Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Rainy City-Underharbor

My friend is running an awesome campaign based in the water-logged island known as the Rainy City. Because I decided to play a mermaid, a race he has never had player choose before, I am helping him flesh out the details associated with the Underharbor. Here is what I came up with so far. Please also check out his blog as he writes amazing articles and has older articles pertaining to this setting:

the traders of the Underharbor exchange many different types of wares to the people of the Rainy City. Foods include fish, kelp, sea cucumbers, eels, shark meat, snails, crustaceans, and many other sorts of underwater creatures. They also trade shells, pearls, coral, rare fish, sunken treasures, and any other sort of thing air-breathers may be interested in. There are also unsavory merfolk who will trade in darker things, such as the bloated corpses of the drowned for necromancers, poisons harvested from sea urchins and other dangerous fish for alchemy (to anyone who will pay well for it), semi-intellectual humanoids (sea-monkeys), and any other sort of service the seedy side of the city may be interested in (the “drowning” of certain ships for example…)

Treasure Hunter
Ruin Explorer
Whale Wrangler
Monkey Tamer

There used to be a king that ruled the Underharbor with a beautiful trident made of coral as a symbol of his status, or so they say. The name of this king, who his successor was, and the trident were lost in the waves and the confusion of many different races congregating under the shadow of the rainy city generations ago, but that does not stop different prominent families of merfolk and other races from claiming they are descendants of that legendary line to this day. For the most part the Underharbor is ruled by a couple of rich and powerful families, other creatures and less wealthy merfolk are employed by these families no only to undermine each other, but also to fight against the common goal of the undead that bombard the boarders of the watery realm.

Other Things to Consider-
Just like most of the people of the Rainy City, most of the inhabitants of the Underharbor migrated/drifted here from other seas when their homes were destroyed. When waters get too high sunlight does not reach the floor and vegetation dies; when that happens animals leave, and people have little to sustain themselves from. When these worlds die, the sea engulfs all the runoff, pollution, and debris and themselves become churning, poisonous, uninhabitable places that must be left behind. While underwater inhabitants do have an advantage being that their world is wet, the Rainy City is not where most of the inhabitants of the Underharbor want to be and many long for a world with sunlight, clear water, and warmer currents.

The Seas beyond the coast  of the Rainy City drop off suddenly. Where the water turns dark one knows to turn back; the Dark Water harbors dangerous beasts, untold horrors, and unpredictable weather, making it a suicidal decision to swim out where the sea cliff drops to untellable depths. Only the mad, and the suicidal venture out to these waters, and never return to tell the tale…

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Role-Playing in Historical Settings

Recently our Friday night gaming group has started a new game designed and created by one of our very talented GMs.  The setting is roughly the Bronze Age in the Endo-Asia world, and we are using the 3.5 rules and core classes with a couple of exceptions.  So far the game is fantastic and was really a pleasure playing, not only because it a new and exciting setting, but also because the way the GM has set up the zones there is actually the threat of death with every encounter.  It is truly a brave new world that we are exploring and the process is fun because it is partly based off plausible-historical events but with the familiarity of the 3.5 system.
Role-playing in an alternate historical setting can be tricky, and there are always questions as how much the GM wants to stick to historical probability and where the suspension of disbelief comes into play. Being that I am the only female in the gaming group (with not many cross-gender characters from the other players or myself) this begs the question of gender roles in gaming in historical-based settings. Our GM was very quick to establish that our setting is egalitarian in nature so characters were treated similarly no matter what gender the character chose to play, but this is a factor when trying to create a setting based in the past. While there are many examples of exemptions in history, the general population of both men and women were largely defined by their roles in society, and if one is strictly adhering to a historical setting, both genders are going to be largely ruled by the normality of the time.  Living in a world that has come so far in social rights, this can be a bitter tonic to swallow, as so much of me wants to fight every sort of gender inequality I come across.  At what point does one discard past roles and start tweaking with social structures in a historical setting in order to make players feel more at home? It is a question that I know I am glad we do not usually struggle with in our personal gaming group, as we usually do not play historical-based games, but this encounter triggered this thought process about the conflict that is bound to emerge from such a situation. I do not have a solution at this point, but I am just glad our group plays systems where this is largely not an issue, but if we do ever play a setting that attempts to immerse the players in a historical place and time, this will be an obstacle both my character and I will have to face.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Profile Picture

Yes, I know it is a druid, but I thought it was fitting. This picture belongs to Paizo as stated below.  Thank you for the wonderful artwork as always, you guys rock!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Magical Item: Cloak of the Emissary

Cloak is long and made of pure white wool with the symbol of an emissary sewn upon the back (changes depending on the kingdom).  It was created when four ancient kingdoms made a pact of peace centuries ago. They then commanded cloaks to be made by their court wizards to aid any such emissary that brought a message a peace. The cloak is sometimes overpassed for fancier items when adventures come across it; for unless a spell is used upon it is unremarkable in nature beyond how pristinely white the cloak always seems to be.
Cloak allows for use of one Blink per day, caster level 10.
Cloak allows the wearer two uses of Endure Elements per day, caster level 10.
Cloak also allows for one use of freedom of movement once per day duration same as a caster of the 10th level.
Drawbacks: The wearer of said cloak cannot make a violent action unless the action is in self-defense against that single individual. Even if someone in the same party/group is being attacked, the wearer can only initiate an offensive action against the thing attacking the wearer of the Cloak of the Emissary.  The wearer, if they attempt to initiate an offensive maneuver against anything else, is immediately inflicted with a full body entangle spell, no reflex save.  As soon as the character stops the attempted maneuver the effect immediately wears off.  The wearer may cast defensive spells, help fellow party members with non-violent acts, drink potions or take movements away from danger as long as the actions are not offensive in any way.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Adrift at sea

