You've got to ask yourself if you're thinking Eldritch Abomination enough. Lamashtu's attitude towards sex is "Yes, and I don't care if you want to or not". And she'll make it work. And that's horrifying. You know why there are all those weird chimeras and half-this and half-that's out there? Lamashtu makes it work. You know why you can stick a template on anything and turn it into a variant monster? That's Lamashtu. You know where dire critters come from? Lamashtu out cruising for booty on a saturday night.
Lamashtu is *horrifying*. It is a monster in every sense of the word. It exists to create and foster abominations in violation of what would otherwise be the laws of nature and reality.
Basically - When Lamashtu is involved there is no such thing as non-procreative sex. It'll work, even when it shouldn't. Even when it physically can't. The words "Midwife to the Apocalypse" spring to mind.
So yeah, in my game world? There's always a chance, maybe not a good chance, but a chance, that anything can produce fertile offspring with anything else. And, you know, most of the time that just results in weird chimeras and hybrids - cat-people, half-elves, ligers, centaurs. Sort of weird, and it'd probably be impolite to ask "So how did your parents meet?" at dinner, but nothing to really worry about. Unless Lamashtu actively takes notice. Because the passive "surprise fertility" thing, you know, it's strange, but it's not really insidious. But when Lamashtu takes an interest, that's when things get proper horrorshow. That's where dire creatures come from, and why they never seem to die out despite having tiny populations. It's why most breeds of monsters never die out even though they don't have enough numbers to maintain population and they're so psychotically violent they rarely live long enough to meet a possible mate. Lamashtu is out there, somewhere, making more of them. Personally. Squick.
Speaking of "50 shades of Grey" there's actually a holy book kicking around my version of Golarion called "The Three Hundred and Nine Children of Lamashtu". It's... well... 309 religious stories or parables about the origins of different kinds of monsters. And it's illustrated. And if you try to read it you're going to be making a lot of will saves to avoid the "Sickened" condition. There are only a few copies and due to the book's value as a treatise for monster hunters they tend to change hands between Lamashtu cultists, Hellknight monster hunters, and various other monster-killing orders on a fairly regular basis. Rumors that the book is cursed and can engender horrific mutations in those that read it are just probably just rumors, but it's still recommended that pregnant women stay away.
I asked a Besmaran. He said he'd explain the whole thing, but I'd have to pay for the room at the inn *and* the rum.
I asked the Calistrians. One of them nearly fainted from laughing so hard.
I tried to ask the Lucky Drunks. I think I asked them. I don't actually know. I lost a few days and woke up in a pigsty wearing someone elses' pants.
I asked the Asmodeans. They asked if I was legally married to my partner or had entered into a legally binding contract for services.
I asked the Pharasmans. They shrugged and said it wasn't their problem.
I asked Desna's people. They found the idea amusing and invited me to dance with them under the moon.
I asked Sarenrae's adherents. They said that there are many ways to find peace and redemption.
I asked the Magistrates of Abadar. They provided me with the necessary forms and a list of chapels that perform marriages in the city.
I asked the Erastilites. They have strong views about the value of marriage. Very strong views, about which they are happy to discuss at excruciating length.
I asked the Gozrehns. They told me that the meeting of the wind and the waves is a sacred form of union.
I asked the cultists of Lamashtu and what they told me was horrifying. I barely escaped with my life.
I asked the clerics of Torag. They explained the process by which marriages are planned and arranged early in life to produce strong alliances between families and households.
I asked a guru of Irori. They told me that the Enlightened Being walks many roads.
I asked the warcryer of Gorum. She told me that soldiers will always be soldiers, for good or ill.
I asked the cultists of Zon-Kuthon, but I was unwilling to pay the price they named.
I asked the Iomedaens. They said that to protect and defend those you love is a holy duty, and love is the defense of life itself.
I asked a cleric of Shelyn. She smiled and told me a parable of four loves.
I asked a Magician of Nethys. He had views about certain charm magics that were disturbing and, thankfully, proved theoretical.
I sought priests of Norgorber but could not find one.
I sought no cleric of the Rough Beast and I hope never to meet one.
You should read up on medieval justice systems. Torture wasn't necessarily the default mode. A lot of the times a trial would involve some kind of magistrate or headman or other mediator calling for witnesses to whatever crime was committed. In a lot of societies punishment would involve a payment in cash or kind to the party that had been wronged. In other cases there would be a fine and the guilty party would be put in stocks or otherwise humiliated, but generally left unharmed. Prisons and jails weren't really common - Who can afford to lock up peasants and commoners? Capital punishment was generally reserved to murder, rape, treason, arson, and other very serious crimes. If torture was used the crime at hand was usually something like treasont or blasphemy, and as often as not it was politically motivated.
Hellknights don't necessarily have to be scary because they torture people. Assuming they're as lawful as they're supposed to be they could even be respected, albeit respected from a distance, by commoners.
I'd imagine Hellknights are almost exclusively concerned with major, serious crimes - Treason, Heresy, Murder, Arson, Rape, Kidnapping, Dissent, Sedition, Tax Evasion, and maybe magical crimes like summoning dangerous critters. They wouldn't necessarily have the man power or the interest to be chasing after every petty street criminal or brawler or sheep rustler - Town magistrates and guards could handle that in towns and peasants can handle minor crimes among themselves or with the assistance of a district magistrate.
/r/Pathfinder_rpg was talking about Spelljammer and the idea came up to try to convert it to work with the Pathfinder rules. Thus /r/Pathjammer was born. If you've got fond memories of Spelljammer or just like the idea concept of an adventurer standing on the deck of a tall ship sailing through space you should come over and help us figure this thing out.
And tell your friends! It'd be nice to get the various D&D/Pathfinder communities worked up about this. The more brains we bring to bear on it the better the results should be.
I just use 4d6 drop low with one complete re-roll if your first roll is awful. Not for any particular reason. It's just what I'm used to. And point buy... I dunno, It just seems less interesting. You're always going to get an average character and never have anyone out of the ordinary. Sure, sometimes rolling leaves you with a totally crap character, but sometimes you've got an 18 to give to int so you put a 17 in str, a 17 in con, a 15 in dex, put a 12 in wis and make cha your dump stat at 11... and have Mike the Murderous Melee Magician, The Wizard with a Maul.
At some point my players are going to ask me what in the world posessed me to run a game of Paranoia with a "Giligan's Island Meets Cyberpunk" theme.
And I'm going to tell them it was you. Then I'm going to tell them they need to figure out how to make a datadeck out of coconuts and sea shells and do it quickly because the minigun equipped giant stone head is coming for them.
It hasn't been an issue for me yet, but when my players get to the point that they have enough cash to buy high level magic or have magic items to sell they're going to run into serious problems of finding buyers or finding anyone who wants to sell.
Bilbo's Mithril shirt might have been worth more than the entire Shire. That doesn't mean he could by the Shire with it. To the average Hobbit it was just a pretty shirt. So if they want to buy a magic item or something they'll probably have to do a whole mini-adventure of sending agents out to find if anyone has one to sell, setting up a meeting with the sellers agents, travelling to an agreed on place to actually make the exchange, and so forth. The sheer scale of the transaction is such that it will be very involved. Less running down to the five and dime and more trying to buy a briefcase nuke from the Russians, with all the financial cloak and dagger that would entail.
After they do it a few times they'll probably be able to hire an agent whose job is to take their shopping list and make inquiries while they're out adventuring but they'll still have to put in some legwork to actually travel around getting the gear.
I really, really, really dislike the way Pathfinder handles magic equipment by default. It sucks all the magic out of Magic and just makes it into a stack of bonuses. I mean, sure, you might have two and a half tons of gold and be in Absolom but you still have to find someone who has what you want, is willing to sell it, and trusts you to buy it.
I dunno, it hasn't come up yet, I'll see what happens when it does.
"That magic iron of yours is crap. Far too many impurities in it to make it worth anything. It's impossible to heat up to forge temperatures and when you do it tends to shatter the first time you hit it with a hammer. And smelting it to remove all the slag and dross and what have you is much harder than just smelting the same amount of iron from ore. Takes much more fuel, too, on account of something in the alloy just don't want to heat up. So it's a good trick for closing up a hole in a fortification or something but as a source of iron it's worse than useless - More work than just mining the real thing and smelting it properly." - Ningol Ironwright, Dwarven Foundryman
Depending on my mood
Good mood: The explosion disrupts the dimensional interface ending the spell. Everything in the pit is now on the deck of the ship. Critters in the pit when the spell was disrupted do not take damage from the cannon shot.
Not good mood: The explosion disrupts the dimensional interface. Everything within a 1+d6 square radius has to make a reflex check or be ejected into a random adjacent plane.
Bad mood: The explosion disrupts the dimensional interface. Everything in the pit collapses instantly into a sphere of annihilation which appears at the center of the dimensional interface
Very bad mood: Everything in the pit, including air, is collapsed instantly into neutronium and ejected from the center of the dimensional interface. the resulting blob of degenerate matter is so dense that it immediately collapses into a singularity. Assuming there are a couple of ogres worth of mass in our new black hole it falls directly towards the center of the planet at terminal velocity, incorporating all matter that crosses its event horizon on the way, then slingshots through the center of the earth to almost but not quiet exactly the same altitude as it initially fell from. Then it starts on its path back. Due to the rotation of the planet it traces curves on its path through the world and will eventually incorporate all matter composing the planet into itself, ultimately forming a small singularity in orbit around the local star. I then give the player responsible a meaningful look as if to say "This is what happens when you try to abuse extra-dimensional spells. The world is being eaten by a black hole and it is all your fault"
I wrote up twenty-odd rumors. I mean to print them out, cut them up, and hand a few of them out to my players whenever they happen to go ashore and visit a tavern. If you want to use them then it's up to you which of them, if any, is true. Or even remotely accurate. They are sailor's stories, after all, so you can bet half are lies and the other half exaggerations. You might have your players make the appropriate knowledge check to decide whether the rumor is plausible or utter wash.
