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Campaign Arc Idea - POST-Serpent's Skull AP


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion

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Lantern Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I have been toying with this for a while. I am going with a working title, "Return of the Annunaki." This storyline follows the attempts of the serpentfolk to rise once already (in Serpent's Skull AP), where the united serpent races seek to re-establish dominance over the other races of the planet, this time with a whole new presented perspective on their past, and on their future intentions.

I'll start it with a full new posting.

Lantern Lodge

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Return of the Annunaki – Campaign Arc

Following the events by the serpentfolk and their failure to raise their empire to power once again (The Serpent's Skull Adventure Path), one of several or more than a dozen backup plans they may have conspired begins to unfold. Awaiting the foretold events of an ages-old prophecy of the return of the blooded lineage of the Ancients – serpentine beings known commonly among all snake-like intelligent beings as the Ancients, Anakim, or Annunaki – these central divine figures' return seems to be much less likely than the destructive actions of those individuals most prominently found among their blood cults, who are known as much for their sacrifices of innocent victims, as they are for their intricate observations of time and the motions of the stars and planets over vast periods of time.

When a group of thugs and robbers turns into a crime spree by a new, unknown force for chaos and death in an otherwise peaceful region, a mystery to reveal its origin unfolds a much older prophecy and the events which may yet again lead to the rise of a beyond-ancient, imperial reptilian foe with incredible knowledge of the skies and stars. As the party journeys to far-off lands tracking down the clues and evidence of this eons-old mystery, Golarion's most exotic and distant lands are explored.

Beginning in the eastern regions of the southern Tian Xia nation of Minata, and trekking not only across the foreboding lands of the Valashmai Jungle and Nagajor, but utilizing the magical system of the elven gates and other means of transport, our adventurers find that the riddle of the serpentfolk (or Anakim/Annunaki) not only spans many lands and unknown centuries and millennia, but even between two or more worlds as well, and possibly much further still – to worlds which stretch the very limits of the imagination in their distance from their homes.

Return of the Annunaki is a Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatible adventure campaign set on the world of Golarion (and its cosmos), which begins at 1st level, and takes characters to very high levels (18th or more), with the possible option to continue on to epic continuations of this basic campaign arc. It begins in Tian Xia, the oriental nation of the far east, in the southern part of the continent, beginning in a quiet part of Minata, and which touches upon mysteries left to unfold from many hundreds and hundreds of years ago, unfolding a prophecy of a divine return of beings which may yet bring the rise of the serpent once and for all. These ages-old clues are explored and uncovered across many lands, including the Tian nations of Nagajor and the Valashmai Jungle territory – to the regions of Vudra where naga elder sages rule as raja of their city-states of the peninsular lands west of our adventurers' homes – to the southern expanse of Garund, whose northern reaches are much more known to the Inner Sea's inhabitants than the vast wilderness and ancient temples of its southern extent – to the mind-boggling lost continent known as Sarusan, whose very nature represents hazards unknown to our mortal heroes – and even to the distant worlds of Golarion's skies, to Castrovel the Green, and its cursed northwestern continent, where millennia-old riddles and life-threatening curses guard temples to beings known as the Ancients, who are said to one day return, and even the ruling Lashunta fear and avoid these terrors. Once our heroes master the means to travel between these places, they will have to uncover the clues piece by piece, often by journeying to far-away lands on a whim, in order to discover the next piece in this eons-old puzzle. Toward the end of the adventure, a trek into the First World to commune with the Eldest being known as Imbrex will also solidify the quest to defend the world from a future of several hundred years of enslavement by reptilian overlords.

Will these vast explorations, hot on the tail of a mystery that unfolds and stays abreast of our adventurers like a high-speed chase wrapped in a detective story, uncovered through the oldest, least known ruins of Golarion and its neighboring worlds, become a tale of epic heroism that saves all the modern empires of mortalkind from tyranny and bloodshed, or will the kingdoms of humans and other races be brought low before the scaly rule of ancestral snake-beings who desire bloodshed and dominion over peace and the ascension of their subjects? What begins as a criminal ring with potential ties to a naga overlord financing the corruption of a peaceful region, and leads to an enigmatic prophecy and the first of many possible plans by the serpentfolk and their kin to rise to ultimate power, could be the most revealing campaign arc set on Golarion, taking place across vast spans of space and time.

Part I: Revealing Serpent's Blood
1st level: The Crime Ring
On the coastal regions of western Minata where peace is well known in the sleepy rural areas between major towns, our adventurers have just finished their first task as hired professionals, when they are jumped by criminals. Temple devotees who have taken vows of nonviolence have been successfully brought from the heroes' hometown to their rural temple, and on their way home, the party is attacked by vagrants.

Several foes (pickpockets / cutpurses, and a street thug leader) ambush the PCs on their way back to their home town on an island west of Belem in the Tengah Pulu region which is known as one of the most hidden places for peace and civility in an otherwise savage area. The singular temple on the north side of the island serves as the monastery for peaceful clerics and monks behind them on their way towards the sleepy pastoral island town of Rimija, on a well-trodden path across the hilly region between it and the heroes' hometown. Unfortunately for them, while it is often a sleepy, uneventful trek, the landscape provides a serene peacefulness that makes their foes' appearance even more unexpected and difficult to predict, and plenty of terrain for foes to hide behind. After defeating or subduing the criminals, a swift interrogation brings forth details of a crime ring being formed, although they protect the base of operations' secret location at any cost, and after doing some local detective work, they must stage and execute a plan to find the crime ring's base and uncover its leadership.
Dealing with the machinations, espionage, deceits, and deadly activities of an underground guild of thieves and killers, our PCs run into several rogues and ninjas of distinctive backgrounds, ending in the confrontation with the leader of the crime ring, a male vishkanya ninja with deep pockets. As he tosses out resource after resource to set back the PCs in their attempts to take him down along with the foes of the crime ring, we find that this foe is only the hand of a greater patron from foreign lands. Allowing the PCs to do a stake-out to track, follow, or otherwise reveal the actions and movements of crime ring members, takes them through town, and even to a seedy hidden underground below their sleepy town.

2nd level: The Naga Financier
When the PCs find evidence that the criminal guild of Rimija is being financed by a powerful and rick backer, they must continue to use their detective skills, guts, and brawn to elicit new information and clues to find the source of this criminal financing. Especially when the PCs find that the pirates well known around Belem were in direct confrontation with the newly-emerging crime ring, things begin to take a new turn, and things show themselves to be not quite right. All signs are pointing to something that doesn't fall in the typical culprits' categories, and although the vishkanya race is not known to have any ties to the nagas or other serpentine races, the crime ring leader's identity seems to lead to a naga crime lord who seeks to undermine the local harmony in order to sow the seeds of future control over the region. In a battle between Minatan pirates and the servants of a rogue naga with mafia-type plans to undermine the local peace, the PCs must not only find allies they can count on, but also help take part in a turf war that is way over their heads – without getting set up, or possibly killed.

Using boats and overland transport to deal with unfolding threats between Belem and the smaller island home of Rimija, a larger crime ring is shown to have underlying themes of racial supremacy, old inherited wealth of the naga crime lord families – and the PCs will have quite a time attempting to diplomacize or coerce their local pirate membership into allying in a temporary move to stage a coup on the crime ring once and for all, and for the common good… and not getting underhanded or otherwise betrayed by the local pirates.

When the serpent mafia is neutralized in this region, the pirates take their portion of the treasure, along with a serpentfolk statue which turns out to be cursed – and hand it back off to the PCs. Whether the PCs ally with the townspeople or any other guards of the town of Rimija is up to them, but without the pirates' help, it is likely to be successful only in ending with the death of the PCs.

3rd level: To a Distant Land
Dealing with the ongoing troubles brought on by this ancient statue, it brings with it many new riddles about its origin, and why it was being held by the naga crime ring based in Minata. Leading them on a trail which ultimately leads to their involvement in an ages-old prophecy, the seeds of their involvement become well-rooted in the beginnings of their attempts to track down lost treasures and hidden secrets of the ancient empires of nagas, serpentfolk, and the progenitor races, known as the Annunaki. With the energies of the accursed statue with a penchant for possessing others in order to achieve its goals of being delivered to distant Nagajor making the trip interesting, the PCs find that abiding the statue's demands to be returned to its owners in Nagajor seems to be a sensible solution, by also finding the clues and information that point the way to a conspiracy originating in the naga-ruled nation to the west.

Several paths across the bay and foreign shores present themselves, and depending on the seafaring transport secured in the PCs' brief alliance with the pirates of Belem, and the choice of which route to take to Nagajor will dictate which specific challenges are presented to them along the way. Whether going through the southern reaches of Xa Hoi and attempting to remain inconspicuous while traveling upriver, or by daring the savage wilds of the dense tropical forests of the Valashmai Jungle, or even by pitting themselves against the coastal foes of the inner bay of the Valashmai – the PCs will endure several major challenges along any of these paths. Once they reach Nagajor, they will have to resist enslavement or worse at the hands of unknown naga tribes, both civilized and savage, and navigate the slippery socio-political tensions between the elites of the naga aristocracy in the region, in order to find their best option for an ally or informant that will lead them to discover the truth about the statue, its mysterious ancient inscriptions and writing, and where it seems to be taking them. Several nagaji will make life harder for the PCs by attempting to steal the cursed artifact, and their serpentine spellcaster leader seems to be one of very few individuals that the statue will allow to take it from the PCs, although not the best candidate to do so in the long run. By tracking down the naga scholar Varu-Shavarni, and learning the secret past of the statue, its links to the naga crime ring and the local Nagajor politics, and how it has even deeper links to the far ancient past, the PCs are unwittingly led along a path which puts them at the helm of a millennia-old prophecy about the return of the Ancients (or Annunaki Elder Lords), and its relationship to the naga rulership, the serpentfolk, some regional dragons, and the evolutionary and genetic experimentation of the far ancient past by their ancestors.

In a final step to secure a solid alliance with an influential naga lord who holds similar views and goals as the PCs, they will have to perform a task of severe danger to prove their loyalty, honor, and bravery, such as fighting a powerful local beast terrorizing the locals, securing a powerful artifact from a buried tomb, defending against a neighboring naga tribe intent on raiding despite national peace pacts, or otherwise performing some task which will show their strength, cunning, skill, and worthiness of such an alliance. When the PCs have earned the naga's trust, returned the cursed statue to its rightful place (and lifted its possession curse), and secured any additional treasures, they will learn a new and crucial series of information bits about the gates used in ancient times, and other secrets of the Annunaki's ancient empires – including those far predating the serpentfolk empire of the Inner Sea.

4th level: Through the Gateway
Revealed by the naga ruler, Nagaraja Ombrusi-Who-Is-Revered IV, under the advisement of Varu-Shavarni, who acts as the PCs' advocate to the naga leadership, one of many gates known to act much like the Elf Gates of Sovyrian, but which works only on a closed circuit, limited to specific destination points, is disclosed to the PCs. While they were otherwise uninformed about such gates or their involvement in the stories revealed so far, it is also told to the PCs that this particular gate has not been active in many hundreds of years, and becoming somewhat active only in the time since the PCs (or the statue, if it is not with them) have been inside the borders of Nagajor. If the PCs no longer possess the statue, its current naga handler will send their nagaji servants to attempt to use the gate, and the PCs can chase after them – if the PCs have returned the statue to its rightful place, the nagas will petition them to enter the gateway at the specific peak time for activity, either truthfully, or by whatever means will force the PCs to choose to go through. They may use subterfuge, and if the PCs are confused, it can be slowly revealed that they are aware of the ancient prophecy, and the obvious central involvement of the PCs, and that they believed it was in the best interest of all people, but also themselves. The statue stays behind in both cases.

Once through the gateway, the PCs not only find themselves having stepped through a similar portal in southern Garund in an empty field in an otherwise dense rainforest, but also in the midst of a battle between two local tribes, both of which see the arrival of these outsiders as a threat (the PCs, and the rival nagaji, if present). Both sides in this battle of savage peoples attack the trespassers, raining sleep-poisoned blowgun darts on all of them, taking prisoners, killing those who resist, and then returning them from the dead by their shaman-priests. Anyone who actually evades capture must continue to do so until the PCs convince their captors they are not enemies, until they are found, or flee and never return (leave the game, or try to return to Tian Xia by another means), but a GM can simply force all PCs to be affected by the sleep darts, to wake up once again in capture.

The majority of this level of adventure is spent in capture, possibly being used as slave labor or other detriments of being captured prisoners, and convincing their captors of their honor and reasons for release. If the nagaji were followed through, and if any of them were captured instead of being killed, their behavior and actions can be shown as contrasting to the PCs' own activities, to help illustrate this. Dialogue, discussion of local politics and the war between these two tribes, and even the revelation of ties to the ancient serpent bloodlines deeply entrenched in the faraway land which prove that the racial claims and heritage of the serpentfolk go far deeper and much older than previously imagined. If the PCs are captured by different tribes, they will be shown the difference very obviously – the western tribe, the Kabodxi, are reasonable and have a society based on sustainable practices, and the eastern tribe, the Vidutzi, are vindictive, arrogant, and bloodthirsty, with a penchant for sacrificing live victims to their ancient gods – the same Ancients described elsewhere as benevolent, enlightened, and eons-old in their ancestry, in a very contrasting way. This strange society of humans, lizardfolk, and troglodytes living harmoniously as one people is made even more disconcerting by the cultural distinction between the two tribes, with both of them sharing a similar background and architecture (cross between Mesoamerican and Babylonian ziggurats), and links to the Ancients – while only the vile Vidutzi claim to be racially superior to others, because of their ties to the Ancient Serpent Races (or Annunaki).

The PCs are pitted against spellcasting adepts and sorcerers with the serpentine bloodline, and they must navigate deep cultural divides in order to secure their freedom and the trust of their captors, as well as dealing with the natural hazards of the region. They will find links to the serpent races even in the lizardfolk of the region, who otherwise claim no shared ancestry with serpentfolk anywhere on Golarion, as well as a secret shared regional tradition of descent from the Ancients, and a so-called group of "fabled ones" who are destined to claim the greater path of fate, and the ancient heritage of the Ancients. Many will come to believe that the PCs are these destined individuals, while many opponents will believe that they are the "chosen people" of the ancient serpentfolk prophecies, and not outsiders with no genealogical ties to the Ancients. If any PCs are still captured by the enemy tribe, any of several escape/break-out methods can be attempted now, or at the beginning of the next session, since the PCs should begin the events of the next part all together, so that no character is left behind without hope for release.

5th level: Local Politics, Distant Pasts
With tensions between the warring Vidutzi and Kabodxi tribes reaching a climax, new information reveals a much greater danger at hand than even the PCs and their new allies can handle – the enemy tribe has become allied with an ever larger army of local savages, and things are not looking promising for the PCs' safety. But the visionary shamans of the northern city of Mzali, along with a destined path being revealed by the PCs' actions, and a favor lent by the allied tribe, have led to more favorable conditions. But first, the PCs must travel north to Mzali by a secret and rarely-traveled path below ground, staying clear of the attention of the enemy tribe, in order to convince the ancient mummified child-god, Walkena, to hear their plea for help (and his mercy for their trespassing in his domain).

