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Skull and Blood (A Skull and Shackles Dragonlance campaign)


Campaign Journals

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I was encouraged by some members of the boards to start a thread where I told the changes I made in my Skull and Shackles campaign, as well as some of the stories of how my PCs handled some situations.

Everybody who knows me a bit will probably know how much I like telling anecdotes and stories, so it didn't take a lot of effort to convince me to open this thread.
I decided to give it all and write the whole story. This is going to be long.

Please, feel free to comment everything that you want, ask questions or share your own stories. I love reading stories and getting feedback as much as I love writing stories.

I apologize for any mistakes I can make. Writing a story in English is still difficult to me.


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First, I need to explain a few things before we get into the story. I took Skull and Shackles to a Dragonlance setting because I've been GMing there for a long time. That meant I'd have to do some changes to the basic AP. If you are familiar with Dragonlance and something doesn't exactly match your knowledge of it, have in mind that we've played for a long time here and also made some changes, so the setting differs slightly with Dragonlance canon. We have incorporated a few features from Golarion and some homebrew too.

GEOGRAPHY:

Map of Krynn.
The action took place mostly in the Blood See of Istar, which is full of pirates and minotaurs. A short time ago, an endless maelstrom swirled in the middle of the Blood Sea, but in the time I am GMing this story, it is already gone. This has happened only a few years ago. This could have been a good substitute for The Eye of Abendego but as it is canonically gone, I had to make some changes. I set a mysterious storm raging on the Northwest, which appeared shortly after the neverending storm on the Blood Sea stopped. Superstitious folks think that the goddess of the Seas put it there to protect her people, more scientific kind think it's just a temporary climatic event caused by the changes Krynn (the continent) is going through. Whatever causes it, it forces ships to sail around Saifhum instead of just surrounding the continent.

I replaced Port Peril for Sea Reach, in Saifhum, but our adventure, for convenience, starts in Flotsam, in the South of the Blood Sea. I created or changed some locations for this story and made the towns in the Blood Sea be bigger that they supposedly are just to make the story more interesting and allow the PCs to make more profit of their plunder.

GODS:
I also had to change all the Gods from Golarion. Dragonlance has very few gods, 6 for Good, 7 for Neutrality and 6 for Evil, plus an extra one who doesn't take clerics and has dual alignment. This meant that I had to change the gods for all the characters in the whole AP and sometimes it resulted that the PCs would be fighting followers of their own goddess even if the AP didn't expect so. That shaped the mood for some encounters.

Sandara was the first victim of this reshaping. Besmara out, Zeboim in.

The main difference here is that Besmara is the Goddess of Piracy and CN. Zeboim is the Goddess of the Storms, strife and sea monsters. A lot darker than Besmara. Pirates often worship Zeboim, so it wasn't a big deal. Zeboim is a kinda cool goddess, capricious and volatile.

The main changes on Sandara were that she came out to be much more volatile than the original one, she was cocky and careless in a lot of ways. And she had to channel negative energy. So bad. She ended coming out as vengeful as a Calistrian and she was a provoker too!

I tried to make Zeboim's worship and her presence evident through the whole AP. Dragonlance has always been very centered about gods, and I wanted to highlight the relevance of the Sea Goddess through the whole story.

CHELIAX AND NERAKA:
Another of the major changes was, of course, no Cheliax. But I had a good option to replace them: The Dark Knights, formerly known as the Knights of Neraka, formerly known as the Knights of Takhisis.

They were created as a Knightly order devoted to the main goddess of Evil, but when she disappeared they became the Knights of Neraka. Now that she's dead, many of them had devoted themselves to other gods of Evil. Recently, they have purged their ranks from all the followers of a God, as they are still tied to the teachings of Takhisis.
So, how to introduce all the deals with Devils? I thought that all the story of corruption in Cheliax could fit the Dark Knights now that they are in decadence.
So I invented a little story here:
All Archdevils in this story were the highest rank servants of Takhisis and they served only her. With her death, some of the Knights turned to Devil worshipping as a way to gain power without having to deal with «lesser» gods, seeing the Devils as the true heirs of their goddess legacy. I even introduced House Thrune mostly unchanged aside from adding a bond with the military.
Having some pendant accounts with the minotaurs, having been pushed out of many of their strong places and with the pirate nation in the middle, the Knights had a strong motivation to want to attack the Blood Sea.


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CHANGES IN THE WORMWOOD CREW:
Shivikah was a minotaur instead of a human. So was Maheem.
Rosie Cuswell was a half-kender, with the same personality of the original one. She only seem to inherit from her kender ancestry her daring and fearless personality and her inability to keep her mouth shut.
Conchobhar didn't exist.
Giffer Tibbs was still a gnome, but as gnomes are all obsessed about their Life Missions in Dragonlance, I made her a cartographer who never cared a lot about being press-ganged, as she was still able to travel a lot. She just wanted to have some paper and ink to be able to draw her maps.
All half orcs were translated to half ogres but I kept most of the basic traits of the race instead of giving them the half ogre race from Dragonlance. Half ogres just fill the niche of half orcs in my game.

THE PCS:

-Kiani, an Undine Watersinger Bard. She is the face of the group as well as the only skilled one. She lived peacefully in a shore town where all inhabitants were undines, until the Dark Knights claimed government over them and forced them to servitude. They knew they would be killed if they fought the invaders, so they just escaped. They planned to start from anew in another place, but Kiani, who was still just a child, decided to go on her own and discover the human world. She loved it. She liked to blame her lack of knowledge of human society to get her way with anything she wanted to do and do whatever she wanted to whenever she wanted to. She used her beautiful singing voice to earn some money at taverns and sometimes she'd find a job aboard some fishing ships that hired her because she could breathe underwater. She never stayed too much time in any place and tried to avoid to get too attached to any specific person.

-Fox Clayton, a human Inspired Blade swashbuckler. He was raised in the lands of the Dark Knights, and he was taken as a hostage by them when he was a child to retain his father as a loyal servant. They trained him to become one of them but he hated them with a passion and he escaped when he had an opportunity. He went to Flotsam escaping from them and that's where he was pressganged. His main motivation was freedom and being able to live his life as he was never allowed to do. Funny thing, he was named Fox because before developing the story and making him human he was a Kitsune (just the character sheet, the original concept was different).

-Darren Alistair, human aquatic sorcerer. He's the youngest and only male son of a hard-working family, but he's a kinda lazy guy. He left home when his father gave him an ultimatum: «start working or leave». He lived for a time making some basic magic tricks and convincing people to pay for him. Then he was press-ganged and had to use his talents to avoid working on the Wormwood (he'd later find out that he loves to do paperwork and magic crafting).

With just 3 characters I had to fix some encounters in the first book. After Bonewrack Isle I added Sandara as a support NPC to complete the group.


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FIRST DAY ON THE WORMWOOD

The three PCs wake up after being pressganged. Fox and Darren know that they have been drugged (Fox didn't drink a lot as he was paranoid of being caught offguard by some Knights). Kiani just thinks she has drinked too much. They remember having seen each other the last night: Darren was the one flirting with a waitress to get some free drinks, Fox was the pale foreign guy sitting in a corner alone and Kiani was the blue girl singing and dancing on a table.

They are awaken by Master Scourge and sent to work. Kiani is not very worried, but Darren is a bit scared. Fox is actually kinda glad: the Dark Knights are not coming after him while he's in a ship, and pirates cannot be that bad, can they? They act like the clever guys they are and don't complain to the guy with a whip.

They meet Harrigan, who gives them a short speech. They have a terrible headache, so they don't pay a lot of attention. Then they are introduced to Plugg and he begins testing them.

First, climbing test. None of them want this job, so Darren fakes being unable to climb. Kiani tries for real but is unable to do it, failing most of her rolls. She insists that the mast is greased! Fox doesn't want the job either but he's a very competitive guy so he tries his best. In the end, only him and Cogward are in the competition and Cog is about to win. Until then, Fox has acted like a Lawful military brat, so when he grabs Cogward by a foot and throws him to the ground everybody is surprised. Kiani asks him why he has done that and he answers: «Playing fair is important, almost as important as winning».
Fox becomes a new rigger, and Cog becomes his sworn enemy.

When Plugg asks if someone can cook, Darren inmediately volunteers, thinking that it will be an easy job. He cannot cook at all, but this lazy bastard is a lucky guy. You'll see later.

Kiani is assigned to the swabs, and she is OK with it.

On their first day, Fox fails on his duties and gets some lashes. Sandara offers to heal him but he is too proud to accept. Darren finds Kroop completely drunk and has to cook everything by himself. He doesn't know how to do it but he tries and... rolls a nat 20! He also spices it up with Prestidigitation resulting in something really delicious. When the food is served Tate says: «Man, this thing is good! Blondie, you cook like my Mom!». From that moment, Darren was known as «Mom». Grok, who was there at the moment, approached Darren and grunted in her most threatening half-ogress voice: «It's not that good. I killed my own Mom, you know?» (Grok was a kinda nice girl in fact, but she feared that Kroop's life could be in danger if Darren did fine. She never killed her own mother either, she just died while giving birth). Because of this, the PCs were scared of the Quartermistress for a time.

