Disclaimer: I have never played a bard.
I will toss in some love for the idea of bard as a core class. I'm not saying it can't be reskinned as an archetype of other classes. I don't believe it should.
I disagree that a bard is a flavored spell-caster whose primary function is to spell-cast theatrically-flavored spells. My supernatural performer is a performer foremost. A magic one, sure but that's just how it seems to the rest of you. As a supernatural champion of charisma, the bard outshines even the charismatic heroes of other classes. The bard is a social dynamo, an influential magnet, a space/time-warping singularity on society. Bards can shape the impact of even other heroes' accomplishments on society. They influence cultural values that carry on through generations. They sear interpretations of history into the collective psyche. This is categorically different than "that person was an epic spell-caster in their day", "she was an unparalleled duelist". The bard might not be remembered but their influence can still have far-reaching and unpredictable impact.
(Wait what? Where does it say that?)
The bard concept can easily encompass multiple archetypes of its own as has been demonstrated in P1.
I can understand the debate over the Perform skill.
I can defend that Perform can be a skill selection, rather than feats. It's a discipline different from just diplomacy or intimidation or even instrumental skill. It can be honed/improved. I feel that improvement can be represented by skill ranks while being customized by associated feats. I whole-heartedly agree that bards should have unique enhancements to what anyone else could achieve. I whole-heartedly agree that non-bards should be able to develop legendary quality performance ability if that's their schtick.
Odd, when the alchemist was introduced as a class, my interpretation was that it filled the same multi-disciplinary role as the bard. Not the same niche of course but still kind of a jack-of-all-trades type. Some rogue, some naturalist, with a huge bent on supernatural pharmacology. I loved it. Craft - alchemy is still something every other class can do. Nevertheless, I support the alchemist as a stand-alone class, as opposed to an archetype of wizard. Same with the bard.
I just read the P2 entry for Perfom. I have nothing against it. It does have real effects. The trained success/critical success consequences seem tangible enough for a social arena. I love that there is a skill that can be used outside the 5-foot square tactical combat map.
My wordy 2 coppers. Go bards!
I suspect a number of the Shackles' more successful pirates "must have sailed a very long way" in pursuit of a tempting rumour they hoped to confirm. I find this one to be the more "normal" route. It's the second one, involving knowledge of the identity and itinerary of a teleporting secret agent, that I find more incredible.
Looking at the dire circumstances the cyclopes of the island face (extinction via starvation), it makes sense that, if the heroes are able to figure this out somehow, they would try to ally with the cyclopes, offering food and general weal in exchange for their help defending the island against intruders.
My group is playing this now and I've always had this potential outcome in mind for them. It can work if you say it can. My party will have to deal with hostile cyclopes. There will be clues about the cyclopes' plight:
I figure so long as they can successfully communicate to the cyclopes that the party is willing to assist in feeding them and succeed at their diplomacy attempt, they could work out a pact that might allow them to borrow the cyclopes' holy artifact (that gem)
The script does mention a cyclops druid gone fishing off-scene. This can be potentially recruited for their fleet in the next volume. Even if it's just a huge raft with jury-rigged sail. Or, if the party does eradicate the cyclopes in Sumitha, the druid and her party can return to exact revenge...
Can go either way for my group. Hope you have fun with yours!
I have no access to stats but I will add my +1 for alchemists. Yay, alchemists! I very much enjoy my alchemist in PF1; he contributes meaningfully to the team.
Alchemist is my favorite class from APG. If in PF2 alchemy in general gets overhauled for the better, I might actually buy it. Looking forward to the (free! Year-long!) playtest and adventure pdfs.
Hesmene's Grotto has other inhabitants. The Merry Pranksters or the leader of the Penitents may be agents of the PCs' rescue, especially if they perceive the PCs to have a way off the island.
Isles of the Shackles p21, parag 3 wrote:
When Hesmene tires of her playthings, she often releases them on the island to fend for themselves.
If any players are wanting to retire a PC, Hesmene could slay/abduct forever that one and "tire" of the other PCs, releasing them to the wilds of the island.
