Author Topic: Shattered Isles  (Read 1878 times)

Offline phaedrusxy

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Shattered Isles
« on: November 08, 2021, 04:58:18 PM »
So... I started a new game with my kids.  :lmao

My son and I took a long road trip (6 hrs each way), and spent quite a bit of it discussing D&D. Eventually, the discussion reached the following conclusion: he'd really like to play a binder, but they're weak and he likes stronger characters... Eventually, we of decided to come up with a setting where all the tier 1 and 2 classes were banned (with in-world reasons), and to also beef up binders a bit. We're basing it off the Sky Raiders book by Brandon Mull, if you're familiar with it (and if not... you should go read it right now). The setting is technically a post-apocalyptic Eberron where his old character was responsible for and/or involved in "breaking the world".

What's left of the material plane is a series of "islands" floating over an endless void of space. Some of them are fairly large, like small continents, but most are small, and they all move around slowly with respect to each other... So there are no reliable maps, and getting around involves flying somehow (there are blimps), and is insanely dangerous (most of the ruins on these "islands" are haunted and/or housing some kind of terrible, ancient evils leftover from before the breaking of the world, etc). It can also be very lucrative, and hence of course there are idiots who go around plundering them. They are typically called "sky pirates", and are pretty deserving of the name... because they are not averse to robbing and/or stealing children and conscripting them to use to explore the (insanely dangerous) ruins.

The first adventure involved only my son's character, with him starting out as "level 0" and encountering a medusa who instead of turning him to stone decided to train him as a binder. He then went back and joined the "crew" he'd been a slave of previously as a "full member", and they raided a keep with 5 skeletons, with the two NPCs with him both getting beaten up pretty badly (one below 0 and one just barely above), but no one actually dying (which I regard as a success when DMing 1st level characters...).

We've brainstormed quite a bit, and are even considering writing up a campaign book for this. A few details:
1) the gods all died and/or were "cut off" from the world during the "breaking"
2) the prime material plane was actually cut off from or moved further from the outer planes, and closer to the elemental planes
3) all the dragons died as part of the "final battle"
3) because of 1, 2, & 3, there are no wizards, sorcerers, clerics, druids, etc. (Basically all the T1&T2 classes).
4) "Benders" are a thing (as in Avatar: The Last Airbender). We're using some homebrewed classes that look a lot like warlocks. Here's the Airbender class: https://dnd-wiki.org/wiki/Bender_of_Air_(3.5e_Class) (Oof.... looking at that, it is incredibly weak... will almost certainly buff it...)

Debating on whether to allow beguilers, warmages, and dread necros. Leaning towards yes, but making them mostly NPCs.

We're using PF1 as the base ruleset, but allowing 3.x material.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2021, 05:17:53 PM by phaedrusxy »
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Offline Nanshork

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Re: Shattered Isles
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2021, 12:34:22 AM »
I have no real input except to say that we do have a homebrew bending system on the board although I don't remember anything about it so it might not be good.

It could be scavenged for buffing ideas.

Offline phaedrusxy

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Re: Shattered Isles
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2021, 09:51:28 AM »
I have no real input except to say that we do have a homebrew bending system on the board although I don't remember anything about it so it might not be good.

It could be scavenged for buffing ideas.
Thanks. I thought you guys might have suggestions for that. :) Basing it off either a warlock or martial adept chassis seems like it would make the most sense.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2021, 09:53:03 AM by phaedrusxy »
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Offline phaedrusxy

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Re: Shattered Isles
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2022, 12:32:42 PM »
Ran a few sessions in this world, mostly with just my kids, but also with a couple of their friends. Working well so far. The water bender class is a lot more developed and my daughter has been playing one of those. Still thinking I'll convert this to 5e, but right now we're playing in PF1e with 3.5 material allowed.

Had really basic adventure where they explored a stereotypical haunted keep with skeletons, and with a trapped porticullis that was supposed to shut behind them if they went in (one of them found it using Search, and they set it off before they went in... effectively trapping the skeletons inside and allowing them to shoot them like fish in a barrel... I gave a couple skeletons bows just to make it the slightest bit interesting. :D

Next adventure we started but haven't finished yet, and I will probably add this one to the book (if we ever publish one...). It is set on a volcanic island with a jungle where almost everything is "giant" (giant ants, trees, etc). There are two main villages: one of fire-benders (and fire themed creatures) around the mouth of the volcano, and a water-themed village near a waterfall closer to the edge of the island. Of course... they hate each other, and sometimes the fire people come attack the (peaceful :P ) water village. We haven't quite completed this one yet, but put it on hiatus to run an encounter with a couple other kids who joined us for a couple of games.

