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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Vos' Vipers

So, as I'm DMing a Pathfinder game right now I thought I'd make a little post of some of the material I made for the players. This is all based on the official Pathfinder campaign module Fangwood Keep, which I bought at the Orc's Nest in London a few weeks ago after reading a bunch of positive reviews for it online.

The campaign as written is a pretty simple affair designed to be a standalone, one or two session deal. I'm padding it out a bit, although we tend to go through stuff pretty slowly so I imagine it'll be around 3 or 4 sessions to finish. The story involves a pair of warring nations, Nirmathas and Molthune, and a disputed fort on their border, the eponymous Fangwood Keep. The way I'm fluffing it is that the two countries have achieved an uneasy peace, and as part of the treaty the tactically crucial Keep must be kept vacant by both sides.

This treaty is threatened when a rebellious Molthune captain named Pavo Vos disobeys orders and takes the keep by force, helped by the elite specialist infantry unit he once commanded in the army, known as "Vos' Vipers". The main thing I added here was Vos' three liutenants - pictured with him below - because when I read the description of his squad I was disappointed to learn that, despite the unit's description as a group of "specialist" soldiers excelling in espionage and covert military operations, there was remarkably little characterisation.

So, I added three underlings for Vos (replacing some other NPCs in the quest so the XP doesn't get knocked out too much), with the intention of fluffing them as a sort of rival NPC party for the players to duke it out with. They're highly specialised for different roles in combat, and each have a fair share of weird abilities and tricks that (hopefully, we haven't quite started the campaign yet) will keep the players guessing. I suppose a big influence of the flavour of this setup would be the Metal Gear Solid series of games - whose colourful cast of villains have always been favourites of mine.

I'll just post some quick descriptions for you guys, as it's possible the players might look at the blog and I don't want them to get spoiled! 
From left to right:
1. Wasily Grodz
A dwarvish marksman. Softly spoken, something of a perfectionist. Not keen on direct combat, prefers guerilla tactics and stealth. Fond of traps, be careful! 
2. Pavo Vos  
Unit captain and the leader of the insurrection. Highly charismatic and a master tactician, he orchestrated countless successful operations during the war. No slouch with a blade, either - particularly with two or three men at his back. His motives in the insurrection are unclear. Has been sighted accompanied by a robed, dark-haired woman of unknown identity. 
3. Daigo Longtooth  
Little is known of this mysterious half-orc (yep, he's a half-orc) swordsman. An unparalelled duelist. Has a kind-hearted reputation despite his skill in combat. 
4. Edouard Fleisch 
Fleisch is the unit's demolitions expert. Bloodthirsty and quick-tempered by all accounts, and apparently an enthusiastic pugilist to boot.

The gist of the game is that you have this fortified Keep, which the party has to infiltrate, with Vos inside. The PCs have to get in, neutralise him, and get out. The entire keep is mapped out with set things in every room - it's largely up to the PCs to decide how they want to approach the problem. Scale the walls? Find a secret passage? Stealth vs. kick-down-the-door-guns-blazing? It's an idea that appeals to me, kind of blending your standard dungeon crawler with something a bit more sandboxy. It's by no means all combat, either - there are definitely opportunities to talk your way in or out of things.

I'm also using a computer to keep track of everything - I'm making a gigantic, layered map in a program called Adobe Flash (which we use for animating all the time) and it's quite easy for me to set up a big document containing everything - rooms, items, enemy locations - it even has a day/night cycle! it looks cool, too.

I won't reveal any more now, but we're playing the first session next weekend. In subsequent posts I'll let you know how people are getting on, and hopefully post pictures! I kinda hope I kill at least one person :3

Let me know in the comments if you've played this campaign, too. Or if you have any funny DMing experiences - I'm completely new to this, and slightly nervous, so it all helps!

- Joe

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Fitz-Auk and Morse the raven

Sometimes mistaken for an orc, hobgoblin or especially unfortunate half-elf, Fitz-Auk is actually a full-blooded human, but quite ugly.

This is my latest character for the next campaign I'm playing, this one being DM'd by Joe, the other contributor to the site. Unlike Spackle and Jammy, Fitz-Auk will be playing a more active role in combat, rather than just hovering in the background shouting encouragement or giving people special enlargement chocolate chip cookies. Not that he won't have his own out-of-combat role. I chose some rules that mean that, despite being a ranger,  Fitz-Auk will be able to take on the rogue role of finding and disarming traps we'll be coming across.

