Besmara’s Raid (Pathfinder Adventure)

So, a few months ago, my wife had a birthday. And for that birthday, I wrote and ran a custom pirate adventure – a high level one shot about adventure on the high seas. I told everyone that I was going to post it up for them to read later.

Technically, although it’s been two months, this is me keeping my promise.

Besmara’s Raid

A six hour Pathfinder adventure for six level 16 PCs. (timestamps assume you start around 1PM, like we did)

The party are the captain and crew of the Dex, one of the most famous pirate vessels to sail the oceans of Golarion. Unlike most pirates, they don’t restrict themselves to the relatively safe waters around the Eye of Abendigo, but instead sail the world, seeing the most impressive treasures that can be stolen or recovered, to ensure themselves a permanent place in history!

Adventure Summary

This adventure begins when Besmara herself appears on the bow of the ship, and offers the crew the chance they are searching for: join her in the greatest raid of all time, and go down in history as the greatest pirates of all time! The prize? Besmara seeks to seize dominion over the seas themselves from Gozreh – but wresting even a fraction of a god’s divinity from them is a task frought with peril.

First, the party must sail into the Eye of Abendigo, to seize StormFist – an artifact that will serve as a key to Gozreh’s domain. Then, the party must sail into the whirlpool at the heart of the Arcadian ocean. And finally, the party must work with Besmara herself to seize the domain of the seas.

Act 1 (1pm-3pm)

The party must sail into the eye of abendigo, and then dive underwater to get the fist, which is at a temple at the bottom of the sea.

Prologue (1pm)

Port Peril is the largest port in the Shackles and its de facto capital. De facto, of course, because the scattered island nation ruled over by piracy isn’t the sort to lend itself to a stable government. Still, the Hurricane King: Kedrik Bonefist, makes his home in Port Peril, much like every other pirate captain worth their salt. Like you.

Lead by Captain Pineco, the crew of the Dex have risen over the past several years to become one of the most feared pirates in the Arcadian Ocean, the Inner Sea, and beyond. You’ve plundered a king’s ransom, and delved beneath the waves to hunt and recover treasures that would leave any man in awe. But for Pineco that isn’t enough. One day, she will perform a raid so daring, steal a treasure so daring, that she (and the rest of you, probably) will go down in history forever as the greatest pirate that ever lived.

The adventure begins as they’re sailing out of Port Peril. Pineco has a treasure map, one that she made herself, pointing to a vault in the Arcadian Ocean. An ancient Azlanti treasure vault that is said contains a suit of armor that renders its bearer immortal.

The Dex
Attack six +1 flaming heavy ballistae +10 (30d8+5d6; 150 damage per round)
AC AC 2+sailing; Hp 2,000

Give the Party MAP OF GOLARION

After the party has begun to plot a course, however, they’re attacked by another pirate ship!

The Wormwood Mutiny (1:15)

Pirate ships in the shackles sea are a given – sailing anything other than Besmara’s skull and crossbones is a cause for alarm. So when a small vessel flying the jolly roger passes unusually close you don’t think anything of it… until it broadsides you! Roll initiative!

Ship Combat:
Each round at the start of initiative, one crew needs to make an opposed Profession (sailing) check. The winner has the upper hand. The ship with the upper hand has a +2 on attacks. If a ship has the upper hand twice in a row, they can’t be attacked that round. If nobody is captaining a ship, the sailing check is automatically 10.

The Wormwood
Sailing +20
Attack five +1 flaming light ballistae +10 (15d8+5d6; 100 damage per round)
AC AC 2+sailing; Hp 1,500

Most of the crew joins battle with the crew of the Wormwood, but the captain and her mates teleport on board the Dex to attack Pineco and her allies from surprise.

Captain Adelita    (feint DC 21)
NE Female Human Evoker
Init +6; Perception +14
DEFENSES
AC 23, touch 15, flat footed 20
Hp 126
Fort 12, Ref 10, Will 11
OFFENSE
Melee wizard hook +6/+1 (1d4)
CMB +5; CMD 20
Evoker Spells Prepared (CL13 th; concentration +17)
7th-    quickened fireball, prismatic spray (DC 21)
6th-    chain lightning (DC 20), quickened scorching ray, repulsion (DC 20)
5th-    cone of cold (DC 19), quickened shield, telekinesis (DC 19), teleport
3rd-    dispel magic, fireball (2; DC 17), heroism, vampiric touch (2)

Adelita’s Bodyguards (2)    (feint DC 21)
LE Male Fighter
Init +5; Perception +10
DEFENSES
AC 24, touch 13, flat footed 23 (ring of force shield)
Hp 94
Fort +8, Ref +7, Will +9
OFFENSE
Melee +1 keen longsword +16/+11 (1d8+7/19-20)
CMB +13 (+17 disarm); CMD 26 (28 vs. disarm)

TACTICS Adelita begins with fireball, and then moves into scorching rays as her bodyguards make attacks and disarms.

Post-Encounter

After the fight ends, the party has a chance to loot the Wormwood as the crew surrenders. The holds are mostly empty, but the captain has a locked chest of gold and jewels worth 10,000 gp.

When the party leaves whatever remains of the wormwood behind, they hear a slow clap from the back of their ship.

A woman stands on the forecastle, looking down on you and clapping slowly. Not just any woman – she is dressed in a blue silk vest and a sturdy tricorne, and standing in a pile of gold coins that wasn’t there a moment before. Besmara herself, goddess-queen of pirates, aboard your ship!

Besmara congratulates the party on passing her little test so easily, because they’ve got far more trying times ahead. She needs a proper crew for her most daring raid yet – she plans on stealing herself a new divine portfolio!

But she won’t tell the crew details now. Before they can join her, the Dex needs to prepare to sail into a domain of chaos. Which means they’ll need the stormfist; an artifact hidden at the center of the Eye of Abendigo. And the party is uniquely equipped to recover it. She gives the party a map, and then disappears. Treasure ahoy!

The Eye of Abendigo

The Eye of Abendigo is a hurricane that has been spinning off the coast of Sargava for over a century. It’s position is one of the reasons Port Peril can exist at all – few ships even brave sailing around it, and none are known to have sailed through it intact.

Sailing the eye of Abendigo requires an accumulated total of 200 points of success made against a DC 25 Profession (sailor or pirate) skill check – each representing an hour of sailing. Any number of characters can make this check, but any character who fails results in 25 points of damage to the ship, in addition to 100 points of damage automatically each check from the hurricane itself. Characters who pass add their check-25 to the progress. After eight checks, characters get fatigued. Characters who rest for at least six hours recover from fatigue and can once again join in.

When the party teaches 100 points, at least one member of the crew must be manning the guns to ward off approaching storm elementals. If not, the ship takes an additional 100 points of damage each check. When the party reaches 200 points, they break into the eye of the storm.

The eye of the hurricane is beautiful – a mile-wide stretch of mirror-smooth blue sea; walled in by a black storm on all sides. This is where the map said the treasure was – and with nothing on the surface, that means you have to dive for it.

The npc crew stays on the ship to man things as the party dives into the water. They only have to descend 500 feet, to near the bottom of the sunlight zone, before they see a small crystal building, seemingly grown out of a massive coral reef.

A coral reef of colossal size grows here, in a nearly perfect circle around a sprawling crystal building. Thousands of small, colorful fish swim about, making the structure a riot of color. There are bigger creatures too – mola mola and death’s head jellyfish drift about, and ink-black sea urchins the size of men surround the reef in a crude circle.

Nothing in the reef is aggressive. The structure itself seems to be a temple, but although the walls are crystal they refract too much to make it clear what is inside without magic. There is a door – it is locked (disable DC 30, hardness 25, 20 hit points).

Stormfist Temple (2pm)

CENTER Room

Inside the temple is eerie; streams of dark liquid flow through grooves in the ground like water, despite being surrounded by water, and pockets of air do likewise through grooves in the ceiling. Directly ahead of you, a swirling orb of energy floats – seven spheres within one another – inside of which spins an emerald the size of a man’s head, shaped like a mossy fist.

The field of energy is a prismatic sphere (DC 24 spellcraft to identify). It could be dismissed normally, but getting a gust of wind underwater to dispel the orange barrier would be a challenge in itself (and totally acceptable if they players do). Fortunately, there is a rod of cancellation in the temple nearby, which can dismiss the entire field all at once.

If the rod of cancellation touches the orb, it shatters revealing the Stormfist floating just inside a large clamshell. If anyone approaches to touch the Stormfist, the guardian awakens (see Attack of Abendigo, below).

EXITS: LEFT room and RIGHT room.

LEFT room

Most of this room is blocked off by a metallic black mesh you recognize as adamantine. On the other side, at least one skeleton rests on the ground, torn apart, and a petrified figure holds a twisted rod of iron and silver.

The rod is a rod of cancellation, (recognizable with a DC 20 Spellcraft check). The adamantine mesh has no door, and is magically hardened to have 40 hardness, but it only has 10 hit points. The figure within is a petrified humanoid. However, even a quick examination reveals the stone has seen enough wear has been done to the statue that if the spell was undone the creature wouldn’t survive.

