Tag Archives: RPGs

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Four, Nineteenth Session

Elenuta the Fetchling

Elenuta the Fetchling

Nineteenth Session (10 page pdf) – “No Substance But Horror” – The party finally finds the bosses of shadow Boroi Manor – and are promptly defeated and enslaved. But maximum kill always finds a way!

So they bust in to kill Nicasor and company but they get a little caught up in murdering the mostly harmless fetchlings lounging around.  This gives the bad guys a couple rounds to get ready, which means Nicasor’s up and ready and his summoner friend Elenuta is invisible and already has her eidolon ready and a summon in progress.

It goes bad for the PCs.  Sindawe natural-1’s a save and goes down suffocated by the shadowy snake eidolon. He has to spend an Infamy Point to come back into the fight (“I was feigning death, like a 1st edition monk!”). But the snake gets Serpent as well and Nicasor cuts Sindawe down again, and Sindawe has no choice but to surrender or die.

But Nicasor doesn’t want these pirates dead – he wants the Heart dead so he can get out of this damn dimension. He lets them  heal and herds them down to fight the Heart for him.  It’s a tenebrous tendriculos! I didn’t beef that up from the actual module because I figured they’d be beat to hell by then.

They kill the Heart, and then they turn on Nicasor and Elenuta and get the better of them this time. They break the mirror and are out.  When it comes time to demand their shadows back they notice Serpent already has one… And it’s Chmetugo the shadow demon!  He’s free and back on the Prime Material.  He skedaddles to leave the pirates to decide if they should kill everyone in the county or not. After a moment of it hanging in the balance, they decide not.

And then they tend their wounds and plan their trip to froghemoth country! And they decide to take Rucia the waitress with them, lest she be discovered and tortured to death for being chosen by Desna.

Now here’s a bonus for you – all the bad guys for the whole thing, as I statted them up in Hero Lab, in PDF!  Nicasor, Elenuta, the Heart, etc.

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Four, Eighteenth Session

Nicasor the Shae

Nicasor the Shae

Eighteenth Session (12 page pdf) – “Shadowland” – The shadowy version of Boroi Manor is full of horrors. But they find Wogan’s sister and nephew!

They actually negotiate with Nicasor the shae, the boss in here. They’re not real happy with Baron Stepan so they are not sure who to throw in with (or just kill everyone, but they figure they’ll defer that decision a little while).

Then it’s more haunted house. Furniture comes to life and attacks, shadows come out of pictures, the usual.

My favorite part is how they go to a room full of keys, with one magical key that looks like a tuning fork. They get it and escape as the rest of the keys turn into a swarm and attack; they get out and slam the door and it only turns their summoned cat into gelatin. And then what do they do?  “I wonder what this key does…” They hit the key and of course it’s a chime of opening and the door holding back the key swarm swings open. Oh, I laughed and laughed. You can’t plan stuff like that if you try.

Serpent starts showing disregard for loot, which starts a very long-running gag within the group where they suspect him of being a doppleganger. He’s usually a very “and don’t forget to take their boots” kind of guy.

They find Anya and Marek and try to go get out, assuming Stepan was lying about them having to destroy the Heart to escape.  Sadly, he wasn’t. But they still think he’s lying. Nobles, can’t trust ’em.

Since they can’t get out… Next step, go kill Nicasor and Elenuta!  Not strictly required, but they were about ready to kill someone…

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Four, Seventeenth Session



Seventeenth Session (8 page pdf) – “Beyond The Midnight Mirror” – The pirates venture into the Shadow Realm beyond the Midnight Mirror to rescue Wogan’s kin.

This is a good old shadow dimension dungeon crawl, where the shadow version of the manor house becomes more twisted from reality the farther they proceed. This fits into the general category of “haunted house crawl” that I’ve always found to be a player favorite.

They find Baron Stephan’s brothers, now turned into various kytons (which they refer to as Cenobites and variations such as sex-o-bites and hanging-o-bites).  I needed to both amp up and horror up the adventure as written, as it was for fourth level characters and was PG-rated. Both unacceptable!!!

Anyway, some horror, some fights, and then they find the fetchlings that have been trapped in stasis here for like a thousand years, who are all full of Underworld vampire type lassitude. And that’s where we leave off…

The 2015 ENnies, My Analysis

The winners of the 2015 ENnie awards were announced at Gen Con this weekend.  Let’s see who won and who I wanted to win! Here’s the full list of nominees for comparison.

