7

3. Loot –

a. Choker hideout –

  • Potion of Water Breathing (glass bottle containing an orange liquid that smells faintly of blood)*
  • (3) Silver shoe buckles
  • Gold wedding ring
  • Silver hatpin

b. Beacon –

  • Heavily mildewed Cheliax Navy uniform
  • Gold medal of the Order of Asmodeus
  • Ceremonial saber with a golden crossguard in a lacquered wooden sheath
  • Small wooden box containing 10 tindertwigs and 6 torches
  • Slice of dire boar ham

c. Boudoir fight –

  • An extremely revealing chain shirt
  • A masterwork whip with a pommel shaped like a… nothing in particular.
  • A sealed leather hip flask depicting a crocodile
  • (inside flask) Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds (a potion that smells like oranges)
  • 2 plain daggers
  • 1 masterwork dagger with a crocodile tooth on the pommel
  • A small rosewood box containing 6 flasks of alchemist’s fire
  • 2 bottles of cheap perfume
  • A wedding dress inlaid with pearls and set with three tiny rubies
  • A whalebone corset set with mother-of-pearl inlays
  • A dozen silver hatpins set with tiny obsidians
  • A poorly cut ruby
  • 60 gold pieces in a black belt pouch

4. Module handouts –

5. Customized monster/character sheets –

a. Burnt out village –

b. The Boudoir –

6. Base XP/Gold –

  • XP: 1865 each

7. Next game –

First week of May TBD

Skulls and Shackles Module 1, Part ? – Grindylows Grindyblow (3/28/2015)

Hi everyone,

I hope you all had a good time during the last session. Sorry for the late write-up, I’ve been busy lately! I’ve been preparing custom character sheets and monsters–plus fleshing out some story handouts and the map–for the next part of the module for a while now. Hopefully you all enjoy it!

Hero Lab’s made it much, much easier for me to make custom designs while keeping the nitty-gritty backend calculations for stats, skill levels, etc. straight. All the special grindylow types from the last fight (the Kelpcallers, Wavesmashers, and Nightfeeders) were custom made from a base grindylow template.

On my to-do list is to create a Google document with all the Quartermaster shop gear and have it work as your party loot chest. Eventually, I’d like to tie getting rid of stuff from the Quartermaster shop into the Plunder/Infamy mechanic.

1. Session rundown –
It’s been minutes after Mr. Plugg and Master Scourge, the twin disciplinarians of the Wormwood, met their grisly end at the hands of the party and their compatriots. Safely out of danger, Theodore and Likour (along with their newfound compatriot Omar) start to quickly examine the exotic ill-gotten treasures of Plugg and Scourge.

Star Killer, meanwhile, calls over Sandara and Conchobhar and reveals the true nature of the party: they’ve been sent to rescue the two lost Pathfinders on behalf of the Heidmarch Manor! The two Wormwood pirates express surprise that they warranted a rescue mission, for they had long despaired of ever escaping the clutches of Barnabas Harrigan. They gladly agree to travel back to Magnimar with the group.

The adrenaline of the battle dying down, the group gets to work settling minor matters and examining the Man’s Promise. Star Killer finds a lucerne hammer in the bilges and decides to make a weapon change. Likour and Banmoril free Owlbear from captivity. Star Killer also examines the plunder Scourge and Plugg were hoarding: a carved rhinoceros horn and a Rahadoumi tapestry. They seem valuable but purely ornamental, so the party makes a note to check into these items later.

Kroop gathers everyone around to announce that he believes the remnants of the Wormwood and Man’s Promise skeleton crew should ally with the raiding party. The remaining crew–Grok, Rosie, Cogswell, Omar, Erik, Latricia, and Owlbear–agree and toss their lot in with the Pathfinders.

At the suggestion of Kroop, the party catches a southwesterly wind to gain momentum to loop back around and leave the Shackles for Varisia. However, in Plugg’s haste to squib the ship himself, he set them on a course into a shoal- and reef-infested part of the archipelago! To make matters worse, a Shackles squall quickly bears down upon the beleaguered ship, forcing the group to call all-hands on deck.

With Erik and Grok keeping the mainsail lashed, the crew elects Hrafn to take the helm. Night soon comes, and the storm hits the ship with a furious intensity. Unfortunately, in the tumult a mass of grindylows ambushes the ship! It’s a pitched battle in near total darkness as the crew desperately tries to fight off the strange creatures!

Star Killer manages to break in his new lucerne hammer, and he finds it hasn’t worn down in the slightest during its rest in the bilges. Likour uses his strange illusions to craft the sound of the grindylows’ most-hated enemy–squids–to off-put them. Thoka uses her bizarre snake-like eidolon to great effect; first by having it attack the ambushers and then by having it assist Hrafn in a battle with the grindylow kelpcallers.

