Tag Archives: freeport

Freeport Pathfinder Kickstarter – Cool, Expensive

Freeport

Freeport.  My favorite hive of scum and villainy. The very first adventure I got for D&D 3e, at Gen Con 2000 when it launched, was Green Ronin’s Death in Freeport.  Since then I’ve used Freeport or content filched from Freeport for many a game, including my current Reavers on the Seas of Fate Pathfinder game (the PCs just captured Morgan Baumann!).

Green Ronin is running a Kickstarter for a 512-page color hardback for Freeport.  Get in!  But… You’ll need $100 to get the print copy.  Sorry. [Edit – now reduced to $80!]

Let me complain a minute.  What the hell is it with these RPG kickstarters where you need $100 to get the product? I did it for Razor Coast only because I was so invested (I was a volunteer proofreader on the darn thing during the dark years when Logue punked out, and I wanted to contribute financially even though I had bought the $30 preorder years ago). I have been staring at this Freeport Kickstarter for a week now and I guess I’m going to do it but only because I have 12 years of history with Freeport. These things are turning off all but the most die-hard fans of the thing they’re Kickstarting.  And this is it for me; I can’t think of any other properties I love enough to Kickstart $100 for.

Am I going to click this $100 button?  I guess?  Green Ronin isn’t actually doing it, Fiery Dragon is, and I played NeMoren’s Vault, it was no Death in Freeport…  And I am feeling burned by the Open Design Dark Days in Freeport ransom project (started 2010) that has gone through several designers and several years itself with ongoing “no really something’s happening!” updates every couple months but nothing to show.

Oh, wait – they listened to feedback and added a $80 option for just the book and not the other cruft.  Ok, deal!  It is a huge 512-page book after all… It better rock!  I have the previous Freeport stuff (including the Pathfinder Companion) so I needs it to add some value.  Come join in, now I need this thing to make another $23k to fund!

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Open Design Pathfinder Projects

Well, sadly it appears that the Open Design project I signed up for, Dark Deeds in Freeport, is dead and soon to be refunded.  That’s sad because I want more Freeport stuff. Ah well maybe Green Ronin will get off their licensed-properties ass sometime soon and do it themselves. (Update: the author has turned something in, it might be on again after all!)

In better news, there’s a new Pathfinder Open Design project on Kickstarter called Journeys To The West: A Pathfinder RPG Voyage. As I am running a nautical campaign in general this sounds good, and I’m planning a voyage out Azlant/Arcadia way and this seems like that with the serial numbers filed off. I’m already using their great From Shore To Sea and Sunken Empires. And it seems like it has a lot of momentum – it’s more than doubled its initial commitment number and there’s a lot of cool extras that will be included now. But hurry, you have only 4 days to sign up before the kickstart closes!

Buccaneers!

Interested in pirate gaming?  Looking forward to Paizo’s new pirate AP, Skull and Shackles? Enjoy following our Reavers on the Seas of Fate campaign?

Well, happy news.  Green Ronin has just released a Web enhancement to their Buccaneers of Freeport book with stats for many pirate captains! It’s available in 3.5e and True20 variants.

Buccaneers of Freeport and Cults of Freeport were odd book choices – they were statless.  This was during the Mass D&D Confusion around the 4e launch.  For Cults, that was kinda OK, but with Buccaneers it really hurt- character backdrops for a bunch of cool pirate captains, but no stats.  Well, they have now published the stats, for free! Oh, and the stats for Cults, earlier on.

Download the stats, then consider getting Buccaneers and Cults as they are fine books (and often quite on sale…).  Get cranked up for the pirate holocaust that will come soon with the S&S AP!  All the Freeport stuff is great to mix with Golarion, in Reavers I used the entire Freeport Trilogy mashed up with Second Darkness to good effect.

Reaver Character Updates

Our merry band of miscreants in my Reavers on the Seas of Fate campaign have all leveled, as well as accumulated various distinguishing scars and marks. Check them out!

All these characters now bear a strange glyph on their bodies, like a tattoo, which appeared when a glyph-covered plaque the evil serpent man was using to open the Cyphergate exploded, embedding fragments in all those present. They are not sure of the significance of this, though the glyphs burn painfully at certain times.