And what did Kiani do all day? What else could a bard do but talking to people?
First, she approached Samms Toppin while working. Kiani never wears shoes either and she's also been in some fishing ships, so they have a lot in common. They became instant friends.
Then she was called by a young woman working on sewing some sails. She introduces herself as Sandara Quinn and tells her she has recovered some of their stuff from the Quartermistress. Kiani, of course, is suspicious of so much unexpected kindness from a stranger.
«What do you want from me?» asks Kiani in a direct way.
Sandara is straightforward and honest as she will always be:
«I am in big trouble here and I need some friends»
She is also curious for Kiani, as she bears Zeboim's mark (adventure trait. She has white hair, like Zeboim's, instead of the most frequent blue or green from other undines).

Kiani asks Sandara what happened to her and she explains her story.
Here is where I made my first mistake as a GM. When telling Sandara's story I mistaked Plugg's and Scourge's names so it ended being Plugg the one who tried to take advantage of Sandara. I didn't want to correct it later so it stayed like that. Plugg ended being even worse while Scourge remained as some sort of cruel loyal minion. With Plugg's personality, the attempt on Sandara looked more motivated by a will to dominate her than by raw lust.
Sandara told Kiani that Plugg had tried to abuse her. Things got serious but Sandara started crying her goddess' name and while she reached her (un)holy symbol she threatened with Zeboim sinking the ship if he dared to go further. He was scared and let her go. Sandara knew that she wasn't able to protect herself. Only the fear for her goddess had saved her but she was defenseless. That made her so angry. She told Kiani she was waiting for the right moment to take revenge on Plugg.
Kiani was very touched by Sandara's story. Not only she felt empathy for her but feared she could get the same «attentions» that Sandara had received.
After dinner and the keelhauling of Jakes Magpie (nothing too interesting to tell here), Sandara gave Kiani and Fox their rapiers back. Darren got nothing for being a Sorcerer who doesn't depend a lot on equipment. But an inspired blade without a rapier is very uninspired.

They spent the rest of the day singing and telling stories.

Next days, the daily routine of the PCs becomes working hard all day while Kiani tries to influence the crew, storytelling and singing at night.

They bypass the rum rations by giving them to Sandara, who casts Delay Poison on herself everyday, so Sandara drinks for free! They enjoy getting drunk, but not being forced to get drunk!

I didn't want to make rum rations to be a serious handicap, so I didn't care to allow them to easily get rid of them.

And that's all for today!
We've still not gotten into the interesting stuff but I'm glad I got rid of all the background that needed to be explained!

All feedback is welcome!


You're making people think I am a lazy person!
I am a hard-working man!
I just... like to measure my efforts.

I've created aliases for two of the PCs (the other one belongs to another member to the boards and will be probably posting here too) and I love making in-character remarks, so expect some of this kind of posts.


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You are so lazy that you didn't even have equipment! And you were OK with it!


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He had a comfy hammock, free food and he did nothing but drink his ass with Kroop all day! It was paradise for him!

Meanwhile I was receiving lashes everyday and you were harassed by Plugg and his cronies!

He doesn't deserve all the luck that he has!


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THE OWLBEAR

The second day starts, and when the PCs are going to start their daily duties, they are stopped by four of the members of the crew who are loyal to Plugg and Scourge. The PCs are unarmed but the whole situation is handled easily with a couple of Sleep spells casted by Kiani.
They loot them and give their equipment to Darren. Everything but their boots, that they drop overboard.

After being attacked, Kiani and Fox decide to carry their weapons with them, and Fox is sent to recover them from their lockers. He is late to job and... is sentenced to more lashes! (I've lost the count on how many times Fox received lashes in this part of the adventure).
Darren goes to his job in the kitchens just to find a not too drunk Kroop who takes charge of all the job so he spends most of the day doing nothing at all but chatting and drinking with him. Seeing they are both becoming friends, Grok starts being nice to Darren too. Darren sells to her the equipment of the pirates who attacked the PCs in the morning and Grok buys it without making any questions.
Meanwhile, Kiani continues making friends among the crew. She talks to Rosie, who praises her songs from the last night and says that she'd gladly follow them with her fiddle if they hadn't taken it. Kiani tells her that she'll try to recover it.
That night, she talks to Grok to try to get their equipment and Rosie's fiddle back, and she ends spending a few hours drinking, laughing and boasting with Grok and Kroop, who become great friends of the PCs despite the cold beginnings with Grok.
Next day, the pirates who attacked the PCs go to the quartermaster's store to search for their lost equipment, and Grok charges them full price for it. They try to make her tell who sold it to her, but she refuses to tell them anything («someone from the crew found it scattered around and brought it here») and mocks them for having «lost» their equipment. They leave, angry but unable to do anything.

Kroop remains sober all the following days (even if he only has a 10% chance of it, the dice make him be sober all days!) so Darren only has to do real work one day that he's sent fishing... he isn't able to catch anything and he is punished to lashes too. I don't feel sorry for him, he was at the Wormwood like he was on vacation!

After some days, when the PCs started cheering Kroop up, I lowered his chance of being drunk. Anyway, he was only drunk one day in all the Wormwood trip. And the day before he had been drinking a lot with the PCs, so it was probably all their fault!

On that days, Kiani and Sandara started being quite intimate, and they usually kissed when they knew Plugg was watching just to provoke him. They were more friends than lovers, but both were very liberal.

That was probably one of the things that motivated Plugg to try to teach Kiani a lesson forcing her to fight his «pet» Owlbear Hawthorne.

I portrayed him as constantly trying to make people laugh without realizing they were laughing at him, not with him. He was also cheerful and naive as a child and didn't seem to care about being chained, as he was used to it. The PCs inmediately pitied him and it was the first time I saw the players really hating Plugg.

Kiani refused to fight Owlbear. After the first and painful blow, she realized that the big man was blind on one of his eyes and took advantage of it to avoid being hit again. She kept dodging while calling Plugg a coward who cannot fight on his own and needs a poor simpleton to fight for him. He talked to Owlbear trying to convince him not to fight and to get him to realize that Plugg was not his friend.

Owlbear was confused. He thought he was doing something wrong because Kiani didn't want to hit him and felt guilty for it. He couldn't fully understand Kiani's words but they somehow made sense.

Plugg accused Kiani of ruining the crew's fun as a way to divert the attention from himself. But the PCs already had more than half of the crew on their side, so many people wanted the «combat» to stop.
In a last attempt to get Kiani to defend herself, Plugg throwed a club to Owlbear, who quickly picked it. He commanded the simpleton to hit Kiani with it, while she asked him not to do it. He told Kiani that he had to hit her because Plugg was his friend and wanted him to do it.
«He is not your friend. A friend doesn't hurt a friend»

Owlbear was paralyzed, not knowing what to do, and stopped fighting. Everybody started booing. Some of them wanted a fight and weren't having it. The others had started pitying Owlbear.

Plugg had to stop it. He chained Owlbear again and took him away.

«It's all your fault. They wanted to have fun and you have ruined it by refusing to fight» he told her before they left.

At this point he still expected that the other crew members would turn on her for this.


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STORMY WEATHER

Next day Plugg wanted to teach a lesson to the PCs and Sandara for what they had been doing, so he had Scourge arrange a sabotage on the PCs daily jobs, so he could have them in his hands to punish them in the end of the day.

Darren (the lucky man) was mostly safe in the kitchen under Kroop's protection. Fox, of course, fell victim of the sabotage.

Kiani found Tate trying to untie the knots she had been doing and talked to him. A bit of good roleplaying, a high diplomacy roll and she had him friendly and telling her about Plugg's plans. She asked him to continue acting like he disliked her and keep her informed of their moves, to what he aggreed. She tried to warn her friends of the sabotage attempt but she was late.

Sandara's work was sabotaged to make some of the sails go loose and two crew members were thrown overboard. Even though they were easily rescued she was sentenced to lashes.

When the time for punishment came, Fox was first. Instead of using Scourge's whip, Plugg did it personally with his cat-o-nine-tails. Fox stood up stoically with a smile on his lips. Then Sandara's turn came. Plugg approached her, and while she was reading to bare her back, he lashed her on the face. She screamed with pain and humiliation. Plugg looked at her with sadistic delight while everybody became silent. He was trying to get her disfigured or even to gouge out one of her eyes. Suddenly Sandara started laughing at his face:

«You're a silly man! I have a goddess on my side! I'll heal myself right after you are done with me! You cannot hurt me!»

That was not very wise of Sandara, but what Plugg did was even worse. He asked her to handle her holy symbol.

«Come and take it yourself, if the Goddess wishes so» she answered with a smile.

In Dragonlance, if you try to take a holy symbol while being held or carried by a Cleric... well, you'll see.

Plugg approached Sandara with confidence, tried to grab the holy symbol and his hand started burning like he was touching red white metal. Sandara laughed harder. She couldn't let him know how scared she was.

All the superstitious crew was terrified too. It's not wise to provoke the volatile Goddess of the Sea.

Not daring to touch the symbol again, Plugg ordered Scourge to lock Sandara in the sweatbox. Kiani, who had previously realized with a successful Knowledge (nature) roll that a huge storm was building, started saying aloud:

«You have provoked Zeboim's fury, Plugg! Now she's going to sink this ship, and it will be all your fault!»