Also: this is massive three or four page wall of text. And the grammar is atrocious.
They say Three Tongues Laschey managed to take a Slaver's Tradesman bound for Egorian with two hundred halflings in the hold. Well they cut the crew's tongues out, finished the voyage, and sold the whole lot for 130 gold Thrones a head! Course they only got 50 each for the crew on account of their tongues being cut out and their hands all mangled!
Tale is there's a bay near Long Dog Island what holds a who village of beautiful sirens. Any who find it are lured beneath the waves, but they don't drown! The kiss of the Siren fills their lungs and gives them life and they live in luxury beneath the waves with the comely sea women. And after a few years they're let go with a kiss and a wink and a string of fat pearls! Probably all rot, butwouldn't that be a fine thing?
Word's come that the Devil B~!~$ has sent a pair of pirate-hunters down into the Shackles to bring her own vision of hell to honest pirates. Captain's said to be a Hellknight name of Ardas and rumor is she's got a flock of harpies or some-such that flit about the rigging of her ships. And that's not all. Barley Finger's Bill was boarded by the Hellknight. She didn't find Bill's smuggling holds but he got a good look at her ships. Two cannons! Great bloody long ones, finest make with snarling devil's heads on each! Aye, that Hellknight Ardas will make a right mess of things until some Free Captain sorts her out.
I heard from me mate Rum Ron who had it from the carpenter's hand on the Red Aquila that he saw a whole island rise up out of the ocean! The Aquila's captain just had to have a look and hove to to send a boat over. Couple of sailor's alight on the strange island and it's all covered over in seaweed and slime. Naught of interest to honest sailors, y'see. But 'twas so big they spent half an hour exploring the nooks and crannies. Then the whole island shudders and there's a terrible scraping racket so they all scarper back to their boat. As they're paddling back to the Red Aquila a great cloud of scalding fog overtakes them! Cooks everyone on the boat stone dead and even burns some of the crew aboard ship! Well, the captain he don't like that one bit so he orders them to let out all sail and be away as fast as they're able. So me mate's mate, he's up in the rigging and he looks back the way what they come and he claims the islands all gone save for one great bloody huge rock standing up out of the ocean. And no get this, get this... he says the island has an eye! Tall as a man and staring back at them! Well he didn't want none of that so he fixes his eyes on his lines and when he chances to look back there ain't nothing behind them but their wake.
They say another ship turned up broke by a kraken. Masts ripped up, hull holed, and no crew to be found. I ain't even want to put to sea if such a beast is out there. Mayhap it's all hogwash and them ships was just beat up in a storm, but it puts the chill in me thinking about it.
That so called dragon pirate's been seen again in Port Peril. They say he comes over the horizon seated atop his ship rowing it like a holly boat! Just sculling along, happy as you please, and when the dockmaster finally bullies a pilot to go out and meet him the dragons just as pleasant as can be, doesn't even argue about his docking fees and pays up for a plum berth full in advance! Well me sister was down at the docks that day and she says the dragon's crew hauled out eight chests, each as big as a man and packed with silks stole off from who knows where! Imagine that, a dragon pirate! It'd be a sight to see, though I wouldn't sign with him for fear he'd just eat me up!
Aye, the Eye of Abendego is as bad as she ever was. Ain't natural, a hurricane that goes for a hundred years round and round one spot. And her daughter storms are worse this year than ever. Three mean hurricans spun down towards the shackles, two into the coast of Rahadoum and that was a fine mess with flooding and whole towns washed to see. And one spun up Cheliax way and damn near drowned Corentyn. They say water was standing in the streets for near a week and it was mud for three weeks after. Ain't natural, I say.
Banana crop is expected to be good this year. Me sailing masters planned the whole summer's voyage around being in Sargova at just the time to take on breadfruit and sail for Absolom. Winds willing we can bring em in for the noble's dainty dishes before they all go to rot and make good for the whole year.
I hear Sargovas in a bad way. Them inland Mwangi is forming up an army lead by some demon child to batter down the gates and cart all the Sargovans away as slaves or sacrifices. Awful thing really. The Free Captains squeeze them for protection from Thrice Damned Thrune while them jungle nations is pushing in from the interior. If there's still a single Taldane in Sargova in ten years time I'll eat my shoe
Goblin sailors, they say! Aye, search me how any goblin could belay his love of fire long enough to build a wood ship, but that's what they say. First ones were sighted off Wizard's Quay ten or twenty years back. Ain't seen much of them but once in a while, but now ships say they're coming across great mucking long sailing canoes with a hundred goblins in each one. Ship sails too close to a river mouth and these canoes just come dartin out at them, trying to take them at anchor. Course they is goblins, so half of them wants to steer right and the other half left, but apparently they do a good clip when they're all of a mind for it. And the stories come from the ships that got away. I don't like to think about what happens to the ships that don't.
Aye, more Hadozee in the Shackles than ever. Didn't used to see ought of them in me da's time but now it seems every fifth ship has a few. They're proper sailors, they are, and with those wings they can get about the rigging faster'n almost anyone else. Real dedicated, too. Once they sign on with a ship they stick wither til the ship drowns or the monkey drowns. Course you can't call them monkeys. They don't like it at all.
They say the Red Mantis whacked one of the Beys of Botosani. Strange thing is everyone thought he was the Bey's nephew til he puts his hood back and everyone see's that creepy mantis head of theirs. Kills the Bey in two flicks of his saber and disappears in a blast of smoke. Later they find out what ship he'd come on on by account of everyone on the ship was dead. Shame, really. Word is the Bey had a bit of a business on the wayside smuggling this and that. Some smuggler's purse is going to be thin til they can find a new contact.
Speaking of which Botosani's still caught up in famine. Damned fool atheists, what should they expect but to go hungry if they shun all the Gods. Even Erastil, and you'd never find a more pleasant bunch of priests nor ones better suited to lift a famine. But that's not here or there for us sailors. For us the word is that grain is worth its weight in gold, and the nobles are paying thirty golden Hands a head for beef on the hoof!
No, see, one Cheliax Throne weighs as much as two Taldane Royals, unless the Royals' been clipped. And each Royal is as much as three silver Pearls, which isn't the same as real pearls, except when it is. And them Rahadoumi Hands is as much as a Throne and just a bit more, so they're right fine to get paid in, but don't spend them in Cheliax on account of the moneychangers got a law says you can't spend ought but Thrones and they only pay one Throne for one Hand. And then you got the Shackle's own press, the Anchor, but you'd have to be a fool to take pay in Anchors on account of no one trust's the King's mint not to skimp on the gold for them. But if they was all gold they'd be seven Anchors to one Throne. Course you can use Taldane royals in Cheliax, some legal exemption or somesuch, so they're a good piece to take your pay in. And if you ever come across an oblong coin with a bug on one side and some funny little pictures on it you hold on to that. It's a Osirion Scarab and it's said they're the purest gold in the Inner Sea. It's five Scarabs to seven Thrones by weight, though you'd best be watchful for fakes and forgeries, for there's always some rascal forger that means to cheat a soul. And of course you should never take Sargova scrip unless you got no choice or they're having a plum hear for bananas and slaves. In a bad year that paper ain't worth anything but to roll up and smoke, but in a real good year they'll honor the face weight in Sargovan gold Reals, and it's eight Thrones make ten Reals. Ain't many Reals around so them Sargovan's make a point to keep the gold in them.
Aye, so the Master says to teh Captain we're putting in at some God's forsaken little spit of a village in the Sodden Lands to take on a lot of rice. And the Captain, he thinks the Master's gone mad and it's clear on his face, but he's no fool and knows who holds the purse strings. So we sail up the coast til we find the place and we put down anchor. The boats go out with the Master and they come back and say all's well and the locals start rowing out their scows loaded with rice. We're loading it into the hold and tying it down, all very nice and how does it please. You. Well we don't have the last crate in the hold when someone starts calling out "fire, fire!" from the rigging. And sure enough on the far side of town there's a lot of smoke coming up and a great ruckus. Master says he wants not part of it and we haul up anchor and let out some sail to be away from there. Well, later I hear the whole town was run down by Boggarts and they put everyone they found to the slave's chain and ate the dead! Horrible thing, and I'm glad we were clear of it.
Don't pass it around too loud, but I heard a rumor that big ugly lad who was in here last week was a scout for the Grey Fleet. They say he broke into Cut-eye Mag's place, killed her in her bed, and rifled all her papers. Which means he's got the schedules for at least a few month's voyages of half a dozen companies. On his way out he breaks the locks on the slave pens and he' vanished by morning. Only way they know it was him is they get the priest of Asmodeus down to do some magic on a spot of blood. Well, no need to say there's a price on his head and another on those papers. But if he is what they say he is then there's a Grey Fleet Squadron somewhere in the Shackles. I wouldn't want to be caught up with slaves in the hold by them.
Aye, sea turtles. Word is he straps one of them on each of his feet and rides them all the way back to Port Peril. Of course it's wash, you oaf, but wouldn't that be a funny sight to see?
Aye, White Pensheaf found his brother all right. Still know one knows what happened to the Flying Maiden, but Black Pensheaf he found marooned on a tiny island out near the tip of the shackles. I guess the seer's word was true, for all the good it did. Whoever put Black Pensheaf off left him with a dozen of his crew and officers. When White Pensheaf rowed ashore he found Black Pensheaf stark mad and surrounded by gnawed bones. Black Pensheaf rushed him with a bent cutlass and White Pensheaf had to cut down his own brother what he spent near a year and a hell of a fortune to find. They say the last Pensheaf ain't come out in public since, but he's laid out a good price for any information what lead's him to them as took the Maiden and drove his brother to madness.