PCs

Sindawe is a Bonuwat Mwangi skilled in unarmed combat. He became the party leader early on and earned the epithet “Woman-killer” for his complete lack of hesitation when it comes to taking down female enemies. He got a new snake tattoo when he became the lover of voodoo loa Mama Watanna, and a set of orca bite scars when he cheated on her with Hatshepsut, an Osirian monk/priestess of Ydersius they pulled out of suspended animation in Viperwall. He’s also a very skilled cartographer and has been learning the ancient tongue Aklo. His favorite weapon is a pair of cold iron brass knuckles he bought second hand with the letters “ELFPU” and “NCHER” engraved on the knuckles. A life goal is to find enough treasure to go back to the Mwangi Expanse, wipe out the clan that killed his family, and restore his own clan. Sindawe Narr, Monk 5

Tommy Blacktoes was just a halfling rogue from Cheliax with a penchant for nipple torture. But since coming to Riddleport, he’s become smitten with the tiefling whore Lavender Lil, taken on the geas of the ghost of Black Dog the pirate, and accepted the profane gift of a succubus agent of Nocticula. Finally he became an assassin and popped his cherry on a crazy derro who was in the middle of an autopsy. His Disable Device, Escape Artist, and Stealth skills are at a legendary level. A life goal is to murder Clegg Zincher, free Lavender Lil, and become a feared pirate. Tommy Blacktoes, Rogue 4/Assassin 1

Serpent, real name Ref Jorenson, is an oddly colored Ulfen man of uncertain parentage from the Land of the Linnorm Kings. He has a gigantic pet python named Saluthra. Serpent became romantically involved with Samaritha Beldusk, a half-elf aspiring Cyphermage. When it turned out she was really a serpent person in disguise, he decided “Eh… Snakes are my thing anyway.” He recently discovered that he may be related to Cyphermage Fenella Bromathan, right before he burned her alive on a pyre in accordance with Ulfen tradition. He is extremely nimble and can’t settle on a single character class, though by all accounts he’s good in the wilderness. His prized possession is a single Boot of Striding and Springing liberated from the chieftain of the goblin “Junk-Kicker” tribe. A life goal is to find out who his mother was. Serpent Jorenson, Druid 2/Ranger 2/Barbarian 1

Wogan is a portly, bearded cleric of Gozreh from Cheliax. He is most notable for his love of guns, a newfangled kind of invention that makes the others nervous. His religious vow of chastity has kept him out of a lot of the trouble that dogs the other Reavers – so why do they look on him with pity whenever it’s mentioned? Between his thundering trident, his firearms, and call lightning, this is a guy you hear coming a long ways off. He’s also a very skilled fisherman. A life goal is to drink more than anyone else in any place at any time. Wogan, Cleric 5

NPCs

Samaritha Beldusk appears to be a chirpy half-elven woman who aspires to become a Cyphermage. Really, though, she is a serpentfolk wizard. Perhaps even more surprisingly, she appears to not be the evil world-dominating type, and is in love with Serpent. She is a transmuter, but is quite fond of her wand of magic missiles, which can solve many a problem given enough time. She knows many things, which is a nice counterpoint to the PCs, who never met a Knowledge skill they liked. Samaritha, Wizard 4

Hatshepsut is of Osirian descent and was the priestess of Ydersius in a large temple that is now the ruins of Viperwall. She was trapped in a magical mirror when her temple fell and kept in suspended animation for many centuries until the PCs let her out. They then tried to kill her, and then took her prisoner, but eventually they became fond of her vicious “serpent strike” punches that cause continual bleeding. She is very taciturn, and mostly only speaks Aklo, though has been working on learning Common. She is very standoffish and is known to unload on someone for violating whatever archaic system of etiquette she subscribes to. Sindawe befriended her and they fought side by side for a long time. Recently, after a violent bout of sparring, she and Sindawe had a violent bout of lovemaking. This annoyed his goddess lover and the fallout is still in progress. Hatshepsut, Monk 4/Cleric 4

Both Samaritha and Hatshepsut worship Ydersius, who they claim was a lawful deity before the Azlanti cut his head off. No one is sure of the truth behind this claim.

P.S. The great pics of the PCs are by Paul (Serpent), we use them on paper standups for the characters too.

My RPG DNA, Part 3: The Late Memphis Years

As the year comes to an end, I’m realizing that several post series I did kinda petered out without me completing them, so I’m going to try to bring them some closure!

