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Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Isles of the Shackles (PFRPG)

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Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Isles of the Shackles (PFRPG)
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Intrepid seafarers seeking glory and gold need look no further than the vast and untamed island chain known as the Shackles. Throughout these isles, undead cyclopes guard eons-old treasure vaults, lycanthropic pirates maraud the waterways, and cannibalistic natives sacrifice trespassers to their otherworldly god-queen. On the treacherous seas surrounding the Shackles, a bold sailor may even rise to become one of the realm’s infamous Free Captains, second only to the bloodthirsty Hurricane King himself—though the rapacious pirates who raid the archipelago’s ports ensure that only the cunning and swift survive for long.

Isles of the Shackles provides a comprehensive overview of the verdant islands that make up this region, complete with buried treasure, dastardly corsairs, and ominous ruins of a fallen empire.

    Inside this 64-page book, you will find:
  • An expansive overview of the six civilized regions of the Shackles, from the mainland’s sprawling seaside metropolis of Port Peril to the sahuagin-plagued shores of Shark Island, complete with details on histories, notable rulers and personalities, and gazetteers of each region’s varied locales.
  • Detailed entries on more than 20 of the Shackles’ most dangerous and mysterious islands and islets, each with numerous plot hooks, helpful or treacherous NPCs, and unique locations for brave adventurers to discover and explore.
  • Stat blocks for each island, detailing the region’s notable settlements and denizens, as well as possible plunder and resources, such as hidden harbors and shipwrecks.
  • A huge bestiary of new monsters and villains that roam the islands of the Shackles and the high seas around them, including the three-headed lusca, undead pirates and ghost captains, and the degenerate kuru cannibals of the Blood Queen.
  • Stat blocks for a wide range of seafaring NPCs, from humble deckhands and smugglers to pirate captains and shipboard sorcerers.

Isles of the Shackles is intended for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the Pathfinder campaign setting, but can easily be used in any fantasy game setting.

by Mike Shel

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-408-5

Isles of the Shackles Web Supplement

The downloadable web supplement below is a huge PDF map of the Shackles featuring tags for all of the locations heretofore mentioned in Pathfinder products.

Download the web supplement (1.6 MB zip/PDF)

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Campaign Setting Subscription.

Product Availability


Print Edition: Ships from our warehouse in 2 to 14 business days.

PDF: Fulfilled immediately. Will be added to your My Downloads Page immediately upon purchase of PDF.

Non-Mint: This product is non-mint. Refunds are not available for non-mint products. The standard version of this product can be found here.

Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at webmaster@paizo.com.

PZO9244


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Product Discussion (130)
51 to 100 of 130 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>
Contributor

James Jacobs wrote:
Ernest Mueller wrote:

Hey, so what's the deal with the map in Isles? It doesn't have a lot of the locations on it. Like Port Peril is the only one of a bunch of listed coastland locales that is even on the map.

I can understand minor locations not being on the little islands on the map, but what looks to be "capitals only" on the map makes it of little use. Did those get left off accidentally (in which case a pdf update would be nice)?

The deal is that we didn't want to overly clutter up the map with location tags. The map's already pretty cluttered as it stands with all the island names on there.

To give more perspective to James' response here, my turnover maps had the Shackles region magnified into six separate sub-maps in order to show the location of each place named in the gazeteer--113 in all, certainly more detail than can be afforded on a single page map (in fact, I'd argue that the visual nature of an archipelago makes for a more cluttered feel with labels--note how the label for Dragonsthrall hides Fellhope Canyon's northern entrance). Some of those unmarked places can be inferred from the text (Fellhope Canyon and the Straits of Balthus are two examples). The others are in the hands of individual GMs who wish to develop things further, though perhaps some of the later Skull & Shackles AP volumes or future adventures featuring a part of the region may give exact locations...

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

What's the deal with the Pirate, Sailor stats on page 57?

  • Rogue cannot normally use Falchions without either a feat or being a Half-Orc. For that matter, a falchion would be a terrible weapon to wear or use in the cramped conditions of a ship.
  • Why does he/she not have any ranks in "Profession (sailor)"?

    The Smuggler's scimitar, I understand, as the scimitar was used for a "Cutlass" before the weapon was given its own stats. But he/she still should have Profession (sailor)

  • Paizo Employee Creative Director

    Ernest Mueller wrote:
    But the point of a map is to find things on it, not just be pretty art of an archipelago. Like I say, I can understand that on the islands, but the mainland is a big lump of green, the other coastal cities couldn't go on there?