Nah, I'm telling you, I saw a mermaid. Aye, I know we've all seen mermaids, but this one was different, right? She ain't got the back end of a fish, you see, but a whole great striped shark's arse! Aye, and a her face was too long and full of teeth. Like a mermaid is half a woman and half a fish but this one was like as half a shark! Well we were in the boat when she came up and thought she maybe wanted to do a bit of trade but when she got close she lunges at poor old Olaf and chomps off his hand! Jari clocks her in the gob with an oar and she dives down, but Olaf near bled to death and then near died again when he took a fever. He'll be wearing a hook for the rest of his days. I hope to never meet one of them shark-maids again, I tell you.
I heard the ropeworks in Bloodport burned down to ashes, and a few blocks of warehouses as well. Aye, it's a shame, they made damned good lines and hawsers. It'll be a year before they're all up and running again. Price of lines and rigging will go up, mark my words. You had best look over your books and make sure you spot a bit more for keeping up your ship if you want to make it through next year.
My players are going to get to the Promise tomorrow or next session. So far
Wall O Text:
- I've forgotten about the rum as often as not. I downplayed the Con damage and played up that it tastes like turpentine mixed with kerosene. People have been consistently getting rid of it, spelling it, handing it off to Rosie (who apparently has a cast iron liver) or otherwise disposing of it when it comes up. Because dying of liver failure isn't very heroic
- My PCs ended up with weapons more or less from the get go. Plugg runs the crew on what he thinks of as "Discipline" which amounts to being a petty bully and has very little to do with actual discipline. Pretty much everyone was armed within the first five days simply because none of the officers beside Plugg actually consider the crew a threat.
- The Officers are totally ambivalent to the crew. As far as they're concerned the crew are there to be used up until they can get together enough ships and money to hire a proper crew of seasoned pirates.
- Half my PCs joined a few sessions in. They were found drifting in a ship's boat after a "Kraken" attacked their ship. Harrigan, on a hunch, followed the flotsam to find the drifting ship. The PCs were sent over to "Check out the wreck" and bait the squid out of hiding. When they returned to the Wormwood the "Kraken" attacked. The PCs and crew various tentacles on the deck. Longfarthing takes to the air, grabs Harrigan off the deck, then goes into a power dive and sends him diving into the water at high speed. A few rounds later the tentacles start convulsing withdraw from the ship. Then Harrigan pops up, covered with squid blood, and tells Longfarthing "you were right! It's just a giant squid!". From that point on the PCs were properly terrified of their captain. "Just" a giant squid?! Then I made them do all the worst jobs stripping the stricken ship of sails, lines, timber, and fittings.
- My PCs haven't made any effort to explore the ship in detail. I think it's because they're all new and don't have that Murderhobo larceny in their hearts yet. Upshot is no one has died to any traps.
- When the Carpenter went overboard one of the PCs immediately starts running for the railings to jump after him. The bard uses animate ropes and manages to get a rope around him more or less the same moment he goes diving off the railing. Then the three biggest PCs spend several rounds trying to hauling him back on deck.
- I expect my PCs are going to mutiny against Plugg the moment the Wormwood's sails are over the horizon. I'm going to have Plugg and Scourge confiscate all of their weapons first thing. We'll see how that goes.
For the Island
- I'm going to downplay the swarms drastically. I'm thinking that if they move into the PC's square that PC has to make a fort save or become sickened and remain so until they can disperse the swarm. The swarms will cause disease as usual. Should make the swarms a significant nuisance without being deadly. The PCs have a good motivation to get rid of the swarm but they're not going to all die because no one has AOE damage.
- I'll probably run with Arron Ivy being alive and available as a carpenter.
- Not sure what I'll do about the caves, we'll see how that goes.
Have your Grindylows try to "Help" their divine patrons by bringing them useful things. Like viable dragon-turtle eggs or baby Kraken. Of course given their divine connection to Lamashtu they'll be able to raise the monsters as powerful allies of the tribe, right? Right? Oh, and did they mention that the Dragon Turtle they stole the egg from maybe kinda sorta could have possibly followed them home?
Yeah, the idea of having a bunch of sociopathic monsters with the mindset of six year old's trying to impress their beloved big brothers/sisters just tickles me in the cold, twisted, burnt parts of my heart.
I'd probably play it for laughs in a kind of scary way. The Grindylows are really enthusiastic about helping their new prophets and are always trying to outdo each other to be useful. Their idea of "Useful" includes
- Capturing feral monsters and leaving them lying around the ship or the hero's living quarters as gifts
- Helping to recruit "Crew" without any concept of what a ship's crew does, leading them to pressgang small children, animals, and bits of driftwood.
- Waging bloody war against their hated enemies - Various totally inoffensive species of squid. Nonetheless they treat what are essentially fishing expeditions as major military efforts requiring provisions, leadership, blessings, and so forth.
- Taking initiative to stage raids against various ships and settlements. Of course if captured the poor grindylow will begin calling for help from their prophets. By name. And if pressed will gladly lead the heretics back to the prophets confident that the prophets will easily dispatch the unbelievers.
- Taking it upon themselves to decorate the PCs ships to make it suitably fearsome in Grindylow eyes.
Basically - They have a warped view of the world. They want to help. And aside from a genuine and heartfelt desire to aid their beloved prophets they are hilariously sociopathic. They'll gladly and enthusiastically try to help with everything. If they don't understand the thing they'll just try that much harder to make up for it.
I'm treating it as a feudal system as well. The Hurricane King is the feudal chief of the entire region. All the Free Captains have individually sworn fealty to him and agreed to pay tributes, provide ships at times of war, and to abide by whatever treaties he negotiates (Sargova). In turn he agrees to protect the Shackles from outside interference (Cheliax), resolve disputes brought before him, and grants each of his captains a "fief" in the form of the Letter of Marque and maybe a small port.
The King or the Council handle legal and other disputes among the pirates in cases where they don't want to come to blows. Most of the pirates smart enough and dangerous enough to become Free Captains recognize that it's better to abide by the Council's decisions than to let petty disputes evolve into open warfare between fleets. If they have a disagreement over, say, which of the ships in a battle has first claim to prizes they can take it to the Council and either work out an arbitration or settle it with a duel or something. You might not get what you want, exactly, but you can expect more or less fair compensation and also that the situation won't escalate into a destructive conflict where everyone loses money.
The Free Captains system also helps clamp down on disruptive minor pirates. Each Free Captain has a bunch of lesser captains who work for them under the terms of their letter of Marque. The Free Captain is entitled to a share of their booty but is also responsible for disciplining them. The King expects the Free Captains to keep their vassals in line. The Free Captains are also expected to shut down unlicensed pirates that they encounter either by destroying them or pressing them into the fleet so they can be controlled.
Basically the goals are the same as feudalism - To corral a bunch of dangerous independent war bands into a cohesive whole, to minimize internal conflict, and to coordinate defense against external threats. When the system works everyone is left free to go raid the Inner Sea knowing that they can find a safe harbour and a ready market for their plunder once they return to the Shackles. They can also be confident that their own ships won't be molested by other Free Captain's ships and that their bases and forts will be left alone. And if they Cheliax navy stages a significant incursion the Free Captains will band together to kick them in the teeth.
In practice there's certainly a lot of harassing, skirmishing, "accidental" boarding actions, and so forth, but the system usually keeps things to a dull roar.
Guys like Harrigan are quite dangerous to the system. With significant power all by himself and a steady following he could upset things sufficiently for Cheliax or another outside threat to make a solid go at invading. All of the Free Captains together have more than enough ships and skill at arms to crush all but the largest multinational fleets. But without that unity they're vulnerable to being drawn into an extended conflict that the chaotic Shackles aren't well equipped to sustain.
I know my PC's would just go with it, but why would my team want to be Free Captains? What reason is there for this? If I can get what I want at another grocery store without a membership fee then why would I become a member of Costco?
In my game? If you're not a Free Captain, or flying the flag of a Free Captain, then you're fair game for anyone who can take you. Free Captains take on lesser captains as vassals. The lesser captain is given a battle ensign to fly from the mast identifying them as part of the Free Captain's fleet. It doesn't exactly provide protection, but it does tell any prospective assailant that they're risking the wrath of the Free Captain by challenging that Captain's authority.
Likewise Free Captains issue letters and flags of safe conduct to merchant ships. A merchant ship flying such a flag turns over sizable fee to the Captain (Who turns over a portion to the Hurricane King) and is entitled to the protection of that Captain's fleet - Any ship of the Captain's fleet is obligated to render aid and forbidden from attacking flagged ships.
So the upshot to joining a Free Captain's fleet is protection and having a posse. It's not a sure fire thing, but a ship from a rival Free Captain's fleet will think twice about attacking you for fear of starting a war. Likewise anyone attacking a flagged merchant ship can expect to be hunted diligently.
And if you're enough of a badass to stake your own claim as a Free Captain it gets you vassals, income, prestige, and legitimacy. You're essentially claiming a title of nobility then backing it with force.
Eitherway, back to the "Why would I want to be". It's not so much "Why would you want to be" as "If you expect to make it you're going to be". If you're not a Free Captain, or working for one, you'll be preyed on by them. If you ever become powerful enough to become one you'll be forced into it - It's that or fight their combined fleets because you're becoming a threat. It's really just politics. Free Captains are the nobs of the Shackles. If you're one of them they can keep an eye on you and exert a certain amount of control over your activities. If you're not then you're an outside threat to be eliminated.
Okay, so something that hasn't been brought up much - There's a lot of angst about alignment and RAW and paladins and anti paladins.
Forget all the RAW. Forget alignment.
You are a Paladin (or Antipaladin). That means that you, personally, have been chosen by a God as an individual who is an exceptional representative of that god's beliefs and ideals. Iomedae personally looked down from Heaven and said "I like you. If you ever go fight a dragon or something I have your back and will provide you with a portion of my divine power." You are a mortal custodian of the power of the divinity you worship. You are fully committed to living as an exemplar of that divinity's philosophy through a lawful and good lens. You're not a cleric - Clerics are functionaries. They're office workers. They're clerks. You're the select special forces front line commandos of your deity. Clerics minister to the faithful. You go out into the world to set a living example of the best possible aspects of your deity in a very kick the door in and slay the dragon sort of way.
