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The only thing that is essential to play Skull & Shackles is the Adventure Path books themselves (in either print or PDF) and a couple of sets of dice. For longterm investment you'll want to pickup a copy of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, but when you're just getting started the d20pfsrd or Paizo's own PRD are just fine.
If you're planning on running it then having 3 (active) players is enough, but the APs are generally designed for a group of 4, having 3 is a slight handicap but you can help them out by either giving the players a slightly higher point-buy at the start or running a DM-PC to help them out (and the AP has a number of them available from the start). Get them started by directing them to download a copy of the Skull & Shackles Player's Guide and I highly suggest running character generation as a group to get an idea of what kind of party you'll have on your hand. Miniatures are in no way required for this game and it can all be run through the power of imagination, though the miniatures help out a bit.
If you want to just run the campaign as written you'll be just fine but there are a number of additional products that you can get that will help enhance it:
After that, check out the various threads here in the forums for advice on tweaking the campaign or adding stuff to it.
So, Saturday night my gaming group finally got together again after nearly 6 weeks of not playing due to a number of unfortunate events getting in the way. The night started off with the introduction of newcomer Barclay (Ratfolk Wood-Oracle) who has been stranded on the island for a while and seen a number of the stranger elements upon the Isle of Empty Eyes but really just wants to A) get off the island safely, and B) help the couple of other survivors under his care to get better. See, in my tweaked campaign the Cyclopes are using the power of the dreamstone as a mind-control device to try to rebuild their ruined city and search for more artifacts, using the crews of pirate ships brave (or foolish) enough to come to the island as slave labor. The survivors Barclay is watching after are under the effect of the stone but are too weak/injured to obey it's call. And as fate would have it, the party's captain (who's player was conveniently absent for this session) has fallen under the effects of the stone as well. Barclay can make an antidote (part of his backstory is that he dabbled in herbalism before being shipwrecked on the island) but he's missing a key component: fresh wyvern venom.
As noted in my original post, I've add parts of Beacon Island from Razor Coast off the shores of the main island and seeing as how the main island is surrounded by reefs it made perfect sense that such a lighthouse would be there. The party had previously sent their sorcerer to take a peek at the lighthouse and so knew that wyverns were roosting there. Off they went with Barclay in-tow to acquire wyvern venom. Once there they discovered the corpse and journal of a Chelish officer. They have identified the officer as being the true captain of the Dominator and now are speculating as to who is running the Chelish dreadnaught while masquerading as Captain Lorvika in place of this dead woman! (Dun, dun dun!) In the end it was a fun session with rampant speculation, fun roleplay moments, and a dramatic death for the sorcerer which will set the stage for our next session to begin with bargaining with a fey for the means to raise/reincarnate the sorcerer! And wouldn't you know it, Sefina is a fey that's quite curious about humanoids but doesn't much believe in the value of currency.
Jason Nelson wrote:
Oooh...I'm going to have great fun with this one, my PCs have an axe to grind with a certain Imperial state.
Hey guys and gals as the title suggests I have some concerns about Bonewrack Island in the first book of the AP. I have a group that is still relatively new to role-playing and I am worried that the island just might be to tough for them. Does anybody have suggestions on taming the island down a bit but without making the island a cake walk?
One of the best suggestions (and one that I used personally) is to change it so that Aaron Ivy is alive when the party encounters him at the fort. Give him a castaway vibe, but as a helpful NPC he will have knowledge about the island that should make it more survivable. It also gives the party a place to retreat to and rest, which is a plus. The other thing that should help (which the fort drives home if used as suggested above) is stressing that the party can run away from encounters without too much penalty. Bonewrack Island is a meat-grinder but only if the PCs approach it that way, besides, it drives the tension up a few notches that the PCs have a semi-deadline before Plugg & Scourge say, "Screw it!" and sail off without them.
Okay, I've glanced over the main body of the class itself and am working my way through the two new disciplines. I must say, I am very impressed with the work and really want to play a zealot now. I'll give more feedback if I get a chance, but my gaming group is currently in side-story mode, so I don't know when we'll get back to a position where I can play one of these.
