Snowstorm of the Owl Queen

The short and squat stone building jutted out of the mountain side, suspended almost like a pure white cloud, floating along the top of the mount. You pull you’re feather cloak tightly about your shoulders and finish your climb to the summit. The service has started, but you’ll be able to catch the end. Gently sliding the door open you sneak inside, dropping a silver coin into the donation plate, you stand for the remainder of the service.

An excerpt from The Wintery Hymns of Ithreia:

To be performed in the D minor scale:


Refrain: The storm, she is a coming.


The sun shines high in the morning

Toil on the land, fish from the sea

Times like this; be busy as a bee

The clouds they serve as a warning




In the springtime it’s time to sow

In the summertime the plants will grow

Harvest in the autumn time

Get ready for the oncoming Rime




Biting wind and raging storm

Salt the meat and store the wheat

One day, again it will be warm

Springtime we are anxious to greet




Blessed are those who prepare for the cold

Blessed are those with food; as good as gold

Prepare thyself for what lies ahead

Prepare thyself lest you try to live without bread




A reading from the Lamentations of the Frost

The Harpy queen was known to sleep during the day – her kind find the night safer for their flight and their hunts. After sundown, the light of the sun was fading and the shadows were beginning to rise on the mountain, her nest high in an ancient hollowed tree. Her call echoing through the wood, she was queen here, taking her pick of the prey.

This Harpy queen had grown old and persnickety as time went on and she grew more and more irritable, especially if her daily slumber was disturbed. One snowy mountain day the ancient harpy opened her eyes to the raspy song of a xax bard nearby, hard at work.

The harpy queen called out to the beast, “Have you no manners, sir? Get away from here, respect your elders and let me rest in peace!”

But the Xax answered back that he had as much a right to the mountain as the Harpy in her ancient tree, and went back to his work, louder than before.

The elder harpy had not grown old due to foolishness, and knew better than to argue with the brute. Her eyes were not as keen as they had been in her youth and the light of the day strained her eyes. She laid aside all her malice, and spoke softly and kindly to the monster.

“Well sir,” she started, “if I am to stay awake I am going to settle here near you and hear your song, you do such glorious work… I have been saving this glorious wine I received as a gift for a special occasion, come and sup at my table.”

The foolish Xax was taken in by the Harpy’s flattering words. Up he climbed to the Harpy’s den, but as soon as he entered the den and the old Harpy could see him clearly, she pounced upon him and tore the started bard limb from limb.

Flattery is not a proof of true admiration. Do not let flattery throw you off your guard against an enemy.


The parable of Ithreia strike true in the hearts of the crowd. They must be ever stalwart against their enemies and prepare for the worst, as it is yet to come. Winter is always on the horizon – biting cold and snow, but it is nice to know there is a place and time where even a grizzled old veteran can get a bit of a reprieve.

Ithreians of Porphyra by David N. Ross is now available.

Beyond the Horde

Lok’tar young Warchief. Wait. Nopehocowboy, wrong game.

Let’s talk about Hobgoblins. Like those found in the Hinterlands of Kesh.

Now I’ve seen many a DM paint all the goblinoids with the same brush. Making them a simple and violent tool which they throw at their PCs en masse, hoping to make the PCs struggle. But that is a waste of their potential. Since their inception into the world of Oerth, Hogoblins, while not the most powerful of their kin, have been one of the most dangerous.


They are a cunning and organized foe.

Yes, they are tribal in organization but that does not make them any less dangerous or civilized than the other peoples of the world.

As a DM you need to make them not just evil, but dangerously evil: Ra’s al Ghul style.

Consider the following:

  • Hobgoblins are not a wandering enemy to run into due to a roll of the dice. They are fortified, they are smart, they build defenses, they can scout, and they like to ambush. They are a militant society, armed and armored, trained from youth. They are not often caught unawares.
  • They are not chaotic. Sure we’ve all had roaming bands of pillaging orcs and goblins brun down the country side just for the ‘ell of it. Hobgoblins would do it for a reason. Supplies, Land, etc… and if they did it for supplies they wouldn’t burn what they wanted to take, they would simply take what they wanted.
  • Orcs often fight amongst themselves. Clamoring for strength and viability. Hobgoblins work as a collective. Orcs are more akin to spiders. Only the strongest claims the area. Hobgoblins are like ants, working towards a common goal, even if a few must die in the process.
  • Hobgoblins are going to be master’s of an encounter. They will attack the best target, not just what’s in front of them. They will flank, feint, withdraw, and use stratagems.
  • When in doubt, think back to your history lessons, and imagine a fascist state of your choosing. That’s how a hobgoblin society is going to be run. Nationalism, nativism, militarism. There are lots of down sides, but you still must respect their might.

This will form the core of your hobgoblin societies, and begin to bring them more to life, and make them more a threat than any band of goblins could hope to be.