    It's about the Isles of the Shackles. We made a conscious decision to focus 100% more or less on the islands, and that is reflected in the mainland portion of the map.

    Taldor

    Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber
    Lord Fyre wrote:

    What's the deal with the Pirate, Sailor stats on page 57?

  • Rogue cannot normally use Falchions without either a feat or being a Half-Orc. For that matter, a falchion would be a terrible weapon to wear or use in the cramped conditions of a ship.
  • Why does he/she not have any ranks in "Profession (sailor)"?

    The Smuggler's scimitar, I understand, as the scimitar was used for a "Cutlass" before the weapon was given its own stats. But he/she still should have Profession (sailor)

  • Disable Device is wrong as well.

    He/She should have -2 to hit with that falchion.

    Cutlass is martial as well, he should have a short sword or rapier.

    If I was making statblocks like this i would definitely run them through something like herolab to check for things I had missed.

    RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

    GeraintElberion wrote:
    Lord Fyre wrote:

    What's the deal with the Pirate, Sailor stats on page 57?

  • Rogue cannot normally use Falchions without either a feat or being a Half-Orc. For that matter, a falchion would be a terrible weapon to wear or use in the cramped conditions of a ship.
  • Why does he/she not have any ranks in "Profession (sailor)"?

    The Smuggler's scimitar, I understand, as the scimitar was used for a "Cutlass" before the weapon was given its own stats. But he/she still should have Profession (sailor)

  • Cutlass is martial as well, he should have a short sword or rapier.

    Actually, I wouldn't have brought it up if the Pirate was using a Cutlass. (RAI vs. RAW)

    GeraintElberion wrote:
    If I was making statblocks like this i would definitely run them through something like herolab to check for things I had missed.

    I heartily agree.

    Paizo Employee Creative Director

    We do actually run stat blocks through something like herolab... but errors still creep through. When you publish hundreds and hundreds of stat blocks a year... errors happen.

    My suggestion is to change the falchion to a cutlass. (Even though factors like "spacing" and "cramped conditions on a ship" don't actually play into the rules, and so a falchion is as workable a choice for weapon as any melee weapon on a ship... it's the lack of proficiency that would make me think that the intention was a cutlass. Perhaps confused by the fact that a real-world falchion is not a giant two-handed scimitar...)

    As for the lack of Profession (sailor) ... that's actually not a HUGE thing since that need on a ship can be handled by captains and officers. Even though they're called "sailor pirates" the idea is that this stat block should work for any poor sap you might find on a pirate ship, many of whom are NOT sailors... they're press gang victims or volunteers eager to learn the trade.

    Still, if you want to give him profession (sailor) ranks... I'd swap his Escape Artist ranks over, I guess. But again... not 100% necessary.

    Taldor

    Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber
    James Jacobs wrote:

    We do actually run stat blocks through something like herolab... but errors still creep through. When you publish hundreds and hundreds of stat blocks a year... errors happen.

    My suggestion is to change the falchion to a cutlass. (Even though factors like "spacing" and "cramped conditions on a ship" don't actually play into the rules, and so a falchion is as workable a choice for weapon as any melee weapon on a ship... it's the lack of proficiency that would make me think that the intention was a cutlass. Perhaps confused by the fact that a real-world falchion is not a giant two-handed scimitar...)

    As for the lack of Profession (sailor) ... that's actually not a HUGE thing since that need on a ship can be handled by captains and officers. Even though they're called "sailor pirates" the idea is that this stat block should work for any poor sap you might find on a pirate ship, many of whom are NOT sailors... they're press gang victims or volunteers eager to learn the trade.

    Still, if you want to give him profession (sailor) ranks... I'd swap his Escape Artist ranks over, I guess. But again... not 100% necessary.

    Cutlass is a martial weapon, he's hitting at -2 still.

    Paizo Employee Creative Director

    GeraintElberion wrote:
    James Jacobs wrote:

    We do actually run stat blocks through something like herolab... but errors still creep through. When you publish hundreds and hundreds of stat blocks a year... errors happen.

    My suggestion is to change the falchion to a cutlass. (Even though factors like "spacing" and "cramped conditions on a ship" don't actually play into the rules, and so a falchion is as workable a choice for weapon as any melee weapon on a ship... it's the lack of proficiency that would make me think that the intention was a cutlass. Perhaps confused by the fact that a real-world falchion is not a giant two-handed scimitar...)