I also elaborated a bit more on the cosmology in this one. The material is now mostly "severed" from the elemental plane of earth, and is "closer" to the elemental plane of air. That's why there is less earth and more air (a la... sky islands). Hence, metals and other materials are much more rare. Portals to the elemental planes of air, water, and fire are fairly frequent, and can be used as hubs for long ranged travel. This is because the elemental planar geometry is more stable than the prime (where the floating islands move around). So you can map routes between portals in the elemental planes, and use them to get back and forth to the prime locations connected to them.

Finally, the last encounter (which we also haven't completed yet) involves a peaceful island with an "enchanted" forest with a holy (hallowed) grove in its center. A unicorn lives there with a few other magical creatures. However, there is a set of dark catacombs beneath this island inhabited by vampires and other undead.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2022, 12:34:53 PM by phaedrusxy »
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Offline phaedrusxy

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Re: Shattered Isles
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2022, 10:41:04 AM »
Started yet another "chapter" in the Shattered Isles campaign setting. This one is a traditional "urban"/intrigue focused arc, which will probably ultimately have little to do with the rest of the setting. It is occurring in a corrupt metropolis on one of the islands. It does make for a fun twist on things, such as having the "underground" be literally under the bottom of the sky island (houses hanging down on the bottom side of it, in perpetual shadow, and connected to the topside via tunnels, etc). Since these islands move around, and can occasionally crash into each other, I decided that the slums should be on the edges, and higher priced real estate nearer the center where it is safer from "crashes". I found a great picture of "the Edge" (slums) to use, also. I described this as "buildings literally on top of one another, going right around the lip of the island, all the way down until they join with the underworld". (Picture is from Rio, evidently).
(click to show/hide)
Overall, I decided to have the island be a crater, with a lake in the middle and a small island in the center of that (where the Governor lives). The rim of the crater has some of the highest priced real estate, and the outer slopes beyond that are what turns into the slums. The whole thing is the result of an ancient meteor impact, and an infusion of the meteoric metal (adamantine...) is what strengthened the whole thing enough to remain intact after the "Shattering" of the world.

So far I'm running it as a solo campaign for just my son's binder character, who he is playing as a mercenary spy/investigator type of character. Had great fun in the first session with him trying to track down the source of one crime gang's sudden infusion of wonderous magic items, which has gave them an edge against other local gangs. They are pressing this advantage with violent "bombings" (neckace of fireballs), etc. He managed to witness one of these attacks, and was beginning to follow one of the assailants, but then the gang member was attacked by a ripper (Cityscape), and he was put to sleep by being caught in the area of effect. It was a great nail-biting moment, and we of course had an intermission right at that point where he was knocked out and wondering if he was dead/captured/etc. :D

We resumed, and he used a dog to track the ripper into the sewers where he used Malphus' bird to see it eating the unfortunate criminal, and got a really good look at how horrific the ripper is in the process. He then decided to leave the ripper well enough alone (good choice... it's a tough CR 6 and he's level 3, lol), and go try tracking down one of the other criminals that fled the scene. He ultimately succeeded, and found a hideout of the gang. We stopped there for the night.

We had a lot of intrigue with him spying on another criminal gang's methods of passing messages along to their boss, etc, as well, which was at least as much fun (probably more so) than the actual plot/action parts. I also had him pick up on a random pick pocket who was working the area when he was making regular spot checks to make sure he wasn't being followed, just to give a feel for how nasty the city is. :)
« Last Edit: January 05, 2022, 10:53:31 AM by phaedrusxy »
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Offline phaedrusxy

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Re: Shattered Isles
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2022, 10:57:49 PM »
He charmed a gang member, and got her to tell him everything she knew about the gang's new secret benefactor/boss. He then reported this to the Bescaru clan, his primary employer (he actually took payment from 3 different groups..., but the Bescaru's paid him double to tell them first, and sit on the information for 24 hrs before reporting to anyone else). He decided to sneak in (with his charmed gang girl) and watch the show go down... Several of the Bescaru family trickled in through the night, and then finally the new boss/benefactor showed up just after 3 AM (which is when he always shows up). Once he'd arrived, the Bescaru's began lobbing flasks of alchemical knockout gas and flashbangs (blind if fail Fort save). They put on gas masks and closed their eyes, and so were immune, and within a couple of rounds they'd either killed or incapacitated everyone in the place except for the two bosses, the PC and his charmed "slave", and themselves. The underboss ran into a safe room and shut the door behind him, ditching his new "benefactor"... but after a couple of rounds of their attacks bouncing off him, they realized they'd bit off more than they could chew. Dahm (the Binder PC) then made a knowledge check and identified the "benefactor" as a vampire, and told the Bescaru's who promptly retreated, only managing to lose one member in the process.
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Offline phaedrusxy