Tactics and strategies to remember when playing as a cunning foe:

  • No single combatants: How often do you send a soldier out on patrol alone? Never! If the military doesn’t do it, a hobgoblin shouldn’t either. At the very least patrols will act in pairs, and they will act accordingly.
  • Don’t be afraid to retreat. Information is more important to the collective military might of the hobgoblins than sating the bloodlust of a single member. Remember how they’re not orcs?
  • Hit the squishies. Oh is that robbed woman in the back doing the macarena? No, she’s spell casting? Better get some javelins. Or a fireball, or you know, whatever works.
  • Coup: Hobgoblins are trained to kill. As such, don’t expect them to leave you alone if you hit 0 HP and fall to the ground all unflatteringly like. They will finish the job unless there’s a greater threat. This should make them far more dangerous than your average ogre who just wants to smash things

Keep these things in mind and you’ll give your PCs a serious challenge when dealing with the hobgoblin’s roaming the Hinterlands. And honestly, its good advice for your hobgoblin’s no matter where you find them. Oerth, the Forgotten Realms, or anywhere else.

Keep your dice rolling,


One of our newest faith book Dragon Thanes of Porphyra also received a glowing review from Enzeitgeist. You can check out his review here.

The Great Hunt…

The sound of the drums echoed through the rocky valley, the bonfires burned bright, koumiss flows freely, and platters of meat and vegetables pass from yurt to yurt. It was the even before the great hunt, and the tribes of wastelanders were gathered together to celebrate before the competition.  Each of the great tribes was present with their greatest group of hunters. Five masters and five apprentices learning the ways of their kind, each eager to take down the great beast.

The Kol-lak-torag, an orc tribe stayed near the outskirts of the festival, ever leery of the their less feral kin. They were not alone in their camp however, they were known for camping with, eating with, and even sleeping with their massive canines from the wastes. Massive coyotes of superb intellect the Kol-lak-torag were known for fighting nearly in unison with their beasts, an extension of themselves. Wielding them as effectively as any blade.

The Sor-Sor, known for their powerful magicks, were often found near the oases haunted by the fey. It was said they were fey-touched, with the occasional child being born with hooves or tails. These are their most sacred and protected elders, never seen by outsiders or at the great hunt. They were the weakest of the fighters but they were not to be underestimated, their magic was the most potent in the wastes, and their ability to amplify their magic at times of great need was well known. Only a fool would attack a Sor-Sor head on, they were best dealt with before they had a chance to magick.

The Bloody Handed, were the most dominant and central group at the gathering. They were feared and as such respected. The fear did not stem from their martial prowess alone, but their ability to completely lose themselves in battle, forgetting themselves and their mission. The bloodlust was something of legend amongst the other tribes, as well as a fable amongst the youngers of the other tribes. Many Bloody Handed have gone to their doom, lost in a bloody haze of confusion and fury.

As ferocious as the Bloody-Handed are, the Klugkin are cold and calculating. Their fury is an icy stare as their cold and calculating minds take in all they see. They are the tacticians who think before they act amongst a group of peoples known for reckless abandon. As such they are revered for their advice and their logistics but feared as their logical thought is foreign to peoples who rely so heavily on instinct.

The Ferak-tol are unlike any barbarian I’ve ever studied in my career as an anthropologist. They manipulate magic in a means I’ve never seen uncivilized people manage, and what’s more they store their secrets in spell books, like proper mages of the Academy. They use their magics specifically to enhance their weapons, it is a unique combination amongst these peoples, but no stranger I suppose than that of the Kol-lak-torag. It is truly a wonder to see these brutish proto-spellcasters learning the ways of magic.

I’ve left the strangest for the final installment in this series. The Chi-Chac-tra. While others of these area focus their rage, and using it they harness their magical nature, these strange peoples seem overcome with tranquility and calmness. The calmness reminds of the Monks in their mountain homes able to sustain immense bodily damage and fatigue as their iron bound wills suffer but do not crack. These are truly the most awe-inspiring peoples of the waste, meshing techniques learned over thousands of years in other lands, into a single yet brutish facsimile.


The tribes celebrated into the night and were preparing for the hunt to begin are daybreak. Six masters dressed in their finest pelts and trophies stand ready to lead the younger. Each has a Journeymen stand with them, ready to carry out the Master’s orders, prepared to protect the younger apprentices from their own folly. Each master has five apprentices. Novices, eager to learn the ways of the hunt. To survive the hunt is to achieve Journeyman status. The tribes are camped on the highest point over looking the dusty valley. Somewhere out there slithering through the barren landscape is an immense, serpentine creature with four crooked legs and crossed mandibles. That was their target. They would hunt it and track it for seven days and seven nights, fighting dozens of other beasts along the way. It is my understanding that none have slain a wasteland Linnorm in many winters, but it is a great honor to bear the death curse, imbued upon its death. A name to be remembered for the ages amongst all the tribes. I look forward to communicating with the elders of the tribes, now that the over-eager and aggressive apprentices are gone.

