Pathfinder Module: From Shore to Sea (PFRPG)

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Pathfinder Module: From Shore to Sea (PFRPG)
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An aquatic dungeon adventure for 6th-level Pathfinder Roleplaying Game characters.

They Come from Beneath the Sea!

The deep waters of the Hellmouth Gulf have long concealed ancient mysteries, both wondrous and terrible. But these secrets have been submerged for too long, and the remote coastal village of Blackcove has accidentally awoken a slumbering horror from a bygone age. Strange creatures now venture from beneath the waves to steal townsfolk away in the dark of night.

Can the PCs discover the fate of Blackcove’s lost villagers? What secrets still lie hidden on the mysterious, ruined island just offshore, and what now lurks in the flooded temples beneath the isle? And what horrific fate lies in store for those unfortunate souls who fall prey to the island's eldritch influence?

From Shore to Sea is an adventure for 6th-level characters, written for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and compatible with the 3.5 edition of the world’s oldest RPG, and produced in collaboration with the patrons of Open Design. Inside you’ll find villagers slowly succumbing to the ancestral taint in their blood, tentacled abominations from the deep, debased fish-men, ancient Azlanti technology, and a secret stretching back millennia to the legendary empire of Azlant itself.

This adventure is set along the mysterious Hellmouth Gulf coast in the diabolical empire of Cheliax in the Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting, but can be easily adapted for any game world.

Written by Brandon Hodge

Pathfinder Modules are 32-page, high-quality, full-color, adventures using the Open Game License to work with both the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the standard 3.5 fantasy RPG rules set. This Pathfinder Module includes four pre-made characters so players can jump right into the action, and full-color maps to enhance play.

ISBN 13: 978-1-60125-257-9

From Shore to Sea is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. Its Chronicle Sheet and additional rules for running this module are a free download (213 KB zip/PDF).

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Adventure Subscription.

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Great Atmosphere (but Tough!)



I played through From Shore to Sea with my "caveman shaman" Gurkagh, and had a great time. It's a really atmospheric adventure with a strong story and lots of room for exploration and adventure in an open-ended way. Although the beginning is a little rough, on the whole the writing is really strong. However, the monsters in the module are also really strong! Probably a bit too strong (combined with other factors) for an average group of sixth level characters to successfully complete it. I'd definitely recommend groups play through the module, but maybe not until they're a level or two higher than what's stated on the cover.


From Shore to Sea takes place in two locations in the Hellmouth Gulf, which is a remote and rarely-visited area off the coast of Cheliax. The first location is the village of Blackcove, where the PCs quickly get the sense that something strange is going on, and the second location (where the bulk of the gameplay is set) is a small island off the coast called Nal-Kashel. The gist of the adventure is the PCs exploring Nal-Kashel and piecing together clues to realise that an aboleth (trapped underground since the days of Old Azlant) has been mind-controlling villagers from Blackcove to help it escape! The adventure background is pretty complicated (and perhaps over-complicated for a 32-page module), involving Nal-Kashel (an ancient Azlanti observatory and university); the villagers of Blackcove who, for generations, have been birthing gillmen; a strange curse on the island; off-shore colonies of skum; an alchemist named Gerlach who tried and failed to solve the mystery of Nal-Kashel; and the aforementioned aboleth with the fitting name of Mohlomog. I won't go into all of the backstory here, though bits and pieces will come out later in the review.

Part One ("The Shores of Hellmouth Gulf") starts off with the PCs walking along the coast of the Hellmouth Gulf. Absolutely no mention whatsoever is given for why the PCs might be doing this, so a GM is going to have to make up a reason from scratch. I like it when modules give at least a small sidebar listing possibilities, because if the initial adventure hook doesn't sink in, it can be hard for the GM to get things on track. The adventure hook for this module is pretty weak, I think. The PCs hear a scream in the distance and see a man in an old rowboat fighting off an attack by giant crabs. If a rescue is made in time, the man will explain that his wife is from the village of Blackcove up ahead. The couple followed a local tradition and went to spend the night on an island (Nal-Kashel), but she was abducted by strange sea creatures and the man barely escaped. He asks the PCs to travel to Blackcove and the island to see if they can rescue her, and says there's lot of ancient golden artifacts in the area. The reason it's a weak adventure hook is that Blackcove is five hours out of the way down a rarely-used road, the husband is too scared to accompany the PCs (instead, he flees back to his own village, which isn't a trait likely to make PCs feel sympathetic towards him), and no provision is made for what the GM should do if the man is killed or rendered unconscious during the battle against the crabs. Fortunately, despite a poor start, the rest of the module gets better.

When the PCs reach Blackcove, they see a village that looks almost entirely abandoned. The village has a great, creepy vibe, and the module uses the most of little vignettes, weather effects, and description to help get a table in the right mood. This is a gray, misty, lugubrious place like something out of Lovecraft's Kingsport. Eventually, the PCs will encounter one of the few remaining villagers, and the group is (quite organically) steered toward visiting the lighthouse, where an assembly is taking place. PCs can start to gather some information about what's going on here (with a nicely written and detailed section on what different Diplomacy check results will reveal) and probably learn that a local man named Gerlach visited Nal-Kashel some weeks ago but never returned. There are fears that he must have "stirred something up," and, ever since, more and villagers have been disappearing. Many of the villagers are revealed to have fish-like traits (and are mechanically Gillmen), though this is a generations-long phenomena and not something directly tied to the current adventure.

