Friday, June 29, 2012

Isles of the Saharan Sea: The Campaign Arc of Mavarasha...

Good Afternoon, All:

As a further exploration of the adventure potential for the Isles of the Saharan Sea campaign, I'm going to explore the concept of applying the Nine Act Structure to a campaign arc focused on one of the major villains of the setting. If the setting is strong enough, enough basic concepts should exist to create a possible Plot Point-style campaign arc. Consider this to be a "proof of concept," as it were.

First things first, we should choose which one of the major villains we should use from the Hall of Infamy: Mavarasha, Priest of War; Peleon Nightshade, Ninja Master; or Warlord Tal-kash, Gorllia-man Emperor. Mavarasha is actually intended to be the ultimate Big Evil Bad Guy for the setting, so let's start with him. As a reminder, here's his blurb:

Mavarasha, Light Upon the Throne Triumphant
The Vanaran known as Mavarasha, Light Upon the Throne Triumphant, is a devoted priest of Thanatos, the Flame Lord. Conquest is a sacred responsibility to Thanatos, and the Light Upon the Throne Triumphant is no stranger to war and battle. He has conquered many of the Smoking Isles, and has set his sights on the islands closer to the mainland of Mediterranea. Mavarasha wears the Flamegold Warmask into battle, whether on land or see, as a sign of his devotion to the Flame Lord.

And here's the blurb for his "base camp":

Lukrada, Ruins of: Once an ancient city under the patronage of Thanatos, the Flame Lord, Lukrada has long since fallen into crumbling ruins. These ruins are located atop a mesa overlooking the Burning Bay, and is very difficult to reach on foot, save for a narrow winding road leading from the beach to the flat mesa top. Necromancers and priests of Thanatos populate a few of the ruins, all in service to the Vanaran known as Mavarasha, Light Upon the Throne Triumphant, a High Priest of Thanatos.

With these details in mind, here's a very quick "off the cuff" plot arc:

Act Zero
Thanatos is a god of death, fire and war. The city of Lukrada once stood as a shining beacon of flame, resplendent even in this realm of eternal day. When it fell to the unified forces of those who would oppose his priesthood's conquest, such was a glorious day for Thanatos, and the souls of his faithful who had fallen in battle made for a grand sacrifice. Recently, with the Wrath of Serpentis and the disappearance of the snake goddess from the pantheon, the Flame Lord has noted a new opportunity to spread war, death and fire. Calling one of his greatest priests to the former site of his greatest temple among the Isles of the Saharan Sea, Thanatos bade his priest to lead a Crusade to take the lands once controlled by the followers of Serpentis. Since then, Mavarasha has become the Light Upon the Throne Triumphant, and is ready to lead his legions into war.

Act One
The ship upon which the PCs travel is attacked by pirates as it rounds a small island, introducing the characters to one another and to another passenger with a desperate mission. He has a map to a hidden treasure, and has to get there before his rival does. He'll split it with the party if they save him and help him find it. This leads to a wild chase across a tropical island as the party is pursued by pirates and the map owner's rival. In the end, they find the treasure and a few mysterious items.

Act Two
When the party or their partner attempts to sell a particular item (or are seen with it in their possession), they come to the attention of Mavarasha's followers. The party are pursued by cultists of the Flame Lord, who are after the item, and may stumble onto the preparations for a secret assault on a nearby port. Depending on their actions, they could become heroes or scarred by apathy here.

Act Three
Mavarasha and his retinue of major NPCs are intrigued by the news of the special item, as well as perturbed by the thwarting of their plans (if such has happened due to non-apathetic heroes). Mavarasha arrives with his Man-O-War and demands the party as tribute, I mean "honored guests". After meeting the mastermind and his flunkies, they learn that the special item they possess will lead him to the equivalent of the Ark of the Covenant. Before they can decide to hand it over, though, a freedom fighter breaks them out, and they are able to escape, although at the cost of the capture of their new-found ally. (Upon review, this sounds like a lot of exposition. I should come back to this one and rewrite it at some point into a more action-oriented adventure. But this is an "off the cuff" description. Perhaps this can be expanded on a "Well of Souls" scenario that shows the location of the Ark, and the PCs escape with knowledge of the Ark's location, although they know that Mavarasha possesses that knowledge as well. Yeah, that's the ticket!)

Act Four
Knowing the location of the Ark of the Covenant item, the party is in a race against Mavarasha to get to the site first. Now's the time to introduce a nice jungle temple dungeon adventure, with lots of deadly traps, nasty critters and even a puzzle room or two. Of course, the players have seen "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark", so they are expecting to be caught when they step out of the main entrance, so they need a back way out, so they can escape and feel good about outsmarting Mavarasha. (I'm beginning to feel a theme emerging here. Time to consider changing it up because the players will sense it, too.)