 I will send additional communique when next I’m able.

 Corrian Vanderspelt

Professor of Anthropology

Bloodragers of Porphyra is available at Rpgnow.

The Chaos Gate

pazuzu“Our power demands your sacrifice. Darkness rewards those willing to suffer for the promise of power. A terrible bounty will be reaped, go forth and sow in Our Name.” – Inscription on the base of the Chaos Gate.

Let’s talk about demons. Not yours or mine, we don’t have that kind of time, I’m talking about Porphyra’s Demon Lords. I like demons. They have a way of bringing everyone together, even devils – especially devils. Now here on Porphyra, they are unable to fully manifest their powers, they were drafted, in a way, by the New Gods to further pester the waning Elemental Lords. Its around this very concept that I’m going to pitch a campaign idea to fully invest in the Demon Lords from one of three ways.

The PCs. This is where the decision of how this campaign unfolds will be decided. Will your PCs be a group of demon worshiping fanatics, a group of fanatics who worship the waning Elemental Lords, or will they be the heroic good guys, stomping evil out wherever they smell its musty odor?

  • Demon Worshipers – Without a doubt this is the most challenging of the possibilities. Why? Because only chaotically evil mad(wo)men worship Demon Lords. This presents a unique set of issues for the DM, – we’ve all seen groups of “evil” marauding PCs roaming the countryside burning everything in sight and thinking that being a jerk to everyone is evil and then they forget the goals of the game. It has happened to the best of us and this needs to be avoided. If the players want to worship demons be sure to keep them goal oriented (perhaps through reward/punishment system from their benefactor) and make sure they worship the same, or closely aligned Demon Lords. There tends to be a lot of infighting.
  • Elemental Fanatics – Easier than Demon Lords but less straightforward than heroes, those who worship the Elemental Lords tend to be the less “normal” members of the populace, but should add minimal complications as long as all the pcs are Elementalists.
  • Heroes – Default setting. Why do we play RPGs? To save the world.

The story thus far: The Demon Lords have been forced into a second rate position by those who hold power here, and as Demon Lords they simply can’t abide such insults. There has been a significant increase in demonic cult activity over the last year, and it isn’t the usual burn, pillage, destroy. They’ve been collecting magical items and harvesting souls though no one has been able to uncover anything more than that.

Meanwhile off in the distant (jungle, desert, frozen waste – select your preference) a great black gate has been erected. This twenty-foot-tall black portal is designed to amplify the powers of the Demon Lords, resonating through sets of obelisks built in front of it, and those built in the surrounding Lands (I suggest the discovery one of these obelisks as an excellent mission for non-demon worshippers, and possibly demon worshippers as they move up the cult ranks). An item of this power, of this magnitude, requires a great deal of magic, not only to power up but also to hide from divine interlopers. It also requires souls to power it. Once the portal is opened, the Demon Lords will gain the same power levels as the New Gods and be able to fully manifest, thus sustaining the portal themselves. The portal was designed by Pasiphae the Mistress of Puzzles.

Here is an optional story bit – she holds a secret from the other Demon Lords. It will only increase her to full power, the others will be lesser to her in power.

Such is the way when making deals amongst demons.

All the demons have thrown their efforts into this device, save one. Karzerothine the Loomqueen. Whether she has her own plans or knows the truth is unknown, but she has not contributed a single soul to its construction, nor is she likely too.

The story at this point should have become rather obvious:

  • Demon Worshipers – Manage to increase the power of your benefactor, and possibly outsmart the Mistress of Puzzles.
  • Elemental Fanatics – Stop the Demon Lords and perhaps even use the device to somehow empower the Elemental Lords.
  • Heroes – Default setting. Save the world.

This is easily a campaign vector which could start with humble beginnings in a small town at level 1 investigating problems with a small cult, leading you to an obelisk near the town, a resonating point source for the Chaos Gate. This in turn could lead you halfway around the world to the gate itself. Leaving you to try and find a way to destroy it or stop the rituals which will bring the Demon Lords to full power. Perhaps even culminating in a party of level 20 PCs fighting the Demon Empress of the Web as her bloated, arachnoid body claws its way through the gate even as it is shut down, trapping her bloated spidery form between Realms.

Or not, your call.

Game on, Alex

Demon Lords of Porphyra is available for sale exclusively at Rpgnow.

Broken Atoll, Part II


Marines_ Shield color(Continued)

Cargo Hold 1: You descend into the lower levels of the ship, and you hear the sounds of movement and hushed speech, though you can’t make out any words. This room is filled with barrels of goods which have been ruined, but the sounds of metallic clinking can be heard coming from the room up ahead.

The cargo hold is three rooms. The first is filled only with ruined goods. The second holds two of the five Cursed Kanseeran looters. The remaining three are in the next room, and will enter a round or two (depending on if you’d like the to buff themselves) after they hear combat.