A very cool and cinematic encounter takes place in the lighthouse. The waters of the bay begin surging and flooding lower levels, while a massive (off-screen) sea creature begins probing the higher levels with gigantic tentacles to batter and snatch villagers! The PCs have to try to simultaneously keep people from panicking while fending off the tentacles. The battle is handled in an abstract way (a grid isn't supposed to be used, and there's not a floor map of the lighthouse), and when I played through it there were parts that were somewhat cumbersome because so many PC abilities assume precise areas or distances that just weren't available. The encounter goes on until a certain number of tentacles have been destroyed or a certain number of villagers have been taken, and I don't think our group got the positive result! The PCs, as professional adventurers, are naturally asked to travel to Nal-Kashel and rescue the (presumably kidnapped) villagers. Some financial incentives are offered, and a local man is willing to ferry the group over in his boat. In a really nice twist, once the journey is underway, the man transforms rapidly into a skum (a croaking evil fish-man) and attempts to rock the boat and pitch the PCs into the sea! This is an encounter that could be pretty lethal for PCs who haven't taken the necessary precautions; though, if they're in a module called "From Shore to Sea" and don't have any ranks in Swim, I don't feel *too* bad for them.

Part Two ("The Ruined Island of Nal-Kashel") involves exploration of the island. One of the common criticism of RPG adventures is rail-roading, but one of the real strengths of From Shore to Sea is that it's very open-ended. There are several locations that be visited in any order, and they're really cool, fitting the theme of an ancient Azlanti scientific outpost quite well. There's an old archives, an observatory, some mysterious towers, an astronomical center, and more. Most of the locations hold encounters and, when combined with the random encounters listed on a chart, the PCs are likely to have a pretty tough time just surviving. There are chuuls, rust monsters, a giant octopus, some particularly nasty (recurring) traps, and more. A particularly difficult location is the observatory which turns out to be crucial for the PCs to understand and solve the mystery of the island but it pulses with constant damaging effects. At one of the locations, the PCs will find the missing villagers--but they've obviously been mind-controlled and forced to dig out a tunnel from the sea into the interior of the island. There's no realistic way to rescue them, as an unlimited number of skum intervene (in waves every few rounds) if the PCs try.

Adding to the difficulty is that when the PCs step foot on the island, they will, sooner or later, be affected by a mysterious curse that starts to gradually give them fish-like traits! At first the changes are innocuous or even mildly beneficial, but the problem continues to get worse the longer the PCs spend on the island--and this isn't a place that can be handled in a quick SWAT-team style sweep.

Another issue was what ended up leading the group I played with to decide to leave the island with the task unfinished: this is definitely an adventure for smart PCs with lots of skill in Spellcraft and Knowledge (arcana). The complex backstory makes it hard to tell which of the various problems are just part of the island's magic and what parts are related to Gerlach's visit, and the problems of the taint and the (tough!) random encounters make too much lingering and back-and-forth between locations (to experiment with different ideas) a dicey prospect. Depending on party composition, the necessary skills and problem solving abilities just might not be available, and, unfortunately, I don't think there's really a way around it here. I didn't mind too much, as I think different characters with different skillsets should get a chance to shine in different adventures. We just happened to have the wrong group of characters, and couldn't figure out how to move forward.

Part Three ("The Natatorium of Mohl'omog") details the subterranean caverns beneath the island. Here, the PCs will encounter Gerlach (a sorcerer who has been dominated by Mohl'omog), multiple traps and ambushes, and, finally, the aboleth itself. My group never made it this far, so I can only evaluate the section from reading it, but I'd be honestly surprised if a group of normal sixth-level PCs survive it. There are multiple CR 5-9 encounters in short order, and one bad saving throw vs. the aboleth's domination ability can result in PCs fighting each other.

It's ironic, from an internal story perspective, that things probably work out fine (at least in the short- to medium- term) if the PCs never visit the island. Once the mind-controlled villagers dig the aboleth free, it swims away to carry on centuries-long evil machinations and schemes, and likely leaves Blackcove alone. I'm not saying aboleths on the loose are a good thing, but Mohl'omog has been out of currency for a while, and it's not like he's the only aboleth in the big blue sea. I suppose that's neither here nor there, however.

We can't move on without recognising that awesome cover--definitely poster worthy! The inside front cover is a map of the island of Nal-Kashel,while the inside back cover is a map of the observatory. The maps are done in an interesting and unusual style that I don't really know how to describe. For the sake of completeness, I'll mention that there's a page containing capsule stats for four level 6 Iconics; Paizo stopped doing this in the module line after a while, but I think there is something to be said for being able to get a game up-and-running quickly even if not everyone has original characters (though, I'm sceptical the foursome would be tough enough to survive the island).

Overall, I love the feel of From Shore to Sea. The setting is memorable and atmospheric, the exploration of the island reveals rich and interesting aspects of Azlanti lore, there's a wide variety of encounters (diplomatic, combat, and problem-solving), and the plot is interesting. I do think it's pitched a couple of levels too low, and I would recommend characters around level 8 that (hopefully) have a diverse range of knowledge skills.

