Monday, January 26, 2015

Patreon Supported Adventures - The Strange Case of Tobin Jakshyd

New adventure that went up on Patreon yesterday. If anyone remembers who I commissioned for the map please tell me so I can give proper credit.

The Strange Case of Tobin Jakshyd
A Swords & Wizardry Adventure for Characters of 3-6 level

Introduction

There always seems to be a place in any long game, a place where the adventure is done, the heroes have completed their tasks, saved the princess, and collected their pay. A place in a game where everyone just mills around, doing their shopping and the Referee is desperately trying to figure out how to introduce his flock to their next employer.

That is the purpose of the five-minute adventures. A simple, quick adventure that can take place anywhere in the Referee’s world urban or rural.

These adventures will not follow standard layout for adventures or modules as they are meant to be quickly copy-pasted from the Genius Loci Blog.

Good Luck and Enjoy!
Background

Long ago Tobin Jakshyd, a mage of little power, was bitten by a were-badger during a journey to the Towers of the Magic. At first Tobin believed he was just bitten by a rabid badger and sought out traditional clerical aid. However; as these things must, when next the moon rose full and bright Tobin under went his horrible transformation for the first time.

Recently the Town has seen an outbreak in strange twisted creatures; horrible beasts that appear in the twisted vestiges of various animals and humanoids. Most of these creatures have been found to be harmless and have been easily dispatched, but some of the Malformed as the Town’s people have begun to call them have managed to kill and slaughter members of the town watch.

Tobin Jakshyd, a local mage and herbalist of some renown, has taken an interest in these malformed, and has been requesting that the corpses be brought to him for study.

Unknown to most of the town, the mayor’s daughter has gone missing. The mayor, while frantic, believes his daughter safe and most likely

The Adventure

The Tavern of Meetings

The players, recently back from some adventure or another have resupplied and should now be taking comfort in a night of ale, women (or men), good food and pure and simple relaxation. The Tavern is full, as it typically is, and music and song dance in the air.  The night is young, the moon is full and the minds and hearts of the tavern patrons are jovial.

After some time the door opens and a figure walks in buried under a thick riding cloak that hides the face. However, the cloak does not hide the fact the person walks with a twisted, heavy step. The figure speaks to no one but moves to the deepest area of the tavern, his or her head bowed.

Referee Note:  If any of the party decides to investigate the newcomer, a successful check (with a -4 modifier) will reveal that the person’s left hand looks more like a clawed paw than a humanoid hand.

A few moments more pass, and then the windows on the same side of the tavern as the door shatter as figures jump through them and at the same the door bursts open and three more figures file in.
The figures are all Malformed, each with the strange appearance of humans twisted together with mammals of some sort and avian as fur and feathers stick out in strange splotches over their bodies. The Malformed menace the tavern patrons, making demands in guttural voices for the return of one of there own.
The Malformed intruders are searching for one of their own. A female who has not yet been “educated”. They demand that she be presented to them and know that she is at the tavern due to her scent leading them to the place.

If the players decide to parlay with the Malformed they will discover that the only way the creatures will leave peaceably is with their missing female. However, the Malformed are not very patient and even if the players decide to locate and return the female to the Malformed, if they take longer than three rounds the Malformed will attempt to slaughter everyone in the tavern to get the female.

Lesser Malformed (5): HD 3; HP 14; AC 5 [14]; ATK Claws (2d4+2), Weapon (1d6+2 – Short Sword); Move 6 [30']; Save 16; AL C; CL/XP 4/120  Specials: Strong (+2 to all to hit and damage)
If the players engage the Malformed (and win), they will be approached after the battle by the cloaked stranger who entered the tavern prior to the Malformed.  The Stranger, revealed to be a woman by her voice, begs the players to speak with her behind the stables as soon as they can and quickly leaves.

If the players engage the Malformed (and lose) the cloaked figure will reveal herself to be the one the Malformed are seeking (conditional of more than one player having died). Removing her hood the tavern patrons (and possibly the players) will recognize her as the mayor’s daughter, but with Malformed traits. She will leave with the Malformed in a bid to save the players.

Word will quickly spread about the fate of the mayor’s daughter and within a day the mayor will post a reward (Referee’s discretion) for her return to him and information about the Malformed.

A Meeting at the Stables

The stables are located about twenty yards from the tavern and nearly flush with the town wall. A small space only about five feet wide exists between the stables and the wall. When the players arrive they will discover the cloaked figure resting against the wall.

Seeing the players the figure will beckon them to join her.  Approaching the cloaked woman she pushes off the wall, and slides down her hood, revealing the face of a once beautiful young girl. Long blond hair flows down from her scalp, but is interrupted by tufts of dark amber fur. One side of her mouth is twisted back with animistic lips, revealing a mouth full of sharp teeth and one of her eyes is large and bird-like in coloring, feathers sprouting where once eyebrows would have been.

The woman reveals herself to be the mayor’s daughter, Trixiani. She will explain to the players that she had been kidnapped and drugged. When she awoke she was like this. All she can remember from her ordeal is that the Malformed serve a cloaked master and that when she escaped their lair she was in the forest outside of town.

Trixiani doesn’t know where the Malformed lair is only that it appeared to be man-made and very old. Trixiani begs the players to help her find a cure for what was done to her but dares not go back herself for fear of the cloaked man.

If they players agree to help her she promises them that she will convince her father to pay them for their troubles (Referee’s discretion).

A Father’s Plea

Should the players lose their battle with the Malformed in the tavern a reward for returning the daughter will be posted the following day as well as a summons to any and all adventurers and “brave folk” to seek audience with the mayor.

When the players meet the mayor they discover a man torn by his grief. He blames himself for what has befallen his daughter and wishes her back safely. However, he dares not send the town militia into the forests for fear his daughter might accidently be killed.

The mayor beckons the players to a wide table with a map of heavy parchment unrolled and being held down by various objects. It is a very simple representative map of the area surrounding the town.  He points to an outline of a large forest to the north-east of town, away from the farms and outlying buildings.

