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Meet the Castaways!

Monday, July 12, 2010

With the first adventure in the Serpent's Skull Adventure Path, the PCs are shipwrecked on the notorious island of Smuggler's Shiv. But fortunately for the fragile 1st-level characters, they won't be alone against cannibals in the jungle, ghosts in the surf, dimorphodons in the sky, eurypterids in the tide pools, and mysterious bat-winged night monsters. Because they aren't the only ones lucky enough to be stranded on Smuggler's Shiv.

Presented here are five other castaways whom the players will be getting to know quite well during the course of their stay on Smuggler's Shiv. A couple of you out there will probably recognize these characters, since they're the ones I had you play at PaizoCon during the Serpent's Skull preview game I ran. In the actual adventure, though, these five are NPCs, complete with their own secrets and emotional baggage and talents. Keeping these NPCs from killing each other and working together to survive is a key part of the adventure—and each has a fun little boon to grant the PCs if they become good friends. These five will continue to play roles in the campaign as the Adventure Path unfolds, and how the PCs interact with Aerys, Gelik, Ishirou, Jask, and Sasha can ultimately mean the difference between success or failure!

Illustrations by Gonzalo Flores

James Jacobs
Creative Director

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Bards Clerics Elves Fighters Gnomes Gonzalo Flores Pathfinder Adventure Path Portraits Rangers Rogues Serpent's Skull
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Dark Archive

Do I spy a Red Mantis tattoo ?

That rogues' gallery looks like a typical cross section of New York subway commuters. ;)


Wow, these characters look amazing. Not just the typical "Pirates of the Carribean"-style. I´m looking forward to this adventure.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

OK, I gotta admit this I find interesting. Up until now what I've heard Serpent's Skull has just kind of felt to me like Savage Tide 2.0, but this group of NPCs and the idea that the long-term interaction between the PCs and this group will play a major role in the adventure has me interested. Maybe there actually won't be a major, major fall-off in my interest level towards the actual adventure path in Pathfinder after Kingmaker like I had been afraid of. (I had feared I'd just be getting the books for the new monsters and the setting articles, the way I have to admit I mostly looked at Council of Thieves.)

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

WHAT?! No Gilligan?

Next blog post on Serpent's Skull needs to be titled "A Three-Hour Tour"...

;-)

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

baron arem heshvaun wrote:
Do I spy a Red Mantis tattoo ?

It looks like one.

Hmmm. I'm guessing she was a slave or bonded to the Red Mantis somehow. Maybe it's just my vision of the RM, but I would think the actual assassins wouldn't put such a mark on public display.

Very excited to see how this AP unfolds!

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tom Qadim wrote:
baron arem heshvaun wrote:
Do I spy a Red Mantis tattoo ?

It looks like one.

Hmmm. I'm guessing she was a slave or bonded to the Red Mantis somehow. Maybe it's just my vision of the RM, but I would think the actual assassins wouldn't put such a mark on public display.

Very excited to see how this AP unfolds!

And what is that steel plate on her posterior region? Some new armor type?


Is that guy Gelik (in the purple big hat) a gnome? I am aching for gnome pirates with advanced technology :)

Liberty's Edge

NSpicer wrote:

WHAT?! No Gilligan?

Next blog post on Serpent's Skull needs to be titled "A Three-Hour Tour"...

;-)

"I once knew a guy that could make a nuclear reactor out of two coconuts and a palm tree, but couldn't fix a three-foot hole in a boat."


I love the character-design! Snide, cool and edgy! Awesome!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Is anyone else completely freaked out by Gelik? I'm expecting him to tell me the good news is that the gum I like is going to come back in style, then dance out of the room.


NSpicer wrote:

WHAT?! No Gilligan?

Next blog post on Serpent's Skull needs to be titled "A Three-Hour Tour"...

;-)

haha. My first thought was where's Locke?

Dark Archive

Reminds me of one of my favorite adventures where the PCS are stranded on an island. In that one the only thing you did was select your race, the choices you made throughout the adventure determined your ultimate class and alignment.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
David Fryer wrote:
Reminds me of one of my favorite adventures where the PCS are stranded on an island. In that one the only thing you did was select your race, the choices you made throughout the adventure determined your ultimate class and alignment.