Fun, but a little underwhelming


(I GMed this.)

This module shows its age. It's not a bad module by any means, but it clearly doesn't stand up to today's level of quality. This is mainly in regards to combats. Granted, I played with a party of 6, on the high end of the level requirement, but most combats were almost not even worth bothering with. If you're going to play this, play it with 4 characters. Likewise, skill checks seem mostly trivial, except for a handful that are stupidly difficult. More balance would've been appreciated.

That aside, the atmosphere of this module was great. As the GM, I enjoyed conveying it, though I don't know how the players felt about it. The story is perhaps on the predictable side, but exploring the island was a fun experience in how alien everything is. I hope I did everything justice.
As other people have noticed, some more direction would've been useful. My players were roaming around with no clear objective until they came upon the key location that made everything clear.

All in all, I had fun running this. It might not have been the best it could've been, but it's certainly not a bad module.

Was this playtested?


From a DC 40 Spellcraft check which must be made to progress in the module and which has special rules to prevent party assistance - for a module intended for 6th level characters to a final encounter with a creature with the wrong CR - hint final encounter is at least CR 11 - again for a level 6 party.

That's a rhetorical question because these problems would have been obvious if it was playtested by anyone other than the author running it for his home group. It is amazing with the effort Paizo puts into playtesting new rules that I have only seen one module which didn't have massive problems that even a cursory playtest by someone other than the author would have caught.

I played the PFS version so the GM didn't have the option of correcting the authors egregious errors.

Never play this module! You will have more fun licking the edges of the pages in an attempt to get paper cuts on your tongue than you will playing the module.


Good on paper, disastrous in practice


When I read this module, it looked really awesome, and I couldn't wait to run it. When I actually did run it, my players had the worst experience ever at my table. In fact, this marked one of the few times my players were actually very angry at me. While the encounters, plot, background, and maps are high quality, several issues make the adventure frustrating to play.

1) Because of the structure and order of locations and events, the adventure gives very little exposition until very late in the module. My players were left with almost no information to act on. Every decision they made felt like a shot in the dark.

2) The island's effects misled the players into believing there's a time limit. This put a lot of stress on my players, disabling them from leisurely exploring the island at their own pace. Worse is that it railroaded my players into continuing an adventure they had no fun with. It was so bad that a couple of the PCs preferred they leave and spend another adventure curing themselves than actually finishing out the adventure.

3) Martial characters felt completely useless. Nearly all of the adventure's major challenges require magical expertise. All non-spellcasters in my group spent most of the two 4-hour sessions twiddling their thumbs while the spellcasters solved the mystery.

4) I also noticed that sometimes the text did not match the maps provided. For example, the description said one location was in the west when it was north on the map.

Thankfully, all of these can be avoided with some clever GMing. If you wish to run this adventure, I suggest the following recommendation:


Have the party encounter Sara or the villagers early when they visit the island. My players struggled because they lacked a clear objective other than wander around the island hoping they find something. The module does not let the Sara encounter line doesn't happen until they find the excavation site, which is likely the very last place they'll visit.

Overall, From Shore to Sea has a great story and premise marred by poor sequencing and a frustrating pseudo-time limit mechanic.

Poorly designed and overly challenging.


And WAY to long. It took our experienced group almost 12 hours to complete this mod, and we skipped or hand waved several (4?)encounters along the way. How is someone supposed to GM this at a Con or event with that kind of run time!?!

The first part of the mod was good, until we reached the island. Then it felt like we were getting repeatedly hosed for no good reason. The hourly mutation chance, with no ability to stop or even understand it, made us feel like we certainly had no time to stop and rest. And we really could have used some rest.

A encounter with a CR equal to the APL of the party is supposed to consume 1/4 of the party's resources. On the island we had way more than 4 encounters (6-8, and we skipped some)and one of them was CR=APL+3, all before reaching the climactic encounter! How is a party that has no time to rest supposed to have anything left for the BBEG after that?

If we had had a Sorcerer instead of a Wizard there is no way we could have made that DC40 Spellcraft check, and with out it we would have been screwed. And what is with requiring 4 ranks of Spellcraft to assist the check. Did someone pull that number out of the air, or was there a reason for it? It certainly doesn't seem fair to be changing the rules in a PFS module.

Finally, the extensive use of permanent illusions felt cheap, especially the final illusionary wall. When "it" popped through I wanted to just leave the table in disgust and frustration.

This is the first time I have been actively pissed off after completing a PF module. Not with our GM (who is great and did what he could to not make this mod last 14 hours), or my party members (a stalwart bunch), but with the adventure itself!

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Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Brandon Hodge wrote:

As I understand it, Open Design patrons who are ALSO Paizo Subscribers will in fact get two copies unless they opt out, but we might need clarification from Paizo on that.

That's my understanding as well. *shrug* might give it to my dad. Closest yet to getting my name in print ;-)

The Stars Are definitely Right for something like this!:) Really looking forward to it, though I'll likely be dropping it into the Varisian coast somewhere if doable.