I have a book called Isles of v the Shackles, which provides a little history and major player info for the npcs. It's a fun little book that really helps a lot when your players want to go off book :)
I agree; there are a ton of little plot hooks in there, some of them suggestive of great challenges. I'm glad I picked it up. Now my challenge is to remind myself that I don't have to treat the entirety of the Shackles as a maritime mega-dungeon. I don't have to remember every single nautical mile of implied encouters. I can still just let my players sail somewhere without aggro-ing the entire archipelago.
Franz Lunzer wrote:
That's an interesting idea; one I might pursue if I remember in 4 years when I might run this. Could be a fun approach, like in Skyrim, or that 0-level module for AD&D (Something Island of Castanamir? I don't remember.)
Oh, looks like I will re-sub for this AP. I was always wary of playing CoC, so I never did. It was always described to me as an inevitable loss to insanity. I didn't want to play a game that legitimized the practice of having sadistic GMs get their jollies raping my characters, mentally or otherwise. I was waiting to see the Player's Guide. This is very well presented, including the bit about player consent and discussing beforehand as a group how far is acceptable. Good job!
Is there some way for the players to deduce that the Grindylows have a lair on the island?
Wormwood Mutiny p39, Bonewrack Isle Features, 4th parag wrote:
All along the perimeter of the island, the grindylow inhabitants have left "shepherds"--small, twisted "statues" made of the sinew-twisted, scrimshaw-covered skeletons of their prey.
You can have it common knowledge or have someone make an attainable knowledge (local)(for the aquatic goblinesque quality of gridylows) or knowledge (arcana)(for their more official aberration listing) check to recognize the the Bonewrack Shepherds - as lovingly depicted on p39 - as a sure sign of grindylow occupation.If they need the obvious hook, you can have whomever rolls highest on their perception check just barely glimpse one of the twisted cretins retreat underwater next to one of them. If they fail all other leads on the island, someone with survival might be able to track them from a shepherd to their lair.
Hmm... Thanks for the thought-provoking question! Also, very keen on supporting high-level play, so thanks for starting the conversation.
The changes sound great if that works for your campaign. It shouldn't be too hard to reconcile with later events.
Krellort doesn't specifically want to raid Tidewater Rock. He wants vengeance on the PCs for the death of the sahuagin from the previous encounter, especially if the PCs made off with the deep platinum amulet. The scripted vengeance encounter only occurs after Krellort has the PCs tracked to Tidewater Rock. Shouldn't matter if the previous occupant was fallen Galt nobility or undead. (Or both.)
Package received, Alex. Thanks! They look great - nice props. Good timing, too, as we haven't started Volume 3 with Port Peril yet. I'll be sure to pay it forward when we're done.
No, Noxato, it's the printed map pack for Skull and Shackles: an unlabeled map of the Shackles, a stylized map of the Shackles and a map of Port Peril, the lot of them pretty poster-sized.
A mix of encounter ideas and food for thought:
1. If the PCs discontinue the Bloody Hour, Conchobar is a slacker.
2. Conchobar will make a show of losing consistently to other crew in gambling. This is a ruse to cover his studying of the crews' tells. After a couple of weeks of this or after the next awarding of plunder, his luck will devastatingly turn as he makes off with all of his opponents' shares. (Conchobar has ranks in Profession (Gambler). This may lead to some shore leave encounters as well when the local casino goons seek restitution.)
3. How does the new regime address discipline? Do they continue the Bloody Hour tradition or do they have other methods? This will be an issue unless all of the crew can tolerate each other.
4. If Kroop is still the cook or part of the crew and his alcoholism was not addressed before, he will fail to perform until that is addressed.
5. Until the Captain or a sympathetic PC/officer gets Leadership, mutiny remains a very real possibility if the crew is mistreated. Maybe a faction of crew press-ganged from a recently plundered vessel dares a night-time coup.
6. New sleeping quarters: 2 or more crew members or NPC officers are unsatisfied with their sleeping quarters (I deserve an office!)
7. Belly Morale: Are the officers eating significantly better than the crew? Is there a Captain's Table for the elite? Some crew may strike due to disparity of quality of food.
