Monthly Archives: January 2014

Goblin Skulls & Shackles, session 15 – Paying Debts

 Pathfinder-logo

Skull & Shackles LogoAfter cleaning up the bodies, the Licktoad Pirates left some of their more trustworthy crewmates (Sandara Quinn, Rosie Cusswell, and Owlbear Hartshorn, in charge of Tidewater Rock and returned to the high seas. The plan: return to Rickity Squibs to sell off plunder and re-supply.

Three days out of Tidewater Rock, while Ent Cleastwood was on lookout duty, sails were spotted on the horizon. The ship appeared to be a Rahadoumi schooner loaded with booty! Captain Spack Jarrow gave the order to pursue and Sea Spite closed in on her quarry. Before they were able to get into catapult range, a creature took off from the deck of the Rahadoumi ship and flew towards Sea Spite. It was a manticore!

As the beast approached, Brodo Faggins directed the catapult crew to try to fire a shot at it. Meanwhile, Captain Spack Jarrow worked magic to summon lighting from the cloudy sky. Miraculously, the catapult’s shot hit the manticore. A lighting bolt scorched the creature, but it was able to summon the strength to launch a volley of spikes from its tail, impaling Gargornne in a last-gasp attack before being brought down and crashing into the sea.

During the battle with the manticore, the enemy ship maneuvered into position to use its ballistae on the Sea Spite. The ship was close enough for the crew to read her name: Sanbalot. The merchant crew managed a few ineffective shots before another lighting bolt killed half the gunnery crew and a boulder from the Sea Spite’s catapult destroyed one of the ballistae.

Sanbalot’s captain and marines fell just as the ship entered boarding range. The inexperienced merchant crew struck their colors. Captain Spack Jarrow offered the crew a choice: join him or die. Only the lone remaining marine was defiant. The rest of Sanbalot’s crew were informed they would sail with the Sea Spite until they reached Rickity Squibs, where they could leave or stay.

Once they reached Rickity Squibs, tales were told of their exploits, including the cracking of Tidewater Rock and nine of the merchant crew chose to stay with the Sea Spite. The Licktoad Pirates offered Rickity a trade: the Sanbalot in exchange for wiping out their debt. The deal was acceptable. The goblins resupplied their ship and headed back to Tidewater Rock. When they arrived, they learned the sahuagin had attacked twice while they were gone. The Licktoad Pirates resolved to deal with their nuisance once and for all….

Another cakewalk for the goblin pirates. I think the sandboxy parts of the adventure are designed to be easy, so the PCs don’t experience a TPK while they’re just sailing around being pirates. The real challenges should come while they’re dealing with major plot points of the adventures rather than the “let’s spread tales of our derring-do and badassery” phase. Since they’re coming up on a couple of major back-to-back plot points, we’ll see.

Once they’ve finishedI plan to take a short hiatus from Pathfinder and GMing. One of the other players has offered to run a few sessions of Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. I may write up those adventures here, and maybe even do a review of the system (which I’ll cross post to various RPG forums and sites that accept such reviews).

I’ve been enjoying the goblin pirate game and I will return to it to see the Licktoad Pirates’ adventure to its conclusion. I don’t think Pathfinder is the right system for me anymore, however. It’s a fine system, don’t get me wrong, but after playing the d20 system and its variants for nearly 14 years now, I yearn for something simpler. I’ve been playing D&D since 1982, everything from Red Box basic to 4E & Pathfinder. The most fun I ever had with the game was 2nd edition AD&D. I’m curious to see how these Paizo adventure paths would translate into a system like AD&D or even Savage Worlds, and once Skull & Shackles is done, I might try Reign of Winter using Savage Worlds. Depending on how the players feel, I may even convert the game during the Skull & Shackles adventure path (though I doubt that will actually happen; I think the character would feel totally different and the transition would be very hard on some players).

The simple fact of the matter is: I can no longer devote the time and energy necessary for a complex system like Pathfinder. My interest in modern versions of D&D, including D&D Next (or 5th Edition…whatever they end up calling it) is lower than its ever been. I’m weary of buying the books all over again because enough has been changed that conversion becomes a pain-in-the-ass. It’s a game, not work. I don’t get paid to GM, so if I don’t have fun doing it, it’s not worth the effort. Paizo makes Pathfinder easier than 3.X ever was thanks to their adventure paths and books like the NPC Codex, but the rules for every situation, the ability for players to game the system to the extent that they can, no longer appeals to me. I get that being able to crunch the numbers and nearly break the game are part of the appeal for some people; that the gaming the system is THE GAME for some players, and that’s fine. It’s just not what I’m looking for these days.

But, that’s all talk for the future. There are still a few more sessions left of Raiders of the Fever sea, and after that, a short hiatus and four more books in this adventure path. The Licktoad Pirates have only begun their terrible career on the high seas of Golarion!

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Goblin Skulls & Shackles, session 14 – Cracking the Rock

When last we left the Licktoad Pirates, they had arrived at Tidewater Rock. The ballistae on the guard towers tracked them as they sailed past the front of the fortress. The goblins decided a frontal assault was suicide. The continued sailing, around the island and contemplated a different plan: a stealth assault from behind. The Licktoad Goblins would take a dinghy under the cover of darkness and make landfall on the far side of the island. They would cross the fields and orange groves until they reached the back of the cover. In the middle of the night, with the light of the waxing moon partially obscured by clouds, they were undetected as they approached the tower.

