“I’ve been to better places in this world, safer places. I’ve been to places with prettier people, more civilized people, to cities that astound you. But you know? I’ve never been to a place that is so harsh and unforgiving; wastelands filled with colossal peaks; primordial forests that have presence; treacherous seas of quicksand; the damp and fog draped moors where the quiet itself seems alive.
Yet there is history here, and opportunity too, for the land is dotted with strange, mystical sites and great monuments from empires before the Age of Darkness. Few alive today can guess at what untold treasures lie fallow. What ancient ruins lie devoured by the deep forest? What lies buried in the fetid swamps? What created the vast stretch of barren lands dotted with hundreds of thousands of broken statues?
Beyond this, the land itself is a treasure, the gigantic Darkwood beckoning those of an opportunistic ilk, not to mention the unique flora and fauna, both dangerous and profitable; where the worst predators and foulest threats are the human tribes, savages, who live there—and those who, in many cases, pass themselves off as humans. This vastness and the sense of isolation have earned the region its name; this is the Razor Coast."
-Dario Argent, Explorer and Silver Agent of the Aspis Consortium, addressing the Absalom Mercantile League, before his disappearance along Arcadia's Razor Coast in 4706 AR
Timeline of the Razor Coast:
Timeline of the Razor Coast:
4546 AR Lord Captain Markus Razor, explorer, navigator, cartographer and captain of the Royal Cheliaxian Navy discovers and charts the “Razor Coast” a series of jagged islands, hidden reefs and verdant jungle coves along the southern edge of Arcadia. He makes first contact with the Tulita people and would later report his findings to the crown.
4606 AR Aroden dies, leaving the Empire of Cheliax without a divine mandate. Cheliax gradually slides toward civil war. Quell, the so called “fisherman saint” of Aroden absorbs a sliver of Arodens divinity and is reborn in to god of Fisherman and Seas.
4608 AR Fort Stormshield is built atop a plateau overlooking Kai Bay along Arcadia’s Razor Coast by the Aspis Consortium in order to capitalize on the abundance of Tulita slaves and rare hardwoods found along the jungle coast.
4676 AR Port Shaw is founded by the notorious Free Captain Aldrin Shaw following a failed bid for the Hurricane Crown. The secluded waters of Kai Bay proved the ideal location for the renegade privateer to build his growing fleet of freebooters. Upon his initial landing, Aldrin launched several violent and brutal campaigns against the native Tulita, and in the wake of his butchery, he claimed the bay as his own. Captain Shaw and his men build the port town by hacking plank and board from the surrounding forest and constructing dozens of long piers. Shaw’s men raise houses, chandlers, inns, warehouses, taverns, and brothels to lure trade and accommodate the host of explorers and treasure hunters who descended like locusts upon the ripe, virgin Arcadia coast.
4678 AR Tulita, the original inhabitants of the Razor Coast, fragmented in their leadership and outnumbered by ever-arriving waves of foreign ships, tear apart from within. Some Tulita swear allegiance to the newcomers in exchange for powerful, easy to-use weapons – and then turn to settling past feuds.
4695 AR Fort Stormshield is sold to Port Shaw by the Aspis Consortium when the consortium decides to abandon the area due to an upswell in sea raider’s predations between the Razor Sea and the Arcadia Ocean.
4699 AR War between Port Shaw and the Pirate King Garr Bloodbane breaks out following Garr’s increased raiding on merchant ships.
4701 AR Captain Jacob Razor whose kin discovered the Coast in 4546 AR, defects from Garr Bloodbane’s crew to serve Port Shaw after falling in love with the elven freebooter Bethany Moonsliver.
4708 AR The Wave Riders, led by the renowned paladin of Quell, Solomon Trafalgar are attacked while onboard their ship the Trident by a monstrous Kraken. During the ambush the Kraken drags Trafalgar’s body to his deep demesne as a grisly trophy. The surviving heroes, viewing the defeat of their steadfast leader, fled in disgrace.