Best Adventure

I’m a sucker for the East Texas University setting and adventures, but my picks this year were also the winners, Zak S.’ Red and Pleasant Land (Silver) and the Call of Cthulhu Horror on the Orient Express (Gold), reissued as a big ass boxed set.  Red and Pleasant Land is a significant step forward for RPGs as an art form and I voted it for Gold, just because Orient is a re-issue of an older adventure and that docks it a bit in my estimation.  The Tyranny of Dragons 5e adventure was just kinda poor, and it looks like the voting reflected that.

Best Aid/Accessory

I find it really hard to vote for these “random junk” categories.  Is this dice set better than this CD of sounds? What does that even mean?  But I know the Paizo Harrow Deck is good quality.  It didn’t win, the CoC dice set got Silver (how good can dice be?) and the 5e DM screen got Gold.

Best Cover Art

Not a great year for cover art, I thought a couple of these were pretty generic.  I love the Wayne Reynolds Freeport cover, but it didn’t win. Rise of Tiamat got Gold (that art style does nothing for me) and Achtung! Cthulhu: Rise of the Secret War got a deserved Silver.

Best Interior Art

Dreamhounds of Paris not winning Silver at least is a miscarriage of justice! The Strange’s very cool and profuse art got Gold and the D&D MM (Silver) is decent if workmanlike, but Dreamhounds is about impressionism and surrealism in art…

Best Blog

I’ll be honest, I don’t read any of these.  I have tried year after year to get into Gnome Stew (Silver) because it always wins, but I never can. I don’t really like the “aggregator site” blog metaphor, it makes a lot of content but much of it of indifferent quality IMO (several of the others have the same metaphor). ConTessa got Gold, which is nice,well designed, and promotes women in gaming. It’s the only one that looks like a Web site from this decade. From checking out the nominees I also like DMDavid, as it’s a simple but consistent blog with good articles.

BeSt Cartography

Hm. My picks were the period maps in Horror on the Orient Express and the “pretty modern computer game” maps of Ninth World (Gold).  The Glorantha book got the Silver instead; it’s a good book but I don’t know about the cartography per se, they seem pretty… Simple?  Lots  of  indistinguishable green expanses?

Best Electronic Book

The D&D 5e free Basic rules are certainly notable and deserve the Gold.  Ken Writes About Stuff vol. 2 got Silver which is also deserved, though his writing is often not my cup of tea (Suppressed Transmission just gave me a headache… “What if the local WAL-MART is staffed by SNAKE PEOPLE who serve CHUPACABRA SANDWICHES to the MORLOCKS in the loading dock…”), often coming across to me like crypto-conspiracy Mad Libs. I like his actual games though.

Best Family Game

I voted Doctor Who, since it’s the one that I got my 12 year old daughter and she actually tried to run for her friends. Atomic Robo, which I hear great things about, got Silver and the D&D Starter Set got Gold.

Best Free Product

Well of course the Basic D&D rules get Gold here. Silver went to the 13th Age Archmage’s Orrery but I liked the Doctor Who Arrowdown adventure, a 15 page pro-quality adventure. Orrery is 64 pages but not pro quality layout.

Best Game

No surprise, we all knew D&D 5e was getting Gold and The Strange was getting Silver.

Best Miniature Product

I agree with this – the WizKids D&D prepaints got Gold and the innovative Paizo Pawn set (real module art, hundreds of pawns for $40) got Silver.

Best Monster/Adversary

Achtung! Cthulhu’s Terrors of the Secret War got a deserved Silver and the D&D 5e MM got Gold. The Strange’s bestiary really did deserve something too, but it was a tight race.  I’m not sure if the 5e MM is really as good or just got the “D&D 5e bump,” it’s a fine MM but it’s much like MMs of years past – not that that’s  bad, but is it award-winning?

Best Podcast

I didn’t like how most of these podcasts were very narrowly focused.  I voted Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff for Gold (the one of these I listen to regularly) and it won, the Miskatonic U podcast got Silver. Since I’m not hip deep into CoC or The Strange or whatever I probably won’t be starting in on any of these others, except maybe NPC Cast, I’ll check that out.

Best Production Values

The D&D Starter Set got Gold and Horror on the Orient Express got Silver, which is bizarre if you open up both and compare them (Horror is like a chest full of cool shit).