Owner - House of Books and Games LLC

Matthew Morris wrote:
Brandon Hodge wrote:

As I understand it, Open Design patrons who are ALSO Paizo Subscribers will in fact get two copies unless they opt out, but we might need clarification from Paizo on that.

That's my understanding as well. *shrug* might give it to my dad. Closest yet to getting my name in print ;-)


Yeah ... it's cool seeing my name in Sunken Empires :)

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

No comments on this yet? Is everyone too busy reading the GMG? I think this turned out fantastic, but I'd like to hear what a non-patron thinks now that it's out.

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Just got my KQ Patron version of this, Brandon love the Signature with the Tentacles ;).

Sounds like a nice little take of Daggony evilness....MUST HAVE!

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

I've given it a read through, if not a play through.

two things
[spoilers]players are going to hate having their characters frakked with in the mutations. Hopefully the DM will have players that trust him.[/spoiler]

I'd allow the 'potion of fixing' to work on the skum sorcerer who created it, but I'm a sucker for happy endings. If they players capture him and try the potion on him... it should work.

Sovereign Court

I like this a lot, but then my name is in it.

I don't think my players will ever open up any animals in the hope that a vital piece of gear is hidden inside. I might put the armillary amulet around a tooth.

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

We just finished it (I was the player, my husband the GM). It has a great physical setting and atmosphere.

A number of points made me grumpy, though some are probably personal pet peeves:

--The initial impact on the PCs is highly demoralizing; my GM toned it down because he thought (correctly) that the PCs would bail otherwise. If your group is inclined to pessimism, I'd recommend delaying the initial onset of the transformations, and maybe toning down the arcane power of the site itself.

--The physical scale of the excavation is staggering. I kept misunderstanding descriptions because I "knew" they couldn't be true. I don't see how people with shovels could possibly do that, and I found it irritating that my PCs made decisions based on that and were wrong.

--Unless I missed something, the villain's problem has an easy, painless solution using only materials on hand. I don't know why the large excavation was necessary.

I would also recommend telling the players that "Shadow over Innsmouth" is part of their PCs' cultural mythology, because it was darned difficult to pretend I'd never heard that story when the parallels are so close. I guess some players enjoy that kind of firewalling, but I just found it distracting.


Mary Yamato wrote:
We just finished it (I was the player, my husband the GM). It has a great physical setting and atmosphere. Etc...

I love hearing how games went! Of course, feedback for designers is great whether "awesome" or "meh," so I'm glad you seem to have mostly enjoyed it and took the time to give your thoughts.

We knew during design that the transformation would be a risk, and not for every group, and what started as an optional sidebar took on new life as the design progressed. I'd encourage any GMs considering running the adventure to carefully consider how they'll handle it, and cater to their group's receptiveness to that sort of thing.

I feel the pain of your excavation observation: it is a mapping error. The excavation trench was meant to be shown simply dug into the sand in a sunken sea-level cove, and leading into the smallish bedrock cave near the villian's prison. As the work has been going on for months, dozens of villagers would have had plenty of time to carve out something of that nature in the sand. Unfortunately my map turnover must not have conveyed that properly, and it was illustrated in the final version showing a trench carved out of the bedrock of the island, and with no water in it, at that, which it should have had. So, yeah -good catch, and unfortunately something we can't correct after something's published.

Good idea on encouraging "Shadow over Innsmouth" as PC cultural mythology. In fact, part of the unease of the initial encounters should stem from player knowledge of that story, even to the point of PC mistrust of the villagers, because it opens up great roleplaying opportunities when PCs find out these poor villagers aren't evil fishmen cultists out to get them, and are rather sympathetic creatures meant to be saved. We had a lot of fun with that little twist, and I hope folks running the adventure use those touchstones to best effect.

Awesome report, Mary! I've been so buried in new work I haven't reflected on Shore to Sea in a while, so thanks for sharing your experience!

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The thing that was a real morale issue for us:

The PCs were quickly able (they have a forensic mindset) to work out the following:

(a) scores of people on the island are under Dominate Monster, a 9th level spell. The PCs can't break these spells even with CL10 Break Enchantment.

(b) this seems able to affect not only blood-tainted islanders, but anyone with fishman traits, including outlanders who are transformed into fishmen and villagers who are only partially transformed. (There is no evidence it can affect normal humans, and the lack of immediate tries against the PCs might be considered reassurance that it can't.)

(c) the PCs are turning inexorably into partial fishmen. This is also a massively high level spell effect which the PCs cannot counter.

(d) the caster doing all this is nowhere to be found; apparently it can cast remotely.

From this the logical conclusion seems to be (e) if you don't get off the island fast you will be Dominated. How fast is "fast"? There's no telling. The PCs might guess that they have until the enemy's next spell refresh, so less than 24 hours.

Magic Circle is the only defense against this at the PCs' level. However, bitter experience suggests that fighting while staying within 10' of the Magic Circle caster drops the effective party level by about 2. It's almost impossible to flank; it's hard to protect the casters; it's hard to deal with enemy casters; you are perfectly grouped to be nuked by Fireball. (This is worse for us because the party is size 7, but even at 4-5 it is hard.)

It just seemed like the logical response to a Dominate Monster caster with island-wide range and an unassailable position is to flee.