Cargo Hold 2: Several chests have been heaved into a pile in the corner of this room, and two large bearded humanoid crabs are present. They are distraught at your sudden appearance and become immediately hostile.

These are the workers, not as smart or psionically gifted as their bosses, they will attack immediately.

Cursed Kanseeran Brute  (CR 5; XP 1600)

Fighter 6

LE Medium humanoid (Kanseeran)

Init –1; Senses darkvision 120 ft; Perception +3


AC 20, touch 9, flat-footed 20 (+9 armor, –1 Dex, +2 Natural)

hp 61 (6d10+24)

Fort +8, Ref +1, Will +3; +2 vs. enchantments, +2 vs. fear Defensive Abilities bravery +2; Immune sleep


Speed 20 ft.

Claws +12/+7 (1d4+7/×3)

Special Attacks weapon training (Claws +1)

(Su) 1/day—expansion. These abilities affect only the caster and his gear. The manifester level for these effects is equal to the caster’s level (minimum 3rd). The DC for cloud mind is equal to 10 + the power’s level + the caster’s Charisma modifier.


During Combat The fighter stands and deals mighty blows until her foes drop or she dies on her feet.


Str 16, Dex 8, Con 16, Int 11, Wis 12, Cha 10

Base Atk +6; CMB +9; CMD 18

Feats Diehard, Endurance, Master Craftsman, Skill Focus (Craft [weapons]), Throw Anything, Vital Strike, Weapon Focus (claws), Weapon Specialization (claws)

Skills Appraise +7, Craft (armor) +10, Craft (weapons) +17, Perception +3

Languages Common

SQ armor training 1

Combat Gear potion of cure moderate wounds, potions of endure elements (1); Other Gear masterwork full plate, 43 gp

Treasure: Each chest is of good quality with a good quality lock. Three chests have goods which are still valuable. One contains an assortment of silks (500gp), one has semi-precious stones (750 gp), and the third contains 25 pounds of a strange wood (Darkwood; 10 gp a pound).

Cargo Hold 3: Much the same as the other cargo holds, this one has the battered remains of corpses, it looks as though the Kanseeran had to fight their way into the treasure hold here.

Two additional brutes await within with a more powerful Kanseeran.

Cursed Kanseeran Sea Sorcerer     (CR 7; XP 3200)

Sorcerer Bloodline Elemental 9 (Water)

CE Medium humanoid (Kanseeran)

Init –1; Senses darkvision 120 ft; Perception +3


AC 19, touch 13, flat-footed 17 (+4 armor, +1 deflection, +1 Dex, +1 dodge, +2 nat)

hp 48 (8d6+20)

Fort +6, Ref +4, Will +6

Resist cold 10


Speed 20 ft.

Claws +12/+7 (1d4+7/×3)

Bloodline Spell-Like Abilities (CL 8th; concentration +12)

7/day—elemental ray (1d6+4 water)

(Su) 1/day—expansion. These abilities affect only the caster and his gear. The manifester level for these effects is equal to the caster’s level (minimum 3rd). The DC for cloud mind is equal to 10 + the power’s level + the caster’s Charisma modifier.

Sorcerer Spells Known (CL 8th; concentration +12)

4th (4/day)—ball lightning* (DC 19)

3rd (6/day)—fly, lightning bolt* (DC 18), protection from energy

2nd (7/day)—invisibility, mirror image, scorching ray*

1st (7/day)—burning hands* (DC 16), identify, mage armor, magic missile, shield, unseen servant

0th (at will)—acid splash (DC 14), arcane mark, detect magic, light, mage hand, prestidigitation, ray of frost (DC 15), read magic

Bloodline elemental (air)

*These spells always deal a type of damage determined by your element. In addition, the subtype of these spells changes to match the energy type of your element. – Water


Str 10, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 18

Base Atk +4; CMB +3; CMD 17

Feats Combat Casting, Dodge, Eschew Materials, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Spell Focus (evocation)

Skills Appraise +6, Fly +9, Heal +1, Knowledge (arcane) +12, Knowledge (history) +3, Linguistics +2, Perception +4, Ride +6, Spellcraft +12, Use Magic Device +12

Languages Common, Aquan

SQ bloodline arcana

Combat Gear: elixir of fire breath, potion of bear’s endurance, potions of cure moderate wounds (2), potion of cure serious wounds, potion of eagle’s splendor;

Other Gear masterwork handy haversack, ring of protection +1, bedroll, tent, 38 gp

The Cursed Kanseeran will fight to the death knowing that they would never be able to outrun the PCs.

Treasure: Everything remaining on the Cursed Kanseeran, Key to the Captains Quarters, 2500 gold pieces and another 2500 gold pieces worth of assorted mundane goods.