4709 AR The war between Port Shaw and Garr Bloodbane ends. Garr Bloodbane beleaguered and hard pressed after a series of defeats retained only his command ship, the Dark Lady, and one more seaworthy frigate, Devil’s Grasp. Garr was holed up near an atoll not far from Beacon Island to lay low and rebuild his fleet. Acting on a scout report Captain Jacob Razor’s fast running man-o-war, Razor’s Edge, teamed up with Gregory Bonedeuce, Captain of the Pride. During the ensuring battle Jacob Razor falls to Garr’s battleaxe, second before Boneduce is able to slay the pirate king. A few moments later the powder main on the Razor’s Edge explodes and the Razor’s Edge sinks with no survivors. Wounded from the battle Boneduce manages to beach the Pride and is rescued several days later.
4711 AR Following the death of her husband Bethany Razor shies away from direct involvement in the affairs of Port Shaw. She fills the void in her heart with an extremely successful career as the region’s only privateer. Under legal writ of the Elders, Bethany Razor preys on pirates and other dangerous outlaws of the Razor Coast, captaining her impressive ship Quell’s Whore.
4713 AR Current Year, campaign begins.
PORT SHAW: AN OVERVIEW
CN large city
Corruption +4; Crime +6; Economy +6; Law -5; Lore +4; Society +1
Qualities notorious, prosperous, racially intolerant (Tulita), rumor mongering, strategic location
Government council (The Lodge)
Population 21,432 (16,931 humans; 1,286 elves; 857 halflings; 640 dwarves; 628 gnomes; 427 half-elves; 407 half-orcs; 387 other)
Barrison Hargrove, Council of Elders (male human)
Alastair Crimmeran, Council of Elders (male elf )
Nakuakaua, Council of Elders (male human [Tulita])
Gregory Bonedeuce, Commandant of Municipal Dragoons, Commander of Fort Stormshield, Captain of Bonedeuce’s Pride (male human)
Milliauka, spiritual leader of the Tulita (male human [Tulita])
Mokoli Ali’i, rumored leader of the independent Tulita tribes (male human [Tulita])
Base Value 13,600; Purchase Limit 100,000 gp ; Spellcasting 7th level divine, 7th level arcane
Minor Items 4d4; Medium Items 3d4; Major Items 1d4
Port Shaw stands as the largest and most infamous of the Razor Coast’s boom ports. It sits upon the most strategic point along the coast, near dead center, overlooking Kai Bay at the headwaters of the sacred River of the People. This location made Port Shaw a bustling hub for all sea trade as well as the center of trade and foreign culture. Not surprisingly, Port Shaw is not the first settlement built on this prized location. The surrounding region once marked the heart of ancient Tulita culture. Upon the crucible where Pele’s fires smoldered in the sea and birthed land, Port Shaw now squats, dumping its muddy waste into the once blessed waters.
Port Shaw attracted a dangerous breed of brigand and cutthroat, and the bayside settlement quickly grew perilous for any traveler off his guard. Smugglers, pirates, outlaws, and outcasts filled out the population. In Port Shaw, the streets are unruly, the docks deadly after dark, and the only law in town remains the crushing iron fist of the Municipal Dragoons.
Port Shaw Today
People of Port Shaw
Once revered for their experience and spiritual wisdom, Lodge members no longer number among the most sage of the Tulita. Since the conflict, most who sit the Lodge are merely wealthy foreigners or Tulita puppets who dance to their tune. Today’s Lodge “Elders” are mere merchants with their hands on the gold, pearls, and sunken treasure beneath the Razor’s waves, as they busily rape the bounty of the coast’s natural treasures. Other Elders are displaced or disgraced aristocrats who fled their own lands and now play god in Port Shaw. Most of these bought their titles with gold and mercenary blades and now take obscene liberties, indulging their every debauched whim. Port Shaw’s ruling body does little good for its citizens, while parasites suck as many riches from the region as possible – then retire in luxury.
Citizens of Note
Elder Alastair Crimmeran: A member of the Lodge since shortly after its founding, this aged, blue-blooded elf simply purchased the title Elder. Crimmeran represents the elven interests in Port Shaw and often accompanies the Elven Ambassador, Viscount Senegar Deepwarder.
Elder Nakuakaua: This Tulita still holds the title Elder due to skilled manipulations rather than being some colonist’s puppet. He is not fast to act, fearing a misstep could cost him all, but holds steady on his commitment to find ways to gain greater power for himself and his people.
Gregory Bonedeuce, the current leader of the Dragoons, commands Fort Stormshield and captains Bonedeuce’s Pride, the most impressive man-o-war ever to slice the waves of the Razor Sea.