I know that some of these conclusions turn out to be wrong. I just want to mention what it looks like from the player point of view initially. If my GM had done this, we would have had to choose between forcing PC actions or having the adventure end at scene 2. (Perhaps the PCs, finding their fishness incurable, would have come back later; but my understanding is that this misses the adventure anyway.)

I know you can't change the product, but for GMs running it I might suggest cutting Estevan's Domination, since that's the main evidence of the excessive range. If the aboleth has to bring people down to it in order to Dominate them, that's manageable. If it can Dominate anyone on the island, that is not.


(We really should have *Spoilered* all of this info with a spoiler box, so I'll start now)

Shore to Sea Spoilers:

Wow! Mary -I am incredibly impressed with your group's thorough breakdown of their characters' condition. You weren't kidding when you said you guys didn't like the mutations much at all! Most impressive to me is the recognition of the trigger and field of influence with Estevan on the trip there. That's some killer, killer analysis, even if it didn't all quite end up being correct, that's still damn clever and awfully close. The steps you guys took to avoid the effects were neat, but I wish you'd not had to go through the trouble. Ultimately, the aboleth dominated the villagers all in person, as they eventually reveal, and the observatory only amplifies the duration and save of the initial effect. But it was never even meant to be quite so specific.

My real response? You should sign up for Open Design projects and be a playtest group! Really! We did thorough, thorough playtests, and while there was a ton of discussion about a lot of these aspects that resulted in them being as they are, this sort of feedback is invaluable in the design phase. Killer!

Grand Lodge

Chronicles Pathfinder Podcast is excited to be able to bring you additional, exclusive content for this module!

Ten Interesting Ruins web extra!


Azmyth wrote:

Ten Interesting Ruins web extra!

Ah! Patrons might find those in their playtest versions, but otherwise, this is where you'd get them! I ran them at Gencon in 2010, and they were very well received. The copper beast especially elicited some interesting roleplaying.


Anyone know what level the PC's should be if they finish this module. I wish this was something reflected in all the module's product information.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

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Dolgo wrote:
Anyone know what level the PC's should be if they finish this module.

Just barely shy of 7th if you use the Medium advancement track. Adding some ad hoc roleplaying XP will push them over the top.

Dolgo wrote:
I wish this was something reflected in all the module's product information.

Because there are three different official speeds in Pathfinder (as opposed to one track in 3.5), it would be too cumbersome to list the final level for all three tracks. Besides, there's a growing trend to ignore XP tracks all together and do advancement by fiat.

Thanks for the info Erik!

Should the compass on the Blackcove map on page 6 be turned upside down? Seems like from the map, Blackcove faces the south to the Hellmouth Gulf.


Dolgo wrote:
Should the compass on the Blackcove map on page 6 be turned upside down? Seems like from the map, Blackcove faces the south to the Hellmouth Gulf.

Hey Dolgo!

The compass can really work however you like, given all the cutback coves and craggy jetties of the Hellmouth that carve into the continenet every which way. As represented, it could just as easily be a deeply inset, backwater cove oriented the way depicted, though if I could snap my fingers and have it done, I'd point the compass rose so that current North is West. It would make a little more sense that way.

Whatever works'll work! =-)

And thanks for covering my butt on the quick reply on level advancement yesterday, Erik!

Brandon Hodge wrote:
Dolgo wrote:
Should the compass on the Blackcove map on page 6 be turned upside down? Seems like from the map, Blackcove faces the south to the Hellmouth Gulf.

Hey Dolgo!

The compass can really work however you like, given all the cutback coves and craggy jetties of the Hellmouth that carve into the continenet every which way. As represented, it could just as easily be a deeply inset, backwater cove oriented the way depicted, though if I could snap my fingers and have it done, I'd point the compass rose so that current North is West. It would make a little more sense that way.

Whatever works'll work! =-)

And thanks for covering my butt on the quick reply on level advancement yesterday, Erik!

Thanks Brandon, I will run it as you stated as a cutback cove. I listened to your insight on PF Chronicles podcast, good info into the module, its a huge help!


Thanks, Dolgo! I tell 'ya -those boys leave no stone unturned. Hahaha.

Have a blast with From Shore to Sea!

Brandon Hodge wrote:

Thanks, Dolgo! I tell 'ya -those boys leave no stone unturned. Hahaha.

Have a blast with From Shore to Sea!

Thanks, I know it will be a well received adventure after reading it.

I was wondering, what to you do to show your players the map of Blackcove or of any other map that's in a module? Do you roughly draw it? Photocopy them but cover up important sites names? Other? I've always had a roadblock about how to display the maps in modules but not give away everything they show fearing my PC's would say "lets go straight to A8 that looks interesting."


Dolgo wrote:
I was wondering, what to you do to show your players the map of Blackcove or of any other map that's in a module? Do you roughly draw it? Photocopy them but cover up important sites names? Other? I've always had a roadblock about how to display the maps in modules but not give away everything they show fearing my PC's would say "lets go straight to A8 that looks interesting."

Typically, I just rough-sketch it out on a piece of paper or battlemat for something like the village. Just a really simple line-in-the-sand type of thing, that way numbers and labels don't give anything away.

