In my Reavers on the Seas of Fate campaign, to form my own adventure path/campaign I have adapted a dizzying variety of adventures and supplements. Here’s the list of what I’ve used with my thoughts on each! It’s in rough order of when I used them.
Mashing up 3e, 3.5e, and Pathfinder adventures together is so easy to do that it’s silly not to. Unless you’re one of the clinically OCD rules obsessives out there, you can draw from a wide variety of material for any campaign. So I merrily combined them, subbing in PF versions of monsters if it’s easy and restatting major NPCs using Hero Lab if I feel like it. Also, since we go for a gritty, roleplay-heavy approach it’s not unusual for one short module to last 3 6-hour sessions (with tentacles into sessions before and after).
The overall plan for this season was “Second Darkness plus the Freeport Trilogy,” since Golarion’s Riddleport and Green Ronin’s Freeport are kissing cousins. I augmented with a lot of standalone d20-era Atlas Games and Green Ronin adventures. The Atlas Games ones are a little staid as written, but only mooks run adventures as written. Using them gives me NPCs and maps and setpieces, and then I worry about adapting the plot and amping them up to higher levels of depravity.
Plus, I’d run a pirate campaign before where I realized all these 3e adventures went to pains to put their settlement out in the middle of fricking nowhere because they just wanted to write a module not in someone’s game world. Converting the “surrounded by trackless mountains” to “on an island surrounded by water” is trivial to change. Early d20-time was rife with level 1-3 adventures to pillage! Our super slow level advancement is partially so I could get more of them in.
- Atlas Games 3e “Penumbra” scenario “Maiden Voyage”
- Sinister Adventures 3.5e pdf adventure “Mysteries of the Razor Sea”
I mashed these two up to make the group’s first adventure in sessions 1-2. Both are first level ghost ship scenarios; Maiden Voyage focused more on the ship and crew the players were travelling with. Mysteries of the Razor Sea was totally about the ghost ship – it had more horror and is tougher. So I felt they complemented each other well; basically I used the ghost ship from Razor and everything else from Maiden Voyage, with some changes to lead in to the next part of the adventure. Thalios Dondrel, son of Mordekai, was a hit and has become a recurring NPC.
- “The Sable Drake” adventure from WotC’s 3.5e sea book Stormwrack.
- “Water Stop” adventure from Atlas Games’ En Route II: By Land Or By Sea
I mashed these two up for the very next adventure in sessions 3-4 – the island with escaped slaves from Water Stop was where the goblin “pirates” (made more Golarioney) from Sable Drake attacked. The wererat-goblin captain escaped and stowed away and became part of the fun in Riddleport later.
- “Shadow in the Sky,” the first chapter of the Paizo 3.5e Second Darkness Adventure Path, starting with “Cheat the Devil and Take his Gold”
I enriched Riddleport heavily with Freeport information, locations, and NPCs from some of the many Freeport books I have (I’ve got every version of it ever, and all the miscellaneous supplements).
- “St. Casperian’s Salvation,” the optional adventure from Shadow in the Sky
Sessions 4-5 were an intro to Riddleport and the major players there with these two adventure pieces.
- “Three Days to Kill,” a 3e “Penumbra” Atlas Games adventure
I adapted the power groups to be various local ones and set the PCs loose on this in the sixth session.
- “Death in Freeport,” the first Green Ronin’s 3.5e adventure from the famous Freeport Trilogy
I’ve run the Freeport Trilogy before and it’s great, especially when you replace the crap 1HD serpentfolk they have with the uber tough Pathfinder serpentfolk. (My players disagree! 🙂 This filled up sessions 7, 8, and 10 and parts of some others.
- “Holiday In The Sun,” an interstitial adventure included in the Freeport Trilogy (was originally a free Web enhancement)
- “Flat On Rat Street” from Shadow in the Sky
These happened during the plot of Death instead of being interstitial and formed the bulk of session 9. The rest of life doesn’t stop for your “adventure!”
