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Advice on a Skull & Shackles game with 3 spellcasters in the party. Possible S&S Spoilers


Advice

Liberty's Edge

Allow me to preface this by saying a couple things:

1. All the players are having a good time, and no one seems to be bored or overshadowed (or at least no one is upset when overshadowed)
2. I'm not upset or uncomfortable with the situation as it stands, primarily due to the point above: As long as everyone's having fun, we're cool.

That being said, I want to make sure everyone continues having fun. As such, I'm curious about things I can change/modify to make sure the martials don't get left behind as the casters get better.

Our party is as follows (all 6th level, 20-pt buy with all purchased stats at 10 minimum [racial penalties are allowed to drop the stats below 10]):

CN Human Gunslinger (musketmaster)
CN Half-Orc Brawler
N Human Bard (seasinger)
LE Human Wizard (evoker)
NE Dhampir-Undine hybrid Oracle of Bones (Urgathoa)

I'm a little too nerdy about some realism aspects, so I've generated a year's worth of weather, researched actual tall-ship sailing mechanics and speeds, researched visibility distances at sea level (and from crow's nests), and require the party to tell me where they're heading and how they plan to get there so I can calculate the actual time it will take them to arrive. I also keep ship traffic at a realistic level. The ocean's a big place, and unless you're close to a port, you're just not going to see other ships every couple of hours. (Based on sailing speeds, it's also fairly difficult to catch a ship you spot 15 miles away...and it takes several days.)

So, the party composition and my need for verisimilitude have resulted in two interesting situations.

1. While pirating, there is almost no chance the party will encounter multiple ships in a single day, allowing the party casters to nova every encounter. I'm trying to find a way to make the NPCs more resistant to the casters without making every pirate and merchant ship have 2 clerics, 2 sorcerers and a bard as part of the crew.

2. Item crafting. The wizard literally has days of downtime because of the travel times and distances. So far he's only crafting potions and writing scrolls, but he's mentioned getting Craft Wondrous Item and Craft Magic Arms and Armor in the future. The bard has also mentioned taking a crafting feat or two. I know how the crafting feats can throw the entire WBL calculation out the window, so I'm looking at this with trepidation, waiting for it to start to get out of hand. (The players are actually really enjoying this aspect of the campaign, too, since we've never played a game with enough downtime to make it worthwhile to take crafting feats.)

So, any advice on what I can do in the future (if necessary) to keep combat encounters during acts of piracy more interesting for the players without heavy-handed tactics like spell-resistance for everyone, increased saves for everyone, anti-magic zones, etc.?


I don't have much advice to offer about making NPCs more resistant to casters.

On the crafting side of things, you control their access to resources. If they are crafting a lot of items without going to port, then maybe they are running low on the items they need. Perhaps they only have one more sheet of parchment suitable for writing a scroll or one more potion bottle. Those items are easy to come by in most decent sized ports (I would assume), but it still puts in a small bump in their crafting.

When it gets to wondrous items and magic weapons and armor, you could require more powerful and specific crafting items. Perhaps that Cloak of Protection needs half a dozen owlbear feathers to craft it. It's not a big block to crafting, and the occasional bit of loot on captured ship or monsters they kill on islands they visit to bury their chests can allow them to craft a few things.

You can go into depth of what kind of reagents are needed to make more powerful or specific enchantments, or just handwave it as is already the case within rules (pretty sure crafters don't just burn gold to make things magic).


They're only making so much money (i.e., as you deem fit). Piracy takes time and has associated costs, especially keeping their crew(s) happy with plunder. They're pirates only for so much of the AP as a primary activity before ongoing events and their nefarious nemesis eventually make their presence known. Keeping a reasonable timeline ticking along should also help.

Item creation takes time and materials. In the early to mid-game they can craft their own gear to their hearts' content. In the latter parts of the campaign, copious amounts of downtime are not necessarily guaranteed. Lastly, they have to spend quite a bit of time modifying or having others modify their ships. These modifications are expensive. In some cases, "stock" ships are going to be ineffective or vastly less effective, causing discontent among their crews and so forth.