Was this an actual published adventure? If so, sign me up!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Kind of an intimidating-looking bunch. I can see how wrangling 'em could be a challenge worthy of a reward. Actually, I was toying with the idea of giving some sort of "relationship bonus" to my party in Kingmaker, a la Dragon Age, as they became better friends with various NPCs. They've only met Oleg, Svetlana, and a few bandits so far, though, so it hasn't had a chance to come up yet.

This is pretty exciting, though I am curious to see which elements have a bit of overlap with Savage Tide, and which are completely different.

@Mortimer Duke - I started watching Lost some time after reading over Savage Tide, so stuff would happen in the show, and I was like, "Oh man! This is like in ST!" rather than the other way around. :)

@David Fryer - Do you happen to remember anything else about that adventure, like what it was called or who published it? It sounds really neat.


Savage Tide absolutely ruled my two decade RPG carrier! So I would only encourage the game designers involved in this AP to use everything that worked there. Keep up the good job guys!


This was a fantastic preview at PaizoCon, and I cannot wait for this AP to release next month! We got a very small taste of these NPCs, and they're all very well done. :)


I may be putting the cart before the horse here, but I'd be pleased as punch to see some of these on the next set of portrait cards (please, please, please let there be another set of portrait cards).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps Subscriber
Courtney! wrote:


@David Fryer - Do you happen to remember anything else about that adventure, like what it was called or who published it? It sounds really neat.

I believe the adventure David was referring to was the AD&D module N4: Treasure Hunt

Paizo Employee Creative Director

NSpicer wrote:

WHAT?! No Gilligan?

Next blog post on Serpent's Skull needs to be titled "A Three-Hour Tour"...

;-)

Gilligan is assumed to be one of the PCs.

And yes... the title of my Foreword for Pathfinder #37 is "A Tale of a Fateful Trip..."

Paizo Employee Creative Director

baron arem heshvaun wrote:
Do I spy a Red Mantis tattoo ?

You do indeed. The Red Mantis does use tattoos to brand their agents, but they normally don't make them that big or extravagant. That particular character is... shall we say... not really a good candidate to stay in the Red Mantis—it's part of her background why she's not on Ilizmagorti but is instead on a boat heading to Sargava.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

delabarre wrote:
And what is that steel plate on her posterior region? Some new armor type?

It's just pants or something.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

gaborg wrote:
Is that guy Gelik (in the purple big hat) a gnome? I am aching for gnome pirates with advanced technology :)

He is indeed a gnome. He's not a pirate, though, nor does he have any advanced technology. Gnomes with advanced tech aren't really a Golarion thing at all—that's a niche that's been MORE than covered by Dragonlance and Warcraft.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Courtney! wrote:

Kind of an intimidating-looking bunch. I can see how wrangling 'em could be a challenge worthy of a reward. Actually, I was toying with the idea of giving some sort of "relationship bonus" to my party in Kingmaker, a la Dragon Age, as they became better friends with various NPCs. They've only met Oleg, Svetlana, and a few bandits so far, though, so it hasn't had a chance to come up yet.

This is pretty exciting, though I am curious to see which elements have a bit of overlap with Savage Tide, and which are completely different.

@Mortimer Duke - I started watching Lost some time after reading over Savage Tide, so stuff would happen in the show, and I was like, "Oh man! This is like in ST!" rather than the other way around. :)

@David Fryer - Do you happen to remember anything else about that adventure, like what it was called or who published it? It sounds really neat.

In fact, the way that Bioware handles NPC interactions (not just in Dragon Age, but in ALL their RPGs back to Baldur's Gate) was a HUGE influence on how this adventure's fellow castaways work. There's a pretty complex system of making friends and enemies out of these five, and when you DO make them your best buddies you get XP and free new powers and stuff.