Part II: The Rise of Giants
6th level: Claiming Ancient Land
Tribal war peak, discovery of a pre-Azlanti ziggurat in southern Garund (war territory), secure and excavate the site, disturb the wards and ghosts, discover ancient relic, Walkena is disturbed and may reveal his concern while the gateway's key is activated and given to the PCs

7th level: Giants Rise Free
Return to Nagajor (possible return home sidetrack), nagas attempt to gain or steal gate-key, rivals interfere, the star-charts of the times and the ancient naga astronomers lore, serpentfolk interfere in Garund, setting the Nephilim free

8th level: Tipping the Scales
Defeating one or two nephilim in Nagajor, and returning to Garund to find the same problem occurring with rising Nephilim, a serpentfolk mage attempts to make a stand with his lizardfolk followers, and the PCs find the vaults of the Nephilim, and the single accessible Hall of Supremacy (magical wearable golem – iron, mithral, or adamantine)

Part III: A Legacy of Bloodshed
9th level: To the Impossible Kingdoms
Requiring the keys to the vaults in Garund, and no other sides revealing that they know where they are, the naga rulers in Nagajor suggest the PCs visit the distant peninsular continent of Vudra, the land of limitless unimaginable impossibilities made manifest, and make contact with the nagas of that land

10th level: Kingdoms of Blood
With nagas and serpentfolk wielding wish-power and bound/summoned genies to interfere in the activities of the PCs in Vudra, they must make contact with the helpful naga scholar-priests of the arcane theurgy academy, and locate the key to the vaults of the Nephilim, ending with a confrontation of a dragon with Annunaki blood and her cultist devotees

11th level: Become as Death
With the PCs returning to Garund with the key to the Nephilim Vaults in hand, they are ambushed by Red Mantis Assassins (lesser attempt) hired to put them out of commission, with a larger plot to kill them all in place, and a powerful serpentfolk showdown

Part IV: Creations of Blood and Scales
12th level: Uncovering Ancient Secrets
Continuing into the Nephilim Vaults, each new discovery requires a new quest for the key to unlock its secrets, and the PCs are forced to uncover each one by finding the appropriate lore across the lands, braving various dangers and encounters with foes trying to reach the lore first (and keep the PCs from doing so), showing two histories – the ancient history and the tales associated with it, and the more recent history, which warps the old tenets into a culture of domination, violence, and sacrificing living innocents

13th level: Preparing for the Return
The PCs had hoped to keep powerful, potentially evil foes from returning, but it's too late – the signal has been sent, and they are sure to return to claim their much-deserved inheritance; serpentfolk and nagas prepare for their return, and a new series of crime rings spring up from Nagajor to Minata, and in the poorer regions of Vudra's naga-controlled area, in addition to setting the stage for the final assassination attempt

14th level: Invitations of Blood
Defeating cultists, arcanists, a Red Mantis elite vishkanya assassin, serpent-worshipers, and finally witnessing the rise of the serpentine giant humanoids known as the Valashai Nephilim, the PCs attempt to secure a footing in the last great danger before everything they know turns up on its head, and with the death (assassination) of several key allies and secondary figures, all debts are called in – ending with the discovery of the method by which the Nephilim types are being created in vaults underground, and the discovery of many more yet unknown – in Vudra, Garund, Tian Xia, and Sarusan – as well as among the stars

Part V: Legacy of the Annunaki
15th level: Of Serpents and Dragons

16th level: Battle for the Land of Lost Mists

Part VI: Return of the Ancients
17th level: To Muse an Eldest

18th level: The Annunaki Return

Ideas for Adventuring Beyond this Campaign Arc:

Lantern Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Part V: Legacy of the Annunaki
15th level: Of Serpents and Dragons
When the PCs finally learn of the existence of Nephilim Vaults located in the Lost Continent of Sarusan, they find themselves consistently defied by the land's magical nature, first by defying location, and second when the PCs finally locate the lands and then forget their actions while inside the magical boundaries. As they attempt various methods of locating the land, their activities have drawn the attention of several dragon courts – divided by their explicit connection to, or defiance against, the serpentfolk and their ancient Annunaki machinations – who wish to alter the activities of the PCs in their search for the ancient secrets. While dragons have their own separate history apart from the ancient serpent progenitors spanning many eons and possible incarnations of known reality (or other ancient worlds), the intricate complexities of a specific alliance between the Annunaki overlords, their serpentfolk minions, and the dragons of ancient Tian Xia and Avistan begin to unravel before the eyes of the party, and they find themselves in the middle of an ancient grudge.

16th level: Battle for the Land of Lost Mists
Having taken on the dreaded Lord of Serpents (a serpent-blooded dragon), his allies attempt a feeble vengeance – but the activities of the PCs is now set when they discover the dragon's horde, where they find the artifact needed to successfully locate Sarusan and overcome its memory-erasing effects – however, the ancient Annunaki relic is also the host of an ancient Tian elf ghost with a jovial personality who inhabits the artifact. Revealing his story, he urges the PCs to go to Sarusan immediately, to stop the incursion of another such relic piloted by the enemy, which can not only locate the 'lost' continent, but also do the one things no other being can do: burrow through the earth and the Darklands to arrive there. Confronting the Primal Lords of Sarusan who defend their land and the honor of their people despite ancient grudges/problems, the PCs must make allies of the Primal Lords (Animal Lords of dinosaur and prehistoric megafauna forms), or else usurp them of their power, in order to take control of the final Nephilim Vaults and the Primal Armies of Sarusan. In a final battle against the serpentfolk/naga as they break the surface from the Darklands below, the PCs find the key to finally unlocking the Nephilim Vaults and their secrets/powers – but it's not on Golarion at all, but on 'the Green,' the world of Castrovel! Despite being in the midst of a massive battle between the Primal Armies, led by the PCs and any remaining Primal Lords who ally with them which seems to have no end, they must choose to abandon Sarusan for long enough to uncover the final pieces of the puzzle, and unlock the Vaults, or continue to defend the Sarusan Vault and the Primal Lands of the Lost Continent, and possibly lose control of the Castrovel site to the enemy! As the fight leads them across empty space to the Lashunta Lands, and then on to the northeastern 'Cursed Lands' of ancient notoriety to the final Annunaki stronghold with the relic to unlock and control the powers of the Nephilim Vaults, and perhaps stop the serpentfolk once and for all.

Part VI: Return of the Ancients
17th level: To Muse an Eldest
Having claimed the power to eliminate the enemy encroaching upon Sarusan, the Primal Armies and the local tribes wish to once again return their land to its 'lost' nature, wishing that the PCs and no other outsiders return. With the forces of the Nephilim Vaults stopped or altered to no longer release threats, and all of its treasures recovered, the Sarusan Vault is sealed for good, and the PCs must part them all farewell. The elf ghost in the artifact that helped them get there is laid to rest once again, and the artifacts (both of them) destroyed – and the PCs must return to any of their other lands. But with the ancient prophecies still yet unfulfilled, dragon antagonists still claiming dominance in the face of a coming descent by the Annunaki themselves, and several serpentfolk/naga mutant priests continuing to be a problem, a solution still needs to be sought. Tracking down an ancient legend that leads the PCs to seek out Imbrex, an unusual Elder of the First World, they find that the massive being's true location has not been known in some time, and its efforts to avoid interaction with new beings from Golarion have been incredibly conspicuous. However, asking their Lashunta contacts, they point the way to an ancient grove where tales say the First World's veil is thin, and they may find Imbrex in one of its many "times of introspection" when the dual being requires less communication and proximity to mortal beings. Scaling the unimaginably tall heights of one of the two statue-like structures thought to house Imbrex, a serpentine pair of beings with noted ties to the Annunaki, the PCs must attempt to commune with the dual being by camping out and meditating in the statue's navel – and learn the secrets of the unusual entity, and its relationship to the ancient deity twins, Ophidias and Ophiodus, worshiped by the Annunaki, and wrought in eons-old self-imposed isolation for meditative solitude. Despite being able to offer little or no help to the PCs except that of lore and insights into the nature of the coming Return, the interaction between them and the near-divine being sets into motion other events.

18th level: The Annunaki Return
The oracles have seen it – the biggest telescopes confirm the arriving objects in the night skies – the prophecies have illustrated its events in real and hyperbolic terms; the Annunaki are returning in their massive metal ships, powered by magic and technology so powerful and so ancient it puts all other cultures even known to shame. With the most powerful of them having forms much like that of dragons (with a horrific appetite for the blood of fearful mortals) and massive serpentine giants with amazing psychic capabilities, and other lesser beings much like that of those encountered so far in their battles, the previous successes or failures of the PCs against the native serpentfolk will have direct results on the coming events. Finding allies in unexpected places, and with the arrival of mystical beings known as the Benei'Elohim who claim to be an ancient sect of Annunaki druids whose forms are no longer fully corporeal in nature, and with the priests of Ophidias/Ophiodus telling the Annunaki Overlords of the words by their twin gods that the PCs are friends of the Serpent Blooded, a tense and drawn-out series of diplomatic moves will likely end in a final battle, and the lead general of the draconian Annunaki (prime warrior under the divine Overlord of War) faces down with them in a final show of force and dominance. When the other Overlords call their armies to mete out vengeance, the benevolent Elohim step in to prevent massive war against an inferior world, and offer the means for truce. The PCs will have to give up control of all Nephilim Vaults, their technologies removed, and never again set foot in the 'Cursed Lands' of Castrovel – the last bit might be purchased or negotiated, but only with intense and well-considered compromises and diplomacy/intimidation.

Ideas for Adventuring Beyond this Campaign Arc:

Lantern Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Return of the Annunaki is an adventure arc which begins at 1st level. It has been created for an adventuring party of 4-5 members, using medium level progression for XP and wealth, and for characters of High Fantasy games (20-point ability score purchase).

Part I: Revealing Serpent's Blood (for levels 1-5)

1st level: The Crime Ring
On the coastal regions of western Minata where peace is well known in the sleepy rural areas between major towns, our adventurers have just finished their first task as hired professionals, when they are jumped by criminals. Temple devotees who have taken vows of nonviolence have been successfully brought from the heroes' hometown to their rural temple, and on their way home, the party is attacked by vagrants.

Several foes (pickpockets / cutpurses, and a street thug leader) ambush the PCs on their way back to their home town on an island west of Belem in the Tengah Pulu region which is known as one of the most hidden places for peace and civility in an otherwise savage area. The singular temple on the north side of the island serves as the monastery for peaceful clerics and monks behind them on their way towards the sleepy pastoral island town of Rimija, on a well-trodden path across the hilly region between it and the heroes' hometown. Unfortunately for them, while it is often a sleepy, uneventful trek, the landscape provides a serene peacefulness that makes their foes' appearance even more unexpected and difficult to predict, and plenty of terrain for foes to hide behind. After defeating or subduing the criminals, a swift interrogation brings forth details of a crime ring being formed, although they protect the base of operations' secret location at any cost, and after doing some local detective work, they must stage and execute a plan to find the crime ring's base and uncover its leadership.
Dealing with the machinations, espionage, deceits, and deadly activities of an underground guild of thieves and killers, our PCs run into several rogues and ninjas of distinctive backgrounds, ending in the confrontation with the leader of the crime ring, a male vishkanya ninja with deep pockets. As he tosses out resource after resource to set back the PCs in their attempts to take him down along with the foes of the crime ring, we find that this foe is only the hand of a greater patron from foreign lands. Allowing the PCs to do a stake-out to track, follow, or otherwise reveal the actions and movements of crime ring members, takes them through town, and even to a seedy hidden underground below their sleepy town.

On their way back to Rimija from the distant monastery, they are ambushed on a trail which leads them along a coastline with hilly coverage in many places. A skilled sniper (CR 2; NPC Codex p. 145) attempts to sneak attack the party members, before fleeing on horseback (CR 1; Bestiary 1), and leaving his cronies to fight for him while he flees back to the hidden crime ring's underground base.
1x Burglar (CR 2; GMG p. 265, Human rogue 3), 600 XP
2x Pickpockets (CR 1/2; GMG p. 264, Human rogue 1), 200 XP each
At any point, when the PCs encounter the Skilled Sniper and his mount, they gain 600 XP (rogue) + 400 XP (horse). This will often happen before the final encounter, as the PCs must stake out the town region where the crime ring members are located, since his horse makes him the easiest to track when he is riding.

Back in town, the skilled sniper hides away, and alerts the ring leader of the PCs' presence. As the PCs make their way around town, gathering information on the potential activities of this new crime ring, the members launch an attack on the townsfolk, to sow chaos, discord, and fear among the people. In addition to 3-4 explosive traps made by a well-equipped alchemist (3-4x, CR 1 each, CR 3 encounter; unique trap hazards), several of the crime ring leaders are there to make sure the PCs, if they survive the initial blasts, are no longer a problem.
4x Street Thugs (CR 1; GMG p. 265, Human fighter 1/rogue 1), 400 XP each

At some point, as the PCs monitor the actions of the crime ring in order to find its base location, they must take on the mounted Skilled Sniper, although this may happen inside the base. If this happens, and the horse is no longer applicable, the PCs will find additional opponents inside the crime ring's underground base (worth 400 XP to replace the horse).

When the party finds the crime ring base's entrances, they must infiltrate it and neutralize the criminals. If they split up to cover the entrances, they will most likely be killed by the traps, and all routes will lead them into both set traps, and the eventual encounter with the ring leader, his alchemist bombs expert and creator, and the crime ring leader himself.
3-4x traps (CR 1 each, CR 3 encounter), unique trap hazard (alchemist's fire, expanded range of spread/splash, plus smoke pellets, thunderstone, and a delayed-blast trigger device)
1x Burglar (CR 2; GMG p. 265, Human rogue 3), 600 XP
2x Pickpockets (CR 1/2; GMG p. 264, Human rogue 1), 200 XP each
1x Bomb Crafter (CR 2; unique Halfling Alchemist 3), 600 XP
1x Crime Ring Leader (CR 3; unique Vishkanya Ninja 4), 800 XP

Documents, purchased alchemical components, and a significant money trail in evidence points to a wealthy backer who has a vested interest in sowing discord and anarchy in the region already softened by pirate activities. Most evidence points to a naga connection, and clues hint at Nagajor as a source for the influence. The PCs may or may not involve the activities of the local town authorities, when they find evidence of further actions that had not yet been taken, including assassination of influential townsfolk, and a larger plan in place to take hostile control of the region.

Lantern Lodge

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By the end of the 1st-level portion of the adventure, the PCs will have acquired a total amount of treasure and gear equal to 1,000 gp (average 260 gp per encounter). Much of this should end up as NPC gear, but after the final encounter, a stash of gold is discovered (5 separate pouches of gold totaling 200-250 gp) - these clues suggest payments from an outside source, from a rich backer from another location outside the town. There are also holy symbols, idols, and literature related to Nalinivati (a local deity), Naga History & Royalty, and Relics of the Serpent Empires of Golarion and the stars. However, certain concerns are left unanswered, to be discovered in the next adventure level (The Naga Financier).

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It's also worth noting that this adventure begins in the earliest portion of spring, when there is still snow on the ground in a few spots, and the temperature at night drops to below freezing, leaving thick frost on the ground at night. This is important for the first portion of the adventure, because the crunching footsteps of the PCs during the morning on the frosted grass is one of the factors giving away their position during the initial ambush in the first part of the adventure - and during the second portion, the heat from the hot spring river makes a thick fog during the colder hours, which limits visibility substantially around the entrance to the hidden base of the enemies in the end of the 2nd level portion of the adventure.

When presenting the scenario introduction to the first ambush encounter, if you show the players the cover of 'Dragon Empires Gazetteer,' and explain that the trees are only just beginning to blossom, but that the coastal hilly region where the path is located is similar in appearance to this landscape. This will also help to set the scene, and give the players some detailed images to associate with the region in general.


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Liking the most basic premise, so far, though I've yet to read the whole thing.

Dot for more perusal later. (If I somehow loose or forget this thread for, like, two months, feel free to PM me to remind me I need to take a look at it. :D)

Lantern Lodge

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Thank you. I'll be posting more and more to it as time goes on, and refining it down a bit more after that - maybe do some maps or other helpful resources for it, as it goes along. Most of it will use general resources for monsters and NPCs, but much of the unique stuff will be totally unique.... And I may even use a few third-party publications, just because I am not limited by doing it here, this way. Maybe if it gets some real attention and critique, it could be compiled and published in a free doc for the community.

Some of the best portions of Golarion have some of the smallest descriptions, and most of the time it is purposefully done so for the players to elaborate in their own way. This is my attempt to do just that with the campaign setting material at my disposal. I have been told several times I could do it setting-neutral, and be able to publish it - but that just wouldn't be the same, especially not without some of the best elements of the official setting. While my vision of these things could differ drastically with the ideas of the developers, it's just to share. It's an idea I just can't get rid of or ignore, and the setup for it just gets better with each new release.

By the time something on Vudra is released, I might even have it timed where the adventurers head that way in the adventures - and yeah, I will probably be getting that one as soon as it comes out. :) I love me some Indian folklore and culture.

Also, while some things have been covered on Castrovel about its nature and inhabitants, I must also point out that there is another continent delineated on its map as a continent apart from the others, and unmarked. I am tagging this one - this is the 'Cursed Lands' of Castrovel, where the ancient Annunaki once ruled in their multi-planetary dominance over the Serpent Empires, before leaving the planetary system, and its rulership to the lesser mortal races they had propped up in ancient pre-history. The inheritance of the Vaults of the Nephilim is one which spans many continents, and from Golarion to Castrovel - and perhaps, much farther beyond.