I'll make you a deal; if I get one piece of new feedback on each of the current open playtest items (Guru, Daevic, Archetypes, Races) from at least 5 individuals in this thread, I'll put the Pharaoh out for public alpha as soon as the Empty Pyramid discipline is reviewed by Chris
I'm inclined to agree with Adam B. 135, the majority of the abilities there for "lust" don't really mesh well with each other. You should definitely go with splitting it into two: Lust and Avarice. If you're scrambling for ideas/inspiration for Avarice themed abilities I highly suggest you go take a look at Larfleeze from DC Comic's Green Lantern. Spellstealing effect fits right in for Avarice as does the Covetous Aura that Adam B. 135 tossed in further up.
And more for amusement than truly fitting in, but having the Avaric deavic being able to summon a Mad Monkeys effect composed of essence taking on the forms of his/her past victims amuses me to no end.
Think of it as the same way "Summon Monster" full-round actions occur. The ability is on-going until the beginning of the Warder's next turn, allowing it to be interrupted (or in this case trigger) until the Warder finishes it.
Jason Nelson wrote:
Next preview up, with a look ahead at Neil Spicer's latest collection of characters, NAUTICAL HEROES!
So, having never picked up one of these, how exactly does it work? Are they just pre-genned level 1 characters with backgrounds or does the collection also include their advancement at various levels? I ask because while the former is interesting the latter becomes much more useful as a GM.
Bolded part for emphasis, the mythic version allows any spell to be used as long as it is the same level or higher.
Shadow Bloodmoon wrote:
The ones I know for certain are:
Dagiron, Half-Orc Metaforge
Those are the ones in the "Ultimate Psionics Kickstarter" forums on the DSP site, but they might have been re-posted elsewhere.
Prince of Knives wrote:
Awesome, so my post was eaten by the forums, I'll give a shorter version:
This is the kind of CE character that I would completely allow at my table as GM. Jewel's an interesting character and I like that she's not all "BURN BURN BURN!" Which is what Chaotic Evil normally gets characterized as, which fits more with certain demons than with a mortal who's not chained to their alignment. I'd like to hear more about Jewel, Ana, and the Rabble. Perhaps you can sneak them in during chapter break fiction pieces like Paizo does with the main hardcovers or the little blurbs in APs.
I could get behind this, and as a fellow victim of spontaneous forum-post consumption, you have my sympathies. The support group meets on Thursdays, please bring dip.
Jason Nelson wrote:
I will also note that Islands of Plunder: Raid on the Emperor's Hand is coming out in early August, so you may have one more adventure to weave into your narrative plan. That is, if your PCs like plundering ships that have run aground in a dangerous spot, with a race against time to get their first and claim it for their own! Is that the Dominator on the horizon? I HATE THOSE GUYS!!!
Sounds like great fun! I know I want Scourge of the Steaming Isle to be the final throw down with the Dominator and its crew, but if I can have them encounter it a few more times before then I'm all for it.
My party has just started book 4 and at the end of last session they arrived at the island. I've made tweaks throughout the campaign, such as the regatta being suspended due to the revelation of the spy ring plot arc that occurs over most the proceeding book. I also truncated the alchemist shop portion of book 3 and replaced it with a slightly scaled up and tweaked Tarin's Crown. The Dominator is still looming around as a menace on the hunt for pirates and the party has a healthy respect/fear of the ship. This brings us to the actual body of the thread, how I'm tying the three Islands of Plunder modules together into my S&S campaign. I figured I would post them here so that others can glean this thread for ideas and/or give me insight on to how to tweak this more!
It should be assumed from here on out that everything else is Spoilers both for Island of Empty Eyes and the Islands of Plunder series.
One of the tweaks I made in Tarin's Crown to tie it further into the story was that Tarin was a pawn of the Chelish spy ring and the goal was to smuggle the artifact out of the Shackles into Chelish hands. The Dominator was supposed to be the ship to pick up the artifact from Tarin and his erstwhile navigator (stat block replaced with the alchemist from book 3). The crew of the Dominator is now more determined than ever to hunt down the party and I intend to give the party the chance to have a throw down with the ship at the end of the book in place of the feast, but we'll get to that in a second.