As for overlap with Savage Tide... the fact that the adventure features a shipwreck and the entire campaign is about a lost city in the jungle means that there'll be a certain amount of similarity to Savage Tide... but not much. There's really NO sea journey element in "Serpent's Skull" (all that happens before the first adventure begins), and while pirates are involved, they're but one of five factions the PCs can ally with or fight against. There's not much of an element at all of establishing a trading post or demons. In the end, it should feel pretty different from Savage Tide.


Courtney! wrote:

I started watching Lost some time after reading over Savage Tide, so stuff would happen in the show, and I was like, "Oh man! This is like in ST!" rather than the other way around. :)

Like what? Did lost have Demogorgon and dinosaurs? I must have missed those episodes.


I suppose each of these 5 NPCs correlate to a faction later. I thoroughly plan to befriend Ichirou just because he's an old, unscarred Tian Xian warrior. That means that he's probably the best ticket out of there. If you survive to old age in a profession with a high death rate without accumulating a lot of scars...

Off topic:
All named Red Mantis are female... and don't wear mantis masks.

And their ruling council is described as being female-centric.

I'm curious why all Red Mantis Assassins without names are depicted as men, then. Do they have a matriarchal assassin society? Are men forced to wear masks while women can or can not if they choose?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Ice Titan wrote:

I suppose each of these 5 NPCs correlate to a faction later. I thoroughly plan to befriend Ichirou just because he's an old, unscarred Tian Xian warrior. That means that he's probably the best ticket out of there. If you survive to old age in a profession with a high death rate without accumulating a lot of scars...

Off topic:
All named Red Mantis are female... and don't wear mantis masks.

And their ruling council is described as being female-centric.

I'm curious why all Red Mantis Assassins without names are depicted as men, then. Do they have a matriarchal assassin society? Are men forced to wear masks while women can or can not if they choose?

1) The five NPCs do indeed correlate to the five factions who have an interest, for five different reasons, in events to unfold in the AP.

2) The Red Mantis is implied to be matriarchal, but there's no game rule preventing a male from taking levels in Red Mantis, nor are there rules forcing men to wear their masks. The masks are generally only worn during actual assassin missions.

3) Sasha's relationship with the Red Mantis is complex and part of the mystery of that character for PCs to unravel in the course of the first adventure. All five NPCs have mysteries to them, in fact.


James Jacobs wrote:


As for overlap with Savage Tide... the fact that the adventure features a shipwreck and the entire campaign is about a lost city in the jungle means that there'll be a certain amount of similarity to Savage Tide... but not much. There's really NO sea journey element in "Serpent's Skull" (all that happens before the first adventure begins), and while pirates are involved, they're but one of five factions the PCs can ally with or fight against. There's not much of an element at all of establishing a trading post or demons. In the end, it should feel pretty different from Savage Tide.

Similarity with Savage Tide is my biggest concern with this AP. Right now I'm pretty sure I won't be on board for this one. After DMing my group through Savage Tide I have to be very careful about this. In fact we are 4/5 of the way through RotRL and they are pointing out (negatively) the similarities between those two APs.

I can only imagine when the opening chapter of this one has them shipwrecked on a dinosaur infested jungle island. I can just see them saying "OK where are the brother and sister NPCs with a problem we have to deal with?" or "When do we have to bargain with the sexually charged succubi (or any demonic and beautiful female) for 'a price'?".

When this was first talked about I was HOPING it would be more along the lines of an overland Amazon expedition adventure inspired by "The Lost City of Z" not a tropical jungle shipwreck adventure inspired by "Gilligan's Island".

I'm sure it will be very high quality but probably not in the cards for my group.


cibet44 wrote:
When this was first talked about I was HOPING it would be more along the lines of an overland Amazon expedition adventure inspired by "The Lost City of Z" not a tropical jungle shipwreck adventure inspired by "Gilligan's Island".

That's what it is. While the hook in the first adventure is a shipwreck, the PCs then spend the rest of the adventure not building houses but exploring the interior of the island and trying to figure out what's going on there. Then there's the overland trek to the lost city that features prominently in the latter half of the AP. The shipwreck is the proverbial tavern for this AP, not the focus of the adventure.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

One of the main reasons we do 2 APs a year and not 1 is because we know not every AP will be appealing to every group. If an AP doesn't do it for you, the longest you have to wait for a new one is 6 months. And each one we do increases the pool of other APs to choose from, so you might not even have to wait 6 months if a previously-published AP does the job.