I have the paper notes written out for the 2nd-level adventure portion, and will be getting that up soon. ;) Input always appreciated.


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I can't say that I get more traffic, but if you like, feel free to cross-post or post links here when you make updates to this thing. That thread is supposed to be a place where the community can post ideas that they think about.

Although we've been talking about Verces in the other thread, Castrovel is probably my favorite planet (especially as huge fan of psionics).

I'll try and give detailed input... but I have ADD pretty bad, which, combined with my tendency to take in large amounts of input and 'digest' for a while... well it makes honest, good, useful critiques take a disproportionately large amount of time or energy for me (which, given a toddler, is often lacking). Sorry in advance. Just know that I've not forgotten this and am not ignoring it, but pondering (and probably reading). :)

Lantern Lodge

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No worries. It will happen as it happens. No need to feel committed to anything too complex. If anything, I figure this will be more worth critiquing as I can get more of the mechanical bits up here. The 2nd-level portion does have some complicated number stuff going on, so that could make for a better critique.

Tacticslion wrote:
Although we've been talking about Verces in the other thread, Castrovel is probably my favorite planet (especially as huge fan of psionics).

I like psionics a lot too, and I decided a long time ago that the Annunaki, especially the most powerful ones, would have to have psionic abilities, very advanced tech, and even powerful ancient arcana - possibly connecting in cross-pollinated innovations. Also fun and interesting, I am making the Vaults of the Nephilim a vast genetic engineering complex that spans across the continents and worlds, as an attempt to pave the way for their Return.

Lantern Lodge

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I have a few maps working right now to help supplement this thread, but I want to make sure I get permissions to put them up anywhere before I can do anything with them online. If only Paizo.com had its own file uploader.....

Also working on some urban stats for Rimija (small town) and the Temple of Amaditi-teratsu (a minor sky deity often worshiped by tengu monks, and most likely a lesser aspect of Desna as sky goddess and creator deity), a somewhat larger monastery complex, about the size of a larger town. The 2nd-level segment needed a little bit more regional support and perspective than the 1st-level portion, but it had to evolve from the comparison of the regions nearby in contrast to "home" (Rimija, my new addition to Golarion's map). Minata's pirates will make a substantial debut scene, with backup for further exploration of the subculture. :)

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2nd level: The Naga Financier
When the PCs find evidence that the criminal guild of Rimija is being financed by a powerful and rich backer, they must continue to use their detective skills, guts, and brawn to elicit new information and clues to find the source of this criminal financing. Especially when the PCs find that the pirates well known around Belem were in direct confrontation with the newly-emerging crime ring, things begin to take a new turn, and circumstances show themselves to be not quite right. All signs are pointing to something that doesn't fall in the typical culprits' categories, and although the vishkanya race is not known to have any ties to the nagas or other serpentine races, the crime ring leader's identity and religious items seem to lead to a zealous naga crime lord who seeks to undermine the local harmony in order to sow the seeds of future control over the region. In a battle between Minatan pirates and the servants of a rogue naga with mafia-type plans to undermine the local peace, the PCs must not only find allies they can count on, but also help take part in a turf war that is way over their heads – without getting set up, or possibly killed.

Using boats and overland transport to deal with unfolding threats between Belem and the smaller island home of Rimija, a larger crime ring is shown to have underlying themes of racial supremacy, and old inherited wealth of the naga 'noble' families – and the PCs will have quite a time attempting to diplomacize or coerce their local pirate membership into allying in a temporary move to stage a coup on the crime ring once and for all, and for the common good... and not getting underhanded or otherwise betrayed by the local pirates.

When the serpent mafia is neutralized in this region, the pirates take their portion of the treasure, along with a serpentfolk statue which turns out to be cursed – and hand it back off to the PCs. Whether the PCs ally with the townspeople or any other guards of the town of Rimija is up to them, but without the pirates' help, it is likely to be successful only in ending with the death of the PCs.

In the first segment, 'The Crime Ring,' the PCs have some flexibility in the path they take to find the crime ring's base of operations, but it is a generally linear adventure. In the second segment, there is much more flexibility in the ways and means the PCs can take to accomplish the goals of the scenario, and it is very much up to the GM to handle how this flexible storyline evolves and plays into the larger picture of the adventure arc. This portion begins just after the defeat of the local crime ring in Rimija, and the PCs can take additional measures in town to seek out clues, get new information and resources, and potentially even seek out allies in their eventual showdown with the crime ring's backers, somewhere off the island. It takes place within the town of Rimija, then outward in the local island region, to Belem - a nearby island notorious for its Minatan pirate activity. Finally, the PCs will track down the crime ring outpost on Belem, and confront the culprits who have sought to destroy the integrity of the peaceful town of Rimija.

The scenario begins just following the exploration of the underground base, and the PCs will likely have more questions following the findings within the base. They can ask around town, and especially the guards, major captain, and council leaders, along with the usual tavern folk and locals. They will find out that no one was truly on to the schemes of the crime ring, and that their activities were very luckily rooted out before they could do more harm. However, the lack of clues and evidence is sure to force the PCs to look elsewhere for more information - and no ties should be made to any Rimija locals at this time; the culprits were very good at covering their tracks, and this was most assuredly a well-laid portion of a much larger and diabolical plan in place. The goals of these activities were to undermine the local authority and balance, in preparation for a larger plan to take over the entire region of southern Tian Xia - this plan unfolds slowly and shows itself only by the end of the 2nd-level segment. First it is about Rimija, then it is about central Minata, then it is about Minata, Valashmai, and Nagajor (from its roots in the latter country), and finally it seems to be a megalomaniacal scheme for world domination, with only the first segment being the plan to undermine and dominate southern Tian Xia. All of this is in preparation for some long-prophecied event to take place, the Return of the Ancients, a serpent-blooded race of interplanetary infamy and epic power.

The PCs, after leaving Rimija proper, may question the river-watchers near the coastline about what they know, and may even hire them to boat them around the island's western reaches, or perhaps even onward to Belem. They might seek out more information at the Temple of Amaditi-teratsu, a town-sized monastery complex which is much more visible (and potentially at risk of pirate raids) and close to the coast than secluded Rimija. While this complex is known for its monks, clerics, and spiritual academic institution, it is also known for being one of the few places where you can expect to find Minatan pirates - not pillaging and raiding, or amucking in local anarchy. Because the local pirates of the more honorable clans purchase the healing and spellcasting services of the temple's membership, they are also known to protect the site from rival pirate clans, and to frequent the docks of the temple complex - often for trade, local sight-seeing, temple services, or as a temporary reprieve from the typical pirate-oriented chaotic lifestyle. Indeed, even information flows this way, and local individuals will often have just the clue the PCs are seeking - the temple clerics/monks may have some information, but certainly the best way is by making contact with one of the more peaceful and honorable pirate clan members/leaders, which will have the most information about local activities.

Along with seeking out clues, gathering gossip, and meeting NPCs of interest, the PCs are going to eventually have an outright showdown with the ring leaders, and it should be made abundantly clear that the only way they are likely going to survive this challenge is going to be with backup - and that means allies, ready to fight side by side in battle. With the strike made to the local Rimijan citizenry, the Rimijan council and Major Captain will likely be eager to offer help when the evidence becomes clear enough to warrant the assistance, and if the PCs gather any members of the local townsfolk, guards, or other Rimija locals, award each PC 100 XP apiece.

Once the PCs have explored all options at Rimija and the Temple complex of their home island, it's time to talk to the pirates. If they make contact with any pirate members or contacts at the docks of the temple, this will help speed up the process of seeking out potential allies; if the PCs simply seek out pirates without meeting them at the docks (by going directly to Belem or another pirate island outpost), this should be a much more challenging and time-consuming endeavor.

There are different pirate clans - some with ties to noble families, some with ties to shamed ex-noble families, some with crime rings of their own, and many who simply love the life of freedom on the open seas - and many of them are much less honorable than others. If the PCs do not know who or what they are looking for, be sure to challenge them mightily when they do finally make contact. If they meet up with a horrific pirate clan and are captured, they might be re-captured by another (more honorable) rival pirate clan, and freed by proxy, for example. While no pirate clans are detailed anywhere, you might consider clan names which have some illustrative themes to them, such as Crimson Lotus Clan, Indigo Bones Clan, Clan of the Dying Wind, Clan of the Brazen Seven Suns, or the Mossy Knoll Clan. Regardless of their names and leadership names, simply make sure to describe exactly how honorable these pirate clans might be - and contrast them to the one you ultimately have the PCs ally with. Have them meet one captain, acquire some new information, and then be taken to see (be given to, or be captured by) another captain of higher rank in the clan - this way, they are sure to be talking to leadership, and not just some deck hand with a grudge against someone. If the PCs have any real tussle with the pirate membership, the remaining encounters of the adventure segment might be changed - see below for more.

Once the PCs meet the lead captain of the most honorable of the pirate clans (one with deep connections to the Temple leadership, and who is silently aware of Rimija's existence in the hidden valley), they are going to need to do some serious smooth-talking and deal-making in order to flesh out a real plan of attack on the menace which troubles them both equally. If the crime ring is not stopped, they will continue to make trouble for the pirate clans, and their plans to strike nearby Rimija/Temple will continue on once again, perhaps in a more volatile manner. The PCs may have to make serious concessions to the pirate clan, and offer many things they may not actually be able to back up, but the alliance needs to take place in order for any real success to happen. The PCs should find out that, in addition to local plans like the one rooted out in isolated Rimija to destabilize local harmony, the crime ring has done the same thing (in many different ways) to the pirate clans: although most activities seemed to be from rival pirate clans, the slick and cunning pirates of Minata were able to discover that an external source was the culprit. This crime ring has extensive financing from deep foreign pockets, and is actively working to undermine the tenuous (if at all existent) trust between the rival clans. They use deception and chaos in order to institute distrust and violence between rival factions, and then move in after they have decimated one another to claim the remaining assets of the two groups; as an example of this, two rival pirate clans to the far south (those insane individuals who live nearest to the cannibalistic savages of southern Minata) were put into this sort of interaction, only to both fall to a mysterious foe - and neither pirate clan seems to be active in the region anymore, their ships docked at islands of severe danger, masts tied, and flags taken down - no pirates are in sight of these silent docked ships, but terrible curse-magic is in place against those who attempt to raid them for their loot. Several groups of pirates who attempted to board them in this way, lost their lives to horrific afflictions which caused their flesh to rot off their bones in a black ichor, and the sites have been avoided since then. To illustrate the affront to the pirate clan, there may even be an attack on their dock-base, which will be one much like the alchemical-bomb attack on Rimija, and the PCs can even use this to their advantage in diplomacy if things have taken a turn for the worse (like if the PCs find themselves locked in bamboo cages in a pirate island outpost).

If the PCs are able to successfully ally with the pirates in their plans to confront and take down the crime ring leadership, award each character 200 XP apiece. If the PCs are able to ally with both the pirates *and* the Rimija locals, and if this is completed in such a way that a temporary or permanent peace truce remains in place between the two factions (meaning that Rimija will not be in danger of attack by pirate raids from the allied pirate clan following the events in this scenario portion), award each PC 100 XP apiece, in addition to the rewards of securing the allies of one group or the other (PCs who secure both Rimija townsfolk and the temporary alliance of a pirate clan who agrees to peace toward Rimija for any period of time will receive a total of 400 XP).

What follows is the cast of characters who are involved in the crime ring's final showdown. These NPCs may be encountered in different groups, at different locations - and none of these are really set, save for those found at the final waterfall-cavern site. If the PCs were forced to fight or otherwise interact deeply with any pirate membership, the total amount of XP earned from these interactions should replace some of the foes which are listed here, in whatever way makes the most sense during the adventure scenario, and will line up for the total XP rewards of the scenario in totality. For example, if the PCs are forced to fight several pirates (warrior2/expert2; a CR 2 NPC, at 600 XP apiece, and 150 XP per PC), this same amount of XP reward should be subtracted from the final encounter series - a creature or NPC villain of equal CR/XP reward. Several optional NPC foes have been created to help make this easier to do on the fly.

The PCs will likely run into the optional foes first:
Begrudged Monk (LE male half-elf monk 3, unique NPC, 600 XP) - an evil monk with racial frustrations, compounded by his anger at the Temple of Amaditi-teratsu (who would not accept him to their monastery or academy, on the grounds of unethical behavior and emotional instability)
Serpent Summoner (NE female gnome summoner 3, unique NPC, 600 XP) - this gnome summoned forth an eidolon with a serpent form, who brought with it great mysteries and secrets of the Annunaki and their return - whether or not these are real prophecies or the twisted machinations of the eidolon's home plane is yet to be determined, but the summoner herself believes in them unquestioningly, and she wishes to bring upon the wrath of her serpent overlords
Hired Ship Captain (N male human expert 3, unique NPC, 400 XP) - the crime ring needed a captain with a ship to get around, even if he is cowardly and unreliable; although they paid the pirate to protect them, if he is encountered as an optional foe, he may instead run away - if the encounter was not replaced by another pirate encounter, he has been paid to stand and fight. The ship captain has three dogs with him (3x small dogs, CR 1/3, +400 XP to ship captain encounter), which he sends out to attack the PCs - the captain will surrender, rather than lose his meaningless life.

The above optional encounters can be used to balance out the rewards for the PCs' actions, no matter what direction it takes them. The following enemies are not optional to this scenario (except the nagagi warriors, which can be subtracted from the encounter to help balance the rewards from the PCs' previous actions). Once the PCs have discovered the crime ring's base of operations on Belem (usually by finding the ship captain and his dogs, near a docked ship), they are sure to confront the crime ring's primary defender, and his troop of serpentine grunts.
Nagaji Chaos Lord (CE female nagaji antipaladin 4, unique NPC, 800 XP) - the hand of the naga lord, this paladin of catastrophe leads her followers as a zealous living god, an avatar of the divine serpent, Nalinivati - once she is brought low, the other nagaji warriors have a 75% chance of surrendering, since they have been brainwashed into believing that the nagaji antipaladin was a living god, and could not be killed - the remaining warriors will fight to the death, angered by the PCs' meaningless attempts to harm their patron goddess.
Nagaji Grunts (N male nagaji warrior 4, unique NPCs, CR 2 - CR 4 encounter, 1,200 XP total) - these warriors are also the brainwashed devotees of the antipaladin, who they believe cannot be killed, and who is a living goddess, an avatar of Nalinivati's divine wrath.

Once inside the canyon crevice where the crime ring's outpost lies hidden behind a massive waterfall, and having dealt with the nagaji warriors outside the entrance, the PCs and their allies find themselves in the final showdown. The cave entrance is guarded by a horde of serpentine guardians, and this encounter will vary based on how many allied units are with them. The PCs must fight at least one of these foes, and receive XP rewards for at least two of them, but the horde will changed based on how many allied units are brought with the PCs. Until this point, the others who may have been present were unable to participate in combat - but here, their participation is part of the action. For every group of allies (townsfolk or pirate clan) with an average party level of 4th level, an additional foe can be added to the horde. The horde is composed of a variable amount of young emperor cobras (young template applied, CR 4, 1,200 XP each), and advanced necrophidius (advanced template applied, CR 4, 1,200 XP each) - both from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 2. If some of the units are less powerful, such as untrained townsfolk or minor pirates, these are less advanced, or may even be replaced by a snake swarm (non-venomous, CR 2) from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 3. Whatever its composition, the horde is meant more to be an army-like encounter, where the number of foes is balanced by the number of allied units. During this encounter, you may wish to roll some random dice behind the screen, and say that your allies were successful or not in their own encounters against the horde monsters, saying that one or the other has been dealt a percentage of their hit points worth of damage - if the PCs are having an easy time of it or wish to help their allies, allow the nearby enemy to make a swipe, with the PCs' actions helping turn the tide of their allies' combat. The PCs must defeat at least one of the horde enemies, should be able to have contact with one or two horde creatures near to them (being fought by other allies), and earn the XP from only two horde creatures with a CR 4. If they attempt to fight all the opponents on their own without any alliances, they should be forced to fight one young emperor cobra, and one advanced necrophidius (two CR 4 creatures) - which is no easy task, by any means. The PCs should be the first to end their fight, with all other allied units appearing to still be in combat, but appear mostly successful so far.