    As for the lack of Profession (sailor) ... that's actually not a HUGE thing since that need on a ship can be handled by captains and officers. Even though they're called "sailor pirates" the idea is that this stat block should work for any poor sap you might find on a pirate ship, many of whom are NOT sailors... they're press gang victims or volunteers eager to learn the trade.

    Still, if you want to give him profession (sailor) ranks... I'd swap his Escape Artist ranks over, I guess. But again... not 100% necessary.

    Cutlass is a martial weapon, he's hitting at -2 still.

    (heavy sigh)

    Fine. Rapier.

    RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

    James Jacobs wrote:
    GeraintElberion wrote:
    James Jacobs wrote:

    We do actually run stat blocks through something like herolab... but errors still creep through. When you publish hundreds and hundreds of stat blocks a year... errors happen.

    My suggestion is to change the falchion to a cutlass. (Even though factors like "spacing" and "cramped conditions on a ship" don't actually play into the rules, and so a falchion is as workable a choice for weapon as any melee weapon on a ship... it's the lack of proficiency that would make me think that the intention was a cutlass. Perhaps confused by the fact that a real-world falchion is not a giant two-handed scimitar...)

    As for the lack of Profession (sailor) ... that's actually not a HUGE thing since that need on a ship can be handled by captains and officers. Even though they're called "sailor pirates" the idea is that this stat block should work for any poor sap you might find on a pirate ship, many of whom are NOT sailors... they're press gang victims or volunteers eager to learn the trade.

    Still, if you want to give him profession (sailor) ranks... I'd swap his Escape Artist ranks over, I guess. But again... not 100% necessary.

    Cutlass is a martial weapon, he's hitting at -2 still.

    (heavy sigh)

    Fine. Rapier.

    Better, get Cutlass errata-ed as a Rogue Weapon. :)


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    Lord Fyre wrote:
    James Jacobs wrote:
    GeraintElberion wrote:


    Cutlass is a martial weapon, he's hitting at -2 still.

    (heavy sigh)

    Fine. Rapier.

    Better, get Cutlass errata-ed as a Rogue Weapon. :)

    Psh. Just call it the "I'm a pirate!" archetype which does nothing but swaps rapier prof with cutlass prof. Easy fix. Come back when you have a tough problem...

    RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

    deinol wrote:
    Lord Fyre wrote:
    James Jacobs wrote:
    GeraintElberion wrote:


    Cutlass is a martial weapon, he's hitting at -2 still.

    (heavy sigh)

    Fine. Rapier.

    Better, get Cutlass errata-ed as a Rogue Weapon. :)
    Psh. Just call it the "I'm a pirate!" archetype which does nothing but swaps rapier prof with cutlass prof. Easy fix. Come back when you have a tough problem...

    Or ... my prefered solution, houserule that the Cutlas was RAI always a Rogue weapon.

    Andoran

    Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    Mike did a darn fine job with this book, I'm really enjoying it. A very minor constructive criticism point for the staff - these 64 page books frequently get short-changed in the "table of contents" department but this one is really kind of poinltess with only two entries. :-)

    Busy game masters and playes trying to look up certain things here will be flipping through. I just wish an extra few minuites would have been spent giving the entires page reference, considering they are also not presented in alphabetical order. Otherwise great book as always folks! Thanks.


    Question: I read through the bestiary and noticed that the Kuru are a new 0HD race. I am a bit confused on their origin however. Were the Kuru always a separate "race" from humans, or did they start out as a local ethnicity native to the isles, but which were later altered by the Blood Queen? One gets a vibe that at the very least, before the Blood Queen, the Kuru weren't an evil race.

    Paizo Employee Developer

    MMCJawa wrote:
    Question: I read through the bestiary and noticed that the Kuru are a new 0HD race. I am a bit confused on their origin however. Were the Kuru always a separate "race" from humans, or did they start out as a local ethnicity native to the isles, but which were later altered by the Blood Queen? One gets a vibe that at the very least, before the Blood Queen, the Kuru weren't an evil race.

    Spoiler:
    The Kuru were the humans native to the Shackles before Chelish colonists and other pirates pushed them to what are now known as the Cannibal Isles, where the Blood Queen resides. Since then, the Kuru have been transformed into the monstrous 0-HD race they are today.

    Yep, I really like the Kuru.