Likewise, that's why we fill half of every AP with material that's easily usable by ANY campaign, so that if the current AP isn't of interest the volume should still have some stuff in there to justify your purchase.


yoda8myhead wrote:
cibet44 wrote:
When this was first talked about I was HOPING it would be more along the lines of an overland Amazon expedition adventure inspired by "The Lost City of Z" not a tropical jungle shipwreck adventure inspired by "Gilligan's Island".
That's what it is. While the hook in the first adventure is a shipwreck, the PCs then spend the rest of the adventure not building houses but exploring the interior of the island and trying to figure out what's going on there. Then there's the overland trek to the lost city that features prominently in the latter half of the AP. The shipwreck is the proverbial tavern for this AP, not the focus of the adventure.

Maybe I'll pick up the PDF just to read through it but over the last few weeks of discussion on this AP I am definitely getting a shipwreck survivor vibe. I'm just not seeing "jungle trek" in what I read.

To me a jungle trek adventure starts out equipped, prepared, and with a clear goal in mind then something "terrible" happens along the way that must be dealt with.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

1. Ship crashes on a remote coast
2. Survivors begin to explore, looking for settlements/food/escape
3. Oooh it's a really big jungle
4. Zoinks, plot hooks !
5. ... (which includes dinosaurs, serpentfolk and Darklands)
6. Finale

That's the vibe I'm getting.


James Jacobs wrote:

One of the main reasons we do 2 APs a year and not 1 is because we know not every AP will be appealing to every group. If an AP doesn't do it for you, the longest you have to wait for a new one is 6 months. And each one we do increases the pool of other APs to choose from, so you might not even have to wait 6 months if a previously-published AP does the job.

Likewise, that's why we fill half of every AP with material that's easily usable by ANY campaign, so that if the current AP isn't of interest the volume should still have some stuff in there to justify your purchase.

Yup. Understood. Keep doing what you do you guys are the pros. Don't listen to me I thought you guys would cave to 4E in the first year so clearly I know little.

BTW, I don't quite agree with you on the value of the AP volume if you are not running the AP, but again, keep doing what you do seems to be working fine thus far. Thanks.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

cibet44 wrote:

Maybe I'll pick up the PDF just to read through it but over the last few weeks of discussion on this AP I am definitely getting a shipwreck survivor vibe. I'm just not seeing "jungle trek" in what I read.

To me a jungle trek adventure starts out equipped, prepared, and with a clear goal in mind then something "terrible" happens along the way that must be dealt with.

It starts off with the shipwreck/survivor vibe, but after the first adventure, the PCs make it back to the mainland with informaton that will set them on the path to jungle trek...and then ruined city exploration...and so on. Don't be put off by the initial adventure and think that it's all pirates, sailing the open sea, and shipwreck survival mode with deserted island exploration. That's definitely NOT where this AP is headed. Think of it more in terms of Lara Croft/Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones, etc. But the opening sequence just happens to initially involve a shipwreck and island survival scene before the action moves on to other interesting and exotic locales.

Just my two-cents,
--Neil

Shadow Lodge

Looks to be a very interesting AP. I might even get print copies when I get back from my deployment. All five NPCs look very interesting.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Gorbacz wrote:

1. Ship crashes on a remote coast

2. Survivors begin to explore, looking for settlements/food/escape
3. Oooh it's a really big jungle
4. Zoinks, plot hooks !
5. ... (which includes dinosaurs, serpentfolk and Darklands)
6. Finale

That's the vibe I'm getting.

That's the vibe for the first adventure...

Spoiler:

The goal for the first adventure is to get rescued from the remote island. In the meantime, you explore the place and find proof of an ancient Azlanti city hidden in the deep jungles of the mainland. The next five adventures are about the PCs organizing an expedition to that lost city, discovering it, exploring it, and then getting all embroiled in a serpentfolk plot to return their race to a position of power in the Darklands.