The forest to the north-east of the Town is a thick and ancient place. The mayor informs the players that it is from this forest that all the Malformed have come from. If questioned as to why the Mayor hasn’t sent people into the forest he will inform them that militia guards had been sent into the forest after the first of the violent Malformed appeared. None of the guards returned.

The mayor will beg the players to go into the forest in search of the Malformed and his daughter. He will offer them a reward (Referee’s discretion) in addition too fifty standard currency (SC) to provision the quest.

Should the players decline, the mayor may opt to “sweeten the pot” by offering the players one of options provided on the table below. It is also possible that the mayor may simply dismiss the party in hopes of another adventuring group taking up his cause. If dismissing the players is the mayor’s decision then make it known to the players in such a way to wound their pride if nothing else.

Table 1: Quest Negotiation Table
Roll (1d6) Result
1-2 Land title
3-4 150 SC for provisions
5-6 Rank in the Militia

The Northern Forest

The forest is thick and uninviting, the trees, so close together, offer little visibility to what may lay ahead. Birds chirp sadly, and bugs move by but something else moves in the darkness of this place. It is colder in this forest then the town or the farmland nearby, one could almost see their breath.

The Northern forest is a dark forest that has been left more or less untouched by civilization for a nearly a thousand years. Locals do not venture far into it and legends about the forest state that every woodsmen who ever dared to cut a tree from the forest died in some horrible fashion soon afterwards.

In truth, the forest is home to a rather xenophobic tribe of wood elves who would rather kill intruders than scare them off. There are other threats and things that occupy this forest, some are listed below, and others are the domain of the Referee.

Being that the forest is lightly traveled there are no real trails for the players to follow.

Neither Trixiani nor the mayor knew where the Malfromed came from within the forest. In Trixiani’s case it was due to being unfamiliar with the land and the overall darkness the forest plunges into at night. This means that a lack of knowledge is the players’ biggest enemy and they may get hopelessly lost in the vast and mostly uncharted forest.
While in the Northern Forest the players have a 3 in 6 chance of encountering one of the following creature types every other turn.

Table 2: Wilderness Encounters
Dice Roll (d10) Creature type
1 Trent
2-3 3d6 Striges
4-5 3d6 Giant Spiders
6-7 2d6 Qu’tanis  Patrol
8-9 1d4 Unicorns
10 Young Green Dragon

Northern Forest Map Key

W-1 The Town

Per game world, setting or the Referee’s imagination. The town rests to the south of the Northern Forest and is in whatever economic and political shape the referee or setting has determined.

W-2 The Well on the Hill

A large well constructed of worked gray stone sits onto of this thinly forested hill. An ancient rotted bucket lay on its side next to the well, half buried in the soil and dirt of many years.

If any of the players decide to explore the well they will find the bottom to be devoid of water. The well works its way into the earth nearly one-hundred feet, its bottom made of smooth river bedrock.  To the north and the south are two ancient, but amazingly rust free grates that stand at about man height. Nothing can be seen beyond the reach of a lantern or touch’s light.

Referee Note: On one of the walls of the well is a false stone. Pressing that stone will cause one of the grates to slowly descend into the rocks.

Beyond that is anything you can dream up. From a Lich’s layer to the abode of a Dragon to a portal to another world long hidden out of fear. Don’t be afraid to completely throw a monkey wrench into the adventure and send the players off to another place or time.

W-3 Qu’tanis

Nestled among the giant, ancient trees the stairs and homes of the village blend into the forest.  As the players unknowingly approach a horn is sounded and as if from the tress themselves dozen of elfish archers surround them.

The village of Qu’tanis is home to about five-hundred wood elves. The population is extremely xenophobic and trusts no outsiders; even other wood elves from outside their community. If the players approach Qu’tanis the elves of the village will surprise them and attempt to capture them. This is atypical of the wood elves of Qu’tanis as they will typically kill all outsiders.

The players will discover (if they go with the wood elves peaceably) that the village has been raided several times in the previous month by the Malformed. While the wood elves would typically kill outsiders like the players, they have found that they are unable to route the invading Malformed and grudgingly need the players’ aid in the manner.

The wood elves will provide the players with a map with the location of the Malformed’s lair marked on it (W-5).

The only reward the wood elves offer the players is safe passage through the forest as long as the players respect the forest.

W-4 The Fallen Monolith

A giant rectangular black stone lay on its side, blocking any easy movement through the area. Trees grow and twist around it as moss and vines grow up its sides. As the players approach a flock of sparrows take flight from the monolith’s top.

The monolith is approximately thirty feet high, two-hundred feet long and ten feet thick. It is completely smooth with no etching, poke marks or any sign that it was worked in any way. In any location not covered in moss or ivy the players can see their reflections.

On a successful investigation of the monolith the players will notice that their reflections are acting subtly different than the players themselves. If touched the player needs to make a saving throw against extreme cold. If failed the player takes 1d4 damage and the part of their body that touched the monolith is in the beginning stages of frostbite.

W-5 The Ruined Keep

The blasted, charred remains of some ancient keep breaks from the ground like a jagged tooth. A single, double door stands open and dark.

If there is a dwarf in the party he or she can easily tell that the ruined keep is of dwarvish build, but not what clan. 

The Ruined Keep is further described in its own section of the adventure.

W-6 Forgotten Barrows

At first it appears to be nothing more than a group of small hills dotting the forest, but as the party moves through them the hills grow closer together and far more regular in size and shape.

None of the barrows have any noticeable entrances. The lands here are quiet with no bird song or insect noises.

While in the barrows the players have a  3 in 6 chance of encountering either a specter or group of wights.

Specter: HD 7; HP 35; AC 2[17]; ATK Spectral Weapon or Touch (1d8+lvl drain); ST 9; MV 3/6[15/30’], Al Chaos; special level drain (2 levels) w/hit; CL/XP 9/1,100

Wight (2): HD 3; HP 15; AC 5 [14]; ATK Claw (1hp +lvl drain); ST 14; MV 9[45’]; AL Chaos; Special Lvl drain (1 lvl),silver/magical dmg only; CL/XP 5/240

The Ruined Keep

As described above, the Ruined Keep is a mostly destroyed location, with worked stone strewn and scattered across the small section of the forest.

