Friday, December 30, 2016

Factions in a Space Fantasy RPG Campaign

An intriguing element of the Pathfinder Chronicles campaign is the inclusion of factions, power groups in the campaign setting by which the PCs can be employed. In that vein, detailed here are some organizations that could be part of a space fantasy campaign. 

Note that additional information about the the two groups presented here can be found in other articles on the blog, which are linked below. 


Elven Navy
As mentioned above, it is the elves who first dared to board aetherships and venture out among the planets and, eventually, the stars. (Credit for inventing the solar vessel, and then putting it together with flying sails, wind cordage and an orb of control goes to clerics of the Sun God, of course, but it is the elves who first really made use of the resulting vehicle. That is, at least, according to them.) What none can argue is that the elves have also built the premier fleet of aetherships and organization of sailors and soldiers throughout the Known Worlds.

Goal: Exploration and Defense
Given the fact that their long lives allow them to undertake missions that would require commitment from generations of humans, it should come as no surprise the elves are interested in exploration. In order to pursue that end in a safe and orderly manner, however, the elves have also been given cause to develop a strict military organization, one that, if it seems to go against their free and independent natures, also has let them become the power with which to reckon in the galaxy.

Alignment: LG
In addition to promoting the general well-being of all that is favored by many of their race, these elves also possess a deep and effective sense of discipline.

Currently, the highest-ranking member of the Elven Navy is Admiral Solinus (refer to a previous article to find stats for him, as well as for his underlings).

The Elven Navy is based out of Starfort Station, located on an icy moon with underground seas that orbits a gas giant planet (refer to a previous article to find a map and location descriptions for it).

Using the Elven Navy in an Aetherial Adventures Campaign
The aforementioned previous article has plot hooks involving the Elven Navy, too.

Temple of the Universal Architect
While many of the deities people worship have specific spheres of influence, there's one who is regarded as the mind behind all aspects of creation: the Universal Architect. Worshipers of this god believe that there is immutable truth and reasoning in the galaxy, if only one properly seeks it.

Goal: Discovery, Education and Support
As they seek to reveal the mysteries of the universe, clerics and other followers of the Universal Architect also work to share there knowledge, believing that doing so helps to empower others so that they can pursue their own paths to illumination. In a similar vein, they also promote charitable work that helps meet people's basic physical needs, since it's a lot easier to work at bettering oneself when those needs are being met. Additionally, the Temple has been known to hire parties of adventurers to help lead expeditions, both to remote areas on Homeworld as well as to other planets throughout the solar system.

Alignment: LN
This god's followers believe that only by promoting and preserving order can people lead the kinds of lives that will make this world a better place.

Upon ascending to the rank of High Priest, the leading cleric of this order takes the honorary name of Imhotep. The current individual to do so, a powerful human cleric, is the thirty-second person to take that name. (Refer to a previous article to find stats for Imhotep and other clerics.)

The followers of the Universal Architect are based out of a temple in the Holy City on Homeworld (refer to a previous article to find floorplans and area descriptions for it).

Using the Temple of Ptah in an Aetherial Adventures Campaign
The aforementioned article has suggestions for plot hooks involving this organization, too.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Dwarf Asteroid Miners

To go with yesterday's post, here are stats for dwarf asteroid miners.


Dwarf Asteroid Miner (Rookie)
CR ½
XP 200
Various dwarf fighter 1
LN medium humanoid
Init +0; Senses Perception +1; Darkvision, 60 ft.
AC 13, touch 9, flat-footed 13 (+4 armor, -1 Dex)
hp 12 (1d10+2)
Fort +4, Ref -1, Will +1
Resist Hardy
Spd 20 ft.
Melee Dwarven waraxe +3 (1d10+1)
Ranged Heavy crossbow +0 (1d10)
Special Attacks Hatred
Str 13, Dex 9, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 6
Base Atk +1; CMB +2; CMD 11
Feats Skill Focus (Profession (miner), Weapon Focus (dwarven waraxe)
Skills Climb +5, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +4, Profession (miner) +8
Languages Dwarven, Common
SQ Slow and steady, defensive training, stability, stonecunning, weapon familiarity
Combat Gear Clothing, chain shirt, dwarven waraxe, heavy crossbow, case of twenty quarrels, backpack, mining tools (pick, shovel, sacks, rope, hammer, iron spikes, lantern, etc.), miscellaneous personal items, potion of cure light wounds, stash of 5d6 gp

Each of these miners is a daring and hearty soul, one who accepts the risks of life in aetherspace in the hope of becoming comfortably wealthy from the profits that can be had in asteroid mining. While the typical dwarf miner is all business during a delve, he can relax and share a good story or song over a cup of ale once the day's work is finished. These dwarves can be fierce foes, too, when they think that their territory or livelihood are threatened.

Dwarf Asteroid Miner (Veteran)
CR 4
XP 1200
Various dwarf fighter 5
LN medium humanoid
Init +0; Senses Perception +2; Darkvision, 60 ft.
AC 13, touch 9, flat-footed 13 (+4 armor, -1 Dex)
hp 42 (5d10+10)
Fort +6, Ref +0, Will +3
Resist Hardy, bravery +1
Spd 20 ft.
Melee Dwarven waraxe +9 (1d10+4)
Ranged Heavy crossbow +5 (1d10)
Special Attacks Hatred, weapon training 1 (axes)
Str 13, Dex 9, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 6
Base Atk +5; CMB +6; CMD 15
Feats Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Reload, Skill Focus (Profession (miner), Weapon Focus (dwarven waraxe), Weapon Specialization (dwarven waraxe)
Skills Climb +9, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +8, Profession (miner) +13
Languages Dwarven, Common
SQ Slow and steady, defensive training, stability, stonecunning, weapon familiarity, armor training 1
Combat Gear Clothing, chain shirt, masterwork dwarven waraxe, masterwork heavy crossbow, case of twenty quarrels, backpack, masterwork mining tools (pick, shovel, sacks, rope, hammer, iron spikes, lantern, etc.), miscellaneous personal items, potion of cure moderate wounds, stash of 6d20 gp

Those dwarves who stay on in the business acquire some wealth, and thus are able to afford better equipment.