The shipwreck element is pretty much entirley contained in the first adventure, in other words. And since it's for 1st level adventurers and not 7th level ones, the feel of the adventure is QUITE different than the feel for "Here There Be Monsters."

Dark Archive

Courtney! wrote:
@David Fryer - Do you happen to remember anything else about that adventure, like what it was called or who published it? It sounds really neat.

'Treasure Hunt' published by TSR back in the days of 1st Edition.


Next time you order some piratey art, you really should point your artists here: pirate link

And yes, it's safe for work (if your boss don't mind you looking at pictures during working-hours that is).

Shadow Lodge

Will there be a hatch?

Can we turn the donkey wheel to move the island?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Kthulhu wrote:

Will there be a hatch?

Can we turn the donkey wheel to move the island?

I would be lying if I said "Lost" had no influence on the design of "Souls for Smuggler's Shiv."

That said, there's no donkey wheels or hatches. Mabye.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

poor donkey never gets anything good.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Dark_Mistress wrote:
poor donkey never gets anything good.

He gets rats! DONKEY RATS!!!


Being someone who loves anything and everything to do with the Red Mantis, I am extremely excited for this AP.

It will be fun working with them, or fighting against them. =)

(...We will be having such opportunities for closer interactions with the interested parties as the AP moves along correct?)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Very interested in this AP. I am currently running Savage Tides but there are some things I just don't like about it. I've changed several things so far and am looking forward to this as inspiration for more alterations.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Chris Manos wrote:
Very interested in this AP. I am currently running Savage Tides but there are some things I just don't like about it. I've changed several things so far and am looking forward to this as inspiration for more alterations.

Again... while both Serpent's Skull and Savage Tide are set in a tropical climate... and while the word "pirate" and "shipwreck" are used in both, that's pretty much where the similarities end. Serpent's Skull is a very different adventure path than Savage Tide. As different as Council of Thieves is from Shackled City, even though both are adventures set primarily in an urban environment and involve a lot of evil outsiders in key elements and have strong conspiracy themes.

Dark Archive

Geistlinger wrote:
Courtney! wrote:


@David Fryer - Do you happen to remember anything else about that adventure, like what it was called or who published it? It sounds really neat.
I believe the adventure David was referring to was the AD&D module N4: Treasure Hunt

That would be the one.


This sounds awesome. The best homebrew D&D campaign I ever ran featured the PCs shipwrecked on a desert island from the get go, and having to establish a village with their fellow castaways and defend it against savages while they explored the island they were on, which was based on a map of Bali.

If I might suggest something... how about some rules for gathering 'ingredients' for potions (and possibly materials for magic item creation) in the jungle? I had these in my homebrew (my PCs never got rescued), and the players loved it. Mine were pretty simple, you just made a knowledge nature or profession herbalism role and spent a day, then rolled on a chart that determined spell levels worth of potion materials found in a particular school (for example, necromancy) of magic.

Ken


James Jacobs wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
poor donkey never gets anything good.
He gets rats! DONKEY RATS!!!

Sometimes he even gets the girl.

...
What?
Too far?


Would it be possible to get an early race/armor/weapon breakdown for these five? I will be using Serpent's Skull for my next campaign and I would like to get an early start gathering appropriate minis.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
doppelganger wrote:
Would it be possible to get an early race/armor/weapon breakdown for these five? I will be using Serpent's Skull for my next campaign and I would like to get an early start gathering appropriate minis.

Aerys Mavato:
Female half-elf Fighter. Unarmed Strike and Longbow. Studded Leather.

Gelik Aberwhinge:
Male Gnome bard. Longsword and Short bow. Buckler, no armor.

Ishirou:
Male Human Rogue. Katana. Chainshirt.

Jask Derindi:
Male Human Cleric (Nethys). Starts with nothing. Later, Dagger (And one would assume Quarterstaff). Leather.

Sasha Nevah:
Female Human Ranger. Rapier and kukri. Chain Shirt.


I cancel my AP subscription because I have so much stuff and then you are releasing this?

Curse you Paizo! My closets, cupboards, shelves, armoirs, tables, desks, stools, garage and my hands will never be clear of debris thanks to you.

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