Unknown to the players there is a hidden Malformed watch around the keep. A successful saving throw will allow the players to avoid surprise. Note: If the players arrive at night the number of Malformed guards is halved.

The open double doors lead into a small alcove approximately ten feet by fifteen feet before ending abruptly in a pile of rubble. To the left is a narrow set of stairs leading down into the servants’ quarters, kitchens and eventually the vaults.

Lesser Malformed (6): HD 3; HP 14; AC 5 [14]; ATK Claws (2d4+2), Weapon (1d6+2 – Short Sword, Short Bow 1d6+2); Move 6 [30']; Save 16; AL C; CL/XP 4/120  Specials: Strong (+2 to all to hit and damage)

While Exploring the Ruined Keep the players have a 1 in 3 chance of encountering one of the following creatures.

Table 3: Ruined Keep Encounters
Dice Roll (d6) Creature
1 Giant Slug
2-3 1d6 Lesser Malformed
4-5 1d4 Malformed
6 1d2 Malformed Berserker*
     See end of Adventure for Creature stats

Ruined Keep Map Key

K-1 Lower Foyer

The small room is bare of any decoration. A single doorway stands open in the eastern wall. Behind you a light, fresh smelling breeze blows down the twisting stairwell.

The Lower foyer is a small, 10x10 room. There is a trip wire in the doorway, that when activated will sound a gong, alerting 1d6 Lesser Malformed and 1d4 Malformed to the location.

K-2 The Pantry

A long, narrow room, lined with mostly empty shelves and old moldy smelling sacks of grain.

The Pantry is a long, narrow 10X30 room. There is nothing of value for the players here; however, there is a 60% chance that a Malformed can be found sleeping here.

K-3 The Kitchen

Even from the hall the players can smell the sickly sweet stench of cooking meat and the sound of loud, off-key singing. The door to the room is closed but that does not stop the immense heat of the room from leaking out.

The kitchen is a large open room, with huge brick and stone ovens placed at even intervals. Open coal fires along the wall house giant pots and pans, each boiling over with some form of food.

Several Malformed race around the room, cutting and chopping meat of various colors. One thing remains the same though; all the meat is vaguely humanoid in shape.

In the center of the room, giant butcher knives in each hand, stands a giant Malformed conducting the workings of the others like a conductor does an orchestra.

If the players are noticed, the large Malformed will great them as a gentlemen. Informing them that dinner has not yet been prepared. As he speaks to the players the other Malformed will attempt to take them by surprise.

Lesser Malformed (4): HD 3; HP 14; AC 5 [14]; ATK Claws (2d4+2), Weapon (1d4+2 – Butcher’s Knife); Move 6 [30']; Save 16; AL C; CL/XP 4/120  Specials: Strong (+2 to all to hit and damage)

Livew (Malformed Half-Ogre): HD 5+5; HP 29; AC 3 [16]; ATK Weapon (Twin Giant Butcher Knives 2d6+4); Move 9[45’]; Save 14; AL C; CL/XP 6/400; Specials Strong (+4 to all to hit and damage)

Treasure: Livew has silver necklace around his neck worth 20 Standard currency. There is a 1 in 6 chance that one of the Malformed cooks will have a pouch with 10 standard currency on his body.

A search of the Kitchens after the encounter will reveal that the meat the Malformed were preparing was Elf and Human. They will also discover one of the following items in a pile of discarded belonging in a corner of the room.

Roll (d6) Treasure
1 -1[+1] ring of Protection
2 +1 Dagger
3 Ruby of Mage Sight (15 charges)*
4 50 Standard currency
5 Wand of fireball (5 charges)
6 -2[+2] Chainmail
*New Item is described at the end of the adventure

K-4 Servants’ Rooms 1

The door to this room hangs mostly off a single hinge, waiting for the right time to fall. The room itself is nothing more than ancient decayed bedding and foot lockers.

The room is a small quarters only 10 x 15. Broken bed frames lay scattered about. One of the two foot lockers contains 100 standard currency, the other is a lesser pseudomorph.

Lesser Pseudomorph: HD 3 ; HP 12 ; AC  4 [15]; ATK Slam (1d6+2), Bite (1d4) ; Move 3 [15’] ; Save 16; AL N; CL/XP 4/120; Special Stick – Any Melee attack has a 45% chance of causing the attacker to become stuck to the Pseudomorph.

Treasure: The corpse of the Lesser Pseudomorph will contain 1d6 gems that it had yet to digest from its last meal.

K-5 Servants’ Room 2

The door to this room seems locked. If the players manage to force the door open they will find several Malformed waiting for them in the room, looking very angry for being woken.

The door to this room is a thick, wooden door and appears to be locked through normal means. The Malformed in the room will be roused from their rest by any attempt to force the door but not if the players pick the lock.

Malformed (4): HD 4; HP 20; AC 5 [14]; ATK Claws (2d4+2), Weapon (1d6+2 – Short Sword); Move 6 [30']; Save 15; AL C; CL/XP 5/240  Specials: Strong (+2 to all to hit and damage)

Treasure: The Malformed have various bit and trinkets on them valuing 75 standard currency.

There is nothing of interest in this room for the players.

K-6 Storage Room

The room seems to have not been used in a very long time. Mold and fungus cling to the walls and ceiling. Ancient chests and shelves lay broken and decayed, and the smell of must overwhelms the room.

The door to this room is jammed and must be forced open risking the chance of alerting any of the roaming creatures that may be nearby.

A search of the room will reveal a few dry-rotted sacks containing 25 standard currency in gems and coins.

K-7 Servants’ Kitchen/Mess

The door to this room hangs open, a soft glow peaking out from inside. Four Malformed sit by a small fire rolling dice and hooting. The number of flasks and mugs around them, as well as the stench of stall ale tells the players all they need to know.

Unless approached in a hostile manner these four Lesser Malformed will leave the players to their business. If the players attempt to speak with the Malformed they will wave the players away and continue their game or offer the players the dice to join in their game.

If the players do join, follow the rules of an average craps game.

Lesser Malformed (4): HD 3; HP 14; AC 5 [14]; ATK Claws (2d4+2); Move 6 [30']; Save 16; AL C; CL/XP 4/120  Specials: Strong (+2 to all to hit and damage)

Treasure: Each of the Malformed has 10 standard currency on him.