Variations on a Theme
The stats presented above represent typical dwarven miners. As part of their operation, however, some of the dwarves specialize in crewing an aethership, while others craft weapons and other items. To represent that, one only needs to change around some skills and feats. For example, a craftsman would give up Profession (miner) for Craft (weapons), while an aethership captain would exchange it for Profession (sailor). Similarly, certain feats such as Skill Focus should be changed to match the character's given focus.

Delve Captain Rudrig, son of Ragnar
CR 8
XP 4800
Various dwarf fighter 9
LN medium humanoid
Init +0; Senses Perception +2; Darkvision, 60 ft.
AC 13, touch 9, flat-footed 13 (+4 armor, -1 Dex)
hp 72 (9d10+18)
Fort +8, Ref +2, Will +5
Resist Hardy, bravery +2
Spd 20 ft.
Melee Dwarven waraxe +14/+9 (1d10+7)
Ranged Heavy crossbow +11 (1d10+3)
Special Attacks Hatred, weapon training 1 (axes) and 2 (crossbows)
Str 14, Dex 9, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 6
Base Atk +5; CMB +6; CMD 15
Feats Critical Focus, Improved Critical, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Reload, Skill Focus (Profession (miner), Weapon Focus (dwarven waraxe, heavy crossbow), Weapon Specialization (dwarven waraxe, heavy crossbow)
Skills Climb +14, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +12, Profession (miner) +17
Languages Dwarven, Common
SQ Slow and steady, defensive training, stability, stonecunning, weapon familiarity, armor training 1
Combat Gear Clothing, chain shirt, dwarven waraxe +1, masterwork heavy crossbow, case of twenty quarrels, backpack, masterwork mining tools (pick, shovel, sacks, rope, hammer, iron spikes, lantern, etc.), miscellaneous personal items, potion of cure critical wounds, stash of 300 gp

Rudrig is the son of Ragnar, one of the dwarves who accompanied the first expedition into the Asteroid Belt. His personality is quite similar to those of the men who serve on his crews, but is combined with an iron sense of loyalty and desire to see all of them find success—something he regards as a legacy inherited from his father. He is somewhat distrustful when it comes to dealing with members of the Royal Interplanetary Company, whom he regards as greedy rivals, and the Elven Navy, whom he thinks are elitist. Those who demonstrate integrity and an ability to do hard work can earn his respect, however.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Dwarven Mining Guild

This post is the first in a series that presents in greater detail various factions for a space fantasy RPG that I've mentioned in previous posts. 


Dwarven Mining Guild
Only the elves were faster in embracing aetherial travel than were the dwarves. Indeed, the first members of that stout, earth-minded race quickly identified the asteroids of the Belt as a source for considerable mineral wealth, and immediately started working to claim it. To that end they acquired a few aetherships, and then used elemental obelisks to convert asteroids into floating facilities for smelting and smithing. Now those structures drift through the belt, providing the dwarves with facilities from which they earn considerable wealth.

Goal: Discovery, Craftsmanship and Wealth
The goals toward which Guild members work are simple: Find valuable ores among the asteroids of the Belt, mine and smelt them, and then use that metal to create items of supreme beauty and function.

Alignment: LN
By and large, the dwarves who belong to this Guild respect law and order, since that makes for a safe, secure and efficient society. They're not overly concerned about big moral issues, as long as they can find a market for their wares.

While individual captains are in charge of their own mobile facilities, they all ultimately answer to Rudrig son of Ragnar, a dwarf who participated in the First Delve and who has worked his way up through the ranks to lead the guild now.

Rudrig son of Ragnar can be found on his own ship, the Edifice, which is detailed below.

Using the Dwarven Mining Guild in an Aetherial Adventures Campaign
This organization can provide plenty of plot elements for a space fantasy RPG campaign; presented here are a few of the possibilities.
  • If the PCs are seeking to buy weapons, armor or other metal goods, then a visit to one of the Mining Guild's ships is their best bet for finding what they want.
  • Alternately, they could be hired to deliver foodstuffs and other important cargo to the floating facility, possibly even live animals such as goats of sheep. Naturally, such a voyage would not go smoothly.
  • Alternately, they could be hired to help guard the delivery of a valuable cargo that pirates are plotting to steal.
  • The PCs could be present when—or might come along shortly after—the dwarves find something unexpected among the asteroids, perhaps a monster such as a xorn or a purple worm, or even evidence of a lost civilization.
  • Arriving at one facility, they find that all of its inhabitants are dead. What is the cause of this calamity, and is it still a danger to the PCs?

Mining Guild Mobile Mining, Smelting & Smithing Facility

These facilities consist of a small asteroid outfitted with an elemental obelisk, set up to function as a smelting facility and smithy, and towed by an aethership such as a dhow. 

 Refer to the maps above and below for the following location descriptions.

1. Mess Hall
This small building has a hearth against the wall opposite the door, with a spit for roasting meat above it. There are also barrels of water, beer and wood, along with tables for preparing and serving food. Additionally, there are platters, utensils, pots, pans and the like.

2. Barracks
The walls of these structures are lined with eight beds, each of which is accompanied by a footlocker (hardness 5 and 15 hit points; DC 30 to open and DC 23 to break). These chests contain the valuables and personal items of each inhabitant. There are also two table, surrounded by chairs, at which those who aren't working or sleeping can sit, relax, and enjoy some conversation or a game of knucklebones.

3. Warehouse
This building is sealed with an iron-bound door of thick oak. Inside it is lined with shelves that are stacked with various supplies and equipment items. The middle of the floor is filled with chests and barrels that contain metal ingots, forged weapons and the like.

4. Elemental Obelisk
In the middle of the asteroid's surface level stands this magical item, which provides heat, gravity and fresh air for the facility.

5. Lift
A ten-foot-by-ten-foot platform here can be raised from the bottom level to the top via a crank mechanism, allowing items to be hauled up from below and vice versa.