Now, my party has completed Tarin's Crown and returned to Port Peril to report their success to Tessa Fairwind, who in my campaign is acting as their patron. Given that the regatta has been indefinitely suspended until a council vote brings it back, the party is pretty pissed, given that: a) Tessa was going to pay their entry fee, so it looks like she weaseled out of a deal; and b) they were informed of this by Harrigan, who hasn't blatantly acted out against them since the Wormwood but has been hounding them through agents throughout, though the party has no definitive proof of this. Since the regatta has been canceled for the time being, their is no in game reason for the party to be given the Island of Empty Eyes as a reward for it, so I've decided that Tessa Fairwind went there to try to influence Bikendi on a Pirate Council vote. In my game Bikendi is a reclusive Pirate Lord that no one's heard from in a number of years, so there's every reason for Tessa to head there. After some sleuthing around the party has made it to the island and found Tessa's ship anchored in the main bay completely abandoned, and here's where the main tweaking begins!
Since I want the Island to have a better tie-in to the overall narrative arc of the campaign, I've expanded a bit on the "haunted" premise presented with the old Chelish fort. I've also added Beacon Island from Razor Coast as a little side adventure for the party since we use slow advancement. Now, the next session is going to begin with the party's haunted dreams, wherein they will play out a small scenario. I will have the party experience the downfall of Tessa's one true love at the hands of his first-mate and a certain sea-hag who will become more important as I continue on.
For this I'm using a scaled up version of the second half of Spices & Flesh. We'll be skipping past the slave ship part and straight to the small isle at the end, with the objective being to seize the hag's dreamstone in order to tie it back into book 4. I've scaled up the encounters and retooled the hag a bit (She's now a Divine Sea Hag Knife-Master Rogue 8). The intent is for the party to drive her off and seize the dreamstone from her for Bikendi's research and then to flash-forward through the power of dreams to her forcing the ship they're on to run into the reefs surrounding the Isle of Empty Eyes. Here the first-mate, a one Dwali Kepu, will betray the captain and rename his ship the Wormwood. See where I'm going with this?
Later once the party has reclaimed or destroyed the dreamstone from the Cyclops ruins, they'll have a visit from the good ship Dominator. The reason for the rebuild of the hag is it's going to be revealed that the captain of the ship is actually the alias Shayonna has assumed over the decade since her defeat and is using her resources to hunt down what she believes is hers. The PCs will have received reports of their various holdings and allies having been attacked by the Dominator and that's when I'll allow them to track it down to the Steam Isle and have a final throwdown with the Chelish marines and its monstrous captain, and that will set the stage for book 5!
So, if you've made it this far through my long-winded ramble, I thank you. If you have any suggestions, questions, or tweaks, I would love to hear them!
Lincoln Hills wrote:
As long as we're talking about the psi-loving niche market, it would be nice to see archetypes for the ranger, paladin, and perhaps even the bard which swapped out their spellcasting for psi.
In Ultimate Psionics there's a paladin archetype called the Purifier that trades spellcasting for manifesting. The bard archetype doesn't lose spellcasting but gains a collective and I don't remember offhand what the ranger trades out.
Yeah. But that's all it does, damage. Maneuvers come with defensive benefits (especially the stuff attendant with stances) and utility options that don't involved just doing more damage... while matching the damage benefits of psychic strike or being more effective. Plus it actually works on mindless creatures.
Just spit-balling here: Perhaps replace the blade skills learned at 4th, 10th, and 16th? It roughly lines up with when the War Soul would learn new stances and the lost blade skills are made up in utility from the stances/maneuvers.
Insain Dragoon wrote:
Oh, I quite agree, there's not many ways currently to deal with the issue. I was just throwing it out there as how to accomplish it using either a boost or a maneuver. Really, the only incentive that exists right now to dual wield with a firearm is the Sword and Pistol feat, and that has a heavy feat investment to it.