K-8 Servants’ Room 3

The door to this room hangs open slightly and the sound of sleeping men can be heard.

Six beds, with moldy mattresses and ragged dry-rotted sheets, line the bare stone walls.

If the players decide to ignore this room the Malformed within will continue to sleep undisturbed.

There is nothing of interest in this room for the players.

Malformed (6): HD 4; HP 20; AC 5 [14]; ATK Claws (2d4+2), Weapon (1d6+2 – Short Sword); Move 6 [30']; Save 15; AL C; CL/XP 5/240  Specials: Strong (+2 to all to hit and damage)

Treasure: Two of the Malformed have scraps of jewelry on their person valuing a total of 75 standard currency.

K-9 The Cages

The door to this room is newer than any other door in the ruins. Made of thick iron it is closed tight with several locks. A barred window near its top reveals what once may have been a storage room have been converted into a prison. Several metal cages, only about three feet high can be seen and each hold three to four humans and elves.

This room is locked tight with several locks and requires a lock-picking check with a -2 modifier to be successful.

Inside the room are half a dozen cages with human and elf prisoners of both men and women.

Three Malformed guard the cages and will attack the players on sight.

Malformed (3): HD 4; HP 20; AC 5 [14]; ATK Claws (2d4+2), Weapon (1d6+2 – Short Sword); Move 6 [30']; Save 15; AL C; CL/XP 5/240  Specials: Strong (+2 to all to hit and damage)

Treasure: All three Malformed have pouches containing 1d6 gems worth 25 standard currency each.

Should the players be victorious a choice awaits them. Do they let the prisoners go or leave them in the cage? If they chose to set the prisoners free will the players escort them to safety knowing that should they re-enter the ruins the enemy shall be waiting? Or will the players leave the freed prisoners to their fate and continue on?
Referee Note: If the players had failed to defeat the Malformed in the Tavern they will find Trixiani in one of the cage, badly beaten and unconscious. If they choose too they may return the Mayor’s daughter at this point and skip ahead to the Concluding the Adventure section.

K-10 The Laboratory

The entrance to this room is guarded by two vicious looking Malformed. Beyond the double doors is a large room, lit by braziers of magical light. Several tables are scattered about the room filled with beakers and strange chemicals and even profane relics of the Outsiders. In the center of the room is a single table with a small, slight man hovering about it, poking the large, sleeping creature that rests on it.

Several cages rest against the wall, the creatures inside of them, no longer human or elf in nature. The creatures they have been blended with have taken full control.

The two Malformed guards will attack the players on sight, unlike other malformed these creatures are armored and seem to have some knowledge of martial combat.

Malformed Guards (2): HD 4; HP: 22; AC 3 [16], Weapon (1d8+2 – Bastard Sword); Move 6 [30’]; Save 15; Al C; CL/XP 6/480 Special: Strong (+2 to all to hit and damage), Parry (-2)

The man hovering of the table is Tobin Jakshyd, a local magic-user, who the party may know has had a keen interest in the Malformed from the beginning. Upon discovery, however, Tobin will drop all pretense of benevolent interest in the Malformed.

He will continue to move around the table, informing the players as to their immediate demise and will answer any questions that the players may have. If the players attempt to attack him he will mutter a single, hissing word and the cages will open, releasing the Berserk Malformed.

Malformed, Berserk (4): HD 4+4; HP: 26; AC 3 [16], Bite (1d4), Claws, (2d4+2), Weapon (1d6); Move 6 [30’]; Save 15; Al C; CL/XP 6/480 Special: Strong (+2 to all to hit and damage)

After four turns, if Tobin is still alive he will announce that he is finished, bid the players farewell, and walk quietly to the back of the room; revealing a secret door. Before moving through the door, Tobin will quietly say, with a sweet smile no less,
“Kill, Spot.”

As words leave the mad-man's mouth, a low, growl can be heard from the table and a large Malformed will slip from the table onto all fours.

This Malformed may have once been an Ogre or an Orc, but now it was something far more and far less. No soul, no mind, no sentience shone out from the large, cat-like eyes that watched the players. Twisted exposed muscle and sinew bunched and coiled and a low, bear-like growl filled the air, and the thing attacked.

Spot: HD 5+5; HP 29; AC 5 [14]; ATK Claws (2d4+2), Bite (1d4+poison); Move 6 [30']; Save 14; AL C; CL/XP 5/240; Specials: Strong (+2 to all to hit and damage), poison

Referee's Note: If the player's managed to kill Tobin before he could finish working on Spot the massive malformed will never be awakened and the adventure ends. Follow “Concluding the Adventure” ignoring the fact that Tobin is still out in the world.

Treasure: 2 flasks of Cure Minor Wounds, 100 SC and a scroll of web.

Following Tobin

If the players decide to follow Tobin though the secret path they will find their way unimpeded and the tunnel will eventually let out in a small root cellar that holds various medicinal herbs and dried plants.

The narrow tunnel of rough, packed earth and stone is dark as night save for the adventurer's light. It runs for miles before suddenly changing from a simple dug space to worked stone and walls, a few feet more and a door cut into the stone itself hangs open.

Exploring Tobin's house the player's find nothing of interest or Tobin himself. It would appear that the time it took the players to defeat Spot and the other Malformed in Tobin's lab has given the mad-mage the time he needed to escape.

An in-depth search of the small home will reveal a scrap of paper indentations on it. An etching of this paper will show the following:

Stonehold, 2-storey manor house – affordable – ruins and cave systems near mountain lake … explore aquatic applications to process?

Treasure: a small pouch of gems worth 25 SC can be found under the bedroom floorboards.

Concluding the Adventure

Unfortunately no cure either alchemical or magical can be found for the Malformed and until Tobin is found all those who have been changed by him are stuck in their Malformed state.

Of further concern is the the state of mind of many of the Malformed who were under Tobin's commend. Few show signs of their former selves and instead demonstrate altered and extremely violent new personalities. 