Act Five
Shortly after their escape from the temple, the party begins to hear of Mavarasha's successful crusade, launched without the Ark of the Covenant item. All of their enemies to this point, as well as backstory elements, should come to the fore here. This should be filled with major stumbling blocks, and they should really grow to hate Mavarasha's success. This storyline has to become personal for them, even if it means taking a well-loved NPC and torturing or killing him at the hands of the Light Upon the Throne Triumphant. It is with this final sacrifice story-wise that the players find out that Mavarasha's power stems, not from the Ark of the Covenant item, but from a sacred figure from within the jungle temple. (Maybe they see it on the prow of the ship as a new figurehead or something.)

Act Six
Some research reveals that the idol of the Flame Lord was forged in sacred flames from a volcano, and in order to be destroyed, the idol must be returned to that same volcano. They must find a way to capture the figure (easy enough to do while Mavarasha's men are raiding a great port), but they are then chased with a fierce determination. The final scene culminating in the destruction of the idol should be one of the most memorable of the entire campaign. (Holy Shades of Mount Doom, Batman!)

Act Seven
Without his source of power, Mavarasha is still powerful in terms of numbers. However, the forces of his enemies gather as well, leading to some potential for mass battles leading to the ultimate mass battle for the War of Mavarasha. Some element needs to be worked in here for the last fight where the party must lead Mavarasha away so the two armadas can fight without major PCs involved, leading to greater losses among the NPCs while the party and Mavarasha battle it out. Alternately, one of the PCs could challenge Mavarasha to a duel, seeking to end the battle with one fight rather than massive forces. It should be harsh, and either through victory or treachery and flight, Mavarasha leaves the fight alive.

Act Eight
The final adventure sees the party chasing Mavarasha back to his lair on Lukrada. Here's where they get to face off against all of Mavarasha's lieutenants and such (those who haven't been killed) as part of the final confrontation with the Priest of War. Thanatos should honor this battle with his presence, in some form or fashion, and deny Mavarasha's call for aid with his dying breath, taking the soul of the slain priest as a sacrifice when the party wins. (That is, if they win. It's the last fight of the story arc, so it's no holds barred.)

So, what do you think? There will be a number of other adventures in-between each of these, of course. That is the nature of a Plot Point-style campaign story arc. However, is there enough material available to create a good set of adventures to scatter over the breadth of a character's career? I think so, but it's always good to hear the thoughts of others.

With Regards,

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Isles of the Saharan Sea: 8 Adventure Inspirations...

Good Afternoon, All:

I started writing up some character background pieces, and started losing interest pretty quick. That's a good indicator that such efforts aren't going to keep the momentum going for me. With that in mind, I believe I'll make a few notes on some campaign/adventure ideas to further explore in the Isles of the Saharan Sea campaign.

The original Pellucidar series, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, provides plenty of fodder for adventuring in a Hollow World setting. These novels inspired the whole World Within concept, and I'd be a fool to disregard the tales of the aftermath of the collapse of the Mahars, and how the various cultures dealt with that. There are plenty of great opportunities for integrating elements of those story lines as adventures. In addition, the series is highly recommended simply to help create the mindset for playing in this kind of setting.

Treasure Island
The classic adventure novel Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson is perhaps the quintessential pirate story, and thus the quintessential pirate adventure. A young lad steals a logbook and a map that lead to a huge treasure buried on a distant island. They launch an expedition, only to find that a sailor seeks to mutiny against the Captain of the vessel and steal the treasure for themselves. The pirates follow the map, find the treasure has been excavated, and then are ambushed by the former leaders of the expedition, who had previously recovered the treasure. (Well, not exactly, but close enough for adventuring work.)

Now We Are Free!
Numerous Sword and Planet stories center around the use of slaves to propel ships across vast ships. The hero is invariable captured and becomes an oar slave early on in the story, but manages to break free, release his fellow slaves and stage a mutiny. The now-freed crew decides to become pirates under their savior, and travel the seas, stealing from pirates and the merchants of evil lands while freeing slaves from the oars as the opportunity presents itself. Obviously a piratical version of a "Rags to Riches" story, this kind of adventure arc would also be fun to run.

Sea Hag's Curse
Pirates are a superstitious lot, which gives us tales of curses galore to draw from. From those inspirations, we could easily draw an adventure surrounding the curse of a dying sea hag, and the efforts required to lift that curse.

Davy Jones' Locker
Davy Jones' Locker refers to the bottom of the sea, the final resting place for drowned sailors. However, Davy Jones has also been described in the 1700's as a demon "having saucer eyes, three rows of teeth, horns, a tail, and blue smoke coming from his nostrils", or it could be an evil ghost or spirit. This makes me think of an adventure or a small plot arc involving undead sailors attacking an underwater city, and the player-characters being called up by the mermen inhabitants to help clean up the mess their dead have created. Another adventure could center on the demon described as Davy Jones, or that could be worked into the first idea as the Big Evil Bad Guy leading the undead against the underwater city. Alternately, this could be an underwater lair that the PCs will have to explore magically to stop raids from undead walking up on the beaches from under the waves to attack.