EXITS: CENTER room, BACK LEFT room.

BACK LEFT room

Several large, locked chests line the walls of this room, and a large lever stands in the center.

The three chests are each locked (DC 40 Disable Device) and trapped (Perception DC 30, Disable Device 30). The lever also triggers the same trap as the chests – which fills the entire complex with a barrage of lightning bolts (8d6 electricity damage to everyone, DC 26 Reflex save for half). The chests can only trigger the trap once each, but the lever automatically resets and can trigger the trap an unlimited number of times.

The left chest contains: +1 light fortification mithral buckler, and a +2 keen trident

The center chest contains +2 shadow wooden armor, +2 icy burst composite longbow +4, ring of ferocious action UE (ignore stagger 5/day), a ring of sacred mistletoe UE (+2 handle animal, move through plants), and a stormlure UE

The right chest contains 20,000 gold coins, and 100,000 silver coins (and weighs 2400 lbs)

EXITS: LEFT room, RIGHT room

RIGHT room

This room is a shrine to Gozreh, god of the sea, skies and storms. An elaborate statue of the god in its twin incarnations – a man formed of stormclouds reaching down to touch a woman made of churning water – fills half the room.

There is a sealed door to the back right room, but it isn’t locked.

EXITS: CENTER room, BACK LEFT room, BACK RIGHT room.

BACK RIGHT room

This room was some sort of living chamber, likely belonging to the priest who tended the temple, but it hasn’t been used in some time.

Searching the room with a DC 20 Perception check finds a scroll of raise dead, and a +1 adamantine longsword, suitable for cutting open the mesh in the BACK LEFT room.

EXITS: RIGHT room.

Attack of Abendigo (2:30pm)

In the span of a heartbeat what had looked like a clamshell around the stormfist snaps shut, and the room shudders . It isn’t shaking so much as the entire room is moving. Through the crystalline walls of the temple you can see a yellow light – and then the wall comes free of the temple.

The Stormfist is inside the beak of a squid larger than any ship you’ve ever seen: hundreds of feet long, it must have been slumbering beneath the reef and the temple, as huge crystalline blocks are fused with its arms, and half of its body is covered with a colorful shell of coral.

The squid isn’t just any squid, but actually the terrible Abendigo: an ancient quasi-deity of storms, who summoned up the Eye of Abendigo to protect itself from the same fate as Aroden.

All characters roll initiative – Abendigo begins 280 feet away from the party.

In the first round or two of combat, Abendigo attempts to grapple as many creatures as it can, before creating an ink cloud and casting horrid wilting. Afterwards, it will attempt to escape to the surface (reaching it in 2 rounds), at which point it begins to attack the Dex.

Abendigo    (feint DC 39)
NE Gargantuan+ magical beast (aquatic)

Init +4; Senses darkvision 120 ft., low-light vision; Perception +28
Defense

AC 35, touch 3, flat-footed 35

hp 370

Fort +25, Ref +11, Will +11

Immune cold, mind-affecting effects, poison; Resist electricity

Offense
Melee 2 arms +32/28 (23; 2d8+14/19–20 plus grab), 2 tentacle barrages +34/20 (14; 2d6+7 plus grab), bite +30 (28; 4d6+14)

CMB +40 (+44 grappling plus tenacious grapple); CMD 49 (can’t be tripped)

Special Attacks constrict (tentacles, 2d6+10), ink cloud, rend ship

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 15th)

3/day—control weather, control winds, dominate monster (DC 24, animal only), resist energy

1/day—horrid wilting (DC 23, 15d6 damage to everything within 30 feet)

STATISTICS
Space 30 ft.; Reach 30 ft. (80 ft. with arm, 60 ft. with tentacle)

Speed swim 40 ft., jet 280 ft.

Languages Aquan, Common
Special Abilities
Ink Cloud (Ex) A kraken can emit a cloud of black, venomous ink in an 80-foot spread once per minute as a free action while underwater. This cloud provides total concealment, which the kraken can use to escape a fight that is going badly. Creatures within the cloud are considered to be in darkness. In addition, the ink is toxic, functioning as contact poison against all creatures caught within it. The ink cloud persists for 1 minute before dispersing. The save DC against the poison effect is Constitution-based.
Kraken Ink: Ink cloud—contact; save Fort DC 29; frequency 1/round for 10 rounds; effect 1 Str damage plus nausea; cure 2 consecutive saves.

Jet (Ex) A kraken can jet backward as a full-round action, at a speed of 280 feet. It must move in a straight line, but does not provoke attacks of opportunity while jetting.

Rend Ship (Ex) As a full-round action, a kraken can attempt to use four of its tentacles to grapple a ship of its size or smaller. It makes a CMB check opposed by the ship’s captain’s Profession (sailor) check, but the kraken gets a cumulative +4 bonus on the check for each size category smaller than Gargantuan the ship is. If the kraken grapples the ship, it holds the ship motionless; it can attack targets anywhere on or within the ship with its tentacles, but can only attack foes on deck with its free arms and can’t attack foes at all with its beak. Each round it maintains its hold on the ship, it automatically inflicts bite damage on the ship’s hull.

Tenacious Grapple (Ex) A kraken does not gain the grappled condition if it grapples a foe with its arms or tentacles.

Once Abendigo has been defeated, the party can pry open its beak and recover the StormFist, an emerald six inches across carved to resemble a clenched humanoid fist.

StormFist (minor artifact)

This emerald is six inches across, and is carved to resemble a clenched humanoid fist.

A character holding it can cast control weather at will, but only to create rain, storms or wind. Once per day, it can be used to cast control winds to create winds of any intensity or direction the bearer wishes. In any case, the bearer themselves is immune to any penalties from the inclement weather, including being blown away. Alternately, it can be mounted to the prow of a ship to render the entire ship itself protected from any kind of inclement weather (rain, wind, etc).

Destruction

The stormfist shatters into a thousand pieces if it is ever struck by nonmagical lightning on a calm, clear day.

Act 2 (3:30pm-5pm)

NOW IS A GREAT TIME FOR A BREAK. TELL PEOPLE TO STRETCH THEIR LEGS.

Returning to the Dex, the party has as long as they wish to rest and recover. However, when the navigator returns to their cabin.

Tacked to the wall in your cabin is a stretch of leather – no, not leather: skin. On the flayed skin is an elaborate map, seemingly cut into the skin and still red as though the welts were fresh. However, only a single spot bleeds with fresh ink: an X that marks the spot.

The skin is the pitiless chart, an artifact that always shows a perfect map of the normally unavigatable Arcadian Ocean. The X marks the spot of the Braid: a vortex of water sailing out of the darklands.

The Arcadian Chase

Once the party is rested and recovered, they must sail out into the Arcadian Ocean.

The Arcadian Ocean, just west of Port Peril, is home to the ruins of the great Azlanti Empire. What had been a bountiful and powerful realm is now little more than ten thousand spires of rock that are nearly impossible to sail. At least, for anyone without a map.

The party must make Profession (sailor) checks guided by the navigator’s Survival checks.

The journey from Garund to Azlant is an uneventful four day trip, but as the ruins come into view the party is approached by a fleet of small cutters. The cutters are manned by Mordant Elves – who use magic to boom out a message “these seas are not to be travelled”. Unless the party immediately turns around, the mordant elves open fire.

There are dozens of ships between the party and their goal – the party must avoid them over the next ten hours of their journey. Before that, the party has to break through the line of cutters (enduring 10 more shots) – then the race begins.

Each hour one character has to make a DC 40 Perception check to stay on track, and one character must make a DC 30 Profession (sailor) check to guide the ship. For each check failed, 1d4 cutters catches up to the party and must engage them in combat.

Mordant Cutter
Sailing +10
Attack five light ballistae +8 (15d8; 70 damage per round)
AC AC 5+sailing; Hp 500

Down the Braid (4pm)

The mordant elves avoid the Braid, as within it stir all sorts of terrible beasts. Besmara, however, does not. She knows that the Braid’s magic comes directly from Gozreh’s domain, so when the party approaches the bubbling vortex that is the surface of the Braid, she appears on their ship.

With the sound like a booming cannon, Besmara appears on the deck of your ship. “Excellent work”, she tells you, “but it’s not done yet. First, we have to sail down here down beneath the ocean, against the current and directly into the domain of Gozreh, god of sea and storms. And soon, god of storms alone.” She smiles madly, and asks: “ready?”

Pineco’s crew isn’t ready, and she’ll have to lash them into shape (anything will do, really). Once they are ready, Besmara goes and stands at the end of the ship, and with a wave of her cutlass the ship tips over and shoots downwards into the water.

Despite the initial surge of speed, movement is slow. Moving against the current only happens at 20 feet per round (200 feet per minute). The sunlight zone (first 600 feet) is safe, and the twilight zone (the next 3000 feet/15 minutes) isn’t dangerous except for the increasing amount of pressure. Each minute, any character not inside the ship must make a DC 15 Fortitude save or take 2d6 damage. Once the party enters the midnight zone (the next 10,000 feet/50 minutes) they have trouble.

