View Full Version : High Seas Campaign - Pirates!

12-31-2007, 08:38 AM
We all love pirates. The swashbuckling action, the treasure, the ship to ship combat work perfectly in a D&D environment. I'd like to go with that premise in my next campaign, and wanted to see what ideas you guys could come up with.


Coming from a port city, the players are all aboard a merchant vessel shipping spices to a continent across the ocean, a two week trip. The merchant traffic between the continents has gotten difficult, with pirate activity increasing. Some vessels have disappeared completely, so the crew is on their guard.

For the merchants that still make this run, this has been a lucrative business... supply is being strangled, so the ships that do make it get top gold piece for their goods, so much so that it makes it worth it even if a ship is lost now and then.

This cargo on this merchant vessel is particularly valueable however, for a reason I haven't come up with yet. Because of this, the merchant has hired the services of one of the largest galleons of the fleet as an escort for the most dangerous part of the journey, a massive ship bristling with ballistae and catapults, as well as towers where the veteran ship mage can launch spells.

As the two ships sail on, one day a flying figure can be seen approaching from the rear. The ships put on full sail as they realize it is a dragon. The dragon chases them towards an island, when a galley suddenly appears from a hidden cove, bearing down on the trapped ships.

The dragon arrives, a young red dragon, who attacks the escort with incredible ferocity. Despite the efforts of the experienced crew, they are no match for the dragon, who lights the ship up and eats the mage. The dragon smashes a big hole into the ship, and it sinks, all hands lost as the players watch from the less armed merchant ship.

Meanwhile, the galley arrives and rams the merchant vessel, critically wounding it. Orc pirates storm aboard, some engaging the players, while an overwhelming number locate the cargo and bring the dragon in to carry it off. The merchant vessel sinking, the orc pirates don't bother to clean up, taking some of their wounded but leaving the rest. The galley leaves, and the merchant vessel sinks, with only the players and maybe one or two NPCs suriving to swim to the island.

The campaign

I'd like to have a campaign full of pirate style adventures with a D&D flair. I like some of the ideas found in the Eberron campaign setting, such as having ships that have elementals bound to them to improve their performance, and having airships occasionaly available. Consider also having undead oarsman who never tire on a longship, and mages who rain artillery down on opposing vessels such as fireballs and ice storms.

I imagine the players will be rescued by a smuggling vessel and start as hands on this ship as they seek more information about what is going on. Eventually, they will take command of this ship when the captain dies in some battle, and maybe someday even acquire an airship.

Some questions I need to work out:
What are some ideas for adventures? Not everything has to be ship board of course.

What kind of things will you see in a D&D high seas campaign? Druids controlling weather, wind fans (DM guied) used to give the vessel a speed boost, specific magic spells that are particularly effective are a start.

Who is the mastermind behind the attacks? Obviously, the dragon isn't going to be roaming around looking for ships... there has to be some information about the location and defenses of ships sailing across the sea, so there is a traitor involved. Someone is directing the orc pirates and has some vile plans, for which the piracy might be just a distraction.

I'm not going to involve dieties in this campaign much other than as a source for divine power to clerics/druids.

12-31-2007, 12:10 PM
What are some ideas for adventures? Not everything has to be ship board of course.The campaign setting sounds very interesting so far. A given would have to be the recovery of the cargo from the Orc pirates who could either be on a boat offshore or have a small camp setup somewhere on the island.

Xaels Greyshadow
12-31-2007, 12:17 PM
I want to play. I like the Swashbuckler class and the pirate style setting. Right now I have been thinking that as a plot, campaign option in the principalities of Eberron.

12-31-2007, 03:02 PM
The campaign setting sounds very interesting so far. A given would have to be the recovery of the cargo from the Orc pirates who could either be on a boat offshore or have a small camp setup somewhere on the island.

Sounds like a good start. I like it. Could be that the dragon is under direct command of the major villian (or he is the major villian), and he only is used to soften up larger targets. The big bad guy doesn't care much for the pirates themselves, letting them loot what they like in return for the aid of some humanoids that can locate what they are looking for on a given ship.

So the orc camp could be one of the first adventures, allowing the players to supply themselves and learn a little about what is going from any communication they have received. I would modify the intro by saying the dragon took with it a mysterious box that the orcs brought up from the hold. The orcs took a the rest of the loot aboard their ship, trying to escape quickly as their air support flies off, the dragon's mission accomplished.

