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.

Chains of Clockwork Brass

Remember, that I am thy creature: I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel.” – The Monster to the Modern Prometheus – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Now you may be wondering what a classic gothic horror novel has to do with the technologically advanced Clockwork Lands, and that’s alright – but bear with me, it’ll be worth it.


The Clockwork Lands are a loose amalgam of several corporatized oligarchs who constantly vie for power. They constantly strive to produce new and more powerful automated creatures to ease the livelihood of the people, and to turn profits. The Mark I Multipurpose golem’s being the finest creation any of the corporations have to offer. In this backdrop you can ‘Run the Shadows’ in a full fantasy setting, that is rebel against the corporations fighting against corporate greed by acting outside their influence and sabotaging their technology for the highest bidder. You could fight against the machine cults praying to the dark machine spirits they fear or revere. All perfectly viable, playable options, but I think there’s something far more delightful to be found in the ticking machines of the Clockwork.


Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about using the Clockwork Lands as a setting for a gothic adventure, one that could twist a knife in the very soul of player character and player alike. You have all the ingredients necessary for a gothic story to unfold:

  • Setting: It needs to be supernatural, which it is. I won’t spend much time here, this one’s obvious. We’re in a land of magic and technology, of power and secrets. It’s perfect.
  • Mystery: Things you can include: prophecy, omens, portents, visions, fortune telling, etc… Disturbing dreams, weird astrological events, crop circles, whatever it takes to make your players nervous.
  • Suspense: You must keep players on their toes. Don’t be afraid to leave things to their imagination. In fact, they should be thinking of all sorts of nightmarish scenarios all on their own if you’re keeping them engaged.
  • Emotions: Keep them high. Anger, sorrow, surprise, fear, and especially, terror – Make Plutchik proud.
  • Metonymy: This is the use of one thing to represent another. For example, think about funerals in the media. It’s always raining, why? The rain represents sorrow and sadness. Anger? Thunder. Happiness? Rainbows. It’s just an example though, nix the rainbows.
  • Romance: This may or may not fit your story, or may better be worked in using NPCs, but love, unrequited love, tension between a true love and a parental figure, estranged lovers, illicit love threatening virtue, or rival love is often employed to further prey upon emotions.

Now that we’ve established what you need to make a horror game work, I hope I’ve whetted your appetite for the inclusion of this into the Clockwork Lands…but how?

I’ve a couple of ideas for you.

In the midst of the night rain had turned to snow, giving the whole world an ashen pallor. In the distance stood a castle built into the face of a small mountain, a village housed beneath. Perched high above, its frowning battlements and grim towers looked down, while the cottages below were clustered around like goslings around a goose…

Now we have a setting, but what’s going on? I’ve got three scenarios for you:

  • In the shadows of the old castle, murder occurs in the night. This third one this month. As the blood of the victim cools the PCs are thrust into the midst of it, as they are strangers in town – and thus, the most obvious choice to be punished to put the city at ease. What no one knows is that something went terribly wrong with one of the Mark 1’s. Through some cruel twist of fate, it has become conscious, or Awakened knowledgeable of its own existence; self-aware. The creature’s motives are up to you. Perhaps it’s learning how to live, or somehow being manipulated – either way, it was not in control of its own fate.
  • A bounty hunter who specializes in the removal and deletion of golems who malfunctions has made a fatal error. Instead of eliminating a golem he’s killed three innocent people. Now he must contend with the investigations and try to hunt down a rogue golem, who has been magically disguised as a woman. The bounty hunter finds himself smitten by the disguised golem and should the PCs unveil the plot, who knows how he will respond.  And of course, he might just be a golem himself.
  • A great artificer mourns the death of a loved one, perhaps a spouse or child. In the dark confines of his workshop he works tirelessly to infuse life into an automaton to fill the void left in his hollow life. He succeeds, but the golem is not what he wanted. In a cruel twist of fate, the golem is a monster, twisting his sorrow into murder and destruction.

Now, keep in mind that playing a horror game is more challenging than an ordinary game of hack ‘n slash. You must track pacing, emotions, ambiance, even lighting and sound can have a pronounced effect on the game experience. The Clockwork Nations have all the setting information you need to run a horrifying game, all that’s missing is a little inspiration from Poe, Eco, Leroux, Stoker, or Shelley.