- “Mansion of Shadows,” a Green Ronin “Bleeding Edge” 3.5e adventure
Sessions 11, 12, and 13 were all about infiltrating and taking down this location. When you’re a pirate, the lame ass adventure hooks they have in the front of these adventures don’t really matter. Your motivation is GO GET ‘EM AND TAKE THEIR SHIT!
- “Terror in Freeport” from the Freeport Trilogy
The second “Freeport module,” this worked really well with Shadow in the Sky, in fact both have a “defend the base against the bad guys” scene which made for easy combo. We dispensed with most of it in one session, Session 15 because I cut a lot of redundant and lame stuff from Terror (it’s the weakest installment).
- “Madness in Freeport” from the Freeport Trilogy
This, I spread over the entire latter half of the season, integrated totally with the latter half of Shadow in the Sky. This adventure is where the money is, so I used whole additional modules to bolster parts of it.
- “Beyond the Towers,” a Green Ronin “Bleeding Edge” 3.5e adventure
I mixed this up with some of Madness in Freeport to form the Golarion location of Viperwall for sessions 18, 19, and 20. The voodoo/shadow subplot is all me though.
- “A Dreadful Dawn,” a Green Ronin “Bleeding Edge” 3.5e adventure
Mainly to introduce Jaren the Jinx, a new NPC and plot point with long term implications in session 22.
- “Throwdown With The Arm-Ripper,” a Goodman Games “Wicked Fantasy Factory” 3.5e adventure
I augmented this with a random dungeon from Dizzy Dragon’s online generator (the dungeon part of Arm-Ripper was short and weak) but the shrine fights are great! And now that the PCs know a place where you can get body parts regenerated, they keep coming back… This formed sessions 23 and 24.
- “Madness in Freeport” and “Shadow in the Sky” again
- “Rumble in the Wizard’s Tower,” a Goodman Games “Wicked Fantasy Factory” 3.5e adventure
The last four sessions were all Madness in Freeport overlaying Shadow In The Sky with Rumble in the Wizard’s Tower interjected to flesh out the lighthouse. Inserting a dungeon or setpiece from another adventure into another adventure to make it uber is one of my tricks. Plus, I took a NPC/adventure seed from Denizens of Freeport and made the whole shadow-plane side trek in the middle of the climactic fight.
In terms of mini-review of these products – the Freeport Trilogy is great base material to fix up. Second Darkness is good for its first two chapters then it’s very weak once it goes into the elf/drow stuff, so it’s good material to adapt to other purposes. Atlas Games Penubmra adventures are kinda mainstream but rather than having to write a mainstream adventure myself, I can start with one and use my prep time to kick it up a notch. The Green Ronin Bleeding Edge adventures are better, lots of weirder stuff, usable more as-is (though usually with a power boost). The Wicked Fantasy Factory adventures are mainly valuable for their cool setpieces, the rest is very cursory.
In the second season, I moved past the “toss in all the L1-3 adventures I have laying around” approach as the established plot and character and setting took root. Season 2 is basically three Paizo adventures – Carrion Hill (augmented by a Dungeon adventure), Second Darkness Chapter 2, and From Shore to Sea.
- Carrion Hill, a Pathfinder adventure
- “The Stink” from Dungeon Magazine #105, by Richard Pett
I combined these to make a post-Riddleport tsunami “Katrina horror” scenario that spanned all of sessions 2-5 (a bit more than I’d anticipated!).
- Children of the Void, the second chapter in Paizo’s 3.5e Second Darkness Adventure Path
This filled up sessions 6-10, plus the optional “Teeth of Araska” adventure from this book occupied session 11! I expanded on it but not with other material really, just my own elaboration.
- “Shatterhull Island” from Stormwrack again
I used another mini-adventure from Stormwrack for session 13 after a couple sessions of custom content.
- “From Shore To Sea“, a Paizo/Open Design adventure
Before this I spent sessions 14-19 purely riffing on preexisting NPCs and stuff spinning out into whole adventures. But then From Shore To Sea became one big ol’ part of this season. Sessions 20-24, all the way to the end of the season, are made of nothing but this puppy!