The Ruined Keep Map


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Quick Note - Running in the Shadows must be popular

So I ordered the Shadowrun Beginner box last July since I've always been interested in the game and yet have (up until last MEPAcon) never played it. Today I got an e-mail from Amazon telling me they cannot "find" my order ... ouch. So, I opted for a cancel since I picked up the core book at MEPAcon for $15.00.

But if anyone is interested in the Shadowrun Beginner Box Set ">Beginner Box here you go!


Quick Note - Flights of Honor Updated

I recently did a review of the Ponyfinder race book "Flights of Honor".  In the review I was critical of the layout and formatting of the adventure. Since then the file has been updated and now feature a much better layout and the formatting is, as well, much improved.

Flights of Honor now benefits from modern modern layout design (meaning a persistent background image) and pretty much all the "white space" has been removed dropping the title down to the 10-page mark. All-in-all it is a rather pretty title at this point and easy on the eyes. The text reads comfortably well on the new background piece and the decrease in page count and white space makes reading both more quick and jittery.

With these corrections I'll amend the score to a 4 out of 5. As I've previously stated Ponies aren't my bag ... my bag has multi-national anti-terrorist groups and giant transforming robots ... but I did my best to review it with a objective mind.

Of special note: I got the chance to speak very briefly with David Silver who wrote both Flights of Honor and the original Ponyfinder and was informed that Flights of Honor was actually created as part of and due to the benefit of Patron. So, if this is your thing I would highly suggest taking a look at it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Kickstarter - Update and the AeroMasters of the Saragubi!


Wow! Three weeks down and 5 more to go and we've nearly reached the 50% mark! Once again thanks to everyone who has pledge to the Kickstarter you guys and gals have really inspired me and thanks just aren't enough. In the coming weeks as pre-existing funds allow I hope to showcase more artwork to the bullpen, samples and write-ups on locations, npcs, and new monsters as well as my own sketches that - if successful - will be handed of to the bullpen for their amazing professional treatments! For update 3 we have a piece by the Fantastic Frank Turfler Jr. of an AeroMaster. The AeroMasters are on of the many groups of people players may encounter on their journeys in the Saragubi Desert. 


The AeroMasters are connected to two keyed locations (The Aerie of Sky and the Temple of Trail) as well as two adventure Hooks. 

The AeroMasters

Long ago, soon after the fall of the Usarm and the collapsing of the world the men and women who would become the AeroMasters escaped the chaos of the dying world. Retreating to the lands south of Usarm, to the deserts that had once been fertile, the AeroMasters hid and waited. Having taken as much of the Usarm knowledge and magic as they could, the AeroMasters became the sole keepers of the old world and dedicated themselves to preservation and advancement of the Usarm ways.
Hidden deep in the Southern Narrows, in the Aerie of Sky, the AeroMasters have become a race of scholars and innovators, taking the magics released by the N’zi and the fragmented knowledge of the Usarm and creating a shining - if hidden - jewel in the deep deserts.
For the last five-hundred years the AeroMasters have remained a hidden society and have kept interaction with the outside world to a bare minimum. The reigning belief behind this isolation is that should the old knowledge and their technologies be re-introduced into the world, the collapse would happen again. In the last few decades, however, some within the Magus Council have begun to seek further involvement with the outside world and have pushed the Council elders to move toward re-introduction.
The few outsiders who have made it to the Aerie of Sky have been barred from leaving and have been forced to be permanent guests.  
AeroMaster Scout: HD 2; AC 7[12]; Atk Polearm (1d8+3); Light Crossbow (1d4+3); ST 16; Mv 12/18 (flying); Al l; CL/XP 3/60; Special Flying - The unique magical device worn by the AeroMaster allows him or her to maintain continuous flight for up to 45 minutes. 
Wings of Air (Magic Item - Uncommon): This magical device appears as a leather and bronze wings attached to a harness system. When worn it allows the wearer to maintain continuous flight for up to 45 minutes. Each Wings of Air device can hold up to 12 charges and can only be “recharged” by an AeroMaster Magus. Recharging takes six hours per charge and costs the needed regents and 500 gp.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Quick Reviews - Ponyfinder Flights of Honor

I have a 4 and 9 year old who are obsessed with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I have watched this show with my girls a few times and have not hated it. That is about as much as I can rightly say about MLP. I don't understand Bronies or the near religious devotion some pay to the cartoon ... that said I received a copy of the new Ponyfinder book (essentially Pathfinder with MLP) and feel that since I got a copy for free I should at least read.

First for those that don't know, Ponyfinder is a Campaign setting using the Pathfinder rule set and has been converted to 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. Technically the setting is a homage to Anthropomorphic fantasy with the main foundation being My Little Pony. From the Drivethrurpg page:
Adventure in the world of Everglow, nestled in delicate balance between the elemental planes. It is a world of magic and mystery, where the fey are in control and the humanoid races are secondary. Foremost of the fey are Ponykind, who rallied behind their Queen to form the greatest empire Everglow had ever seen.
We've brought  ponies, griffons, felines, and other strange creatures to life in a world all of their own, where they are the primary PCs. Don't want to run a game all about ponies? That's alright! Use our post-empire suggestions to add ponies to any other existing world. Many spells, archetypes, and bloodlines are also usable by non ponies or other settings.
Due to my daughters I do find this to be an interesting thing, both my 9 and 4 year-old would love to take control of their favorite style of pony (9-Unicorn, 4-Pegasus) and have adventures in a reskinned Cantorlot (the kingdom in MLP). However, I think for kids the Golden Sky Stories' Aegus of Equine (Backer Bonus to hopefully be released to all someday) is a better fit for their ages and much less focused on rules for combat situations (alternatively I have run a "Hero Ponies" game for my 4-year-old and her Sunday School Class using +Justin Halliday's Hero Kids).

So with all this information in mind going into Ponyfinder: Flights of Honor I wasn't sure what to do with it.