That really, really, really needs to be emphasized strongly. Doesn't matter what the player thinks is lawful good or what the Paladin thinks is lawful good or what the GM thinks is lawful good. It matters what GOD thinks is lawful good. If Iomedae thinks you're not living up to HER ideals then she's going to shut off the tap. And she's watching you. You, personally. She has a lot invested in you. And if you, her chosen, her actual chosen divine warrior on Golarion, do anything that would make her feel embarrassed or ashamed? She will kick you out into the cold. You didn't betray some abstract code. You betrayed your real and living goddess. The goddess who invested you with extraordinary trust and power. The goddess who thought you were good enough to act as her representative in the mortal world. The goddess who believed that you, you personally, could make a difference in the balance between good and evil. She was pulling for you and you let her down. You cad!
For all this emphasis on Rules As Written and differing interpretations of what Lawful Good means this argument has forgotten what Paladins actually are. What they represent. Who they represent.
Anti-Paladins, by the way, are the same thing. No less a creature than ploughing Rovagug itself looked out through a crack in its prison, saw you, and said "I like that guy. He's my kind of guy. I'm going to give him power because he fully represents my ideals!"
Rovagug's ideals are the omnicidal destruction of everything that exists up to and including the Gods and itself. And you're the living exemplar of that destruction.
Orcus is the demon lord of Undeath. You are so good at killing things and turning them into twisted mockeries of unlife that he personally decided to make you his poster boy.
Lamasthu's entire shtick is having kinky sex with monsters in order to create more monsters. And she thought you would make a great champion. And that's really, really gross.
Urgathoa is all about disease and gluttony. All about it. And you are the cursed, self indulgent pustule that he chose to make his champion.
Anti-paladins aren't forced to be twisted monstrosities by the RAW. They're forced to be twisted monstrosities by the fluff. The first thing you have to do when you create any kind of Paladin, anti or otherwise, is create a character who can believably have attracted the attention and patronage of a god. You have to walk the walk before you can lay on the hands. That's relatively easy for a Paladin - Be a really good person who believes in the law and you're half way there. It's a bit harder for an anti-Paladin. You might end up having to do the bad thing with an Avatar of Lamashtu, or something equally horrifying. Paladins are almost alien in their genuine devotion to ideals to which most people only pay lip service. Anti-paladins are alien. Full stop. There is nothing comprehensible about the mind of someone who could attract that kind of attention from an evil god. If you are sane enough to be playing Role Playing Games then you're probably too sane to fully appreciate the mind of an Antipaladin.
Paladins and Clerics do not wield their own power. Their power is on loan. They're borrowing it. It can be taken away if they do not use it responsibly and appropriately. They're both really freaking powerful, able to strike down monsters and raise the dead to life. But that power comes at the cost of living up to someone else's ideals. Clerics have it pretty easy - They're expected to stay more or less on a straightish path. Paladins must maintain a much stricter unity of vision with their deity.
So yeah. There's my piece. Arguing about the specific grammar of the Code or what the RAW does or doesn't say is totally missing the point of the entire concept of a Divinely Empowered Warrior. The important part is "Divinely Empowered".
I'd like something as screwy, cerebral, and surreal as the Planescape setting was. The classic depiction of Faery is growing increasingly thin for me. I'd like to see a lot of absurd, ridiculous, surreal things. Encountering Aroden and a bunch of other dead gods heading out for a pub crawl through 1980s Cincinnati. Entire mountain ranges made out of stacks of stone faces that continually whisper at each other with your mother's voice. A river that takes the form of an tremendous centipede and wanders across the landscape. A tavern where all the guests are your old characters from previous campaigns. A non-euclidean forest where trees grow in impossible directions and forest is vastly smaller on the inside than it appears from the outside, unless you travel West in which case it is infinite. Mischievous shrews with revolutionary ideas about the millinery industry. Food that does battle for the honor of being served to you. Profound weirdness
Ninja in the Rye wrote:
My take on the Azlanti racial superiority is that the +2 comes at the expense of being, one and all, Aboleth sleeper agents. They're not a superior breed of human to the modern degenerates - They're super-soldiers built by a race of abominations from the depths of history. They just happened to go rogue and were summarily wiped out for their presumption. Modern humans don't have the same raw abilities but they also don't have built-in compulsions forcing them to be receptive to the Aboleths.
From the material I've read it seems like the conflict between humans and Aboleth is really the central, ultimate, deepest level of conflict in the world. The entire shape of the modern world is a direct result of the conflict between Azlanti and Aboleth. All modern nations, the entire human race, are scions of that conflict. And there's no real indication that the Aboleth have gone anywhere. They're still down there in the depths and just as nasty as ever. And because of that racial memory thing they haven't forgotten anything about the conflict while most modern human nations aren't even aware that Aboleth exist.
Eitherway - The patchwork nature of the setting annoys me too. I handwave the insane biological diversity with "A wizard did it" - Pulling critters in from other realities, building them from scratch, ressurecting fossils, who knows. There's also the migration of fauna among the various planets of Golarion, and the various "Lost Worlds" underground.
captain yesterday wrote:
Because I want to box a dragon to death and I need a 30 foot tall tin-can with myomer-Pseudomuscles to do it.
Seriously, though - Escaflowne. Watch Escaflowne. That pretty much lays out how to fantasy mecha can be awesome.
An android bard who uses ultrasound and infrasound to produce mind altering effects?
Third-Level Consumer Products Corporation POLYHEAT Personal Survival Stove! Generates 40-40000btu/min for up to 200 years in normal operation!
Just add air-bag!
Random fan nonsense follows;
The Silver Mount is trying to rebuild itself. Various bits of are either in Golarion orbit or are long-period comets orbiting the sun. But the key systems are still working! Good news, right? Automated repair systems are enacting emergency on-site resource gathering and system replacement. A massive automated resource mining system has been self-assembling under the mount. Automated factories are steadily producing autonomous multipurpose drones. Initial assessments of crew casualties were greatly overstated - Turns out that someone survived to activate the crew-command systems! If only the Silver Mount could figure out what language they were using...
Eitherway, I think it would be interesting if the actual crashed ship is operating on its own complex agenda. The Technic league managed to get hold of some children's auto-didactic instructional toys. From the toys they learned the bare minimums of what the Silver Mount is (age appropriate for children 4-8 years of age). They found the some Crew IFF transceiver units and figured out how to control some of the core systems at a very basic level. The Silver Mount, badly damaged, thinks the Technic League are a bunch of children from the Crew and has essentially detailed robot teddy-bears to follow them around and take care of them. In the mean time it's trying to put itself back together while fending off the insanely hostile local wildlife.
Actually - As an NPC some kind of robotic, intelligent teaching and instructional toy could be hilarious. Carefully explaining to the 'kids'/party how to operate simple technologies and gently reminding them that even though they're having a very difficult time with very simple concepts they're still special and loved.
You could also play with the idea that "Computers do exactly what they're told to". The Silver Mount technology is easy to use. You just need to learn the programming language. And base 7 mathematics. And user interfaces designed for people with three arms and a vocal range that extends into ultrasound. The point being - the Tech works just fine, but you have to figure out how to ask it to do what you want and the DM is encouraged to play up literal genie as much as possible.
"Further parameters required."
"Fire the... uh... Laser!"
"Further parameters required."
"Fire the laser at that guy!"
"Target parameters are insufficiently specific. Further parameters required."
"Fire the laser at the... uh... Orc. The third orc on the left. With the wolf skull device on his shield!"
"Assessing... Targeting parameter definitions are unknown. Please update targeting parameter definitions. Please define the following: ORC. WOLF. SKULL."
"ARRRRGH! Stupid starfish aliens!"
"Error: Please restate your request."
It is. But after five thousand years it's inconceivable that there's any point in using tropes and memes relating to the Americas at all. Frankly the idea that a tiny little Viking village has been there for 5,000 years is utterly absurd - No culture on earth has lasted that long unless you take a very, very liberal definition of 'culture' and apply it to the Ancient Egyptians.
We barely know anything about cultures that existed 5,000 years ago. We, us. With dating techniques that rely on electron spin resonance and radioisotope frequencies the most we can say about the majority of cultures five thousand years ago is "Well... they existed".
If Arcadia has had ironworking and horses for 5,000 years then it is not in any way relateable to the Americas. There would be no similarities, at all, what so ever. And this entire exercise becomes rather silly.
Or we could ignore "Ancient Canadian Valhalla" and actually extrapolate from a mash up of 10th-18th century Earth like the rest of Golarion.
If you want to talk about some of the key cultural and economic dynamics pre-contact America that make it distinct from pre-contact Europe you're talking almost entirely about different paths of technological development - Americans had far fewer domestic animals, Americans did not work metal for agriculture or military purposes. You can also argue that Americans didn't build wheeled carts because the terrain in most areas with major population centers was extremely ill suited for wheeled transport.
Note that this does not imply that Americans were technologically inferior. They built very large, very complex, very orderly societies with intensive agriculture, strong central administrations, post systems, and standing armies. Those standing armies were extremely effective in battle against the Spanish, especially after the shock value wore off. Frankly - the Spanish didn't Conquer the Americas. The Americas conquered themselves and the Spaniards managed to manipulate their way into a superior position among the victors. Cortez' troops certainly did a lot of fighting but it was his army of American allies that did most of the heavy lifting in beating up the Aztecs. If the Aztec empire hadn't been on the brink of massive civil war to begin with they would have thrown the Spaniards into the sea, even with disease, and the history of the Americas would be very different.
From what I can remember the Americans were equal or better than the Europeans in textiles and chemistry, notably in the use and application of rubber. They had much more productive food crops available. Flaked stone weapons were quite capable of killing armored Spaniards.