Banmoril uses Plugg’s Tidewater Cutlass to deliver fatal electrical discharges to the shadowy grindylow nightfeeders. Hrafn attempts to save the women fighters–Rosie, Sandara, and Latricia–on the foredeck only to find his efforts rebuffed by the kelpcallers Entangling spells. And finally, Theodore uses his powerful bombs to make several grindylows sorry they ever came out of the water!

Despite their best efforts though, things take a turn for the worse. The ship hits a submerged reef, and Rosie is captured (alive) by the grindylows! Everyone quickly dispatches the remaining grindylows on board, and Hrafn sets to work righting the ship through the shoals and reefs. Star Killer gets the idea to fother the sail over the new leak, and along with Theodore’s use of the Touch of the Sea extract, the ship is saved from sinking. Hrafn decides to steer the ship in the direction of an island the grindylows were heading towards, seeing no other alternatives.

The crew works through the night, and by morning they safely see the ship into a small beach. What they find is unnerving: submerged skeletons covered in scrimshaw, and a heavily-decayed corpse of an unfortunate sailor. On his person are three papers: a map of the island, a note to his love back in Riddleport hinting at a plague and a mad captain, and a disturbing note talking about something called the “Blessing of Croatoan”.

The party then decides to rest up, and then explore the island and find Rosie.

2. Encounters –

  1. CR ~7 – Grindylow fight

3. Loot –

Nothing to speak of from the grindylows, though much of the unidentified loot from the Plugg and Scourge fight was identified.

  • Bracers of Armor +1 (a set of silvery bracers)
  • Amulet of Natural Armor +1 (a gold amulet set with an octagon-shaped emerald)
  • Tidewater Cutlass (a cutlass with a gold skull-shaped crossguard)
  • Potion of Blur (a potion that’s oddly hard to focus on)
  • 8 doses of oil of taggit (a corked green bottle filled with a viscous red liquid)
  • 1 dose of dark reaver powder (a black powdery substance that smells like moss)
  • 3 Screaming Bolts (crossbow bolts with curious holes drilled on the bolt point)

In addition, these items were identified:

  • Hospitality’s Hammock (a luxurious green hammock)
  • Pearl of Power – 1st level (a large, lustrous white pearl)

4. Character/Monster sheets –

Keeping secret!

5. Base XP/Gold –

  • XP: 945 each

6. Next game –

7 PM – Friday, April 10th

Skulls and Shackles Module 1, Part ? (2/22/2014) –

Hi everyone,

Thanks for playing on Sunday! I hope everyone enjoyed making Plugg and Scourge bite the dust after so long of being under their thumb. Smart thinking on your guys’ part really made the encounter easier. I’m going to repost this on the Puppyrush homepage with the PDFs of the MP crew members you killed.

1. Feedback from me:
– I know these big fights have pacing problems, but it’s cool everyone stuck around to the end (or near the end). I can understand getting distracted since there were over two dozen people in the turn order.
– Talking to Erik was a smart idea and I made that aspect of the ch
– The stuff with the trapdoor and the acid was very clever and a smart way to approach the encounter. Initially, it was going to be a pincer attack with both the double doors trapped with harpoons if they’re opened inward. Banmoril/Steven disabled the one trap, and Plugg threw open the doors after a few turns.
– Pola was supposed to make a beeline for Theodore and steal his mutagen (as she heard from Plugg about the carnage he unleashed during the raid), but she got stymied by the crush of people.
– Hana was supposed to do things like Command and Hold Gaze, but because she was surprised and killed right away this didn’t happen.

2. Things changed from the initial module:
– The way the crew members were divided was changed to be slightly more even.
– The grunt pirates were altered from their initial CR 1/2 setup to a beefier CR 1 setup with custom designs/classes. They were all supposed to be like the Wormwood Pirates – Multi-class level 2s. They didn’t even have names or pictures for them, which was kind of lame.

3. I’ll make some loot handouts later, but here are what Scourge and Plugg possessed:

Master Scourge:
– A whip made from bull leather
– A masterwork handaxe carved with 16 notches for kills
– A punching dagger
– A green potion that is oddly hard to focus on (magical)
A potion of Cure Light Wounds (magical)
– A set of leather armor
– A shortbow with 12 arrows in a leather quiver with a buttoned shutter
– A golden boatswain’s call
– A corked dark green bottle filled with a viscous red oil
– 6 gold teeth
– A leather snuff box with a diamond stud
– (inside the box) A black powdery substance that smells like moss
– A silver wedding ring
– A black cloth pouch containing a betting stash: 14 platinum coins and 29 gold coins
– Money pouches (confiscated at the beginning of the module) belonging to Thoka, Banmoril, and Likour
– A steel key carved with an ‘S’