    Contributor

    MMCJawa wrote:
    Question: I read through the bestiary and noticed that the Kuru are a new 0HD race. I am a bit confused on their origin however. Were the Kuru always a separate "race" from humans, or did they start out as a local ethnicity native to the isles <snip>? One gets a vibe that at the very least <snip>, the Kuru weren't an evil race.
    zagnabbit wrote:
    Yep, I really like the Kuru.

    Here's a tidbit snipped during development. While it can't be considered "official" for this reason, it doesn't contradict anything found in the final version of the gazeteer:

    Spoiler:
    The following is an entry in the journal of Calvus Adarre, one of the many surveyors who accompanied the Chelish voyage of exploration to the Shackles some 600 years ago:

    We have come upon a number of archaic settlements populated by human natives calling themselves “Kuru.” They are a gentle, welcoming race of primitives who maintain a peaceful subsistence living fishing the shallow waters off their islands and gathering what edible plants grow upon them. They certainly pose no threat to us and have little to offer, being of such inferior intellectual stock and possessing nothing of value. They live in simple grass huts, use seashells for currency, know nothing of metal working, and seem only rudimentarily acquainted with the arts of sorcery. Their origin is a puzzle however, as they are plainly not of Mwangi stock. They live in the shadow of those hideous ruins described at length in earlier entries, those of the unlamented Ghol-Gan Empire. There seems to be no link between the ruins and the Kuru; indeed, they hold them in profound superstitious dread—none enter those forbidding places. I agree with Haemish and Oxsana that we should abandon further exploration of these islands and resume following the mainland coast south. These mild Kuru possess little we can exploit and I for one won’t set foot in those dreadful limestone obscenities the Ghol-Gan left behind.

    Contributor

    DM Jeff wrote:

    Mike did a darn fine job with this book, I'm really enjoying it. A very minor constructive criticism point for the staff - these 64 page books frequently get short-changed in the "table of contents" department but this one is really kind of poinltess with only two entries. :-)

    Busy game masters and playes trying to look up certain things here will be flipping through. I just wish an extra few minuites would have been spent giving the entires page reference, considering they are also not presented in alphabetical order. Otherwise great book as always folks! Thanks.

    Glad you're enjoying it, DM Jeff. Make sure to post a review!

    As an aid for navigating the gazeteer without a more detailed table of contents note the following: the first five island entries following Port Peril and the mainland are the so-called "civilized" islands (the locations of major ports of pirate council members) and are in alphabetical order. These entries are followed by the less civilized/not-civilized-at-all islands and these are also in alphabetical order.


    Okay...cool, that is kind of what I figured. Love the Kuru as well...If you have pirates you have to have some good island cannibals/headhunters to sometimes pit them against.


    Ernest Mueller wrote:
    But the point of a map is to find things on it, not just be pretty art of an archipelago. Like I say, I can understand that on the islands, but the mainland is a big lump of green, the other coastal cities couldn't go on there?

    I have to agree here, the poor map really kills this book for me. I am only about 20 pages into it, but it is really annoying to me not to be able to see a place marker for some of the areas discussed. To me the bestiary section could probably have been eliminated or reduced to make way for better maps. I am sure the beasts will eventually make their way into a Bestiary at some point, which makes it even more redundant.

    Andoran

    Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    Mike Shel wrote:
    the first five island entries following Port Peril and the mainland are the so-called "civilized" islands (the locations of major ports of pirate council members) and are in alphabetical order. These entries are followed by the less civilized/not-civilized-at-all islands and these are also in alphabetical order.

    You're correct of course, my bad. I see how that's done. Thanks!

    Paizo Employee Creative Director

    MMCJawa wrote:
    Question: I read through the bestiary and noticed that the Kuru are a new 0HD race. I am a bit confused on their origin however. Were the Kuru always a separate "race" from humans, or did they start out as a local ethnicity native to the isles, but which were later altered by the Blood Queen? One gets a vibe that at the very least, before the Blood Queen, the Kuru weren't an evil race.

    They're technically humans... if you want to look at them from a sciencey viewpoint, they're mutant humans. Before the blood queen they were plain-old humans.

    Paizo Employee Webstore Gninja Minion

    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    Removed a post. Please post civilly, thanks!

    Qadira

    I have a question about the Kuru race. What weapons are they using in the picture? Because those most definitely aren't clubs.

    And I've only got one thing to say about the Lusca. My god, you actually managed to design Sharktopus. Granted it's got three heads, but still.