First, the pressure gets severe, and all characters not inside the ship must make a DC 25 Fortitude save each minute or take 2d6 damage. Second, it is dark – there is no light here at all. Third, aboleths begin circling the ship – as the braid ultimately leads to their domain. After 20 minutes, if nothing is done to communicate with them, the aboleths take action and begin to assault the ship in droves.

The Aboleth speak Aklo, and while defensive of their realm are hesitant to directly approach a ship carrying Besmara. They do not answer to her, but they fear her. Besmara herself simply focuses on maintaining the ship’s downward trajectory unless prompted.

The aboleth will only be appeased if he party convinces them that they are not going to travel down into the dark lands – bluffing is difficult due to the telepathy of the Vieled Masters.

If the aboleths attack, Besmara summons up (and rides on) a gigantic sea serpent, but more than a dozen and a veiled master continue their assault on the ship, instead of engaging with the goddess.

This combat is underwater, but anyone leaving the ship is carried away (backwards) at 20 feet per round in the current, unless they succeed a DC 25 Swim check.

 

The aboleths create a mucus vortex around the ship:

Mucus Vortex Hazard

Every round, anyone in the swarm of aboleths must succeed a DC 26 Fortitude save each round. On a failed save, the creature reduces their constitution by 4, and lose the ability to breathe air (but gain the ability to breathe water) for 3 hours. This effect can be removed by remove disease, but is considered ability damage for purposes of immunities.

 

16 x Aboleth        (feint DC 18)
LE Huge aberration (aquatic)
Init +5; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +14
Defense
AC 20, touch 9, flat-footed 19
hp 84
Fort +8, Ref +5, Will +11
Offense
Melee 4 tentacles +10 (1d6+5 plus slime)
CMB +13; CMD 24 (can’t be tripped)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 16th)

3/day—dominate monster (DC 22)
STATISTICS
Speed swim 60 ft.

Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.

Languages Aboleth, Aklo, Aquan, Undercommon

 

Veiled Master    (feint DC 27)
LE Large aberration (aquatic, shapechanger)
Init +10; Senses darkvision 120 ft.; Perception +23
DEFENSE
AC 30, touch 15, flat-footed 24
hp 200; fast healing 10
Fort +13, Ref +13, Will +14
Immune electricity, mind-affecting effects; Resist cold 20; SR 25
OFFENSE
Melee bite +16 (2d6+6 plus DC 24 Fort or gain one negative level),
claws +16 (2d6+12)
tentacle barrage +16/8 touch (2d6+3 electricity plus DC 23 Will save or be staggered 1 round)

CMB +19; CMD 35 (can’t be tripped)

Special Attacks delayed suggestion

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 20th; concentration +26)

Constantmage armor

At willdetect thoughts (DC 18), dominate person (DC 21), change shape (any Small or Medium form; greater polymorph)

3/daydominate monster (DC 25), quickened dominate person (DC 21), mass suggestion (DC 22)

Sorcerer Spells Known (CL 12th; concentration +18)

6th (4)-quickened invisibility

5th (6)teleport, quickened charm person, quickened ray of enfeeblement (DC 17),

4th (7)dimension door, phantasmal killer (DC 20)

3rd (7)hold person (DC 19)

STATISTICS
Speed 10 ft., swim 80 ft.
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft. (20 ft. with claws and tentacles)

Languages Aboleth, Aklo, Aquan, Undercommon; telepathy 300 ft.

 

Once the aboleths have been reduced to a soup, Besmara rejoins the ship and reminds them to affix the StormFist to the bow of the ship, so that when it hits the ground, it passes through into Gozreh’s domain instead of smashing into the sea floor.

The bottom of the sea here is littered with masonry. Entire buildings once stood here, now they are nothing more than rubble, covered in thousands of mollusks and sea cucumbers, crawled over by tiny sightless crabs. Flecks of green stone – fingernail-sized shards of the mythical starstone – dot the landscape like stars in the night. You grow uneasy as you get closer and closer to the sea floor, but Besmara and Pineco seem certain, leaning over the bow of the ship together, the ground growing closer and closer…

Act 3 (5pm-630pm)

NOW IS A GOOD TIME FOR A BREAK. TELL PEOPLE TO STRETCH THEIR LEGS.

The ship hits the ground, but rather than splintering apart, the ground seems to give way like a curtain, moving aside into an unearthly realm. You break the surface of a brilliant blue-green ocean, surrounded by fish of all kinds. Angelfish and Tang among thousands of other colorful tropical and freshwater fish alike swim through the air alongside pods of whales in the distance, who break the surface of the sea and resurface as though the air and water offered them equal resistance. High above, and in all directions, the sky is an angry grey, crackling with lightning.

Besmara produces a compass-like device and tosses it to the Navigator: it’ll tell you what direction Gozreh is. The goal is to head directly towards it. She also produces a bottle of her own divine essence: a bottle that can drink up the ocean. She doesn’t hand it to anyone yet.

The Eternal Ocean (515)

Hunting a god in their own realm is harrowing like nothing you’ve ever get before. You sail into a sort of electric pressure, into the heart of a storm that makes the eye of Abendego look tame.

Sailing Gozreh’s realm requires an accumulated total of 200 points of success made against a DC 30 Profession (sailor or pirate) skill check – each representing an hour of sailing. Any number of characters can make this check, but any character who fails results in 5 points of damage to the ship, in addition to 10 points of damage automatically each round. Characters who pass add their skill total -30 to the progress. After eight checks, characters all get fatigued, but they can rest if they need to – although the ship accumulates damage even when the party is resting.

When the party teaches 100 points of progress, the ship is attacked by the Personification of Fury. As it arrives, Besmara disappears.

Just before combat begins, the personification coats the ship in sleet – effectively negating non-PC crew. Any movement on the ship requires a DC 20 Acrobatics check to avoid falling prone on the ice-coated deck.

Ludicrous Movement Hazard During combat, the ship is hurled quite dramatically about. The personification hurls the ship up and down during the fight, and characters must make a DC 20+spell level check to cast any spell. Additionally, at least one PC must succeed a DC 30 Profession (sailor) check each round or the ship is briefly submerged in water, giving all PCs a -4 to all attacks and to AC for a round as they are knocked about in the water and then back out.

Lightning Hazard Starting on the second round, the hurricane begins spitting out a slow-moving lightning bolt each round, targeting a random square on the ship. A bolt that hits the ship does the ship 100 points of damage, but a character can put themselves in between it and the ship by moving into that square, taking 10d6 electricity damage – which can be reduced by a successful DC 23 Fortitude save.

Kraz’tesh Swarm The storm fills with the wings of thousands of icy dragonfly creatures called Kraztesh. These creatures are individually not dangerous to the PCs, but as a swarm they do 1d6 points of swarm damage and cause everyone to be flanked. A square can be cleared by doing 10 points of damage to the area, but it refills with more kraztesh 1d4 rounds later.

Personification of Fury    (feint DC 30)

This creature is over 40 feet tall, a perhaps a black storm cloud compressed into a vaguely humanoid shape. Jagged bolts of lightning form bright, eye-like spots within its churning depths.

N Huge outsider (air, elemental, extraplanar, herald, water)

Init +16; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +22

DEFENSE
AC 30, touch 21, flat-footed 17

hp 195; fast healing 10

Fort +16, Ref +22, Will +9

DR 15/—; Immune cold, electricity, elemental traits

OFFENSE
Melee 2 slams +27 (2d10+9/19–20 plus 2d6 cold or electricity)

Ranged 4 energy rays +22 touch (2d6 cold or electricity/18–20)

CMB +28 (+30 bull rush); CMD 51

Special Attacks vortex (10–60 ft. high, DC 27)

STATISTICS
Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.

Speed fly or swim 100 ft. (perfect)

Languages Aquan, Auran, Common, Druidic, Ignan, Sylvan, Terran
Vortex (Su) The herald can become a vortex of wind and water as a standard action. Creatures in this take slam damage (2d10+9) automatically, and must make a DC 27 Reflex save to avoid being picked up and carried (as though they were grappled). The vortex does not provoke AOOs.

 

After Combat Once the personification is defeated, the party can finish sailing through the storm, which lessens to only requiring a DC 20 check. Besmara does not reappear until they clear the storm.

Swallowing the Sea (6pm)

The sea in front of the ship explodes, as a second vessel breaches the water beside you. Besmara stands at the helm of a rotted ship – bones lashed together with seaweed and all alit with green flame. “I see Gozreh up ahead. Here’s the plan. One of us needs to steal the sea, while the other keeps the sky busy. Since I’m so nice, I’ll let you pick which god you deal with.” She waves her hand over you, and you feel yourselves buoyed by some supernatural energy. “Right, that should protect you from being in the presence of a god’s true form. So, all you have to worry about is being squashed normally.”

Besmara explains that she was getting her herald – the sentient ship the Kelpie’s Wrath – to come and lend a hand. It’ll keep the personification off the party’s back while they focus on other things.

The party quickly comes into sight of an island, floating on a pillar of water up to a vortex of cloud. Gozreh’s throne. The party has to find a way up there – to a massive disk-shaped stone cluttered with the plunder of a thousand wrecked ships. The trouble is that the pillar of water is literally a god’s back, and approaching is likely will result in the island dropping on you.