Game on.

by Alex Kugler

One of the stragnegest races in the Clockwork Lands is the eventuals. Eventuals are bastard children of inevitables. To fit out more about these denizens of the Clockwork Lands check out Fehr’s Ethnology.

Dastardly Desert: Siwathi Surveyors

– by Alex Kugler


If you’re like me, and you’ve been playing Dungeons & Dragons-style fantasy rpgs for what seems like forever (oh dear, I’ve already hit my gaming quarticentennial) then you’ve played every iteration of generic fantasy world, à la Middle Earth. Whether that world is Abeir-Toril, Oerth, Golarion or one that you and your buddies cooked up in the basement, odds are you started out running from town to town over rolling meadows and through the occasional dark and scary forest – before delving into a dungeon. And you loved every minute of it. But as you play and grow, gain experience, and level up as a player you hunger for new and exciting realms to explore, save… or terrorize.

Porphyra gives you plenty of options and one of those is the Siwathi Desert. With a loose backdrop hinting at Scheherazade’s One Thousand and One Nights there’s a myriad of options both for one-off adventures, as well as long-term campaigns where you can really focus on the grit of survival in a less than hospitable environment – hope you’re up to date on the environmental rules.

There’s always the standard invasion of a pyramid full of undead, warring with the local flea-bags – I mean gnolls – or a war of succession involving the ever aging Ha’roun al-Rashid but this is only the surface of the adventuring potential. Tombs full of undead, gnolls, succession wars – those could take place anywhere, but the majesty of the Siwathi is the remnants of the elemental lords, the zendiqi, and the shifting roles of each.
There are twelve elemental lords resigned to living in the darkness, worshiped only by shadowy cults and the zendiqi. Each of the elementals formally known as gods rained elemental crystals into the sterile desert when they were banished from divinity by the New Gods. Each one of the elemental stones possess a tiny bit of the malice, hate, and anger of the elementals, but some contain more darkness than others.

There are so many options to terrorize…I mean play, with your players.

For example:

In the ruins of an old temple complex stands a tower and that tower has a complex mechanism inside, gears and motors – ticking around and around, looking suspiciously like something from the far-off Clockwork Lands, though these gears continue, unmuddied by time or sand. Atop the strange ticking tower, a clock keeps time, each number on the clock, has a depression designed for a stone of power. Eleven of the twelve stones have been found and placed in their respective slots, only a powerful shard of the elemental lord Kurofu the Shadow is missing from the Ticking Tower.

What’s going to happen when the final stone is placed in the tower?

This is where the real fun can begins You, as a creative and insightful DM can take your players on a carpet ride going in any direction you want. Are they going to try and find the stone themselves? And what will they do once they have it? Are they going to run into an evil cult dedicated to the resurrection of the elemental lords or is it an ancient doomsday device the elemental lords put in motion in the final days of the war they saw themselves losing? What would you have done? I’d have made a doomsday device powered by Sphere of Annihilation but, hey, that’s me.

With all the fun of the elemental lords you also have the terribly xenophobic, territorial, and somewhat unpleasant zendiqi. Winning over difficult civilizations can be a rich and rewarding roleplaying experience for players and DMs alike. This also gives your players an opportunity to play the xenophobes, on a holy crusade to reestablish the power of their fallen Lords. If you decide to play a group zendiqi you can even follow the path of their fallen Lords attempting to restore them to their rightful place.

The Siwathi Desert gives you a lot more options than a standard generic desert, and with a bit of creativity you can run an entire campaign based around the unique aspects of the desert, or simply drop a party there for a few levels of fun.

I hope I knocked few inspirations free in that brain of yours with my musings, and feel free to let me know if you have any questions or ideas.

If you are looking for books related to this post might I suggest:

  • Elemental Lords of Porphyra by Perry Fehr which contains background on all of the fallen Elemental Lords and their war with the New Gods of Porphyra.
  • For more player and GM information  on the Desert of Siwath and its inhabitants, I would recommend Heroes of the Siwathi Desert by Perry Fehr and Josh McCrowell.

The Everyday Hero by Carl Cramer

For the upcoming Rogues of Porphyra, Carl has written the following archetype. Carl is having a few doubts about the archetype in that it does some thing that Pathfinder normally doesnt do. What do you think?