Also doing some fiddling with class options, I got myself a raven that's smarter than the average raven. Used my 4th HD ability point to give her 3 Intelligence. Officially sentient raven. Put a skill point in Linguistics because I don't care if she's got like -3 on her Linguistics check. That's just how I roll, babe.

Hoping that I'll be playing the raven a little like Alex the African Grey parrot, though he was probably 5 Int.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Verdant Prince

Verdant Princes are wily fey creatures who use guileful magic to manipulate themselves into positions of power. Uniquely, however, a Verdant Prince is endowed with the ability to swear a magical oath or geas (which it will typically engineer in its own favour) which compels a certain bargain to be kept. Both parties are affected by the spell equally - if the oath is broken, or someone fails to keep the agreement, the offending party suffers a hideous curse, wasting both body and mind, only ending when the target dies. Verdant Princes appear to use this ability generously, even wantonly, but they are nearly always acting out of self-interest, and remember that whenever one offers you something that seems too good to be true, it probably is.

I'm pretty fond of Faustian pacts in fiction and Verdant Princes provide a great example of this within the D&D system. The person to break the deal sustains a horrifying -6 penalty to all ability scores until the oath is somehow restored, and their "partner" is magically made constantly aware of the oathbreaker's whereabouts for the duration (you're looking at a Wish or Miracle to circumvent this, it's strong stuff). The lure is always there for a wily PC to engage the Prince in a Death Note-style battle of wits and bluffing, and if you come out on top you know you've got a pretty powerful fairy spirit under your thumb. But expect treachery from both creature and DM, as these things tend to end badly for the greedy. Oh well! You know what they say: "Lente, lente, curritae noctis equi!" Aheh... huh.

Check out the full-size image and this detail version, I think it looks way better than the smaller thumbnail. The shape of the horns where they meet the head reminds me of Midna, and I think I ripped this guy off subconsciously from a Dota2 character. Whoops! gg vevlo

Friday, 10 January 2014

Shimmerling Swarm

An individual shimmerling in a fairly unintelligent, harmless creature. Heck, a shimmerling swarm is a fairly unintelligent, harmless conglomeration of creatures.

Unless they're angry.

At first, the shimmerling swarm seems to be a cloud of pulsating rainbow light that can just about be seen between the trees. The light is strangely alluring. Hypnotic even. And it's not until you find yourself envelopped by that bright blinding light that you feel the sickening hum of vibrating insects wings and the splintery pain of tiny teeth and fingers biting any inch of exposed flesh they can find.

Fortunately, the shimmerlings primarily subsist on pollen. Which is yet another reason to leave the forest alone.

Here is my New Years-themed image, though perhaps you could say its more a wintery, Christmasy kind of image. Inspired by the fireworks, fairy lights (eh? eh?) and wrapping paper. I tried by hand at a tessellating pattern, a la Escher. Needless to say, it's not quite as seamless at the Escher ones, but it'll do.

When I think of the shimmerling swarms, the image that mostly comes to mind is the fairies from Disney's Fantasia, the ones that perform a part of the Nutcracker suite while putting dew on flowers, turning leaves orange and freezing water. Albeit the shimmerlings as statted are probably little more than fairy-shaped bees.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014


Some rare spells are of such power that they are legendary among spellcasters - spells that have the potential to alter the very structure of the universe, such as the infamous Wish.

Quaruts are Inevitables - mechanised beings from the lawful plane of Mechanus which are tasked with the upholding of natural order - and are among the most powerful even of these. Within their custody lie all such magicks that might meddle with space and time - their objective is to hunt down such spellcasters that use them and restore a relative balance to the universe.

Quaruts are some heavy stuff, clocking in at CR 17 - meaning you're getting close to epic level in order to take them on. And with good reason - despite their desire to eradicate all manipulators of space and time, they themselves have no qualms about chucking about spell-like-abilities like Time Stop and Limited Wish. The former allows it to literally stop time locally for a few turns (giving it ample room to imprison you safely in a pocket dimension) and the latter allows it access to literally any spell of up to 6th caster level. The lesson here is: don't mess with spacetime, kids!

We always like to put up holiday-themed monsters, but some of them are pretty hard to figure out an appropriate creature for. Blanca made a big list of potential "New Yearsy" beasts, and then we picked two that we liked and did those. I haven't drawn an Inevitable in ages, which is surprising because I really like 'em. The clock motifs in this one are a little hammy and I nicked the eyes from Sahaquiel of Evangelion and Senketsu from Kill La Kill. Man, I enjoy Kill La Kill! Literal guilty pleasure but there are very few animes around with such artistic class to them (outside of the boob's 'n' butts).

Also this being almost two weeks into the new year is my fault.