Moby Dick
Captain Ahab's obsession with an albino whale makes excellent fodder for an adventure focused on hunting leviathans, or at least a particular leviathan. Add in some supernatural elements, throw in a quest for an enchanted harpoon capable of slaying the beast, and you've got some good foundations to build on for a memorable adventure, I think.

Flying Dutchman
The legendary ghost ship that could never make a port, doomed to sail the oceans forever, could also make for a great adventure. In the World Within, where it is always a noon day sun and night never exists, the concept of a weathered and tattered ship sailing amidst a cloud of foggy mist sounds interesting. Seeing it at a distance is easy enough on the open seas, thus it could be avoided. However, amidst a group of small, tightly packed islands, it would be easy to imagine such a vessel taking a ship by surprise. Adventures featuring a ghost ship might focus on retrieving a lost spirit or treasure trapped aboard the vessel itself. More ghost ships can be found on Wikipedia's List of Ghost Ships, which might provide even more inspiration.

King Kong
While not a pirate story, the tale of King Kong starts off on a tropic island. It conjures to mind a tribe of native islanders that worship a colossal animal as a god, and the possibilities of being sacrificed to the beast as tribute. This kind of adventure story or site doesn't have to be about a giant ape; dinosaurs and other gargantuan beasts could easily take Kong's place in the tale. In fact, one of the old D&D adventures, Isle of Dread, could serve as a great resource for adventures, encounters and other fun elements to be included in an Isles of the Saharan Sea campaign.

Anyway, I'm sure there are more sources of inspiration out there for pirate-flavored adventures, in addition to whatever the players come up with as they move through the setting. I'll keep thinking on it, and see what I can come up with to supplement the above list of inspirations.

Avast There, Ye Scurvy Lads,

Monday, June 25, 2012

Isles of the Saharan Sea: Character Backgrounds...

Good Afternoon, All:

Some time ago, I mentioned the role of character backgrounds in my post on Background Abilities, and I've touched on it occasionally since then. In fact, I even included them in my Swords & Planet RPG game.

For the Isles of the Saharan Sea campaign, I want to create some character background options to enhance the immersion of the characters into the campaign setting itself. Each will have a little descriptive blurb, as well as an in-game bonus and an in-game obligation or goal. This way, players are rewarded for voluntarily immersing their characters into the setting. Running quickly through the material I've generated so far, I've come up with the following possible list of options. Before it's all said and done, I may trim it down or add some extras to the list.

  • Brother of the Black Rose
  • Child of Pakaton
  • Cultist of the Dragon Turtle
  • Disciple of the Reef
  • Elemental Magus
  • Escaped Slave of the Kelshani Slavelords
  • Former Aberration Cultist
  • Fugitive Apprentice of the Sanguine Sea
  • Gladiator of Devil's Cove
  • Hunter of Revenants
  • Knight of the Unshackled Brethren
  • Leviathan Hunter of Sanmari
  • Magus-Athlete of the Games Arcane
  • Privateer of the Great Ports
  • Raider of Kimojan
  • Scourge of the Saharan Sea
  • Sea Magus
  • Shipwright of Great Denjados
  • Storm Knight of Tarth
  • Student of the Order Primordiae

I'm going to post some of my thoughts on these in a future post or two, as I continue to create elements that I'll be able to use in the Isles of the Saharan Sea campaign.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Isles of the Saharan Sea: The Weather...

Good Afternoon, All:

I just wanted to interrupt the posts on encounters temporarily to talk about the weather. The weather of the Isles of the Saharan Sea typically follows a tropical pattern, with a longer dry season and a shorter wet season roughly a third the length of the dry season. Major monsoons and frequent thunderstorms strike during the wet season, during which only the foolish attempt to sail. Islanders typically mark the passage of long periods of time in "monsoons", referring to the shorter wet season. This roughly corresponds to a year in the Outer World, as the size and intensity of the Eternal Sun cycles on an annual basis.

Islanders typically experience the following weather patterns of note:
  1. Rainfall is quite heavy, particularly during the wet season. Even during the dry season, rain will frequently fall, but not nearly in the quantities experienced in the wet season.
  2. When standing on the coast, breezes typically blow in from the sea during the wet season, and blow out from the land during the dry season.
  3. The higher the elevation, the cooler the temperature and the greater the amount of precipitation.
  4. An average of ten major tropical storms occur every year, and can include hurricanes and monsoons. Hurricanes have an average Travel Speed of 10, and typically lasts for 1d6+1 days.