12-31-2007, 03:08 PM
I want to play. I like the Swashbuckler class and the pirate style setting. Right now I have been thinking that as a plot, campaign option in the principalities of Eberron.

Yeah, the Eberron setting has a lot to offer for this style of campaign. Particularly the Lhazaar Principalities, a group of islands infested with pirates, or the Thunder sea, the major point of transit between Xen'drik (where all the ancient ruins and many treasures can be found) and the main continent.

12-31-2007, 05:54 PM
Could be that the dragon is under direct command of the major villian (or he is the major villian)I think that would be a great way to get the party some equipment, some information, and even a little spice which could come in handy later for trade or money with an NPC you haven't created yet. I've never really found Dragons being the super villian any fun. Dragons are huge and represent one of the greatest challenges a party can face. They are notorious for lairs full of great treasure but I always like to think of them as the pets of a truly evil villian. Surely anybody that can command a dragon is amazingly powerful. I think in most cases those who can control dragons are usually much weaker than the dragon itself. At least if they were to fight the dragon the entire party would be pretty beaten up afterwards, possibly missing a member or two. Then when they go against the villian the fight is a little more balanced. Meh that is just my personal preference though.

01-01-2008, 05:44 PM
I tend to agree with you on the purpose of dragons. They are incredibly intelligent, but why would a Dragon care about ruling a nation or unlocking a great evil? It would seem more likely that they would be paid/blackmailed into following a mastermind with these kind of goals than being that mastermind.

Anyways, I think the island is a good start. They could have several encounters with the orc pirates before finally having a showdown with the bugbear captain and his shaman enforcer. By this point, they should be leveled enough to return to the seas and find themselves to a port somewhat like Stormreach on Xen'drik or Tortuga in Pirates of the Carribean, a stronghold where pirates are safe from the law enough to stew in their own intrigues and vices.

Carrying on the campaign, what are some major adventures the players may encounter? I'd like to do at least one undersea adventure, maybe seeking aid from merfolk or unlocking a Sauhaugin artifact.

01-01-2008, 09:20 PM
You can get "Corsairs of the Great Sea" (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/files/tsr9449corsairs.zip) is an ADnD supplement for Al-Qadim. Pirate oriented, and if you like the Forgotten Realms is 100% compatible.

Of course Legend says that there are No Dragons in Zakhara :)

01-02-2008, 02:34 AM
Pirates...good god, yes, I love them.

Good supplements for pirate adventure:

Pirate's Guide to Freeport (Green Ronin)
A systemless book describing a perfect pirate port city. Entertaining and a fine read. Also a great map. If you like this book, there is a whole line of adventures and other material to support Freeport. I would say "Black Sails over Freeport" is probably the most "piratety" of the published adventures.

Savage Tide (Dungeon #139-#150 plus support in concurrent issues of Dragon magazine)
Perhaps the definitive D&D pirates campaign. Great stuff. Adventures from the exotic port city of Sasserine to the Isle of Dread to heart of the Abyss. Even if you don't use the campaign itself, it is great read and a great resource for what a D&D themed pirate campaign could be like.

En Route II: By Land or By Sea (Atlas Games)
A collection of short adventures intended to be used en route to other adventures. Many of the second collection are set at sea and make interesting interludes for an "at sea" campaign

Five Fingers: Port of Deceit (Privateer Press)
Another pirate city with another great map. Yes, yes, its set in the technofantasy world of Iron Kingdoms and gives dire warnings on the cover if you don't own the (now hard to find) Iron Kingdoms two main books. But that said, I read it before I read either of the two main books and I followed it fine. I bet it would be a cinch to add to Eberron. Its full of great ideas for adventure in a fantasy pirate port. It also has Wolfgang Baur's great little system for running your own pirate gang.

Stormwrack (Wizards of the Coast)
Not really my thing. But if you are looking for nautical crunch for the d20 system, here it is. It does have some pretty cool sea beasties in it. And the ship stats are interesting. It is probably the best of the environment books by WOTC. Be sure to read John Cooper's review on ENWorld for his "unofficial" errata.

Skull and Bones (Green Ronin)
A book I've had recommended to me several times that I don't own (yet). It brings relatively historically accurate pirates and voodoo magic to the d20 system. Its also full of island maps.

Anyways, that's all I can think of off the top of my head.