While floating upon the waves in my watery world, I refer to a couple of charters to help keep the journey interesting. First there is the random debris chart found in the Pathfinder Game Master handbook that helps keep the adventurers entertained besides having a ton of random encounters.  For example, they found a lifeboat full of hundreds of wigs, an abandoned fishing boat with a pair of wings made from the feathers of Rocs, and a lute inscribed with the words, "Let the Heavens Weep."  These random items really helped the players flesh out their characters and interact with one another, as some were interested in trying the new toys out (such as a full-plated cleric strapping on the wings and trying to "fly" off the boat!). So that table was very useful in keeping the group entertained.
Another major factor that the group had to deal with is weather and sailing, also randomly rolled from a chart.  Since the largest ship in my world is only a 15 man crew, the group had to either have someone who sailed or hire a sailor/captain to keep them on course.  The characters had to make checks to sail whenever the weather changed (two times a day and one at night) and the checks were harder or easier depending on the weather.  If the check was failed the party did not move or moved in the wrong directions depending on the direction of the waves and wind. To go along with the sailing, provisions are also a factor depending on the character classes and the levels of the group. Our druid liked to fish and the bard dragged a net behind the boat (picking up a couple of lobsters in the process) so this was also something different for the group to enjoy.
Finally there were random encounters.  I wrote up a list of encounters and if I rolled within a certain percentile I would then roll on the chart to see what encounters they happened upon.  On the night they played they encountered a sea hag, a scouting group of merfolk, a couple of small water elementals, sea cats, sharks and a giant ship mimic (full of treasure that the group chose to ignore, their loss!).  These encounters might have been a little too easy for the group normally, but the rules for fighting from ship to water can be very tricky at first so it was probably a good thing to have something that eased the characters into the world.  I did have harder encounters on there as well, but sadly those creatures were never called to the surface due because my dice hate me. 
Finally, there is flavor places that on certain fun roles the characters happen across, such as ghost ships, islands and other ships.  My group did not have a chance to encounter such things this time, but when they clear out the college of the drowned mage they will have to break the surface once more and explore surface of the vast Western Wash.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

He wanders the halls

of this place that now harbors only ghosts, his feet splashing every couple of steps in the puddles that frequent the ground.  The soft dripping is the only noise that answers the steps, its rhythmic speech the pace in which his feet absently-minded fall.  He was not always been in the deep alone, once long ago voices of his fellow students and teacher echoed these halls and sunlight streamed through the windows to bathe the halls with the sun's fresh rays.  The salty sea air wafted through the breezeways and grass grew in every place the stone could not cover; it was a place of learning, growth and life. 
If he was thinking about such times now, sadness would overwhelm him and he would be left pondering the reasons behind his existence, but as he is consumed by a book, this one about the creation of potions he just uncovered in a sealed room, he does not consider such heavy things today.  In the deep darkness of the sea there is only his books, his pets and every once in awhile a sailor who somehow makes his way into the sunken ruins of the college.  Here he waits; whether it is for the day he will die and be reunited with his fellow students, or until the day he learns the right spells to raise the college to the surface again he does not rightly know.  All his feels is the need to learn as much as he can, protect this place from outsiders, and pace around the salt-stained halls in his robes until the day why is answered. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Coast

The coast is one of the most interesting places to plan, as this is the place where the earth, sky, and sea all meet and is therefore ripe with potential. 

Because my coast is in a shared world, the land that comes betweem whatever the other gm's have set up and the shoreline is going to be miles of flat green grasslands, with little cover, but rich grazing grounds for shepherds and their herds.  The wind continiously blows the high-reaching grass, the smell of the sea is heavy on air, little rivers and creeks frequent the area, and the temperature is mild. There is the potential of drastic weather changes quickly but for the most part this land is very beautiful and easy to cross (depending on how many wandering monster encounters the gm sets up). No one really lives there perminately, by I am sure lords would lay claim to "owning" parts of the coastal plains if there were asked.

On the acutal coast or nestled right by the sea little settlements dot the span with their with their own unique flavors and cultures.  I personally have one village that is addicted to the blood of a tropical fish they must have at all costs, another town living in fear of a sea hag nearby, a floating village living on the reef that drifts when they pull up their weights, and another village in the cliffs. They are all small in population and wealth and not meant to be places the adventures can replenish their supplies beyond the mundane and low level magcial items.  They do allow for plot hooks, flavor, and interesting character interactions along the way though.

 Beyond that, the sea tosses up a variety of debris and the possiblity of wandering upon something interesting is high.  Some examples of what I am including: sea cave, hidden cove, shipwrecks, waterlogged items, carcasses, smashed settlements, washed-up sailor, mermaid, etc. The coast has the most varied types of encounters, and is possibly the most interesting random encounter tables I have rolled up yet. Hopefully the party will feel the same way when they come across the things that have washed up upon the shore