Best RPG Related Product

Usually I give this category a big “bah” because it’s an even weirder grab bag than Best Aid/Accessory, but this year’s Designers and Dragons books that are a history of RPGs are certainly notable and deserve their Gold. The Temple of Elemental Evil board game got Silver.

Best Rules

D&D 5e got Gold and it’s pretty well deserved IMO. Mutant: Year Zero got Silver, a game which was nominated in lots of categories and I have never heard mentioned until these awards (and I’m pretty active online).

Best Setting

Red and Pleasant Land got Gold here, and The Strange got Silver, which is all well and as it should be, both of these were true innovators. Dreamhounds of Paris was also good and my friend Bruce is doubtless cutting on himself right now since the Glorantha book didn’t get anything here (though it did get the Diana Jones award, so he’s actually pretty gloaty about it).

Best Software

Gold to Roll20, Silver to Hero Lab – finally we have truly outstanding pieces of software in the RPG space. I use Hero Lab all the time and would use Roll20 all the time if I did much online gaming.

Best Supplement

Gold to the 5e DMG and Silver to Pathfinder Unchained.  (Is the DMG really a supplement and not core rules? Most games have that in their core rules nowadays). Anyway, taxonomic complaints aside, good picks. Paizo continues to innovate inside the 3.x realm with Unchained.

Best Website

Look can someone explain this to me.  Every year The Escapist gets nominated and usually wins, this time getting Gold. Go click on that link.  It’s a dead Goddamned site.  Forums, closed down. Features, not in a decade. Archives, end in 2011. Blog, exactly three posts this year.  WHAT THE FUCK?  Am I missing some large and active part of this site amidst all the dead links? I have to be missing something because as best as I can tell it’s a DEAD GODDAMN SITE GETTING GOLD EVERY YEAR. Politics? Money? Sex? How is this happening? I mean, they do tweet I guess, is it just because of their Twitter stream? Then be honest and link to that!  (And maybe they should put a tweet-stream on their front page if that’s the real draw!)

Tabletop Audio, on the other hand, is a proper Web site that got a deserved Silver.

Best Writing

Red and Pleasant Land took Gold and the D&D 5e PHB took Silver.  I’m not sure I think “Writing” when I read the D&D PHB.  Best Rules yes, but Writing, I mean, technically it is writing, but I expect “Best Writing” to be like, good and not just rules explanation (like in Red and Pleasant Land). Or Designers & Dragons, which is also nominated here despite only being “RPG Related” in category (?)

Product of the Year

The D&D PHB in Gold – I mean, it’s a new D&D release, you gotta expect that.  What’s more surprising is the dark horse indie Red & Pleasant Land getting Silver, bringing it to 4 ENnies and one of them being in the most prestigious category! I hope this means less business as usual and more innovation – even a lot of Kickstartered stuff is “here’s just another FATE game” and more real out of the box stuff (which to be fair Numenera and The Strange also are, as well as adventures like Dreamhounds of Paris).

Fan’s Choice for Best Publisher

Gold for WotC and Silver for Paizo!  Quite an upset because Paizo is very beloved by all their fans.  Mearls and Crawford did a yeoman job in dragging D&D/WotC’s reputation out of the shitter this year (come on, I think that’s fair to say) by being accessible even while not delivering on some things fans care about (like licenses).  Increased transparency has helped a lot here – I’m not sure WotC has gotten better than Paizo in an absolute sense but they sure get a gold star for “most improved,” that’s for sure!

How about you, what did you want to win that did (or didn’t)?

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Four, Sixteenth Session


The Triumph of Death

Sixteenth Session (13 page pdf) – “Painted Shadows” – Ansar’s paintings hide a dark secret; Wogan’s sister and nephew are kidnapped by the evil that lies on the other side of the Midnight Mirror.

The PCs go to see one of Ansar’s masterworks… And naturally it attacks. I use Pieter Bruegel’s “The Triumph of Death” as the visual. Ansar the glyph-bearing gendarme and disturbed painter gave in to the temptations of the shadows and is now a shadowy lurker from U1 Gallery of Evil, a shadow creature that can travel through paintings.

They burn the first painting and Ansar flies off with a “the child will be ours!” They run to the child Olga’s room in the temple but she’s fine.  Then with a start Wogan realizes it might be his baby nephew the undead creature was talking about!  After a sprint across town to the manor house they find out that indeed Anya and the baby have gone missing. And there’s an Ansar original in the basement.