01-02-2008, 03:31 AM
Carrying on the campaign, what are some major adventures the players may encounter? I'd like to do at least one undersea adventure, maybe seeking aid from merfolk or unlocking a Sauhaugin artifact.No pirate setting is complete with out some form of a treasure hunt. Even if it is just a small side adventure. I know they're very "cookie-cutter" by definition but if you dress it up, make it a real puzzle, then I think it could be great fun. I think riddles are definitely appropriate for clues and having at least one stop during the hunt where the players are positive this is the location of the treasure, only to find yet another clue or that the treasure is long gone... well that would be awesome.

My favorite type of treasure hunts are the kind with riddle clues that lead you in circles. You end up right back where you started or the treasure or the answer to a riddle that makes no sense at all, was right in your face the entire time. Another option for there being no treasure at the end of the hunt is there being a box with a note in it or perhaps nothing but a single random item. Random item should be able to identify a location or event but not point them exactly where they need to go. The note could be that very item. Say a "Took the treasure, better luck next time" note in an empty chest and the note is written on the stationary of an inn the players remember. Adds adventure to the end of a side quest that could easily lead them to whoever possesses the treasure now or at least serve as a hook to start the next part of the campaign.

01-02-2008, 01:47 PM
Carrying on the campaign, what are some major adventures the players may encounter? I'd like to do at least one undersea adventure, maybe seeking aid from merfolk or unlocking a Sauhaugin artifact.

Or Aquatic Elves? (Scrags and Water Mephits are always nice too, for a road block)

The party can always have a rival pirate ship that wants to steal their goods. Hiding out in a pirate-friendly port(ie the ones loaded with taverns) is always fun, the PCs can always have allies here.

Ditto to what Mulsiphix said. Trailing the guy that took the treasure could be a nice segway, too. For example, when one of my guys dropped out in Revenge of the Dragon, most of the party was in a fortress, and his character was on guard duty, outside. When the party came out, they found him kidnapped by the villian NPC, so another series of events happened to get their friend back.

01-03-2008, 03:13 AM
I always enjoy a good rescue mission. Maybe an NPC they meet along the way gets kidnapped, is being held hostage/for ransom, or is killed. Either way the party is driven to fight it out over the open seas. I've always enjoyed ship VS ship battles but the most memorable ones are when one or both ship crews board the their opponents ship for some quality close quarter fighting. Not to mention a great place to plunder is onboard a pirate ship. A good boat chase is always nice, especially when fog is involved and the party has a hard time figuring out where exactly the enemy is.

Another idea for an adventure is clearing out entire islands or multiple islands in order to setup some kind of establishment. This could be another pirate friendly territory, a place where your party can draw their enemies in for an ambush, a place to hide when others are looking for them, or even a place to give up the life of piracy and start real honest establishments. Of course you took the land by force, through blood and death, but why not give out piracy by going "out with a bang" :D

01-03-2008, 07:03 AM
Excellent ideas Mulsiphix and Anaesthesia, this is great.

I looked up the Corsairs of the Great Seas module, and it is full of great ideas that I'll be able to put in as well, thanks Dimthar.

Thanks for the booklist, gdmcbride... I'll have to wait until DDXP and my determination whether to jump headfirst into 4.0 before investing heavily, but looking at Stormwrack I might be interested in at least picking that one up, looks like a good book.

So, now we have several possible adventures laid out:
Introduction and being stranded on the island
Defeating the orc pirates
Treasure hunt with plenty of puzzles
Follow up when treasure is missing
Undersea mission
Clearing and maintaining a hideout
Adventures relating to a pirate port

There will definitely be plenty of ship-ship action and ship-monster action, shipboard as well as chases and retreats. I envision the party won't start out with much, but as they reach higher levels they'll be able to be major parts of a larger ships crew, and eventually have one to themselves with a crew to man it as they go ashore (or undersea) for adventures. Of course they'll be a traitor in their midst, and a bunch of bloodthirsty pirate rivals trying to kill them, and the danger of that red dragon on the horizon.

I expect this campaign to be pretty fluid, going the way the players seem to enjoy the most, since there are plenty of directions this campaign can go.

So now with some of these details worked out its time to think about the grand scheme, so that it can all be tied together. Obviously it started with the dragon taking something from the ship, important enough that a dragon got involved in the mess. The dragon will act as a mercenary for a shadowy figure or group, intent on some kind of evil.

So the players have a few mysteries to solve:
1) Who is behind the attack which seems to have had some kind of inside information?
2) Why is a dragon involved?
3) What is it that the dragon took?