Captain’s Quarters: The door here is locked and made of thick wood, clearly meant to be used as a defensive position in the event of a siege and to keep subordinates out. A faint smell of seawater and decay fill the air as you grow closer. The inside of the room was once lavishly furnished, but much of it has been lost to time, three undead creatures turn to attack you. One wielding a cutlass, one dressed in tattered robes, and one whose mouth begins salivating uncontrollably at the sight of you.

The door to the captain’s quarters is of good quality with a good lock. The undead within are the former captain and his first mate.

After combat: Carved into the captain’s desk is the unmistakable image of a kraken, its eye a masterfully crafted jewel.

Whitlock ‘The Handsome’ Gabranth (CR 6; XP 4,800)

Wight Fighter 2 Rogue 2

Medium undead

Init +5; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +11


AC 24 touch 17, flat-footed 18

(+5 armor, +1 deflection, +5 Dex, +1 dodge, +2 shield)

hp 63 (4d8+2d8+2d10)

Fort +6, Ref +9, Will +7 (8 Fear)

Defensive Abilities undead traits

Weaknesses resurrection vulnerability


Speed 30 ft.

Melee Scimitar +1 (Icy Burst) +12/+6 (1d8+5 + 1d6/18-20 x 2)

Sneak attack +1d6

Melee slam +4 (1d4+1 plus energy drain)

Special Attacks create spawn, energy drain (1 level, DC 14)


Str 21, Dex 20, Con -, Int 16, Wis 12, Cha 10

Base Atk +6; CMB +11; CMD 26

Feats Blind-Fight, Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (Scimitar), evasion

Skills Acrobatics +12, Appraise +3, Bluff +7, Climb +12, Escape Artist +9, Perception +11, Sleight of Hand +14, Stealth +20, Survival +6, Swim +15, Use Magic Device +8

Languages Common

SQ Bravery +1

Combat Gear: Ring of Protection +1;Scimitar +1 (Icy Burst);Shield, Light Steel +1; Mithral Shirt +1;Potion of Haste; Potion of Rage;



First Mate Skee (CR 5; XP 1,600)

Human skeletal mage necromancer 3

NE Medium undead

Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +8


AC 18, touch 12, flat-footed 16

(+4 armor, +2 Dex, +2 natural)

hp 38 (5 HD; 2d8+3d6+18)

Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +8

Defensive Abilities channel resistance +4; DR 5/bludgeoning; Immune cold, undead traits


Speed 30 ft.

Melee mwk dagger +5 (1d4+1/19–20), claw –1 (1d4) or 2 claws +4 (1d4+1) or spectral hand +6 touch (by touch spell)

Ranged ray +4 ranged touch (by spell)

Special Attacks channel negative energy (DC 13, 6/day, command undead only)

Arcane School Spell-Like Abilities (CL 3rd; concentration +6)

6/day—grave touch (1 round)

Spells Prepared (CL 3rd; concentration +6)

2nd—ghoul touch (DC 17), scorching ray, spectral hand

1st—chill touch (DC 16), mage armor, magic missile, ray of enfeeblement (DC 16)

0th (At Will)—detect magic, mage hand, ray of frost, read magic, touch of fatigue (DC 15)

Opposition Schools Enchantment, Illusion


Str 12, Dex 15, Con –, Int 16, Wis 12, Cha 15

Base Atk +2; CMB +3; CMD 15

Feats Combat Casting, Command Undead, Improved InitiativeB, Scribe Scroll, Silent SpellB, Spell Focus (necromancy), Toughness, Weapon Finesse

Skills Intimidate +8, Knowledge (arcana) +11, Knowledge (religion) +11, Perception +8, Sense Motive +9, Spellcraft +11, Stealth +10

Languages Abyssal, Common, Draconic, Undercommon

SQ arcane bond (skull)


Spoons the Cook (CR 6; XP 2,400)

Ghoul Rogue 6

Male ghoul rogue 6

CE Medium undead

Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +14


AC 19, touch 17, flat-footed 14

(+2 deflection, +4 Dex, +1 dodge, +2 natural)(uncanny dodge)

hp 60 (2d8+6d8+24)

Fort +5, Ref +9, Will +8; evasion

Immune undead traits


Speed 30 ft.

Melee bite +10 (1d6+3 plus disease and paralysis) and 2 claws +10 (1d4+3 plus paralysis)

Special Attacks paralysis (1d4+1 rounds, DC 13, elves are immune to this effect), sneak attack +3d6


During Combat It relies on his surprise attack ability to disable an opponent on the first round of combat. He prefers hit-and-run tactics to merely slugging it out with the PCs, and either flees to the northeast (with the intent of sneaking up on them later) or hides in the water of area A11.

Morale It would rather live and seek revenge than die at the hands of surface-dwellers. If brought below 20 hit points, he flees to the northeast… though he may return later and skulk about the city, possibly running into the PCs at an inopportune time.