Mister Plugg:
– A cutlass with a golden skull-shaped handguard (magical)
– A masterwork cat-o’-nine-tails
– A light crossbow with ten bolts
– 3 crossbow bolts carved with curious holes on the bolt point (magical)
– A set of masterwork leather armor
– A golden amulet with a octagon-shaped emerald (magical)
– A set of silver bracers (magical)
– A small golden key (magical)
– A leather drinking cup
– A leather pouch containing a betting stash: 200 gold coins and 100 silver coins
– Money pouches (confiscated at the beginning of the module) belonging to Hrafn, Star Killer, and Theodore
– A steel key carved with a ‘P’

4. Here are the character sheets I made for some of the Man’s Promise crew:

Erik, level 2 Fighter

Hana, level 2 Inquisitor of Asmodeus

Silent Pola, level 2 Ninja

The Blue Lady, level 3 Adept

 

 

Cthulhu by Gaslight – A Single Light in the Dorkness

 

Here are the steps to go through making your character:

  1. Download the following: Call of Cthulhu Core Rulebook, Cthulhu by Gaslight, 1890s Character Sheet. The username and password can be found on Facebook, or by asking me.
  2. Start on page 33 of the pdf. There will be two pages which list all the steps to make your own investigator. But guess what??? A lot of that is already done for you by the next step.
  3. Visit the Puppyrush Character Generator to generate your character’s stats. It’s that easy! Try and ignore the typos, though; computer programers are not known for their spelling abilities. Fill out the character sheet with the information it gives you.
  4. Browse through page 40 in the Core book and pages 9-12 in the Cthulhu by Gaslight books, which provide you with lots of sample Occupations. If you already have a certain type of investigator in mind, adjust your stats. If you want to be a professor, but you’ve rolled an INT of 9 and a STR of 18, feel free to switch them.
  5. Once you have your basic stats figured out, continue with the steps listed in the Core book to finish your dudes and dudettes. But first, read:
  6. Some Character Restrictions (This Is Important And In All Caps):
    1. No poors. All investigators have to be at least lower-middle class. As much as I enjoy being a champion of the working man, unless we’re running a certain type of game, poverty does not make for much freedom in Victorian England. Or today, for that matter.
    2. Everyone has to have at least 15% in either Archeology or Anthropology. Most of you will probably need to invest Interest Points into this, but maybe one or two of you will have Occupations that include this. I’ll explain why a little later. If you invest enough points to reach 30%, you’ll gain a specialty. I’ll talk more about that when we meet.
  7. Be sure to bring:
    1. Your character sheets
    2. A pencil (you’ll be doing a lot of erasing on your sheets)
    3. Something to write notes on
    4. DICE! If you have dice please bring dice. We’re particularly looking for d10s (10-sided dice, whether they are 00-09 or 10-100).
  8. If you are really confused by any of this, I’ll be around to help with character creation and setting you up, as will others who know the system. If this is necessary, PLEASE COME BY EARLY, EITHER TO WEST HYATTESVILLE METRO (BEFORE 3PM) OR TO SOUTH CAMPUS DINER (AFTER 3PM) where I’ll be hosting High-Minded Twaddle. We’re already beginning quite late, so if you come by at 6 and we have to set up your character… I mean we still will, it doesn’t take THAT long, but it would be so much easier if we had it finished earlier.

The Story

The time is October 1891; the place, London, England. A few years earlier Jack the Ripper made headlines around the world, nowhere moreso than here, the staging place. Steam power has ushered in a new age of connectivity and travel, while the advances in electricity by the Americans have already produced marvels which will take some years to be replicated in England. The automobile remains an extreme luxury, and the few motorists who exist are throttled at 4 mph inside London. The notorious London fog is in full effect, rendering travel at night a dubious proposition, despite the government’s best attempts at ensuring the many gas lights which adorn the city streets remain lit at night.

The investigators are spending a cool but humid Saturday morning at the Amateur Archeological Society, a social club located in Holborn (a London district), near to the British Museum. The club at present is headed by a Sir Kevin Holstaff, a wealthy amateur explorer who makes a habit of going on expedition whenever possible, whether in the jungles of the Congo or the mountain valleys of Tibet. At a relatively young age of thirty-seven, Holstaff inherited the family fortune after his father and two older brothers were lost at sea. Due to his young age and the shirking attitude he adopted as the youngest of three brothers, the Amateur Archeological Society is unique (and notorious) among London social clubs in that it caters to both men and women. While there, someone approaches the club, and asks the doorman to speak to one of the investigators…

 

The Investigators

Eugene Fairbanks, American-born electrical engineer