Sandara did the choirs in the background, invoking her goddess' fury from the sweatbox.

With a terrified crew and two agitators trying to turn them against him, Plugg ordered everyone to leave the poop deck, leaving the caged Sandara behind in the company of a skeleton and a parrot.

That night, when everybody was sleeping, Kiani sneaked her way to the poop deck to spend the night at her friend's side and make sure nobody harmed her while she was locked. It was a stormy night and next morning she was fatigued.

The next day the weather was getting gradually worse and, with the PCs not so subtely convincing the crew that the storm was being a consequence for Plugg's actions, the morale was not too high. In the afternoon, Sandara was released, tired but mostly unharmed.

Since that day, she always slept in Kiani's hammock, as both girls feared they could be attacked while sleeping. Kiani had the other PCs to protect her but Sandara was alone. They looked confident and cocky in the day, but in the night they feared to sleep alone.

When the crew was together in the afternoon, relaxing and singing songs, Kiani sang a song in advance of Plugg's fall. Rosie joined with her fiddle, even though her performance sounded like she was killing a cat (+1 on Perform checks, low rolls). Soon all the friendly members of the crew knew the song and were singing along. It became a common thing to whistle or hum the song when Plugg or Scourge were close as a subtle act of rebellion.

It was still soon in the game, but the Mutiny was already in its first stages. Everybody knew that they wouldn't be able to do anything with Plugg under Harrigan's protection, but they waited...


Oh, in the end he did know our name.
Just wait for the next part.
The storm is rising!


Why are you making me look like I was doing nothing but receiving lashes?

I have to say that I had never been on a ship before, I was new to the job.
At that time I was red as a crab because of the sun, I had bleeding hands and my back looked like a tic tac toe game, but did I complain?

Meanwhile Darren was having fun in the kitchen and Kiani was making friends with everybody.

The world is not fair.

Anyway, my life was much better now than among the Dark Knights. Pirates can be a good folk.


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THE CALM AFTER THE STORM

Finally the storm got loose. Ironically, having to work hard to keep the ship going, the tensions from the previous days seemed to disappear. Surviving was the most important thing to do, even if many people blamed Plugg for the storm. The superstitious Grok was terrified and believed that Plugg had condemned them all.

(Even if it wasn't relevant for the game, I made Grok a barbarian just because being a Drunken Barbarian with the Superstitious rage power was too perfect for her)

After many hours battling against the raging storm, a couple of hours after dawn, some of the sails went loose and Samms was sent to climb the rigging. A gust of wind threw her overboard.

While the other PCs went to pick some ropes, Kiani used a more quick solution. Everybody knew already she had a talent for singing, but nobody knew that when she sang the water listened. With a cristalline voice, she sang a single note and the water beneath Samms rised, taking her up. The other PCs threw a rope to her and easily got her back on board. They wondered what more hidden talents could their undine friend have.

When the storm was over Peppery Longfarthing, the sailing mistress, approached Kiani to ask her about what she did to rescue Samms. She was curious as she had not used a spell to do it but her voice (it's a Bardic song from the Watersinger). Both have an interesting conversation and it served me well to flesh out Peppery a bit more.

I was interested on portraying Peppery as a nice person (in opposition to most crew members she was kinda quiet, polite and soft spoken) who saw Harrigan as a close friend and tried to convince the PCs that the rough-looking captain of the Wormwood was a much nice and caring person than he seemed. That would make her reappearance in The Price of Infamy a lot more significative.

Kiani and Peppery got along well, even if they didn't have a long conversation. She told Kiani that she didn't like Plugg either and that she feared that he wanted to betray Harrigan as he had already got rid some other crew members to become the first mate.

Fox was assignated to Habbly's orders to fix the riggings and a broken mast, and even though he got Habbly angry for his inability to hammer a nail, both got along well too. So it was a good day to make friends among the officers. At least, the nicer ones.

Back to ordinary job and with a much better weather, the PCs were sent to pick up some crabs at a near reef. I can say Fox was genuinely glad when they were attacked by a couple of reefclaws when they were collecting the crabs. He had brought his rapier just in case they got into trouble and was impatient to give it some action!

As Darren was unable to cast his spells underwater and Kiani was more the buffer type, Fox dueled the reefclaws and defeated them without a scratch. Opportune parry and riposte proved efficient here and Fox did well in underwater combat. Just for once, he wasn't the one to receive all the damage.

The PCs brought an extra amount of food with the reefclaws, and as they were friends with Kroop and had the cookmate among them, that night they were invited to the kitchens after the dinner, where Kroop (and Darren) had «borrowed» some of the reefclaw meat to prepare a special second dinner for the PCs, Grok and Kroop alone. The advantage of having friends in the right places!


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And the disadvantage was the colossal hangover we had the next day. We treasured that day as one of the best ones aboard the Wormwood!

I didn't knew that I would almost be keelhauled in no time!


Yes, that was the only day after the first that Kroop was too drunk to wake up to do his job. Seriously, I don't know why they said he had a drinking issue...

I had to serve the leftovers of our meal of the last day. Fortunately nobody noticed.


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Short update here, as I want to have the next two parts written as separate things.

BOARDING 101
After some days of relative calm in the Wormwood, that the PCs spent mostly trying to get new allies and plotting against Plugg and Scourge, they were called on board by Riaris Krine, the master gunner, to take some boarding lessons. And by boarding lessons I mean «try to board the Wormwood and you better do it right if you know what's convenient».

Fox did it fine. He was getting better at climbing after spending some time as a rigger.

Darren was a sorcerer, not of the athletic type. Boarding a ship was definitely not his thing. He ended falling to water a lot of time and hit by all the garbage that the Wormwood crew threw at him.

I cannot define whether Kiani did great or cheated. Instead of following Riaris' instructions she animated the water behind her and used it to step directly into the Wormwood without having to climb.

Riaris decided that she didn't care if she cheated: they were pirates after all, and she cared more about efficiency than any other thing, as long as Kiani could do the same when boarding a real ship. She didn't want to lose any more time with that stupid exercise anyway.


I had the time of my life throwing garbage at them!

Fox at least tried to dodge, but Mom was like... instant karma! All the discarded sh*t from the kitchen is coming back to hit you in the face!

*laughs*

Kiani ruined the fun. She was too quick. I was only able to hit her once.


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This is one of my favorite parts of the Wormwood Mutiny as it had really good roleplaying. I am focusing in Kiani, as she played the lead role here.

BOXES. A LOT OF THEM.
The following days were uneventful, but it was clear to everybody but Harrigan that something big was going on under the aparently calm surface. The captain loathed to deal with the lowest members of the crew and never realized how they were holding a grudge against some of his officials.

Most of the crew was on the PCs side but those who weren't treated them with open hostility. Feeling supported by so many crew members, the PCs were getting more and more obvious on their challenges to Plugg's leadership. They sang rebellious songs in front of him while taking care on not slipping in any of their tasks to avoid punishment.

Plugg knew that the situation was getting out of his hands. It had escalated too much. He had to get rid of the head of the disloyal crew members. And that was the loud-mouthed trouble-seeking undine bard.

He sent Kiani to work at the bilges everyday to try to keep her away from other crew members, to see if he could keep her from spreading her rebellious influence. But that wasn't enough.

So he instructed Chumlett and Syl Lonegan to kill her. Scourge and Plugg waited for her outside of the bilges and registered her to check that she was unarmed. She realized that something very, very bad was going on.

When she got into the bilges one of the first things that she realized was that her two fellow workers were carrying hidden weapons. She tried to stay away from them the best she could while making her job.

She wasn't surprised when Syl pulled out her weapon and tried to stab her while Chumlett cut her way to the stairs. Even if she tried to run she'd probably not be able to make the whole way to the deck before they killed her.

And she didn't want to run. She had been harassed from the first day. They had tried to make her life and that of her friends impossible. They were Plugg's people. She was sick of them, sick of Plugg and Scourge.

She maneuvered to stay away from their attacks while waiting until they were close enough to each other. Then she casted a Sleep spell on them. The two weak-willed pirates fell to the ground asleep.

Kiani had to think quick. She pulled a couple of big crates and, being very careful of not awaking her two attackers, she put them inside the crates. Then she put a heavy lift on them so they couldn't be easily opened and dropped them to the foul waters of the bilges.

Syl and Fipps woke up when the crates started to fill with water. They tried to get out but couldn't. Kiani stayed on their side, calmly explaining to them how they were going to drown and what a terrible death it is. She didn't listen to any of their pleads, nor she felt any guilt while she stood there until they drowned.

Then she pulled out the corpses and threw them to the bilge waters to try to make them pass as they had drowned on their own. When the work of the day was over, she joined the rest of the crew. When she explained to her friends what had happened and what she had done they were shocked. Fox and specially Darren were a bit scared of knowing that her friend was capable of such a cold blooded murder. Sandara thought that they deserved it and felt proud of Kiani. All of them knew that there were going to be consequences soon.

When all the crew was reunited in the afternoon they noticed that Syl and Fipps were missing. After some investigation, their corpses were found at the bilges. Plugg didn't care if Kiani was guilty. He decided she was and sentenced her to keelhauling after a full day in the sweatbox.