Str 16, Dex 19, Con —, Int 10, Wis 17, Cha 16

Base Atk +5; CMB +8; CMD 25

Feats Dodge, Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (bite), Weapon Focus (claw)

Skills Acrobatics +15, Bluff +14, Climb +14, Intimidate +14, Perception +14, Stealth +15, Swim +14

Languages Aklo, Common

SQ fast stealth, surprise attack, trapfinding +3

Other Gear ring of protection +2


Disease (Su): Ghoul Fever: Bite—injury; save Fort DC 13; onset 1 day; frequency 1/day; effect 1d3 Con and 1d3 Dex damage; cure 2 consecutive saves. The save DC is Charisma-based.

A humanoid who dies of ghoul fever rises as a ghoul at the next midnight. A humanoid who becomes a ghoul in this way retains none of the abilities it possessed in life. It is not under the control of any other ghouls, but it hungers for the flesh of the living and behaves like a normal ghoul in all respects. A humanoid of 4 Hit Dice or more rises as a ghast.

Fast Stealth (Ex): This ability allows a rogue to move at full speed using the Stealth skill without penalty.

Surprise Attack (Ex): During the surprise round, opponents are always considered flat-footed to a rogue with this ability, even if they have already acted.

Trapfinding: A rogue adds 1/2 her level to Perception skill checks made to locate traps and to Disable Device skill checks (minimum +1). A rogue can use Disable Device to disarm magic traps.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Starting at 4th level, a rogue can react to danger before her senses would normally allow her to do so. She cannot be caught flat-footed, nor does she lose her Dex bonus to AC if the attacker is invisible. She still loses her Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized. A rogue with this ability can still lose her Dexterity bonus to AC if an opponent successfully uses the feint action against her.

Treasure: Feather Token (Swan Boat); Gold and Jewels worth 2000 gp. Carved into the captain’s desk is the unmistakable image of a Kraken, its eye a masterfully crafted jewel.

The jewel radiates evocation magic, and it is identified as an Orb of Darkness. This orb when activiated, shrouds the ship it has been magically merged with in a cloud of Darkness for 30 minutes or Deeper Darkness for 10. For 5000 gp and with a DC 20 Spellcraft and DC 15 Shipwright or Engineering check the orb can be merged onto another ship. Sale value: 20000 gp.

A search of the cabin also reveals the captain’s journal with two entries of note (feel free to add your own for future adventures or foreshadowing):

Entry 23: It took months of saving, looting and borrowing, but I finally got the namesake of the The Big-eyed Jester Squid, no one will be able to see us coming or going in the moonlight now.

Entry 246: Remember last week when we found that man floating in some flotsam and carried him aboard? He’s unsettled the crew. First Mate Skee suggested we just toss him overboard but he has done nothing wrong… Spoons mentioned something about an island with a lighthouse nearby. It may be best we try and drop him there before sailing on. An uneasy crew is a dangerous thing.

 Wind. Reel. And. Print.

Nice job folks. I hope you enjoyed this quick and dirty Encounter to keep your unwitting sailors on their toes.

Until next time,

Game on: Alex

Broken Atoll

Broken Atoll is a short Porphyra encounter for four 7th level PCs. This encounter is designed to break the monotony of seafaring, and to give the heroes a chance to stretch their legs instead of zooming from isle to isle. This encounter takes place on a small strip of coral coastline, with a wrecked ship. This area can be found anywhere in the waters of the Seven Principalities. About 40 miles offshore stands an abandoned lighthouse.

Encounter Background: The Big-eyed Jester Squid ran aground nearly 60 years ago during the brutal rule of Asterion. Captained by the fearless Whitlock ‘The Handsome’ Gabranth, goods were smuggled into the isles for the people, while other goods as well as people were smuggled out. Turning a tidy profit, the pirate sailed off one day from Mael, never to return. Dozens of bard tales make mention of his final voyage, some having him lost at sea, others say he was blown off course, and others still say he was a coward who had finally had enough of the pirate’s life. Little did those storytellers know that the truth was just a few hundred leagues away.

Encounter Synopsis/Encounter Hook: Your adventurers should want to explore things, it’s kind of their thing. You can also promise them gold, jewels, pirate booty, or the potential for food and water, or appeal to their hero complexes and suggest the potential of damsels in distress or bachelors in a bind. This will lead to the exploration of the coral reef, and the various levels of the ship.

Beginning the Encounter: The encounter begins as soon as the PCs disembark for the shipwreck, either by use of a dingy or magic. While it is possible for the PCs ship to gam with the shipwreck, it is highly inadvisable as the atoll is treacherous. It takes two DC25 Sailing checks to manage to meet The Bigeyed Jester Squid and not get stuck, and an additional two to move away.

Landfall: The atoll is thin spanning less than 100 feet in most places. The water within the atoll is clear and sparkling and happens to be teeming with life.

There are two Advanced Crab Swarms present on the atoll.