The weather system described here is based, at least loosely, on the article "Weathering The Storms", which appeared in Dragon Magazine #137. The process is pretty straightforward, and is used to generate weather for a month at a time:
  1. Roll a d20 on on the appropriate Temperature Table to determine the month's usual temperature. If something seems odd, then reroll or create an in-game reason for the result to exist.
  2. Roll a d100 thirty times to determine how many days of rain occur in that month.
  3. Arrange rain days to taste.
  4. For each rain day (or group of rain days), determine the Rain Type. If you are determining this for a group of consecutive days, roll 1d4+2 instead of 1d6.
  5. For each non-rain day, determine the Non-Rain Type.
  6. Roll a d12 to determine Wind Direction as needed.

Table: Dry Season Temperatures
11-19HotHotHotVery Hot
20Very HotVery HotVery HotExtremely Hot

Table: Wet Season Temperatures
11-19WarmWarmHotVery Hot
20HotHotVery HotExtremely Hot

Table: Rain Type
1d6Rain TypeWind Speed
3Steady RainModerate
4Steady RainStrong
6Powerful StormWindstorm (20% chance of Hurricane)

Table: Non-Rain Type
1d6Wind Speed

Table: Wind Direction
1d12Wind Blows Toward...
As always, the above is subject to change once I implement it in-game. If it doesn't prove to work effectively, I'll just swap it out with some other approach, such as a Random Encounter table littered with weather effects in addition to monsters.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions you would like to make that might enhance this simple weather system, please feel free to share.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Isles of the Saharan Sea: Encounter Types...

Good Afternoon, All:

Having completed most of the prep steps for detailing specific sites (ports, ruins and lairs) in the nautical sandbox campaign setting known as Isles of the Saharan Sea, I turn my attention now to covering encounters that build on the information I've created previously. The first step in that process is to identify groups that will have unique encounters of their own. At first blush, I believe I need to define the following encounter types:
  • Aberration Cultists
  • Black Rose Assassins
  • Cabalists of Sandamos
  • Death Cultists
  • Disciples of the Reef
  • Elemental Magi
  • Games Arcane Entourage
  • Humanoid Hordes
  • Infernal Swarms of Black Morgana
  • Leviathan Hunters
  • Mantid Warriors
  • Mercenaries/Raiders (Human, Kelshani, Tarthani, Unliving)
  • Merchants (Denjani, Human, Tarthani)
  • Natives (Cavemen)
  • Naval Patrols (Denjani, Human, Tarthani, Zegoth)
  • Ooze Magi
  • Order of the Unshackled Brethren
  • Pilgrims (to Jetan, to Lukrada)
  • Pirates/Privateers (Human, Kelshani, Tarthani, Unliving)
  • Pterosaur Flocks
  • Sea Monsters
  • Sea Witches
  • Slavers (Kelshani)
  • Sorcerers of the Sanguine Sea
  • Storm Knights of Tarth
  • Warrior-Monks of the Viridian Glaive
  • Wendigo-Possessed Raiders
I will take a little bit of time and try to reduce this list even further, as appropriate, and still maintain distinctive flavor where appropriate. Once I've got a list I'm happy with, I'll jump into writing up individual encounters in a manner similar to that found in Red Tide: Adventure in a Crimson World, the original sandbox design supplement and campaign setting book from Sine Nomine Publishing, who brought us An Echo Resounding. This is essentially the same format I used for my Sandbox Encounters in this year's A-Z Challenge. (In fact, I will likely reuse some of those, where appropriate, to cut down on what I have to write up to get ready.)

My next question to the readers is: Do you want me to post the encounter write-ups here?

With Regards,

Monday, June 18, 2012

Isles of the Saharan Sea: The Last Five Lairs...

Good Afternoon, All:

I think I'll only need fifteen big lairs to start with, and so today's post should finish out the descriptions of lairs for the Isles of the Saharan Sea campaign. After that, I'm going to weed through everything and come up with a list of encounter types that I'll need to develop for the campaign. As for now, though, here are the capsule descriptions of the last five more lairs for my next setting:

Black Morgana's Accursed Isle: With her dying breath, the sea witch Black Morgana cursed the mutineers who turned against her, stealing her ship and her life. So dark was her soul and great her power that Sandamos, the Demon King, heard her pleas and cursed not only the crew, but the island on which they slew the dread sea witch. Now, nothing grows upon the land that isn't warped by the presence of infernal taint. Man-eating plants fight with warped beasts for survival, and any visitors to the accursed island do not last long against the vile aura of the place. Every few weeks, there's a 1 in 6 chance that a number of infernal swarms (1d4+4) will strike a nearby location and, if not defeated, destroy an asset before disbanding.

The Fortress of Arsidil the Sinister: Once a stalwart keep, the Fortress of Arsidil the Sinister fell into ruin several generations ago, until it became occupied once more by Warlord Desandro Dreadmauler. From the ancient fort, Warlord Dreadmauler demands tribute from nearby islands, delivering swift and exacting retaliation on those who would oppose his rule. Every few weeks, there's a 2 in 6 chance that a band of mercenary warriors (3d6+40) will strike a nearby location and, if not defeated, destroy an asset before disbanding.