The allied unit members will suggest that the PCs follow the leaders into the rear cavern room, somewhat out of fear, and also out of a hope that the PCs will be victorious in bringing down the crime ring's leadership. If the pirates are the allies, and if they do not seem to be trustworthy enough, there may be some intimidation and diplomacy to make sure they stick around after the PCs follow the ring leaders. The allies may point out that there could be more powerful foes lurking back there (fearful of them), and that the powerful necrophidii are sure signs of deep-pocket resources and unimaginable dangers. They may also learn this themselves, from the simple fact of how expensive it would be to keep things like this around for something like this. Along with this, loot which can be seen lying everywhere in piles, is a good incentive to make sure that the allied units come out on top, and stick to their promises. It also shows that there have been some raids/theft from others, but some of the riches may be things brought from Nagajor for creature comforts for the arrogant and zealous crime ring.

The large inner chamber is the final step before the last cavern room, and in this large hollow chamber, the PCs find a charmed adult emperor cobra (CR 5, 1,600 XP, as above), and a cleric of catastrophe, as well as a captured artificer, who has been imprisoned and forced into producing crafted items for the ring leaders. On the roof of the chamber is a fragile magic item which is charming and controlling the living serpents in this cavern system - if the PCs destroy the outer shell of this item, the spell over the cobras is broken, and it will attempt to escape through one of the crevices in the walls/floors - if it is adjacent to any creatures when it is freed from the charm, it will attack one of them before attempting a full retreat into the nearby cracks in the rock - its children outside the chamber will do the same, leaving only the necrophidius opponents for the allied units outside. While the snake is a CR 5 creature, the destruction of the charming item make it somewhat less lethal, since the PCs will likely be very tired and hurting by this point, and making the final encounter even more dangerous. If the PCs can find a way to turn their serpentine foes on the ring leaders, this could help make it a bit easier, but this is not guaranteed by any means. These NPCs are found in this chamber as well:
Chaos Priest (CE male cleric 3 of Nanbyo, CR 2, 600 XP) - this cleric has been helping to shape the destructive plans of the crime ring, planning ways to undermine local authority and sow the seeds of dissent and anarchy, as a means of paving the way for the coming Return of the Ancients - he is a zealous, laughing, maniacal man who has contempt for all other living creatures, with a psychotic devotion to ultimate destruction through chaos and strife
Captured Artificer (LG male human artisan 4, CR 3, 800 XP, unique NPC) - this black-skinned man will fight for a few rounds, then actively defend himself instead of fighting, finally surrendering or helping the PCs fight back against the crime ring foes; he is not from this world originally, and was on a minor mission at the Temple of Amaditi-teratsu when he was captured by the crime ring and was forced to help the alchemist encountered in the first segment to create his explosive weapons - some of these bombs can be found stashed (complete or incomplete) around the cavern. (Note: the Artisan base class is presented in a third-party publication by Drop Dead Studios, and is one of the few external products I will cite here.)

Before reaching the final cavern room, a sneaky rogue may find that they can climb up to the crevice above the doorway, to make a sneak attack on those in the next room, or gather some information about them. If a rogue sneak attacks the naga, it cries out and immediately flees - this is essentially a wasted sneak attack. The naga presented as part of this adventure (and which *must* be presented to the PCs as the hand behind the plan) is not a real encounter creature, and does not reward them with XP, even from a single hit. Eavesdropping PCs will hear the naga quickly and aggressively whispering plans to the other NPC villain in an effort to convey as much as possible, before fleeing the scene to fight another day.
Serpent Mage-Priestess (NE female vishkanya sorcerer 3 / cleric 2 of Nalinivati, unique NPC, CR 4, 1,200 XP) - this beautiful dark-skinned vishkanya is zealous, arrogant, and sadistic beyond measure, as well as a descendant of a powerful naga lord from Nagajor, and a relative of powerful Nagajor nobles

PCs who complete this adventure scenario segment begin with approximately 1,000 gp worth of gear/wealth, and gain 2,000 gp worth of gear/wealth - most of this should be found in the form of special items in the cavern system used in the schemes of the crime ring, in addition to a black jade statue of a being that appears much like a serpentfolk. This statues turns out to be cursed/possessed, and the pirates will likely take it (secretively) and then return it to the PCs (or the cavern itself) when they learn of its flaws (this can happen in the next portion of the adventure).

The cavern is a waterfall-dug complex, which rests in the gully of a rocky canyon of black volcanic stone, with several tiers or balconies of flat surface, leading down to a cavern behind the waterfall's lowest reaches (this is where they face the horde). The weather is still quite chilly, and the water is flowing out from a hot freshwater spring in the hill's peaks, which makes it quite foggy at the upper tiers, and progressively clearer as the PCs descend further down toward the cavern entrance. Aside from this setting element, there are no other natural hazards at the site itself.

Osirion

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Favoriting this so that I can find it again.

I tied a lot of reptilian races together for my Freeport-in-Greyhawk campaign, having the ancient Valossan serpentfolk be the ancient progenitor race that served as the ancestral 'tree' from which yuan-ti, lizardfolk (including blackscales and poison dusk), troglodytes, locathah and sahuagin all evolved (or, in this case, devolved).

I've noticed that you've gone in a similar direction by tying the ancient race to naga, nagaji, vishkanya, possibly even some dragons, etc. and would caution against reaching too far to tie various snake / lizard themed critters together (which was my downfall, IMO). Naga, in particular, are pretty manipulative behind-the-scenes sorts, and it might 'feel' less on-theme, but be more varied if more of their patsies were scale-less and avoided a reptilian / serpentine theme. (There's a mention of serpentine bloodline sorcerers, for instance, and you could remain as 'on-theme' by using destined bloodline sorcerers, as elements of destiny / fate are also woven into this plotline.)

The adventure hops around a lot, from various Tien lands, to Garund, to Vudra, and with references to the Darklands, Castrovel and even the First World. That sort of thing is popular with some, not so much with others.

I have a preference for 'setting down roots' in a game, such as building up the Golden Goblin and settling into Riddleport during the beginning of Second Darkness, and tend to get 'travel fatigue' if the game rushes the PCs through a 'seven countries in five days!' magical mystery tour, as the onslaught of even newer more exotic-er backdrops kind of all blur together for me. After three different Tien sub-settings, then Garund, I'm afraid I'd be all like, 'Vudra, whatever,' and by the time it was off to Castrovel, I'd be all glassy eyed and unimpressed, even if we travelled there on flaming space elephants.

But that's just me. I would recommend making sure that each setting element has a purpose, and isn't just there to 'be exotic.' After awhile, if everything is 'exotic,' it stops being exotic and starts being more of a thematic muddle or flavorless mush.

And yes, I'm thinking out loud, and am aware that my suggestion to consider a wider palette of monster types (less on theme 'scalykind') and my suggestion to be cautious about using such a wide palette of locations for fear of muddling the tone are utterly contradictory, but I contain multitudes and all that jazz. :)

Very neat storyline. I like the predestined return of the elder race sort of vibe (which is a classic that's been a part of Pathfinder since the Rise of the Runelords!).

Lantern Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thanks, Set. I very much appreciate the insights, and your interest. I will take it as a good sign. I promise to not over-simplify the need for any setting's inclusion. I thought of each of them specifically for a variety of reasons, many of which felt like the hub or crux of a single identifying theme that worked well for this.

I suspect that Dark Tapestry figures will likely come to Golarion before my ancient serpent race will make it there in an official publication, but for now - this idea has continued to haunt me since Bestiary 2 and the first couple Serpent's Skull portions, along with my age-old love for Yuan-ti and scheming blood cults that watch the stars.

I agree that scaly-races could be a pitfall, and one I would rather not get too caught up into (although, mind you, the stereotypical inclusions simply *must* be made at some point, throughout). The serpentine sorcerer bloodline makes a debut here in the 2nd-level portion, in the primary boss-fight. I won't overdo it, but it will be a theme I can work with a few times without being called a glutton. I am thinking of tying in some other ideas to make it a more class-non-specific thematic element. Also, what sort of other non-scaly races or creature inclusions would you prefer to see tied in (and which haven't already been over-flooded in the past Paizo adventures)?

Question: how many players do you think would welcome the chance to take on the 'Blood of the Ancients', in order to access Annunaki magic/tech later on in the campaign arc? Enough to warrant putting it in as an obvious inclusion?

Lantern Lodge

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Something I did specifically want to thematically define this adventure arc is the quick-jumping between setting locations (gate use), with each new exploration only being undertaken when a specific need arises. And while each region I have chosen for this arc is definitely exotic in and of themselves, they also have a uniting element, in being primarily warm-climate regions of dense foliage (an environment you would expect to find lots of snakes). Once you have the PCs familiar and comfortable with one setting region, it's easier to bring them back there from another familiar region further down the line - and still keep the exploratory nature of re-visiting the old location, or another. I have run other groups in the past, where the players really enjoyed being able to jump all over the place, because they had all sorts of contacts in these different regions, which helped them in different ways.

[To Set:] I think you also have a very good point about the PCs having a "stomping grounds" of sorts, so that they are not free-roaming ramblers without much desire or incentive to defend the home turf. I think Rimija (my own little quaint, secluded town in Minata) can make a good place to come back home to for the PCs, and might even grow on them. And for once, I would like the hometown of the PCs to not be infested with dark horrors of the nightmare realm of Leng, demons, devils, or other hope-shattering beings of terror. What a concept. By making this tiny little town the last bastion of hope in the PCs personal plight to protect Golarion's little microcosm from the impending tyrants from the skies, I think gives it a little bit of distinctive flavor.

Osirion

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xidoraven wrote:
[To Set:] I think you also have a very good point about the PCs having a "stomping grounds" of sorts, so that they are not free-roaming ramblers without much desire or incentive to defend the home turf. I think Rimija (my own little quaint, secluded town in Minata) can make a good place to come back home to for the PCs, and might even grow on them. And for once, I would like the hometown of the PCs to not be infested with dark horrors of the nightmare realm of Leng, demons, devils, or other hope-shattering beings of terror. What a concept. By making this tiny little town the last bastion of hope in the PCs personal plight to protect Golarion's little microcosm from the impending tyrants from the skies, I think gives it a little bit of distinctive flavor.

Agreed. Having something to fight for, other than just 'more gold, more exps,' IMO, makes the difference between a band of heroes and the so-called 'wandering murderous hobos.'

Avoid the obvious trope of destroying said town just to ramp angst (which, again, IMO, is one of the top number causes of PCs who just don't care about anything, GMs that ruthlessly target for destruction anything that they express an interest in...), and you're good to go.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Rimija (hometown) can handle this - but would the same respectfulness to sanctity be necessary for the Temple complex to the north? That might be the perfect place for a final showdown at the gate...? I tend to use loss-scenarios rather sparingly, and probably not very much at all in a pre-written scenario - that is more of a GM's call on a personal basis, anyways.

Lantern Lodge

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ADVENTURE ASSUMPTIONS

This section is the first of several text blocks to help provide background for the adventure. These ideas are highly influenced by Paizo's own setting materials, but wherever you see the all-caps title above, it means that it is also heavily influenced by my own ideas, which may have ABSOLUTELY NO CONNECTION to Paizo's writing, aside from their inspiration upon my own. There are a lot of instances in their books where they plop in a tidbit or phrase, often as a written-in plot hook - and this is my follow-up on some of those bits. I may also completely re-interpret Golarion's culture, history, and even these same things from nearby worlds ("Golarion's Distant Worlds" or simply "Distant Worlds," for short), such as Castrovel and worlds out beyond Aucturn. In fact, you will find, sprinkled into this adventure arc, many of my old ideas as well - such as previous, now-dead universes, cosmological rebirths, and even the soul-progression of the playable races. Consider it my addition to Golarion, without the necessary full-adherence to mythos material, but only in the best interest of the adventure's needs.

That said, if you have comparison material to which you can refer, which shows *actual* Paizo mythos material for Golarion, you will be in a much better position to tell these tidbits apart from the 'official' or 'core' mythos of Paizo's amazing fantasy environ. The following publications have helped me immensely in putting together these concepts (in addition to your favorite core-rules PFRPG publications, such as the ARG, APG, UC, UM, all Bestiaries, and the rest of the good stuff):

  • Dragon Empires Gazetteer
  • Into the Jungle (Mwangi Expanse)
  • Sargava, The Lost Colony
  • Distant Worlds
  • The Inner Sea World Guide
  • The Serpent's Skull Adventure Path (#1-6)

If you don't have these materials, some of the information about these locations can be found on PathfinderWiki.com. I have also been told of a future Paizo work regarding Vudra, which we should be able to expect in the coming year or so - and which I am eagerly anticipating, on pins and needles. As soon as that publication is released, consider that it is automatically added to this list - and hopefully, my bookshelf as well.

In addition, until Paizo puts out their own version or rendition of psionics, I am including material from third-party publishers, Dreamscarred Press, for their work in Psionics Unleashed. I also own Psionics Expanded, and may throw in some options from that book. Any third-party materials introduced or used in this adventure arc material will be noted. So far, the Artisan base class (Drop Dead Studios) has been used for one of the NPCs in 'The Naga Financier.' The use of psionics plays heavily into the story as the adventure plays out, and more so especially in the higher levels. The most powerful of the Annunaki and their minions are almost assuredly going to have psionic and/or magical power - so PCs having a thorough understanding of the nature of psionics and magic (and their history on Golarion and the Distant Worlds) will be important. Furthermore, allowing players access to psionic base classes and other options is a good idea in this adventure arc - however, even magic-only classes should be able to have access to the basic nature of psionics (as a variant on magic) even if they are not practitioners of the mental arts.

About This Adventure & Spoiler Lore:
While you may have noticed I didn't actually post any new content in this posting, I will begin soon in revealing some truly monumental information about the story's background. Consider this entire thread to be a spoiler of itself. If you plan on running an adventure like this, make sure your players don't view this thread. Like, at all....

I will make another posting very soon regarding true revelations about the story background, and my own personal ideas within the greater story of Golarion. By the time the Annunaki arrive in the final showdown, most of this lore will have been revealed through stories or physical evidence, and the rest will be shown directly through the actions of the arriving Serpent Lords as they arrive and descend to meet the peoples of Golarion.

Lantern Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

ADVENTURE ASSUMPTIONS

Long ago, thousands or more years leading up to the Age of Serpents in the Inner Sea, a race of dragon-like serpent beings ruled over much of Golarion, and had other outposts on worlds such as Castrovel, and beyond. Having long ago mastered the art and science of space travel, the Annunaki are like a great plague across the stars to many of the most informed scholars, though the threads of this ancient mystery have never truly unfolded or been revealed to any one person... Until now.

Return of the Annunaki begins with the PCs finding the tail end of a trail to powerful and rich ancient naga lords who have hidden away in Vudra, isolating themselves from the rest of the world in an attempt to maintain their strongholds and their investments in local assets. While revealing an ancient bloodline that is older than the whole universe, and with it the distinctive timing of an ancient prophecy of their great return, the PCs find themselves on the destined path of detectives of a mystery so vast that each step on its spiraling path becomes more dangerous, and more fateful than the last, by a hundred-fold. When the Annunaki overlords finally return to Golarion in the final chapter of the adventure arc, descending in their massive metal sky-ships, the PCs will have been let in on a truth that has defied the notice of many others - and the destiny of Golarion and its peoples will not be dictated by those mortals who would call themselves gods.

Many descendants of the Annunaki overlords still remain on Golarion, some of them still retaining their ancient power and dominion - especially the naga lords of Vudra and Nagajor. But along with them, the serpentfolk (known as Ti'khan-akim in their native tongue), the nagaji, and other minor races still share their blooded traits. Most notably, the Annunaki gene which is most especially the central concern of their kind, that which allows them access to ancient Annunaki data and weapons technology, is a central tenet of their eons-old society. Despite millenia of evolution, various interplanetary outposts, experimental stations, and genetic engineering bunkers, and a host of lesser races with varying degrees of the Annunaki gene strength, the central bloodline of the overlords has remained relatively intact for all of known history, including as far back as the race's previous cosmological incarnation - this predates the known universe, and most likely took place in a parallel Material Plane, or perhaps one which was destroyed, and from which they successfully fled.