Dontorian’s House of Haberdashery
Sagacious Samuel’s Magic Emporium
The Razor Lodge
Shops and upscale markets cater to these displaced aristocrats, offering the latest fashions from far-off ports-of-call and every decadent tea, spice, textile or other amenity the rich simply cannot live without. The personal bodyguards of these pampered debutants prowl the streets here. Many of these warriors fashion themselves after the knights of distant Lastwall across the ocean and swear oaths of allegiance to the loathsome aristocrats they serve, displaying whatever ridiculous crest or insignia their employer takes for a coat-of-arms. The oaths of these ruthless mercenaries are only as binding as the weight of their masters’ gold; still, anyone who looks like they do not belong in Jade gets tossed.
The Kraken’s Gullet
The Invisible Hand Society Parlor
Coppers from the Heavens
The Broken Skull
The Sailors’ Kiss
Miss Molly’s Bathhouse and Laundry
Spyglass and Hook
The Pig’s Whistle
The Run Aground Tavern
Chapterhouse of the Church of Quell
Old Fish’s Supplies
Absalom Mercantile League Warehouse and Inn
Nets and Knots
The Eight Pence
Outskirts, Plantations, and Beyond
The plantations are a place of misery. Their verdant lands no longer belong to the native peoples who now work them, slaving away for barely enough food to feed their families. The conditions at different plantations vary. Some owners treat their indentured workers as valued employees, others like rented mules.
As a result, the small sewer system of Port Shaw remains woefully inadequate. While the brilliant design of its seawater intake system far outstrips most other cities’ sanitation solutions, the insufficient size of the sewers causes numerous problems. Pockets of explosive sewer gas accumulate in tunnels, and drainage conduits often flood during high tide, blocking sewage from depositing into the once pristine, now cesspool-like Kai Bay. Pollution of the seawater in the harbor is only one of many concerns, although it is likely responsible for the deadly sewage tainted water elementals that prowl the harbor and the tunnels below the city.
The Dragoons bar anyone from entering the sewers without their Writ of Official Business. This does not keep interested parties of adventurers from probing the murky depths below Port Shaw without such sanction, chasing hastily discarded valuables or rumors of lost treasures left behind by either the prior settlers or former occupants of the catacombs. Those brave and desperate enough to face such dangers for a chance at profit are known as “sewer pirates”, the most noted of whom is Lester Farrows.
In the Outskirts, struggling against disease, famine, and aggressive predators, some proud Tulita cling to life with the strength of their ancestors, even as their gods turn away from them. Others have lost hope. More than half the Tulita population living here toils under the backbreaking yoke of the plantation owners. Many of the rest – brothers, fathers and sons – take berths on whaling ships, leaving their loved ones to struggle in their wake.
Those left behind hope their loved ones on the waves will return with enough gold to buy their freedom and perhaps some land. However, those who depart rarely return, as slavers often raid the whaling fleets and make a beeline for Carcass with their human cargo. These unfortunates’ orphaned families persist in the Outskirts, filled with hope, anger, and despair in equal measure.
Mistfinder: Carrion Crown:
First, I'd keep it as the kind of tour through several lands that it's set up to be in Ustalav, so the following would be best for parties that don't mind walking.
I'd probably start things of in "The Haunting of Harrowstone" in Mordent, having the PCs drawn to Mordentshire or other town not on the map (even Ravengro itself) in much the same way as it's set up in the Carrion Crown Player's Guide, having them be related in some way to a scholarly ally in town, whether it be Van Richten or one of his near equally learned allies. From there, it'd be an easy thing to place Harrowstone outside of the town or nearby. The adventure could proceed pretty much as normal from there.
From there, we get into "Trial of the Beast", which starts with a good long overland journey and some encounters along the way. The PCs could meet the traveling freak show while they're passing through Dementlieu then go on to Ludendorf, which would take the place of Lepidstadt. From there the adventure can progress pretty much as normal, subbing in Schloss Mordenheim for Schloss Caromarc. (Whoa, that's all fits creepily well... I SWEAR it wasn't planned like that and that this is TOTALLY the first time I'm thinking about this. *awkward chuckle* Anyway.)