The point is - They don't NEED iron or horses. It doesn't do anything except remove most of the reasons why Arcadian culture would be different from Avistani culture. A human runner can outpace a mounted rider after four days assuming no remounts and a stone weapon will kill you just as dead as a steel one.
So here's the deal
- Arcadia is going to be based on America because Golarion is a fuzzy xerox of Earth.
- There are going to be cultures that are closely based on Aztec, Maya, Inca, Iroqouis, Hopi, and probably Tlingit or Haida.
- They won't use metal because this is Pathfinder and Pathfinder cleaves strongly to cultural stereotypes (see: Varisians/Gypsies, Oisirons/Egyptians, Galtans/French, Andorans/Muricans, Ulfen/Scandanavians, Vuldra/India, etc)
- They won't ride horses because ditto. They might end up riding dinosaurs, but they won't be riding horses
Bow to the inevitable. Golarion is not a setting where you can extrapolate 5,000 years of technical and cultural advancement, unless you expect Arcadia to be a dieselpunk setting. ,
First off, I want to second what Paladin said: Be aware of your player's emotional triggers. If you're going to have torture ask them if they can handle that before you spring it on them. I heard somewhere about a "Fade to black" card - You have a card with a big black X on it in the middle of the table. If someone is uncomfortable with what's happening they can pick up the card. At that point you stop narrating the scene, "Fade to black", and move on.
If my players ever run into these guys I'll be playing them as the Cenobites of the Order of the Gash from Hellbound Heart and Hellraiser I. And only Hellraiser I - The point being that they're not "Evil", per se. They genuinely do want to help you. And the best way to help you is to help you see that masochism is the only true path to enlightenment.
The point isn't to inflict pain on people. The point is to get them to inflict pain on themselves and in so doing turn into something else. They're safe, sane, and consensual without the safe or sane - Assaulting someone and forcing them to be tortured won't do at all. The entire point is that you embrace the pain, the loss, the darkness for yourself of your own free will. Only thus can you truly become one with Zon-Kuthon.
As for healing and other temple services - They'll perform them at the normal rates and will even do charity cases. In either case, though, the method is excruciating - They cure diseases by magically transforming pain and suffering into purification. As the mind is overwhelmed until all distractions and contradictions are driven out by pain the body is sympathetically overwhelmed until all disease and infirmity is driven out by pain. A Cure Light Wounds involves using pain to sympathetically remind the flesh of how it was injured in the first place and then moving backwards, step by agonizing step, to the time before the flesh was ever injured. They heal you by inflicting the injury on you again, but in reverse, leaving you whole. And it hurts.
For extra fluffiness - The magic will only work on people who want it. Really want it. If you try to minimize the pain the spell will fizzle. Taking pain killers would indicate that you're rejecting the god's gift!
I'd be all for this with the caveat that I'd really like to see the armies go weird in a big way. Ultimate combat contains stats for everything from air-ships to multiple launch rocket systems to a freaking battle-mech!.
I'd like to see a section of "Standard" units - given the rough culture of the setting I'd assume the average Avistani army of the day follows European lines in the 15th, 16th, and 17th century so big units of Pikes, two handed swordsmen, heavily armored foot and horse knights, crossbowmen to stand in for musketeers, and so forth. Get all the mundane troops out of the way in one section and include a section of feats that can be applied to a standard stat block to give them a national flavour. So a forty strong platoon of Cheliax pikemen could take an "Infernal Warcry" perk that gives them a chance to inflict the "Shaken" effect when they charge while a Kyonin long-bow platoon has an "Elven Precision" feat that let's them mass all of their fire against a single target with substantial bonuses. Andoran longbowmen, on the other hand, might have "Fiendslayer Arrows" as a feat that let's them fire a volley of cold-irow arrows when they come up against devils in Cheliax armies.
Then get into the fun stuff. Gebite undead mecha made by applying braided undead musculature to frameworks constructed from the bones of elephants and dragons. Davinci-style tanks rolling out of the factories in Alkenstar. Dwarven siege miner units that invade fortresses using dire-badgers as earthmoving machines. Giant mercenary units that hire themselves out as living siege engines.
I'd love to see some well thought out exploration of what warfare would actually look like in a fantasy kitchen sink world. How does the "Message" spell effect combat command and control? What are the preferred tactics for deploying griffon cavalry? How do orcs maintain their logistics train on the march? How do mortal armies deal with strange enemies like zombies, devils, trolls, and other supernatural beasties?
This has been going through my head since I found the Steam Giant entry in Ultimate Combat. 25 foot tall battle-mechs armed with a pair of siege engines is a real thing that actually happens in Golarion. So I have this image of a gigantic eagle-motif steam giant in formation with a small unit of armored hill-giants and a platoon of pikemen while a small squad of griffons wheel overhead. On the opposite side of the valley are two dozen Hellknights lining up for a charge while a pair of Barbazu herd platoons of lemures across the field and a Cheliax air-ship ascends to make a bombing-run with dozens of pots of alchemists fire.
I agree with Jawa and a few other people in here.
Step 1.) is we
Using zombies as an example:
The standard pathfinder zombie is CR 1/2, meaning that four lvl1 players should be able to hack their way through two zombies without much trouble. They're not really a threat and a party of four to six PCs can deal with them easily.
So now the PCs turn the corner. And they come across three Zombie Troops N Medium humanoid (undead, troop). Each one consists of 30 zombies. Another shambles in from behind, partially blocking their line of retreat. There are now 120 zombies on the street (but only four "creatures" that you have to deal with!)
Zombie Horde CR 10ish?
AC 11, touch 9, flat-footed 11
This isn't just one zombie you can blow up. It's a whole mess of them. And because they behave like a swarm a lot of tricks and options are removed from play. They're still slow and unable to do more than one thing a turn but they're deadly if they manage to catch up with you.
I think troops actually work really well for this, as do swarms. You can focus-fire just about anything down with a few power attacks and some good rolls. Swarms aren't as easy to kill with massive hit-point pools and immunity to many kinds of deadly attacks.
Eitherway, by throwing out the CR system and (badly) statting up a troop of zombies we've turned a minor threat into a huge mass of grasping hands and staring, undead eyes. Anyone who gets within reach of the horde will be grappled, pinned, and chewed to pieces in a round or two. Unless you have lots of fireballs, sanctuary spells, or a really good cleric there is nothing you can do except run for your life.
To ram home that this isn't a normal encounter you can have Biff the Understudy try to run through the zombies, or have a few guardsmen try to shield-wall and hold the line. Mechanically the troop will move to overlap the NPCs and deal automatic damage. In-game you can describe how the wall of undead flesh just ignores the guardsmen's swords and spears; grasping at them, ripping their shields away, dragging them to the ground and messily devouring them.
Importantly - The players cannot win this fight. There's nothing special about individual zombies. They're just normal Pathfinder zombies. But their numbers are so overwhelming that they can't be fought as individuals anymore. A party with APL 1-5 or so is going to have to run or try to find somewhere defensible to make a last stand. Maybe they can get into a building, bar the door, and try to escape over the roof-tops. Maybe they've got enough fireballs and alchemist's fire to take down one swarm and create an exit. Maybe someone can cast Fly. Point is they can't just stand and fight without dying. For extra pathos throw in some civilians that they're supposed to be protecting. Make sure to play up the betrayal when everyone but the Paladin chooses to flee. And then play up how utterly ineffective the Paladin's last stand is when the horde just washes over her like a wave.
In this case the "Victory" for the players is getting out alive. It's not about winning a combat so much as overcoming a seemingly impossible situation to stay a little bit ahead of their doom. If you were going to run a campaign with, say, thousands of zombies overrunning a city with the players trapped inside you could play up a lot of zombie movie tropes - There are no safe places to hide and recover. There's not enough food. Civilians need to be rescued and protected. Attempting to fight the zombies will always result in being eventually overwhelmed. When the players get into a proper battle they're not fighting to kill all their enemies; They're fighting to defend the civic square for as long as they can while the airships evacuate civilians. Or they're in a fighting withdrawal attempting to keep the ghoul packs from overrunning fleeing refugees. And most of the time, even if they survive, lots of other people die. In the end they might put together enough information to find the evil Necromancer and stick a knife in him. At that point they've "Won". And their reward is a devastated city still full of undead remnants.
PS - I love the idea of troops for this. instead of having to track a hundred individual zombies you just keep track of four or five troops.
Part of the problem - The mindset of D&D is that the players are The Heroes and will punch their way through all conflict.
A lot of horror relies on putting the protagonists into a situation that they don't understand and are powerless to control. Pathfinder PCs are pretty well never powerless. Even Lvl-1 PCs ten to be quite powerful, able to heal wounds and throw fire-beams around. At low levels you can throw something at them that's a few CRs higher than they are and get a nice creepy crawly that they just cannot deal with and need to evade or escape. Once you get to midlevel that's harder to do without descending into DM fiat. The players tool-kit get's much, much bigger, they become even more powerful.
I'd say you make the transition from Fantasy to Horror when you put them in situations that they can't understand and cannot control. Preventing them from understanding the situation is key - Give them plenty of information and make sure none of it is helpful or suggests any way to comprehend or approach their problem. If they make a DC25 knowledge check tell them their character wracks their brain for information but only comes up with simple things "there were lots of disappearances in this area, it's been happening for a long time, and no one knows why". Make it clear that no one understands what's happening. They're succeeding on the checks - there's just no knowledge out there for them to know. If they don't understand their enemy they can't reduce it to a pile of HP and resistances as easily.
Things like Father Dagon and his deep ones - there just shouldn't be any information that can help the players understand what they've got themselves in to. Whatever information they do have should be vague or outright wrong.
To butcher an old quote - When a bomb goes off it's a surprise. When a bomb doesn't go off it's suspense. When the bomb has tentacles and can only be seen from the corner of your eyes it's lovecraft.