Far before they left their home realm, the ancestral Annunaki had mastered knowledge of both the planes, and the advanced engineering of science, physics, and kinetics. Knowing far in advance that their universe was doomed by an eventual interplanar catastrophe - some say they might even have been the cause of it - they were able to salvage most of their people in great ships which sailed between the planes, eventually led them to another Material Plane, a realm which they came to call home. Somewhere, on the current Annunaki homeworld, a vast distance away from Golarion and its neighboring planets, rests their base - a planet completely under Annunaki control, which boasts the most powerful resources of magic, psionics, divinity, and force resources to help bolster their technology. This world was among the first settled by the ancient races when they emerged from the planar veils, and it is where they made the majority of their discoveries about the nature of worlds and their inhabitants.

Long, long ago, the Annunaki had mastered space flight, and entered the massive voids between stars and planets. Their deep understanding of science and technological innovation, including chemistry, robotics, and even the use of arcana and divine power, which they eternally sought to find the rational source of these strange forces. In their findings, they discovered an incredibly rare element, which they called Ignisium; a pure heavy element which occurs in nature, only in the void of space, and only in the rarest of star explosions of huge magnitude during supernovae. This element would collect in deep-space asteroids, colliding into an infinitesimally small number of worlds during their early formative years, and in a specific set of ranges of planetary density, pressure, and internal planetary temperature - this substance would form rare crystal pods, which they called proto-nodules, and which, upon reaching a critical-mass number of individual crystals rotating around the inside of a planet at a proper speed, will begin to vibrate and resonate into new crystal forms. The Annunaki, during their first explorations of our star systems, found evidence that these evolved crystal nodules would form the basis of the systems known commonly as arcana, psionics, divinity, and the electro-plasmic frequencies used for plasma cannon technology. On worlds where these rare forms of Ignisium would take root, evolving life would begin to exhibit signs of powers and engineering innovations which were not possible on other worlds.

Many, many centuries later, when their empires were already well-established elsewhere in the galaxy, and their natural resources almost completely diminished, they sent out exploration parties to neighboring star system which held the possibility of Ignisium and its children minerals, as well as the existence of arcana, psionics, divinity, and electro-plasmas elsewhere, in order to prove their theories, study variance in the distribution among worlds, and find new planets to inhabit and rule. Many hundreds of years passed, and new worlds were finally discovered, including Golarion and the Distant Worlds, many of which boasted supreme resources, and distribution of all four different types of nodule crystals in the proper deep-earth formations. While many worlds boasted races and monsters already many well evolved, most were still primitive, and those few with civilized races were either avoided - such as Eox and the worlds once called Daviar and Iovo (now the asteroid belt of the Diaspora) - or conquered, like Castrovel and Golarion. The Annunaki fought against the eons-old aboleths, and defied the temptations of dealing with the Dark Tapestry beings known as the Elder Gods, ultimately maintaining their stranglehold on the worlds where they settled, creating vast outposts and underground bases.

Having a far superior knowledge of genetics and evolution to the lesser native races of these new worlds, they toyed with the bloodlines of various races, from pre-humans and their lesser races (nagas and ti'khan-akim) to monsters such as the behir, giant serpents, and many various monstrosities of wilderness vasts such as the Mwangi Expanse. Many of these experiments have become ecological members of the worlds they inhabit, many of the successful experiments done to guarantee the ability to reproduce over vast periods of time without genetic degradation or eventual impotence. None of their experiments, outside the creation of lesser serpent races which they created to help establish and maintain their eternal rule, have the specific Annunaki gene which allows them access to their technology, which is inaccessible to any creature which does not possess it.

When the Age of Serpents was first recorded, the Annunaki already held significant power among all the lands, and had established their empire on several continents, as well as a contingent colony on Castrovel, where they dabbled in the genetic evolution of pre-humans on that world. When they departed once again for their homeworld, they promised to return during a future era, one in which their secret underground chambers' sanctity had been breached, and in which they would return to once more claim their prize and re-assert their racial and destined dominance over both worlds. With their lasting plans in effect for such an era, one in which the serpent race might once again rise to power if they were ever to fall, the Annunaki overlords left in their massive ships, secure in the knowledge that their plans would not be found or foiled for many generations, while the lesser races of naga and the serpentfolk ruled over their minions. Having built massive underground complexes and genetic breeding chambers for their engineered army of mutant giants - most of which constructed through the toil and countless deaths of slaves under the whip of serpentine masters - the overlords left for the stars, far away from the notice of any mortal for a long time to come.

With the rise of the Azlanti empire under the direction of the aboleths, the serpent empire was laid to ruin long ago, and when the humans of Azlant no longer served their masters' purpose, the aboleths wiped them from existence in the catastrophe of Starfall, when the serpents and their technology no longer protected the planet from such havoc. The arrogant Annunaki had believed the aboleths wiped from existence, but had not anticipated their ability to hibernate in the ocean depths to avoid their notice during the later warring ages that they still lived on the planet. Since that time, knowledge of arcana, psionics, divinity, and planetary composition has waned to near-total ignorance, as it pertains to the knowledge and mysteries of the ancient serpent empires. Even the lesser serpent races had neglected their own history and heritage, confident and eager in their arrogant notions of ruling over the other races, and lacked the massive understanding of their forebearers, or their ancient technologies and massive underground complexes.

On Castovel, having been forbidden to enter the northeastern continent now known as the Cursed Lands, the pre-humans of that world occasionally clashed against serpent forces left over from the overlords' departure, and the ancient bases left untouched and undiscovered since their leaving. During the final years of their activities on Castrovel, spiteful, protective beings from the First World reached out to touch several of the pre-humans which had been genetically modified by the Annunaki, to cause them to change into something which could not be as easily controlled or manipulated. And so, while the humans of Castrovel were eradicated and supplanted with the Annunaki-bred Lashunta, monitored and ruled by the lesser serpent races, the elves were born from humanity through the touch of the fey beings of the First World. During the following thousands of years, their lineage has grown to find its own destiny and culture, and the Lashunta with which they share their world retain peacefulness with their ancestral cousins. After the rise of the elves, and the rebellion of the Castrovellan peoples against their serpent masters, the lesser serpent races fled to Golarion, leaving Castrovel to a golden age of rebirth and peace - however, it came with a price. One of the last motions to win the war against their serpent masters was the summoning of the Formians: the elves and lashunta agreed that they needed some outside help, and planned to summon outsiders to help them defend their planet - they agreed to summon lawful outsiders, in order to guarantee anarchy following their victory over the serpent empires, but never foresaw the problems this race would eventually cause.

The formians, summoned forth with powerful magic with long duration and massive numbers of summoned individuals, not only attacked the enemies of the humanoid races of Castrovel, but began to populate their world during their free time, creating the first native formians. When the war was won, and the summoned formians dismissed, the remaining members defended themselves violently from the humanoids who wished to banish or slaughter them, and this birthed the ancient grudge between the ant-creatures and the humanoid races of Castrovel. In fact, it is from this event that the demonization of summoning magic stems on this world, and conjurers and summoners are almost never found here, and always treated with deep suspicion by natives. When the formians could not win by staying in the same place as the humanoids who lived across several continents, they instead burrowed their way to another continent, ridding it of any humanoids, and calling it their own. Thus, was formed, the Colonies of the southeastern continent. Elves and Lashunta continue to evolve on separate racial lines, but half-elven lashunta do exist - and are simply called lashunta, and share their same traits. There are no native humans left on Castrovel.

Castrovel's planetary composition has incredibly powerful vibrations of psionics, moderate vibrations of arcana and divinity, and low vibrations of electro-plasmas, but all of them present. Golarion boasts the same vibrations, but all of them are higher than normal. The Annunaki even once discovered the potential for natural magical formations, such as the Mana Wastes, the Worldwound, and others - but their knowledge went unseen following the demise of the Serpent Empires before the Age of Azlant and Starfall. In fact, most of the lore of the Annunaki has not been seen or heard of since their return, or since the fall of the Serpent Empires, on either Golarion or Castrovel.

Despite the Annunaki's vast legacy of tyranny, power-mongering, and injustice against other races, there is a sliver of hope: before the planar cataclysm that destroyed their original home world/plane, their was a massive cultural divide between two groups within the original Ancient Serpent Empire: one group held that they should seek spiritual ascension as a means of escaping the catastrophe, using their understanding of psionics, the soul, and divinity; and the other group held that they should attempt to survive through physical means, making the best of their technological innovations and increasing understanding of magic and planar/space transportation. While the majority of Annunaki ancestors took the path of the body, some of them retained the path of the spirit, and also survived the cataclysm, outside of the watch of the Annunaki descendants. These beings, who evolved into spiritual beings of light energy, adopted a nature-revering philosophy much like druidism, and refer to themselves and their spiritual culture as Benei'Elohim, or Servants of the Light. These beings have continued to monitor the activities of their lesser kin, and have come to sympathize with the races they have overtaken. They even feel like they may use their powers and understanding to help turn the tide of a war for the freedom from oppression from these Annunaki overlords, once and for all. While the schism between good and evil grows more and more blurry over time, the PCs will eventually come to find the truth - that they have had someone watching over their actions the whole time, and hoping that they will lead the mortals of Golarion on a crusade against tyranny and domination.

In the eras since the Age of Serpents, the followers of both Desna and a Vudrani deity named Garuda have held the lore and philosophy to protect the peoples of the land against the serpent overlords, and few events have proven any of this information to be true, save for one major event which no one seems to be able to confirm its origin, but of which many are aware: when the ship which fell from the sky, and eventually came to be known as the Silver Mount, was brought low from the skies, it was because of a massive Annunaki weapon stored deep underground, which is capable of destroying ships made of technology which is not of their own design. It has been said by the naga scholars who keep records of such things, that the Shory flying city-ships were either always flying too low to be detected by this weapon, or else were created using harvested technologies from discovered Annunaki vessels or machines, in order to avoid detection and destruction. Circumstantial evidence shows that both could possibly be true. It is unknown whether the Annunaki are the progenitors of the Aballonian robot beings, however they are far better known for genetic experimentation, as opposed to advanced artificial intelligence in robotics and cybernetics, despite their use of similar laser and plasma cannon technology. It may be possible that other civilizations, including those from among the planets of the Distant Worlds outside of Golarion, have successfully harvested and reverse-engineered technologies from the ancient Annunaki, and it also remains possible that there exist bases or outposts on other worlds in the system: it is a common contingency plan in Annunaki history to establish and construct massive underground complexes on off-world sites near planetary resources they control or wish to control. Using planar magic and reality-warping technology, they can safely conduct a raid on a world from another nearby world, without much risk to their own base of operations.

Shadow Lodge

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LOVE it! More please!

Lantern Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

When finishing up 'The Naga Financier' (2nd level), the PCs will be able to deal with the final fall-out from their alliance with other groups from their home island (this place needs a real name soon), and if they are in need of any XP due to lack of other encounters or other losses, it can be made up by making sure to secure a few things in the final portion of this adventure.

If the PCs have allied with the people of Rimija, these locals must be safely returned home, and contact made with the council and Major Captain of Rimija. Tell them of the events that have taken place, and answer any questions they have - in return, make sure to compare knowledge against their own. Find out that one of the council members of Rimija is, in fact, the sister-in-law of one of the culprits involved in the crime ring (the half-elf monk is the brother of a human, the husband of the council member in question), but she had no knowledge of his involvement, besides a general sense of his upset with the region and its authorities, including the lead members of the northern Temple of Amaditi-Teratsu.

If the PCs have allied with the pirates of Belem, it will be mostly dependent on the specific pirate clan they allied with for the strike on the crime ring, though in most any case, the PCs will have made a temporary peace with the most honorable of the pirate clans, and secured a peaceful truce with them and the town of Rimija for at least the duration of this strike. If the PCs can convince them to swear never to attack or raid Rimija again (or for a specific period of time), or even to help guard the city against rival pirate clan attacks (obviously with a very serious payment or exchange for such measures), award them additional XP, even if they are not deficient for the level (at the GM's discretion). If the PCs have allied with both factions (Rimijan locals, and any pirate clan) for the purposes of this strike on the crime ring leadership, award them a +2 circumstance bonus to any checks made to secure these deals at the end of the adventure (+4 if they have allied with the most honorable of the pirate clans). Payment or exchange of services/goods can influence these checks as normal.

The captured artisan that is being held here does not want to fight, but he will defend himself (concerned that the PCs may just be pirates with just as terrible intentions for him), and he is commanded to defend the Chaos Priest verbally (or with an item) - when the priest and all other opponents are defeated, he will surrender, begging to be spared. The PCs can Diplomacize or Intimidate the captured artisan (blacksmith, who aided the alchemist in the first adventure portion to build his explosive devices) into revealing his background and purpose here. He is actually from another world/plane altogether, sent on a minor errand of significance to the Temple of Amaditi-teratsu, when he was captured by the pirates and sold to the crime ring leaders, who found his purpose to be helping them with their grandiose schemes. He can also reveal other information about their activities prior to the PCs' arrival, or even plans he may have overheard them conspiring, but only if he believes his life is not in any danger. By returning him to the Temple, the monks there have the means by which he was originally supposed to return to his own lands, which exist in another dimension. He may be able to return in a later part of the adventure, to help the Temple monks/clerics, or to reveal more information from the edge of the planes about the serpents or other related activities. He is not a major NPC, but the encounter with him (and dealing with him following the strike) will be the first of many benchmarks where the actions/alignment highlights of the PCs will form the basis of their continuing and future activities. Dealing with this NPC harshly or not helping him do something very simple to return to his own world could make future opportunities for the PCs simply disappear, or become significantly more challenging. Much like dealing with the runelords and sin (the themes of Azlanti dualistic cultural schisms), the actions of the PCs will inevitably be defined in their comparison to the behaviors and actions of the Annunaki and their followers - and though it is not meant to be a clinical perspective on their individual alignments, players will not be able to help but compare the outright evil and neglect for personal rights of the Serpent Overlords. This is to be the first of many events which will come to highlight this comparison and analogy. Evil-tending characters may naturally find the enticing allure of the overlords appealing, but this should be presented as time goes on as the most self-destructive of all options available, considering how the Annunaki and their minions view the other races. By slowly being exposed to their cultural and behavior, the PCs have a chance to easily contrast their own views to those of the Annunaki Overlords.

This adventure concludes with the PCs gaining one level, and an extra 50 XP if all of the standard encounters are met for the adventure segment (3,050 XP total for these encounters: Serpent Mage-Priestess [CR 4], Chaos Priest [CR 2], Captured Artificer [CR 3, passive enemy], Emperor Cobra [adult, CR 5, fragile & conspicuous mitigating item present], Nagaji Chaos Lord [CR 3] & Nagaji Grunts [CR 4], 1x Advanced Necrophidius [CR 4], 1x Young Emperor Cobra [CR 4], Begrudged Monk [CR 2], Serpent Summoner [CR 2], and Hired Ship Captain [CR 1] & 3x dogs [CR 1]).

The powerful necrophidius are meant to serve as emblematic of the deep funding that has gone into this tiny little crime ring, as a means to ensure its success. Any items or wealth in the canyon hideout can also help enforce this notion. All wealth should be in addition to the serpentfolk statue that is discovered, since this is a unique item which cannot have any real value attributed to it, as it plays an integral role in the next adventure segment. Naturally, the pirates will discover it first (if the PCs have not allied with the pirate clans, the statue could be placed in another nearby site to be discovered at the same time, or any non-PC character could attempt to do the same), hide it away to make sure they get to keep it, and will then wish to do away with it by forcing it upon the PCs during the next adventure segment.

The other item worth noting is the magical serpent-charm device in the larger cavern chamber, which is seen controlling the adult cobra, and all its children still present outside the lair. This is a strangely fragile and conspicuous item, which is incredibly unique - it is unlike any other item or style of craftsmanship that anyone on Golarion has ever seen before, no matter the outcome of the Appraise or other skill checks made on it. It hangs from the ceiling of the chamber, suspended by what look like metal claws or insect legs, grasping firmly onto the stone above. The bulbous crystal casing glows a pale orange-magenta, with a deep crimson serpent symbol inscribed on its exterior, lined with black, and inside the semi-transparent shell can be seen some sort of throbbing creature, which appears dark against the glowing liquid it floats within, and moves only occasionally, and in quick jerking motion, like a baby kicking inside a mother's womb. The crystal shell is contained within metal braces, which form a protective and ornamental casing for the strange pod.