After that we get into "Broken Moon" territory, but there's no way I'd have the campaign swing all the way back down to Verbrek. Rather, I think I'd use the Forest of Shadows as the Shudderwood and use Corvin or a community on Lake Placid or Redleaf Lake as the Ascanor Lodge. From there I'd swing south to use the City of the Dead as Felgrau.
Departing from there there's another good long journey to the coast with "Wake of the Watcher". The problem here is that the closet coast is way farther away in Ravenloft than it is in Ustalav. I'd probably just hunker down and use Nevuchar Springs as Thrushmoor and then put Illmarsh farther away to the south, somewhere halfway between Nevuchar Springs and the border with Nova Vaasa on the coast of the Nocturnal Sea.
With the trip to Ravenloft Illmarsh taking us halfway down the coast, the closet cosmopolitan center to sub in for Caliphas in "Ashes at Dawn" would be Egertus. That adventure could play out there with little trouble nearly unchanged if you don't mind giving the city a bit of a vampire problem. Though, since it's already set up as a serial killer murder mystery, you might be able to spin Malken in there somewhere.
For the climax with "Shadows of Gallowspire" things get a little trickier. Thinks wrap up in a cursed mountainous wasteland. If you want to play things close to the way the AP presents them heading into Barovia and Mount Sawtooth might be a good place to drop Renchurch and Gallowspire, or even on to Forlorn, or even the mountains of Hazlik since that seems like good grounds for liches. This close to Castle Ravenloft, though, it gets pretty tempting to pull Strahd into the mix, and I might start thinking about respinning the whole plot as some new gambit by Strahd to escape the Demiplane of Dread by collecting and distilling essences from points of power across the domains into an elixir that would allow him to transcend, escape, or even become one of the Dark Powers. Runchurch could be near the village of Barovia and then you could sub in Castle Ravenloft and a fight with Strahd as the big badness at the end.
Mistfinder: Carrion Crown: An Introduction:
Ravenloft is not the name of the planet, or even a land. It is the name of an ancient castle in the land of Barovia, a nation that lies at the heart of the continent known as the Core.
The world itself has no name, being merely "the world" but is often called the Land of the Mists. Travellers from distant lands sometimes name it the Demiplane of Dread but most locals laugh at that hyperbole. Others have called the world such things as a prison for the damned, a crucible to test the virtuous, or a world of fear and horror. But, to you, it is simply called home.
10 Facts About the World
2 – People Are Isolated: The average person lives their entire life within thirty miles of where they were born. The farthest most folk travel is the neighbouring town or village.
3 – Monsters Are Real: The majority of people die a natural death never having encountered a creature of the night. Regardless, it is agreed that monsters are very real and dangers lurk in the shadows.
4 – Superstitions Work: As monsters are real and dangerous, adherence to rituals is what keeps people safe. People strictly adhered to traditions and thus tragedy is avoided.
5 – Humanity Is Predominant: The various inhuman races are rare, almost unknown in many lands. At best they are viewed as less than human, and at worst they are seen as animals or monsters.
6 – Technology Advances: The progress of science has created modern wonders, such as clockworks, firearms, gaslights, and some steam power.
7 – The Gods Are Silent: While prayers are sometimes answered, the gods themselves do not talk to mortals. Some claim to hear the voice of god, but these are called madmen as often as they are called prophets.
8 – Do Not Anger The Vistani: These wandering vagabonds are often considered thieves, but Vistani gypsies can also be entertainers, traders, craftsmen, and mystics. However, the potency of their curses and use of the Evil Eye keep the Vistani from being barred from towns.
9 – Be Wary Of The Mists: Cool white fogs borders the known lands. It is easy to become lost in the Mists, which have been known to snatch travellers, depositing them in faraway lands or even other times.
10 – Magic Is Unreliable: Outlanders from distant lands complain that magic does not work as it should: it cannot detect morality, travel between nations, accurately divine the future, or cross into other worlds. Even those spells that do work often have unintended consequences.
Theme and Tone
A good Ravenloft campaign is a combination of gothic horror and gritty fantasy. This campaign also adds elements of dark Fairy Tales and modern Urban Fantasy to the mix. Dracula and the Brothers Grimm meet the Dresden Files and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.
My players do not begin as heroes: they are not the champions of the people or the chosen of the gods. Instead, they are common folk with daydreams of glory or pushed to greatness by desperate times... if they survive.