Great Hive of the Mantid Queen: Swarms of giant insects need a home, and the Great Hive is perhaps the most dangerous of them all. Giant vermin have answered the siren call of the Mantid Queen, and swarmed the island of the hive. With all the local flora and fauna devastated, the insectile servants of the Great Hive must venture across the water to nearby islands and return with news of food. Every few weeks, there's a 2 in 6 chance that a force of mantid warriors (2d6+20) will strike a nearby location and, if not defeated, destroy an asset before disbanding.

Order Primordiae: A reclusive order of mysticism, the Order Primordiae venerates the power of life without form. Called an unusual monster cult by some, the Order honors oozes, puddings and similar monstrous creatures, and its practitioners seek to become one with the formless and unbounded nature of these unusual creatures. Unfortunately, this requires experimentation on living flesh, and volunteers are so hard to find. Therefore, nearby islands must be cowed into submission with an occasional demonstration of force in order to provide slave tributes. Every few weeks, there's a 2 in 6 chance that a coven of Ooze Magi (2d6+20) will strike a nearby location and, if not defeated, destroy an asset before disbanding.

Warrior-Monks of the Viridian Glaive: Founded by Father Enrakos, a rather heretical priest of Gram, the Emerald Warrior, the Warrior-Monks of the Viridian Glaive are martial artists trained extensively in the use of sword-staves. These extremists feel that it is a moral obligation to promote martial prowess, and will frequently attack nearby islands as a religious exercise, demanding tribute for their "blessed instruction." Every few weeks, there's a 1 in 6 chance that a cloister of warrior-monks (2d6+20) will strike a nearby location and, if not defeated, destroy an asset before disbanding.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Isles of the Saharan Sea: Five More Lairs...

Good Afternoon, All:

As I continue to develop bits and pieces of my next campaign setting and share them with you, I realize that the work that I'm doing runs contradictory to the concept of minimal preparation that I wrote about last year. Given that my current campaign won't end for quite a while (barring accidental TPKs), it seems that I have the time to invest, so I don't mind exceeding the minimum needed to run a campaign. In addition, this longer period of development gives me the chance to develop my ideas in small bite-sized pieces. In this way, I can build a lot of material over time, without a lot of focused effort. I write when I want to write. I spend half an hour at a time creating my little capsules of information. I can take time to think about what I need to have ready for my players, and build it without feeling rushed at the last minute. In essence, I get to create a bulk of information that I can draw from, minimizing my preparation each session once the campaign begins. My setting feels more well-rounded as a result, and I have a lot of details that I can build on. That leads to a richer gaming experience for my players, which in turn makes me a happier GM/Referee.

With that in mind, here are the capsule descriptions of five more lairs destined to plague adventurers and domains alike within the Isles of the Saharan Sea setting. These five lairs are:

Commodore Greybeard's Cove: Commodore Avery Greybeard maintains a stronghold here as a safe haven for his six sailing vessels and the crews that serve him. Treacherous reefs (the secrets of which are kept to the pilots of Greybeard's vessels) and high mountains protect the bay. A man of some sophistication, Commodore Greybeard maintains tendrils of influence in nearby ports, and enjoys the trappings of high society. The bare beginnings of a settlement has begun to appear outside the stronghold's walls. Every few weeks, there's a 2 in 6 chance that a ship full of pirates (3d6+40) flying Greybeard's coat of arms will strike a nearby location and, if not defeated, destroy an asset before disbanding.

The Revenant's Derelict: The derelict skeleton of a once powerful ship, the Magdalena, lies on its side on a rocky shore. When the Unliving Armada of Lord Barabos is not raiding, it gathers here, slowly building its forces under the direction of the undead admiral. Every few weeks, there's a 2 in 6 chance that a ship full of undead pirates (3d6+40) flying Lord Barabos's coat of arms will strike a nearby location and, if not defeated, destroy an asset before disbanding.

Sacred Feasting Grounds of the Kolowa: The Kolowa, a cannibalistic tribe of cavemen, hold this site to be sacred, and often bring particularly exceptional captives here to feast before the eyes of the large stone idols that represent their Gods. Every few weeks, there's a 1 in 6 chance that a band of Kolowan raiders (3d6+40) will strike a nearby location and, if not defeated, destroy an asset before disbanding.

Shrine of Fiery Death: Devoted to Thanatos, the Flame Lord, the cultists of the Shrine of Fiery Death aggressively seek sacrifices to offer to the volcano it overlooks. Occasionally, the volcano erupts, spewing lava and ash everywhere, yet the Shrine always remains safe and untouched by the devastation around it. Every few weeks, there's a 2 in 6 chance that a force of Death cultists (2d6+20) will strike a nearby location and, if not defeated, destroy an asset before disbanding.