Just because they can custom-tailor their gear shouldn't throw WBL out of whack. It's when they attempt to min-max the custom items rules that you have to stand firm. No at-will true strike for 2k gp, for example. So long as they're sticking to the intent, they're burning up feats on making stuff instead of using those feats that allow them to resist their foes better and kill their foes quicker. Gear often does that ... but gear can be identified, sundered, targeted, dispelled and they can still lose some when they roll nat-1 Reflex saves.


About making the vessels more resistent to casters... have you considered running some of those encounters in foggy or rainy environments so your players have a hard time doing ranged attacks? Their visibility wouldn't allow them to have line of sight.
They'd probably end buying fog cutting lenses or crafting them, but you can give them a couple of interesting encounters.


Ships aren't the only thing you'll find in a fantasy ocean wanting to kill you, you could start throwing monsters at them.


Why worry?

Let them have a few encounters where they do go nova and see how that works. Learn their tactics.
That'll help you craft you own tactics to use against them.


I also had 3 casters on my group and I just let them do. But I can see how you would like to make things more complicated.

Liberty's Edge

Kileanna wrote:

About making the vessels more resistent to casters... have you considered running some of those encounters in foggy or rainy environments so your players have a hard time doing ranged attacks? Their visibility wouldn't allow them to have line of sight.

They'd probably end buying fog cutting lenses or crafting them, but you can give them a couple of interesting encounters.

I've considered altering some of the weather conditions from what I generated at the campaign's start. The only issue I have with this is the realism aspect; on a rainy day, visibility is generally going to be reduced to a couple of miles, tops. In fog, it's even less. It's difficult to see a ship on the horizon when you can only see a few feet past the bowsprit.

RoseCrown wrote:

Why worry?

Let them have a few encounters where they do go nova and see how that works. Learn their tactics.
That'll help you craft you own tactics to use against them.

Oh, I'm not worried, just trying to plan ahead. This is the longest running campaign we've been able to play since a Forgotten Realms game I ran for about 4 years, and half our players (then) were new. Now, nearly a decade later, those same players are far more experienced gamers, but I've not GM'd much in that time. Basically, I just want to make sure I keep up with the players' interests (and, yes, I do talk to them about those sorts of things; I ask for and provide feedback after sessions). But I was curious if anyone else had run into similar issues with Skull & Shackles specifically, or any other AP in general.

The Siderowmancer wrote:


Ships aren't the only thing you'll find in a fantasy ocean wanting to kill you, you could start throwing monsters at them.

I've considered this as well. However, I'm trying to stick to the AP as much as possible, and there really isn't a lot offered in terms of sea monsters. But, I will definitely keep this in mind if they start getting tired of the same routine.

Adventure Info.:
As an aside, I also ran them through the AP Plug-in scenario Spices and Flesh from Legendary Games. They opted to sell the slaves and pocket the loot, so they'll have to deal with a mythic sea hag captain and her advanced Merrow (or Merrow with class levels) crew aboard their own ship possibly hunting down the PCs.

The Mad Comrade wrote:

The item crafting just started. I'm generally pretty strict about players/characters actually having the things they're required to have. I also told them what would happen if they didn't keep their crew(s ) supplied with plunder.


darth_gator wrote:

{. . .}

1. While pirating, there is almost no chance the party will encounter multiple ships in a single day, allowing the party casters to nova every encounter. {. . .}

. . . . Unless the ships start traveling in convoys -- or another ship is stalking both you and the ship you're stalking, and planning to let them weaken each other, and then capture both. For the latter idea, extend your research to find the fastest kind of ships, and give them some means of boosting their speed further -- they can't take either one in a straight-up fight, but they can take on either one and possibly both if they have already gone nova on each other, and if things go sour from them, they are almost guaranteed to be able to run away.


darth_gator wrote:
Kileanna wrote:

About making the vessels more resistent to casters... have you considered running some of those encounters in foggy or rainy environments so your players have a hard time doing ranged attacks? Their visibility wouldn't allow them to have line of sight.

They'd probably end buying fog cutting lenses or crafting them, but you can give them a couple of interesting encounters.

I've considered altering some of the weather conditions from what I generated at the campaign's start. The only issue I have with this is the realism aspect; on a rainy day, visibility is generally going to be reduced to a couple of miles, tops. In fog, it's even less. It's difficult to see a ship on the horizon when you can only see a few feet past the bowsprit.

Fair point. You're totally right.

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