If you have any photoshop skils at all, you can copy the map over and do some concealment of the labels and key with some clever copy/paste, then print that out and hand off to players. Otherwise, you might do a quickie trace job before the game with some of the outstanding buildings hightlighted, and in this way may emphasize places you really want to bring to the PCs' attention for exploration.

When it comes to the Observatory, you don't have anything to worry about, so you should be able to just show it, but with the final lair you do have that

illusionary wall

to contend with, so a quick trace, or, even better, a running dialogue of events as you draw things out on the battlemap, is the best way to go.

Thanks again Brandon, good info!

Brandon, wanted to say our first session went awesome and have one question. I don't fully understand the aquarium room. It seems like such an awesome visual to describe so I want to make sure I got it down pat. How deep did you envision the pool? Does the constant flowing water come down strong in front of the bubble back into the pool? How high is the bubble to the pool? How does melee reach the octopus? Sorry if thats alot but any info would be great!


Dolgo wrote:
Brandon, wanted to say our first session went awesome and have one question. I don't fully understand the aquarium room. It seems like such an awesome visual to describe so I want to make sure I got it down pat. How deep did you envision the pool? Does the constant flowing water come down strong in front of the bubble back into the pool? How high is the bubble to the pool? How does melee reach the octopus? Sorry if thats alot but any info would be great!

Good morning! Great to hear the first session went well!

I just pulled out the adventure to have a look, and I know this room, without a map, can be a little confusing, and it is slightly different than my original turnover. So, let's just break down the elements:

1.The building is a 60-ft. diameter circular room.

2. There is a central pool, 30-ft. in diameter and 5-ft. deep, set into the floor, with no raised lip or rim.

3. Imagine that a thin sheet of water overflows the central pool and spreads out in every direction across the floor -maybe 1/16-inch deep, but not strong enough to trip anyone or anything. You should make it at least slippery there, and each step splashes a fine mist of water on PCs. Once this sheet of water reaches the wall, it then flows up the walls, across the ceiling, then back down into the central pool in another thin sheet around the pool's diameter, creating a sort of a thin, hollow column of water around the pool's outer edge, approximately 25-ft. in diameter. This same effect creates a "door" of water at the entrance, which means PCs have to walk through the upward-flowing water in order to enter the room.

4. The "bubble" is a 20-ft. diameter floating sphere of water about 5-ft. above the pool (which is at floor level, so the sphere floats 5-ft. high) and within the thin boundary of the central water column. This is where the

giant octopus lurks. With its 20-ft reach, it has pretty good coverage of most of the room. To reach it, PCs either need to shoot through the water sheet and into the bubble (where it has concealment due to the waterfall and murky water) or wade into the 5-ft. deep central pool to fight it (it still has concealment). For more fun, put piranhas or eels in the pool! =-)

5. Originally, there was no large central bubble, and the room was instead filled with about a dozen much smaller spheres floating all around, with 6 of them containing a regular CR 1 octopus. The central pool and the flowing water sheet acted as a mechanism to replenish the oxygen in the spheres. These spheres reacted to the will of the creatures within, and would slowly float toward the characters with a movement of 10-ft per round, trying to subtly surround a character and attack, because they've been left in there by the skum and are hungry. There was also an assassin vine in the back of the room, sprouting out of a skum skeleton, but this simpler version is the more effective and challenging encounter.

Does that help at all, or have I only made it more complicated? Haha. Hope it goes off without a hitch and you guys keep having a ball with it.

Perfect description, I fully get it now. Thanks a bunch for the help! Its so great to have the original insight into the module.


My pleasure! Questions like this mean that people are playing and [hopefully] enjoying the adventure, so the confirmation that this thing is out in the world and coming to life under the care of responsible GMs makes all the work worthwhile! Thanks!

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I can't wait to fold this mod into my kingmaker AP on candlemere island. I'm changing the

Sorcerer to a summoner. And him and his eidolon approach the island for "recruitments" instead of using the Lurker.

With some other minor changes as well.

Brandon first off great mod ! Second thanks for the feedback about the Aquarium room.

My players, I think were completly shocked that it was an octopus this in itself is the definition of awesome. I changed the mod a little and had the octopus draging the players into the water to drown them. Nothing like having spellcasters underwater in the second round.

I actually had a player say man we are getting out actioned by a boss. Who knew a giant octopus was so awesome

I had not the heart to unleash rust monsters at the party.


This adventure is awesome.

This is the second thing I've ever GMed for. The first being Carrion Hill. I'm going to try to tie those together, emphasizing the Lovecrafting elements of both.

My party has finally saved the villagers (although before going to the excavation. I just had

sarah escape by herself
) and are about to go into the natatorium.

But since this is my 2nd module (and 1st campaign GMing), I do think I'm a bit over my head. There are a lot of subtle bits, and there isn't much guidance for how to explore the island.

Plus, I'm really not sure how to explain the roads-but-actually-cliffs bit. How does that work? Are they sheer? Are they gradual? They look sheer in the map, hence my confusion.

The Exchange

except that

the concealment works both ways since the octopus can't see through its own ink. all that does is drag out the combat since there aren't any other physical threats to the party here. and when it does hit, it grabs, defeating its own concealment.