    One thing I'd love to see is a full write up on Nightclaw. Not so much him though.

    spoiler:
    I'm insanely curious to know about that locket of his wife which keeps him from being destroyed in the sunlight. Is it an artifact? Is it divine magic of his dead wife's spirit keeping him from bursting into flames? I'd love to know so I can put it on other vampires, if at all possible.

    Contributor

    kevin_video wrote:

    I have a question about the Kuru race. What weapons are they using in the picture? Because those most definitely aren't clubs.

    And I've only got one thing to say about the Lusca. My god, you actually managed to design Sharktopus. Granted it's got three heads, but still.

    One thing I'd love to see is a full write up on Nightclaw. Not so much him though.

    ** spoiler omitted **

    1) You'd have to talk with the artist about the weapon that the illustrated kuru (one of my favorites in the bestiary) is wielding--that's one wicked-looking club, if that's what it is...I'd rather not be on the receiving end of it. It certainly fits with my conceptualization of the kuru. I can see them studding their clubs with obsidian shards and the like in order to bludgeon and lacerate their enemies. Come to think of it, it makes sense to call that weapon a kuru meat tenderizer.

    2) Re: the lusca, thank Carribbean cryptozoology and James Jacobs, who ordered up a giant 3-headed shark/octopus hybrid--you know, for kids!

    3) Re: Holaux the Gaunt's locket--let your imagination run free. If I were to expand on it I'd say that the keepsake is unique to Holaux and tied to his tragic history. However, it's there as a hook for GMs and was left deliberately vague. Your thoughts would certainly work. It's description in Isles is only a report of the rumor and legend that floats around the Shackles anyway.

    Qadira

    Mike Shel wrote:

    1) You'd have to talk with the artist about the weapon that the illustrated kuru (one of my favorites in the bestiary) is wielding--that's one wicked-looking club, if that's what it is...I'd rather not be on the receiving end of it. It certainly fits with my conceptualization of the kuru. I can see them studding their clubs with obsidian shards and the like in order to bludgeon and lacerate their enemies. Come to think of it, it makes sense to call that weapon a kuru meat tenderizer.

    2) Re: the lusca, thank Carribbean cryptozoology and James Jacobs, who ordered up a giant 3-headed shark/octopus hybrid--you know, for kids!

    3) Re: Holaux the Gaunt's locket--let your imagination run free. If I were to expand on it I'd say that the keepsake is unique to Holaux and tied to his tragic history. However, it's there as a hook for GMs and was left deliberately vague. Your thoughts would certainly work. It's description in Isles is only a report of the rumor and legend that floats around the Shackles anyway.

    1) It really does look like a meat tenderizer. Sometimes the conception art, and the write-up don't quite match up with regards to equipment. But I would like to know what it is officially.

    2) If you made it one-headed instead, which wouldn't take much, you have exactly the Sharktopus creature from the movie of the same name done by Sy-Fy. So cheesy and terrible a movie.

    3) The main reason I asked is because every GM, including myself, over the years has desperately tried to make an item that'll do the exact same thing. Mostly because there are character hooks out there that describe the exact same thing, but of course they're never fleshed out. Why? Give the GM yet another reason to beat their head against the wall.

    Paizo Employee Developer

    kevin_video wrote:
    Mike Shel wrote:

    1) You'd have to talk with the artist about the weapon that the illustrated kuru (one of my favorites in the bestiary) is wielding--that's one wicked-looking club, if that's what it is...I'd rather not be on the receiving end of it. It certainly fits with my conceptualization of the kuru. I can see them studding their clubs with obsidian shards and the like in order to bludgeon and lacerate their enemies. Come to think of it, it makes sense to call that weapon a kuru meat tenderizer.

    1) It really does look like a meat tenderizer. Sometimes the conception art, and the write-up don't quite match up with regards to equipment. But I would like to know what it is officially.

    To me, it looks like he's using some sort of critter's jawbone as a club, and since the handle is all wrapped up it keeps it from being an improvised weapon. :)

    Culturally, I could see kuru wielding not only wooden and bone clubs, but also terbutjes with shark or sea monster teeth as well as obsidian pieces. They'd also salvage what they took from their victims as well.

    Paizo Employee Creative Director

    kevin_video wrote:

    I have a question about the Kuru race. What weapons are they using in the picture? Because those most definitely aren't clubs.

    While we generally try to make weapons match between art and statistics... sometimes it just doesn't work. Especially if art comes in really late (aka after most or even all of the editing passes are done on a book). At which point errors like that can slip through. Generally, we'll change the stats if we have time or notice... if we don't... it's not the end of the world... it's just annoying.