From Drivethrurpg:
What is Pegasi home life like? What drives pegasi to seek out adventuring and what is their place in the pony empire?
These questions, along with new feats, a racial class archetype, spells and equipment all designed for our favorite feathered ponies! Compatible with Ponyfinder and Pathfinder roleplaying games.
The book has only been on sale a few day and is already a Copper Seller denoting the popularity of the game with (must likely) the adult fan-base for the show it pays homage to. The interior is rather bare bones in terms of presentation, lacking the modern layout abundant in the main Campaign book. Running in at about 20 pages the Flights of Honor is essentially a Race Book for the Pegasus race of the system and gives detailed information about abilities,racial feats, relations with the other races of "Everglow", specialized equipment (how the hell can a horse use a crossbow?!) and so on.

For what it is the book is good and the information within shows a deep understanding of the mechanics of the Pathfinder system. If this is your thing and Pathfinder is your system of choice then I say go for it. At $0.99 cents it gives a lot of well presented information and some of the items and spells can be easily adapted to traditional humanoid roleplaying games.

The presentation and amount of white space need some work as despite the book's 20 pages, a good chunk of those pages could be removed by proper editing of the amount of white space.

Not my thing but final score: 3 out of 5.

you can't beat the price, the mechanics are solid but presentation and over focus on possible combat applications hinder the book in my opinion.

Seriously a hoof crossbow?!





Patron-Supported Adventures - Return to the Yu-Ti

Return to the Yu-Ti is a new adventure for +matt jackson's Edge of Space setting/system and is a return to the SMC crew of the Sword of Hathor last seen in Horus Adrift.

This adventure was release two days ago to my Patrons who will be getting a cleaned up version at the end of January along side a map for the adventure.


Mission Background

Thirty years ago during the Confederation Wars the MSS Yu-Ti vanished during the Battle of Nerif. Now the Confederation Space Corps has put together an expedition to the ice world of Nerif to locate the Yu-Ti and discover why the Mandarin controlled ship disappeared. Doctor Iris Contran believes that the Yu-Ti may hold secrets that will help the Confederation in the never-ending war with the alien Bugs and their strange Masters.

The Sword of Hathor has been dispatched to Nerif, the remains of the Mandarin archive loaded into it systems. It was hoped that the unique transmission codes of the Yu-Ti could be found using the archive. Three days ago a weak signal matching that of the Yu-Ti  was located in the northern hemisphere of Nerif, buried under tons of ice and snow. A team has been assembled to accompany Doctor Contran to the remains of the Yu-Ti to recover any secrets the ship may hold.

Scene One - Research Camp

Read or Paraphrase the Following:

The heat from the laser drill slowly melts away the snow and ice that has long stood on the slopes of the unnamed mountains in the far north of the ice world of Nerif. The few tents set in regular, standard marine formation are little shelter from the blistering cold. You and your team are standing watch, little use as it may be on a dead world, as Doctor Contran and her small team oversee the drilling.

CRACK

“We’re through, Doctor!”  A young female engineer yells from a bank of computers near the drill. The ground shakes and the ice splitters, releasing ancient gases long trapped in the ice. As the Doctor’s team begins to assemble a scream issues up from the engineer’s station. From the cracks strange figures emerge … strange yet all too familiar:  Bugs!

The team is assembled at the edge of the research camp, the female engineer is already dead, impaled on a Bug leg. The rest of the scientists are scrambling away as a total of six Ice Spiders climb out of the cracks.


<Sidebar>Ice Spider: 1-2: Sickle Legs, 3-4 Fangs, Ice Web, Armor.
Ice Spiders are distant relatives to the unnatural Bugs. While rarely encountered the ice spider share some of the genetic code that make up the Bugs normally faced by the MSC. When engaged, the Ice Spider will attempt to catch its target in an Ice Web (if available), before attacking and potentially devouring the target. Ice Spiders are pack animals and typically are found in colonies of hundreds and ruled over by a semi-intelligent Alpha Queen and possibly three lesser Beta Queens who, while also semi-intelligent are subservient to the Alpha Queen

Sample Ice Spider: Sickle Legs 2 (dm 1, rng 1); Fangs 1 (dm 2, rng 1); Ice Web 3* (dm 0, rng throw)

*Ice Webs holds target immobile for a number of combat rounds equal to its rating.
<sidebar>

After the battle Contran is the only member of the research team left, but with a storm on the horizon the old woman insists on moving down the tunnel into the remains of the Yu-Ti. The tunnel slopes downward at a steady grade, allowing easy travel. The hull of the Yu-Ti awaits at bottom of the tunnel, ripped asunder by something unknown.

Scene Two - The Yu-Ti

The tunnel created by the drill leads down a steep slope ending in a small cavern. Near the rear of the cavern is the wreckage of the Yu-Ti. The cave is warm enough to make the characters sweat under all the arctic gear. A technology scan by a Scientist of Simple or higher success roll (SR) will reveal that the Yu-Ti’s engines are still functioning. Any investigation of the area will also reveal large crystalline sacs suspended between the “barrels” of the engines and a large hole ripped out of the ship’s hull leading to the interior.

Enemies - 4 Ice Spiders

The cave, and in particular the Engine barrels are being used as a birthing cave for the ice spiders.

The crystalline sacs (obviously egg sacs) are considered to be “mortal” and one successful attack against it will result in its destruction. If any player should happen to be using a flamethrower a +2 bonus is given to his or her attack roll.

<Side Bar> Optional Events within the Yu-Ti
  1. Destruction of the Yu-Ti: If the Game Master so wishes the Power Cores of the Yu-Ti can go critical at any point during the mission making escape or mission completion a time sensitive matter. While the amount of time given before the destruction of the Yu-Ti is the realm of the Game Master he or she should consider the following as aspects of the event. Once the meltdown begins the Yu-Ti should become an environmental adversary. Systems should be exploding, plasma piping should be venting and the ship should rock and move as the meltdown gets closer to its final, explosive, fate. Also during the meltdown the amount of Ice Spiders (especially Fodder) should increase and random encounters in the corridors should start to happen.
  2. Attack on the Research Team: After Engineering is explored and the Queen is either killed or driven off the players receive a frantic radio comm. from Contran. The research team is under attack by a hoard of Ice-Spiders (no less than 50, the majority Fodder Enemies) and are begging the player team to save them. Contran will at first be very demanding and attempt to threaten and command the player team to intervene. Should the player team ignore the radio comm. Contran will eventually begin in beg and borrow. Should the players not intervene until Contran begins to beg they will find Contran and one other still alive.
  3. Mandarin Shadow-Op: The Mandarin government, despite being part of the Confederation, does not want something on the ship discovered by the player team and has sent a Shadow Operative to either remove what they don’t want found or eliminate the player-team. The Operative is equipped with a Mandarin Tech camo-unit that allows her to stay hidden from all but Heroic Checks. The Camo units can remain active for 45 minutes before requiring a 24 hours recharge. The Operative should be stated like a Company Man.
<Sidebar>