As the party approaches, the Personification of Fury reappears and Besmara sends her ship off to distract it.

Besmara is upset when she sees the wrecked ships – all that plunder should be hers and her servants, after all. After she realizes how much treasure is here, Gozreh’s Sky Form crashes down on the island, a thirty foot tall man made of black and white cloud. Then, Gozreh’s Sea Form appears around the perimeter of the island – a dozen women made of churning surf. The party feels the divine presence press against their supernatural protection, but hold.

If the party chooses to fight the sea, Besmara gives each of them a bottle – which must be held in the hand while the sea is defeated to draw its essence in. Sky Incarnation will fight Besmara directly, but still make one ranged attack against the nearest PC each round.

If the party chooses to fight the sky, Besmara dashes off to battle with the Sea, using a bottle instead of her blade. The sea begins to shake the platform as the party fights the sky, forcing them to make a DC 15 Acrobatics check (+1d4 per round) to avoid falling into the ocean far below.

 

This man is nearly twenty feet tall, and seems to be made of white marble streaked with black. His legs dissolve into swirling stormclouds, as does his beard, and he wears a crown of lightning on his brow. In either hand, he holds a hammer the size of a man, with a head made of crackling ozone.

Gozreh’s Sky Incarnation        (feint DC 30)

CE Large humanoid (electricity, outsider)

Init +4; Senses blindsense 30 ft.; Perception +24

Defense
AC 35, touch 15, flat-footed 31

hp 328; Regeneration 20

Fort +26, Ref +17, Will +13.

Immune electricity

Offense
Melee +4 returning shocking warhammer +30/+25/+20 (2d6+12 B +2d6 E/×3)

+4 returning thundering warhammer +30/+25/+20 (2d6+12 B + 2d6 So/×3)

Ranged +4 returning shocking warhammer +24/+24/+24/+24 (4d6 electricity/×3)

CMB +31; CMD 47

Statistics
Speed 40 ft.; Fly 40 ft (perfect)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 15 ft.

Languages All

Gear +4 chain shirt, +4 shocking returning warhammer,+4 thundering returning warhammer, amulet of natural armor +2, belt of physical might +4 (Dex, Con), boots of the winterlands, cloak of resistance +3, ring of protection +2, stone of alarm, 1,886 gp

 

SEA is split between seven bodies, around the perimiter of the throne island.

7x Gozreh’s Sea Incarnation        (feint DC 27)

CE Medium humanoid (cold, outsider)

Init +5; Senses blindsense 30 ft.; Perception +5

Defense
AC 26, touch 13, flat-footed 25

hp 131; Regeneration 20

Fort +13, Ref +7, Will +16

Immune cold
Statistics
Speed 30 ft.; Swim 40 ft
Space 5 ft.; Reach 10 ft.

 

Each round, Gozreh’s Sea Incarnations can take a total of three standard actions between all seven bodies.
Offense
Melee+5 keen greataxe +22/+17 (1d12+12/17–20/×3)
Special Attacks channel negative energy (DC 23, 9d6)
Cleric Spells Prepared (CL 17th; concentration +22)
9th—power word kill (kill one target with 100 hp or less, no save)
8th—fire storm (everyone makes DC 23 Reflex or take 17d6 fire damage), power word stun (stun target for 1d4 rounds, no save)
7th—blasphemy (everyone in 40 ft makes Will DC 22 or be stunned for 1 round), destruction (2, target makes DC 22 Will save or take 170 cold damage. On a pass take 7d6 cold instead)
6th—blade barrierD (15d6, 17 squares DC 21), greater dispel magic,

The last one destroyed has Gear+3 light fortification full plate, +5 keen greataxe, amulet of natural armor +1, belt of physical perfection +2, boots of speed, cloak of resistance +1, headband of inspired wisdom +2, ring of protection +2, cold iron holy symbol (worth 500 gp), 4,230 gp

Conclusion

Once all seven seas have been absorbed into the vial, Besmara dashes over and drinks it in a single gulp – causing her to dissolve into water. SKY turns one more round of fury on the party before the entire throne island is hurled away – held aloft by a giant Besmara. She spills the party back onto their ship, and with a single breath sends the Dex back through the veil, and into Port Peril.

The titanic Godess gives you a wink, and then exhales – filling your sails with incredile wind – and you find youselves struggling to hold on as the ship shoots across the endless ocean, and back ultimately to Golarion. You come to a stop just outside of Port Peril, amidst dozens of smaller ships trying to make way for your sudden appearance.

While most of the ships do manage to change their course, none of them could predict the sudden swell that was a twenty-foot tall Besmara rising from the surface of the ocean, dripping with gold and jewels. “Aha, we did it! I was worried that wasn’t going to work for a minute, but it looks like we pulled one over on old two-face back there. You lot really pulled your weight, I’m proud of you.”

At this point, Besmara heaps praise on the party, and asks them to name any reward they could imagine. Being in a good mood, she gives it to them.

THE END

Annex A: Ship Stats

Warship

Colossal water vehicle

Squares 80 (20 ft. by 100 ft.); Cost 25,000 gp

Defense

AC 2; Hardness 10

hp 1,200 (599)

Base Save +0

Offense

Maximum Speed 150 ft. (current) or 60 ft. (muscle); Acceleration 30 ft. (current) or 15 ft. (muscle)

CMB +8; CMD 18

Ramming Damage 8d8

Description

This ship is treated with reinforced wood, and is used for short-distance forays and troop deployment. A warship can carry 50 tons of cargo or 160 soldiers.

Propulsion current (air and water; one mast, 160 squares of sails, hp 800) or muscle (pushed; 80 Medium rowers)

Driving Check Profession (sailor) or Knowledge (nature) +10 to the DC

Forward Facing the ship’s forward

Driving Device steering wheel

Driving Space the nine squares around the steering wheel, typically located in the aft of the ship

Crew 60 (assume 6-8 PCs), means 52 NPCs (40 5th level warriors, 10 level 10 rogues, 2 notable NPCs

Decks 2

Weapons Six Huge direct-fire siege engines in banks of three on the port and starboard sides of the ship. The siege engines may only fire out the sides of the ship they are positioned on. They cannot be swiveled to fire toward the forward or aft sides of the ship. These weapons cannot be used while the warship is being rowed.

 

Annex B: Ship Roles

Boatswain: The boatswain, or bosun (pronounced “bosun” either way), is responsible for the upper deck of the vessel and above. This makes the boatswain accountable for all rope, rigging, anchors, and sails. At the start of the day, the boatswain and those under her weigh anchor, raise the sails and report on the general condition of the ship’s deck to the captain. As she oversees many of the ship’s basic daily labors, the boatswain is often responsible for keeping discipline and dispensing punishment.

Cabin Boy/Girl: Servant to the captain and other officers, this low-ranking and typically young crew member assists other sailors in their duties and runs various errands across the ship, requiring him or her to gain a measure of understanding of almost all the ship’s roles.

Captain: The ultimate authority on any ship, his word is law to all on board. The captain chooses where to sail, what to plunder, and who fills the other stations aboard the vessel, among many other command decisions. Leadership often proves perilous, however, as a captain is, above all, meant to secure success for his ship and crew. Failing to do so increases the threat of mutiny.

Carpenter/Surgeon: No matter what enchantments or alchemical unguents augment a pirate ship, its heart and bones are still wood. This simple fact makes the carpenter one of the most important positions aboard any vessel. Carpenters are chiefly responsible for maintaining the ship below the deck, finding and plugging leaks, repairing damage, and replacing masts and yards. As the crew member most skilled with the saw, the carpenter typically serves as a ship’s surgeon as well—bones cut just as easily as timbers.

Cook: While the quartermaster normally allocates the rations, the cook and his apprentices make and distribute meals to the crew. Although some better-outfitted vessels employ skilled cooks to attend to the captain and the officers, many cooks are drawn from crew members who have suffered crippling injuries, allowing them to still serve even after such trauma.

Master-at-Arms: Concerned with the security of the ship, the fitness of the crew, and the dispensing of justice, the master-at-arms typically is one of the most feared and dreaded of a ship’s officers.

Master Gunner: The master gunner is in charge of all shipboard artillery, ensuring moisture and rust don’t ruin the weapons and that the crew knows how to use them. On board ships with firearms, the master gunner maintains the vessel’s cannons, firearms, and powder supplies; on ships without such weapons, she maintains the ballistas, catapults, and so on.

Quartermaster: The quartermaster oversees the supplies and items stored aboard the ship. She maintains the supplies of food and weaponry, oversees the disbursement of food to the cook, and doles out the rum ration to the crew.

Rigger: Riggers work the rigging and unfurl the sails. In battle, next to that of a boarding party, the riggers’ job is one of the most dangerous, as they pull enemy vessels near enough to board.

Swab: Any sailor who mops the decks. Also used as slang for any low-ranking or unskilled crew member.