Captain Spack Jarrow cast a fly spell upon Brodo Faggins and he flew up to the top of the tower. Meanwhile, the monkey goblins climbed, helping their comrades up the side. As soon as they were at the top, Captain Spack Jarrow dropped a silence spell to cover the roof and Brodo Faggins killed one of the two patrolling guards. The other goblins took out the guard on the opposite side. The roof was theirs.

They made their way down the stairs and into the main dining hall. Being the middle of the night, it was deserted. Brodo Faggins checked the door to the other room and entered, finding a lady asleep in her bed. He moved to slice her throat. She survived the initial attack long enough to scream, undoubtedly waking others in the tower, but was killed before she was able to get out of bed. Captain Spack Jarrow removed her head and tossed it down the stairs, towards the commotion they heard of the other residents rushing to aid their Lady. His ultimatum was simple: Surrender or Die.

While the rest of the goblins awaited the tower’s guards by the bottleneck of the dining hall door, Brodo Faggins utilized his fly spell to fly out of the tower’s window and take pot shots at defenders rushing by the arrow slits. He felled two before the tower’s major domo reached the dining hall, enraged by the mutilation of his lady love. He attacked Captain Spack Jarrow with fury, but fell to the combined attacks of the Licktoad Pirates after only striking one blow. The two guards accompanying him managed to fire two shots from their crossbows, but fell as they turned to flee.

The rest of the defenders, including the tower’s servants, believing they were overrun, surrendered. The Licktoad Pirates were victorious and Tidewater Rock was theirs.

In the aftermath, they discussed what to do with the servants and guards. The two elderly servants and the goatherd would stay at Tidewater Rock and tend the crops and livestock. Their ward would be taken to the Sea Spite and locked in the brig for now, despite his protestations that he would gladly serve as a cabin boy. The remaining guards would be pressed into service as well. As the sun rose, a pirate flag flew over Tidewater Rock.

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The swift victory of arms probably would not have been possible with conventional PCs. Goblins have mega bonuses to stealth and the monkey goblins have a climb speed (rather than need a skill to climb). The adventure never considers the group might attack at night from above (and neither do the residents of Tidewater Rock; it’s a remote tower home rather than a proper fortress). What was supposed to be an encounter of guile and diplomacy turned into a slaughter, but the end result was the same: the PCs cracked Tidewater Rock and now had a home base from which to operate in addition to having a ship.

For their level, these Goblin Pirate PCs are underequipped, but are so badass, I can see them totally derailing this adventure path at some point. Of course, not everyone will remain ignorant of their cover-of-darkness stealthy ways forever…

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Doctor StrangeRoll’s Year in Review

I started this year running a D&D 4E Eberron game and ended it running a Pathfinder adventure path (Skull & Shackles) with a tweest, all Goblin player characters. We also had isolated sessions of Paranoia (2nd edition), Doctor Who: Adventures in Time & Space, and Savage Worlds (Space: 1889 and Realms of Cthulhu). At Gary Con, in addition to Paranoia and Ghostbusters, I also ran Hollow Earth Expedition and played Star Frontiers (Did you know PDF versions of this TSR classic are still legally available online?). Reapermas also happened, and I’ve barely touched that pile of minis with my paints. The end of the year was stupid busy. It interfered with my gaming and game-related pursuits, but I did finish the first draft of my fifth novel, so there’s that (more about that over at vffpublishing.com)

One of my goals for 2013 was to play more different games, include something using Fate. Well, that didn’t happen, but I still managed quite a variety, some of which was even with my home gaming group! I’m going to continue that goal in 2014. I want to try to play or run Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, something with Fate, Numenera, and more Savage Worlds.

When I started this blog, the point was to run classic adventures through all the available systems of D&D. That didn’t work out quite as I envisioned, but since the start, we have managed to play everything except Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. I don’t count D&D Next at this point because the game is not out yet. I’m not interested in running games with play test documents at this time, but I don’t discount a D&D Next game as a possibility in the future, though personally, I feel like I’ve had it with the edition treadmill, plus, the older I get, the less I like rules-heavy (aka crunchy) systems, and D&D hasn’t been rules light since the days of Basic D&D (I would classify AD&D as rules-medium…depending on how you houserule your game).

Most of 2014 will be a continuation of the Goblin Skulls & Shackles game. They’re about 1/3rd of the way through the second part of a six part adventure path. At the conclusion of book 2 or book 3, depending on how long wrapping up book 2 takes, I will probably take a short break from Pathfinder to run 2-3 games of a different system (or play test games I’m running at Gary Con in March). I hope to be able to wrap up Skull & Shackles by the end of 2014. Once that is finished, I will probably run the AD&D phase of Doctor StrangeRoll, most likely using AD&D 2nd Edition.

Where does Doctor StrangeRoll go from there? Probably Savage Worlds (for some reason, running the Reign of Winter AP using Savage Worlds appeals to me more than running it in Pathfinder) or a Star Wars game. That’s looking into 2015, though, and a lot can happen in a year.

To all my readers, I wish you a 2014 filled with good friends, good gaming, and all the joy and good fortune you can stand!

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