Also, if the party doesn't have a wizard, its nearly impossible to complete the mod as written. a 6th level wizard with all the bonuses provided (amulet, lectures) is only going to have maybe a 25% chance of getting a DC 40 spellcraft needed to shut down the orrey amplifying the aboleth's powers. No other class is likely to have a spellcraft high enough, and since the story requires 4 ranks to assist the check (which can only be attempted once per day) you'll really never get that either.

Given how close the excavation is to becoming complete, anything more than one attempt would likely mean the aboleth gets away. fighting the aboleth with the amplifier on would be suicide, given that it can dominate 60+ villagers without having line of effect.

Its a great story, and the island environment is very cool, but the mechanics need some editing.


THANK YOU for the exceptional praise, Mr. Pett! I can think of no higher endorsement than from the master of Lovecraftian horror himself!

Now, shutting down the Orrery, while daunting, is far from "nearly impossible" for a 6th level party, Chernobyl.


If the PCs take all the steps set out in the adventure, they can end up with as much as +20 bonus to their Spellcraft check at the end of the first day's attempt (+5 for deciphering the instructions, +10 for studying it with an identify spell, and +5 with a recovered armillary amulet). As the adventure outlines, this bonus increases by +2 for every daily attempt, and another +2 for every PC with 4 or more ranks that can Aid Another, but you hardly need them.

Because if they take those steps, the skillcheck basically becomes a DC 20, which isn't going to be incredibly difficult for a 6th level spellcaster even without max ranks or stats.

Given that parties are likely to have at least one spellcaster with several ranks in Spellcraft (all core spellcasting classes get the skill as a class skill, and if we assume, say, a 12-16 INT, they've got a total +10 or +12 mod to their skill check if maxed out), then you've got the party spellcaster making the check on an 8-10 or better on the first day if they've taken the appropriate steps, without others aiding them, taking extra days, or even having Skill Focus (Spellcraft). Heck even if they aren't totally maxed out, chances are they can still make it on, say, a 12 or better. If they ARE maxed out, and have skill focus, you can get into the territory of skipping a hook or two and still succeeding!

So, far from impossible, and actually quite likely if the adventure hooks are taken. I'm pretty sure a dozen playtests, hundreds of contributing patrons picking over the adventure with a fine-toothed comb, and the crack editors at Paizo would have let a such an obviously harrowing DC like that through without the intense scrutiny it received. Concealment snafu with octopus ink? Maybe. But not that orerry DC. Dozens of GMs from all over the country have reported great responses to the adventure with their groups, and none have said the whole thing fell apart because the DCs were too high or the octopus was blind. I'm sure others will survive. =-)

I do have some questions about the area

beneath the Natatorium
. I'll just throw everything in spoilers.


A PC was killed by the Chuul ambush. Luckily he had rolled a 20 on the Knucklebone of Fickle Fortune, so he'll be coming back.

At this point, the party decided to reattach the head of the PC, and drag the body out.

But, they've set off all sorts of alarms, and the enemies now know that something attempted to break into their sanctuary (and possibly who it was and how they fight. I'll be rereading the module for anything like that), presumably to kill them.

So they're beefing up defense. What sort of creatures and tactics can I do to play this up? I'm thinking more eels or such in the pool of water at the bottom of the 90' drop into the lower levels. With wind wall in place at the bottom, to deflect arrows.


Cheapy wrote:
I do have some questions about the area ** spoiler omitted **

Spoilers as well:

Your best bet is to add skum patrols. In other words, if the PCs infiltrated but then left to rest, then make getting back to the natatorium a task. Make them have to elude patrols. I'd say make them CR 3 or CR 4 encounters, but design them to be avoided, rather than fought. Maybe throw a rogue chuul in the mix. I would concentrate on making the approach more difficult on the topside, but wouldn't change too much below ground. Just make it clear that patrols are now swarming the area looking for them. If you want to get real tricky, force a moral conundrum by having some dominated villagers from the coast in the upper entrance pit through the apertuof the natatorium that the PCs will have to fight to get through the aperture and to the lower levels. The collateral of innocents will make them take a second look at their goals, without an incredibly difficult encounter outside the purview of their level and abilities.

The Exchange

this assumes they either have the identify spell or can properly identify the wand given in the adventure. which means you need a good wizard, really. with all the new base classes wizards are not as common as they used to be. most other spellcasting classes use a different stat to base their spells on (CHA or WIS) and those that use int usually have other skill priorities than spellcraft. and I'm not sure why they alter the rule on aiding another to requiring 4 ranks to be able to aid the check. having 2 players in a group at this level with 4 ranks is a stretch.

All I'm saying is, there should have been an option to figure it out without a skill check requirement. you need to plan for groups that may not have that ability.

Chernobyl wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

I dunno. If a group doesn't have anyone who excels at understanding the nuances of arcane energy, I'd hope that they'd have a hell of a time understanding the nuances of arcane energy.

I think I'm going to have the skum wheel some cannons to the shorelines.

The link to the 10 interesting ruin web extra doesn´t work. Can someone repost it?


Owner - House of Books and Games LLC

Try this.