Now let me be clear – you don’t want to run Carrion Hill or From Shore To Sea as written. If you go through the blog posts for those sessions you’ll get a lot more details on what I changed, but the Carrion Hill plot and encounters are questionable and in From Shore To Sea there’s ridiculous DCs and other rules wonkiness that would cause some real problems. But they both have loads of great atmosphere and ideas in them, and a GM is the nice slickery lubrication between an adventure as written and his game as run. So this had less mashing up of multiple sources and more elaboration and tailoring of single sources.
Also, the more we’re on the high seas the more I use general wavecrawling, random weather and random encounters to populate entire sessions. Each ship-to-ship battle is a complex set-piece of its own! Recurring baddies like the Fishwife sprung entirely from that.
In this season I used some smaller sources from Dungeon magazines but a lot of it was homebrew. Not necessarily because I wanted to, but some items I was wanting to use fell through – like Voyages to the West, an Open Design patronage project that came in way late. But what I did use was…
- I stole the town of Hollobrae from Firey Dragon Games’ 3e module “The Silver Summoning.”
I don’t recommend the module, but as a repository for “I need a town for the PCs to raid” it worked fine and added character to the location in session 1. Daphne the unnamed one-line NPC became a recurring character.
- “Tammeraut’s Fate,” from Dungeon #106, by Greg Vaughan
This formed the first part of their Azlanti tour and occupied sessions 2-4. Sea zombies beset island monastery!
- The Sun Temple Colony from Lost Cities of Golarion
This is more of a capsule setting with adventure seeds, which I expanded upon to form a large section of the season, sessions 6-18 are set there. I also repurposed a couple things they didn’t come across in From Shore to Sea since it is also an Azlanti ruin.
- “Rana Mor,” from Dungeon #87, by Rich Baker
- D1.5 “Revenge of the Kobold King,” 3.5e Paizo adventure
Rana Mor formed the primary dungeon on the Sun Temple Island with a heavy reskin from “Indian” to “Azlanti” in feel; it filled sessions 10-12 and then again in sessions 16-17. I added a couple touches like the Sealstone and curse and giant beetles from Revenge of the Kobold King because those were “Azlanti.” I was really having to poll sources to get authentic Azlanti stuff; I also used gear/magic/etc. from the Open Design aquatic rules companion to From Shore to Sea, Sunken Empires.
- Back to the Arm-Ripper/random dungeon combo from Season One!
I got to reuse all the old content in sessions 22-25, but had to update it significantly since it was denuded of baddies last time and was much lower level last time… So wrathspawn pirates as mentioned in Dungeons of Golarion were in residence!
The Dungeon sources from this season and last were all good, I picked them specifically because they were some of the stars from the magazine’s run. I’d run Tammeraut’s Fate before but the rest were new to me. The baddie from Rana Mor got dubbed a “vampire stripper” based on her cheesecakey art. She was dangerous as a real stripper though and was a big foil/villain for the latter half of the season. A lot of the actual Sun Temple threat was sorta faceless so I wanted to have another baddie who was more personally memorable. I did a lot more picking locations/seeds out of books instead of whole cloth adventures this season.
And that’s how you run a multi-year campaign that meets very regularly for long play sessions while still having a demanding job and kid and life otherwise! Take preexisting building blocks, add the mortar to join them together, then put a nice veneer over the top. The time you save on making the blocks means you can shine on the additions.
Alas, I have run Carrion Hill as written. I wish I hadn’t.
Thanks for putting this list together. Even as a “how to” it’s already been very useful.
This is a very valuable summary for GM’s looking to run a long campaign. Love how you knit together sources and thanks also for your insight behind your process.
Um– don’t you think it’s high time to include Season 4 in this summary? 😀
Totally, at the end of season 4 I’ll have a big retrospective post and that’s one of the things it’ll include; I’ll come add that part in here as well.