This summer, people were posting in depth on their “RPG DNA” – their gaming history and how it shaped their gaming. My first two installments were:

My RPG DNA, Part 1: The Texas Years – Self-starting with Star Frontiers in junior high and moving on to D&D/AD&D.

My RPG DNA, Part 2: The Early Memphis Years – Returning to gaming via Magic: The Gathering and then escaping the D&D Ghetto!

Now I’ll talk about the Late Memphis Years.  My roommates and I were obsessively playing any game we could get our hands on, and for the first time I was attending cons. We had a pretty big group of gamers, some regular and some irregular, playing all sorts of stuff.  Many were in IT or were med students (as I was in IT and my first roommate Robert was a med student, those were our main contacts) but as friends of friends added in we had a dozen people from various walks of life. I played some, but GMed mainly, and the more I experienced the more I wanted to take roleplaying “to the next level.”  I really enjoyed the experience of a “realistic” game world and the point of roleplaying, to me, was immersing into your character’s mindset and experiencing that world through that character.  And this was hard to do “right.”  So I set out to craft a campaign that would be all about that from the ground up.

Night Below

For my big immersive campaign, I used D&D Second Edition.  Why, when I had played lots of other games and had escaped the D&D-only ghetto that too many gamers languished in?  Because everyone knew it, and because it was actually the right tool for the job.  The rules were light enough to not get bogged down in them, and were oriented towards simulating a coherent world. And, to a degree, because I wanted to show that you could indeed do something meaningful in D&D, in my opinion that though to a degree “system does matter” you don’t have to use a different game to catalyze real roleplaying.

I set it in Greyhawk, my favorite D&D world, which had just enough realistic detail and was at the time being used by fans in opposition to the super high magic and railroad shenanigans of the Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance – the online community for Greyhawk was awesome (people like Erik Mona were participants). I picked a boxed set campaign called Night Below, by Carl Sargent, which had enough content to sustain a long term adventure but was loose and sandboxey enough I could do whatever I wanted with it. I mixed in a more than healthy dose of Cthulhu mythos.

Then I formed a group.  I sat down with the existing large set of players and explained what I wanted.  Full immersion.  Total sim.  “I’ll run a casual game Wednesday nights.  But Sunday will be this game.”  I set expectations.  The world will unfold with realistic characters and consequences. People will be in character and on task 50 minutes, then we’ll have a 10 minute break, per hour.  There will be strict information compartmentalization – players won’t know anything their characters don’t – no sharing character sheets, no rules talk, lots of note passing and taking people aside.  Required attendance. This was to be a “pro level” game for people who were serious about taking their gaming farther than they had before.

I had a pretty large set of players who opted in.  After the first session, a couple of those realized I was serious about the sim and opted out, leaving us with a good small core group. Robert (med student), Suzanne (med student), Jason (med student), Travis (started at MIT but burned out, working at bookstores), and “Big” Mike (programmer). The group had turnover as life intervened – in fact, Travis was the only player who was there throughout the entire run; the group became Travis (now a Memphis police officer), “Little” Mike (med student), Laura (manager at a transportation company), Hal (musician then transportation then programmer), and David (med student).  The resulting adventures of Mikhail (mercenary and leader), Dane (excitable archer), Damia (fey gypsy girl), Orado (crazy old wizard), and Tristan (priest who had once been a fighter) were indeed the stuff of legends.

The campaign ran for five years and was insanely engrossing. People moved, changed jobs, etc. but kept coming every week with few exceptions. (Advancement was slow, I was doing by the book 2e XP and the characters were only level 9 max at the end.) We completed the campaign right before the real life group disintegrated with people moving away etc.  People still call me now, ten years later, to reminisce about the game.  With serious immersion and buy-in, we developed more “advanced” roleplaying skills at a high rate, and most of my more “deep” skills on things like creating horror in an RPG, balancing plot against character free will, improvisation, etc. all were crafted in this campaign’s crucible. Characters loved each other, betrayed each other, hated each other, protected each other, went crazy, discovered horrible secrets about their origins… In fact, it all worked almost too well – I have been somewhat disappointed in pretty much all of my role-playing opportunities since and some of the players openly say “I haven’t played RPGs again since, most campaigns are just silly compared to what we all had together.”