    Paizo Employee Creative Director

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    In cryptozoology, the lusca is thought to be a giant octopus type creature.

    We've got plenty of giant octopus monsters in the game, though... so this was a chance for us to make something fun instead.

    And whether or not you think "Sharktopus" is a bad movie... it's certainly a FUN movie.

    Qadira

    The only thing about the weapons is that they're COOL. I mean, I want one. And to have them using those against the PCs is all the more sweeter too.

    Oh, it's a fun and entertaining movie. That's part of the chese. But by definition, it's Sy-Fy, it's probably going to be small budget, over acting, bad CG bad.

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

    James Jacobs wrote:
    In cryptozoology, the lusca is thought to be a giant octopus type creature.

    That's awesome. I had no idea it was a cryptid, and after reading the Wiki article I'm intrigued even more. I live about a half hour from St Augustine!


    James Jacobs wrote:


    And whether or not you think "Sharktopus" is a bad movie... it's certainly a FUN movie.

    All of those syfy channel gems are fun movies. :)


    James Jacobs wrote:

    In cryptozoology, the lusca is thought to be a giant octopus type creature.

    We've got plenty of giant octopus monsters in the game, though... so this was a chance for us to make something fun instead.

    And whether or not you think "Sharktopus" is a bad movie... it's certainly a FUN movie.

    I just want to say that I really enjoyed all the little shout-outs to Caribbean monster lore. Lusca, "him of de hahnds"; the hag soucouyant; and the duppy. Nice to see some new mythologies being plundered for their monsters.


    OH,YEAH; the monsters sold me on this one. LIKEY VERY MUCH.

    Qadira

    James Jacobs wrote:

    In cryptozoology, the lusca is thought to be a giant octopus type creature.

    We've got plenty of giant octopus monsters in the game, though... so this was a chance for us to make something fun instead.

    And whether or not you think "Sharktopus" is a bad movie... it's certainly a FUN movie.

    The awful Sharktopus song... best terrible movie EVER. loved it.


    Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

    First off, let me state that I think this book was outstanding. For me it struck a perfect balance between descriptive prose and mechanics that a GM can use, and I love the bestiary. I'm looking forward to seeing the locations in the Shackles expanded greatly in the future.

    It's funny, I kept on expecting to see a reference to Eightfingers' Tomb or the Gloomspires, even though I know that would actually be impossible. But it would have been very, very cool.

    Mike Shel wrote:
    James Jacobs wrote:
    Ernest Mueller wrote:

    Hey, so what's the deal with the map in Isles? It doesn't have a lot of the locations on it. Like Port Peril is the only one of a bunch of listed coastland locales that is even on the map.

    I can understand minor locations not being on the little islands on the map, but what looks to be "capitals only" on the map makes it of little use. Did those get left off accidentally (in which case a pdf update would be nice)?

    The deal is that we didn't want to overly clutter up the map with location tags. The map's already pretty cluttered as it stands with all the island names on there.
    To give more perspective to James' response here, my turnover maps had the Shackles region magnified into six separate sub-maps in order to show the location of each place named in the gazeteer--113 in all, certainly more detail than can be afforded on a single page map (in fact, I'd argue that the visual nature of an archipelago makes for a more cluttered feel with labels--note how the label for Dragonsthrall hides Fellhope Canyon's northern entrance). Some of those unmarked places can be inferred from the text (Fellhope Canyon and the Straits of Balthus are two examples). The others are in the hands of individual GMs who wish to develop things further, though perhaps some of the later Skull & Shackles AP volumes or future adventures featuring a part of the region may give exact locations...

    However, (and there's always a 'however', I guess), I have to second (third? fourth?) the opinion that the map just doesn't cut it. Or, rather, that the lack of further detail doesn't cut it.

    In many other publications there are secondary maps. Distant Worlds has 12 additional maps, Dragon Empires has a second, "cluttered" version of the map (I'm referring to James' comment), with the vast majority of the locations depicted, Dungeons of Golarion also has 12 additional maps, and Lands of the Linnorm Kings, probably the most similar to Isles of the Shackles, has 7 additional maps providing extra detail.

    This book has zero.

    That fact is particularly irksome given that the turnover did have exactly the detail that would have made it especially useful. Furthermore, it consisted of 6 sub-maps, certainly on par with other books in the same series.

    Now, I'm certainly not all up in arms and "OMG Paizo has totally lost it!" about this issue, but I do think that it was an error to not include any secondary maps in a location sourcebook, and I'm hoping it's not something they'll repeat.