As the players seek to answer these questions, they will unravel the plot bit by bit and realize it goes much deeper. So, what I would like to do now is get ideas regading this scheme. Is it the machinations of a would be pirate king? Is there a group intent on awakening the Leviathon, a force that caused a great deal of destruction a couple thousand years ago? Lets hear your ideas.

01-03-2008, 12:35 PM
A personal favorite of mine in any setting is a very strong puppet (shadowy figure who has the dragon working for him) is being manipulated or is willing working for an evil that has no physical body in this world. This grand evil could be in another dimension, realm, or imprisoned in an item in this world. While, in LOTR, it was cool that Sauron could come back if he got his hands on the ring, I prefer the "grand evil was cast of of this realm/dimension thousands of years ago" as it was shown in the movie Hellboy. The idea that an evil was so grand that it was imprisoned in another plane of existence long ago by the worlds most powerful wizards and warriors... oh man that is sexy.

So the item on the ship could be part of whatever is needed to bring this great evil back into our world. As the party continues on they witness other ships being attacked, cities being razed, etc... They could be out in the middle of nowhere and spot the dragon crawling under a waterfall only to come back out with something in its claws. When they go to inspect they find cave writing or other evidence that gives them a great deal of information about this shadowy figure and what the dragon has been up to.

Such a storyline is always thrilling and can be quite suspenseful. It allows for lots of fighting, tracking. puzzles, clues, adventure, RP, grand plots with countless sub-plots, saving the world, etc...

01-03-2008, 01:19 PM
A personal favorite of mine in any setting is a very strong puppet (shadowy figure who has the dragon working for him) is being manipulated or is willing working for an evil that has no physical body in this world.

So the item on the ship could be part of whatever is needed to bring this great evil back into our world.

I was just thinking. If the party has one part of this magic item, and the NPC trapped on the other plane (or what have you) has the other part of this, and once both items are placed/put together the NPC can break free of the plane he's trapped on. The NPC could also have some sort of ally that is willing to fight (and to get others invovled to do the legwork) for this item to get his friend/master/whatever out.

01-03-2008, 01:33 PM
Those who employ dragons are notorious for employing other types of agents. Pirates, professional thieves (pirates rarely possess such grace), women of persuasion, local warlords, and master criminals who normally wouldn't consider such work except that this particular villian has something of extreme importance to them (could be the ability to legally cleans their tainted name, the power to give them the hand of a righteous maiden they normally would have no chance of winning the heart of, or even something as simple as the ability to breath underwater naturally). This type of setting is rife with possibilities of grandeur scheme and mastermind plots.

For such a scenario, I feel, it is always important to slowly give the players information as to why the entity in the other realm was sent there in the first place. What crimes did they commit to get them banished? What kind of power did they wield that it took the worlds most powerful and dedicated to seal them away from the rest of the world? How is it that this dark villian is planning to open a rift to this other dimension in which this grand entity can pass through? What should the PC's personally fear or what will the consequences be for them if such an evil, so vile, we're allowed to return to the world as they know it?

01-03-2008, 01:45 PM
Hmmm... the willing puppet style campaign is what is going on the the campaign I'm working on wrapping up. My current campaign is about a Drow Queen who was sealed inside a mountain with powerful walls of force two thousand years previously, and who was able after thousands of years of effort to release one of her followers at great cost. This follower was able to find puppets to put together the pieces needed to work towards freeing the Drow from their prison and bring darkness to the lands.

A very cool style of campaign, but seeing that I just did it, I think my players may want something a little different :)

Remember from my initial post I personally don't like putting extraplaner powers/dieties into play too much, as they would be too powerful for the PCs to work against directly, and I don't like that. Liches, Beholders, Lesser demons, etc, are more along my interests in evil masterminds because at higher levels the players probably could face them.

I'll try to come up with some other ideas, but keep them coming if you have any others.

01-03-2008, 03:21 PM
I have personally seen or used the super evil returning thing many times. It is very cool if you haven't done it many times.

The puppet style can be fun too, but not if you are just finishing one.

What if the dragon stole a giant stone obelisk or slab from a set which is the key to a grand treasure map that has been sought for years? The dragon might not even be important, maybe not even working with the orcs. He could just be yet another player in the race to find this great treasure.