6. Stairwell
From the upper level, stairs here wind down to the lower level.

7. Interior Chamber
Inside the asteroid has been hollowed out, providing room for the smelting operation and a number of individual smithing stations (detailed below). The ceiling here reaches to forty feet in height at the center of the chamber. In addition the locations here, a number of mine carts are located throughout to help with moving materials and finished products.

8. Smithing Stations
At each of these locations there are an anvil and a barrel of water, providing places where the individual dwarves can take heated pieces of metal and hammer them into useful implements and then quench them afterward.

9. Smelting Crucible
This big, cylindrical stone structure is almost as tall as the ceiling. Three side hatches open into it—one for stoking the fire, one for adding unsmelted ore and one for removing refined metals and the dross that is left behind. Characters within thirty feet of it suffer the effects of very hot conditions, while those within ten feet are affected by severe heat (see page 444 in the core rulebook for details). 


Monday, December 26, 2016

Creating an RPG Campaign Calendar, Part 2

Here's another batch of ideas for developing a calendar. While I'm on the subject, I'd like to take a moment to observe the seventh anniversary of this blog. 


In addition to laying out the basic days, weeks and months of the year, it's important—and it adds depth in the background of a campaign—to determine holidays for the setting. As mentioned above, these can provide plot hooks for the PCs, individualized for clerics and others based on the cultures from which those characters come. Suggested below are a few of the possibilities based on previous material that describes the different religions and societies of the setting.

Winter and Summer Solstices
It should come as no surprise that these days are sacred to priests and followers of the Sun God, since they represent the sun at its strongest (summer solstice) and weakest (winter). Practitioners observe them in two different ways. Just prior to the winter solstice, they fast for the day and spend their time in quiet meditation, considering all the ways in which they still have darkness in their lives. The next day—New Year Day—is a time for feasting and giving gifts: ones that have religious value, among those who lead comfortable lives, or alms for those who do not. The summer solstice, on the 14th of Cancer, is celebrated with major festivals that involve religious rituals and various entertainments such as processions, public dramatic performance and the like.

Phases of the Moon (Dates Vary)
In a similar way, the elves make their religious observances during full and new moons. Due to the roughly twenty-nine-day cycle of the moon's phases, this means that these tend to shift by a day or so every month. This fact has led some to believe the elves are haughty in their disregard for a regular calendar, but the elves see their own symmetry in the process. They observe the new moon with fasting and meditation, much like worshipers of the Sun God practice on the winter solstice, and celebrate the full moon with feasting in an outdoor or similar natural setting.

Eclipses (Dates Vary)
These events are considered important by the curious group known as the Navigators. They view them as a celestial conjunction between the male and female powers of the sun and moon, respectively. While they are widely known to celebrate with feasting and revelry, accompanied by lengthy discussions of matters important to their organization, some also believe that they engage in other, more hedonistic and possibly even orgiastic, entertainments.

Another religiously-related event that can happen at any time throughout the year is the pilgrimage. Depending on the person undertaking the journey, it can be directed toward any number of destinations. For example, elves from Homeworld feel the longing occasionally to visit the great forests of that planet (although this happens less now that they've cultivated pristine forestland on the planet Sylvanus); the dwarves feel a similar yearning to return to the mountain fortresses from which they or their ancestors hailed. This urge occasionally arises among gnomes, halflings and humans, but less often. It is almost unknown among half-orcs and other humanoids. 

Curiously, those who adhere to the Cult of the Void view the Asteroid Belt as a destination for pilgrimages, since the apparent destruction of that world embodies the entropic force of their deity. A small subset of their number even believe that the asteroids, which occasionally drift away into a planet's atmosphere and thus burn up as meteorites, provide some kind of mystic hint regarding what might transpire in the near future.

Birthdays of Important People
Throughout the known planets, the birthdays of political leaders and other influential individuals provide another reason for celebration; just a few examples are provided here.
  • The birthday of Imhotep, high priest of the Universal Architect, occurs on the 21st of Sagittarius. This is a day when the faithful of that god show their gratitude by performing some kind of service for the church, although some of the wealthy just send a monetary donation.
  • Qasim al-Saqr Ra'is, leader of the corsairs who first claimed the Holy City, has his birthday on the 17th of Aquarius. This affair is a chance for members of the Captains' Council to celebrate their successes and show off their wealth, in the form of public feasting, processions and other public entertainments.
  • King Edmund III, titular head of the Royal Interplanetary Company, was born on the 23rd of Virgo. His day is a break from normal work, celebrated with food and drink, song and dance—ranging from the common fare of the working classes to the sumptuous entertainments enjoyed by the nobles.
  • Finally, it should be noted that the elves and dwarves generally don't celebrate birthdays, seeing the course of a year as being but a small part of their long lives.
Anniversaries of Important Events
In the same way as birthdays, the anniversaries of events such as battles, treaties and similarly important occurrences provide another excuse for celebration.
  • Among the dwarves occupied in mining the Asteroid Belt, First Delve is a holiday that marks the beginning of those efforts. Taking place on the 13th of Capricorn, it provides a break from their normal work, a time for singing songs of old and future glories, before returning to work the next day.
  • The elves observe anniversaries of departure dates for their arkships, which set out on long journeys between the planets. These consist of short, somber prayer services, calling on the Moon Goddess to continue her blessings for those travelers.
  • In the Crossroads asteroid colony, the annual return of a familiar comet brings three days of festivities that include various competitions at archery, fencing, footraces and the like, culminating in an aethership regatta inside the asteroid belt itself.
Adding to the Calendar
Another benefit of using a calendar in one's campaign setting is that the deeds of the PCs can eventually be added to it. For example, a hero who hails from the Holy City on Homeworld and who ends up defeating a powerful and dangerous foe could eventually have her birthday observed as a local holiday there. Such would likely also be the case for the other PCs in their hometowns. Similarly, the anniversary of the great victory itself could become its own day for celebration, with tales of the great deed being told forever thereafter.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Creating an RPG Campaign Calendar

Devising a yearly calendar for an RPG campaign setting can have numerous benefits. For one thing, it helps create a more concrete sense of how time passes, weaving the events from a series of adventures into the overall scope of the setting, rather than just focusing on those specific days on which the PCs encounter problems and peril. For another, it provides a frame of reference for players who like to keep detailed notes about their characters' exploits. What is more, it can be used to introduce holidays and their related religious observances and popular festivals, thereby introducing plot hooks for the GM to use in the campaign. Most importantly, though, it helps to make the campaign world feel like a real place, one in which other NPCs live their lives in ways that makes sense given their environment and the passage of time.