Everyday Hero
All of us remember the storybook heroes of yore; the young perky rebel who wins the day through pluck and audacity. Focusing on an ability called confidence, that lets them defeat the odds again and again, the everyday hero is more of a trickster than a combatant.

Everyday Heroes of Porphyra: The everyday hero is not trained, she becomes a hero out of commitment and ambition, and as such can exist anywhere. Societies that encourage independent striving are likely to have more everyday heroes; the Fenian Triarchy and Iffud are examples, but surprisingly everyday heroes are also common in mysteries northern lands such as the Boroughs of Dunmark and Hestria.

The everyday hero has all the rogue’s class features, except as follows:

Class Skills: The everyday hero’s class skills are: Acrobatics (Dex), Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Dex), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (dungeoneering) (Int), Knowledge (engineering) (Int), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (local) (Int), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Stealth (Dex), Survival (Wis), Swim (Str), and Use Magic Device (Cha).
Skill Ranks per Level: 8 + Int modifier.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: The everyday hero is proficient with all simple weapons, the hand crossbow, sap, and short sword, but not with any armor or shields.

Confidence (Ex): An everyday hero gains a growing pool of self-confidence as she advances in level, and this confidence allows her to succeed and to encourage her allies to succeed. This pool starts out at two points at first level, and grows by an additional point at level 5 and every 4 levels thereafter to a maximum of six points at level 17. This pool can be used in various ways.

  • By spending 1 point form the pool, the everyday hero can re-roll a skill check, attack roll, or saving throw. She can wait to learn the result of a check before deciding whether to re-roll. The new roll applies, better or worse. The everyday hero can only re-roll each check once. She can also make another creature (or trap) within 30 ft. re-roll in the same manner, but she cannot force an enemy to re-roll a saving throw.
  • On her turn as a free action, the everyday hero can spend a point of confidence to roll 1d6, multiply the result by 5 ft., and move that distance. She can use this ability several times in the same round. This movement does not trigger attacks of opportunity and ignores enemies and difficult ground, but cannot pass through barriers the everyday hero could not pass. In some instances, an Acrobatics, Climb, Fly, or Swim check might be needed to move past an obstacle using this ability. Any jumps made as part of this ability count as running jumps. This movement does not modify her Stealth checks, and if the everyday hero begins this move hidden using Stealth, she remains hidden for the entire move without having to make a Stealth check. The everyday hero must end this movement in a legal space.
    The everyday can spend one point of confidence to make a confident strike, see below.
  • Spending confidence is not an action. The confidence pool refills after the everyday hero survives a challenging situation and spends five minutes in conversation.
    Confidence, confident strike, and reserve confidence replace sneak attack.

Regaining Confidence
The everyday hero can potentially use the entire confidence pool several times each day. This makes regaining confidence an important part of the ability. She regains confidence when she “survives a challenging situation”. The intent here is to encourage spending confidence in significant scenes, while discouraging frivolous downtime use. A “challenging situation” is any combat, social scene, investigation, or other in-game event that has some consequence of failure. Crafting magic items, shopping, socializing with friends, or traveling down a well-known route are examples of things that are usually not challenging, but can be if the GM introduces a complication. The time it takes to recover confidence is there so that the character can’t recover under time pressure; as long as there is time pressure, the situation really isn’t resolved.

The everyday hero needs to engage in conversation to regain confidence. This is usually means recounting exploits and experiences in the scene, team-building, and a way to relieve stress and build confidence. If the everyday hero has no-one to converse with, she can use monologue to refill her pool. This conversation can be noticed by enemies, noticing a whispered conversation has a Perception DC of 10, overhearing it has DC 20, plus distance and distraction modifiers.

Confident Strike (Ex): When the everyday hero hits with an attack, she can spend a point of confidence pool to make a confident strike. A confident strike adds 1d6 points of precision damage to the damage inflicted. This additional damage is of the same damage type as the original attack (choose one if the attack inflicts several different types of damage), but is not multiplied on a critical hit. At level 3, and every 4 levels thereafter, the damage bonus of a confident strike increases by 1d6, to a maximum of 6d6 at level 19. This is otherwise the same as the rogue’s sneak attack ability, a target immune to sneak attack is also immune to confident strike. A confident strike counts as a sneak attack for feats and rogue talents that work with sneak attack, including the unchained rogue’s debilitating injury ability.
At the GM’s discretion the everyday hero can use confident strike to enhance environmental damage, as long as the everyday hero was clearly responsible for the damage, such as by tripping someone to fall down a precipice. Such use does not cost a point of confidence.
Confidence, confident strike, and reserve confidence replace sneak attack.