Player capability is a big thing. PCs can fight Aliens by using protection from acid, fire spells, magical weapons, cure disease potions to get the embryos out. They can plane-shift to the dream-lands and hunt Freddy down on his own grounds. Michael is nothing to worry about - He's just a thug with a high DR. Vampires and Zombies are disposable mooks. The creature from The Thing is more of a threat. Scary undead Sam Neil from Event Horizon would be a threat. The Deadly Mutaba Virus would be a threat, especially if it was infectious enough that you'd re-acquire the virus shortly after casting Cure Disease.
Zombies - Not a threat. Necrophages - Threat
Freddy - Threat, but one that can be dealt with if they know about the Dreamlands
Aliens - Threat, but more due to rapid reproduction than individual danger. Ticking time bomb?
Creepy undead Sam Neil from hyperspace hell - Terrifying
Graboids - Sort of a threat if you set it up right.
Werewolves and vampires - Only a threat to low level players. Usually too mundane to be scary
Dragon - Could be a threat if you set it up right as an implacable monster to be avoided instead of an opponent to be defeated.
Oh, hey, there's one - Chrysalids. If you've ever played old XCom you know and hate these things. They'd run up to your troops and melee them. If they hit the trooper it'd turn them into a zombie, which would turn into a new chrysalid in a few turns. If one Chrysalid got into the midst of your troops it could wipe out your whole squad. Many players would systematically level entire city blocks rather than risk running into a Chrysalid in close quarters. And Chrysalids would attack civilians, too. So Civilians became a dangerous liability. They could be infected and create a new Chrysalid. Chrysalids were scary because they could destroy your forces so quickly if they managed to get close to you and as they infected more and more people you'd very rapidly get overwhelmed by a growing horde of the things. No matter how well armed you were you were still in danger of being drowned in numbers or missing one chrysalid hiding in a closet. A lot of missions ended with the last guy alive arming a detpack and dropping it at his feat rather than be turned.
I think it's long, long, LONG past time that firearms became a standard component of most fantasy settings. Golarion is flirting with the 1700s, for petes sake! A time in which firearms had been a daily reality on European battlefields for four hundred years.
Basically - The long held notion in fantasy seems to be that firearms were a relatively recent innovation and that when they appeared they appeared all at once as fully functional flint-lock weapons. Moreover, folks seem to believe that the appearance of firearms led to the immediate abandonment of armor, melee weapons, and so forth. None of this is remotely true or accurate.
While it hasn't come up yet my campaign is going to feature early hand guns as relatively widespread, albeit uncommon, weapons. Cannon will be present, rare, and very valuable. Simple rockets are in use, as are gunpowder bombs. I'm aiming to represent firearms technology at approximately a 1450s level of technology. This means that the simple hand gonne is relatively well developed, simple, un-corned gunpowder is in use, and Alkenstar is right at the cusp of unleashing the matchlock gun on the world.
I do intend to depart from history by making military rockets a bit more effective than they were in the 1450s simply because I think the hwacha and fire-arrows are awesome.
Many prevalent tropes in fantasy RPGs are based on wildly inaccurate conceptions of the late medieval world that built off the appallingly poor scholarship of the first half of the twentieth century. The truth - Knights in full high plate crashing through clouds of handgun smoke or archers crowding the fighting castles of carracks amid the crack and boom of canon - is far more exciting and offers more verisimilitude than the current paradigm.
Of course it helps that the historical guns of roughly the period most RPGs cover were not overwhelmingly powerful or effective. There was a period of hundreds of years when hand gonnes and cannon shared the field with longbow, crossbow, horse archers, foot and horse knights, massed pike infantry, and so forth. The 13th, 14th, and 15th century were a wild mess of a time when every kind of military technology available was being employed in massive conflict between states and entire cultures.
Another point that I find in favor of gunpowder - it acts as a leveler to help explain how mundane humans can have the same kind of social and cultural structures found in the real world when the threat of dragon attack is a real thing. Hand gonnes level the playing field with wizards and ogres and a handful of cannons can take down any giant. It doesn't necessarily carry into the past of the world, but for the present of a setting it does help answer the question of "Why hasn't everyone been chewed to bits by one creature with CR10/magic". I think gunpowder can compliment magic as much as anything else does. I'm quite fond of settings like Bas Lag where the integration of magic and technology is seamless - They're just various ways of manipulating the laws of reality to a desired outcome.
BONUS: Goblin hand-gonners. I mean seriously. Goblin hand gonners. If that's not enough to sell you on gunpowder I don't know what would.
He's already wearing what amounts to a scandalously cut evening gown. Also - Is there a rule somewhere that all paladins must have an ambiguously evil boyfriend? Is it part of their code or something?
This thread is disgusting
On that note: Could we get a "This is what I actually wear when I am actually slogging through a muddy swamp covered in Black Dragon blood and gelatinous cube slime and Lamashtu knows what else" picture for each of the Ms. Fanservice iconics? Because I get that they'd look all fancy and shiny when they're posing for portraits but what do they actually wear when they're... you know... having adventures? The Witch, the Oracle, and the Sorceress aren't really wearing the sort of clothes you'd expect for someone who regularly has to deal with angry orcs or undead monsters.
If you go back. Way back. Way back to the 2nd Edition Monstrous Manual, you will find that
Monstrous Manual, Tim Beach et al, Random House New York, 1993 wrote:
"Gorgon blood, properly prepared, can seal an area against ethereal or astral intrusion"
Gorgons in the D&D tradition are consistently described as being physically similar in size and shape to domestic cattle. Turning to the Wikipedia article on blood volume we find that a cow has, on average, 50ml of blood by kg weight. The Wikipedia article on cattle suggests that their weight varies greatly based on age, sex, and breed. For our purposes we shall assume a 600kg gorgon.
At 50ml per 1kg of body weight our 600kg gorgon has approximately 30,000ml or 30l of blood.
According to the paint calculator at the BBC's home improvement page a room of 3x3x3m with two 2mx1m doors will require ~3l of paint to cover the walls.
Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that a single gorgon will provide enough blood that, when properly prepared, one may ward no less than ten separate 10'x10' rooms with an orc and a treasure chest in the middle.
And this is the nerdiest thing I have ever done involving math.
A bodice might be ambitious.
Let's start small. How about some pants?
A discussion of how she keeps her outfit on at all concluded with "A wizard did it", though "Sovereign Double-Sided Tape" was advanced as a possibility at one point.
If there are any artists in the crowd y'all should do The Hawkeye Initiative for Pathfinder. I want to see Ezren wearing Seoni's clothes and vice-viscera, or Valeros swapping kit with Sillvari.
13th Warrior handled this by having a river raging through the 'dungeon'. The warriors still approached by stealth as best they could. The sound of the river covered much of the sound of fighting.
In Conan the heroes approached by stealth and managed to avoid fighting until they were within sight of their goal. Then they ambushed the baddies while they were at rest and after the BBEG had... turned into a snake (which never helps).
In LOTR they relied entirely on being quiet and sticking to upper galleries in Moria. Once they were revealed they simply had to run like hell against overwhelming numbers of enemies.
Likewise in the Hobbit the plan was to have the burglar evade Smaug until they could find a way around him.
In Willow the heroes brought a whole damn army with them and used that to kick the door down so Valeros... I mean Mad Martigan could cut a hole for Willow to get to Elora Danan.
In Dragon Slayer there were no mooks - The dragon was more or less alone in it's cave.
In Legend there were mooks, but they didn't really talk to one another and the approach into Darkness' fortress was almost entirely through stealth.
The Dark Crystal, stealth, natch.
In the movies the heroes mostly manage by sneaking around and doing what they can to manage to size of any given battle.
As far as BBEGs - I'd just play them smart. There's ways to have them isolated, of course. If you can get to them you can bar the doors against the guards long enough to deal with their boss. You can ambush them while they're travelling with a small guard. You can pull a scry-and-die with some high explosives.
I think there's a lot to be said for distractions. If you can fill a castle with summoned monsters, freedom fighters, demons, undead, illusions that make a lot of noise and serve as a distraction the castle will probably go on lock-down. Depending on what kind of BBEG you have he'll either go to the most secure part of the castle or armor up and go join his guard in dealing with the problem. Either way it's an opportunity to drag him away from his prepared defenses.
Isolating the BBEG so you can kill or incapacitate him should be an important part of any attack plan. If you're going on the offensive it'd be extremely important to know what you're up against and have a clear understanding of your objectives and a clear plan as to how to accomplish that.
Ditto an escape plan. If you're trying for a decapitation strike you should, hopefully, be causing enough chaos that the enemy can't organize an effective response. But you should still expect pursuit by cavalry, wizards, summoned beasties - Basically someone's going to chase your ass.
Three things regarding Numeria
Firstly - Don't trust small helpful floating constructs. It just never leads to anything good.
Secondly - Don't press the big red button until you're absolutely sure that you've found all the good stuff and never, ever want to come back. Then get at least twenty miles away as soon as possible.
Third - If you find something that looks like a shiny crossbow stock with lots of rays and fins and doodads and a handle make sure it's not pointing at anything you care about before you make your use magic device check.
I've been working on this.
Military ships solve the fireball problem by having hoardings they throw up along the entire length of both decks. The front facing is covered in cloth or some such and soaked through with sea water prior to combat. Thus the crew is in cover during most of the approach, firing arabalest and hand gonnes through covered ports.
Catapults and siege engines are used to make high angle attacks and are fitted out with all kinds of exotic munitions - fire, explosive, bolts that summon critters. Other kinds of torsion weapons are used. A Polybolos is a variation on a ballista that uses a chain drive attached to a windlass to create a semi automatic ballista. The windlass is operated constantly by several men and bolts are fed in while the weapon recharges. The rate of fire is considerable.
Any critter immune to bludgeoning damage and small enough to fit in a clay pot is liable to find itself used as a living munition.