The PCs and many crew members protested that there wasn't any proof against her, but Plugg insisted that she was guilty until proved otherwise.

Sandara spent the whole night on Kiani's side to confort her, like Kiani had done with her not so long ago. Kiani felt down and depressed: she believed that she could be able to escape by swimming away from the Wormwood, but she didn't want to leave her friends behind to face Plugg's wrath after she had ran away.

This was an interesting twist on the character, as Kiani started as someone who didn't want to make strong bonds with other people as she knew they wouldn't be around for a lot of time. And now she didn't want to run away.


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Kileanna wrote:
She maneuvered to stay away from their attacks while waiting until they were close enough to each other

You just don't chase an amphibious Undine into flooded terrain. It doesn't end well... for you.

I knew killing them was a bad idea, but I didn't care. I just though that without their weapons Fox or Sandara would die in a situation like that, so I wanted to send a message: you don't mess with us without paying the price. It backfired, of course.

At that point my biggest concern was thinking that Plugg was going to hunt us one by one and that it was all because of my big mouth. I was angry and guilty. Especially guilty.


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I liked the last part a lot as a GM.
Kiani's player really felt fear for his character when he realized it was all an ambush. I let him to anticipate what was going to happen to set the mood and allow him to think of avoid being killed.

Then, when Kiani was thrown into the sweatbox, there was nothing she could do but waiting. She was out of the game.
Fox and Darren were trying to come with a way to have her free without getting both them and Kiani killed afterwards.

Darren, Kroop and Grok fantasized about starting to hit people and cut heads until Kiani was released but knew that was a bad idea.

Fox and Sandara were about to stage a mutiny on their own.

Things were getting hot. PCs were desperate. I was enjoying.


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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Very good so far. I look forward to reading more! I love the character development going on so quickly.


Thanks for the feedback! Today I wanted to make some updates, but my job and my car conspired against it. I hope I can do it tomorrow.

I really like how this AP encourages character developing and social interactions. It was easy to have my players involved.


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I've been very busy these days so it was more difficult to me to keep writing the story, but here's a new update on the story.

SHIP AHOY!

The situation was tense as it had never been aboard the Wormwood. Only the fear for Harrigan kept the crew for starting a mutiny to kill Plugg and his followers and free Kiani, who saw herself as already dead or having to escape the ship.

Until the loud voice of Samms Topping filled the air with a cry of «ship ahoy!».

It was a merchant vessel belonging to the Ergothian Merchant Marine, the biggest and richest sea merchants of all Krynn. They had also a reputation of being well prepared to deal with pirates. If the Wormwood crew wanted to survive and capture the ship they'd had to remain united and use all their forces.

Kiani was released to participate in the raid. She was determinated to do her best and find a way to earn Harrigan's favor so he spared her life after the raid. The PCs also hoped they could find a way to kill Plugg and blame the Ergothians for it.

The party was entitled to take over of the aft deck and keep anyone from escaping using the boats. As they were only three, they were allowed to choose a couple of members of the crew to fight alongside them. They chose Maheem and Jaundiced Jape. Both were hostile to them and PCs thought it could be a good opportunity to get rid of them and make it look like an accident. It would be easier than it seemed.

Peppery cast Cloud spells to keep the crew from being targeted with ranged attacks. Kiani performed again her trick of animating the water to provide an easy way to board the ship and the PCs set Maheem and Jape to lead the charge. They were KOed by the ship's defenders on the first round, so they didn't provide any help or hindrance on the rest of the fight.

Using the hostile pirates as meat shield allowed the PCs to board easily. With the sight reduced by the fog, Fox went into melee easily, using his Oportune Parry and Riposte to finish some enemies quickly while avoiding taking damage.

Darren made good use of Grease spells to take control of the situation while Fox dealt all the damage and Kiani combined her bardic songs with spamming Create Water on the deck of the ship to make further use of her ability to shape it. They knocked the defenders down really quick.
While Fox was tying them down, Kiani told Darren to pick one of their crossbows and kill Jape and Maheem with it. Darren didn't seem to like it, but he did it anyway. Among all the PCs, Darren is probably the one who is more oriented towards Good and doesn't enjoy violence a lot.

Darren and Kiani are CN, and Fox is N. I should have mentioned it before.

Meanwhile Kiani watched Harrigan and his crew relentlessly fighting against the ship's defenders, approaching the captain's cabin. Suddenly, an Ergothian mariner jumped out of the mist, trying to reach Harrigan's back, who was apparently caught unawares.

«It's my opportunity» thought Kiani. If she warned and protected Harrigan against the attack maybe he'd be grateful and let her live when everything was over.

She shouted the captain's name, while singing a lone note that created a wall of water on the soaked deck. The mariner hit the wall instead of Harrigan, the captain turned to face him and defeated him with a single blow. Then he looked at Kiani and gave her an approving stare before getting back to his job.

Everything was chaotic. The sound of people fighting and dying was everywhere, but Peppery's spells clouded the battlefield and the group couldn't see what was happening.

A huge explosion, followed by cries, sounded in some place below deck, and suddenly some Ergothians popped out from the fog looking terrified. They rushed to one of the boats, barely noticing the near PCs out of their desperation. They didn't give the PCs much opposition. With a high AC and the ability to parry and counterattack enemies, Fox could have defeated them on his own. Kiani helped with her own rapier to save some spells and Darren used his new crossbow. Again, the defeated enemies were tied to the mast.

Harrigan emerged from the captain's cabin, holding what it seemed to be a human heart. The PCs decided that they didn't want him as an enemy. At this time, they didn't have any reasons to hate him. That would change.

It seemed obvious that they were winning the battle. Some of Peppery's fog spells started running out, letting the PCs catch some glimpses of the ongoing battle. But before everything was over, they would have to face the last of the Ergothian mariners attempting to escape. There was an officer among them, and she gave a good fight. She was holding a magic pike that could extend its reach, and she tried to use it to keep her attackers at bay. Even if she was soon defeated, both Fox and Kiani were hurt on the fight (Darren, you lucky bastard!). Nothing that some Cure spells from Kiani couldn't fix. Again, the Ergothians were taken as prisoners.

After the fight, nobody asked about Jape and Maheem. In a fight, death happens. PCs were rewarded with a good share of the loot, both for capturing all the prisoners alive and warning Harrigan of the attack.

Even though the book doesn't give a reward for capturing the sailors instead of killing them, I gave them the same reward. They could have easily killed them but chose not to do it, and I thought Harrigan would find them more valuable alive.

A wild pirate party started, and Kiani was relieved that, at least for now, nobody seemed to remember her impending punishment. As she was given her share of the loot, it seemed implicit that she had earned Harrigan's forgiveness, but she wasn't told about it. So she and the other party members joined the celebration with some incertainty about the future. Not that it kept them from celebrating like there was no tomorrow.


Well, for me it could not be tomorrow. And I like parties. A lot.


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Saying that we went wild is not enough.

We all sang our song in front of Plugg. If he didn't already know it was all about him he was a bigger idiot than he seemed.

We had nothing to lose. He already hated us and wanted us dead. We were not afraid. He had pushed us too far and we were just mad. And we didn't care that he knew we were coming for him.

Kiani and I showed off our relationship in public (hey, we were just friends with a lot of privileges). We got Fox involved too. It was crazy! My message was clear: «Anybody but you, sucker!»

I bet he was fumbling. Of course he wasn't scared. He was not intelligent enough to be scared.


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That terrible moment when you realize that you are the formal one and everybody is insane but you.

Fox claimed to have spent too much time constrained by the Dark Knight's rules and that he wanted to live.

Kiani, as always, claimed to be blue as an excuse. Hey, I'm different, I'm blue, I can do whatever I want.

Sandara was not good at making excuses.

The truth: they are all insane.

It sucks to be the formal one.


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It's not that I am blue. Is that I am not human: I don't know your customs. Don't blame me for being different!


That stopped being a believable excuse a long time ago.


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BON VOYAGE, WORMWOOD!

With the celebration over, it was time to get back to work. Harrigan called all the crew on deck. The Ergothian merchant mariners were brought on deck too. After throwing a tied prisoner overboard to make them know he was serious, he made an offer to the captives: join my crew or die. With such a good motivation, the Ergothians were quick to swear loyalty to Harrigan.

Now they had two ships and just one captain. Harrigan entitled Plugg with the mission to take the Ergothian ship (called The Man's Promise) to Sea Reach (our equivalent to Port Peril) to be sold. He was told to choose enough crew members to be able to sail the new ship.

Even with the surviving crew from The Man's Promise there were few people to sail the two ships. They couldn't afford losing another crew member, so Kiani was safe for now. Plugg chose Scourge and the few among the crew who still remained loyal to him. Also, out of sheer arrogance or stupidity, he chose to carry Sandara and the PCs with him. He was probably thinking of making them pay for all the mocks and offences as long as the Wormwood was out of sigh. They were thinking of doing exactly the same to Plugg.

Harrigan also sent Kroop with Plugg. He was sick of the drunken cook and as the cook from The Man' Promise had sworn loyalty to him, he no longer needed him. The rest of the officers (including Grok) had to remain with Harrigan.

Peppery approached Kiani before parting ways. She was curious about what happened in the bilges.