 

Appendix: Full Statblocks

Abendigo CR 20 – XP 153,600    (feint DC 39)
Giant Advanced Kraken

NE Gargantuan+ magical beast (aquatic)

Init +4; Senses darkvision 120 ft., low-light vision; Perception +28

Defense

AC 35, touch 3, flat-footed 35 (+34 natural, –6 size, –1 dex)

hp 370 (20d10+270)

Fort +25, Ref +11, Will +11

Immune cold, mind-affecting effects, poison; Resist electricity

Offense

Speed 10 ft., swim 40 ft., jet 280 ft.

Melee 2 arms +32/28 (23; 2d8+14/19–20 plus grab), 2 tentacle barrages +34/20 (14; 2d6+7 plus grab), bite +30 (28; 4d6+14)

Space 30 ft.; Reach 30 ft. (80 ft. with arm, 60 ft. with tentacle)

Special Attacks constrict (tentacles, 2d6+10), ink cloud, rend ship

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 15th)

3/day—control weather, control winds, dominate monster (DC 24, animal only), resist energy

1/day—horrid wilting (DC 23, 15d6 damage within 30 feet)

Statistics

Str 38, Dex 8, Con 37, Int 21, Wis 20, Cha 21

Base Atk +20; CMB +40 (+44 grappling); CMD 49 (can’t be tripped)

Feats Bleeding Critical, Blind-Fight, Cleave, Combat Expertise, Critical Focus, Improved Critical (arm), Improved Initiative, Improved Trip, Multiattack, Power Attack

Skills Intimidate +25, Knowledge (geography) +25, Knowledge (nature) +25, Perception +28, Stealth +11, Swim +41, Use Magic Device +25

Languages Aquan, Common

SQ tenacious grapple

Special Abilities

Ink Cloud (Ex) A kraken can emit a cloud of black, venomous ink in an 80-foot spread once per minute as a free action while underwater. This cloud provides total concealment, which the kraken can use to escape a fight that is going badly. Creatures within the cloud are considered to be in darkness. In addition, the ink is toxic, functioning as contact poison against all creatures caught within it. The ink cloud persists for 1 minute before dispersing. The save DC against the poison effect is Constitution-based.Kraken Ink: Ink cloud—contact; save Fort DC 29; frequency 1/round for 10 rounds; effect 1 Str damage plus nausea; cure 2 consecutive saves.

Jet (Ex) A kraken can jet backward as a full-round action, at a speed of 280 feet. It must move in a straight line, but does not provoke attacks of opportunity while jetting.

Rend Ship (Ex) As a full-round action, a kraken can attempt to use four of its tentacles to grapple a ship of its size or smaller. It makes a CMB check opposed by the ship’s captain’s Profession (sailor) check, but the kraken gets a cumulative +4 bonus on the check for each size category smaller than Gargantuan the ship is. If the kraken grapples the ship, it holds the ship motionless; it can attack targets anywhere on or within the ship with its tentacles, but can only attack foes on deck with its free arms and can’t attack foes at all with its beak. Each round it maintains its hold on the ship, it automatically inflicts bite damage on the ship’s hull.

Tenacious Grapple (Ex) A kraken does not gain the grappled condition if it grapples a foe with its arms or tentacles.

 

16 x Aboleth        CR 7 – XP 3,200 (feint DC 18)

LE Huge aberration (aquatic)

Init +5; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +14

Aura mucus cloud (5 feet)

Defense

AC 20, touch 9, flat-footed 19; (+1 Dex, +11 natural, –2 size)

hp 84 (8d8+48)

Fort +8, Ref +5, Will +11

Offense

Speed 10 ft., swim 60 ft.

Melee 4 tentacles +10 (1d6+5 plus slime)

Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 16th)

At will—hypnotic pattern (DC 15), illusory wall (DC 17), mirage arcana (DC 18), persistent image (DC 18), programmed image (DC 19), project image (DC 20), veil (DC 19)

3/day—dominate monster (DC 22)

Statistics

Str 20, Dex 12, Con 22, Int 15, Wis 17, Cha 17

Base Atk +6; CMB +13; CMD 24 (can’t be tripped)

Feats Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Weapon Focus (tentacle)

Skills Bluff +11, Intimidate +14, Knowledge (any one) +13, Perception +14, Spellcraft +13, Swim +24

Languages Aboleth, Aklo, Aquan, Undercommon

Ecology

Environment any aquatic

Organization solitary, pair, brood (3–6), or shoal (7–19)

Treasure double

Special Abilities

Mucus Cloud (Ex) While underwater, an aboleth exudes a cloud of transparent slime. All creatures adjacent to an aboleth must succeed on a DC 20 Fortitude save each round or lose the ability to breathe air (but gain the ability to breathe water) for 3 hours. Renewed contact with an aboleth’s mucus cloud and failing another save extends the effect for another 3 hours. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Slime (Ex) A creature hit by an aboleth’s tentacle must succeed on a DC 20 Fortitude save or his skin and flesh transform into a clear, slimy membrane over the course of 1d4 rounds. The creature’s new “flesh” is soft and tender, reducing its Constitution score by 4 as long as it persists. If the creature’s flesh isn’t kept moist, it dries quickly and the victim takes 1d12 points of damage every 10 minutes. Remove disease and similar effects can restore an afflicted creature to normal, but immunity to disease offers no protection from this attack. The save DC is Constitution-based.

 

Veiled Master    CR 14 – XP 38,400 (feint DC 27)

LE Large aberration (aquatic, shapechanger)

Init +10; Senses darkvision 120 ft.; Perception +23

DEFENSE

AC 30, touch 15, flat-footed 24 (+4 armor, +6 Dex, +11 natural, –1 size)

hp 200 (16d8+128); fast healing 10

Fort +13, Ref +13, Will +14

Immune electricity, mind-affecting effects; Resist cold 20; SR 25

OFFENSE

Speed 10 ft., swim 80 ft.

Melee bite +17 (2d6+6 plus consume memory and slime), 2 claws +17 (1d6+6 plus slime), 4 tentacles +12 touch (2d6+3 electricity plus thoughtlance)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft. (20 ft. with claws and tentacles)

Special Attacks delayed suggestion, mucus cloud

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 20th; concentration +26)

Constantmage armor

At willdetect thoughts (DC 18), dominate person (DC 21), hypnotic pattern (DC 18), illusory wall (DC 20), mirage arcana (DC 21), persistent image (DC 21), programmed image (DC 22), project image (DC 23), veil (DC 22)

3/daydominate monster (DC 25), quickened dominate person (DC 21), geas/quest (DC 22), mass suggestion (DC 22)

Sorcerer Spells Known (CL 12th; concentration +18)

6th (4)symbol of persuasion (DC 23)

5th (6)symbol of pain (DC 22), teleport

4th (7)dimension door, phantasmal killer (DC 20), symbol of slowing (DC 21)

3rd (7)clairaudience/clairvoyance, explosive runes (DC 20), hold person (DC 19), secret page

2nd (8)blindness/deafness (DC 18), invisibility, levitate, symbol of mirroring (DC 19), touch of idiocy

1st (8)charm person (DC 17), comprehend languages, erase (DC 17), ray of enfeeblement (DC 17), silent image (DC 17)

0 (at will)arcane mark, dancing lights, daze (DC 16), detect magic, ghost sound (DC 16), mage hand, message, read magic, touch of fatigue

STATISTICS

Str 22, Dex 22, Con 27, Int 21, Wis 19, Cha 22

Base Atk +12; CMB +19; CMD 35 (can’t be tripped)

Feats Arcane Strike, Combat Casting, Combat Expertise, Eschew MaterialsB, Extend Spell, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Quicken Spell, Quicken Spell-Like Ability (dominate person)

Skills Knowledge (arcana) +21, Knowledge (history) +21, Knowledge (nature) +21, Perception +23, Sense Motive +20, Spellcraft +24, Stealth +21, Swim +33, Use Magic Device +22

Languages Aboleth, Aklo, Aquan, Undercommon, one more; telepathy 300 ft.

SQ change shape (any Small or Medium form; greater polymorph), runemastery, swift transformation

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Consume Memory (Su)

When a veiled master bites a creature, it consumes some of that creature’s memories. The creature bitten must succeed at a DC 24 Fortitude save or gain one negative level. A veiled master heals 5 points of damage each time it grants a negative level in this way, and also learns some of the target creature’s memories (subject to the GM’s discretion). This is a mind-affecting effect. A veiled master can suppress this ability as a free action. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Delayed Suggestion (Sp)

Whenever a veiled master successfully uses dominate person or dominate monster on a creature, it can also implant a delayed suggestion that triggers when dominate effect ends. Typically, this suggestion (which functions as a spell-like ability, CL 20th, Will DC 19 negates) is for the previously dominated creature to seek out the veiled master again and submit to a new domination attempt, but sometimes, a veiled master implants other suggestions (such as a suggestion to attack the first person it sees).

Mucus Cloud (Ex)

While underwater, a veiled master exudes a cloud of transparent slime in a 30-foot-radius spread. All creatures in this area must succeed at a DC 26 Fortitude save each round or lose the ability to breathe air (but gain the ability to breathe water) for 24 hours. Renewed contact with this mucus cloud and failing another save extends the effect for another 24 hours. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Runemastery (Ex)

A veiled master is particularly skilled at casting spells that create magical writing, such as explosive runes, secret page, or any spell with the word -symbol- in its name. It never requires material components or focus components when casting such spells, and the save DC of any of these spells increases by 1. A veiled master’s symbol spells are difficult to disarm–the Disable Device DC for these symbols increases by 2.