Thrill (Ex): An everyday hero that is unarmored and with light encumbrance gains a dodge bonus to armor class equal to her Charisma or Intelligence bonus, whichever is higher. Unlike most other bonuses to AC, this bonus does not apply to CMD.

Station (Ex): The everyday hero is grounded in ordinary life, and her origin colors her abilities. At level one, the everyday hero chooses a social origin and gains benefits befitting her station. Note that the everyday hero is not restricted to remain in her social class, most advance socially during their adventuring careers, but her origin always colors her outlook and abilities. This replaces trapfinding.
   Destitute: The everyday hero is a foundling or orphan, growing up begging and struggling for survival. She has learned to keep one foot in the door at all times. She adds half her class level (minimum +1) to Bluff, Perception, and Sleight of Hand checks. She can use Bluff as if it was Diplomacy to gather information. She starts first level with half normal funds, but has normal funds if beginning play at a higher level.
Carnie: The everyday hero grew up with entertainers and traveling shows. She adds half her class level (minimum +1) to Acrobatics, Handle Animal, and Perform checks. She can use any Perform skill as if it was Diplomacy to gather information.
Learned: The everyday hero grew up in an educated household, and is comfortable around scribes, scholars, clergy, and wizards. She adds half her class level (minimum +1) to all Knowledge and Linguistics checks. All Knowledge skills are class skill to her, she gains an additional +2 bonus on unskilled Knowledge checks, and can use all Knowledge skills as if she was trained.
Noble: The everyday hero comes from an upper class background. She adds half her class level (minimum +1) to all Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Knowledge (nobility) checks and these skills become class skills for her. A noble everyday hero usually begins play on the run to escape her social obligations, most often an arranged marriage. She can usually make up with her family around level five. [i]This is to avoid making the noble everyday hero the focus of the plot at low levels, the GM may waive this if the plot works without this restriction.
Professional: The everyday hero grew up among skilled workers. She adds half her class  level (minimum +1) to all Craft, Perception, and Profession checks, gains an additional +2 bonus on unskilled Craft and Profession checks, and can use all Craft and Profession skills untrained. She can use any Craft or Profession skill as if it was Diplomacy to gather information.
   Rustic: The everyday hero grew up roaming the countryside. She adds half her class level (minimum +1) to all Acrobatics, Climb, Perception, Survival, and Swim checks.
Treasure-Finder: The everyday hero grew up among adventurers and burglars and gains the rogue’s trapfinding ability.
Trader: The everyday hero grew up among people of the marketplace. She adds half her class level (minimum +1) to all Appraise, Bluff, Knowledge (local), and Sense Motive checks. She is a good listener and can use Sense Motive as if it was Diplomacy to gather information.

Reserve Confidence (Ex): At second level, the everyday hero gains a pool of reserve confidence equal to her confidence pool. This reserve confidence works the same as her ordinary confidence, but only renews once per day after resting. Confidence, confident strike, and reserve confidence replace sneak attack.

Reprieve (Ex): The everyday hero thrives on being underestimated. At third level the everyday hero gains a reprieve bonus. She adds a +1 bonus to all saving throws, a +1 bonus on combat maneuver checks, and a +1 dodge bonus to Armor Class. Unlike most other bonuses to AC, this bonus does not apply to CMD. If she makes an attack, including casting a spell on a creature that is not an ally, the reprieve bonuses are negated until she next recovers confidence. She can make combat maneuvers without losing the reprieve bonus. This bonus increases to +2 at 6th level, to +3 at 9th level, to +4 when at 12th level, to +5 at 15th, and to +6 at 18th level. Reprieve replaces trap sense, or danger sense for the unchained rogue.

Ultimate Confidence (Ex): At 20th level, when the everyday hero spends a confidence point for a reroll, she or an ally rolls 1d10+10 instead of d20. When she forces an opponent to make a reroll, that opponent rolls d10 instead of d20. Whatever the result, it counts as a “natural” die roll, so a roll of 20 on d10+10 always succeeds if it is an attack or saving throw, threatens a critical hit, and so on. This replaces master strike.