I could write a hundred posts on that campaign, so I’ll end it there, except to say that if you and your group can let go of all the baggage and decide to really  honest-to-God roleplay, you’ll get so much more out of it than powergaming, metagaming, escapism, gamism, narrativism, etc. provide.

The Casual Group

But it would be wrong to not mention the casual group as well!  Since I was getting my “serious gaming” jones in with the Night Below campaign, here we all just had fun.  Besides lots of great gaming stories, playing many different systems, experimenting with loads of house rules (like my 2e Classless Skills and Powers variant, bringing GURPS style character builds to a D&D near you, or my Feng Shui inspired 2e monk class, which is still cooler than all monks and was only really matched by the Book of Nine Swords), and other game related fun, this was a solid group of guys.  Scott, Brock, Tim, Kevin, “Big” Mike, and Paul were the founding members and many more have participated over the years.

Though I had more in depth relationships with the Night Below crew, it’s the casual crew who was there for each other in real life when people needed help.  In fact, this group still meets weekly today, ten years later.

My two favorite memories were the “Vampire Holocaust“, a simple 2e Forgotten Realms adventure gone awry and turned into a multi-month gripping PC-vs-PC deathmatch, and our Freeport campaign, our very first 3e game, where I kicked it off with Green Ronin’s Death in Freeport but then everyone in the group had to take a turn running with the same group in the loosely defined “World of Freeport.”  I handed out all the early 3e adventures (due to the OGL, there were a bunch out of the gate) and everyone ran – that was great, even those who weren’t “good” GMs per se did at least one thing that I learned from. I strongly encourage everyone to try  out round robin DMing sometime. The group started an email list at this time and is still known as “Wulf’s Animals” (their pirate crew name) as a result.

The casual group wasn’t as “artistic” an experience, but it had more belly laughs, that’s for sure.

The FORGE

Meanwhile, Hal and I were so full-to-bursting with gaming goodness we wanted to do more and start helping the larger gaming community. In May of 1999 we met up with the RPGA regional director who also lived in Memphis and put together a Memphis-based group, the FORGE (Fellowship of Role Gaming Enthusiasts), which exists to this day. We started with game days at a library and eventually moved to the local gaming store (we had trouble initially because they basically let card/minis gamers have dibs on the space; eventually we worked out an agreement with them).  We managed to get a great core set of four officers, the “Red Hammer Council” – Hal, myself, Collin Davenport, and Mike Seagrave. In short order we were running 2-3 tables of games at each monthly game day, running a lot of the gaming for the local con, MidSouthCon, and a FORGE team even got third place in the Gen Con D&D Team event at Gen Con 2000.  Though we were RPGA-affiliated we made it a point to run a variety of games, and our earliest meetings had everything from Call of Cthulhu to Feng Shui to Aberrant to Fading Suns…

It took a lot of work – making a Web site and negotiating places and discounts with game stores and doing elections and a constitution and handling the “outlier personalities” that any group like this has some of.  But though it we met hundreds of great gamers from all over the Mid-South!

My Scooby Doo Cthulhu and Children of the Seed Blue Seed/Feng Shui mashups were created to be run at FORGE events.

The Rise of 3e and Living Greyhawk

Since I loved Greyhawk and was involved in an RPGA club, it was the natural next step for me to get involved with the huge event of 2000 – the launch of Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition and the Living Greyhawk campaign!  I was selected as one of the three “regional Triads” for the huge Mid-South region, which mapped to the country of the Yeomanry within Greyhawk (in LG, each real world region got a specific Greyhawk region to set their adventures in).  Myself, Kevin Freeman, and August Hahn (who has gone on to write a bunch of stuff for Mongoose) got galley proofs of the 3e rules to read and when Gen Con 2000 came along, we launched it with a bunch of great adventures. The region had loads of great volunteers and we had some stellar events and adventures.  There was some amount of frustration in that we were limited in what we could do – by the required adventure format being somewhat limiting, by Wizards IP restrictions in terms of developing our Greyhawk regions, and by the “Circle” in terms of them being overwhelmed and thus very slow to get anything done. But despite that we did a lot of stuff; even when I had to leave Memphis and couldn’t be a Triad for that region any more I still helped them out until Wizards brought LG to an end in 2008.