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Re: Shattered Isles
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2022, 11:06:49 PM »
The next night my son was joined by his sister and her best friend. My daughter decided to play a lower level version of her old Mind Pirate (human, and a member of the Bescaru clan). Her friend played a changeling agraramel. My homebrew is popular among my kids and their friends. :) The game session was a murder-mystery, with three people having gone missing in the past week, and reports in the area of a "ghost". Numerous people complained of terrifying moaning sounds, and one corpse had been found with no marks on it. The other two victims just disappeared during the nights when the moaning was heard. A good Search check (I let them get the benefits of the Investigate feat without actually taking it... because that seems like something Search should actually do...) let them figure out that the guy had suffocated.

I had forgotten that the Agraramel has a devastating (to murder-mystery plots) ability to see what's transpired in an area over the past few days as if they rewound time and watched a security tape at super speed. So... one moment spent on Visions of the Past, and a good Lore check later, and they knew they were up against a cloaker... After stuffing some wax in their ears, and taking other similar preparations (the binder bound a vestige that gave Blindsight and Immunity to Mind Affecting, and they used Silent Image to create a "victim" to lure it into an ambush), they made very short work of the enemy before it even had a chance to retaliate.

I did have some GREAT inspiration for future games, though... and can't wait to see how those play out. So far they seem to really like the intrigue-based scenarios better than traditional D&D.
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Offline phaedrusxy

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Re: Shattered Isles
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2024, 09:35:19 AM »
All kinds of stuff happened since I last posted for this game, then we abandoned this campaign for over a year but we're picking it up again. My memory is unfortunately not great... I was reusing plot elements from an amazing intrigue-based game that I'd played in online in a PbP on mythweavers. So my memories from that game and the one I recycled for my kids are kind of mashed together... lol.

I know they were investigating the death of a teenage girl that mysteriously appeared to have fallen off of or out of a the keep of a prominent family in the city. It was her home, and it turned out that she wasn't so nice. She and a couple other kids had bullied another girl in the past, and that girl had basically taken off on her supervillain arc and came back to murder them. She was a Tome Assassin NPC I made up. The PCs wound up confronting her at some point, I think, but she escaped and murdered another of the three kids. They were trying to protect the third and then that plot somehow led them down another one. (This is where my memory is really murky...).
I know the real plot is that a deepspawn outside the city is replacing prominent members of society with its clones. I think they stumbled onto this because one of the guards who was watching over the prominent third target of the assassin just happened to have been replaced, and the Mind Pirate PC stole his memories and learned of the plot. They didn't learn the exact nature of what is happening, only that he and the others involved are slavishly serving something they call "the mother". His memories of the mother were very vague and spotty and involved a very dark cavern, tentacles, pain and death. They did learn that this involves many prominent figures in the city being controlled/replaced (I can't remember if they know which).

They learned of a "party barge" for the elite that was about to leave the city that is piloted by a Captain Talon Zane. He's an NPC that had showed up earlier in the campaign, but had died. The current PCs did not witness his death, but had heard the rumors (one of them knew him). When he shows up again, they are confused and confront him but he brushes it off with some quip like "The rumors of my death are obviously greatly exaggerated". He says his current route takes him near the location they seek, and offers to take them. In reality, he is a deepspawn clone, and is taking all the party goers to the deepspawn to be eaten and replaced. :D That's where we left off. They had just set sail. We're planning to resume tonight with a couple of new PCs who will likely just be "party goers" on the barge (or hired guards, etc).
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Offline phaedrusxy

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Re: Shattered Isles
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2024, 03:09:35 PM »
Decided they were too low level (4th) to take on a Deepspawn, and so had them catch on that the captain and crew were clones, a fight broke out, and the ship crashed into a different island en route. Going to run a modified version of the Ghosts of Aniel there next game. On a related note: my homebrewed Warper class is overpowered as hell on a flying ship if you let them teleport people into open space/overboard.
I don't pee messages into the snow often , but when I do , it's in Cyrillic with Fake Viagra.  Stay frosty my friends.