Area 1 - Attack Wing Bay 1
The Yu-Ti was a small carrier ship, responsible for the transport and movement of small one-man attack ships that were essentially manned missiles. Each carrier held a complement of around 100 of these style of attack ships that were berthed in two ready bays on the port and aft sides of the carrier. The hole in the Yu-Ti’s hull opens up to the aft berth. Thirty or so of these ancient mandarin vessels are still housed in the berth suggesting that the ship went down before it could reach full deployment.

The dim red glow of the emergency lighting cast the berth in deep shadows and cut visibility, causing a -2 to all investigations or research in this area. While the berth still holds a nearly a full complement of the attack ships they no long rest in neat rows but have instead been rudely thrown about and piled against the starboard and forward walls of the berth. A large double width door on the port wall opens to a standard hallway.  An Average or higher SR Investigation or a Simple or Higher Technician/Technology roll will reveal that all systems on the Yu-Ti are operational but have been re-routed to the ship’s bridge.

Once the berth is determined to be safe Doctor Contran will insist on setting up base in the berth and asks the player team to investigate the rest of the ship and, if possible, locate the bridge.

<sidebar> Possible Optional side-treks:
  1. One of Contran’s surviving team members was gravely injured during one of the Ice Spider attacks and needs medical attention soon. Most of the medical supplies were lost in the first attack. Contran believes the ship’s medical bay may still have viable supplies and asks the player team to recover supplies to aid the injured research team member.
  2. The CO of the Sword of Hathor believes that the Mandarin worlds are still maintaining an active if hidden fleet and are just waiting for the Bug War to end before attempting succession from the Confederacy. During the war, the Mandarin ships had an “ionization” system that absorbed and lessened any damage their ships were to take. As part of the Confederate Constitution no former autonomous nation would be forced to give up technological secrets. The CO wants any information on the ionization technology or if possible the actually technology. (If in the Engineering Bay a Hard or higher  Technician/Technology SR will locate the unit. On the Bridge an Average or Higher Technology SR will locate some fragmented schematics of the technology.)
  3. While accessing what limited information they could in the Attack Wing Berth the research crew noticed a system update manually entered from the bridge two years prior to the research mission. Doctor Contran is curious at the possibility of any of the Yu-Ti’s crew still being alive and asks the players to secure any surviving crew they come upon in the hopes of learning about the fate or the Yu-Ti and possible Mandarin tech secrets. (There is one person alive on the Yu-Ti, a 15 year old girl, named Xi’wang, who is the offspring of the last surviving crewmembers. She moves through the ship in the vent systems and can be found either on the Bridge or in the Hydroponics Bay. See NPCs at the back of the adventure for more information.)

Area 2 - Maintenance
This area once housed mechanical supplies for the Attack Wing ships. Now most of the parts are two old and no longer operational.

Enemies - 1 Ice Spider
Gear - A Technician's Kit (+1 to any Technician SRs involving repairs/2 uses), 40 blaster rnds.

Area 3 - Supply
This area once housed crew supply, now all that is left are a few thermal blankets and empty shelves. A Hard of higher Investigation SR will reveal several shelves that are free of dust, as if they had seen recent use.
Area 4 - TEC/Secret Hydroponics Bay
The door to this area has been mag-locked and requires an Average or higher Technician or Hard or higher technology SR to disengage the mag-lock and enter the area.

While the standardized blueprints for the Yu-Ti show this area as the TEC someone has converted it to a small hydroponics bay. The air is heavy with humidity  and the smell of plants and ripping fruits and vegetables fills the air. An investigation of the room reveals no other points of entry to the room save for an open air vent on the room’s ceiling. If the players should happen to investigate the air vents they will find a system of air tunnels that travel through the entire ship except for the Attack WIng Berths.

Enemies - 4 Ice Spiders patrol the halls near this area and will attack once the players gain entry to the area.

Area 5 - Medical Bay
The Medical Bay is a quiet and dark place, the low red emergency lighting casting long and deep shadows. Along the port wall are rows of shallow blinking green lights.  A Scientist would know that these are freezer bays for corpse transport, the blinking green lights tell that the units are occupied and working. In all there are nearly 50 units in operation.

Gear - There are six medical kits behind a mag-locked security door in the head doctor’s small ready office. A Simple or higher technician SR will unlock the unit. Each Medical Kit can heal up to three ranks of damage.

Area 6 - Engineering
The dual entry into this area has been coated over with heavy layers of crystalline web. On the walls near the door, etched roughly into the walls is a message reading “DEAD END! DEAD AHEAD!”

The web is strong and would take two successful attack contests to break through. Inside the Engineering bay is an alien world of egg sacs, and small scampering hordes of Ice Spiders. The Yu-Ti’s power cores (based on Old Earth fusion technology) are operational. An Average or higher Technician SR will reveal that the power cores are in a critical meltdown and can no longer be shut down safely. Depending on the success level of the Technician SR the final meltdown will occur within the next three days to the next six hours.

The Engineering bay has also been converted by the Ice Spiders to the throne room and breed pit of their queen. Unlike the average Ice Spider the Queen is intelligent and can speak Mandarin through a form of telepathy.

Enemies - Ice Spiders (6), Queen - Mandibles (+2 to Hit, Dmg 2), Telepathy (DM 1, Successful opposed contest -1 to next roll, Queen uses Telepathy whenever she attempts to “speak”), Armor 4.
Gear - 3 Technician’s Kits

Area 7 - Attack Wing Bay 2
The door to this area refuses to open, this area is completely blocked from entry. Should a way be found, it will be revealed that there is nothing but a wall of ice on the other side of the door.

