Homebrew Special: Emerald Legacy

Friday, July 20, 2018

Francesco "Doppelschwert" Silvestri tackles the latest Homebrew Special challenge with his new Pathfinder Adventure Card Gamecampaign: Emerald Legacy. He totally had me at "Sharkomancer."—Mike

Now that Ultimate Combat and Ultimate Equipment are out, so Hayato and Reiko are available as playable characters, I'm finally ready to proudly present my latest longtime project: Emerald Legacy, a new homebrew Adventure Path for Skull & Shackles!

Before we get into specifics, let's start with a short rundown of the setting. In the prologue, you start in Absalom and are hired as mercenaries by the Tian noble Hiro Yamashi to join his expedition to the Shackles, where his brother Masao has fled after stealing a family heirloom. In order to get the heirloom back, you'll chase Masao and his henchmen through several exotic locations, discovering his plans along the way. Once you find out what he's up to, will you be able to stop him in time? I certainly hope so!

When I started this project, I first looked back on all the experience I gathered while working on my first homebrew AP Revenge of the Wicked. While I'm very happy with how RotW turned out, I have to admit that setting up the box is rather complicated, so I wanted to improve on this aspect in Emerald Legacy. At the same time, I wanted to change a lot of things to give the set my own spin and try out some new ideas.

The one thing from RotW I was absolutely sure that I wanted to keep was the great appearance of the cards made by Ludwig Orsingher, and so I asked him to help me out with this project again. Luckily, he agreed, and he made both the awesome logo as well as the great realizations of all the custom cards for Emerald Legacy, a contribution for which I want to express my deep gratitude.

With that said, let's have a look at what Emerald Legacy has in store for you!

Your ship is your upgradeable base of operations.

I like it when RPGs give you the option to have your own upgradeable base—a place for your heroes to return to between adventures. In the RPG version of Skull & Shackles, you can earn your own island; it's also a central mechanic in the popular Kingmaker AP. For Emerald Legacy, I decided early on that I wanted a base to be important both in the narrative as well as mechanically. My solution for this was to make the Shirofune, an upgradeable ship that grows alongside you during the course of the AP. (You might think that the concept of a floating fortress is a fantasy trope, but warships like these were actually used in Japan during the 16th and 17th century.)


Note: The artwork on the Shirofune card above was done by myself, and is not covered by the Paizo Community Use Policy.

My idea was to set up the Shirofune much like a character. Instead of skills, though, there are ship facilities, which produce cards from an upgrade box you can customize yourself with 3 class decks, another AP, or Skull & Shackles itself. This allows you to give the set a distinct flavor by adding your favorite expansions. (The Monk Class Deck and the Ultimate Combat and Ultimate Equipment decks make excellent candidates for a Tian theme.) From a narrative point of view, your choice of upgrade box corresponds to the people that were hired to work on the ship.

And instead of a cards list, there's a list of cargo that you get to add as plunder to your ship at the beginning of each scenario! These cards can be used as an income for boons, as payment for the cards from the upgrade box, or to use the ship card's power (discussed below).

You'll never walk alone.


For once, no one expects you to save the world all by yourself.

While your party plays an essential role in the story of Emerald Legacy, you're not the only ones working toward your goal of stopping Hiro's brother Masao. Important NPCs will regularly help you out as cohorts, and when everything else fails, you can resort to calling the Order of the Raging Wave to help you out! This seafaring monk order has travelled with Hiro from Tian Xia to support him on his quest, and their leader Umiko Sensei acts as your mentor during the journey.

In exchange for a little donation in the form of a plunder card, they will temporarily replace your role card, gladly taking care of your problems for you. This role card is the third step of turning your ship into a character by having its crew earn power feats. Over the course of the AP, you can have them learn all kinds of useful tricks to cover the weaknesses of your party. You could very well play through Emerald Legacy with 1d4 in Wisdom without the need to despair at the first sight of the infamous Siren Caller!

You have rivals, and there are sidequests connected to them.


Instead of pirates vs. ninjas, it will be you vs. pirates AND ninjas!

For this AP, I thought it would be cool to fight against a rivaling party with opposing goals. While you are fighting on Hiro's side, his brother Masao has a band of loyal followers that you will meet several times throughout your journey. To keep them fresh and relevant, I made them veterans and introduced villain feats, which grant them additional powers over time. Since you get to choose those powers, you can start with the least disruptive powers for your party, but you will eventually be forced to make what I hope to be hard choices. Additionally, each villain has a theme that will influence the rules of the scenario they appear in. For example, there is usually a scenario rule related to examining cards when Kaze is around. By encountering these villains several times, it was possible to flesh them out more, and I didn't need to make a huge number of custom cards you would use just once.

In Emerald Legacy, sidequests are the only way to earn loot cards, and they have minor and major consequences for later parts of the AP and the ending of the story! I've introduced 2 sidequests for each villain, giving you even more opportunities to interact with them.

You'll get into all kind of crazy situations.


Note: The artwork on the Shrine of Sealing card above was done by myself, and is not covered by the Paizo Community Use Policy.

I'll openly admit that when I make my homebrew adventure paths, I often try to incorporate my favorite mechanics from the official material, which you can consider as my love letter to the game. In particular, Mummy's Mask had a big influence on many of Emerald Legacy's cards and scenarios.


Illustration by Ben Wootten.

However, I also try to come up with new mechanics and ways to make the game feel different from what you are used to. Emerald Legacy contains a new type of scenario that I like to think of as "Showdown Scenarios." These all use the Shrine of Sealing, a location where characters are not allowed to start. No matter what you do, the villains will eventually all end up in the Shrine of Sealing, and you need to close all other locations before you can win. Assuming you win the fight against a villain, it's actually better not to temporarily close any locations in these scenarios, which has a major impact on how you can approach them.

Here's a short list of my favorite 5 features from other Emerald Legacy scenarios, in no particular order:

  • There is a self-proclaimed "sharkomancer" that lets you roll on a shark table.
  • You can reunite a dinosaur with its lost baby (or keep it for yourself—I'm not judging).
  • There is an anti-magic zone that your casters won't like very much.
  • You can encounter a tribe of grindylows living inside of Hirgenzosk.
  • Depending on how you play, you may or may not encounter the guy to the right.

If you want to try out Emerald Legacy, you can find the free PDF and further information in this thread. I'm still updating the PDF as well, so any feedback is welcome!

I hope you enjoy the AP and can use it to scratch your Tian Xia itch until the day we can have an official card game version of Jade Regent :) Until next time!

Francesco Silvestri (Doppelschwert)
Homebrew Scenario Designer & Sword Enthusiast

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Tags: Adventure Card Game Homebrew Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Very cool! I haven't finished the Skull & Shackles base set yet, but once I do this looks like a fun and thematic one to go to next.

P.S. The Shrine of Sealing artwork is really nice.

P.P.S. This should be moved from the website feedback forum. Flagging my own post now...


Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

I really like how you've added new mechanics and concepts to drive the theme of the AP home and keep things fresh and distinctive.

I'm really looking forward to playing through this AP.


Looks really creative!
Awesome work

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