Cannons, bombards really, are used, but typically only a few on the very largest ships. They're just too heavy for most ships to carry in substantial numbers. That said - A 5lb ball of iron can stand a lot of enchantment. Alternately - You can just fire iron elementals at the enemy. The final somatic component of the summoning is firing the cannon. I've decided that Golarion is about 1450-1500 in terms of cannon technology. They exist, they work, but they're neither very powerful nor very accurate compared to what comes later. Alkenstar is always a generation ahead with gunpowder weapons.
Smaller gonnes - Basically swivel guns, are used as anti-personnel weapons at close range. Hand gonnes are also used - The ranged touch attack, smoke, shock value, and generally high damage output make them useful on seas where you might need anti-airship fire or to punch holes in a dragon-turtle.
Rockets are also used. IRL military rockets have been in use continually for more than a thousand years. In Golarion various sizes are utlized and many ships that can afford them mount small Hwacha style rocket arrays. Being little more than a capped iron tube filled with powder they're relatively inexpensive and can match wizards for range. They're often loaded with incendiaries and have a tendency to explode on the rare occasions that they hit something.
Sails are likewise soaked through with water where possible and treated with spells when available. "Unburning Sails" that are enchanted to extinguish themselves are a thing. Many main-line fleet combat ships use sweeps or magical propulsion once they've closed to engagement range.
Waterborne druids and wizards have spells that can mend ships on the fly or rip them apart, provided they can get close enough. Pirates and Navy alike carry teams of harpies, Erinyes, pegasus or griffon cavalry, manticores, anything that flies and arm them with firepots, darts, and other weapons. Other ships have teams of swimming, water breathing crew that can attack from below the waterline with mines, spells, or the simple expedient of a drill.
Defending against flying creatures are crossbowmen in the rigging. Defending against swimming creatures are other combat divers, summoned elementals, and trailing nets hung with hooks.
And that's not even getting into airships, sea elf semi-submersibles (Spar Torpedoes!), ironclads, golem-propulsion wet submarines, shark cavalry, and Frost Giants crewing massive ice-berg longships.
Basically - I want to take full advantage of the fantastic nature of the setting. Rather than tacking magic on and having monsters sitting around in caves waiting to be slaughtered I want to make them as integral to daily life as technology is in our world.
I'm going to go against the grain and say that beating a demon into a servant of order would be exactly the sort of thing that a devil would relish. Asmodeus seems to be very keen on imposing order. Cheliax and Hell are both very fond of slavery and the worst sort of tyrannical domination. A demon wouldn't be any sort of valued ally or trusted servant - It would be a feral hound to be beaten and intimidated into compliance.
The important aspect here is that the demon is being forcibly enslaved to go against it's nature and serve within an ordered hierarchy. It is kept under control using magic, violence, and maybe some occasional rewards for good behavior. Look at the way Hellknight's handle law enforcement - They don't give a damn whether you're good or evil, lawful or chaotic. You will follow the law or they will come down on you.
Alternately - Research some variant on a helm of opposite alignment. Get together with some wizards and priests and figure out how to make a Helm of Orderly Compliance that will impose a lawful alignment on the victim and force them to comply with your wishes. The Helm of Opposite Alignment is a fearsome curse - Once the change takes hold the victim likes it and will fight to retain their new alignment. Who knows what would happen if you clamped an outsider down and stuck one on.
Hey, there's a third option - Go kidnap an Azata and force a helm of opposite alignment on it. Then hit it with Geas or something to bind it to serve you. I don't know what level you are, but a Bralani can charm person at will and has 15 cha while the much tougher Ghaele can disguise self along with a number of other powers. The Ghaele also has +19 to diplomacy and +20 to sense motive. A Bralani might even be vulnerable to Lesser Geas
In fact, forget everything else - Go questing for a Helm of Opposite Alignment, hunt down and kidnap a Ghaele, then make your own outsider spy/servant. It's pretty much exactly what you're looking for and you'd get brownie points with hell for bringing a wayward outsider around to Hell's way of thinking.
Re: Convincing the PCs that they can't take Harrigan
I saw a suggestion somewhere on the boards to have the ship encounter something big and nasty. A huge octopus or a giant enemy crab or something. Let it eat one NPC in the surprise round, slap Plugg around for a bit until he has to fall back, then let the PCs have at it for a round or two. Once it becomes clear that they're all going to die Harrigan can come busting it and slaughter the beasty with minimal effort. If the PCs thank him for saving them he sneers at them to clean up the mess and stop screwing around.
For bonus points have an NPC the party likes go overboard during the fight. Rather than doubling back to save the sailor Harrigan shrugs and orders the ship to make way. Then have Plugg lash everyone for some arbitrary reason to make up for his embarrassment for having been injured by whatever creature.
You get to show off that Harrigan is far too strong for the party to fight. You get to show off that Plugg and Scourge are a@%$%*!s. you get to show off how cruel and evil Harrigan is. And you have an excuse to pull an early game Giant Enemy Crab.
Basically - The seas of Golarion, or any fantasy world, are completely different than the seas of earth. Magic totally changes navigation and ship to ship combat. Powerful characters with class levels alter the dynamics of a boarding action. And there are a tremendous number and variety of sentient underwater creatures that will have a great influence on shipbuilding, trade, and other aspects.
So here's a piece of equipment and a magic spell that might be handy on a Pathfinder ship
Boarding Nets: A set of heavy nets strung out around the edge of the ship on short booms. The nets are held ten feet away from the sides of the ship and extend to 20 feet under the surface. The nets are strung with bells, weighted, and woven with barbed hooks. Any swimming creature entering a square adjacent to a net is subject to a grapple attack as though made by a medium creature with +0 BAB. A creature moving into a square containing nets suffers a grapple as though made by a medium creature with +5 BAB. Resolve the grapple normally, with the net receiving the +5 bonus on subsequent rounds of the creature fails to free itself. Each round the net deals 1d4 points of damage to creatures tangled in the net. Anyone on deck succeeding on a DC 15 perception check will notice that the bells in that section of the net are ringing more than they ought to with the normal motion of the ship. The dense net has a hardness of 0 and 20hp in each square. Setting or recovering the nets takes about one hour. A ship with nets deployed can move at up to 10 feet with no difficulties. For each 10 feet of movement beyond that there is a 10% chance per round that the booms will break free, tearing off the netting along one side of the ship. At the DMs option this may foul the rudder or cause other complications. Ships may not use oars while the nets are deployed. Nets cost 50gp for each section (square) of netting.
School - Transmutation Level - Sorcerer/Wizard 2
Casting Time - 10 minutes
Components - V, S, F (a silver mirror set with moonstones worth 250gp)
Range - Touch
Target - One 6x6 foot section of ship's hull below the water line
Duration - 1 hour/level
Saving Throw - none
A 6'x6' hole appears in the hull of a ship. The hole is protected by a magical force that prevents water from entering the ship through the opening. Creatures may enter the ship through the hole or exit into the water as a move action. In every respect the hole behaves as a hole in the ship except that water is prevented from entering. The caster may will the hole to close or open as a standard action for the duration of the spell. The hole closes when the spells duration ends. If a creature is partially within the hole when it closes that creature has a fifty/fifty chance of being expelled safely into the water or into the ship, size permitting. The focus is a silvered mirror set with moonstones worth at least 250gp. It is placed against the hull of the ship and expands to form the moon-pool. It re-appears when the spell ends.
Sahuagin and worse creatures lurk in the seas of Golarion. it pays to have some way of preventing creatures from crawling onto your deck while the ship lies at anchor. Boarding nets serve to deter attackers from attempting to climb onto the ship and give the crew some warning in case of an attack.
Ships crews have many reasons why they might want to enter directly into the sea - Smugglers may take on illicit cargo under the nose of the port authorities. Amphibious crew may want a secure way to enter or exit the ship without being observed. Traders might wish a comfortable way to meet undersea guests. Whatever your reasons are the Moon Pool spell creates an opening in the hull of the ship through which creatures and cargo can move freely.
You're a overpowered Mary Sue with an overly permissive DM. Pretty much be definition. You might as well expect someone to be impressed when you tell them "My West End Star Wars Smuggle shot Darth Vader!" or "My Mutants and Masterminds character beat Superman to death!", "My caitiff diablerized Cain and stopped the Last Nights! go us!" It might lead to the occaisional cool story ala Old Man Henderson, but it shouldn't be standard and it sure as hell shouldn't be canon.
Let's try this - How would you feel about having Asmodeus statted up?
Victor Zajic wrote:
Can anyone think of a way to get proficiency in battle axe for a bard other than multiclassing or spending a feat?
Ask your DM to swap longsword for battle axe. They're nearly identical statwise. Having one or the other is mostly flavour. A Skald who goes a viking would be expected to know how to use sword, shield, axe, spear, and dagger then same as everyone else in the longship.
Player "I want to play a viking bard. Can I be proficient in the classic viking weapons?"
DM "Sure, why not? It fits the flavour of the character without really changing his power level. You can even take Shield Wall as a bonus feat if you want".
Boom. Skald. Done. Go memorize Beowulf so you can get bonus roleplay XP by reciting it during battles.
Swap Rapier for battle axe, sap and whip for spear, you can already wear maille and carry a round shield, you're golden.
So Dread Cthulhu appears to be on the cover of Bestiary 4. I though I'd try stating up the priest of the Great Old Ones
CR: Whatever you can handle +infinite
XP: You're kidding, right?
BO Gargantuan Great Old One
Init + Tuesday Senses: None Perception +22,000^4
Aura: Madness (infinite)
AC: Fish, Touch -120, Flatfooted ? (+1 Squamus, +231 Stellar Alignment)
DR pi x (i^3 - 34x)/Tramp Steamer
Fort + make something up, Ref + Oh god they're under my skin Will + None
Melee: Every round Dread Cthulhu consumes 1d6 adventurers, devils, minor gods, major gods, or anything else that strikes it's fancy. No save.