This ceiling-mounted magic item is 40 feet up from the floor, and emits an effect which produces charm animal, dominate animal, and speak with animals that affects all snakes within 1,000 feet of the item, and charms these animals to a single creature (the Serpent Mage-Priestess, and her intended allies, which she designates prior to the fight). The creature inside the item acts as the carrier of these commands, and maintains a telepathic link between the designated commander and the serpentine animals. The snakes can send and receive communicated messages to the Vishkanya commander, but they cannot receive new commands - the snakes retain the last command given ("Defend" commander and allies), and it takes one minute while communing with the strange item within 50 feet to give it a new command, which the Serpent Mage-Priestess will not do under the normal circumstances of the adventure. This item has an AC 10 (touch 5), hardness of 2, and 10 hp - destroying it immediately ends all effects, and always kills the creature inside. When inspected closely, the item is shown to be completely unique (from the Annunaki culture pre-dating the Serpent Empires of history, and coming from the nagas of Vudra), and the creature inside the red crystal shell appears to be a fetal humanoid creature with heavily snake-like features, and several times larger than a normal human fetus, with a massive over-sized cranium which has throbbing veins - this fetal creature floats in a vat of vital fluids, and cannot survive without these fluids and the functioning item. PCs that destroy the item to release the snakes from their commands always kill this fetal creature, and they cannot repair the item under any circumstances, lacking the technology and magic necessary to create it. Even though the Emperor Cobra is a CR 5 encounter (with full XP rewards), the placement and ease of destruction of this item lowers the encounter danger significantly. It is up to the GM to decide how to handle it if the PCs do not destroy the item during the encounter, for the purposes of appraisal, sale, or other use. It is not intended to survive the encounter, but to present a relic of a bygone era and culture so advanced and sickening that it uses psionic fetuses of its own kind as a means of producing mind-controlling magic. In reality, this fetal creature was likely genetically produced for the specific purpose of inhabiting and fueling this magic relic, long, long ago - and the means to recreate it is simply gone. The captured artificer can relate this fact to the PCs, either through simple examination and knowledge of the world accrued thus far by the NPC, or from overheard conversations by the crime ring leadership.

The naga's identity can be specified in this adventure portion, but the PCs will not have a chance to deal with the being one-on-one. This naga represents a conglomeration of groups within naga culture among Nagajor and Vudra which has a specific set of goals, and these goals are not necessarily those of naga-kind as a whole. While all nagas are descended from the Annunaki, not all of them are loyal or compassionate toward the goals or philosophy of the ancient Overlords.

The pirates may wish to deal with the hired ship captain on their own, and depending on the circumstances of his involvement, deals made with the crime ring, and the honor of the allied pirate clan, this good be for good or bad. Most NPCs involved in this segment are either fanatical and willing to die for the cause, or else help enlisted to this end (who may be much less willing to fight and die for a questionable cause). Fanaticism and racial heritage of ancient promises by the Annunaki color the perceptions of most involved in this adventure arc, and that can be presented heavily during this portion.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Rimija
NG Small Town
Corruption +0; Crime -1; Economy +0; Law -1; Lore -1; Society +5
Qualities insular, pious
Danger +0
Demographics
Government council
Population 1,650 (700 humans; 300 wayangs; 250 halflings; 125 tengus; 275 other)
Notable NPCs
..........Major Captain (LN male human warrior 3/inquisitor 1)
..........Lead Advisor of Farming (N female halfling expert 4)
..........Lead Advisor of Commerce (NG male tengu expert 5)
..........Lead Advisor of Relations (LN male human aristocrat 4)
..........Lead Advisor of the People (NG female half-elf expert 4)
..........Lead Advisor of Lore (LN male elf expert 2/adept 3)
Marketplace
Base Value 1,000 gp; Purchase Limit 5,000 gp; Spellcasting 5th
Minor Items 3d4; Medium Items 1d6; Major Items

Temple of Amaditi-teratsu
LG Large Town (monastery complex)
Corruption -2; Crime +0; Economy +1; Law -1; Lore -1; Society +5
Qualities academic, holy site, tourist attraction
Danger +5
Demographics
Government council
Population 3,750 (2,200 humans; 400 tengus; 350 halflings; 250 wayangs; 50 Samsarans; 500 other)
Notable NPCs
..........Monk Guru (LG male elderly tengu cleric 2/monk 5)
..........High Priest (NG male samsaran cleric 6)
..........High Guardsman (LN male half-elf inquisitor 2/monk 4)
..........Acolyte of the Common Folk (NG female wayang adept 8)
..........Trade Captain (CG female half-elf expert 4/warrior 3)
..........Master Lorekeeper (N female human cleric 3/monk 2)
..........Master of Spells (N male tengu air elementalist wizard 6)
..........Master of War (LG male elf fighter 2/qi gong monk 4)
Marketplace
Base Value 2,200 gp; Purchase Limit 10,000 gp; Spellcasting 8th
Minor Items 3d4; Medium Items 2d4; Major Items 1d4

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
xidoraven wrote:

2nd level: The Naga Financier

Nagaji Grunts (N male nagaji warrior 4, unique NPCs, CR 2 - CR 4 encounter, 1,200 XP total) - these warriors are also the brainwashed devotees of the antipaladin, who they believe cannot be killed, and who is a living goddess, an avatar of Nalinivati's divine wrath.

I just noticed that this does not actually list how many nagaji grunts are in the encounter, but if I had, it would have been wrong. Making a note of the CRs for multiple creatures, so I don't mess that up too many more times.

There should be at least three of them, and they should all be CR 1 NPCs (warrior 3), making it a CR 1+3= CR 4 encounter, as it is listed for XP.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Working on the 3rd-level portion now, on paper. In the journey from Minata to Nagajor, what would you prefer to see? Let me know now, while it is still flexible. The PCs will be able to choose one of three different routes to get there, and when they do get there, it will mean confrontations with locals. Who should these locals be, or what would you like to see go down, before the PCs meet their next naga patron, and receive their final task to prove their loyalty and respectability? More to come very soon.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Rimija is a quaint and isolated town, tucked away behind hills, along a river and its own small lake, and terraced crop fields. It is a virtually secluded community, quiet and undamaged because of its unique location and its community's common goal of achieving a simple, normal lifestyle in an otherwise troubled and unstable region of central Minata. With the singular exception of the honorable temple complex to the north - their one and only connection to the outside world - Rimija is surrounded on all sides by pirates, cannibalistic tribal folk, and the dangers of the encroaching wilderness regions further west from the large island of Belem. This latter island, the largest in the area, is notorious for its considerably dangerous pirate community, and a singular thread among many of which to be afraid.

Luckily for the town of Rimija, the appearance of the rocky shorelines which surround them offering the optical illusion of a solid land mass with little to no objects of interest to the common pirate ship which might be the first to discover it. A look-out station is located at the river's mouth near the closest hillside, and a second river station lies some distance further inward to provide coverage in case pirate ships are indeed spotted from the exterior post. And what would otherwise be a rocky plot of island peninsula surprisingly houses a community of many hundreds, tucked down in a virtually invisible valley, remaining primarily self-sufficient - and maintaining communication with the clergy/monks of the temple complex to meet all the needs they cannot accomplish on their own. The temple complex has a mutually beneficial and secretive relationship with the council leadership of Rimija, providing needed healing and spiritual care for the commonfolk, and taking with them the fruits of the labors of the people in Rimija. Along with the trading goods provided by the labor force in the small town (such as leather, metals, trinkets, and non-agricultural goods), the excess food crops and all industry crops are traded with the temple monks, to be used or sold in the dockside shipping & trading complex which the temple maintains as part of their sustainable philosophies which have kept them from being raided in a very long time - and kept the secret existence of Rimija safe as well. The terraced fields east of the town proper are annually sown with rice, flax, sugar cane, cotton, hemp, legumes, and various vegetable crops - and these are located near the herd corrals for the local livestock, which the commoners operate on a communal basis for their collective herd animals.

The town is located along a river which is one fork from the same feeding river which serves the second fork, leading to the temple complex to the north of Rimija, and rests on the shore of its own lake. The river winds along a jagged series of canyons, emptying at the ocean, and its appearance at every angle from the open seas is deceptively one of a solid land mass - yet there is an entire valley and community inside/behind it. Large carp and wild fish live in the lake and river, and along with decent fishing productivity both inland and the occasional catch from the nearby open seas, the town also boasts its own lake oyster farm, where pearl farming is the crown jewel of the market. Along with the occasional successful whaling venture (for meat, oil, and ambergris) and simple unrefined goods, the Rimijan locals also have skilled weavers, and produce the cotton, flax, and hemp into canvas and rope, as well as clothing - all of these are then usually used or sold through the Temple of Amaditi-teratsu's own trade activities with a somewhat bustling dock market, with the profits returned by the temple clergy to Rimija's council (and citizenry) along with their periodic visits to care for the people's needs. At the beginning of the adventure, the PCs are returning from a trip where they were guarding some of these traveling clergy/monks, on such a trip (just after their return trip to the temple complex). When the first portion of the adventure begins, the town of Rimija has just been paid for its goods and services, the temple membership returned safely to the monastery, and the PCs (who did their job, and will get fed, sheltered and clothed for 1-2 weeks) are on their way back to Rimija (home; if any PCs live at the temple complex instead of Rimija, it is assumed they are returning to get paid and fed).

The protection and safety of the town is the duty of the Major Captain, a Tien male with a gruff and discerning nature, who values order and honor above all else. He agrees to uphold the order of the council and its people, to serve the community as its defense strategist and primary warrior, and to teach, organize, and lead the guardsmen of Rimija (a primarily volunteer position filled by commoners or locals with combat experience or basic training by the Major Captain himself). The current Major Captain has been in the position for over 30 years, and no volunteer or trained local except a handful of veteran militia members have been trained by anyone but him. While he is not the most compassionate and open-minded sort, he is honorable, dutiful, and upholds the common good, as well as the law of his people - whatever form that may be. As a trained inquisitor of the temple (worships the air goddess Amaditi-teratsu; substitute Desna for now), he is also educated on many things most other locals and simple combatants are not, and is considered an extension of the clergy membership of the temple.

The council is made up of a group of elders and elected members which can differ in number through the years, but which currently stands at nine members (seven elders and two elected non-elders), five of which occupy the most important seats, the Advisors. These are listed in the town's description, as each Advisor is a specialist, advocate, and organizer for a specific function of the community. Lead Advisor of Farming deals with all issues related to farming, field production, fishing, pearl farming, and herd/flock animals. Lead Advisor of Commerce deals with all forms of trade, barter, services, and goods dealt with - primarily through the trading medium of the temple's dockside markets, and this advisor has a very close working relationship with all lead members of the temple complex. Lead Advisor of Relations performs a similar role, but primarily deals with all non-trade issues, and this includes any other groups, individuals, or trading partners the town of Rimija deals with (trade or otherwise) outside of the temple complex to the north. Lead Advisor of the People deals primarily with the personal needs of the people of Rimija, much like an advocate for healing or counseling services, or working with other parties to meet the common needs of all people in the community. Lead Advisor of Lore is in charge of researching history, magic, wildlife, and any notable information about the town's activities or residents, keeping records and documents, advising the council on major decisions (voice of historical and moral conscience), providing access to spellcasting and magical items as requested by the council, and dictating the content and direction of the town's local schooling for youngsters.


dot for later digestion

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So, I am working on the 3rd-level portion. I have some things that are pretty much set down solidly, and others that are still more flexible. Here is the basic description of the adventure portion:

After stealing the serpentfolk statue, the pirates hand it off to the PCs – it's their problem now, so it would seem. Dealing with the ongoing troubles brought on by this ancient statue, it brings with it many new riddles about its origin, and why it was being held by the naga crime ring based in Minata. Leading them on a trail which ultimately leads to their involvement in an ages-old prophecy, the seeds of their involvement become well-rooted in the beginnings of their attempts to track down lost treasures and hidden secrets of the ancient empires of nagas, serpentfolk, and the progenitor races, known as the Annunaki.

The energies of the accursed statue have a penchant for possessing others in order to achieve its goals of being delivered to distant Nagajor making the trip interesting, the PCs find that abiding the statue's demands to be returned to its owners in Nagajor seems to be a sensible solution, by also finding the clues and information that point the way to a conspiracy originating in the naga-ruled nation to the west.

Several paths across the bay and foreign shores present themselves, and depending on the seafaring transport secured in the PCs' brief alliance with the pirates of Belem, and the choice of which route to take to Nagajor will dictate which specific challenges are presented to them along the way. Whether going through the southern reaches of Xa Hoi and attempting to remain inconspicuous while traveling upriver, or by daring the savage wilds of the dense tropical forests of the Valashmai Jungle, or even by pitting themselves against the coastal foes of the inner bay of the Valashmai – the PCs will endure several major challenges along any of these paths.

Once they reach Nagajor, they will have to resist enslavement or worse at the hands of unknown naga tribes, both civilized and savage, and navigate the slippery socio-political tensions between the elites of the naga aristocracy in the region, in order to find their best option for an ally or informant that will lead them to discover the truth about the statue, its mysterious ancient inscriptions and writing, and where it seems to be taking them. Several nagaji will make life harder for the PCs by attempting to steal the cursed artifact, and their serpentine spellcaster leader seems to be one of very few individuals that the statue will allow to take it from the PCs, although not the best candidate to do so in the long run.

By tracking down the naga scholar Varu-Shavarni, and learning the secret past of the statue, its links to the naga crime ring and the local Nagajor politics, and how it has even deeper links to the far ancient past, the PCs are unwittingly led along a path which puts them at the helm of a millennia-old prophecy about the return of the Ancients (or Annunaki Elder Lords), and its relationship to the naga rulership, the serpentfolk, some regional dragons, and the evolutionary and genetic experimentation of the far ancient past by their ancestors.

In a final step to secure a solid alliance with an influential naga lord who holds similar views and goals as the PCs, they will have to perform a task of severe danger to prove their loyalty, honor, and bravery, such as fighting a powerful local beast terrorizing the locals, securing a powerful artifact from a buried tomb, defending against a neighboring naga tribe intent on raiding despite national peace pacts, or otherwise performing some task which will show their strength, cunning, skill, and worthiness of such an alliance. When the PCs have earned the naga's trust, returned the cursed statue to its rightful place (and lifted its possession curse), and secured any additional treasures, they will learn a new and crucial series of information bits about the gates used in ancient times, and other secrets of the Annunaki's ancient empires – including those far predating the serpentfolk empire of the Inner Sea.
***

The solid things are as follows:

  • The possession powers, mysteries, and intentions of the cursed statue.
  • After dealing with local naga tribes, the PCs must confront an opponent nagaji male who wishes to take the statue (and the statue will allow it); nagaji conjurer 6 (CR 5), 3x nagaji adepts 3 (CR 4), and 2x vishkanya experts 3 (CR 3)
  • Once the PCs arrive at their destination in Nagajor, they must confront and appease a young naga prince/ss - and the royal naga's elite eldritch guard; young naga (all types share same CR; CR 6), and nagaji alchemist 2/magus 5 (CR 6)

These items are much more flexible (note that some of these must be split across multiple possible paths/encounter-chains):

  • Attaining transport from Belem/home island to western lands (seafaring ship)
  • One of three routes taken to Nagajor (through Xa Hoi along the river, along southern Xa Hoi on the ocean, and to Valashmai trekking through the jungles) - each with a set CR/XP equal to the others, but with unique challenges along each route
  • Still not entirely sure of the composition of the naga tribes when the PCs reach Nagajor, but I am thinking of making a basic group encounter, and giving alternate race stats for the composition of the lesser-race minions (for example: one set with some leaders, nagaji, and perhaps tengu - and another with leaders, nagaji, and lizardfolk - and perhaps another with leaders, nagaji, and catfolk)
  • Gathering info and tracking down the naga scholar (and dealing with any allies/guards that may stand between the PCs and him) is still foggy, and not really defined as yet
  • Lastly, the PCs will have to perform some challenging task for the scholar and royal naga patron - this challenge could be one of several listed, but I am not sure if I want to detail each one of the options (most adventure modules assume the one the PCs must perform, and offer only a single optional path to explore, and separate options requires much more writing)

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
xidoraven wrote:
Still not entirely sure of the composition of the naga tribes when the PCs reach Nagajor, but I am thinking of making a basic group encounter, and giving alternate race stats for the composition of the lesser-race minions (for example: one set with some leaders, nagaji, and perhaps tengu - and another with leaders, nagaji, and lizardfolk - and perhaps another with leaders, nagaji, and catfolk)

I am thinking of providing a set of three possible encountered naga tribes, defined by their alignment, all having nagaji warriors with them, and each one having a different race of leader, and a different race of other enslaved minions. So, for example, the three tribes could be defined by the alignment of their naga leadership, which has a similarly aligned encounter lead member:

- LE naga (LN blooded leader), NG naga (N blooded leader), and CN naga (NE blooded leader);
- Human / ophiduan / nagaji leaders, with summoner / psion (telepath) / cavalier (saur mount) class levels;
- And, catfolk / lizardfolk / tengu slave-minions.