Wendigo Cliff Dwellings: Although the original builders of these cliff dwellings are long gone, this small settlement has almost always been overrun with wendigos and their vessels. Cannibalistic spirits with the ability to possess humanoids, wendigos frequently raid neighboring islands for more victims to serve as food or hosts. Every few weeks, there's a 1 in 6 chance that a band of wendigo-possessed raiders (3d6+40) will strike a nearby location and, if not defeated, destroy an asset before disbanding.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Isles of the Saharan Sea: Five Lairs Of Adventure...

Good Afternoon, All:

Here are the capsule descriptions of five lairs that will be available for raiding and adventure within the Isles of the Saharan Sea setting. These are strongly influenced by the use of lairs as described in An Echo Resounding. These five lairs are:

Cabal of the Hellfire Crusaders: Demonic cabalists are a cold and calculating brood, and He Who Speaks In Darkness is no exception to that. Surrounded by an infernal guard and protected by the Dark Arts, the Hellfire Crusaders strike fear into the hearts of nearby communities at the behest of their dark master. Every few weeks, there's a 2 in 6 chance that a band of Hellfire Crusaders (2d6+20) will strike a nearby location and, if not defeated, destroy an asset before disbanding.

Grand Aerie of Pterosaurs: Laired in the caldera of an extinct volcano, these large flying reptiles can cover an extensive range, and have been known to strike in vast flocks (3d6+40) on villages and ports, attacking without warning. The Grand Aerie was once the property of Serpentfolk, and these flying pets have gone feral in the absence of their keepers. Every few weeks, there's a 1 in 6 chance that the pterosaurs will strike a nearby location and, if not defeated, destroy an asset before disbanding.

Horde of the Ravaging Blade: Vicious humanoids from a number of the surrounding islands, driven from their homes through the work of dread adventurers and stalwart soldiers, have gathered under the banner of the troll warlord known as the Ravaging Blade. From the abandoned stronghold serving as the warlord's base of operations, these humanoids are a constant menace to unprotected communities. Every few weeks, there's a 2 in 6 chance that a band of humanoids (2d6+20) will strike a nearby location and, if not defeated, destroy an asset before disbanding.

Lost Lords of Kimojan: In the days of feuding warlords on Kimojan, not all defeated warlords were slain; some were sent into exile. The largest band of exiled warlords and their more faithful servants have gathered here, plotting to eventually retake their lost heritage. In the meantime, they raid the islands friendly to the Great Warlord Shotokan, stealing his tributes and attacking his forces. Every few weeks, there's a 2 in 6 chance that a band of warriors (3d6+40) loyal to the Lost Lords will strike a nearby location and, if not defeated, destroy an asset before disbanding.

Raiders of Captain Samnos Cutter: The scoundrels serving Captain Samnos Cutter have been kicked out of more reputable pirate crews for simply being too despicable, so dark and foul are they. Though they often hate one another and vie for power within this band of raiders, these scalawags can all agree on one thing: Captain Cutter knows his craft, and has always been successful on the Saharan Sea. Every few weeks, there's a 3 in 6 chance that a ship full of pirates (3d6+40) flying Captain Cutter's banner will strike a nearby location and, if not defeated, destroy an asset before disbanding.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Isles of the Saharan Sea: Exploring Hexes...

Good Afternoon, All:

The basics of moving around a sandbox setting of islands requires a little bit of attention, so that I know the ground rules by which the players will be operating. I'm taking a cue from Pathfinder's Kingmaker Adventure Path, modified somewhat for a seafaring setting, and converted to Savage Worlds, of course.

Travel Times
Travel Times for ships are based on their Travel Speed rating. A ship with a Travel Speed of 1 covers one regional hex in a day (or one hex every six watches), 2 indicates two hexes in a day (or one hex every three watches), and 3 indicates three hexes in a day (or one hex every two watches).

Note: If a water hex is obstructed by seaweed or excessive debris, such that it is thick enough to hinder ship movement, Travel Speed is halved. If a ship spends time exploring a hex for either standard or hidden sites, then Travel Speed is also halved.

Order of Exploration
Just like in land-based campaigns, characters may explore unknown regions. The order of operations for such efforts should probably occur in the following order of operations:
  1. Entering The Hex: When entering the hex, the characters should become aware of any landmark sites. These are sites that can be seen at a great distance, such as cities, sizable geographic landmarks or minor local weather patterns. The landmark site can be avoided or explored at the explorers' desire. Remember that the World Within is a hollow world scenario, and so there is no horizon to block view of major elements such as severe weather patterns, etc.
  2. Random Encounter Check: The GM should check for Random Encounters upon entering a hex, as well as every six watches spent exploring or "camping" in a given hex. (Survival skill checks may influence the potential for an encounter with such checks.)
  3. Exploring The Hex: If the characters take the time to explore the hex, the characters should automatically become aware of any standard sites. Standard sites are somewhat secluded, but are immediately identifiable when the explorers come within bow shot range, if not sooner.
  4. Searching For Hidden Sites: If the characters succeed in a Notice skill check while searching the hex for hidden sites, they discover any hidden sites that might exist in the hex. Hidden sites are those that are very secluded or hidden, and thus not immediately obvious, even when within bow shot range.