Insain Dragoon wrote:
Probably should just be baked into one or more stances to do that, no need to make a special rule exception.
This discipline could also work well for someone who wants a pistol in one hand and a melee implement in the other.
How would you handle needing a free hand to reload in this case?
Wow, it was actually pretty easy destroy it, we got the Alchemist into the powder stores and he blew it up, i'm guessing that was not supposed to happen and the Dominator was not played correctly.
Likely not, granted this is the only time as written that it shows up, but your GM has lost out on a number of possible opportunities. In either event, don't expect to pull the same trick the next time a similar threat shows up.
The Dominator as written does not call out that it has any spell casters as part of its normal crew compliment but that does not mean that it wouldn't have any. The stat block for the ship only details 136 members of the crew and then says there are 60 others, a minimum of 20 of which are faceless mook sailors. In either case, the Dominator is not meant to be taken, and the AP actually advises against allowing PCs to try as it can very easily lead to a TPK and end the AP right there.
I'm thinking that the encounter with Gamin "Half-Ear" Crystos will be more effective if the PCs have met him elsewhere first. I can easily seed him into some tavern encounter or something, but if any of you do anything more dramatic with him I'd be interested in hearing about it.
Well, how far in are you? If you're still on the Wormwood you could always have him be a helpful NPC on the ship so the PCs start to like the guy. If you're at Rickety's he could fill a similar role, or be a friendly rival during the downtime there.
For what it's worth, when Mythic Adventures came out my group was near the end of Book 2. I didn't feel like having two books end with underwater dungeons, and my party wasn't really taking the hints to go to Mancatcher Cove, so I ran the adventure in the back of MA instead (with some suitable piratey tweaking of course). My players had a blast and really got to feel like big-damn-heroes there, but I followed that adventure's advice and took away their tiers at the end of it. As such, it's become a story for them to tell in taverns around the Shackles, and something they use to show how powerful they are when someone tries to mess with them. The mythic stuff can be very useful in that regard, but I don't feel it fits overall with the campaign as a whole. I think the suggestion in Spices & Flesh to give them a one-time boost is a fantastic way to allow your players a taste of the greater glory that comes from defeating mythic foes without actually having to change your campaign on a fundamental level. Mythic stuff is great if you're prepared for it from the start, but it really is a different play style that can be a hard transition if you're not ready for it.
Jason Nelson wrote:
I couldn't wait so I went ahead and picked it up on the site. I noticed this one doesn't have a scaling up/down section like Tarin's Crown does.
I'll give further impressions when I have a chance to sit down for a longer read through but it looks quite interesting so far. Wish I had it back in book 2.
Jason Nelson wrote:
Done and done, any clue when Spices and Flesh will be up on the Paizo store?
I actually ended up using Tarin's Crown as the culmination of the spy-ring arc. I had the pearl be an object that the spy-ring was trying to smuggle out of the Shackles. The stealing of the pearl became a heist from a Besmaran temple, and being the fickle and easily angered goddess she is, I declared that Besmara was angry at the whole of the Shackles for it. Tarin and his crew became Chelish naval deserters that were attempting to use the pearl as a means to buy pardons from Cheliax and House Thrune (it also allowed me to bring the Dominator for Book 2 back). Lots of double-crossing involved, and the alchemist battle in the shop was saved til later (she already got away and was used as the navigator for Tarin's ship). It also allowed a handy way for there to be a reason for the PCs to care about Tarin in the first place and another test for Tessa.
Jason Nelson wrote:
Looking forward to it! My group finished Tarin's Crown last night and I must say that the final series of encounters can be fairly brutal. I switched it up a little bit from what was printed to further an on going story thread vs the Chelish (specifically the Dominator) that my party has but they greatly enjoyed it all and are looking into the logistics of the island to either raze it (Vegepygmies are creepy!) or do something else with it.
Just from a quick glance over, the formatting of the maneuvers table looks a bit weird on there. I know from the text of the abilities they gain maneuvers at even-levels but the table does not convey that easily. Just a thought.