Thoughts?

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Nagaji tribes: Blood-Scale Talon Tall-Willows (LE), Silvered Short-Grass Shatai ("sultan/ruler" title; NG), and Blue-Sky Tarnished Jade Obotinasi ("exalted scholar of dark lore" title; CN).

Dark naga (LE), Guardian naga (LG), Spirit naga (CE), Lunar naga (CN), Royal naga (LN), Water naga (N). No matter type, it will be a young naga (Medium size, CR 5-6, variant abilities by type).

Blood-Scale Talon Tall-Willows (LE): Dark naga or Spirit naga. LN blooded ophiduan telepath, with nagaji and lizardfolk minions.
Blue-Sky Tarnished Jade Obotinasi (CN): Lunar naga or Water naga. NE blooded human summoner, with nagaji and tengu minions.
Silvered Short-Grass Shatai (NG): Guardian naga or Royal naga. N blooded nagaji cavalier, with nagaji and catfolk minions.

Taldor Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Random thought: cats kill and eat snakes (hence Ra in the form of a cat kills the Apep serpent). It's instinctual, so perhaps not on the catfolk slaves. Besides: catfolk slaves?

Consider these myths for ideas:
The Rainbow Serpent (Australia)
Damballah (West Africa/Voudoun)
Apep (Egypt)
Nidhoggr (Scandinavia)
Vritra (India). Vritra is both a serpent and an ahi or azi dragon. He's associated with drought. There's also Ketu, the dark star, from Hindu astrology. He's kinda similar to the whole Nibiru thing of the invisible, dark world of calamity.
There are also the concept of the "Worms of the Earth" (from R Howard) - i.e., interbred human/serpentfolk peoples, associated with the pechs and the picts, who live in burrows in the ground, like snaky, evil, hobbits.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The nagas will play an important role across Tian Xia, Vudra, and Garund - possibly the Darklands in spots - but not as much in Sarusan or Castrovel, giving way to the serpentfolk, dragons, and other hybrid or genetically engineered unique foes. Because of that, the cultures don't all necessarily have to be bunched up here in this one level segment, singularly located in Nagajor (and only barely touching on the savage mysteries of Valashmai in this part).

Also, as a substitute for catfolk (which I don't necessarily see as a problem, if you think of Nagajor society in terms of castes, with the lowest caste including everything from slaves to skilled peasants under a semi-feudal naga tribe lord), what would you say to vishkanyas? I am attempting to put in place a notion that the vishkanya race was purposefully created by the nagas/Annunaki to be a servitor race, and never to house the Annunaki gene - like a uniquely bred assassin/warrior race. That was supposed to be revealed a little further along, but wouldn't be out of line to include many of them as a sort of foreshadowing.

What's wrong with enslaving catfolk? Every race on Golarion probably has its fair share of an enslaved population somewhere or another. Some slaves (like those in the good-leaning region) might even have a pretty decent life in the service of their naga masters, possibly even worth envying on some levels.

I have a lot of ideas for Apep & Egyptian myth in The Nymian Beastlands, and was avoiding it here in favor of more unique approaches. I could tie in some elements from the others, though. As soon as Vudra supplement is out, it will help to finalize a lot of these more prospective concepts, too. ;)

Taldor Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

The problem with enslaving catfolk is that cats are symbols of freedom and rebellion against authority in a lot of myths. The expression "herding cats" comes to mind in terms of their effectiveness as slaves, is all. Maybe as gladiators or dancers...

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
xidoraven wrote:

Blood-Scale Talon Tall-Willows (LE): Dark naga or Spirit naga. LN blooded ophiduan telepath, with nagaji and lizardfolk minions.

Blue-Sky Tarnished Jade Obotinasi (CN): Lunar naga or Water naga. NE blooded human summoner, with nagaji and tengu minions.
Silvered Short-Grass Shatai (NG): Guardian naga or Royal naga. N blooded nagaji cavalier, with nagaji and catfolk minions.

I have a better idea for the vetala tie-in for later during the Vudra portion of the adventure. I also really want to avoid tengu and lizardfolk for the time being.

LE: ophiduan leader with ratfolk slaves.
CN: human leader with changeling slaves.
NG: nagaji leader with tiefling slaves.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Serpent Touchstone (Cursed)
Aura strong necromancy (see text); CL 20th
Slot –; Weight 80 lbs.
This jade statue stands around 3-1/2 feet tall, depicting a reptilian humanoid like a serpentfolk, holding a staff, with an actual jewel (polished malachite) mounted in the head of the staff and the serpentfolk's forehead, and appears well polished in all of its most exposed surface areas.
When the statue is not in Nagajor: When detect magic or read magic are cast on the statue, it reveals a set of eleven symbols which are otherwise indecipherable, that hover in front of it and glow blue-green for 1d8+2 rounds, but they do not reveal the meaning of the symbols. Any attempts to learn its abilities (Appraise or Spellcraft checks) reveal only a minor prestidigitation, which causes any surface around it to be cleaned and dusted when the statues is placed on a flat surface made of stone or earth. Only after this first effect is activated, does it reveal a possible secondary effect (ghost sound). Only when a legend lore spell is cast on the item does it reveal any of its deeper effects or history.
The statue houses a constructed sentience born from the collective passions of the Annunaki races, a sort of haunt that inhabits or influences those around it in order to achieve its goal of resolution; only when it reaches its home placement in Nagajor (or in the hands of a "caretaker" with the Annunaki blooded trait) is the curse lifted. Any person with the Annunaki blooded trait must commune with the statue for 10 minutes every 24 hours to neutralize its harmful tendencies, and even then, there is a 15% every day that it will momentarily gain hold once more, and can possess its victims for up to 1d4+2 rounds. This sentience has a limited capacity for understanding the PCs or its victims unless it is possessing a victim, at which time it also possesses that person's memories and understanding of others, despite the person losing total control of their own actions.
When a person is being possessed (as if by a magic jar spell cast by another caster of the statue's level, which works at any range, cannot be blocked by protection from evil, and requires no receptacle), their eyes light up with a mystical iridescent glow which becomes red when the statue's sentience is angry or hostile against the PCs, and they are completely under the statue's control, and retain all of the victim's natural abilities and ability scores. The statue attempts to possess the most applicable PC (those with the lowest Wisdom first when multiple PCs or NPCs are present), and follows with the PC with the next lowest Wisdom score, and so on, repeating this cycle until it has coerced the PCs into accomplishing the task it has demanded, or until it has taken over each of them successfully. Any person successfully possessed by the statue, once released completely or rendered unconscious (or killed), cannot be possessed by the statue again for 1d4+2 hours (24 hours following being raised/resurrected if killed). The statue's sentience acts aggressively without regard for the victim's life, in order to coerce or force its handlers (the PCs) to take it Nagajor ("the land of the fire-stone mountains") and to its caretakers ("the handlers and caretakers of the relics of the Ancients"). If any PC in the group has the Serpentine Sorcerer Bloodline, the Annunaki Blooded trait, or the Scalykind cleric domain, it considers that character a lowly caretaker, "not worthy of our pure trust" – and demands to be taken to a true caretaker, one which can only be found in "the place you call Nagajor." It will force the PCs or any other victim to do anything it wishes in order to achieve its goals, including violently attacking the other PCs at the expense of the victim's life, and it remains merciless and unsympathetic to any excuses – it does, however, allow the PCs time to rest, eat, and take care of necessities (only when necessary), including resting to replenish spells and other daily abilities (since it knows that, only by being prepared for any dangers ahead, can the PCs truly be capable of returning it to its necessary caretakers).
The statue is not an intelligent item, but the powers it houses are constructed from a collective consciousness of beings living and deceased; treat this transient sentience as having Int 10, Wis 15, Cha 15 for the purposes of roleplaying its reactions, but always treat it mechanically with the abilities of the possessed victim. If the PCs attempt to reason with the possessing being, or otherwise make Diplomacy or Intimidate checks, the possessed creature can still choose to aid the skill checks of the other PCs, even while not otherwise in control of their own body.

BACK STORY: Created long ago as a set of eleven touchstones (2 in Vudra, 6 in Nagajor, 1 in Sarusan, 1 on Castrovel, and the current statue), this jade and malachite stone artwork is at rest peacefully when placed on its pedastal in Nagajor, when all the passions of the Annunaki can slumber peacefully, safe in the knowledge that their schemes are still in place. However, when the statue is removed from Nagajor by the naga financier, and given to the vishkanya crime ring leader, it must be communed with for 10 minutes every 24 hours, or else its powers will manifest, and it will demand to be taken home or to its caretakers.
The serpent touchstones all share the same properties as this one, though their greater powers always remain silent (with the exception of the curse, which acts only on the contingent of being removed from its pedastal in Nagajor). As soon as the PCs enter the borders of Nagajor, the presence of the touchstone at this unique time also makes one of their most secretive gateways begin to activate sporadically, and the naga scholars see this as a sign of some greater activity related to the statue's destined purposes. Each statue, along with being deceptively mundane in many ways, is a powerful relic of the Serpent Empires – one capable of creating a network of teleportation gates across multiple continents and worlds.
The secondary effects of the statue, including the curse itself, are only meant to serve as a precaution against would-be tomb robbers, pirates, or relic theives – making certain that any appraisal on the item results in the same mundane response, followed by the curse effects, in the case of being sold or given away to a non-blooded individual or group. By ensuring that the statue is cared for only by a blooded being (a descendant of the Annunaki), and by violently attacking people and forcing them to return the statue to its rightful place, the statues have – for the most part – been safely kept where they were meant to be, in the hands of the nagas and other serpent rulers, waiting for the return of the reptilian overlords. Only when the PCs prove themselves worthy of the right to help protect the lands of Golarion, and ally with some of the most influential nagas in many lands, they will be granted access to this ages-old gate network, and be privy to the greater resources of the nagas which seek to fulfill the greater destiny of their peoples prior to the return of the Annunaki.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Corrections:

Aura strong necromancy and conjuration [teleportation] (see text)

Description:
This jade statue stands around 3-1/2 feet tall, depicting a reptilian humanoid like a serpentfolk, holding a staff, with an actual jewel (polished malachite) mounted in the head of the staff and the serpentfolk's forehead, and appears well polished in all of its most exposed surface areas. The statue itself seems to defy damage all types of damage dealt to it (including magical damage; treat mundane damage as if against adamantine instead of normal stone).

When the statue is not in Nagajor: When detect magic or read magic are cast on the statue, it reveals a set of eleven symbols which are otherwise indecipherable, that hover in front of it and glow blue-green for 1d8+2 rounds, but they do not reveal the meaning of the symbols. Any attempts to learn its abilities (Appraise or Spellcraft checks) reveal only a minor prestidigitation, which causes any surface around it to be cleaned and dusted when the statues is placed on a flat surface made of stone or earth. Only after this first effect is activated, does it reveal a possible secondary effect (ghost sound). Only when a legend lore spell is cast on the item does it reveal any of its deeper effects or history.

The statue houses a constructed sentience born from the collective passions of the Annunaki races, a sort of haunt that inhabits or influences those around it in order to achieve its goal of resolution; only when it reaches its home placement in Nagajor (or in the hands of a "caretaker" with the Annunaki blooded trait) is the curse lifted. Any person with the Annunaki blooded trait must commune with the statue for 10 minutes every 24 hours to neutralize its harmful tendencies, and even then, there is a 15% every day that it will momentarily gain hold once more, and can possess its victims for up to 1d4+2 rounds. This sentience has a limited capacity for understanding the PCs or its victims unless it is possessing a victim, at which time it also possesses that person's memories and understanding of others, despite the person losing total control of their own actions.

When a person is being possessed (as if by a magic jar spell cast by another caster of the statue's level, which works at any range, cannot be blocked by protection from evil, and requires no receptacle), their eyes light up with a mystical iridescent glow which becomes red when the statue's sentience is angry or hostile against the PCs, and they are completely under the statue's control, and retain all of the victim's natural abilities and ability scores. The statue attempts to possess the most applicable PC (those with the lowest Wisdom first when multiple PCs or NPCs are present), and follows with the PC with the next lowest Wisdom score, and so on, repeating this cycle until it has coerced the PCs into accomplishing the task it has demanded, or until it has taken over each of them successfully. Any person successfully possessed by the statue, once released completely or rendered unconscious (or killed), cannot be possessed by the statue again for 1d4+2 hours (24 hours following being raised/resurrected if killed). The statue's sentience acts aggressively without regard for the victim's life, in order to coerce or force its handlers (the PCs) to take it Nagajor ("the land of the fire-stone mountains") and to its caretakers ("the handlers and caretakers of the relics of the Ancients"). If any PC in the group has the Serpentine Sorcerer Bloodline, the Annunaki Blooded trait, or the Scalykind cleric domain, it considers that character a lowly caretaker, "not worthy of our pure trust" – and demands to be taken to a true caretaker, one which can only be found in "the place you call Nagajor." It will force the PCs or any other victim to do anything it wishes in order to achieve its goals, including violently attacking the other PCs at the expense of the victim's life, and it remains merciless and unsympathetic to any excuses – it does, however, allow the PCs time to rest, eat, and take care of necessities (only when necessary), including resting to replenish spells and other daily abilities (since it knows that, only by being prepared for any dangers ahead, can the PCs truly be capable of returning it to its necessary caretakers).

The statue is not an intelligent item, but the powers it houses are constructed from a collective consciousness of beings living and deceased; treat this transient sentience as having Int 10, Wis 15, Cha 15 for the purposes of roleplaying its reactions, but always treat it mechanically with the abilities of the possessed victim. If the PCs attempt to reason with the possessing being, or otherwise make Diplomacy or Intimidate checks, the possessed creature can still choose to aid the skill checks of the other PCs, even while not otherwise in control of their own body.

When the statue arrives in Nagajor: When it is brought to the land of Nagajor (within the nation's borders), the statue's sentience pacifies somewhat, becoming less violent against the PCs except under situations of extreme circumstances (any action which directly violates its directives), but remains coercive and stern in its resolve for them to finish their duties. Any blooded character can commune with the statue for 1 hour to pacify it completely during this communing, and for the remaining 23 hours of the day. When placed on the pedastal designated for it in Nagajor's scholarly noble court, its curse is lifted completely.

Destruction: The serpentfolk touchstone can only be destroyed by acid (50 or more damage), mixed with the blood of an Annunaki Overlord, or that of a serpentfolk or naga with at least 25 HD. A statue which is destroyed by any means reforms within 30 feet of the last person (still living) that it possessed, after 24 hours. Attempting to destroy the statue through extreme means, such as by throwing it into the top of an active volcano, does not destroy the statue completely for 1d6 hours, during which time it will attempt to possess and kill every creature involved in its attempted destruction, before reforming one day later, and beginning the cycle all over again. The statue is not intended to be destroyed, but to be returned to its placement in Nagajor, where its curse hazards are negated and resolved successfully.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm actively seeking someone else out there who is interested in helping me out with this, by registering as a Community Use project, so we can post up some maps and related media - this person can *not* be a third-party publisher for PFRPG-Compatible materials, and this individual would help out by simply registering as a Community Use License project, and help me by placing images (like maps for these encounters and other Golarion regions) up online, so they can be linked to from this thread. Obsidian Portal is a quick, easy, and free site for this purpose - so that part shouldn't be too hard.

Please, if you cannot help, but know someone who might want to - let them and myself know, and give them the link to this thread. I am going to continue working on it, since I am not prevented from doing that - but in order to place images up to help supplement this adventure arc, we need an off-site host space, and a simple registration as a Community Use project on Paizo's licensing page for them: http://paizo.com/pathfinder/pathfinderRPG/compatibility

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think I may have someone who is willing to help me out with posting up the maps and media. Hopefully I will be able to link them up soon. I have several maps already working or completed, and several more in mind. I'm pretty sure I have most of the 3rd-level portion completed, save for the specifics on the end scene encounter.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This adventure arc is getting its own campaign page on Obsidian Portal, as part of the effort to make it a Community Use Licensed project, as a fan-created Adventure Path in Paizo's own setting of Golarion (and its cosmology and neighboring space). While the site page is not officially registered yet and listed with Paizo, it will be going up on http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/63202, and registered very soon, so I can get some of the first set of maps up.