8. A stowaway is discovered and brought before the new officers. The crew is near-violently divided on how they believe it should be handled. Group A says "Turn 'em in and split the Bounty", Group B says "We can't suffer another moment with this cursed figure aboard! Walk the plank!" Group C doesn't care. Someone has a bias:"She's my sister! If she goes, I go!" Vs "If she stays, I'm gone!" How do the PCs handle it?
9. The dinghy disappears overnight, along with some crew and a disproportionate amount of plunder. Remaining crew divided on reaction: Some insist on chase and punish, others would rather cut their losses and raid the seas some more to make up the loss.
10. A romantic interest expects preferential treatment. If he gets it, other crew grumbles.
11. "Crimson" Cogward starts a Fight Club. Participants are consenting but it may affect performance on deck the following day.
Razmira, sulijann sorceress 6
The group have solved the mystery of Nal-Keshel (positioned off the coast near Jula in the Sodden Lands). They found and liberated dominated townsfolk and their own captured crew, including Scrimshaw Jack. Captain Firix, 1/2 Drow, suspected from the very beginning
upon seeing some of the transformative wounds on the local gillfolk druid that an aboleth may be involved.
On the nearby cursed island, the group found Samms Toppin's husband in an alien cave, turned into a skum and dominated by some force. Razmira, having previously shrugged off an impulse to turn on her companions, suspected the group missed something on the way and turned back to find it. She did:
Spoiler:The group tracked her and another missing NPC, defeated the alien beast and recovered them from the slime. Razmira was certainly lost,
an illusionary wall, upon which discovering put her face to face with the aboleth who proceeded to grapple her with its four slimy tentacles.
her entire body mired in alien jelly and her skin translucent.
Two hero points allowed her to be recovered from the mess, though still in trouble from her condition.
They recruited Selissa!? That's wonderful!
My crew, consisting of
Captain Firix Drakethorn, 1/2 Drow cavalier/bard, bastard son of Iron Bert Smythee (Buccaneer's Blood campaign trait);
have recently taken on a new hero,
Rigger, Benzaragi, Mwangi 1/2-elf fighter, who left behind his wife and 5 kids to enlist.
They picked him up in Jula when they returned Barefoot Samms Toppin to her home turf and consequently involved themselves in a nightmarish mystery there.
Partway through volume 2, their next stop is Ilizamagorti, on the return trip to Tidewater Rock.
Haven't experienced PACG yet. I run the S&S AP. I want to want this but not sure if it really appeals.
Is this fun?
I'm just so incredibly on the fence with this. Thanks in advance for any input.
Those are excellent. I like how you give the victory condition for winning over each NPC so it's still a sandbox and player's choice which NPCs they decide to favour. I would have shamelessly borrowed this from you if you had posted it before our game started.
The way it played out for us, Plugg/Scourge did not need any more allies but I like the three you added. I can always use surviving sailors from other ships so I expect Artful Roger, Bonnie Blades and Breaker Bones to crew other ships in the near future.
Thanks for sharing!
Davor the Red, 1/2-Orc Monk 5
The Hu Hazhong was eastward-bound from the Arcadian Ocean, having just survived a storm and an encounter against some sea monster which claimed a life. They were destined for Avistan from Blood Cove and had granted the Shackles, the Eye and Mediogalt wide berth on account of credible rumours of non-profitable hazards. The sea monster had them adjust their itinerary a little.
Meanwhile, the players, still cutting their teeth and flexing new muscle as pirates, were giving the Shackles narrow berth for similar reasons while hunting down the rumour of the Buzzards Bounty (inside back cover of Wormwood Mutiny). They spy the junk and make chase.
The chase lasted days (best 2 out of 3 piloting contests resulted in a few ties) and the boarding attempt was lengthy. (Narava was winning a fair share of Upper Hands.) PC Captain Drakethorn lept aboard invisibly while the ships were briefly adjacent. He sneaked below decks and activated a feather token: anchor which he picked up in Little Oppara. Once that was done, the crew of Besmara's Booty could board at their leisure.
Davor the Red intimidated the crew with his leaping prowess. He was quickly flanked by
a couple of the Hu Hazhong's officers:. They pressed their advantage until Davor was unconscious.
ninjas (Junfeng and Rongfeng), specialized in flanking non-lethal sneak attack damage
At that point,
another officer:readied for a coup-de-grace. The rest of the party failed to notice Davor's predicament. They pressed their assault in spite of ennemy pleas for negotiation. Davor took a katana through the chest.