As with the Sol System in general, this calendar uses Earth as Homeworld and thus is based upon its astronomical movement. It was devised by clerics of the Sun God and the Universal Architect, and is generally accepted as a useful and accurate method of tracking time. An exception to this is the elves, who find that it does not fit well with their lunar-based religious rituals, which end up passing from day to day throughout the different months (see below for more details).

Thirteen Months of Twenty-Eight Days Each
To best approximate the 365+ days of Homeworld's revolution around Sol, scholars divided the year into thirteen months that each contain twenty-eight days. Each week is made up of seven days, named for the known bodies in the solar system, and each month consists of four such weeks. As such, every month looks the same:

The thirteen months, then, are named for the thirteen constellations of the zodiac—those groups of stars in front of which the sun is seen to rise during that month. They are:

Capricorn – Aquarius – Pisces – Aries – Taurus – Gemini – Cancer

Leo – Virgo – Libra – Scorpio – Ophiuchus – Sagittarius

One Extra Day
In addition to these 364 days is a New Year day that falls after Sagittarius and before Capricorn, the day which marks the start of a new revolution for Homeworld around the sun and thus that is set aside as a day of rest and celebration for the start of the new year. It happens to be the winter solstice, the day in which the northern hemisphere sees the smallest amount of light, and thus marks the end of the sun's “old life” and thus the beginning of a “new” one.

Behind the Scenes: Rationale
This calendar is designed to use a system already familiar to the players and GM, while adapting it so that is seems a little more exotic and takes more inspiration from the Earth's heavenly movements.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Storming the Razor Caves Review

When I first received the email with the download for this scenario, two thoughts crossed my mind. First, I was frustrated because this was released five and a half months after its predecessor. Second, I noticed that it's twenty-six pages in length, shorter than the scenarios that came before it.

Even so, I think this is an adventure that will make for some fun sessions. It starts out in Freeport, but then leads to a place called Hangnail--a wretched hive of scum and villainy on an island not too far from the Serpent's Teeth. It's pretty heavy on combat, but includes good opportunities for roleplaying and--more importantly, in my opinion--some challenging action aboard a ship at sea. Although overall it might be a little light as far as the total number of encounters are concerned, the ones it does have are solid and seem to be leading into an important conflict that will be on par with Sea Lord Drac's plot, the Barbarian Invasion, and other such battles that have been woven into the history of the Freeport setting.


Another PDF Compilation

Here's a link to a PDF that compiles the space fantasy material from this blog for the past year or so.

Aetherial Adventures 4


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Temple of Ptah, Part 2

Presented here are stats for the clerics who occupy the temple of Ptah, a description of their daily routines, and adventures hooks for situations in which normal life is disrupted.


Daily Life in the Temple
For the most part, life in the Temple of Ptah is idyllic. The clerics' basic needs are met through contributions by the local community, who handle such things as preparing food, cleaning, washing laundry and the like. Some earn an income by copying scrolls and books, while others undertake research on behalf of patrons. Others, while pursuing their own studies, aid those who come to the temple seeking knowledge. Indeed, the temple and its library are usually open to the public, since the clerics believe that freely sharing information is the best means of promoting learning in general.

The exception to that openness is the special collection of texts and artifacts that Imhotep deems to be potentially dangerous—ones that could corrupt a mind that is not ready for considering them. These are kept in the secret library hidden in the catacombs, detailed above. Should the need ever arise, these clerics can arm themselves for battle. While they are not so dangerous in combat, the arsenal of magic that they can wield would be daunting indeed.

Adventure Hooks for the Temple of Ptah
There are many ways in which this temple can be used in a (space) fantasy campaign; here are a few of the possibilities.
  • This is, of course, a good place for the PCs to visit if they are seeking important information or are in need of healing.
  • When a plague breaks out on Homeworld, this temple becomes the center of efforts to treat those who are infected and to find a cure.
  • While they could always make an offering as payment for such services, they could also arrange to complete some kind of task—for example, accompanying a team of clerics to an important site, or perhaps helping them recover a text or relic from a dangerous location—in lieu of money.
  • Another option for a suitable party is to lead an expedition into a wilderness area in search of a rare and exotic plant or animal needed for study.
  • Taking that idea a step further, the PCs could be asked to accompany a band of missionaries who are bound for a new settlement or even a whole other world.
  • For any of the three previous options, it's always possible that rivals or enemies interfere with the process, seeking to claim the desired item, information or creature for themselves.
  • The PCs could be present when a thief infiltrates the temple and tries to steal an important item, possibly one from the secret library.
  • Alternately, they could be recruited to pursue a thief who escaped with the illicit item, with orders to see the item returned or, failing that, destroyed.
  • For a twist on that, the thief could stow away aboard their ship, and thus the PCs run afoul of the clergy who come in pursuit.
  • Conflict erupts when explorers discover a world filled with alien ruins; while the clerics of Ptah want to explore them and catalog all that is within them, others—such as agents of the Royal Interplanetary Company—claim hegemony and seek only to tear them apart for the valuable materials that they contain. 
  • A band of wererats have infested the catacombs and thus spy upon the priests and snoop into their research; just what they intend to do with the information they acquire is not clear.   

Cleric of Ptah (Initiate)
CR ½
XP 200
Various human cleric 1
LN medium humanoid
Init -1; Senses Perception +3
AC 9, touch 9, flat-footed 9 (-1 Dex)
hp 9 (1d8+1)
Fort +3, Ref -1, Will +7
Resist None
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Warhammer +0 (1d8)
Special Attacks Spells
Str 10, Dex 8, Con 12, Int 16, Wis 16, Cha 10
Base Atk +0; CMB +0; CMD 9
Feats Iron Will, Skill Focus
Skills Craft (writing) +10, Heal +7, Knowledge (any three) +7, Linguistics +7
Languages Common, three more
SQ Aura, channel energy 1d6, orisons, domains (artifice, knowledge)
Combat Gear Warhammer, chain shirt, light steel shield, clothing, holy symbol, books and writing materials, healer's kit (most of this is not carried during normal daily activities)
Spells per Day: 3/2+1
Spells Prepared: Detect magic, guidance, read magic; animate rope, comprehend languages, sanctuary

These clerics lead privileged lives, having been chosen to worship the Universal Architect and study what lore they can obtain from this world as well as others. They are well fed, meaning that they are generally robust, but somewhat awkward when it comes to social situations. 

Cleric of Ptah (Patriarch)
CR 6
XP 2400
Various human cleric 7
LN medium humanoid
Init -1; Senses Perception +4
AC 9, touch 9, flat-footed 9 (-1 Dex)
hp 42 (7d8+7)
Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +10
Resist None
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Warhammer +5 (1d8)
Special Attacks Spells
Str 10, Dex 8, Con 12, Int 16, Wis 19, Cha 10
Base Atk +5; CMB +5; CMD 14
Feats Improved Iron Will, Iron Will, Scribe Scroll, Skill Focus
Skills Craft (writing) +16, Heal +14, Knowledge (any three) +13, Linguistics +13
Languages Common, three more
SQ Aura, channel energy 4d6, orisons, domains (artifice, knowledge)
Combat Gear Warhammer, chain shirt, light steel shield, clothing, holy symbol, books and writing materials, healer's kit, headband of inspired wisdom +2 (most of this is not carried during normal daily activities)
Spells per Day: 4/5+1/4+1/3+1/2+1
Spells Prepared: Detect magic, guidance, read magic, resistance; comprehend languages, detect evil, detect magic, endure elements, protection from evil, sanctuary; augury, make whole, owl's wisdom, spiritual weapon, wood shape; dispel magic, invisibility purge, magic circle against evil, stone shape; divination, minor creation, tongues

These clerics are every bit as entitled and coddled as their lower-ranking brethren, only more so. They enjoy extra privileges due to their seniority, including being able to call on initiates for help with their research and other projects. 

Imhotep, the High Priest
CR 12
XP 19,200
Male human cleric 13
LN medium humanoid
Init -1; Senses Perception +6
AC 9, touch 9, flat-footed 9 (-1 Dex)
hp 75 (13d8+13)
Fort +9, Ref +4, Will +15
Resist None
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Warhammer +9/+4 (1d8)
Special Attacks Spells
Str 10, Dex 8, Con 12, Int 16, Wis 23, Cha 10
Base Atk +9/+4; CMB +9; CMD 18
Feats Improved Iron Will, Iron Will, Scribe Scroll, Skill Focus (x4)
Skills Craft (writing) +19, Heal +21, Knowledge (history, local, religion) +22, Linguistics +19 
Languages Common, Elven, Draconic, Celestial
SQ Aura, channel energy 7d6, orisons, domains (artifice, knowledge)
Combat Gear Warhammer, chain shirt, light steel shield, clothing, holy symbol, books and writing materials, healer's kit, incense of meditation, headband of inspired wisdom +4 (most of this is not carried during normal daily activities)
Spells per Day: 4/5+1/5+1/5+1/5+1/4+1/3+1/1+1
Spells Prepared: Detect magic, guidance, read magic, resistance; comprehend languages, detect evil, detect magic, endure elements, protection from evil, sanctuary; augury, make whole, owl's wisdom, spiritual weapon, wood shape, zone of truth; dispel magic, helping hand, invisibility purge, locate object, magic circle against evil, stone shape; discern lies, divination, minor creation, sending, spell immunity, tongues; break enchantment, commune, fabricate, hallow, true seeing; find the path, greater dispel magic, major creation, mass owl's wisdom; dictum, legend lore

Imhotep, the high priest, is entirely dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. He is a kind and benevolent person who seeks to help others gain enlightenment as much as himself. For that reason he rarely prepares offensive spells, except in dire circumstances when enemies or danger threaten his temple and fellow clergy members. Some say that he is too trusting and perhaps even naive, but Imhotep maintains that “Truth will always prevail over deception or falsehood, given enough time and effort.” 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Temple of Ptah

Drawing inspiration from the old Spelljammer setting, here's a layout for temple dedicated to Ptah, the Universal Architect.


The Temple of the Universal Architect
Situated atop the hill overlooking the city from its southern side, this temple is the center of faith in the one deity who has planned all things. 

1. Entry
Broad double doors, stout wood banded with iron, provide entrance into the temple (hardness 5 and 40 hit points; DC 25 Disable Device check to break). Inside is a twenty-foot-by-twenty-foot chamber barred by a similar set of doors, allowing the priests to seal the building in the event of trouble.

2. Sanctuary

This broad, circular, open chamber is capped by a dome that rises to fifty feet in height. In the center stands a statue of the deity, facing north—the direction of the darkness that represents ignorance. Around the outside wall are shelves filled with books, scrolls, tablets and other such texts. The rest of the floor is open, providing the space in which the faithful place their prayer rugs.  

3. Study Niches
Each of these areas, set off from the main sanctuary, has a table and chairs for those who wish to study. Natural light is provided by tall windows.

4. Clerics' Quarters
These chambers are furnished with half a dozen beds, beneath each of which is a footlocker for storing personal items. There's also a table and chairs for study or recreation. 

5. Minarets
At each corner of the temple, a tall and narrow tower rises sixty feet into the air. A spiral staircase leads upward from ground level, leading to a trapdoor in the floor of the open platform at the top. From these positions, clerics use tripod-mounted telescopes to observe the heavens. A waist-high railing encircles each such platform. On their bottom levels, the minarets open into the temple's catacombs.

6. Tunnels and Burial Niches
These tunnels are cramped and dark, making for uncomfortable passage. Bodies of deceased clerics that have been properly prepared—through mummification, of course—are place in the niches, which are then covered over with thin stone slabs.

7. Secret Library
Those texts and artifacts that the high priest deems to be too dangerous for most individuals to study are kept here. One of the burial niches (see map) actually contains a secret door, which requires a DC 25 Perception check to locate, and a similar Disable Device effort to bypass. Just what this collection contains is left to the GM to determine.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Religion in a Space Fantasy RPG, Part 3

Continuing this line of inquiry, we can turn our attention to how concepts for their different deities help people decide how they should live their lives.


Notions of Right Conduct
Having established which types of deities are worshiped in the campaign setting, one then starts to understand just how followers of those deities are expected to act based on their individual faiths.

Those who espouse the Universal Architect, for example, promote activities involving learning and building. After all, they believe that their god understands the master plan for the entire solar system, and they try through study and exploration to discover that plan. This leads to a generally lawful mindset. Just what one does with information gained, however, and how one tries to shape the world, is open to interpretation, and thus opens the door to good or evil tendencies.

In contrast to that, proponents of the Sun God try to embody honor and righteousness along with learning. Just as their god represents the source of light and thus life in the solar system, they work to expose evil and promote justice for all. Thus they tend to be both lawful and good, with a rare exception of neutrality in one aspect or the other.

Worshipers of the World Mother encourage the practice of mercy and thus the establishment of equality among all people. After all, any given world provides plenty for its inhabitants; seeking more than what an individual needs is greedy and even wicked. This sometimes brings them into conflict with the merchant princes and others, when they work to protect newly discovered worlds from harsh exploitation and and speak out against imbalances in labor and wealth. They are good at heart, but do not have strong tendencies toward law or chaos.

For followers of the Moon Goddess, freedom is something to be maintained at all costs. They generally respect the laws of the place in which they live, but do not hesitate to criticize and even take action against laws that don't seem to promote the common good. In this way, they stand somewhat between those who revere the Sun God, the World Mother and the Void. For that reason, some view them as being flighty and noncommittal. They tend toward chaotic or neutral outlooks in regard to ethics, and neutrality or goodness when it comes to morality.

Those who believe in the ultimate power of the Void believe that the solar system faces inescapable doom; it is only a matter of time before the end of all creatures and things will come to pass. For that reason, some are absolute hedonists, taking what pleasure they can from life before it ends. Others work actively to bring about chaos and destruction. In this way, they are almost always chaotic, and few promote goodness.

Further Developments
One of the fun aspects of developing a setting and campaign for an RPG is putting together different elements and then seeing how they develop. While this is most common with Player Characters and adventures—as they say, no plot ever survives contact with the PCs—it can also happen with the background for a world. Take, for example, the deities that are introduced in a previous article. Considering some of their attributes, logical extrapolations can lead to some intriguing and dramatic situations.

  • Male and female relations have some interesting implications for interaction between clerics who worship the Sun God and the World Mother. Given that life cannot exist without the necessary interaction of the two, some members of these faiths conduct elaborate rituals that emphasize this interaction. They often take place during a planet's summer solstice. Given that they embrace fertility, clerics of the World Mother don't feel puritanical about such events, but some clerics of the Sun God regard them as scandalous.
  • There is a small subset among clerics of the Sun God who view the relationship between the system's primary star and its planets as justification for members of their order to practice polygamy. After all, since the primary star isn't limited to just one world, then why should they who worship it be so limited?
  • Although, given their belief in one god who is the Architect of the Universe, clerics of Ptah claim to look beyond such divine attributes as male and female, some view that dichotomy as necessary to the act of creation. Known as the Navigators, this group is known to participate in some of the aforementioned rites involving clerics of the Sun God and World Mother. They take as their symbol the compass and the square, which are emblematic of that union. What is more, they make much use of innuendo involving their group's activities and “the exploration of heavenly bodies.”
  • Some of the more patriarchal followers of the Sun God view worshipers of the Moon Goddess as their rivals, since she is a strong female figure who does as she pleases. So far, occasional biased sermonizing is all that has come of it.
  • Given their embrace of entropy, and the fact that this doesn't make them popular with others, worshipers of the Void must usually be secretive about their faith and activities. That is why they sometimes where their holy symbol as a tattoo, often on the chest, where it can be covered or revealed as necessary. This is accentuated because, while some cultists just see entropy as an irresistible force in the galaxy, those of evil alignment actively work to cause destruction through acts of murder, arson and the like. 
  • Because deciphering and then implementing the plan of the Universal Architect requires a clear mind, some congregations who revere that deity prohibit the consumption of alcohol and other mind-altering substances. Of course, there are others who maintain that certain concoctions can help a worshiper transcend the normal limitations of thought and invention.   

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Religion in a Space Fantasy RPG, Part 2

This post expands upon my previous one, developing some more ideas for developing a pantheon.


Many Gods, One Galaxy
The clash of cultures that occurs when clerics from different worlds begin exploring the solar system can make for many interesting situations; more importantly, this situation can make for numerous intriguing and dramatic plot implications, through which clerics can be more authentically woven into the background of a campaign setting. Here are some suggestions for a few of the possibilities.

Same Deities, Different Names
In this worldview, gods from different worlds with the same portfolio are actually just interpretations of the same power. For example, the Earth Mother Gaea on one world would be the same as the fertility deities on the other planets, based on how those worlds' inhabitants interpreted her. Essentially, all of them view the same divine truth, but interpret it differently due to their own skewed perception and local bias.

In a campaign, these differences could be resolved peacefully, or there could be conflict as one group tries to assert that its interpretation is the correct one. Either way, clerics who travel from world to world still have access to divine magic.

Influence Limited to One World
Contrasting the previous interpretation, this one holds that each deity's power is limited to its world of origin. This means that, on visiting a new planet, the cleric loses access to divine magic. While this interpretation can seem to make sense, the way it limits a character's special abilities makes it pretty unbalancing as far as game mechanics are concerned.

Competition and Conflict Between Faiths
A slight variation on the previous interpretation is one in which clerics can have access to divine magic on planets beyond their homeworld, provided they bring faith in their deity to those planets. This leads to competition between different faiths, since followers of a deity from one planet might try to convert away the faithful of a similar god on another world. This could lead at best to vitriolic preaching against other congregations, or at worst to all-out holy war between nations.

Other Deities and Domains
While the handful of interplanetary deities presented above present natural interpretations of the heavenly bodies in a space fantasy campaign, there are many more domains available in the Pathfinder RPG that would be embodied by other gods. Presented here, then, are suggestions for using those domains and gods in a space fantasy campaign.

Air, Earth, Fire and Water—These natural forces could be viewed as deities, especially in animistic cultures. What is more, some theorists believe that it is only in striking a balance between the four that life can exist on worlds; that is why the elemental obelisk incorporates all four in its pyramid-like capstone.

Charm—Love and lust are also forces of nature, existing among all cultures on every planet. As such, the deity who inspires these feelings is one who can easily move between worlds, and adherents of that faith are not likely to be divided by conflict.

Death—Those who believe that this process is necessary and solemn develop different traditions regarding how it should be conducted. Some practice the immolation of bodies, and scatter the remaining ashes among the stars, while others build elaborate tombs drifting in space for interring the dead. Whatever the case, these clerics find plenty of work performing their rituals on ships and in settlements, given the hazards of life in space.

Evil—Unfortunately for those who encounter them, followers of this god also move well between worlds. After all, their self-centered outlook means that new planets just represent more opportunity for them to achieve their wicked ends. When encountering the faithful of deities with similar outlooks, they might find fellow conspirators, or they could find enemies who ultimately betray them.

Liberation and Luck—These domains are natural ones for spacefarers, since traveling in an aethership represents tremendous freedom for those who are fortunate. Indeed, those intrepid souls who were first to venture into the void might, long after their passing, come to be venerated as the embodiment of these ideals.

Magic and Rune—Given that the process of acquiring magical power involves discovering lost lore and artifacts, the deities who represent this process also travel well between worlds. Here again there's a good likelihood for cooperation between congregations, since sharing this information is to the benefit of all.

War—The discovery and exploration of new worlds opens unlimited venues for the bloodthirsty followers of these deities. They are, of course, the most likely to lead crusades, not necessarily due to ideological differences, but because they feel driven to conquer.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Religion in a Space Fantasy RPG

Running a fantasy roleplaying campaign that takes the PCs into space presents some interesting complications when it comes to the role that divine powers play in the game. After all, a god who is worshiped on one world might be entirely unknown on another. What is more, two gods from different planets could have the same spheres of influence, even though they're supposed to be universal in the scope of their influence. With that in mind, presented below are a handful of deities who are more interplanetary in their scope and scale.

Universal Architect
In a polytheistic culture, this faith can cause some conflict. After all, it maintains that a single entity is responsible for the grand scheme of the universe. Even so, that concept is open to interpretation. Some followers maintain that there is only one god, and that worship of any others is little more than superstition. Others contest, however, that additional deities are those who necessarily implement the Architect's plans like laborers on a construction site. Even so, that comparison is not exactly flattering for the other deities. 

This deity's symbol is either a compass and square (in many different cultures) or a set of hieroglyphics (in the desert region from which Ptah originated). Clerics of the Universal Architect wield a warhammer, which is emblematic of building the universe based on the deity's plans.

Sun God
On many worlds, the sun is an obvious symbol of a good influence. After all, it brings the light of day and the warmth of summer. For that reason, this god is the epitome of all that is good, making him a favorite patron of paladins and other such shining paragons of virtue.

The Sun God's holy symbol is a circle with a dot in the middle, often rendered in gold. Clerics and paladins who favor this deity wield the morningstar, the shape of which is suggestive a sun (and that the faithful often pair with a heavy shield emblazoned with the sun emblem).

World Mother
Similarly, depicting the earth as a female deity seems like a logical notion. After all, it is her womb that seeds germinate, eventually yielding all manner of useful herbs, crops and other plants. What is more, the influence of the sun on the warm growing season and the cold winter leads to their being connected as husband and wife. While she is considered to be good and beneficent, she is not so concerned with the balance between law and chaos. 

The followers of this goddess wear a symbol consisting of a circle with a cross through it, which represents the four cardinal directions with which the world is defined. They wield the quarterstaff, a weapon that grows out of their goddess.

Moon Goddess
In contrast to the World Mother, the Moon Goddess is an enigmatic figure. After all, she mostly appears during the night, when darkness envelops the land. What is more, her face is ever changing, implying unpredictability (at best) or duplicity (at worst) in her character. Those who've traveled the spacelanes recognize a similarity between her and the World Mother, which has led to a belief that she is that deity's sister. It is believed, however, that she is unwilling to accept the Sun God's affections, and thus remains aloof and mysterious. Finally, the connection between her phases and the ties has led to her association with Homeworld's oceans and seas, and her nocturnal character means many link her to the animals who only come out at night. 

Followers of the Moon Goddess—among whom the elves are perhaps the most devoted—usually wear a crescent-shaped symbol made of silver. Their chosen weapon is the elven curve blade, which bears similarity to the crescent moon.

The Void
Those who study the heavens at night focus mainly on the points of light, but there are others who obsess with the black that lies between them. Indeed, some become obsessed with this cold darkness, and thus come to see its embrace as the ultimate and inevitable fate of the galaxy. Thus they become obsessed with entropy and all of the harm that it can bring. Given this nature, cults of the Void tend to be secretive in nature and small in their scope. 

The cult's symbol is a black disk that represents the cold dark of space. Its clerics wield starknives, which embody the notions of chaos and destruction.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Mood Music

Since I'm in a space fantasy mood right now, I thought I'd share some Youtube links for music that sets the mood for that kind of adventure.

The Planets by Gustav Holst

Music from the Spelljammer Video Game

Songs Selected by Sable Aradia

"Ambient Space Fantasy" Mix


Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Grotto

Here's another location that I drew/wrote up for the space fantasy project on which I'm working. Long-time readers of the blog will recognize that I'm once again using old maps for new purposes.

The Grotto
One of the first settlements to be established in the asteroid belt is a curious place known as the Grotto. Built inside an asteroid that was hollowed out by dwarven miners, it consists of a lake and piers for docking aetherships, along with a sprawling tavern, inn and brothel. 

 Refer to the map above for the following location descriptions.

1. Entrance
The mouth of this artificial cavern is about two hundred feet wide, broad enough to admit all but the largest of aetherships.

2. Lake
More than five hundred feet long and almost seven hundred feet wide, this body of water provides hydration for the inhabitants of the asteroid colony as well as a save place for atherships to land.

3. Piers
Each of these platforms is fifteen feet wide an 150 feet long, and provides a place for aetherships or their longboats to tie up and unload passengers and cargo.

4. The Sign of the Cup and Loaf
This large, two-story structure is the heart of activity in the Grotto; refer to the map and location descriptions below for details.

5. Privies
Each of these small outbuildings has the expected bench with a hole cut through it, and sits over a fifteen-feet-deep pit.

6. Obelisk
Located along the edge of the artificial lake is the Grotto's elemental obelisk, which provides warmth, air and gravity in the settlement.

Inhabitants of the Grotto
In addition to the many visitors who pass through the grotto on a short-term basis, presented here are some of the regular locals.
  • Ioannis the satyr runs the Sign of the Cup and Loaf; he is assisted by a dozen faun employees. These are carefree beings who enjoy serving good food and drink to happy visitors; if a situation turns hostile, they call upon the centaurs to deal with it. Ioannis in particular is fond of outlandish stories, and has been known to by a round of drinks or meals for those who have interesting tales to tell.
  • Half a dozen centaurs, led by Sophia, act as dockhands for vessels that pass through the Grotto, and serve as law enforcement when necessary. While the Grotto has few laws, stealing from or doing significant harm to others is not permitted. Sophia is a tough customer, but respects those who prove themselves worthy of it.
  • A lunar naga, Mira, resides in the Grotto; nobody knows just how she pays for room and board. She is fascinated by watching the stars, and often swims across the artificial lake in order to gaze out from the cavern's entrance.
  • A swarm of ratfolk, led by a male named Nartamus, handle upkeep around the Grotto—and, in doing so, gather up any useful items or information that they can. Just what they do with this information is unknown, since they otherwise keep to themselves.
  • Two of the regular bar patrons are a kitsune named Yuriko and a tanuki named Hiroshi. She is an incorrigible flirt, while he is a generally jovial drunkard. They are fixtures at the end of the bar in the Sign of the Cup and Loaf's main room.
In addition to the aforementioned characters, the GM could use this location as a chance to introduce Gonzalo the mercane from Crossroads or even some of the janni from the cold red desert world. 

The Sign of the Cup and Loaf
Refer to the map above for the following area descriptions.

1. Entrances
Under normal circumstances the doors are left wide open, except in times of crisis; otherwise, the place sees business twenty-four hours a day. Two centaur bouncers are normally posted at either entrance, however, to keep out those who are looking to bring trouble into the establishment.

2. Bar and Dining Hall
This area is wide open to the ceiling twenty feet above, although four large chandeliers—elaborate sets of concentric wrought-iron hoops filled with candles—hang only fifteen feet above the floor. Each of these is connected to a heavy rope and pulley system that is anchored at the railing in the center of the balcony opposite the bar. These ropes are particularly strong, having hardness 3 and 8 hit points. While rather roughly hewn, the tables in this area are also especially stout. They can hold up to three hundred pounds without ill effect; beyond this they must make a Fortitude save with a DC equal to the excess pounds divided by ten.

The bar is stocked with beer and wine, as well as more exotic beverages at the GM's discretion. For food, the house specialty is a stew with many and varied ingredients (that is, whatever is available in port) known as salmagundi. Fawn servers make their way about the room, while Ioannis the satyr stays behind the bar.

3. Kitchen
Unlike the rest of the building, which has wooden floors, the floor here is made of cut stone. A large
oven stands against the outside wall, while a preparation table occupies the center of the room. The
cabinets are loaded with crockery, cutlery and other such supplies.

4. Pantry
All of the dry goods, bottles, barrels and tins are stored in here, along with extra candles for the
chandeliers and linens for the rooms.

5. Rooms
Each of these rooms boasts a bed, table and chairs, wardrobe and storage trunk. Although there are
thirty-eight of them in total, roughly a dozen are occupied on a continual basis by the Grotto's regulars. Rooms can be let by the hour, night, week or month, depending on a guest’s needs.

6. Balcony
The tables on this level all have a full view of the bar and dining hall below. The railing has hardness 5 and 10 hit points. In case someone feel the need to do so, the ropes attached to the chandeliers have
sufficient length to allow a person to swing anywhere on the bottom floor of the establishment. Doing
so, by the way, requires a DC 12 Acrobatics check, once the rope has been cut loose. Should one of the chandeliers be allowed to crash to the floor, everyone in the four squares underneath it must make a DC 15 Reflex save or suffer 4d6 hit points damage. Swinging from the chandeliers themselves requires a DC 15 Tumble check, although they have the same chance of breaking as do the tables in the dining hall (see above).

7. Master Bedroom
These are Ioannis’ private quarters, a fact that can be noted from the high-quality lock on the
door (DC 30 check to open). Inside there is a large, four-poster bed complete with curtains, along witha table and chairs and a carved wooden stand for the satyr's lute. All of these are carved from matching dark mahogany, and are very valuable because of it (1000 gp for the set).

Underneath the aforementioned rug there is a loose board in the floor; it is protected by a very
small crossbow trap that fires poison bolts (DC 25 to find; DC 25 to disable; +6 attack; damage 1d4
plus poison; DC 18 Fortitude save to resist 1d6 Strength damage). Concealed herein are a pouch
containing 10,000 sp.