«How did you kill them?» asked the sorceress calmly. She wasn't asking if she had killed them but how. Kiani was surprised.

Peppery wasn't judging her nor she cared about the morality of what had happened, she was just curious about the mysterious undine magic that she could have used to drown her enemies.

Kiani told her everything, without trying to hide any of the most creepy details.

«I'll tell Harrigan. I'll make him know they attacked you. Take care.»

Said that, she left.

Grok was both worried and sad for her new friends. She wished to be with them to crush Plugg when he attempted something against them, that's what she said. With tears in her eyes, she asked them to care for Kroop. Who would think that she was the one traveling in the wrong ship?

And that's how the PCs left the Wormwood, knowing that one way or another they wouldn't stay for much time under Plugg's command.


Some GM thoughts before going on with the story:

It was very important to me to have the players involved with Grok, Peppery and, in a minor degree, Habbly.


I made an effort on portraying them as likable people so the PCs got involved with them. At the same time I didn't want them to have too much spotlight so my players didn't realize that something relevant could be going on with them.

Grok was the easiest part, as she's already a friendly person in the inside and the PCs had already to speak to her to recover their equipment. I got the PCs in a few drinking sessions with her and Kroop and they became instant friends.


Peppery is a more difficult one. She's the captain's personal friend. She's not developed at all in the modules. But she's the only spellcaster on the ship before the PCs arrive. Making her aproach a spellcasting PC out of curiosity is a good opportunity to have the PCs meeting her.
I had her as a person who saw Harrigan as a better person than he really is. She had a justification for every awful thing Harrigan did. She's nice to the PCs but blindly loyal to Harrigan. She is one of the few people who follow him because she likes him, not because of fear.


That makes the events in Book 5 even more tragic and outrageous.


Peppery, Grok and Habbly are innocent. Their only fault is actually liking the PCs. That's what really makes Harrigan such a despicable man. And that's what makes the PCs really want to kill him.


Just my two cents on how to run this part.


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Thank you for sharing this. A cleric of Habbakuk or Zeboim would be really appropriate for this game.

I hope the sorcerer doesn't run into any Tower Mages :)


Thanks to you for reading!

Sandara's conversion into a cleric of Zeboim was great and very thematic. As deities are so important I made Zeboim an important part of the story. The Impositions, i.e. were reflavored as Zeboim's blessing.

They did run into some Tower Mages during the adventure, but any of them were very involved with the High Sorcery so it didn't mind a lot. Sandara loves offering their spellbooks as a sacrifice to Zeboim (aka. throwing them overboard).

If you have any comments, questions, advice, etc. everyting is welcome!

Kiani's player and I have been running Pathfinder Dragonlance for a time, we've also adapted Reign of Winter and some modules (we played Tower of the Last Baron in an all-elves campaign and the Last Baron was a Silvanesti elf xD).


Did you do any of the PRCs for the group that are Dragonlance specific. It would also be interesting to adapt some of the obediences to DL gods.

I am a huge DL fan!


As we tried to keep it simple, we picked existent content and classes and added the flavor. Knights of Solamnia can be easily achieved as Cavaliers, i.e.
So I'm afraid I cannot provide a lot of help mechanics-wise.
The divine obediences is something that we are working because they are great.

P.S. My black robed wizard's sworn enemy (now dead) was a black robed Silvanesti elf called Tervalis Dralathalas of House Mystic. I cannot avoid thinking of him while talking to you xD.


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I had to adapt the timeline here so Bonewrack Island happened before the characters staged their mutiny.

There was too much tension going on and as soon as Harrigan was out of sight the PCs would mutiny and they'd be doing right.

But I thought it was too interesting to have Bonewrack Island before the mutiny, so I thought it wouldn't hurt to make everything happen faster.

Of course I could have let them mutiny before. The story would have been mostly the same. But I wanted to test them: Would they dare to mutiny in the middle of a dangerous storm? Would they attack Plugg while Sandara was missing and presumably in great peril? I have to admit that I forced the events (just a bit) by quickening everything, but I wanted my players to take decissions.

WHEN THE STORM ARRIVES...

So we have Plugg and the PCs in the same ship. Plugg wants the PCs dead. The PCs want Plugg dead. Most of the crew is on the PCs side. Only the fact that the Wormwood is still on sight is keeping both sides to start killing each other. Clearly, this cannot end well for one side or another.

As the day goes by, the Wormwood is more and more distant. The weather is swiftly getting worse, in the way of a tropical storm. In one hand, that makes the Man's Promise more difficult to spot from the Wormwood, on the other, mutinying during a storm can be really dangerous.

And as the time went by, it went worse.

The sky was dark and the wind blew hard. The Wormwood was no longer on sight. Giffer approached the PCs looking worried. As I've already mentioned, she was a cartographer. As long as the Wormwood disappeared, Plugg had ordered to change the course of the Man's Promise. Giffer had warned him that they were heading near to a group of islands well known for having a dangerous reef barrier. Plugg didn't care. She couldn't understand why would Plugg do such a thing, but Kroop knew the reason: they were no longer heading to Sea Reach but to Ricketty's Squibs, a clandestine port not too far away where ships were refactored (squibbed) to give them some aesthetic changes and make them difficult to recognize. Plugg was betraying Harrigan!

Knowing the impending danger of sailing through reef in the middle of a storm, the PCs thought that waiting until the storm was over would be a sensible thing to do.

As there were so few crew members, everybody had to work on the riggings to keep the ship sailing. The rain and wind were so heavy that it was impossible to see anything. The wild waters pulled and pushed the ship wherever they wanted to. The ship was uncontrolled despite the crew's efforts. The PCs had to stay awake all night, and it was with the first lights of the dawn when they spotted something slithering on the ship's deck.

There were six of them: small goblin-like creatures with octopus-like tentacles instead of legs. Kiani recognized them as grindylows: aquatic creatures with some superficial resemblance to inland goblins.

The six creatures approached the PCs, catching Darren unawares and tripping him with tiny tentacles. While they were trying to pull him to water, Fox charged Darren's attacker and killed him with a single blow. Darren recovered quickly and ran to the ship's bell to give the alarm. Kiani and Fox combined melee attacks with bardic song while Darren used his Snowball spell to finish them quickly and his Daze spell to keep them at bay. They managed to catch one of them alive, and as Kiani could speak Aquan they were able to make him a couple of questions about what they were doing there.
Before Plugg sent them back to work at the riggins they learned that the mother of the grindilows had sent them to search for some food to feed something they called «the Whale». After that, they caged the grindylow in one of the jails that Kroop had for his chicken. This was the beginning of Cookie, the grindylow cookmate (for some reason Kroop adopted it and taught it to speak Common as well as to perform some easy tasks).

The sun was rising and it seemed that the storm was starting to calm. But it was still too dark and windy. Nobody spotted the reef before they hit it. The ship stopped. One of the Ergothian mariners that Plugg had brought with him informed that the hull had been damaged and there was risk of sinking.
Plugg called all the crew to fix the hull and bail the water. That's when they realized that Shivikah and Sandara were missing.

The PCs insisted that the grindylows had probably taken them to feed whatever «the Whale» was, but Plugg didn't care.

«It doesn't matter if they were swept by the storm or taken by octo-goblins, now they are dead.»

While performing their duties, the PCs were able to search the deck for clues and they found Sandara's holy symbol: a spiked turtle's shell. That wasn't a thing that any cleric would drop by accident. She usually wore it around her neck, so she had to be holding it for a reason. That enforced the idea of her being attacked.

Fox and Darren feared to grab the symbol, remembering what it has done to Plugg, but Kiani grabbed it and, relieved of not being harmed by it, wore it around her neck.

The clouds were gone, like the storm had never been there, and in the distance an island could be spotted without a spyglass.

Kiani had the feeling that Sandara was being held there, and started to wonder if Zeboim had caused the shipwreck on purpose so they could go and rescue her follower.

When the PCs realized what had happened, they informed Plugg and insisted on being sent to the island on a rescue mission. Of course, Plugg was too satisfied of not having Sandara around that it was not going to happen.

The PCs were already thinking of escape the ship and go on their own to rescue their friend. They could just kill Plugg and take over the ship but that would take time and resources. When they reached Sandara, she could already be dead.

Fortunately, they didn't have to go into such extremes. When they were planning what to do, Plugg approached them again.

«You want to go to that island? OK, go and bring some water. We are short on supplies.»

The group didn't complain even though Kiani could cast Create Water at will. They got to go to the island after all.

With the excuse of picking some barrels, they went to the kitchen to interrogate the grindylow prisoner a bit more. He confirmed that they had a cave in the near island. He also thought that her mother was Zeboim's chosen. The godless Fox laughed on his face. Kiani just didn't believe it. Darren didn't give a damn. There was not much more information they could extract from the grindylow, as he wasn't very clever.

They parted to the island, knowing that Plugg was probably expecting them not to come back. He warned them that they were going to leave as soon as the reparations were done, with or without them. That left them with a day and a half to rescue Sandara and get back to the ship.


Next, Whale eat priestess.


That's not what happened.


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We should have mutinied before going to the island. If Plugg had forbidden us to do it, his head would have been chopped instantly. So, why we didn't?