Random Encounter Checks
For random encounter checks, I am currently considering the use the system outlined in Martin Rayla's A Lightweight System for Random Encounters: d10+d10 article on Gnome Stew. In this article, he proposes a simple 2d10 table that, with modifiers, can determine the number of random encounters (if any) that a party might have in a given day. If one or more encounters are called for, I can always use the regional encounter tables to determine what the characters run into, as well as 1d6 roll to determine the Watch in which they occur. For the sake of convenience, I will replicate the table here:

Table: Random Encounter Checks
15 or lessNone
24 or more3


Friday, June 08, 2012

Isles of the Saharan Sea: Savage Sailing Vessels...

Good Afternoon, All:

I have been working to put together a general list of sailing vessels for Savage Worlds, for use in my Isles of the Saharan Sea campaign setting. Many of the basic types came from Pirates of the Spanish Main, but some have been modified based on further research and online comments. (The astute may notice that I removed the variable number of Wounds as given in POTSM, and assume that the standard rules of three Wounds for vehicles applies here. Also, additional types have been added, to round out the selections available. Finally, the costs were adjusted to better match the Silver Standard Price List I use for my fantasy campaigns, by simply dividing standard Savage World prices by two. The results of my endeavors are below:

VesselAccelCargoCrewHandlingTop SpeedToughnessTravel SpeedWeaponsCostNotes
1-Mast Ship243+6+1313(2)127,500ssHeavy Armor
Skiff233+6+2313(2)227,500ssHeavy Armor
Sloop243+6+1413(2)147,500ssHeavy Armor
2-Mast Ship248+16+0414(2)2610,000ssHeavy Armor
Galley2480+160-2419(2)2610,000ssHeavy Armor; Oars; Ram*
Hoy248+16+2414(2)1610,000ssHeavy Armor
Junk148+16+2412(2)2610,000ssHeavy Armor
3-Mast Ship2815+30-1516(4)31212,500ssHeavy Armor
Brigantine2615+30+0518(4)31217,500ssHeavy Armor
Crumster288+16-1516(4)3812,500ssHeavy Armor
Schooner2815+30+1414(4)31212,500ssHeavy Armor
4-Mast Ship31024+48-2618(4)31630,000ssHeavy Armor
Frigate31012+24+0616(4)3815,000ssHeavy Armor
Galleon31024+48-3620(4)31660,000ssHeavy Armor
5-Mast Ship21025+50-3524(4)32050,000ssHeavy Armor
Man-O-War210125+250-3524(4)328250,000ssHeavy Armor

Hope This Helps,

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Isles of the Saharan Sea: Five More Ruins...

Good Afternoon, All:

Here are the capsule descriptions of five more ruins that will be available for exploration within the Isles of the Saharan Sea setting for my next campaign:

Bastion of Fallen Akrotia: Many generations ago, the island of Akrotia had been buried by volcanic eruption. Two generations ago, a great Tarthani warlord named Hodar Kantak forced native slaves to carve a stronghold from the rock overlooking a well-protected bay, and made the site his personal base of operations. Since then, the stronghold has changed hands several times, and each landlord in turn has added to the tunnels and chambers making up the stronghold. The last warlord to own the site was a Zegoth Commodore who vanished with the Wrath of Serpentis, along with his followers.

Lost Render's Mine: Discovered by a shipwrecked render-captain, this lost silver mine is purported to be the source of Captain Korvas Ravenblack's sudden and meteoric rise to power over a generation ago. It is said that the local natives, impressed with Captain Ravenblack's charismatic leadership, protect the site from exploitation, and may even continue to mine it as they await the render's return. The pirate's three daughters, Render-Captains themselves, actively seek the mine's location, angered that their father did not trust them enough to provide them with a map to the site.

Perdidos, Ruins of: Once a sleepy little port, Perdidos was plundered by Zegoths under Serpentfolk rule several generations ago. Among the wreckage is the remains of the Tower of the Archmagus Khadargos, a Grand Cabalist of the Dark Arts. Although the Zegoths succeeded in plundering the port, they were unsuccessfuly in obtaining the Index Infernum, the archmage's notes on his interactions with the demonic servitors of the Demon King Sandamos.

Sanguinarium of the Dark Mother: An ancient site of ritual sacrifice to Serpentis, the Dark Mother, the Sanguinarium fell into ruin long before her followers vanished from the World Within when a powerful earthquake devastated the island. Foul creatures of blood and shadow still walk the depths of the Sanguinarium, yet adventurers still brave the serpentine tunnels in hopes of finding lost relics of a bygone era. In the days after the Wrath of Serpentis, a number of Zegoths have made pilgrimages to the site with virginal sacrifices, in hopes of encouraging the Dark Mother's return.

Tower of Clockwork Chaos: The animated constructs of the Tower of Clockwork Chaos were legendary for their artistic and mystical craftsmanship, until they were turned on their creators as an act of treachery and vengeance. For many monsoons, the tower stood abandoned by mortal men, until an Aberration Cult claimed the site for their own purposes. No one knows how they bypassed the unliving creations of the tower's original owners, but it is certain that the cultists are using the knowledge they've uncovered to the most nefarious of ends.


Monday, June 04, 2012

Isles of the Saharan Sea: Five Ruins To Explore...

Good Afternoon, All:

With the primary ports of call completed, it's time to move on to sites of major adventure, Ruins. Here are the capsule descriptions of five ruins that will be available for exploration within the setting I'm creating for my next campaign:

Citadel of the Wyrm Knight: On an island on the edge of civilized territory stands the Citadel of the Wyrm Knight, the remains of a forsaken outpost that has long since succumbed to the jungle wilds. Rumors abound of rich veins of gold that remain to be rediscovered in the tunnels beneath the citadel itself. The site has become the base of operations for an Aberration Cult devoted to planar creatures best left unsummoned and truths best left unknown.

Krotoa, Lost Colony of: Founded as a colony of exiles and escaped slaves fleeing the persecution of the Serpentfolk, Krotoa fell to the onslaught of the forces of a Zegoth commander that ultimately tracked them down. The Zegoth warlord could not find what he was sent to uncover, that being a stolen collection of lore detailing the secret techniques used by the Serpentfolk to manufacture magical arms and armor. Without humanoid inhabitants, the creatures of the jungle have reclaimed the structures, making lairs throughout the ruins of the colony. Treasure hunters seeking to recover the lost lore rarely return, and those who do speak only of the fierce wildlife they encountered in their fruitless expeditions.

Lukrada, Ruins of: Once an ancient city under the patronage of Thanatos, the Flame Lord, Lukrada has long since fallen into crumbling ruins. These ruins are located atop a mesa overlooking the Burning Bay, and is very difficult to reach on foot, save for a narrow winding road leading from the beach to the flat mesa top. Necromancers and priests of Thanatos populate a few of the ruins, all in service to the Vanaran known as Mavarasha, Light Upon the Throne Triumphant, a High Priest of Thanatos.

Mystic Tower of the Vampire King: The Mystic Tower of the Vampire King once stood on an island darkened by perpetual mists, until a great battle delivered the Final Death upon the Vampire King. With his passing, the tower collapsed as the earth beneath it churned, and the mists dissipated, leaving behind only devastation and silence. Pirate and renders still give the site a wide berth, for it is rumored that the shades of ancient heroic warriors remain trapped within the wreckage.

Pakaton, Ruins of: Pakaton was once a properous township until a supernatural plague struck down its inhabitants almost twenty monsoons ago. Given the swift and deadly nature of the plague, other islands and ports quickly declared Pakaton a quarantined port of call, a declaration that has never been rescinded due to the near total devastation of all life. Those few who escaped, as well as their children, still cling to their heritage of Pakaton, and will likely rally to anyone who is daring enough to cleanse the ruins and reclaim them as habitable territory.


Friday, June 01, 2012

Isles of the Saharan Sea: Tarth, the Isle of Storms...

Good Afternoon, All:

Our last port of call for my Isles of the Saharan Sea is the homeland of the Tarthani, the port-city of Tarth.

Location Name: The Tarthan Realms, or the Isle of Storms

Ambiance: The homeland of the four-armed Tarthani race, Tarth is a large island that is mostly settled. There are few wild areas on the island, and those few can be found among the mountains, valleys and high meadows of the island's interior. Port Tarth is perhaps the port of the Isles that most feels like a city on the mainland. Weather is notoriously bad within the Tarthan Realms; fog and rain are more common within Port Tarth than clear skies.

History: The Tarthan Realms were settled more than ten generations ago, when a large clan of Tarthani were magically transported to the World Within from another world. Fiercely independent, the Tarthani have maintained an uneasy peace with the Serpentfolk for the last six generations through the payment of slave tributes. After the Wrath of Serpentis, the Tarthani have become a major force on the Saharan Sea.

Encounters: Elemental creatures of air and water are often encountered in and around the Isle of Storms, which in turn attracts elementalist magi. The Storm Knights are a new Tarthani martial order formed by the intention to location and rescue those Tarthani who had been given over to the Serpentfolk as tributes.

Treasures: The King of the Tarthan Realms wears a magical crown which is purported to grant him powers over the element of water. It is also said that the holy relic known as the Crystalline Sphere of Indra is lost somewhere on the island, and is the source of the foul weather that besets the Isle of Storms.

Hooks and Hotspots: Many Tarthani feel shame for the presence of Tribute Rock, a large flat stone near the mouth of the bay where slave tributes were chained as offerings to appease the oppressive Serpentfolk. Mon Burzha is the largest peak within this archipelago outside of the great volcanoes of the Smoking Isles.