Crab Swarm ( Advanced ) [CR 5; XP 1600]

N Diminutive vermin (aquatic, swarm)

Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +2


AC 22, touch 18, flat-footed 18 (+4 Dex, +4 natural, +4 size)

hp 52 (7d8+21)

Fort +8, Ref +6, Will +4;

Immune mind-affecting effects, swarm traits, weapon damage;


Speed 30 ft., swim 20 ft.

Melee swarm (2d6)

Space 10 ft.Reach 0 ft.

Special Attacks distraction (W-DC 16)


Str 5, Dex 18, Con 17, Int -, Wis 14, Cha 6;

Base Atk 5; CMB 2; CMD 4

Skills Swim +12; Racial Modifiers uses Dex to modify Swim


The inside of the atoll contains Oyster’ Beds. Countless oysters cover the broad reef here,  starting at about 20 feet below the water, clearly the food source for all the crabs.

Characters knowledgeable about oysters [DC 15 Kwoledge (nature) or Profession (sailor)] know they can dive for pearls here.

Creatures: The oyster beds here attract a lot of crabs, every day there is a 50% chance of a new advanced crab swarm forming, up to a maximum of three.

Treasure: Every day a single PC (or NPC hireling) may devote 8 hours to diving to recover 1d4+1 pearls, with a 1% chance that one of them is a black pearl. (Normal pearls are worth 75gp, but a black pearl is worth 500gp).

Main Deck: To get into the ship the PCs are going to have to either climb to the main deck, or find their own way in. A DC15 acrobatics check will allow the PCs to climb the destroyed masts.

The deck of the ship, once meticulously cared for, no longer shone in the sunlight. It was covered in seaweed, barnacles, and other life the sea slowly clawing the ships carcass into the water. All three masts lay broken. A single ladder leads down into the holds of the ship.

As each PC descends the ladder to the Gun Deck roll a D20. On a roll of 1-5 the rungs break and the PC must make a DC 20 Reflex save or fall. Each PC beneath the falling playing must roll a DC 15 Reflex save or be knocked off as well. Three PCs may be on the ladder at any one time. On a roll of 6-10 the PC must make a DC 15 climb check or fall. On a roll of 11 or higher the PC descends without incident. Typical fall damage from one deck to another is 1d6.

Gun Deck: This long corridor has several rusted cannons, as well as various barrels mostly labeled as gunpowder, water, rations, or some other supply. Muffled sounds of movement can be heard coming from below in the cargo holds. Two ladders descend into the darkness below, a large ornate door stands Fore, and a small set of stairs lead into another chamber Aft.  

A Large Water Elemental (CR 5) is hiding in one of the barrels, alerted to the presence of the PCs (unless they’ve stealthed the entire way onto the ship). It is bound by the Cursed Kanseeran below and will fight to the death.

Crew Quarters: This chamber is found at the Stern of the ship. It is a large room filled with rotten rope dangling from the ceiling, decayed chests, and rotten food. Several decayed birds scatter the room, a DC 17 Knowledge Nature check reveals them to be the broken bodies of several cormorants.

If the time is taken to thoroughly search the area 100 gold pieces of assorted jewelry is found, as well as a magical crystal, and a short sword +1.

Cursed Item: Albatross Ioun Stone

Aura moderate abjuration; CL 12th

Slot none; Price: 10,000 gp; Weight — .


This stone looks like an amber spindle Ioun stone but in addition to granting you a +1 resistance bonus on saving throws, it has other effects.

After equipping this Ioun stone over the course of 1d3 days it changes the wearer’s type to undead, granting the typical responses to positive and negative energy. Additionally, after the transformation is complete an additional +1  resistance bonus is granted but the wearer is affected by a geas spell. Each day the Mariner must tell the tale of the cursed gem to someone who willingly listens and has never heard it before or the negative effects of the geas will take place. This effect does not end once the story is told.

Once the curse of the Albatross Ioun is removed all effects immediately end.


Craft Wondrous Item, resistance, curse, creator must be 12th level; Cost 5,000 gp

 The item can only be removed with a Remove Curse spell.

I hope you’ve enjoyed part one of the Broken Atoll. Next week we’ll look at the monsters who are already looting the holds and learn the fate of Ol’ Captain Gabranth. Until then,

Game On,

Alex Kugler

Catching Crocodiles in the Seven Principalities

Kanseeran2Yar! Welcome to the Seven Principalities, Matey!

Sorry, there’s islands, jungles, ships, talking parrots, sugar-cane, and spices – I felt obliged.

But in all seriousness, let’s talk about dangerous men (and women) on ships sailing from isle to isle in the Seven Principalities , but before we get into the nitty-gritty I want to address a few things.

If you like me, your players sometimes get strange off-the-wall ideas. If you’re even more like me, you even indulge them occasionally. Who hasn’t had PCs who have wanted to go rogue, buy a ship and sail the high seas? But much like the difference between mercenaries and adventurers can be the difference between saving a village and razing one, so too can the nomenclature of the sea be treacherous.