Not going to go for the iconic/cover level there Ssalarn? ^_-
Ssalarn, you might want to review the power point portion (italicized for emphasis) of this ability because as written it breaks the golden rule of psionics: you cannot spend more than your manifester level in power points on any ability.
I'm running this myself and I can say that it sounds like your GM is not doing the sale of plunder properly. The base value of plunder is based on the size of the port you're trying to sell it in. How famous you are means nothing in terms of the rules, but the community size does limit how high the merchants there can offer you. Too small a port and there's simply not enough cash on hand. A village gets you anywhere from 100gp to 200gp per point of plunder, while something the size of Port Peril will get you 1000gp to 1400gp with a good roll. The haggle check is also supposed to be based on Bluff (you lie through your teeth about the value), Intimidate (buy this off me or... well you don't want to know), or Diplomacy (sweet talking the merchant, you scratch my back, I scratch yours). My PCs go out of their way to sell plunder in larger ports even if it extends the journey and forces them to pay a port tax or face additional hazards because the reward is well worth the risk.
Oh I quite agree, the overall power of the item is entirely contingent on there actually being an incorporeal creature to use it on. Just as BAB is often overvalued in PF design, I find incorporeal to be undervalued. Ghostbane-dirge for example is the earliest group buff I can find that helps with the issue. Clerics can get it at 3rd level but that would be their 1 non-domain spell for the day (not counting exceptional casting stat) and bards/inquisitors not only have to wait until 4th level they are spending half their spells known for the level to learn it.
Basically, what I'm saying is that the dust does solve a niche problem but I'd rather see two versions of it a greater that does what it does now priced a little higher, and a lesser version that works like a bit like weapon blanche. Not sure my rambling makes sense though.
Prince of Knives wrote:
I have no problem with the effect of the dust but I do feel that it's under-priced. In 3.5 there were three items that attempted to solve the issue that sadly never were updated to PF due to not being in OGL books. But anyway they were:
3.5 Books wrote:
Compared to those the dust is underpriced but I don't know where a good compromise range would be. Perhaps 250gp for 5 rounds? It's about 1/4th of a 2nd level character's WBL which is when Allips are "challenging" (CR3) but as this is a cooperative game any party that doesn't pool their resources when exploring in an area rumored to have "spirits" and other "creatures of the dark" is just asking for trouble if they don't buy one of these to have on hand.
Cross posting this over to the GitP thread as well.
Prince of Knives wrote:
Okay, given it an initial read over, I love the flavor of the Black Thorn Knights, very Judge Dredd vibe to them.
@ErrantX - I like the idea, if you adopt it would you also adjust skill lists so they pick up class skills or weapon proficiencies tied to the individual martial disciplines? Gives a way for each individual character to be a bit different from the others, helps smooth out choice paralysis, and has baked in flavor.
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Or the insanity of a paladin going: litany of righteousness, smite evil, charge.
And I call out the paladin specifically because I remember at one point ErrantX saying he had plans to make initiator archetypes for all the martial base class, paladin included.
Prince of Knives wrote:
That might not be doable while still creating a balanced feat unless there are massive restrictions to how often it can be used. I say this because action economy is king in combat. It's not just Warders, Stalkers, and Harbingers that want another swift action, any class could benefit from one. Paizo themselves recognize this and gave a way to mitigate it a bit, but that's mainly at the Mythic power level that it occurs and costs you Mythic points to activate.
I'll think it over a bit to see if I can offer you a solution as opposed to just raising more issues, I'm sure you get enough negative feedback as it is.
Prince of Knives wrote:
I'm going to have to say that I don't feel this feat is appropriate. When I read over it I knew that it didn't feel right but then I went back and double checked and my feelings were confirmed. This feat steps all over the toes of the Warlord's dual boost class ability, which is limited to a number of times per day (once at 6th level and maxing at thrice at 18th) while this can be used every round. During early playtests of the Warlord dual boost was able to be used a number of times per encounter but was toned down after data came in.
I guess my main question would be: what is the intention of this feat?