    Contributor

    gbonehead wrote:

    First off, let me state that I think this book was outstanding. For me it struck a perfect balance between descriptive prose and mechanics that a GM can use, and I love the bestiary. I'm looking forward to seeing the locations in the Shackles expanded greatly in the future.

    However, (and there's always a 'however', I guess), I have to second (third? fourth?) the opinion that the map just doesn't cut it. Or, rather, that the lack of further detail doesn't cut it.

    In many other publications there are secondary maps. Distant Worlds has 12 additional maps, Dragon Empires has a second, "cluttered" version of the map (I'm referring to James' comment), with the vast majority of the locations depicted, Dungeons of Golarion also has 12 additional maps, and Lands of the Linnorm Kings, probably the most similar to Isles of the Shackles, has 7 additional maps providing extra detail.

    This book has zero.

    Let me start by saying thank you for complimenting the gazeteer and bestiary of the book first. I can't tell you how demoralizing it can be when people trash a product because of the map issue or artwork without any serious comment on or critique of the actual content for which I'm responsible.

    [/whining]

    Also, an important clarification re: what I said about my turnover having six submaps. In order to design the setting, Paizo supplied me with with a very preliminary rendering of the archipelago: a scanned version of Wes' hand-drawn map of the Shackles, a beautiful basic pencil rendering of hundreds upon hundreds of little islands. I then crudely divided this jpg into the six blown up sections I mentioned and placed my locations in equally crude fashion. None of this was remotely close to publication-worthy quality (though Wes' diagnosably obsessive effort on the pencil map of the Shackles, something surely worth posting on the website just for it's jaw-dropping pencil-y map-nerd detail, is a Mighty Thing to Behold).

    To add submaps would have required additional (paid) work by the artist/cartographer. I'm not sure how Isles compares to other volumes in the series in terms of word count and illustrations, but I suspect that in addition to greater production costs, more maps would have resulted in reduced content. I'm pretty sure this was the largest bestiary yet for a campaign setting volume.

    It's always a trade off, in other words. While I would love to see more detailed maps with all the places mentioned in the text, I also appreciated the amount of space Paizo gave me to write this up (believe me, I still had to cut a lot, including my Shackles Sea Shanties). I'm sure others feel differently, but I really would like to hear more about people's reaction to the non-map portion of this release...hello?


    Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
    Mike Shel wrote:
    gbonehead wrote:
    First off, let me state that I think this book was outstanding. For me it struck a perfect balance between descriptive prose and mechanics that a GM can use, and I love the bestiary. I'm looking forward to seeing the locations in the Shackles expanded greatly in the future.
    Let me start by saying thank you for complimenting the gazeteer and bestiary of the book first. I can't tell you how demoralizing it can be when people trash a product because of the map issue or artwork without any serious comment on or critique of the actual content for which I'm responsible.

    Right! I know full well that you pretty much have zero input into what's done with the art in the book, and, frankly, it wasn't that big of a deal anyways. I figured out what was up with the map by the time I was reading Bag Island, and moved on.

    What was important to me was that there were a zillion adventure hooks in here; virtually any one of these islands could be a campaign in itself.

    This book, Distant Worlds, the Dragon Empires Gazetteer, and books of that high level of quality are why I never doubt my subscription for a moment. It doesn't mean I won't point out what I feel are errors, but successful people and companies try things. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't.

    My point in bringing up the maps in what was hopefully a non-confrontational, very detailed manner was to point out to the people who do have control over such things that the model of the other books I pointed out better serves the purpose (in my opinion, of course) than the way they chose to do this one.

    --

    Now. Back to working on Shattered Star, you, I'm looking forward to your installment :)

    Contributor

    gbonehead wrote:

    Now. Back to working on Shattered Star, you, I'm looking forward to your installment :)

    Sent my turnover in weeks ago, so my work on Shattered Star is done for now (and my turnover for PFSS #4-02 was sent in Monday!). It's all in the eldritch hands of the thoroughly cruel, despicably evil James Jacobs. I happen to know he's going through it with his (evil) fine-toothed comb as we speak. Be afraid.

    Paizo Employee Developer

    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    Mike Shel wrote:
    gbonehead wrote:

    Now. Back to working on Shattered Star, you, I'm looking forward to your installment :)

    Sent my turnover in weeks ago, so my work on Shattered Star is done for now (and my turnover for PFSS #4-02 was sent in Monday!). It's all in the eldritch hands of the thoroughly cruel, despicably evil James Jacobs. I happen to know he's going through it with his (evil) fine-toothed comb as we speak. Be afraid.