So what is a Pirate? from Greek peiratēs, ‘to attempt, attack.’ Pirates, buccaneers, and freebooters function much the same way, and their names are derived from specific locals in the real world. Pirate is the most generic term, used to describe anyone on the high seas, who commits theft. Buccaneers comes from a French description of free (non-Spanish) traders in the Caribbean during Spanish colonization.  A freebooter is of Dutch origin, and is an adventurer who pillages, plunders or wages ad-hoc war on other nations, making a more akin to the privateer. Privateers act on a writ in the name of a monarch, and act to cut off supply of goods. There’s also the Smuggler who is engaged in clandestine business of black market goods or for goods he did not pay taxes or customs on.

Now that we’ve addressed few things up in the waves, I’m going to leave sea thievery for now. There’s plenty of material online about pirates and when adding in minotaurs, parrotfolk, lizardfolk, and crabfolk you’ve already got a recipe for adventure. Or a very gamey stew.

So, let’s yell timber, because we’re going down.

Take for instance, the Kanseeran. the crab-like dwarf-kin who have adapted to island life in a unique way. Along with the Kanseeran who have dwarf blood as their lineage, so too are the less respectable offshoot, Kanseeran who are cursed with the blood of duergar coursing through their chitinous veins. Whether these cursed Kanseeran are a strange offshoot of the original dwarf blooded purists, the result of interbreeding with duergar, or a curse to serve as punishment for some long-forgotten crime is a debate for scholars and fools. What we do know is that they are even more ill-tempered than standard kanseeran, just as well armored, and gifted with psionics.

These cursed kanseeran carry on their ancestral loathing of sahratan, as well as kanseeran, and are often hostile to outsiders. They prefer to live in small clusters of their own kind, and resort to piracy and looting. As is also true of their kin, these twisted creatures are interested in the sunken ruins of the island of Torl, as a great deal of potential magic and wealth sunk along with the ancient princes, who knows perhaps some of the have even begun excavating the ruins.

Cursed Kanseeran Racial Characteristics:

Cursed kanseeran player characters are defined by class levels— they do not possess racial hit dice. All cursed kanseeran player characters possess the following racial characteristics.

  • +2 Strength, +4 Constitution, -2 Charisma, -2 Intelligence:
  • Medium: Kanseeran are Medium creatures that have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Slow Speed: Cursed kanseeran have a base speed of 15 ft. on land. They also have a swim speed of 20 ft., can move in water without making Swim checks, and always treat Swim as a class skill. A kanseeran’s land or swim speed is never modified by armor or encumbrance.
  • Amphibious: Kanseeran can breathe air or water.
  • Chitinous Plates: Kanseeran have a +2 natural armor bonus.
  • Dwarf Blood: Kanseeran are an aquatic offshoot of the dwarven race. They are humanoids with the aquatic and dwarf subtypes. Creatures with the dwarf subtype have 60 ft. darkvision.
  • Pincer Claws: Kanseeran possess two pincer claws in place of hands that can be used as natural attacks. These claws deal 1d4 piercing, slashing, and bludgeoning damage as if they were a bite. Because of the nature of these claws, kanseeran are unable to wield light or one-handed melee weapons. However, they have a +4 racial bonus to CMD against disarm attempts when wielding two-handed melee weapons.
  • Sahratan Foe: Kanseeran are natural enemies to sahratan and have a +2 dodge bonus against sahratan natural attacks and a +4 racial bonus to saves against a sahratan’s lure ability.
  • Psionic Aptitude: Due to their duergar blood, whenever a cursed kanseeran takes a level in a favored class, he can choose to gain an additional power point instead of a hit point or skill point.
  • Cursed Karseeran Psionics: Gain the following psilike abilities: 1/day—expansion. These abilities affect only the caster and his gear. The manifester level for these effects is equal to the duergar’s level (minimum 3rd). The DC for cloud mind is equal to 10 + the power’s level + the caster’s Charisma modifier.
  • Sideways Gait: Kanseeran walk and run sideways. This curious method of moving grants them a +1 racial bonus to attack and damage rolls when charging.
  • Languages: Kanseeran begin play speaking Common, Dwarven, and Aquan. Kanseeran with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Draconic, Undercommon, Old Porphyran, Partatingi, or Aklo
  • Kanseeran Aging and Physical Statistics Kanseeran use the same tables as dwarves do for height, weight and aging statistics.
  • Racial Traits: May select any Karseeran racial traits.

These poor Cursed Karseeran can make an excellent addition to a game, as a potential strange PC, intriguing NPC, or an entire over arching series of villains as they excavate ruins and claim sunken treasure, ramp up slaving activities, and menace the entirety of the Seven Principalities. Or not. It’s up to you.

Game On,

Alex Kugler

If you want to explore the Seven Principalities you can find more information in Heroes of the Seven Principalities.