Slime (Ex)

A creature hit by any of a veiled master’s bite or claw attacks must succeed at a DC 26 Fortitude save or have its skin and flesh transform into a clear, slimy membrane over the course of 1d4 rounds. The creature’s new -flesh- is soft and tender, reducing its Constitution score by 4 as long as the condition persists. If the creature’s flesh isn’t kept moist, it dries quickly and the victim takes 1d12 points of damage every 10 minutes. Remove disease and similar effects can restore an afflicted creature to normal, but immunity to disease offers no protection from this attack. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Spells

A veiled master can cast spells as a 12th-level sorcerer.

Swift Transformation (Su)

A veiled master can use its change shape ability as a swift action.

Thoughtlance (Su)

Four of a veiled master’s tentacles end in glowing spheres of light. These spheres deal 2d6 points of electricity damage on a touch attack, and also blast a creature’s mind with waves of mental energy–a creature touched by one of these tentacles (regardless of whether the touch deals electricity damage) must succeed at a DC 24 Will save or be staggered for 1 round. Additional touches increase the duration by 1 round. While a creature is staggered in this manner, it must make concentration checks to cast spells as if it were experiencing extremely violent motion while casting (DC = 20 + spell level). The save DC is Charisma-based.

 

Personification of fury        CR 15    (feint DC 30)

This creature is over 40 feet tall, and looks like a cross between an air elemental and a water elemental, or perhaps a black storm cloud compressed into a vaguely humanoid shape. Jagged bolts of lightning form bright, eye-like spots within its churning depths.

XP 51,200

N Huge outsider (air, elemental, extraplanar, herald, water)

Init +16; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +22

DEFENSE

AC 30, touch 21, flat-footed 17 (+12 Dex, +1 dodge, +9 natural, –2 size)

hp 195 (17d10+102); fast healing 10

Fort +16, Ref +22, Will +9

Defensive Abilities air mastery; DR 15/—; Immune cold, electricity, elemental traits

OFFENSE

Speed fly 100 ft. (perfect), swim 90 ft.

Melee 2 slams +27 (2d10+9/19–20 plus 2d6 cold or electricity)

Ranged 2 energy rays +27/+22/+17/+12 touch (2d6 cold or electricity/18–20)

Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.

Special Attacks drench, vortex (10–60 ft. high, DC 27), water mastery, whirlwind (10–60 ft. high, DC 27)

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 17th; concentration +21)

At willcreate water, invisibility (self only), summon monster II (air or water elemental only)

5/day—air breathing (as water breathing, but allows water-breathing creatures to breathe air or water), control water, control weather (as a druid), water breathing

1/daybeast shape IV, possess object, summon monster IX (air or water elementals only)

STATISTICS

Str 28, Dex 35, Con 22, Int 15, Wis 15, Cha 18

Base Atk +17; CMB +28 (+30 bull rush); CMD 51 (53 vs. bull rush)

Feats Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Flyby Attack, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Critical (slam), Improved Initiative B, Iron Will, Mobility, Power Attack, Weapon Finesse B

Skills Acrobatics +29, Escape Artist +32, Fly +27, Knowledge (nature, religion) +22, Knowledge (planes) +13, Perception +22, Sense Motive +14, Stealth +24, Survival +11, Swim +17

Languages Aquan, Auran, Common, Druidic, Ignan, Sylvan, Terran

SQ change shape (air or water elemental; elemental body IV)

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Air Mastery (Ex)

Airborne creatures take a –1 penalty on attack and damage rolls against the herald.

Drench (Ex)

The herald’s touch puts out Huge or smaller non-magical flames. The herald can dispel magical fire it touches as dispel magic (caster level 19th).

Energy Ray (Ex)

The herald can shoot rays of cold or electricity up to 100 feet. These can threaten a critical hit on a roll of 18, 19, or 20.

Vortex (Su)

The herald can create a whirlpool at will as a standard action. This ability functions identically to its whirlwind special attack, but can only form underwater and cannot leave the water.

Water Mastery (Ex)

The herald gains a +1 bonus on attack and damage rolls if both it and its opponent are touching water. These modifiers apply to bull rush and overrun maneuvers, whether the elemental is initiating or resisting these kinds of attacks. (Unlike a water elemental, the herald does not have a penalty if it or its opponent is touching the ground.)

 

Gozreh’s Sky Incarnation CR 17        (feint DC 30)

CE Large humanoid (electricity, outsider)

Init +4; Senses low-light vision; Perception +24

Defense

AC 35, touch 15, flat-footed 31 (+9 armor, +2 deflection, +4 Dex, +11 natural, –1 size)

hp 328; Regeneration 20

Fort +26, Ref +17, Will +13.

Defensive Abilities evasion; Immune electricity

Offense

Speed 40 ft.; Fly 40 ft (perfect)

Melee +1 returning shocking warhammer +27/+22/+17/+12 (2d6+12 B +2d6 E/×3), +1 returning shocking warhammer +27/+22/+17 (2d6+12 B + 2d6 E/×3)

Ranged +1 returning shocking warhammer +24/+24 (4d6 electricity/×3)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 15 ft.

Statistics

Str 32, Dex 19, Con 27, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 10

Base Atk +19; CMB +31; CMD 47

Feats Double Slice, Dreadful Carnage, Endurance, Furious Focus, Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved Iron Will, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Iron Will, Point-Blank Shot, Power Attack, Precise Shot, Toughness, Two-Weapon Fighting, Two-Weapon Rend, Weapon Focus (warhammer)

Skills Acrobatics +8 (+12 when jumping), Climb +23, Diplomacy +5, Heal +9, Intimidate +23, Perception +24, Perform (sing) +5, Sense Motive +11, Stealth +17 (+21 in snow), Survival +14; Racial Modifiers +4 Acrobatics when jumping, +4 Stealth in snow

Languages All

Gear +4 chain shirt, +1 shocking returning warhammer (2), amulet of natural armor +2, belt of physical might +4 (Dex, Con), boots of the winterlands, cloak of resistance +3, ring of protection +2, stone of alarm, 1,886 gp

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Why I didn’t like Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon

So, a new Pokemon game came out a few weeks ago: Pokemon Ultra Sun (and Ultra Moon). I’m a huge fan of these games, and I usually get them on release day and beat them in only a few weeks. This is true for Pokemon Ultra Sun as much as it has been for the last… three or four generations over the last decade.

But unlike every Pokemon game before, I think Ultra Sun isn’t a good game. I don’t think it’s a terrible game, but neither is it at least good.

This is a “third” edition of the game – part of a tried and true formula that pokemon games follow where the initial game contains two very similar variants on the same story (for instance, in Ruby the goal was to get Groudon to destroy humanity to save Pokemon, while in Sapphire the goal was to get Kyogre to do the same). Then in the follow up, there’s some extension of that. Black and White had a full-blown sequel,  Ruby Saphire had a conjoined plot where both Kyogre and Groudon were on the rampage at the same time.

Ultra Sun is that game. Except that it doesn’t add anything. Not really. Sure, there are four new ultra beasts, a new boss-rush-style trial near the end of the game, and a new minigame that lets you catch legendaries, and another where you can add stickers to photos you take of your pokemon, but those add up to, a two or three hours of play time, tops (unless you’re really into catching every legendary again in the current generation). These are new things the game adds, and they’re fine. Good even. But out of the 50 hours it took me to reach the credits, they’re 5% of the game.

There are also a bunch of small tweaks. They make up a lot more of the game, and for the most part they’re good. But they’re mostly things like the specifics of which pokemon you fight in which order, and the exact text people say. But also at the same time they didn’t change things like the weird way everyone in the last island asks you to be a champion before the pokemon league exists. They didn’t change the 1.5 million points required to reach the last level of the photo minigame, after the second-last level was 100 thousand. They didn’t change the way that your character never displays a single emotion through action or facial expression.

The biggest change is the villian of the game – there isn’t one. There’s a villian in Sun and Moon. But in Ultra Sun, she’s just… a not particularly nice person. Like, she’s not even mean – just a little bit bossy. Instead, there are some added characters who show up a whole bunch of times and occasionally get in your way, only to eventually reveal that there is an injured legendary pokemon who you need to defeat in battle to save the world. And sure, the stakes get raised, but all the tension is let out. A big thing I loved out of the original SuMo (Sun and Moon) games was the very intense story between the main companion characters and the villian about parent-child relationships. And it’s basically been scrapped, in exchange for what I feel is a bland man-versus-nature story.

Part of the problem of this new story is how tacked on it feels. The main actors in this new story are new characters. They don’t participate in any scenes except for scenes that include only them until about 3/4 through the game. And even then, there’s this disconnect between the plot of the formerly-villian (which has stayed mostly the same) and their plot, because they replace everything that made the villian good with her being a hero willing to make sacrifices and who also happened to have been a controlling mother.