Much more to come.... :)

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

First map up: http://cdn.obsidianportal.com/map_images/1003578/RotA_Map-Part1-01.jpg

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In the 2nd level and 3rd level portions of the adventure, the PCs will have a chance to explore the region surrounding their island home town, specifically the pirates of Minata, and the group known as the Zo, which constitute the largest pirate clan in Minata, and lead the population of floating oceanic nomads which calls itself Zo Piaobo, the defacto fourth region of Minata, in addition to northern, central, and southern island regions.

While the Zo do not actively have any motivation to interfere with the activities of the PCs, and while they are not offered as a possible ally in the fight against the crime ring, they may be seen out on the open water, in small groups of flotillas, rafts, and other floating transports. Later on, when the activities of the PCs garner more attention from this organization, they may take on a larger role, but during this portion of the adventure, the Zo are presented only as apathetic observers of events on the open seas.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I just want to make a note: I had this page/project previously posted on the Community Use License Registry under my own name, but I deleted the entry. I am asking one of my friends who are helping me out with this to register it, so that there is no conflict of interest with my own published materials.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

A map of the town of Rimija, the starting hometown of the PCs and the adventure, is now up: Obsidian Portal Map of Rimija, Minata

Similarly, I have made several edits to the descriptive text of the town, and specifically, I have added several notes about the laws and legal codes of the town. I am including them here.

LAW & Legal Codes
Aside from the typical laws against murder, thievery, and acting/conspiring against the common good, there are also extensive laws surrounding piracy (land- and sea-based), land usage, and the following:

  • Walking Border & Structure Heights: Rimija’s only defense against pirates and other dangers from the across the seas is its secrecy and isolation, due to the landscape and the appearance of no signs of civilization within sight of the coastline. Because of this, a strict walking border surrounding the town’s exterior edges is maintained at all times, so that no member of the town is visible from the coastline – trespassing outside of this border is punishable by large fines (30 to 500 gp), and possibly also being tried for acting against the common good. Similarly, architecture heights must be limited, so that they are not visible – and in order to erect any structure higher than 30 feet must be proposed to, and permitted by, the town council, and a topography specialist may be needed to inspect the location, since Rimija is located in a very hilly region with sudden and dramatic changes in elevation. Similarly, the flying of kites is not permitted in the town, except on special holidays (approx. 2-3 days a year) – and even then, an alerted guard tower can call the kites down, and they may cut anyone’s kite lines at this time, in order to immediately stop them from being flown, with no liability due to damage.
  • Smoke Laws: Burning materials without the use of smoke-clearing devices is absolutely not permitted, for the same reasons as the above laws regarding the town’s secrecy and safety. Every home in Rimija is fitted with a special chimney which is then covered with a smoke-clearing device made from more than a dozen of layers of a special aerable cloth which traps much of the smoke and soot, which is contained in a cylindrical housing of cloth and dense parchment. These devices are required in every single home, and when they become dirty enough to bring smoke into the home, they must be replaced – usually about every 6 months – and mobile versions of this device which can be set over an open fire on stilts also exists; an entire segment of the community spends their time doing nothing but making the materials required for these simple devices, using hemp, flax, parchment, and other fibers harvested from local materials. A smoke clearing filter for a small home is 10 sp, and larger versions exist for larger homes (15-30 sp); portable smoke clearing filters are 15 gp each, and work well for around five normal campfires before they are burned or clogged.
  • Trespassing Upon Guard Structures: The town has several structures for the specific purpose of watching for incoming trespassers, raids, or other enemies of the commonfolk, each of which includes a watch tower which is visible over most of the town – used to hang different banners signalling the rest of the guard towers and the town, and including a gong in the case of sudden emergencies or raids – and a small residence-like structure where town guards stay for extended periods. For any person who is not a member of the guards of Rimija who trespasses upon this property is heavily fined (50 to 1,000 gp), and may lose their citizen status, and the right to enter the town. Harming any person who resides in the structure, or any guard of the town of Rimija is punishable by heavy fines (as above), disfigurement, or death.
  • Communal Land Rights & Citizenship: The citizens of Rimija hold communal land rights over the town’s local assets, sharing many of the same spaces and resources in order to minimize their impact on the environment and possible detection by outsiders. A “citizen” is any able-bodied, able-minded adult who chooses to call Rimija home (often interviewed by a council member at the temple before allowing them to come to the town with them for a final interview with the rest of the high council, who pays an annual tax of 5 to 15 gp, depending on the location of their home, and their income from services/trade goods. An example of this is the use of the fields and the farming spaces, which all citizens have access to for their animals and a small private garden space – all citizens receive a portion of all harvested goods from the communal fields, and surplus goods are sold through the temple.
  • Magic, Summoned Creatures, & Dark Pacts (Necromancy/Witchery): Magic is looked upon with some suspicion, due to superstitious beliefs about bad luck and the evil eye, with summoned creatures and ‘Dark Pacts’ (often referring to necromancy magic and witchery) often being the most suspect. Anyone who practices any form of magic must register their talents with the local guards, which is able to be viewed at any time by any council member, and which may be included in any court cases brought against a spellcaster. Channeling negative energy is illegal (and any cleric who registers as a non-healer is suspect), as are hexes, curses, and death effects. Magic users are not common, but some exist in the town, with most of them using magic humbly, and often for the betterment of themselves or others – and every instance of ‘illegal’ magic use (which can change with each instance or circumstances) is treated on an individual basis, with many of the most historical cases in Rimija and abroad being referenced in any case against such a person.

Found here: http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/63202/wikis/rimija

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Wish them luck! The first group of adventurers has taken up the task of playtesting this adventure for me as I write it out. Their first session was successful, and they survived the ambush attack - now, onward to seek out the influence of the crime ring within the region!

Angie - kitsune oracle, Whetu An (aka, Inori)
Devin - human monk, Zhang Hsu
Justin - human aegis (psionic advanced), Lam Phung Trong
Mike - vishkanya ninja, Katu Tarido
(possibly two more players in the future)

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Minatan Pirates
Obsidian Portal page - Minatan Pirates

In Minata, many pirate clans rule the open seas between the islands, as well as many of these islands as well. While the northern region (Atas Pulu) is mainly ruled by trade captains who deal with the pirate clans as outsiders, and the southern region (Rendah Pulu) is a savage region dominated by cannibalistic head hunters and demon worshipers, the central region is dominated by the pirate clans, who use the relative chaos and discord of the region to their advantage.

The island of Belem in central Minata is one of the biggest hotbeds of pirate activity, and it is considered their unofficial home base, in most cases. The pirates of Minata are divided into clans, which rise and fall over time, but which currently stand at over a dozen major clans, and many more minor clans who all seek to make a name for themselves among their peers. A few of the major clans which might be encountered in the region of Minata featured in this adventure are described here.

  • Crimson Lotus Clan (CE exiled samurai, ex-nobles and assassins): Led by a Black Daimyo samurai and sailor named Garan-Su-Hoan, this pirate clan is known for being merciless and severe, keeping their minions in check through blackmail, deceptions, and brainwashing techniques including addictive drugs. Their flag is a red and white lotus on a black canvas.
  • Indigo Bones Clan (CN mystics, necromancers, and head-hunters): Led by the oracle-queen, Lady Omisung Naraoi Potachi, this pirate clan is as well known for its magical resources and demon-worshiping membership, as well as its interest in propping up local necromancers with finances and resources, often for the simple purpose of having like-minded influential allies when the need arises. Their flag is a pink or white skull and crossbones on an indigo canvas.
  • Clan of the Dying Wind (NE vampires, undead, and minions): Led by the Tian vampire magus, Captain Xinxao Kasmochi (whose powers, it is said, include the ability to travel over water without harm), and often said to be under the true guidance of the half-elf lich-mage named Qogris Xamzra, this clan if often considered nothing more than a sea-going variant of the vampiric cults of the mainland. Its upper membership is most often composed of vampires (standard, or vetalas), but liches and other powerful, sentient undead also comprise a considerable segment of its populace. Their flag is a fanged skull holding a red and green rose in its mouth, on a black canvas.
  • Clan of the Seven Brazen Suns (LN lesser nobles, clergy/inquisitors of Shizuru, Empress of Heaven): Led by a council of seven nobles, trade captains, high priests, and grand inquisitor of Her Lady of Heaven and Grace, Shizuru, this unique clan originated in Minkai, decreed by an alliance between the clergy, nobles, and traders of the northern nations, in order to combat and decrease the negative influence of the pirates in the region which make their livelihoods on taking from others, such as trade ships and peaceful coastal towns. They often use the symbolism of suns, seven-pointed stars, and items made of brass in their decor, cultural and linguistic characteristics. Their flag is an orange seven-pointed star with a golden sun at the end of each point, on a white canvas.
  • Mossy Grotto Clan (N weather druids and sailor rangers): Led by the Arch-druid Khu-Lung Ni Hunao, and her high consort, the sailing sea-ranger, Karungkoni, this clan boasts the largest weather cults in southeastern Tian Xia, and one of the largest groups of sea-faring rangers on this side of the planet. Their flag is a dark gray cloud on a light blue canvas.
  • Zo (CN sailing nomads, exiled nobles, the most populous and far-reaching clan): Led by a substantial group of “Peers” which is often called the largest organized crime ring in Minata, whose central leadership often meets in very different places at different times, in a very unique, sea-faring nomadic fleet of flotillas that are often no more than covered rafts, with some floating constructions the size of small villages. Some of the citizens of this substantial population, often considered the fourth region of Minata in and of its own right, will occasionally separate from the larger fleet, and return later when necessary – many serve as the eyes and ears of the upper leadership of the Zo, which can sometimes act in unison and other times at odds with one another. Their flag is a yellow sickle on a green canvas with a red edge border.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I have made so much progress on information regarding this campaign and the necessary material to run it, on this page, it's not even funny.

I have a basic Player's Guide nearly together (and ready to go soon), and the first adventure module, 'The Crime Ring' (1st level) is nearing the completion of the revised writing, which means after I finalize another couple maps and get that writing finished up, I lay it out so it looks nice and organized, and then it's up. I'll post the links here. I hope people like it. :)

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The finished Player's Guide for this adventure arc is now up, and I should have the first-level adventure portion completed very soon as well.
https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFp bnxyZXR1cm5hbm51bmFraWFkdmVudHVyZXxneDozMzc2YzljYzYwN2Q2OTc1

Much of the content that is used to support the adventure is compiled in a wiki on Obsidian Portal as well, for easy access for players/GMs. That content can be found here: http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/63202/wikis/main-page

This includes stuff like information on the new deity (Amaditi-teratsu), the new towns (Rimija and the Temple of Amaditi-teratsu, a town-sized complex), information related to various serpentine races, and more. It's not the actual adventure material, just content to help make it all easier to use and access.

In addition, as the adventure content is compiled and published into PDF documents, it will be archived and downloadable from here: https://sites.google.com/site/returnannunakiadventure/. This page lists all the adventure portions and what books they will be compiled within, as well as the planned source material information I plan on putting down. Don't worry, it won't be nearly as detailed and extensive as a real Paizo Adventure Path source guide, but it will get close.

I'm putting all of this out there for free, because it's a great idea, a fun project to work on, I think people will enjoy it when it's completed, and because Golarion and its mythos is a very [purposefully] inspiring setting, which is perfect for this sort of new adventure to break some old boundaries. Community-Use projects, all the way! ;) Please enjoy, and tell others to feel free to do the same. Look for 'The Crime Ring' (1st level) to be added here soon as well.


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Xidoraven, this stuff is amazing! Very impressive, and all the plots and details are inspiring. You've put a ton of work into this -- dotting for future reference!

Also, if you're looking for serpent-themed campaign and player material, check out the Grimoire Viperian from Magic Skull Games.

The book has a great deal of snake-themed material ideally suited for the Serpent's Skull adventure path (or post-adventure path adventures), and a ton of generic-themed material that can be dropped into any campaign.

Just some of the snake-themed material from the book:

Exciting "Golden Age" or "Lovecraftian" style backstory

The book includes a backstory supporting much of the new serpent-themed material and rules, which can be used to spawn adventures and plot devices in just about any campaign, whether it's for expanding the Serpent's Skull AP or creating your own snake-themed campaign.

Shapeshifter base class:

A new base class focused on shapeshifting abilities such as alter self, shapechange (similar to a druid's wildshape - so many snake forms are available), forms of the mythical beast, dragon form, giant form, special form powers, favored form ability enhancements, and more.

The shapeshifter base class great for characters who want a pure shapeshifting melee-oriented class that is far more than a mere spell-less druid or a shapeshifter ranger archetype.

The class is perfect for many of the villains in the Serpent's Skull adventure path, especially the serpentfolk, or any serpent-themed villains in any campaign.

Monsters:
New deadly venomous snake types with much more powerful poison and realistic poison side effects. Drop these into nearly any Serpent's Skull encounter, especially the wilderness sandbox areas.

These are much deadlier than their standard Bestiary counterparts and will rightly put new fear of serpents in your players and make combat with them exciting and memorable. There are also suggested rules for using these deadly snakes in summoning spells and with druid shapechanging abilities.

Black Mamba
Krait
Gaboon Viper
King Cobra
Spitting Cobra
Rattlesnake
dire version of all the above

Other new snake-themed monsters include...
serpentine medusas
scaly otyugh
trog ettin
trog troll
xocouatl (evil necromantic couatls)

Monster templates such as...
half-serpents
sentient serpents (with levels or sorcerer or other classes - these make great minions for serpentfolk bosses, or can even be introduced as new sub-bosses - they're the last thing most players will expect!)
vampiric serpents
amphisbaena serpents
hydran serpents
serpentine undead
snake-vomiting undead
viperian dragons

Supernatural Signs of Evil templates such as...
Sign of the Vile Serpent (apply this template to any of the serpentfolk or their minions to create unique foes with unexpected and cool serpent-themed powers).
Sign of Death
Sign of Evil, and others

Prestige classes:
Serpent Warlock, Serpentine Necromancer, Serpent Temple Warrior, Serpent Druid, Silent Adder, Python Master, Cobra Master, Snake Clan Warrior, Snake Cult Leader, and Viper Assassin.

Any of these can be used to spice up the serpent-themed adversaries and their minions, or allow your players to select them for their own snake-themed characters.

Spells:
Serpent Strike, Amphisbaena Call, Speed of the Mamba, Summon Snake Swarm, Summon Venomous Snake Swarm, Serpent's Wrath, Virulent Venom, Ghost Serpent, Serpent Reflexes, Serpent Sneak Attack and Serpentine Whip, and Wall of Serpents.

These spells are great for a serpent-flavored campaign, and many are designed to go along with the prestige classes and other new material in the book.

Eldritch Path Feats:
Secrets of the Beast and The Secrets of Terror.

Magic Items:
Cobra Scale Armor, Mamba Scale Armor, Viper Scale Armor, Serpent Scale Cloak, Python Spear, Serpent Strike Weapons, Snake Flail, Strangling Snake Whip, Weapon of Deadly Venom, Snake Animal Totem Headdress, Banner of the Supernatural Sign.

And as I said before, a ton of additional material from all these categories that is not specifically snake-themed.

Thanks from Steve at MSG!

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thanks for the recommendations, Steve - much appreciated, as are the compliments. I am trying desperately to wrap up the written material and map graphics for the 1st-level portion ('The Crime Ring'), and it's almost there... I have just been really busy with stuff here at home to be able to get it totally completed, and set up for layout.

The Player's Guide is already up, of course, but it's not really the same as the first adventure portion, which is quite detailed and fun. Along with it, I can't help but want to flesh out some of the background details of the setting, since most of them have a direct impact on the initial adventure portions. I am working on 'Minatan Pirates' and 'Ecology of the Naga-Kin' right now, with the former being closer to completion than the latter.

I know my playtesting group is enjoying it, which is always good. :)

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

'The Crime Ring' (1st level) is now up online. I hope everyone enjoys it.

http://bit.ly/18Xp1C9

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm really eager to know what everyone thinks about this. Please give it a read-over, and let me know if you have any feedback, and what you think about it. It's completely free, so I hope everyone will take advantage of it.

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