    I have seen the comb you speak of. Legend tells that it is made from the sharpened teeth of 20 screaming babes, and was polished with the broken dreams and tears of no fewer than a dozen freelancers. It is the source of Jacobs's power as well as his voluptuous locks of auburn hair.

    On a more relevant note...we hear you guys regarding the maps. During development of Isles of the Shackles, we simply found it impossible to include all of the map tags we wanted while (a) keeping all of Mike Shel's awesome content, and (b) making sure the map was still legible. So we had to compromise and only tag the islands that show up in the Gazetteer. Mapping is one of the hardest parts of developing a book, not only because it relies on a unique synergy between the art and writing sides, but also because it's so difficult to strike a balance between what locations to include and what locations to leave for GMs to place as they see fit.

    RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

    Patrick Renie wrote:


    On a more relevant note...we hear you guys regarding the maps. During development of Isles of the Shackles, we simply found it impossible to include all of the map tags we wanted while (a) keeping all of Mike Shel's awesome content, and (b) making sure the map was still legible. So we had to compromise and only tag the islands that show up in the Gazetteer. Mapping is one of the hardest parts of developing a book, not only because it relies on a unique synergy between the art and writing sides, but also because it's so difficult to strike a balance between what locations to include and what locations to leave for GMs to place as they see fit.

    Might the "better" tagged map be the one that's showing up it the Skull and Shackles Map Folio?

    Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

    I just weighed in with my opinion.

    Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    I want to expand a little on my review.

    I think if there is an urge to roast this book (unfairly, I might add), there really needs to some practical thought about the role of maps in these gazetteers.

    And I'm loathe to APPEAR to bash one book in order to make this book look better. It might seem like I'm doing that, but believe me- that's not my intention. I just want to keep this real.

    I love Sutter's Distant Worlds. It took an idea I was neutral on and really got me excited, and between that and City of Strangers I keep my eye out for his work now. That being said, Distant Worlds is not chock full of maps that I can instantly make encounters out of. Not by a long shot. What it gives me is some context to get me started, and the rest is on me. A lot is still dependent on me. But that's okay, because that's oretty much what I expect from a gazetteer of a big region.

    Lands of the Linnorm Kings has quite a few maps. It too is a great book. I don't just write adventures, I run them. I run published adventures. Most of those city maps get used one time for about three minutes tops. I show them to the players. It fires up their imaginations and gives them some context.. and they never get used again. Now I'm not going to kid you, seeing the lay out of the city and knowing what a city quarter is like (i.e. wealthy, crime-ridden, haunted) helps me to do a better and more accurate encounter. But again, it's not like I'm home free and kick back and not prepare an adventure. No, my work has just begun. Now, seeing the Seer's Home map really helps (its an unusual location)- its just I can't use that map in my game. I have to develop and draw another based upon it. See what I mean?

    Its important to understand that I'm not criticizing the product line. My expectations are being met. Rather, I'm saying this book doesn't deserve the degree of criticism its receiving.


    Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
    Jim Groves wrote:
    Its important to understand that I'm not criticizing the product line. My expectations are being met. Rather, I'm saying this book doesn't deserve the degree of criticism its receiving.

    Right!

    In fact, this specific book is in my top half dozen out of all the Paizo books I own, up there with Distant Worlds, Inner Sea Magic and the Dragon Emprires Gazetteer.

    The latter I note as important because it took a subject I was completely ambivalent about (at best, just look at some of my old board posts) and got me actively interested in it. Distant Worlds I note as important because it took a subject that is one of my favorite topics and somehow made it even more awesome.

    The others, also, are incredible and can be held up as examples of what this line should be like. Oh, and +1 about Sutter's work. Goes for the fiction too.

    Cheliax

    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    The pdf of this isn't wanting to play nicely with my Ipad. It seems to not be compatible. Not sure if anyone is having this same issue.


    Got the book last week and showed a few critters (like Lusca) to some of the my players... they now fear for their characters. Thanks Paizo :)

    Paizo Employee Paizo Glitterati Robot

    Chris Ballard wrote:
    The pdf of this isn't wanting to play nicely with my Ipad. It seems to not be compatible. Not sure if anyone is having this same issue.

    This is the first I've heard of any issue. What behavior is occurring?

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