Sadly, most of the information, adventures, etc. from that era are lost now in the Great WotC Hate On for D&D 3 and Previous Intellectual Property Like Greyhawk.  The Yeomanry Web site is down and all the scenarios aren’t available (except on BitTorrent.  Yay!), and Wizards has purged most of the 3e/3.5e content on their site, and is trying hard to pretend that Greyhawk never existed.  My experience throughout LG with the RPGA and WotC definitely contributes to my current hate of them and their business practices with respect to 4e. As time went on, they treated even people doing huge amounts of volunteer work for them, like the Triads, as serfs and gave us all the mushroom treatment.

End of an Era

Whew.  That’s a lot and I feel like I didn’t do any of it justice; so much happened during a short span of years, especially 1998-2001. I have to say that I am proud to have helped found two things that have lasted (Wulf’s Animals and the FORGE), and two things that ended but kicked ass while they were in effect (the Night Below group and Living Greyhawk). And for anyone from that era who’s reading along – thanks so much for all the great memories, you all still mean a lot to me.

Next up – the Exile Period and the Austin Years!

Open Design Freeport Adventures for Pathfinder!

Awesome news courtesy of Game Knight Reviews – Open Design is doing a patron project for Pathfinder called “Dark Deeds in Freeport,” set of course in Green Ronin’s famous pirate city of Freeport.  The Open Design site says:

“Using the Freeport Companion: Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Edition as a resource, patrons of Dark Deeds in Freeport will work with Wolfgang Baur, Chris Pramas, and lead designer Michael Furlanetto to create six adventures that blend swashbuckling adventure with supernatural horror in the Freeport tradition.”

You can pay to be a patron here!  As I’m running a long term pirate Pathfinder campaign using a lot of the Freeport material, this is like the perfect product for me.  Usually I don’t believe in paying up front with the patronage model – I’ll buy it after it’s finished and I see reviews.  But this actually makes me want to participate in the process, so I’m signing up!

State of Our Campaign – Reavers on the Seas of Fate

I am DM in our Reavers on the Seas of Fate campaign.  I’m running it basically like a Adventure Path for Pathfinder, set in Golarion, but am not using an established Paizo AP – instead constructing a campaign by mashing up their Second Darkness AP, Green Ronin’s Freeport Trilogy, Sinister Adventures’ Razor Coast (if it ever comes out), and other stuff into one piratey game of goodness!

Pirate campaigns are great fun.  I ran the Freeport Trilogy back when it first came out when D&D 3e launched, and it started a gaming group that’s still meeting (without me, as I moved from Memphis to Austin) to this day!

I’m having fun with this one.  I’m doing slow advancement; later D&D editions pretty much fall apart at the higher levels and a lot of the fun is when  you’re still low.  So despite playing for 9 months (long sessions every other Sunday), the PCs have just crested 4th level.

So far I’ve used:

Coming up soon are likely:

After that, who knows…  I have my eyes on other Paizo modules and maybe some other Green Ronin Freeport ones as well.  I like using the stats and environments from published stuff to save time, while working up my own plots and personalities to use them.  And I am freely mixing 3e, 3.5e, and Pathfinder adventures together without doing any meaningful conversion – you just use higher EL stuff from the earlier editions – 3.0e EL +2 and 3.5e EL +1 does it.  Plus I carefully craft the major NPCs, which is a lot easier now that I have Hero Labs.

Our fledgling pirate characters are all kinds of fun.  Sindawe, the Mwangi monk, is the clear party leader and is notable for snapping women’s necks.  Tommy Blacktoes, the halfling rogue, is dating the tiefling whore Lavender Lil and is known for his heavy hand with torture.  Wogan, the chaste cleric of Gozreh, loves shooting off his guns like Yosemite Sam. Serpent, the Ulfen druid with a huge pet snake, is semi-daring Samaritha Beldusk the cyperhmage, at least as much as his  psychopathic demeanor allows.  Ox, the ex-slave from Rahadoum, ran off at Selene’s behest to join the Andoren Grey Corsairs and is no longer with the party, though may show back up at any time.

And pirate (and other criminal organization) campaigns are easy.  It allows for group cohesion.  It allows players to feel like it’s OK to self-start and come up with schemes of their own.  And it’s easy to slot in other adventures because the characters are actively traveling and showing up all kinds of exotic places.

We had a rocky part earlier on, but currently everyone says they’re having fun and are happy for the campaign to forge forward into the future.  Arrrrr, mateys!