I found it by doing a Google search for ShoretoSea_WebExtra.pdf


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I was wondering if anyone had tried adapting this and combining it with Carrion Hill? I'm running a group through Carrion Crown, and thought that the two of those together could serve as a supplement to or replacement for Wake of the Watcher. I'd love to run all three, obviously, but I worry that going too heavy on the Lovecraftian horror would diminish how unique the terror is intended to be.

Hopefully Brandon is still floating around the boards, but anyone who has run the module can probably answer.

I have a 6th party that is a mix of good characters. I have limited experience with running the Golarion setting, but look forward to it. I am curious for information about Cheliax. We are starting at 6th - haven't played in a long time and don't get to play often, so looking to adventure at a more medium low level - and the players have been trying to build backgrounds. I really want to start right at the beginning of the module on the road along the Hellmouth rather than gming a segue or something similar. However, I told the players we would be starting in Cheliax and after doing research they are having a hard time figuring out why they would be adventuring in LE nation when they are Good. I tried to explain to them that its just the ruling class and that many people on Cheliax might just oppressed neutral and good folk who live under the dominion of the diabolists and the Hell Knights. Thoughts?

Also, I am concerned that since they have this feeling about Cheliax they make not only make Shadow over Innsmouth assumptions about Blackcove, but may also assume they are potential Asmodeus followers. They likely won't find this isn't true unless they investigate the shrine - which apparently Lira discourages them from doing?

Lastly, they all used Charisma as their dump stat! We have a fighter, a rogue/fighter, a rogue/wizard, and a Druid. I am concerned about the diplomacy check in the lighthouse. It seems the more information they have the better the hook to go to the island and the more sympathetic and less suspicious the villagers seem.

TLDR: Good Party. Suspicious of adventuring in Cheliax. Will no doubt be incredibly - and rightly so - suspicious of Blackcove. Terrible Charisma scores - likely to have trouble moving crowd in lighthouse beyond hostile or unfriendly. Help?

Liberty's Edge

Well, remind them that the countryside is under the oppression of the overbearing cities, and trying their best NOT to be noticed. That should explain the situation to them.

Also, it is certainly more courageous to adventure in Cheliax than say, Andoran : same rewards, higer risk.


Hey there! I most certainly am still floating around the boards! Happy to help.

For starters, I think your answer (and Andree's echoed suggestion) concerning their LE location as Good-aligned adventurers is already spot-on. There are LOTS of nations with terrible rulers across the breadth of Golarion, and what better locale to stir up trouble than one ruled over by devil-summoning despots? In any case, the adventure's starting point assumes adventurers are just passing through, and if they already know what they've admitted about Cheliax, then taking the coastal road where the adventure starts is the lowest-profile route they've got. They could try ship, but they'd have to open themselves up to inspection by authorities, you know?

And you're right about the make-up of most citizens of Cheliax. Just because the rulers are influenced by diabolical forces doesn't mean your typical farmer and fishermen cares two wits about all that stuff. Drive this point hope to inspire more sympathy for the commoners in the region--they'll need all you can solicit from your players. I'll spoiler the rest:


They can make the Shadows over Innsmouth assumptions, but keep in mind that they'll have it a bit backward. The villagers, unlike those in Lovecraft's original, aren't quite privy to the real deal of what's going on with their heritage. They are totally getting snookered by the offshore ulat-kini through the hypnotic power of the wedding rock, and few are those who realize what is really going on.

The shrine is an important clue to this and, again, another chance to illicit sympathy for the poor villagers even if players charge up the stairs breaking doors down to figure out what they suspect. Let them. They'll discover a desecrated shrine to Asmodeus re-consecrated to an amalgamated pantheon of various sea gods, something which the villagers don't want exposed because they worry about the consequences they would face by authorities if discovered they're blaspheming the state-mandated religion.

Even a Charisma-dump party should do OK with the villagers. Even low rolls should give them enough information to proceed, and if they roleplay it well, screw what the numbers tell you. If they save some villagers in the lighthouse attack, in particular, then the brute force they paid for by dumping Charisma should pay off in information, which is by design. If the going gets rough, start the attack, let them save some lives, and re-kickstart negotiations!

Just go with the flow, and don't worry to much about sticking strictly to it. I promise not to show up at your game and tease you for doing it wrong. =-)

Thanks Brandon and Andree! Super helpful.

One final thing. I'll be running the first part of the module this week - hopefully we end by landing on the island. For the session after that I would love to get my hands on the "10 interesting ruins" sidebar. It seems to have been taken down/all of the links are bad. Any chance it's still out there somewhere?

Hello Long-Staff, I situated the module near Korvosa, you could put it anywhere on the coast of Varissia, as the Thassilonians are an offshoot of the Azlanti.

So we are about to climb to the final tier of the island - just cleared the Showering Tower and the Archives. The players are really loving it - they are super freaked out by the taints and the wedding rock.

My only question is... what to run next? My plan was to go with "Realm of the Fellnight Queen" and set it in either Ravounel Forest or Barrowood. What are everyone's thoughts? Is there something else we should run through instead of Fellnight?

Hello Long Staff.

I would expand the module...

There is so much to do... Some of the BBEGs relatives might want revenge.

Some of the villagers may want to settle down and rebuild, and there is so much around for the Adventurers to explore below the surface.

Then there is the world hopping potential of the observatory.

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