See, in SuMo, she loses her husband through a dimensional rift, and becomes obsessive and controlling as she fails to come to terms with it. She insists on controlling everything, down to forcing her children to be borderline slaves in her search for a way to bring her husband back. And the plot is the rebellion of those children and how it drives the villian to embrace literally alien monsters as a replacement family. And then how the children realize how she wasn’t trying to hurt them, even if she did stop them from living their lives. And on the way, you save the world from an alien invasion.

In Ultra SuMo, the plot is about the same until her children rebel. Then, it kinda stops. They have one or two scenes where she and her children realize things are better now that the children got to rebel, but that’s all. These new characters who came rather literally out of nowhere try to fill all of this with “we came from a destroyed world. We want to save it”, which they say in a dozen variations over the course of the game. Then, the formerly villian decides that she can save that other world, because her world might be at risk. But she abandons these new characters who have supposedly been helping her in favor of one-upmanship. They say repeatedly that they have a way to go to their other world, so why does the former-villian still insist on catching the wormhole-generation pokemon and trying to kill it? She stabs these newcomers in the back for no reason, and then goes to try and save their world… Despite that being a visibly bad plan.

It’s coherent enough, I guess, but it’s this huge failing in what the game could have been. For everything that was tweaked and replaced, why cut the really interesting character development? Maybe it was too deep for their target audience? I could see that – it explains the dramatic simplification of the plot. I’m a little bit more analytical than their ten year old target market. But… I just feel that if you’re going to cut something, you’ve got to do a better job filling the holes that it leaves.

There’s another possibility too, that the villian of this game was cut to allow the post-game story to have a villian return from a previous game. It was clearly enough one of the marketing angles for the game: rainbow rocket, a parallel universe version of team rocket. But, they’d have worked just as well if they had shown up out of nowhere (like they more or less do already) in the original SuMo and it wouldn’t have hurt anything.

I haven’t actually beaten rainbow rocket yet – i just saw their opening scene. But no matter what their literal goal is, it can’t fix the life being sapped out of the original game as it was.

I’d have bought into all of this if it had been added as a downloadable add-on for the original SuMo, rather than a full game. It would have been really neat to have the plot about these new characters coming out of nowhere and asking you to save their world from a raging pokemon god. And maybe you have to take them through the locations in the original game so they can prepare to stop it if it ever happens again.

But no, it was a full game, requiring 50 hours and a full price game purchase to tell 1 hour of new story, which mostly weakens the story it’s built into.

So, yeah. That’s my thoughts on Ultra Sun and Moon. Maybe I’ll feel differently after I’ve cleaned up the post-game story, or completed the pokedex. I don’t expect to. What are your thoughts?

Straight Path Games is Launched!

So, I just started a company.

Like, ten minutes ago. Or maybe longer if you’re reading this in the future. Ten minutes ago from having started writing this. I’m very excited. It’s called Straight Path Games.

logo-draft-2

Straight Path Games is a small digital publishing company with the intent on creating tools, essays, and systems with the intent on making roleplaying games easier to use, and more accessible to new players.

I have a handful of products in the pipeline already, the first of which is The Wealth System, intended to ease the burden of having to track, calculate, sell and manage all the treasure parties in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game have to do.

I’m very excited. Wish me luck!

Book Review – Gardens of the Moon

So, this book. It took me a few weeks to get through, and although I’ve finished it, its still on my mind. The biggest reason is because I don’t know if I liked it or not. And part of the problem is there are so many good and bad things that I can’t make up my mind.

The first thing about the book it’s sheer size. It’s 700 pages plus a little over a hundred pages of appendix and preview and such. That’s about the size of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Except that is a whole story, and this is the first of nine books (or more, only nine were listed in my copy). That’s much too big for a paperback, I feel. Like, physically it was difficult to hold. 

Now, Gardens of the Moon introduces a whole huge sprawling fantasy world. Unlike Lord of the Rings, it jumps in with both feet. The first few chapters start to set the scene fairly well, but every five pages a new character, or school of magic, or god, or group or race is introduced. And that continues for like, three hundred pages. That’s the length of most whole books.

Once all he introductions are complete, a there’s  lot of really neat action and plot development as the characters fight to find out what’s going on. Each section is written from the perspective of a different character, so it does some really cool fight scenes in the middle of the book where mid-fight it changes perspective to reveal something else tabout o change the tide of the fight.

Now, I say sections because the book isn’t divided into chapters the way normal books are. I mean, there are chapters, and there are collections of chapters called books, but the physical chapters don’t seem to have a clear definition. The ‘books’ do, but the chapters have very little definition because the actual writing is constantly jumping around between characters and Scenes as the plots go on. I think it’s because the book was originally written to be a TV show, that it’s broken down this way.

Which is the next thing. There is no single plot to this book. I guess there is kinda the question is “does the empire tconquer he clast free city”, but the real problem is that this is not actually the goal of any of the main characters. One of the antagonists wants it to happen, and a bunch of minor characters are working towards it in the background; but everyone is worried about what the gods are doing. 

And the gods are trying to convince or force or guide mortals to… Win? It’s not entirely clear, except that everyone keeps trying to kill the god of luck. The god of shadows wants to kill the empress, but while it says that’s what it’s trying to do the actions it takes seem entirely unrelated. “I’m going to kill the empress” it says, sending its strongest assassin to the front lines of the war, on another continent. 

There are a lot of smaller plots. Paran, one of the main characters, wants to be a hero. Then, he wants to kill his boss and maybe the empress when someone (who was lying to him) tells him his boss is trying to get him killed. 

Ben and Kalim want to kill the character Sorry, because she has been possessed by the god of assassins. Then, 3/4 through the book, another character causes Sorry to become unpossessed and that’s the end of that plot, they spend the rest of the book trying to conquer the city like all the minor characters were doing.

WhiskeyJack and Tattersail (the characters mentioned in the back of the book) are planning  something. Their plans aren’t featured in this book, although maybe Whiskeyjack wants to overthrow the empire because the new empress is trying to kill him. He spends most of the book being a generic rebellious captain character until it’s revealed in the last two chapters he has a magic connection to a rebellion on another continent. Tattersail dies not even halfway through the book, but gets reincarnated and you see her for three lines two hundred pages later.

Kruppe and a bunch of other named characters whose names never stood out enough to clearly remember… They’re in the last free city. They each have different goals, but the only one that gets resolved is that the fallen noble gets his land back because someone kills the people who took it from him in the last scene.

Baruk the alchemist and Murtallio the writer want to keep the last free city free. However, almost exclusively they serve as devices for the reader to learn what the arantagonists e up to. Crone the giant magic crow wants to be the antagonist of book four or something. She’s around a lot asking questions but basically doesn’t do anything.

Then there are the antagonists. The Adjunct wants to kill Whiskeyjack, and Sorry, and capture the last free city. She uses Tool, who belongs to one of several ancient, dead races who get mentioned way too much, because both of them have antimagic  powers. With Tool she wants to free The Tyrant, who could probably destroy be last free city, and would probably be able to stop Rake.

The  Tyrant, by the way, gets four chapters of build up, then kills five dragons in two pages and escapes a god trying to catch him before getting killed by a minor character using a weapon that wasn’t mentioned before it blew the Tyrant up.

Rake is a member of another ancient dead  race. He has a flying palace, everyone is scared of him. He wants the empress dead because she keeps trying to kill him. He also wants to stop anyone else from killing her. Partway through the book, he kills two demigods and scares away a god. Then, he later turns into a dragon. He spends two chapters preparing to fight the Tyrant and then ends the book by fighting a summoned demon who was never mentioned before the fight scene but could destroy the continent.

As you can see, there’s a lot of plots. And most of them don’t tie in together. Yet. There was a forward that explains the series was always intended to be eight books long. Which is too much, IMO. Because every time something big is mentioned you know it’s going to be the subject of another book.

Now, all this complaining aside, I think wthere as a lot of good in the book. It was all well  written, and there was a very good middle. But the ending was seriously marred by things that never got explained stopping god-powered threats, and new elements coming out of the woodwork.

For instance, the book builds up to a fight between Rake and the Tyrant, but then never pays off, as the Tyrant is stopped by plot hole A and Rake fights plot hole B. I don’t see any reason the fight that was foreshadowed couldn’t have replaced both plotholes.

There’s also the ofcomplexity  the book. It gives the world a ton of flavor and depth and uniqueness, but it happens to overshadow that no character or group of characters was interesting to deserve their own book.

If they closed that plot hole ending, and cut out all those characters whose names I forgot, the book would have probably been only 450 pages, and much more engaging and clear.

And now that I’ve written it down, hopefully I’ll be able to get it out of my head.

Recurring Villains – Legal Nightmare

As you might know, a lot of Roleplaying games involve facing off against antagonists. Bad folks who are the source of the party’s troubles – whether directly trying to kill the PCs, or indirectly by trying to… overthrow the king or something.

The real problem is, they don’t get a lot of screen time. They occasionally get some build up as the party encounters their servants, but most of the time, when they show up – the party surrounds them and kills them in a few short rounds, not learning who they are or why they’re doing what they’re doing. No matter how good their backup plan is.

So, how do you make villians come back for a second round? And more importantly, how do you do so without feeling like you’re screwing the party over with a deux-ex-machina?