Adventures will frequently be investigative and the villains more powerful than the PCs. Charging into combat without a plan or knowledge of the enemy will likely result in severe injury or death.
The campaign will also be low magic. PC spell-casters will be among the rare magic users in the Mists. To reinforce this, magic in combat will be discouraged and much more risky. Magic items will also be rarer but not unknown, simply special and unique.
Mistfinder: Carrion Crown: Character Creation:
The rules for creating characters are similar to those found in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, with a number of changes referenced below.
Races are divided into four categories: common, uncommon, rare, and very rare. At the start of the campaign, only races from the first three categories can be chosen. Additionally, at the start of the campaign, I will only select one player with a rare race and two with an uncommon race.
Race - Category
Players can choose alternate Favoured Class options from the Advanced Player's Guide or the Advanced Races Guide.
All core and base classes are available, however there are minor changes for some classes. See the Class section for how existing classes fits into the world as well as any possible changes.
Players who elect to take the commoner NPC class also gain an additional trait of their choice and begin play with a draw from the Tarokka Deck. In addition, their minimum hand size is increased from 0 to 1, so they always have a Tarokka card.
Character advancement begins using the Fast XP advancement chart. Once characters reach level 3, advancement will switch to the Medium XP chart (with XP increased to reach the new minimum of level 3). At level four your NPC class will convert to the PC class of your choice that you currently have the most PC levels in.
Starting Ability Scores
Aristocrat -> Any Class
Starting Skills & Day Jobs
PCs begin with 50 gp worth of goods and equipment with the exception of the aristocrat who begins with 100 gp. This equipment is not new, and represents handed down weaponry, heirlooms, or work-assigned gear. Extra funds are kept but converted into silver pieces (sp). This represents a character’s life saving.
Available content includes the Core Rulebook, the Advanced Player's Guide, Ultimate Magic, Ultimate Combat, and the Advanced Race Guide.
Players choose where their characters ally themselves both moral and legally: Good vs. Evil and Lawful vs. Chaotic. If a character does not strongly identify with an option they are Neutral or otherwise unaligned.
Players choose the order of their alignment – which part takes priority. A character can be Lawful Good (where what is legal trumps what is right) or Good Lawful (where the law must be obeyed, but not at the cost of what is right).
See the Language section for details on who speaks what language and what alphabet is used.
Background & Questions
Mistfinder: Carrion Crown: Notes:
Mistfinder: Carrion Crown: Magic in the Mists:
The Semblance of Reason
As noted above, the supernatural has little overt role in the lives of most of those living in the Land of the Mists.
Users of divine magic, for example, should not obviously cast spells. That is, while a priest may stop in combat to bless a companion or pray for protection, the prayer is not answered by a glowing aura over said companion or the appearance of an enormous fiery shield. Wherever possible, I would like PC's to minimise the visual effects of these spells. They have full effect in terms of the game mechanics, but are able to be passed off as coincidence by Doubting Thomases in the world itself. It should be emphasised though that characters who are affected by magic (especially those who pass their saves) are aware of what’s happened.
Similarly, the effect of magical weapons with properties such as flaming, brilliant or related powers will be downplayed. Instead of a visual corona of flames, the sword might project an aura of unnaturalness that warns opponents to stay clear, and invisible flames do fire damage to those struck by it, but from a distance, all but the most powerful or corrupt magical items are not obviously supernaturally empowered.
It is important to for characters to understand with that hit points are just as much luck as physical toughness. A prayer for healing is much more believably ambiguous if you the player presents it as discovering that your characters wounds weren't as bad as first thought, or returning someone to consciousness by slapping their cheek and praying for mercy, rather than describing wounds closing and people rising from near-fatal injuries.
In a similar vein, it is easier to conceal the alignment and nature of opponents from effects like Alignment Channel if you imagine the effect is, in essence, making their luck run out, rather than damaging them. In this mould, a lack of hit points means it is more likely that a fatal blow will be struck, not that a holy word or similar is actually physically damaging.
Finally, magical items are not typically overtly sold as magical items. They might be seen as priceless heirlooms or dwarf-crafted weapons. They might be simple folk remedies prepared by village wise women, or blessed water from a holy font, instead of potions of healing. These items are still available, but they are not thought of as magical items.