Space: Time Reach: The minds of men
Spell Like Abilities : All
Str: Unknowable Dex: Ineffable Con: Unkillable Int: Madness Wis: Devourer, Cha: The stars have come right
Base Attack - None, Cthulhu devours 1d6 adventurers regardless of any other considerations up to and including DM intervention. In the case of DM intevention Cthulhu may devour the DM at its option.
CMB - See previous
CMD - HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA (Can't be tripped)
Feats: Inspire Madness, Perfect Telepathy, Astral Plunge, Cannot Die, Astronomy, Favored Enemy (Tramp Steamer)
Skills - Knowledge(Religion) +1022 Knowledge(Astronomy) +3302 Knowledge (Psychology) -25^2
Languages Madness, madness, madness, madness, MADNESS, MADNESS MADNESS MADNESS
Environment Ry'leh or Anywhere
Inspire Madness(su) Anything within line of sight of Dread Cthulhu becomes utterly, irrevocably, incurably mad. No magic or divine intervention can reverse this madness. Subject is permanently afflicted as if by the Confusion spell. All entities with an intelligence greater than 0, including major and minor gods and other supernatural beings, are subject to this ability and receive no saving throw.
That Is Not Dead (su) If Cthulhu is ever reduced to 0 hp he returns to his sunken house at Ry'leh until the stars are right.
I Hate Nickelback wrote:
How could one justify a necromancer (minionmancy, mostly) in a mostly good party? For the sake of simplicity, there are no party members who would lose their powers for consorting with a necromancer (i.e. good cleric, paladin), just party members who may disagree with that do to their good alignment. Can it be done? Is journeying with a necromancer an act that could cause someone to shift alignment?
Have the necromancer be neutral. Or even good. Maybe he asks nicely to get spirits to inhabit corpses on a mutually agreeable basis for a limited period of time. What religions are available? Maybe the animating spirits are all members of his ancestral house looking out for their distant descendant.
Having necromancy be evil is not a mechanics thing. It's just... a lot of baggage, really, from old editions of D&D and old cultural prejudices. Hell - Make that a plot point. Your necromancer isn't evil. His undead minions are just machines with no inherent morality. Or even better - They're all animated by spirits who had no chance to redeem themselves in life. By allowing them to inhabit corpses and use those corpses to aid the party in doing good deeds the Necromancer is acting as a psychopomp and allowing otherwise trapped spirits to pass into the afterlife.
Seriously, The GOOD:EVIL axis of D&D morality needs to die in a fire. It doesn't add anything to the game and leads to a lot of circular nonsense "Why is it evil? Because it's evil! What is evil? It's Evil!" Gag me with a spoon.
EDIT - The One Ring isn't "Evil because it's Evil". It's Evil because it was specifically made that way by Sauron and invested with Sauron's will. It's not Evil because Evil. It's Evil because Sauron. Orcs aren't evil because lulz evil - They're evil because they have no Fear of their own and are all animated by the Fea of Sauron or Morgoth. Tolkien Orcs don't have souls - Their souls are shards of the Dark Lords. Orcs cannot choose to be good unless Sauron chooses to be good. Which ain't happening.
Monk and Samurai would definitely not work- these are hordes of vicious warriors. They are not the spirit of discipline.
Other people have said this, but I feel the anvil needs to be dropped repeatedly. A thousand years of propaganda drive the idea that the Mongols were crazy screaming barbarians. Compared to most of the rest of the world the Mongols were an extremely lawful society and the messy, completely disorganized, squabbling feudal knights of Europe were the chaotic, uncultured barbarians.
The Mongols conquered the entire world by being the best trained and most disciplined armies the world had seen since the height of the Roman legions. The tactics they used relied heavily on well drilled, coordinated troops being able to operate effectively together. Mongol troops needed to be able to coordinate effectively whether they were fighting in a ten man squad or a thousand man army. They had to be able to execute very complex tactics quickly, effectively, and reliably. They made use of decentralized command and control to obtain a level of tactic flexibility unheard of in the world up until that time.
Then you start getting into things like their logistics. They were able to sustain their massive armies and insanely rapid advances through a very sophisticated logistics and each soldiers ability to be largely self sufficient for long periods of time.
The Mongolian armies made very careful, deliberate use of psychological warfare and terror tactics. They knew the value of frightening an enemy into surrender without a battle and exploited it constantly.
Mongols were the epitome of disciplined, professional soldiers. They have more in common with modern armies than with the stereotype of screaming, crazy barbarians.
Keep in mind - Once these guys conquered an area they built highways, installed post offices, kept the roads safe and clear, installed civil governance. They were very self-conscious of their provincial nomadic origins so they obsessively stole the best aspects of every civilization they came across.
James Jacobs wrote:
On top of that, I've always disliked the Blood War. It shifts fiends away from being monsters that prey upon mortals into monsters who are more interested in fighting each other.
That's exactly why I like the Blood War. Mortals are a side show, a potential resource and an interesting recreation. It moves D&D... I mean Pathfinder away from being a shallow recreation of psuedo-Catholic nonsense and gives it some life of its own. And it adds some lovely cosmic horror elements. The popular, not present in the bible vision of Satan as a guy in red pajamas who tells you to be mean to people is silly and pathetic. it also relies on having a dying and ressurected god around to give it context.
The Blood War doesn't need context. It is the context. Possibly the context for the entirety of multiversal reality depending how much credence you give to stories claiming it preceded all other phenomena and realities. The dark forces of Order and Chaos only care about mortals in so far as they are a resource to be expended on something far more important. In Christian mythology mortal souls are the focus and the most important lynchpin of the story. In the Blood War mortal souls are ammunition and refreshments.
The blood war rams home that even the gods are just small fish in a very, very big pond. Gods are slain all the time, realities are unmade, crystal spheres crack and burn, the blood war rages on. When every star in every possible multiverse burns out and all the skies of every possible reality go dark the blood war will still rage on. It's a constant more fundamental than the universe it intrudes on.
If you're going for cosmic horror, which seems to be one of the directions Pathfinder is taking with the explicit inclusion of Mythos creatures and elements (welcome to sunny Leng!), you can't beat the Blood War. A war that has persisted for a longer infinity than any other infinity, waged by an infinite number of disciplined monsters against a larger infinity of depraved berserkers, forming an eye of bloodshed and pain that regularly consumes whole realities and around which all of multiversal reality is made to swirl. And with the explicit and well known sword of Damocles - the only reason that the rest of the multiverse exists is because the Demons and the Devils are utterly committed to each other's destruction - That a fraction of a fraction of a sliver of the power of either faction could invade and occupy every possible and impossible place in all of the planes and the only reason they do not do this is because such a diversion would disadvantage them against their enemy.
It is horrible on a truly cosmic scale - Any mortal mind trying to grasp the scope and purpose of the Blood War would shatter as surely as if it had looked upon the face of Azathoth.
Sigil,obviously. Why, where do you hire your mercenaries?
James Jacobs wrote:
One thing to remember: Absalom is set up as a nearly 5,000 year old city that's never fallen to a siege. And this is after being sieged by some pretty powerful armies.
There's a small exhaust port just below the main port!
A siege is very different from a raid. For instance, in a siege you'd need hundreds of ships and thousands of crew and enormous reserves of supplies. For a raid, though, you'd only need one ship and a couple of dozen men. And you'd shrink most of them and hide them in one ship to get them past customs. And you'd have your targets picked out by spies before hand - Rich warehouses with known defenses that you have a plan to circumvent. Did I mention the fire-bombs in the sewers? Because there are fire bombs in the sewers, and they're going to go off at about the same time you make your move. Which means that most of the important people will be off dealing with fires while you're breaking into warehouses. What do you do once you're in the warehouses? You draw a 10' radius circle on the ground. You pile up as much valuable crap as you can. You place a bag of holding in the center. Then you huck a portable hole in (What's the touch AC of a bag of holding?) and run like hell.
Because you've got accomplices waiting with their own ship in the Astral Plane to gather up all the loot you just blew out of reality.
Now you have to escape. And there are so, so many ways to escape. It might not even be hard! After all - A ship at anchor in a crowded harbor is just so much tinder waiting to burn up! If you're lucky no one even knows you've robbed the warehouses. After all - You did it quickly and quietly and now they're on fire along with half of the rest of the city. And once you've got back to your boat you're going to do what every other sensible captain is doing - Get the hell out of the harbor before cinders catch your rigging aflame!
This is Pathfinder, of course, so you don't necessarily have to try to sail out through the traffic jam. You could, for instance, Gate the entire ship out of the city. You could sail under water. You could fly out. Do you have a spelljamming helm? Why not? You're high level, you have no excuses! Or you could just be suspiciously prepared to haul in your ropes and make for the harbor mouth, with a lot of air domain spells to encourage your ship along. Worst case scenario - Shrink the hole ship, polymorph into something with wings, and fly it out that way!
Tada! You just raided a city that no one has ever managed to successfully invade! Now sail back to the Shackles to offload your plunder and let everyone know what a badass you are.
This is weird
Mwangi is a big, largely uncharted jungle. Maybe ships are coming back loaded down with Catoblepas ivory, dinosaur eggs, and opium? Spices were historically worth their weight or more in gold, and the fresher the better. Medicine, likewise, was incredibly valuable, and a little goes a long way. Rare spell components? Exotic feathers? there was a time in europe where a nice peacock plume was worth a gold coin. What about slaves? Everyone loves a good slave trade. What about Teak? Mahogany? parrots? bottled water from a fountain of youth? There's all sorts of crazy stuff that could weigh down a treasure ship.
The Mwangi expanse is explicitly listed as one of the primary reasons the Shackles can sustain itself.
Me, I have trouble with how poorly the pirate crews are treated. Real world sailors went pirate specifically because they wanted to get away from that kind of treatment!