Master-at-Arms, Haitoshi Kurobu, human samurai
The party still carried the day. In the aftermath, they were grieved to number Davor among the slain. Davor is one of Sandara's most favorite people ever. As he had 2 Hero Points available, he was able to allow her passionate administrations bring him back from the brink of Pharasma's Cradle.
Thanks! Vol 2 side quests were in the works and took back seat to a few other things. I certainly intended to share what I've in the works for Vol 2 at least. I'll see if I can have them up by the end of the month. No promises though - sorry.
How these are playing out for my group so far:
Shipwreck in a Bottle: A curiosity only at this point. The captain has written a few messages on the bottle to which the castaways have slowly replied as answers spelled out in rocks on the beach. Not much more they can do but they follow up on rumours re: Poxy Peg every chance they get in port.
Fisherman's Folly: The party has the scroll. While in Bloodcove, they heard rumors confirming an obsessed fisherman who toiled for years to afford the crafting of armour that would allow him to reunite with his beloved mermaid. He has been reported as having lept overboard and must have met with success because neither he nor his mermaid has been heard from since...
Lost Messenger: The PCs related instantly to the plight of another poor soul press-ganged into the service of a brute. Gortus Svard was a good enemy who put up a decent fight. Sadly, he never critted with his keen falcata. But as a lesser-Harrigan, he was cathartic to best. Liat Murks has been safely delivered to Little Oppara, where the PCs got to investigate the two hooks from Isles of the Shackles before leaving with the Silver Toucan.
Buzzard's Bounty All along the heroes have been paranoid that the rumour was too stale. Judicious rumour-mongering in Little Oppara hinted that the Bounty had not yet been discovered. After encoutering the Hu Hazhong (from Ships of the Inner Sea) and surviving a waterspout spun off the Eye of Abendego, the Besmara's Booty has skirted the deadly Shackles and approached Tempest Cay from the North. Only to find a ship anchored in the area. Said ship gets encountered next session.
I've also been considering FaSB or someone's homebrew. Generally, though,with the S&S rules, all my PCs manage to have something to do each round or not mind waiting a round or two.
We are finding the pre-boarding action is all about the Upper Hand. Ships generally have the same speed and pilots tend to be able to make their checks. When in range, PCs have quickly learned to just target the pilot. (Remember that targets on another ship get cover!) So the Upper Hand tends to be what makes or break a ship chase.
My group does the harder math and pays in shares. So they end up shelling out much more than 1 plunder point per sale.
On the flip-side, I credit them for everything past 1 plunder given to crew as a bonus to their rolls to increase infamy. They're in the midst of Raiders of the Fever Sea now, lvl 5 and have reached the first threshold (Despicable, I believe) during shore leave in Little Oppara on Taldas Isle. Consequently, they also have an easier time recruiting and loyalty is typically not an issue.
As Karui Kage points out, there's a ton of loot to be had, so it's not much of an issue yet.
These are excellent, especially Hell Harbor, Drenchport and Ollo! Thanks for sharing.
The House of Stolen Kisses is more than just a brothel. It is a... hotbed... of intelligence.
Quent, though classy, is boiling with barely kept secrets. Bluff for innuendo is rampant. A word is never just a word; a look never just a look; a sale never just a sale. Everyone is flying casual. But not too casual. Uncouth behavior is discretely resolved behind the scenes. Casino Royale. A Sense Motive expert new to town might have trouble sleeping.
PCs making an innocent purchase might unintentionally be passed a message meant for another. Mayhem may ensue.
Hero Points saved this one. I know, I know, "Psst! Then its not a real obit..." Still.
Raiders of the Fever Sea.
They have made fairly thorough work of the Devil's Pallor (Event 12). From the back cover plot hooks from the Wormwood Mutiny, the party is pursuing the trail of the Lost Messenger, as set up here. The party has slowly towed the Devil's Pallor to Taldas Isle, after taking on a few more sailors, including the jeweler Liat Murks.