The PCs and household go down there and get an even bigger setpiece battle. Painted night hags and kytons and undead! Ghosts and hounds and barons! It’s a fun time.  Finally they take the bad guys all out but no Anya…  U1 Gallery of Evil is all done but The Midnight Mirror is just cranking up.

The baron takes them to his study and explains that they’ve probably been taken into a shadow mirror artifact thing in the basement his family uses to make deals with a shae (shadow creature) Nidal style. He asks the PCs to get their shadows removed, go in there, and destroy the mirror from the inside. “That sounds sketchy as shit.  OK.”

They go back down to the basement and think to check the dungeon and on its guard and inmate. They find Yuris and Isiem melded into a single piece of Kuthite art. Their bones are fused to the ceiling, their flesh hangs festively. Blood pools on the floor.

Baron Stephan says, “Ah.” He closes the door.

Next time, into the midnight mirror!


Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Four, Fifteenth Session

fallenFifteenth Session (9 page pdf) – “Casting Shadows” – The proximate cause of the plague is revealed, and it’s… Samaritha?!?

With their weapons, the PCs return to the inn and find Samaritha all fevered. The others go to talk with Rucia and leave Serpent to his wife, but she ends up being too much for him – she goes all black-eyed and starts melting him to shadows with her touch.  They manage to drive the creature inside her out, it’s some incorporeal shadow thing. It goes down into the common room and they have to play seek-and destroy, and they do so quickly to my disappointment.

Replacing the weird twist in the actual Midnight Mirror module I had an umbral lurker moving between people – have you seen the movie Fallen, with Denzel, where a demon moves from person to person? It’s like that. And it leaves behind a little present, tallowthroat.  The little girl was infected and passed it on to Samaritha, who while possessed hid the weapons chest herself! I was hoping I could play Fallen with them for more sessions but Serpent was super johnny on the spot about rooting it out and killing it.

Back to investigation. While the plague has been nipped in the bud there’s clearly other weirdness afoot. They meet Baron Stepan, who is a bit agitated and, it turns out, not casting a shadow. Suspicious! Then they meet a ghost in the basement and find out Stepan had some brothers what disappeared. And they interrogate a petty thief in the manor dungeon for a hot lead on candlesticks.


Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Four, Fourteenth Session



Fourteenth Session (11 page pdf) – “The Candle Is Snuffed” – The plague is revealed to have a sinister, more shadowy nature, and a visit to the local candle-shop turns gruesome.

Things get weirder. Besides the local torture-god, and Samaritha getting KOed and their weapons box stolen, the plague seems to end with shadows tearing out of a person’s throat. The fact that their weapons are locked up and they can’t use divine magic or get executed by faithful locals puts a crimp in the PCs’ activities, but as things escalate they quickly go into zombie apocalypse “THE RULES OF SOCIETY ARE NO MORE” mode.

After drafting some local deputies, they go to the candle store and bust in and Sindawe runs up and punches… A wax golem that looks like a storekeeper. That’s surprising, but not eventually fatal (to the PCs).

Wogan says, “He was a wax man. Just like Olya described.”
One guardsman replies, “Yeah… Wait, what?!?”
Sindawe explains, “Yup, she described that wax guy just before she fell asleep. He lured her into his wagon with candies, then bragged about how he would get away with everything because the guardsmen are dumbasses.”
Both guardsmen stare at Sindawe.
Sindawe continues in Aklo, “Wogan, grab the cash box while I take the law guys into the next room.” In common he says, “Let’s go do some good!”

Then as they investigated I laid on the horror atmosphere. Shit, I even use the cat-jump scare in this one.  I’m not proud.

Tenebrous Worm

Tenebrous Worm

Then it’s a big ol’ proper fight, with a fun ecology – gloomwings and a tenebrous worm. They’re freaked out enough that they want to run but Serpent gets hit by their confusion so they have to come back and help him – he snaps out of it briefly but when he’s tempted into “just one attack before I run” he gets caught by it again.  Ah, adventurers. They kill all the critters and then, besides the loot, find out that someone’s been making sacrifices to Chmetugo the shadow demon.

Remember Chmetugo from the Devil’s Elbow in Season Two? And how he took over the head of the Cypher Lodge? Well he’s back! More, next time!