Area 8 - Cyrobay
This area was once the cryogenic bay that housed the majority of the crew during FTL. Over two-hundred cyro-pods line the wall in vertical rows that reach to the ceiling of the bay. In the bay’s center is a single command platform shaped like a horseshoe. The glowing lights of the touch interface still glow in the dim light given off by the emergency system. Standing behind the platform is “Tex” a third generation Mandarin Government reploid or artificial human.

<sidebar> Reploids & Tex
Reploids were artificially created humans developed solely by the Mandarin Government during the Confederation Wars. These beings were identical to normal humans of eurasian descent, however, their nervous systems and minds were formed of nanotechnology. Fast grown in laboratories these reploids were trained and conditioned for simple duties to free normal humans to more complex duties and fighting.  At the end of the war the Mandarin Government destroyed all remaining reploids to keep the technology from the Confederation.

Tex is third generation reploid who should have expired years ago. He is quiet and pays the players no mind. He keeps his focus on the panels but will address any questions in a soft, twangy voice. His purpose here is the care and maintenance of the only active cyro-pod.  THe occupant of the pod is the mother to Xi’wang who was critically injured during an altercation with the Ice Spiders several years previously. It was Tex who aided Xi’wang in the creation of the hydroponics bay. He will not leave the room and if the players attempt to remove the injured woman from her pod, without Xii’wang present, he will attack with a M41a hidden behind the command platform.

Tex - Rifle 1, Technician 2; First Aid 1; Equipment M41a with 40 rounds
<sidebar>

Gear - 1 Medkit

Area 9 - Mess
This area was the crew mess hall. Along one wall is the serving area long since fallen into disrepair. The benches and tables are hard welded into the floor and remain where they had always been. There are several ice spiders in this area.

Enemies - Ice Spiders (4)

Area 10 - Crew Quarters
The Mandarin Space Navy was not known for creature comforts. Ladders built into the walls of this room lead to “coffin” bunks that are little more than 6’ deep holes in the walls just big enough for a crew member to sleep. The crew quarters has over two-hundred of this bunks. The main floor of the room was routinely used for drills and PT and various lines and other symbols have been painted on floor to denoted such things.  A third of the “Coffin” bunks  are covered in the crystalline webbing of the Ice Spiders.

Enemies - Ice Spider Fodder (20), Ice Spiders (4)
Gear - Neoplast Armor [3] (2 Armor)

<Side Note> Fodder Enemies
Fodder enemies are designed as a normal enemy but with several alterations. Whenever “Armor” is landed on the Fodder enemy rolls again for another skill and fodder enemies roll half the number of dice as a normal enemy. Finally, Fodder enemies start life at the “Mortal” level of health and are easily killed. For this reason they typically attack in waves.
<Side Note>

Area 11 - Officers Quarters
Walking into the Officers’ Quarter is like stepping back in time a few centuries. The walls are all wallpaper and etched wood. A thick, Afghan carpet covers the floor, and well aged oak dressers are pressed against the wall. The two double bunks (of rich design but still spartan) are the only tell that this place was for the officers. Books, good old-fashion hardbacks and a few paperbacks cover the floor as if they had been ripped through and left to die. A single terminal glows in stand-by on a desk to the side of the room.

A Hard or Higher Technology SR will allow access to the terminal's files. Of note is the Captain’s final video-log which still sits in draft-mode.

Weaponization of Ion Shielding was a failure. There has been catastrophic failure to the reactor’s and internal dampening has been compromised. We have attempted to launch the Attack Wings but Ion Shielding will not disengage … same goes for the life boats. If this message makes it back to Prime please understand that we accept our dishonor. The technology should have worked so the failure is on … There is the sound of an explosion in the background and video log goes black.

A deeper search (requiring another successful Hard or Higher Technology SR) will locate blueprints and other technical material for a weaponed Ion Shield.

Area 12 A & B - Escape Boats
These are small escape shuttles that can hold fifty people each. Both are locked to the ship and appear completely dead.

Gear - Each Escape Pod has 2 Medical Kits and two cases of 50 rounds.

Area 13 - The Bridge
The door to the Bridge has been locked down tightly and requires a Hard or Higher Technician SR to unlock. Once inside the players will see that the bridge has been turned into a home. A Hammock rest suspended between the forward screen and the Captain’s “deck”. The twin pilot stations have been ripped out and in there place is a ramshackle but pleasant looking seating area arranged with the salvaged remains of the pillows and blankets of the crew bay. A small cat (An Average or higher Medical SR will notice it is a long-life clone cat) perches on the weapons’ console. Inspection of the tags on the animal reveal that it is named “Ripley”.

Inspection of the  bridge reveals that all but the Engineering console have been either shutdown or cannibalized for parts and are not operational. The Engineering console has seen severe damage for what appears to be a massive surge but the console can still retrieve heavily fragmented information. Other things discovered are several Ice Spider mandibles that have been fashioned into sword-like weapons and a slightly disturbing collection of Ice Spider skulls.

Gear: Technician's Kit.

Scene Three - Mission Debriefing.

Depending on the decisions of the Party and the GM there are many different possible outcomes to this adventure. For the most part this is to be left up to the GM to suit the play-style and excitement level of his players. That being said here are some suggestions.

  1. Xi’Wang will not leave the Yu-Ti unless her mother is also evacuated. In this situation a massive assault on the Cryo-Bay should happen. During this Tex should fall defending his “daughter” and “wife” showing that the Ryploid has grown to have emotion and processes the capacity for self sacrifice.
  2. Should the Mandarin Black Op Agent be involved his final encounter should occur in the Attack Bay with an assault on the Research Team ending just the players arrive. If the destruction of the Yu-Ti is also being used rocking explosions and hordes of escaping Fodder should be added into the mix.
  3. Should the players retrieve either the actual Ion drive or the fragmented blueprints the Confederacy will begin work on replicating the technology and outfitting their fleets with the technology. This will cause the players to make enemies of the Mandarin Block possibly causing trouble for them down the line.

Again there are many possibilities for how this adventure should end. It is recommended that the GM has fun with it and remembers what made the books and movies in this genre so exciting!