Otari Logger Marks

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

This week on our series of Otari-themed blogs, we’re looking at Otari’s primary industry: logging. While none of the pre-written Otari campaigns (the Pathfinder Beginner Box, Pathfinder Adventure: Troubles in Otari, or the forthcoming Abomination Vaults Adventure Path) assume the player characters are loggers, the industry’s impact on the region is unmistakable. While exploring the woodlands around the town, player characters or GMs may wish to add a bit of local flair with the following rules for logger marks. Readers of the ongoing novella, The Shroud of Four Silences, will recognize these marks when they get to this week’s chapter, entitled “The Redpitch Grove.” What signs will Eleukas, Wendlyn, and Lisavet find, and what dangers will they help the party avoid (or lead the party toward, instead)?

: A cloaked man grimaces menacingly as he leans on a longspear. A woodcutter’s axe with the symbol of a lumber consortium hangs off his belt.

Illustration by Will O’Brien

Otari Logger Marks

Like much of the Isle of Kortos, Otari is located in a heavily forested region. Three of the town’s oldest and most respected families log the forest, operating out of several lumber camps and bringing felled trees to Otari for milling. These influential families have long demonstrated a respect for the forest, understanding that later generations must rely upon the trees as well. Replanting is common, as is leaving markings upon trees to pass important messages (or warnings!) to other loggers who come by.

The logger marks around Otari are simple shapes scratched into tree bark. They are similar to marks made by vagabonds or drifters, in that they consist of only a few lines or curves, and interpreting their meaning relies as much on context as it does symbolic literacy. Marks sometimes appear close together or intertwined to create compound symbols with deeper meaning, such as “Danger” and “Grave” to warn of undead. Common marks include the following:

  • Arrows Back and Forth: Hunters are common here.
  • Arrow to Star: That way is north.
  • Boot: Walk carefully around here; treacherous footing.
  • Crossed Axes: Cut this tree first in this area.
  • Crossed Circle: Danger.
  • Hash Marks under Horizontal Line: This area is someone’s property (the image resembles a fence).
  • Hook: Ogres (the image is a dreaded ogre hook).
  • Open Stick-Figure Hand: People nearby will help you.
  • Oval with Slashes on Each Side: Goblins (the image is a shape of a goblin head, with the slashes being ears).
  • Plus: Something good; sometimes, a benevolent magical phenomenon.
  • Row of Teeth: Predator.
  • Spiral: Trees or branches fall irregularly here.
  • Three Arcs Atop Each Other: This tree deserves respect (usually, because of its age) and should not be cut.
  • Two Xs in a Circle: Grave.
  • Two Upside-Down Vs: Look up, something noteworthy is above.
  • Wave: Water, usually a spring.

Using Marks

To place or interpret logger marks, use the following exploration activities of the Survival skill.

Carve Logger Mark

Concentrate, Exploration, Secret

You carefully place a mark upon a tree or other wilderness surface to leave a message for others. Attempt a Survival check, which involves at least 10 minutes of evaluating the local terrain, which the mark will reference. The GM determines the DC for this check, depending on the obscurity of the logger mark and the complexity of the message you intend to impart.

Critical Success You place a mark so clearly that future checks to interpret it have the level of success improved by one step beyond the result rolled.

Success You place a mark that others will be able to read.

Failure You’re unable to impart any meaning into your mark, but you can try again in a different location.

Critical Failure You leave an inadvertently misleading mark. This generally imparts the opposite meaning (for example, safety rather than danger) or provides an incorrect direction if the marking is navigational in nature (such as to direct someone to a particular stand of trees).

Read Logger Mark

Concentrate, Exploration, Secret

You interpret the meaning in a logger mark you’ve found (usually, by Investigating or Searching). Attempt a Survival check, which involves a few minutes of evaluating the terrain around the mark. The GM determines the DC for this check, depending on the age, complexity, and obscurity of the logger mark. If you’re attempting to identify something that isn’t a logger mark—such as natural cracks in a rock or whorls in tree bark—you can’t achieve a result better than a failure.

Critical Success You understand the mark so completely that you can identify its approximate age, basic meaning, and another significant clue (for example, if the mark would point toward a logging camp, you know the camp’s distance as well as its direction).

Success You determine the basic meaning of the mark you’ve found.

Failure You can’t glean information from the mark you’ve found.

Critical Failure You incorrectly interpret a mark you’ve found and gain an opposite meaning (for example, to cut a tree rather than preserve it).

Ron Lundeen

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Otari Pathfinder Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Second Edition

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I love these little kind of addition you guys do. Adds so much to the world and game.


I agree with @ograx

Great stuff!

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber


I will give marks (pun intended) to Paizo for coming up with more things for Survival to do.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm picturing the symbol for grave (two Xs in a circle) looking like the stereotypical 'face with Xs for eyes' and I love it.

Grand Archive

Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Is undead?
... :O
I get the feeling it was secretly designed by a follower of Urgathoa. :P

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Missed opportunity: A symbol carved by a lumberjack to indicate that they're okay.

2 people marked this as a favorite.
UnArcaneElection wrote:

Missed opportunity: A symbol carved by a lumberjack to indicate that they're okay.

And where locations for wildflowers can be found.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Is there a symbol for a nearby microbrewery?

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Phaasz1 wrote:
Is there a symbol for a nearby microbrewery?

Its a dwarf face...

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