Once in Little Oppara:
The Minotaur has broken free of its lair and rampaged in town as the PCs were selling plunder. The PCs put it to rest once and for all, though the Minotaur - with the advanced template and a level of fighter for a CR 6 encounter - nearly killed "Crimson" Cogward in one blow and meted grievous wounds to others. The leading "duchess" of the isle held a Heroes' Ball in the PCs' honour. At the ball, the PCs gleaned something of the tension between the founder's daughters. They also picked up the rumour of children disappearing at the Hook.
The following days, among other things, the PCs investigate the rumours of disappearing children. They learn of the Hook, a popular trip out of town amongst the thrill-seeking young who dare to hop the broken rocks as far out into sea as the can. Witnesses speak vaguely of tentacles or animated seaweed snatching teenagers as they hop from rock to rock. The details are admittedly vague due to the foam and spray of the sea dashing up against the rocks providing concealment on a windy day.
The PCs head out to the Hook as an overland day trip. I did not decide beforehand what the source of disappearing daredevils actually was. I had a player roll for an encounter, with a result of "1" meaning it was just the tide washing reckless victims away. (Just a 1 in 10 chance of no encounter as I figured a published plot hook should have an encounter behind it.) It wasn't a 1, so I had the player roll percentile dice. I compared that against the Mid-Level Ocean Encounters table on p79 of Raiders of the Fever Sea. The mid-70s result generated an encounter with a giant sea snake (Isles of the Shackles 59), a CR 7 encounter. They had recently leveled up to 5, so not a stretch. So there it was, a giant sea snake was lured by the occasionally roaming two-legged food to lair near the Hook.
It was a tough encounter, which was fine as they were cleaning up with the sailing encounters in Part 2 and are going back to that soon. They were hopping from rock to rock on slippery hindering terrain, getting farther from solid shore. The giant sea snake erupts out of the water to start picking people off. The party rogue/alchemist is a halfling, therefore 3 sizes smaller than the huge snake, making the halfling a valid Snatch target. He gets snatched up 15' in the air. After a few chomps, the halfling falls unconscious and is dropped in the water while the snake works on a new foe.
The new foe is the captain, a half-drow bard/cavalier.
2 Hero Points later, he is easily mistaken for dead, looking like Frodo after Shelob. Dogged applications of potions, wands and skill bring him back to the world of the living. He does not regain consciousness until the following day and cannot recall the trip back to town.
So he's alive but not out of the woods yet. Both he and the captain have lost from 5 to 7 points each off Dex and Con. They're hoping they can sail unmolested for a few days to heal up.
Yeah, right. ;-)
Not entirely fully statted but you're welcome to what I've come up with for the first volume here: Side Quests - The Wormwood Mutiny. My party are almost finished one of them and are pursuing another. Haven't started the Vol 2 side quests yet though my party are on Parts 2 and 3 of that one now.
Kroop was always drunk but he was actually a great cook. If the new cook is not as skilled, everyone - especially the captain - is bound to notice. Sure, there are no reprisals for murdering the cook because of the excellent discretion. But the officers won't mourn the loss a bad cook either... (And, no, to confirm what others have stated, Kroop is not essential to the AP. He can stay dead.)
Much of the damage in the first book is ability damage, rather than hit points. If you start them at lvl 1, they'll at least have a sense of progress and accomplishment when they reach lvl 2. Plus they get the sense that the tables start to turn, vis-a-vis the rest of the crew.
My group survived the end at level 3. They didn't clear it 100% mind you, so left some loot behind. But they lived and it was quite the accomplishment.
Whichever way you go, I'm sure you'll have fun.
With respect to suboptimal party mix, over which players have only limited control, remember also the special rule on p34 of the Guide to PFS Organized Play: Creative Solutions. Even a table of knowledgeless PCs should be allowed to propose non-standard solutions and the GM is encouraged, by the rules, to consider those presented. While introducing magic items might be beyond the intent of that rule, the campaign developers do recognize that sometimes, you just can't play on the railroads. Therefore, some scenario bending is acceptable to allow mission success. Good on the OP for trying to salvage the situation for his players once compatibility was identified as an issue.
I never understood the fast vs slow keelhauling damage rules. Seems to imply slow does not hurt as much but the dice don't agree. For instance, take the Wormwood example: