Posted on Leave a comment

Meta Thursday (Banlan Backlash!): Underground Organizations


The underground organizations of the port city own the sewers and the passages under the Nyamo Wall. Before it was constructed, Nyamo had an extensive sewer network and even a primitive processing plant. but it was built, the sewers were split into two separate systems and any connecting tunnels between the two sides were sealed off. The sewers on the visiting side were extending to beyond the city walls to facilitate the removal of sewage.

From the original thieves’ guild that operated in the sewers, two new organizations sprung forth. The first was the reformed Thieves’ Guild, and the second was the Smugglers’ Guild.

The two guilds worked together to create hidden passages between the two sides under the wall, while the Smugglers’ Guild built routes to the outside through the new tunnels. With the rise of undead sightings underground, Nyamo and the Order of the Staff reduced their presence underground. Today, they seldom ventures underground, only doing so for specific reasons, especially given that the undead often walk there (and when left alone seem to go away).

The Thieves’ Guild operates much like they did before the Nyamo Wall. Many of their illegal activities, from begging to heists, are controlled from the Timaeus side of the city, led by Jung (N Male human rogue 10). Operating from an undisclosed location underground, few know his true identity and fewer know his whereabouts.

Hollow_copper_coin_1_Satang_(front)The Thieves’ Guild uses a strict compartmental organizational system. Ground level operatives know their immediate supervisor and perhaps a small number of other operatives that they have to interact with, while supervisors only know a peer or two and their direct boss. When the need arises, members can identify one another using thieves’ tokens.

Most crime—as with everything else in Nyamo—is strictly controlled. The Thieves’ Guild is swift to punish those that operate illegally without its permission, as they ultimately work under the authority of the Order of the Staff. Revolution and chaos is bad for the mages of Timeaus, and bad for business for the guilds. To appease the government and maintain the illusion of law, the Thieves’ Guild occasionally offers up the perpetrators of unsanctioned illegal activities to the Order of the Staff for punishment.

The secret entrances to the tunnels under the Nyamo Wall to the other side are controlled by the Thieves’ Guild, guarded by hidden posts and traps. They work closely with the Smugglers’ Guild, regulating the healthy flow of goods and information.

Travel and information exchange between the two sides of the city became very limited when the Nyamo Wall was built, completely controlled by the mages of Timeaus. A market arose for foreign goods and information on the Timerian side, and the Smugglers’ Guild grew quickly, soon matching the power of the Thieves’ Guild as the thirst for news from afar grew. It is currently headed up by Ving (CN Male human bard 11), a famous entertainer in his own right; few are aware of his double identity. Ving uses his celebrity to rub elbows with Nyamo’s visiting elite, gathering information and making contacts he can use to supply the Timerians with the goods and rumors they seek.

Underground_tunnel_RCW_02The Smugglers’ Guild enforces its rules against unsanctioned crime even more vigorously. Too much crime brings unwanted attention, and as the Order of the Staff actively prosecutes smuggling into Nyamo, the Smugglers’ Guild tries to keep a low profile. The government is aware of the Smugglers’ Guild, but has been unable to infiltrate it—the mages of Timeaus are willing to let them operate in a limited fashion, as their presence reduces crime in the foreign section to practically nothing. This doesn’t stop the Order of the Staff regularly conducts interdiction operations against the Smugglers’ Guild to try to curtail the flow of information, however.

Neither of the guilds officially support the Banlan Brotherhood—openly supporting a rebel group would bring the wrath of the Order of the Staff down on them, and that would be bad for business. Lately though, the Banlan Brotherhood’s efforts to infiltrate the guilds have started to reap rewards. Several supervisors are now staffed by Banlan sympathizers; there are enough now in both guilds that they can easily move information back and forth.

The biggest coup, though, is that Ving’s right hand man, Sunyo (CG Male human aristocrat 8) is a Banlan Brotherhood agent. When the Banlan require the Smugglers’ Guild’s help, he arranges the schedule so that rebel operatives are manning key posts. If interaction with the Thieves’ Guild is required, he exerts the limited influence he has to great effect. Even if he can’t arrange their schedules directly, he often knows when agents will be in place, and can adjust his plans (and the plans of the Banlan Brotherhood) accordingly.


The Thieves’ Guild and Smugglers’ Guild of Nyamo are the sort of tool GMs can make use of in their own games; Ving can perform anywhere there is a rebellion brewing, and Jung’s controlled territories might not be sanctioned by the government, but just as fiercely supervised!

Posted on Leave a comment

Meta Thursday (Destiny Derailed): Possessed Possessions

lesser ring of shining stars

Pradjna is rich in alligotonium, and many think that their centers of knowledge and magic owe much of their existence to the early ease of access to this wondrous material. Many magic items have been crafted from the demon ore—everything from mighty swords and wands to lowly frying pans and kitchen knives.

Items made from this ore also have another unique ability; they attract hellion revenants. A hellion revenant attempting to possess an item that is within 10 ft. of an item made from alligotonium must make a DC (15 + CL of item) Will save or the alligotonium item is possessed instead. As such, “worthless” magic items made of the ore are often carried or stored near more powerful magic items, hoping that the possessed possessions are these minor items, not the more powerful one. Once a revenant possesses an alligotonium item, it cannot willingly leave. Only a remove curse or the destruction of the item causes it to leave.


Any number of hellion revenants can reside in a single alligotonium item—while this sounds like a bad thing, it is actually helpful. When a revenant possesses an item, it can cause it to malfunction in random ways. The chance to malfunction is based on the CL of the item and the number of revenants inhabiting the it. Minor possessed magical items are somewhat highly prized by the upper class in Pradjna; they often give them as prank gifts for fun. A CL 3rd or below possessed alligotonium item often fetches between three and five times its normal asking price.

Misfortune Table: The percentage chance for misfortune from an item is (50/CL) / (# of revenants in item), rounded down. For example, a CL 3rd item with one revenant has a 16% chance of a misfortune, while the same item possessed by 2 revenants only has an 8% chance of misfortune with each use. The strength of the misfortune is also based on the caster level of the base item. Roll on one of the percentile charts below to determine the misfortune effect.
When an item injures someone or otherwise acts strangely, make sure to play it up! A frying pan spits its hot contents back into the face of the user, or a blacksmith’s hammer bounces off the anvil and hits its wielder in the face! Much fun can be had—especially if the PCs unwittingly use some of these items in the course of performing otherwise mundane acts in and around Steamtown.


Posted on Leave a comment

Meta Thursday (Destiny Derailed): Pradjna Northern Express


Destiny Derailed is an adventure that incorporates entities and organizations that have far reaching influence, often even reaching outside of the Pradjan setting. This describes one of the organizations, the Pacific Northern Express Railroad and its associated companies.

Civilization is separated by vast, frozen, empty spaces in Pradjna. From the centers of learning, high in the mountains to the gnome centers of industry, travel throughout the frontier region is hindered by weather and vast distances. With that in mind, the powers that be decided to connect Pradjna via a railroad powered by alligotonium. In several sections companies are competing for the contracts to build and operate the railroads by seeing who can most efficiently lay rail—these are lucrative contracts, as the breadth of the construction itself is expected to take longer than a decade.
There are  more than a dozen railroad companies operating in the various locations in Pradjna. PNE is just one, but each company has its own investors, backers and enemies. Crossing one company or openly aiding one may draw the ire of another company, or it may draw employment offers, if the PCs gain notoriety.

The owners of Samsara Mining Conglomerate (SMC) decided to throw their hat in the ring; as one of the largest suppliers of alligotonium, they decided to go after the route between Samsara and Brahman. By controlling the cost and distribution of the precious resource, the profits and power derived from this has the potential to be truly immense. However, running and building a railroad comes with significant risks and being entirely gnomish owned, they would not get favor from the human parts of Pradjna. From this, the Pradjna Northern Express Railroad (PNE) was created, acquiring several prominent investors (both gnomes and humans from across the country) and appointing Hans “Boss” Myers as head of the company, with Borys “The Timerian” as head of operations. Several of the investors are large purchasers of natural materials from SMC; in exchange for their investment, they have been given preferential trade contracts.
Even though these events are centered in Pradjna, SMC and some of the other companies operate in other parts of Aventyr. It is quite possible that the PCs may interact with agents of these companies in the other countries. Their actions will influence these agents’ reactions. Should the party leave the employ of PNE in good standing, they will be given a letter of reference, which can be used to seek employment or even gain aid from these companies wherever they may be.

PNE has surprised many in the early going—most expected them to fail as the route chosen for them, although shorter, traverses treacherous terrain where construction was expected to be slow and difficult. However, drawing on their vast mining experience, PNE deployed far more goblins, orcs, and hobgoblins as laborers than their counterparts, and reassigned security from their mining operations (who were already familiar with handling the goblinoids). Given that the goblinoids are a renewable resource, they are worked very hard, with the occasional uprising or strike being put down swiftly.
Good-aligned characters walk a fine line here. While the goblinoids are not inherently good, they are not outright evil and generally do not pose a threat here. If the goblinoids gripes are valid, and Borys’ response excessive, this should cause issues for these PCs. While the PCs will generally be powerless to stop or deter action once started, once they have gained Borys’ trust, they can persuade him to take other courses of action.

One of the larger investors in PNE is a company based in Brahman called Sverge. They handle—under contract—many of the administrative duties that the gnomes perform for the Pradjnan government. As an investor they tend to look the other way, leaving PNE alone on the tundra to make and enforce their own rules as they see fit.
A letter of reference from PNE can be used as a +5 circumstance bonus to any Diplomacy check with any interactions with the Pradjnan government.

Another investor, Pradjnan Press, is the largest distributor of printed materials on the frontier, including most major newspapers. They also own several of the larger libraries, and as such, are looked upon by the public with goodwill. As a major investor, any stories that would show PNE in a bad light are not in their best interests to share with the public at large, and never make it to press.
The PCs can make a little money by selling their stories to the Pradjnan Press, even going to so far as to create dime-store novel heroes of the party, which will increase their fame by 10 points within the entire country of Pradjna. Each story sold nets the party 100 x fame gp.

Steamtown is thus subject to its own laws and enforcement. Free from scrutiny, they can operate as they please—however, there is a group that holds a grudge and does not answer to the Pradjan authorities. They are biding their time as, out on the tundra, Steamtown is open and vulnerable.


Posted on Leave a comment

Wonders of NaeraCull: Adventures in the Jungle

naeracull 1The Hungering Jungle is a place of grave danger, but therein lies great adventure as well! Aventyr has a host of different sorts of extraordinary locales for adventures—the literally baked ground of the Scorched Lands, fungal forests in the Underworld’s endless caves, myriad mires of danger in the Vast Swamps, enormous rulers in Obor, aloof elves in the Silent Forest, fantastical machinery in Pradja; the list goes on.
NaeraCull, however, is a world unto its own.

Death lurks around every corner in the southwesternmost region of Aventyr—quite literally. Undead rule the lands and are far more common here than anywhere else. Lush canopies overhead grant enough shade for animated creatures with a dangerous vulnerability to sunlight (such as vampires and dødelig) to survive and create an interesting scenario when encountered in combat. For instance, instead of targeting the creature, a party might be able to win the fight by clever distraction and a trap-on-the-fly!

ape-clip-artRemember that adventurers are in an extremely lush environment—alive or undead, enemies should keep to the trees and lay in ambush through cunning, natural camouflage. Don’t be afraid to really dig in either (especially in NaeraCull, where a fair number of the enemies don’t need to breathe) and engage in the other aspects of a jungle environment. Diseases, exotic poisons, strangely hazardous fauna, and the weather are all dangerous elements that can be great obstacles for any party.

Traveling from city to city is often a matter of a few encounters along the road, and perhaps a bit of bad luck; in the jungle, an everyday journey can quickly prove fatal. If predators aren’t commonplace, those that reign are truly dangerous. The heavy humidity and monsoons drive decay that can suddenly become catastrophic, leaving a trail of devastation once resolved. Unexpected injuries, compromised resources, or simply getting a bit lost can rapidly become a real challenge.

For more adventure ideas in the Hungering Jungle, all of this month is devoted to fleshing out the region; tune in tomorrow to meet the unusual minstrel that facilitates and encourages new adventurers in NaeraCull—Jurgen the dødelig!


Posted on Leave a comment

Gunslinger Archetype – Legionnaire


Legionnaire (Archetype)

While most gunslingers—especially those that use two handed weapons—eschew melee combat, legionnaires revel in it. Their skill with firearms is only matched by the ferocity with which they can engage in close-quarters fighting. In battle, ranks of soldiers have been known to break before a charge of legionnaires.

Weapon Proficiency: A legionnaire only gains proficiency with two-handed firearms. He must take Exotic Weapon Proficiency (firearm) to gain proficiency with one-handed firearms and firearm siege weapons.

Gunsmith: A legionnaire must take a musket when he chooses a battered firearm at first level.

Deeds: A legionnaire swaps a trio of deeds for the following.

Can’t Miss (Ex): At 1st level, when a legionnaire scores a melee hit, they may spend 1 grit point to automatically score a hit with the loaded firearm. This extra damage cannot be multiplied and cannot have any sneak attack or precision damage modifiers.

Reload and Run (Ex): At 3rd level, a legionnaire gains the ability to reload his musket while moving. The legionnaire, while using a Move Action to move normally, may reload. This may not be a 5-ft step.

Command (Ex): At 7th level, the legionnaire gains the ability to command other legionnaires. Legionnaires under his command may fire  or charge simultaneously when given the command. When firing or charging this way, each legionnaire gains a morale bonus to his attack equal to the commander’s Charisma bonus. The legionnaire can command a number of soldiers equal to his level.

Bayonet Attack (Ex): At 1st level, the legionnaire gains the ability to use a bayonet attached to his musket as a melee weapon. Treat this weapon as a halberd for purposes of melee combat. Use the cost and materials of a dagger to attach to the musket. Magical bonuses of the musket do not apply to melee, and magical melee properties of the dagger apply to melee combat only; they do not apply to ranged firearm combat.

Charge and Fire (Ex): At 3rd level, the legionnaire gains the ability to fire and deliver a melee attack when charging. Each attack must be resolved separately. The Command deed can modify this attack.


Posted on Leave a comment

4 Ways to Merge Players and Play Styles

Image_Portfolio_104_Fantasy Jason Walton 57As a game designer most of my time is spent editing, reading, and writing; what little remains is for playtesting. One of the things that comes up often with gaming sessions that see so many different players is a matter of expectations—some players are prepared for a world to be opened up in front of them, and others are scions of modules, or entirely new to the concept of tabletop gaming.

Roleplaying is an amazing experience, but some folks have a rockier entry into it than others—be that to the whole concept of assuming the role of a fictional persona, adjusting to a new gaming system or a joining a new group of players.

There are a few tricks to make this easier on the beleaguered GM (not all of which are here; you are the GM, you can bring down the iron hand and send down royal decrees and what have you), but the best thing to do is just be smart, respectful and logical about it: talk directly (separately) to the frustrated player and get an idea of where they are at.

1) Notes
If you’re keen to the divide in player styles before the session starts, this is an easier plan to implement. Even on the fly, it’s not hard to do and if you’re up for a bit of spy games, go for it. Either way, use the plot or NPCs to inform the party member in question about whatever it is they’re looking for, be it the adventure route they expect or the means to break into the world with some freedom to roam.

fashion-middle-ages-72) Extra Checks
Struggling in the sea of freedom can be a real challenge sometimes, especially for folks new to the game—juggling different player styles isn’t easy if you’ve got a mixed group. If a seasoned veteran is having trouble giving enough of the spotlight to the newbie, give the latter a chance to wander around and sprinkle them with checks (preferably skills, but perhaps attributes if you need to) to get them to somewhere the rest of the group can enjoy as well.

3) Maps
This is the primary means I go about handling this in my games; I let the PCs know the lay of the land and subtly push them into this or that direction via geography that fits into the plot. The closer they move towards a locale, the more I reveal about it and the environs. Getting down into the valley, for instance, the party sees the ruins of an old fortress down by the beach—something previously unknown about and definitely drawing attention.

4) The “Subconscious” GM Slip
If you can’t keep a straight face or always lose at poker, skip this one entirely—you have to be able to bluff in real life for this to work out.

Academic Town-Color-FLet it seem like you accidentally let slip a secret about the game as you go through a routine description. Last week (and my Thursday group won’t be looking at this before game tonight, so I’m not overly concerned of them knowing) when investigating a damaged farmhouse, I mistakenly”said that it might have been a dinosaur that did the damage, after dropping several mentions of a dragon being complicit (as far as the villagers knew). 

Of course there was jeering but I saw the change in body language as soon as the table settled—the players sat down as a united group, ready to delve into the game full bore regardless of their preference in approaching it.

Remember, the goal of the game is always to have fun! If a player keeps having a truly tough time with getting dropped into a sandbox or stuck on a railroad, be adaptive, fair, and accommodating (to a point, anyway). The tips above are a good way to go about dealing with the problems that arise from conflicting player styles, but being direct and understanding is the best thing to do!



Do you have a contribution or idea for Meta Thursdays?  Send us your ideas (after reading the submission guidelines) to submit(at) with “Meta Thursday” in the subject line!