Augmented Aethership Captain

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A departure from the standard AP.


The Wormwood Mutiney is a welcome departure from the standard AP that Paizo is so well known for. To begin with this starter doesn't have the players automatically set up as "heroes" or as the masters of their own destiny. The players begin the adventure as press ganged sailors on a pirate ship very much at the mercy of some very unsavory NPCs. This creates an interesting situation where the PCs must learn to get along, make friends, not lose their cool and gear up slowly.
Without spoiling it, I feel obliged to make two observations.
#1. This is an incredibly RP intensive story. There are more than 20 NPCs that the players will, at some level, interact with. That means that there are 20 NPCs that a GM will need to juggle and play.
#2. The entire cast is made up of pirates or wannabe pirates. The encounters are quick and dirty and the events on the ship are such that players will need to be prepped in certain groups that some bad stuff is going to happen and that they might not be able to do ANYthing about it.
These two observations combined lead me to the conclusion that this is an AP that will be set up for a more mature and/or experienced audience. Far to many adventures allow PCs to run roughshod over the game world, this is not one of those adventures.

Mechanically the adventure is set up to do some remarkable things. First off it incorporates skills that many times are ignored or shortchanged. Profession skills like Sailor, Siege Engineer and Carpenter get some potential love as do Craft skills like Cooking.
There are some very simple gambling games built in to the story that can be pursued or not, depending on your group's preferences. There is also the ability to run a "black market" of stolen or controlled goods if that's the sort of thing your players might get into. Neither of these things are fleshed out crunch wise, but they really don't need to be.

Map wise, this adventure is very direct. A single flip mat, Pirate Ship and the Ship's Cabins will get you through most of the adventure. This is nice since I think this is something not done enough.

If I have a complaint about this adventure, it is that I do perceive the possibility that it could be run through very quickly. It's also potentially lethal for inexperienced players. On the upside it would be relatively east to restart after a TPK.

I'm not a huge fan of Pirates as an RPG theme, this module has however brightened my outlook. Mr. Pett is obviously well versed in piratical matters, and it shows in the depth of his work. This is not an adventure on a pirate ship, it's a Pirate Adventure with all of the little nuances that go with it. The plot manages to strike an excellent balance between the Railroad and the Sandbox while letting characters become not just pirates but residents of a pirate ship.

The end result is excellent.
I'd rate 4.5 stars if that were an option.

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Kaer Maga is something different, something almost unique, original, fresh and complex. James L. Sutter has done something here that has to read to be believed. A city based on a functional system of near anarchy, one that has survived for so long that it precedes the timelines of the campaign setting. The book only scratches the surface of what is possible in a single location. I've reread it three or four times now and feel confident that it is one of the best RPG books I've ever read. Even if you never buy another item in the campaign setting line,even if, for some reason, you dislike Golarion this book will not be money wasted. It is not without flaws; It should have a higher page count; It has a remarkably small amount of interior art; The maps are rough and not nearly representative of a city that is largely housed within it's massive multistoried walls. None of this however detracts
from what is actually here, a setting that is as remarkable as Planescape or Eberon or Darksun yet strangely not as divergent from the soul of Pathfinder.
City of Strangers shows what Paizo is truly capable of, it's strength led me to subscribe to the Campaign Setting line, for fear that something, like this, might slip under the radar and I'd miss something great.