Well, the part of They could just kill Plugg and take over the ship but that would take time and resources is not entirely true. With almost all of the crew wanting the head of Plugg it would be hella easy to do, but... Sandara. We couldn'd do that to her. She had suffered a lot because of Plugg. I remembered those nights aboard the Wormwood when both of us were sleeping together. By day, we stood cocky and defiant; by night, we slept together because we were afraid. She deserved to be part of the mutiny and to get her revenge.

So we went to the island to rescue our friend. And if the ship left us, to hell with it!

The next sessions were some of the most emotional ones I've been in. In front of my friends I refused to admit that Sandara could be dead, but that was an idea that haunted me every single moment in the island.


Wow... I mean... what?
Stop it now! You're making me emotional too!


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I had to cut some encounters in this part. I had only 3 PCs and it was already a tough part for a regular 4 players group. Darren had already spent some spells with the grindylows on the previous night and they hadn't any time to rest. So GMing the Island as it was written would have been a TPK. I allowed to bypass some encounters by stealth or ingenuity and didn't try to force any encounter against a swarm (even if it could have happened if PCs didn't play wise). Otherwise, I just let them choose their battles and manage their resources to try to avoid the worse parts of the island.

THE ISLAND OF THE FAITHFUL

The first thing the party saw while approaching the island on the Man's Promise cutter were the strange scarecrow-like skeletons that adorned all the shore. Each one had a different macabre pose. Some twisted mind had wrapped them in sinew and set them like statues to adornate the island. That unsettled the PCs and made them row harder.

They found a small palm beach on the east of the island and decided to take land there. There were some coconut trees and, while Kiani was explaining to Fox (the inland guy) how delicious coconuts were, a bunch of crabs fell down from the coconut trees and attacked. The PCs did a good job, but the crabs were tough. It was the first time that an enemy had such a high attack roll that Fox was unable to parry the hit.

Kiani had to spend a lot of resources in healing after the fight. They realized that the island part was going to be tough.

The PCs didn't have any interest in exploring the island and wasting their time, they just wanted to get to the cave and rescue their friend.

Out of the beach, they saw some crops on the south. They had gone wild, but it made them wonder if someone aside from the grindylows was living or had been living there. They found also an overgrown road that seem to go to the top of the cliffs, so they decided to go that way and avoid the tall grass from the crops.

The jungle was full of mosquitoes, but they avoided encountering any swarm on their way up the cliffs. After a long walk, they reached what it looked like a rustic but well built stockade built around a huge tree. The door was ajar, so they didn't expect to find any living inhabitant inside. They were cautious anyway.

(I cannot remember if I cut the encounter with the vine chokers here or I just cannot remember how it went. I'm skipping it because I have a memory hole.)

The first two things they spotted inside the stockade were a small spring and a spyglass attached to one of the walls. The door to the lodge inside the stockade was open too. The sound of flies and a foul smell came from inside. A look from the outside revealed the rotting corpse of a hanged man covered in botflies. The insects swarmed all around the place.

The PCs took the intelligent decission of not disturbing the botflies, but they still wanted to take a look inside. So after some planning, they picked a big pile of leaves and wood, piled them against the door and set them on fire. They had a hard time to set the wet wood on fire but when they did it made a lot of smoke. The small lodge was soon filled by smoke, that drove the botflies mad and had them disbanding and flying away from the lodge. The PCs came back as long as the swarms were gone and only a few botflies remained. They had to put off the fire before the whole lodge burned but with Create Water at will it wasn't hard.

Only the hanged man remained inside. He hadn't moved, but they were still cautious.

Kiani decided to climb the wall to reach the spyglass while the rest of the party examined the rest of the place. The spyglass was locked at a good sight of the cave they had been looking for. She had a glimpse of some grindylows lazily playing at the entrance of the cave. One of them was wearing Sandara's tricorne, the one that Kiani liked so much. It looked like they were actively seeking to catch some attention.

Kiani also saw the shadows of what seemed to be a shipwreck not too far from the cave. She guessed that the hanged man who had built the stockade had been a survivor from the shipwreck.

Meanwhile, Darren was checking the huge tree and Fox was examining the lodge. He was told not to come too close to the corpse, just in case it wasn't just a corpse, but...

A scream came from inside the hut. Darren and Kiani jumped from their places and found the hanging corpse grappling Fox while trying to get rid of the strangling chain.

Fox was holding his rapier but still couldn't do too much while grappled. Kiani and Darren attacked the undead trying to release their friend. The undead man, who wore Dark Knights sigils, was desperate trying to release himself too. The fight was chaotic. As an undead, the spellcasters couldn't affect his mind.

The stench of the ghast was awful. He bit Fox twice. Here, the ability of Kiani to allow rerolling a failed saving throw by ending a bardic performance (Saving Finale) and the Charmed Life ability from Fox were key to avoid contracting ghoul fever. Fortunately, Fox finally broke the grapple and was able to fight back. They defeated the hanged man, but they were injured and out of resources.

They were close to the place where Sandara was being held and it was still early afternoon, but they'd have to rest to be able to continue the rescue mission.


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With the jungle infested of mosquitoes and who knows what else, the party decided to go back to the boat and rest in it. They tied it to a palm tree and remained on water, feeling it would be more secure.

The PCs were worried that Sandara could be killed while they rested, but they knew they weren't in conditions to attempt a rescue.

Fox and Darren spent the time planning their attack on the grindylow cave. And by planning I mean Fox boasting on how he was going to cut them to pieces and Darren mocking Fox asking if he was going to hug and kiss them to death like he had done with the hanged undead man.

Kiani was strangely silent. Being her, that was more than uncommon. Darren asked her if she was OK.

«I'm praying to the Goddess so she keeps Sandara alive until we find her» answered Kiani, holding Sandara's holy symbol.

Kiani remembered when Sandara told them how she had met her faith: her father was a fisherman and his ship had sunk in a storm. Desperate, she prayed to Zeboim to bring him back alive. Soon after that, he was found on the beach, barely alive. He was the only survivor.

Despite wearing her mark, Kiani's faith was never specially strong. Like other sea people, she honored Zeboim just enough not to displease her. But not being able to do anything else for Sandara, and being desperately worried for her, she put all her faith on the same goddess that Sandara worshipped.

Fox was specially sceptic about it, being a convinced atheist (he couldn't deny that gods existed, but he actively avoided worshipping any of them, as he thought they didn't care for mortals but for their own divine plans).

«Zeboim is not going to save her, we are. But if that makes you feel better, it's OK»

The night came, and with it, darkness and strange sounds from the jungle. In the distance Kiani (the only one with Darksight) saw the figure of a woman lurking around the jungle. She wore a too revealing tattered dress and she was missing also some patches of hair and skin. She was clearly as undead as the hanged man was. She kept looking around for a time before she left without noticing them. They were safe for now, but they had to find their missing friend and leave that accursed island as soon as possible.


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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Here is a quick recap of my party's encounter with the ghast

<<Fade in a party of four weather-beaten sailors.>>
Pain Jr. - A barely sane (half)Orc fighter, trusty greataxe in hand.
Nobelium - Human alchemist who already shows a penchant for leading.
(Name forgotten) - A human swashbuckling adventurer who laughs in the face of danger.
Janikor - A half-orc wizard with some experience with a sword. The newest addition, as he was found shipwrecked on this very island.

Upon finding the hut at the end of the road the party splits up to search around. Pain climbs the tree, Janikor goes into the hut, and the other two spread out to watch for danger. Janikor enters the hut to find a man hanging from a chain in some horrible device. "We have a suicide in here," Janikor calls to the others. As he aproches to inspect the man the corpse comes to life and grapples with the spellcaster. "Suicide's attacking,"Janikor screams! Unable to get his weapon to bear or cast a spell the half-orc is at the mercy of the undead fiend. As he receives a few nasty bites Pain rushes in leading with his axe. One swing is all it takes to end the threat of the ghast. As the others finish searching and catch sight of the grindylows with Sandara's hat Pain Jr. gazes lovingly at his only friend in the world, his greataxe. Little did he know that axe would not only end the lives of many a foe, but of at least one ally......

<<Fade out.>>


Ooh, cool! Thanks for sharing!!!
I have some good news to share too.
Today we've finished the campaign and we had a great time through all the adventure.

Please, keep sharing your experiences, I love reading them and I'm glad to know someone else is reading ^.^


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TO THE RESCUE!

With the first light of the dawn, the PCs parted to the grindylows' cave. They chose to climb down the cliffs, so they could take care of the grindylows that were watching the entrance. Kiani put them through her sleep spell before climbing down, while Darren and Fox took care of the ones making the saving throw with Snowball and a bow.

With the watchers down without rising the alarm, they climbed down the cliffs and entered from the water level. The tide made swimming difficult, but the two male were good swimmers who could take 10 on most of their checks and Kiani had a swim speed.

They swimmed into the cave, using the high tides and dark waters as cover to be as stealthy as they could. They ignored the open cave with the stirges and just followed the tide to the depths of the tide.

They reached the first intersection and the first lines of hooks hidden among the seaweed. Instead of entering the next cave and risking being entangled in the lake of hooks and surrounded by enemies, they catched the attention of the grindylows at the cave and waited for them in the narrow tunnel so they couldn't be surrounded or flanked.

Kiani blocked one of the ways with a wall of water. They could destroy it with a single blow, but that would consume their actions.

A total of sixteen grindylows were in both caverns, but they defeated them without too much effort, as they couldn't attack all at a time because of the bottleneck where the PCs were fighting. The only difficulty here was avoiding them to escape, so they didn't warn their other kin at the cave. Ironically, the hooked seaweed was more a hindrance for the grindylows than for the PCs, who used it as an advantage.

One of the grindylows was wearing Sandara's tricorne. Kiani had always loved that hat and Sandara had already lent it to her a couple of times, so she picked it up and put it on. She feared that a grindylow having her stuff might mean that she was already dead, but didn't want to think of it at that time.

They continued their way avoiding the main caves (and therefore bypassing the traps on them) until they reached a deeper cave, decorated in a macabre fashion with skeleton parts. As soon as they entered the cave, they saw something big moving in the water. Then, all the water turned pitch black. Enormous tentacles came out of the water, trying to reach the PCs. They quickly retreated, but not before Fox was hit.

They didn't know how to face the creature. It had reach to them, and fighting it in the blackened waters could be a death trap. After a short time discussing, Fox grew tired and decided to try a simple plan: he'd taunt the creature by coming close to it and attacking it and then retreat to lure it out of the water. That would mean he'd get a couple of AoO and maybe a full attack, but it could be worth it. The ressult: Fox ended half dead but managed to lure the low intelligence monster out of the water. It was an octopus-like creature called a Devilfish. Good news: Fox parried one of the Devilfish's attacks. Bad news: Kiani had to use her Saving Finale again to avoid Fox being poisoned.

As the creature was too big and slow, they managed to take it down with ranged attacks without risking more damage. Anyway, Kiani had to cast some healing spells on Fox. Fox was a great damage dealer but also a healing sponge with awful saves and a tendency to roll natural 1s and taking critical hits in the worst moment.

The rescue mission was coming to an end. The PCs entered the next cave, just to find Sandara and Shivikah tied in the middle of it, just above a deep pool filled with foul smelling water. Rotting half-eaten corpses floated on the water. Another two creatures were there: a female grindylow holding a harpoon and wearing macabre jewelry crafted with human bones and a huge bloated grindylow. The last should be the one that was called The Whale.

Both grindylows were aware, having heard the fight with the Devilfish. The female one awaited the PCs to enter the cave to cut the ropes holding Sandara and Shivikah and making them fall to the water. By doing that, she expected them to jump into the water and to be an easy prey for her bloated son.

But, once again, Kiani's Watersinger ability to animate water proved to be useful for anything. Summoning a gush of solid water, she managed to push Sandara back to the surface.

«There's something moving at the bottom!» cried Sandara, scared.

Shivikah wasn't so lucky but nobody gave a damn for her. She was hostile to them and she had been a slaver, something that all the PCs despised. She also hated the PCs since they had refused to fight Owlbear. So they didn't care a lot if she drowned to death.

Fox jumped to the pool, engaging The Whale to keep him distracted, while Darren tried to reach Sandara and pull her out of the water. Kiani kept her song going on while fighting an octopus summoned by the Brineblood Queen, who kept chanting prayers to Zura (the name that the underwater creatures from the Blood Sea gave to Zeboim):

«Zura, listen to your Chosen One!» «Zura, let the unfaithful feed your Blessed Son!»

Kiani, the only one who spoke Aquan, thought that her claims of being some kind of «Chosen One» and that bloated freak blessed by Zeboim was somewhat heretical.

The fight between Fox and The Whale was quick and dirty, with the Whale trying to eat Fox alive. He managed to parry one of the Whale's attack and to knock him out with the counterattack. Unconscious, he started to fall into the bottom of the pool.

The Brineblood Queen had kept a distance until then while summoning. But seeing her beloved and still alive son leaning towards the bottom was too much for her. She didn't have any prepared healing spells but she tried to get him back to the surface with a Hydraulic Push. She failed.

The chained underwater lacedons were about to start attacking Shivikah this turn, but The Whale was a bigger and tasty looking prey. I rolled a 50% chance for each lacedon to prey on The Whale instead of Shivikah. Both started eating The Whale alive. Ah, the irony!

Meanwhile, Fox swimmed to the Brineblood Queen, who had wasted her action trying to save her freaky son, and attacked her. Darren and Kiani pulled Sandara out of the water and joined the attack. The Brineblood Queen didn't survive another turn.

With the fight over, Kiani decided to make her good deed of the day and, not very sure of really wanting to do it, she jumped to the dark waters and swimmed close to the bottom to check if Shivikah was still alive. Maneuvering to avoid the lacedons, she grabbed an unconscious Shivikah and pulled her to the surface while the other PCs focused on untying Sandara.

With everybody safe now, Kiani gave Sandara her holy symbol back. She couldn't believe they had gone so far just to save her. Until then, they had been allies because they needed to stick together against Plugg. That day, they demonstrated her that they really cared for her as a friend. Kiani tried to give her tricorne back to her.

«No, I want you to keep it. I know you like it.»

They started an argument about who should keep the tricorne. That argument never ended. Since then, as some sort of inner joke, anytime one of the two was distracted, the other would playfully put the tricorne on her head.

As for Shivikah, she was so grateful that the PCs never dared to burst her bubble telling her that they couldn't care less for her. She insisted that she had a life debt to them and that now her life belonged to them to the point of making them unconfortable about it. Minotaurs have a very strong sense oh honor.

She also told them that, before the storm started, Plugg had a meeting with all his loyal members of the crew, and that he was planning to get rid of the party as long as the Wormwood was out of sight. She warned them that he'd probably try to kill them when they came close to the ship.

Instead of being scared, the party was excited. Most of the crew was still loyal to them. Plugg didn't know who he was messing with. They'll get back to the ship and they would have their revenge.


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Finding Sandara alive and well was one of the most defining events in my whole life. After we had to stop to rest I was sure she was going to be dead... eaten by that whale.

Fox can say what he wants, but the goddess had a hand in this. It was the same story as with Sandara's father: We had lost someone very important for us, we had desperately prayed to the goddess of sea and we had recovered that person. Plus, the moment when I took the faith medallion of Sandara was the moment when I learned to Cure Light Wounds. I was not a Cleric but from that moment on I was a faithful follower of Zeboim.


Even if Zeboim had protected Sandara, the one who kidnapped her was one of her followers too! Do you mean that Zeboim did this just to get us to kill one of her followers? Hard to believe. I'd rather think that she didn't have anything to do with it.


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If I was The Goddess I'd want to shut up that blasphemous self-proclaimed Chosen One, you know.
And Zeboim caused the shipwreck so you could come to my rescue. Believe it or not, as you like.

But I have to admit that I saw myself eaten alive. It was so close! When you appeared, with Kiani wearing half of my gear I felt so relieved. Relieved and scared. I didn't know if you had come to rescue me or to steal my clothes so Kiani could fully impersonate me!

Anyway, nevermore. I was sick of feeling powerless. First it was Plugg. Then, the grindylows. I made a promise not to be defenseless ever again. They'd be the ones to fear me!


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This one is the final chapter of The Wormwood Mutiny. I don't know how many people is reading this but I hope you are enjoying! Critiques and comments are welcome as always!

YOU KNOW MY NAME

The party crossed the island again, back to the boat, with Sandara and Shivikah. Using the spyglass that they had found on the stockade's wall, they saw that the Man's Promise was still there and still not preparing for setting sails.

By the time of the day, they guessed that the reparations would be over in the late afternoon. Plugg was probably not risking to sail by night, so they decided to wait until the late evening, so they could reach the ship under night's cover and strike an attack on Plugg and his followers.

Shivikah wanted to stay away from the fight. She felt like fighting Plugg would be a treason.

«I'd rather not fight them, I'm not a traitor. But if you command me to do it I will.»

The mostly chaotic party found Shivikah's lawful ways disturbing. They told her that she could wait on the boat if she didn't want to be involved and she was grateful for it.

Thanks to the cover of darkness, they were able to approach the ship without being noticed and made it to the deck. Plugg had set four of the remaining loyal crew members to watch the deck. Fox charged the one who was closest to the bell and defeated him with a single hit. Another one approached the place to sound the bell, but he defeated him too with an attack of oportunity.

Darren and Kiani took care each one of another watcher, it was swift and stealthy.

The first thing they did was sneaking up to the crew quarters. Some of Plugg's allies were there, so they knocked them down before they could warn anybody. Then they asked their allies to pull their weapons and follow them. Giffer and Samms were left behind to keep an eye on the knocked out pirates.

Then they rushed to the First Mate cabin to deal with Scourge. No more subtlety, they entered the room knocking down the door. Scourge had Cog and an ergothian mariner with him, but Fox dodged them and got into melee with the officer.

«Do you want to give me some lashes now, Scourge?»

I can tell Fox was enjoying. Kiani, Darren and Sandara focused on beating the mariners, as Fox looked like he had personal affairs to solve with Scourge. Directly confronted he was a coward. All the time he fought looking for a way to get away, while trying to get Fox to be attacked by his two minions. Cog hated Fox since the climbing competition and had also personal affairs to solve with him, so he focused on him. The saddest part for him was that Fox didn't give a damn for Cog and completely ignored him, letting the others PC to take care.

With Scourge down, they headed to the kitchen, which had an access to the upper Captain's cabin from a trap door in the ceiling. They found Kroop awake, sober and willing to fight. He grabbed his biggest frying pan, a couple of kitchen knives and joined the group.

For what they knew, Plugg had Owlbear with him and he'd probably be awake with all the noise. They didn't care to have him prepared for fighting, they wanted him to know they were coming for him.

They piled some crates to have an easy access to the trap door and opened it without entering the upstairs cabin. Nothing happened.

Kiani started to talk to Owlbear. He warned them not to come in because Plugg wanted to hurt them. Plugg wasn't going to go down, as he was secure where he was, and if they came up he'd have an advantage. So Kiani tried to convince Owlbear to turn on Plugg, who threatened to beat him if he dared to raise a hand against him.

«I'm your friend, he is not. He wants to hurt you.» Kiani went on. «He wants to hurt me too.»

When she said that, Owlbear cried to Plugg: «Please don't hurt my friend!»

Plugg was scared that Owlbear could attack him, so he stepped away from him. That was his perdition. By leaving his secure place, the PCs could see him from the trap door, meaning they could target him with spells. Darren used his newly acquired Hydraulic Push spell to bull rush into the trap door and Plugg fell to the kitchen's floor.

Plugg tried to defend himself, but there were too many furious people who wanted him dead. They fell on him like wild dogs, with Kroop dealing surprisingly deadly blows with his frying pan. But they wouldn't kill him. Not yet. They dragged the unconscious man to the deck and called all the remaining crew.

The ship was now theirs. No more unfair punishments, no more forced rum rations, no more fear of the officers rage and no more press-ganged crew. Anybody wanting to leave could leave in the next port. Anybody wanting to stay would be given a fair treatment.

Kiani was acclaimed to be the new captain, with Sandara as her First Mate.
Fox chose to be the new Boatswain and master discipliner. After so many lashes, he was becoming an expert, he joked.
Darren was satisfied to be the new quartermaster, a job that definitely was good for him and that he actually enjoyed. Even though he didn't like to do handwork, he was pretty hard-working when it came to doing paperwork.
Rosie Cuswell was the new master gunner, and Giffer the sailing master.
Owlbear was released and given a work with Kroop, where he performed simple tasks as serving foods or cleaning the kitchen.
Fox looted Plugg's rapier (it was originally a cutlass but I changed it so Fox could use it) and Darren put on his coat (that earned him a lot of puns from Fox and Sandara telling him that he looked like an assh*le).

As for Plugg, he was tied to the mainmast for the three days that the crew spent celebrating. Then he was keelhauled.

«Anybody who has something personal with whim is allowed to pull the rope!» said the new Captain.

Everybody did.

Then his remains were offered to Zeboim as a sacrifice.


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I really liked The Wormwood Mutiny the first time I read it. It looked exactly like the kind of story that I like to GM and my players enjoy playing: a lot of roleplaying, charismatic NPCs, character developement...

With Raiders of the Fever Sea I had mixed feelings instead. The first part at Ricketty's Squibs was OK but not brilliant. I liked Merrill Pegsworthy as a counterpart of Harrigan's brutality. He's a mostly good-natured pirate and it serves as a good way to show to the PCs that a different kind of piracy is possible. I also saw some good roleplaying options for Selissa, but the overall feeling is that Ricketty's was mostly a filler.

Then there was all the raiding thing. It was a necessary thing and I loved some of the encounters, but it seemed to me like somewhat lacking of direction. Even if the PCs were OK with just sailing and raiding I tried to intertwin it with other plots before it got old.

Tidewater Rock was my lowest part on the whole AP as a GM. My players just couldn't see the point of cracking Tidewater Rock and having a base. They realized that it could be useful from a strategic point, but they'd rather keep sailing on their own. Knowing them, I had expected them to be instantly interested so it caught me off-guard. I didn't want them to hang around raiding ships until they decided to go there out of boredom. Neither did I want to force them to take a course of action. I needed to provide them with a motivation to do it. Finally a bit of conversation with the NPCs had them convinced kinda naturally but I'm still not totally satisfied with this part. I try to run stories where players do what they do because they want to, not because they feel like I am pushing them to do it. This time, players noticed that they should be cracking the rock and that's not OK.

Isabella was my favorite part of this book. I know the character itself is kinda controversial but I liked her story from the first time I read it. She had been a slave her whole life, tortured until only her rage remained. I wanted the players to know her story, so I had to adjust a few things so she wasn't killed at first opportunity. It didn't make her justice and it seemed unfair for someone who is more victim than villain. I guess I did it right because my players totally loved her.

Some thoughts about Isabella: I read somewhere that she's an object woman: she has been used all her life, only to end being killed for her treasure map. I aggree. And that's what makes her a wonderful character in my eyes. She's a tragic character. Her fate is sad. I don't think they are encouraging it, but rather showing in a crude way what a person can become when treated like that.

I really wanted to give her a chance to be saved, but it was up to the PCs what to do with her. Stay tuned and you'll see what happened.


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RICKETTY'S SQUIBS

The last time we saw the PCs they were celebrating their freedom. After a very, very long celebration, they decided to take The Man's Promise to the place Plugg was taking it: Ricketty's squibs. By changing the ship's appearance they hoped to go unadverted for some time. They didn't have special fear of Harrigan: it was Plugg who had betrayed him, them. Of course, Harrigan wouldn't probably mind the distinction but they were not very worried anyway.

Any of the PCs had thought to become a pirate before being at the Wormwood, but they realized that they really enjoyed that kind of life. Kiani and Fox loved the freedom, Darren loved the easy and carefree life. Earning some reputation to wear as a shield and becoming recognized pirates sounded like a good thing to do.

They reached Ricketty's Squib on a hot and sunny day. It was a well hidden place in the middle of the jungle. They were spotted from the watch tower and anounced with a flag to the main place. An short old man with a toothless smile came on a boat to meet them. He presented himself as Rickety Hake, the owner of the place. After examining the ship, and giving them price for both the refactoring and some enhancements to the ship, he guided them to the port.

As they had earned some money on their previous adventures, they had enough to pay for everything they wanted to do to the ship.

The refactoring would take 8 days to complete, so they'd have time to rest for some time. They started inmediately to know the place, make friends among the workers and telling stories. Kiani was an expert on boasting, telling really exaggerated stories about their misadventures aboard the Wormwood, the dangers of Bonewrack Island and their mutiny on The Man's Promise. It was a friendly and nice place to be, despite the oppressive heat that didn't get better even at night. To the PCs it was also a too quiet place. After so many adventures, Ricketty's Squibs looked too calm. Fortunately, that wouldn't last long.

The PCs were invited by some of the off-duty workers to play a game and drink some beer with them. Being rather bored and not being the kind of people who'd refuse some fresh beer, they joined the game. A couple of workers went to pull the casket out of the water where it was cooling. Suddenly the lift fell back to the water, carrying one of the workers with him. Everybody laughed at him, until the other one cried that there was something in the water.

The PCs ran to the place, just to see something moving inside the muddy waters and blood spreading to the surface.

Fox and Kiani jumped to the water and attacked the underwater creature. The water was muddy, hot, and Kiani had a difficult time breathing underwater as it was poorly oxygenated. The injured worker reached the surface and Sandara pulled him out of the water.

Darren tried to target the enemy with a Scorching Ray but he didn't have a clear hit and missed it, hitting the base of the pier instead and making two more workers fall into the water.

Kiani recognized the enemy as a water naga, but she seemed not to be fully grown up. She looked malnourished, her scales and skin were scorched by the sun and she had a feverish look on her eyes.

While they fought her, Kiani tried to calm down the naga, but she only babbled incoherent accusations of poisoning the water. In her state she wouldn't listen, so they couldn't do anything but to knock her down.

They pulled the young naga out of the water and put her inside a water tank. Sandara treated her wounds without magic. As long as she was delirant she'd be dangerous so they decided to wait until she recovered naturally.

The day after, she was lucid enough to have a talk to her. At first she was reluctant to trust them. She couldn't remember well what had happened. But when she realized what she had done she apologized for causing so much trouble. She presented herself as Selissa and explained that all her kin had left or died because of the drought. The river had dried and she couldn't find much food. She had went down the river expecting to find fresh water and some food, but in her weakened state the trip was too much for her.

Selissa was not very talkative but she loved to listen. They allowed her to remain in Ricketty's Squibs for a time and she spent most of the time listening in silence to the PCs exaggerated tales.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I had Isabella kill herself with the poison needle. I agree she is a tragic character, and it hits you hard when you read her backstory (which I read to my players after the encounter). I viewed it as she would rather die than be used again, as she had no idea what the PCs would do with her if they captured her alive. She was the first NPC that the players really wanted to save, Sandara excluded of course, and the wizard as head-over-heels at first sight. I think my players still haven't forgiven me for offing her like that. I am trying to find a way to bring her back, perhaps with a little more hope for the future. Any suggestions, or does it seem like bringing her back would cheapen her story?

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