Well, having them be actually part of encounters against their minions is one way, and having them become increasingly present in the background of the campaign is another.

But even better is finding a way to have the villian confront the party in a way where taking the villain out is more trouble than letting him go.

If you don’t like the combat, stay out of the dungeon

This isn’t something every villain can do, but encountering the party in a neutral public location is an excellent way to avoid bloodshed. As bloodthirsty as many PCs are, they also have a sense of self-preservation that extends out to not getting themselves arrested for obvious murder.

As soon as the party knows who the antagonist of their adventure is, or vice-versa, they should start seeking them out in civilized places. Town squares, royal balls, or at their favorite merchant. These places provide a huge safety net for the villain, because the moment the party starts drawing their swords, casting their spells and charging into battle, they become the criminals.

And even if the party is the one who calls the guards, unless they already have proof of the villain’s wrongdoing they’re just making a scene. And the guards will be keeping a much closer eye on them in the future.

Trait – Fantastic Snacker

Fantastic Snacker: You don’t eat on the same sort of schedule as anyone else, picking and choosing throughout the day rather than eating a few large meals and mostly abstaining in between. You gain a +1 trait bonus on any effect that would make you fatigued as you’re more often full than not, and you only eat half as much as normal at meals – though you ultimately eat the same amount throughout the day.

First introduced in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Players Guide, traits are a minor way to customize your character, typically on character creation.

Trap – Heat Seeking Boulder

Quick, take a left, that giant rolling boulder can’t turn corners!

– Famous Last Words

A giant boulder that falls from its mount and begins chasing someone down a long, straight tunnel is so common that it’s almost a fantasy trope. And it’s a good one – there’s no clever escape, just you versus how much time the trap maker gave for the boulder to run down the hallway.

But for particular cruelness, you give that boulder a touch of sentience through magic, perhaps by means of a bound earth elemental. Just enough that when you dive out of the way, the boulder changes directions in order to crush you anyways.

Homing Boulder Trap CR 9

Type mechanical and magic; Perception DC 16; Disable Device DC 31

Effects

Trigger proximity (location); Duration 6 rounds; Reset none

Effect a large boulder begins rolling down a predetermined pathway at 20 feet per round. Characters struck by this boulder take 4d6 bludgeoning damage and are knocked prone. Every round, the boulder either accelerates by 20 feet, or change direction up to 90 degrees. Alternately, it can stop on a dime and resume rolling in any direction at 20 feet per round. The accelerations not only makes it possible to crush faster and faster characters, but increases the damage done if struck by the boulder by 2d6 points. Characters can make a DC 20 Reflex save when they would be struck by the boulder for half damage.

The boulder has 500 hp, and hardness 6.

For maximum effectiveness, the boulder should have at least 400 feet of straight corridor, or for maximum surprise in a large open space 200 feet to a side.

Recurring Villians – a Man, a Plan

As you might know, a lot of Roleplaying games involve facing off against antagonists. Bad folks who are the source of the party’s troubles – whether directly trying to kill the PCs, or indirectly by trying to… flood the continent or something.

The real problem is, they don’t get a lot of screen time. They occasionally get some build up as the party encounters their servants, but most of the time, when they show up – the party surrounds them and kills them in a few short rounds, not learning who they are or why they’re doing what they’re doing. No matter how good their backup plan is.

So, how do you make villians come back for a second round? And more importantly, how do you do so without feeling like you’re screwing the party over with a deux-ex-machina?

As I’ve mentioned previously, a good villian needs some allies. But there’s one more problem with recurring villians: the party should know what their deal is.

A Visible Plan

Any memorable villain has a good plan. A plan that, to them at least, seems like something that would benefit more people than it would cause trouble too. Although, part of what makes them evil is often a subjective vision of who ‘people’ are in each situation, and how much benefit is worth versus cost. But, good villain motives is a separate topic. Regardless of what their plan is, for a villain to be memorable, the players need to know what they’re doing.

This is always a challenge, because it’s always hard to get information into the players hands. An NPC who knows important details might be missed, killed, or derailed before they reach the relevant information. A nefarious journal might be ignored, forgotten, or never reached. Players miss a lot of information, and they only remember some of it. Flat-out telling the PCs via monologue isn’t out of the question, but it’s a little heavy handed.

Which is why it’s important to have whatever evil plan your villain is undertaking to be visible. If they’re raising a cult, the party needs to start fighting cultists on a regular basis, sure, but they also need to start seeing cultists around even in normal situations. Their favorite barkeeper puts up a cult symbol in his bar. Someone on the street asks them to convert. Visible things, things that are everywhere. PCs need to be reminded constantly, and the more often they’re reminded, the more urgent they’ll think the issue is.

If the PCs are fighting body snatchers, and they hear rumors of it every time they go shopping, that’s good. If a minor NPC they interact with goes missing, or a major NPC they know about, that’s better.

The point of all of this isn’t just to make the PCs aware of the problem, but it’s to make the PCs realize that there are clues to be found. Because once the party is on the trail, they become very receptive to clues (sometimes too perceptive). They will figure things out on their own, and even actively start looking for them.

Variant Skill Checks – Lowest Check

The skill check is a simple part of the entire d20 family of gaming systems, and it’s about as simple as it gets. Need to find a letter in a box? Roll a d20 and add the appropriate skill modifier. Need to forge a weapon? Roll a d20. Need to convince a visiting noble to back you at the gala? Roll a d20. Need to disarm a complex trap in the middle of combat or navigate through a forest? roll a d20.

It gets dull when everything other than combat is just resolved by rolling a d20. There’s a single moment of tension and then no matter how complex the task it’s over instantly.

Which is why I like to play around and do something different once in a while.

Lowest Skill Check

At most tables, if the GM tells a party “you don’t find anything”, the result plays out something like this.

Player 2: “I also roll… 22”

Player 3: “I got a 28”

Player 4: “I only got a 4, I see my feet”

And the implication is that somehow, each character takes turns searching the entire room, because the first person didn’t see anything when they searched.

And while there’s a certain degree of handwavery involved in playing a game, sometimes you want it to be a little more realistic, because the players don’t actually need to find every treasure, or sometimes it’s more interesting for the party to miss a key or a clue. Such as when they’re working on a time limit, or searching for something they they don’t know is present – because there’s obviously nothing in those drawers I looked there twice– or trying to impress someone looking for a reason to dislike them.

The mechanics of this are fairly simple: if the whole group rolls for something that they can’t actually cooperate on, use the lowest roll instead of the highest. It’s a staggering, new direction for gaming, really.

Recurring Villains – Don’t Go Alone

As you might know, a lot of Roleplaying games involve facing off against antagonists. Bad folks who are the source of the party’s troubles – whether directly trying to kill the PCs, or indirectly by trying to… flood the continent or something.

The real problem is, they don’t get a lot of screen time. They occasionally get some build up as the party encounters their servants, but most of the time, when they show up – the party surrounds them and kills them in a few short rounds, not learning who they are or why they’re doing what they’re doing. No matter how good their backup plan is.

So, how do you make villians come back for a second round? And more importantly, how do you do so without feeling like you’re screwing the party over with a deux-ex-machina?

Don’t Go Alone

One major flaw with many villain encounters is that when it’s time to face off against the PCs, they do so one-on-one. Except that the party’s “one” is actually four to six competent adventurers. So unless the villain is so powerful that their every attack threatens the survival of a party member, that six-to-one disadvantage means they’re going down fast.

It’s important, if not critical, for villains that you intend on being recurring to have an entourage. Preferably of at least two competent bodyguards, if not three or four. Maybe a pet.At bare minimum some sort of summon monster spell in their back pocket.

And these guards shouldn’t be pushovers, either, they’ve got to be a real threat to the party to keep the attention off their boss for long enough for him to escape when combat goes south. They should be a distinctly real threat to the PCs, and interesting to boot. After all, what good antagonist keeps generic soldiers as bodyguards, of the same sort who the party has been cutting down in two rounds for half an adventure now?

Not full-fledged villains on their own, these bodyguards should nonetheless be interesting characters. Yet it’s not just enough for them to be “a moderately powerful wizard” or “a capable fighter”. They should have distinct looks and visible fighting styles, as these bodyguards are around only for this fight. The oiled wrestler who shouts with every attack might use the same statistics as the 5th level monk from the NPC Codex, but he’s going to stand out a lot more than “an unarmed man”. A slender man whose face is cloaked in shadows, and whose fingertips glow as he casts spells might just be 9th level evoker – but damned if he isn’t more memorable than “the wizard”.

Not only does being a hair more detailed help these characters stand out from their rank-and-file counterparts, it also has a side effect of taking some of the attention away from the fellow they’re guarding. When the buff wrestler leaps into the fray screaming and grabbing the rogue, the party is looking at him – not the sleazy merchant they’ve been chasing down as he ducks into a secret door. By sheer virtue of the bodyguard having a distinct description the party isn’t focusing on chasing after (and thus killing immediately) their real target, letting them come back a second time. And that second time, even if it’s only a few encounters later, is going to be much higher stakes – and much more interesting as a result.