So, I would say it deals with a lost/dead civilization and its riches ala the lost city of gold. They could search for various clues/items that they need to figure out the obelisk, they need for the obelisk to work, or that they need when they get to the final place on the map. You could then have all the little side adventures somehow related.

the orc pirates are just another group looking for the big payoff
the dragon is just another player in this grand treasure hunt
Maybe a couple other groups are also looking
the first item that the obelisk tells them to get is taken moments before they reach it by one of the factions
the group hunts down this weak faction and retrieves one more piece of the puzzle
A strange pyramid hidden under the seas is the second stop in putting together the great puzzle
Perhaps they have to clear out the lair of monsters who have just happened to take up residence in the locale for the third piece of the puzzle
They will of course have to visit various ports along the way to get supplies and information, always dodging various groups
One of the groups takes a player hostage to level the playing field and get into the race in which the PC's are leading, rescue the PC
When they finally get to the end, the civilization has just been lying dormant/suspended for hundreds of years
to get the treasure, they have to release this civilization or awaken it
There were numerous clues that this civilization was run by strange creatures, not truly dead, and not friendly that now sink home
Monsters can be fun to play around with, especially if you have players that know the Monster Manuals by heart. If you like beholders, illithid, or whatever you can change what they look like and switch a power or two just to make them 'new and fresh'. You could make a beholder that looks like a multi-eyed sea turtle or whatever you fancy. That way it looks like like this civilization really did disappear or is some offshoot of an original parent species if you don't want to make them too different.

Maybe several of these other groups also find the end only to also be fighting for their lives with their previous enemies in the face of this new threat.

01-03-2008, 05:48 PM
Ever seen the movie Dune? Spice was used for so many different things and it only could be found on a single planet. The entire galaxy was spice dependent for one reason or another so the one who controlled the spice controlled the galaxy.

You could use a similar approach by making the spice far more useful than it first appears to be. Maybe the dragon stole a component which helps find hidden spice pockets or makes the creation/farming of spice that much easier and/or more abundant. As the players move along in the story they start to find that spice is used for a great deal more than cooking.

Spice is the key ingredient, used by a secret kult, which allows them to practice mind control. This cult has controlled the figureheads of several key governments over the ages and the growing demand for spice around the world and the disruption of normal spice trading routes, has made it very difficult to obtain on a regular basis. The Kult is starting to lose their iron clad grip and decides it is crucial that they control the spice distribution themselves. Endless amounts of spice would make them the richest and most powerful people in the world.

Spice creation/mining could be confined to only a few key locations in the setting. Those who mine the spice are immune to spice based mind control so simply taking over the operations isn't as easy as controlling a politician. Force would be needed to take over these operations but it would have to be completely secret or they would draw attention to themselves. They have lurked in the shadows for far to long to risk revealing their identities to the world.

I could continue on with this but I want to make sure your interested before I go any farther :D

01-04-2008, 06:27 AM
Dang it, I like both ideas! It may be difficult to incorporate both, but I'll find a way.

Either way, I think I'll use a shadowy organization run by a cabal as the villian, rather than a single personality. They will be Daelker or Mindflayers, and will be using common mortals as a means to carry out the work to avoid detection, as if they come to light powerful forces in the world will combine to attempt to impede their progress.

The ship the players join as hands or guards will be sending a shipment of a rare and magically enhanced spice to the highest bidder, a personality in the target city that wants to be the next Pirate King through subtlety and using the spice's mind control properties.

This places two factions working against each other, the ambitious pirate and the evil cabal. The cabal is behind sending the dragon, wanting to use the spice for their own purposes... they know of a retired adventurer that has great knowledge about a hidden city which they believe contains power that will let them come out of the shadows, and they want the spice to be able to extract the information from that adventurer.

I'll add more later.

01-04-2008, 04:27 PM
Any chance you'll be keeping any form of record (web blog, audio files, etc...) of your sessions? This sounds awesome =)

01-04-2008, 09:30 PM
Yup, I've kept a blog for my last campaign, and that has worked quite well, so I plan on doing it in the future.

It'll be a while before I start this though, with DDXP upcoming. I still have to wrap up my last campaign as well (though this has gotten me all excited for the shiny new gem of a fresh start).

So continuing on with the story, some of the interesting enemies the players will face:

A band of wererat pirates - These send a few of their members aboard a target vessel they'd like to attack, as dire rats in the ship hold (ships always have rats anyways, so they'll fit right in). Then when the battle starts, the rats shift and attack, causing mass confusion.
A lizardfolk necromancer who preys on the shipwrecks and pirate attacks near a particularly dangerous area of craggy outcroppings and unpredictable weather. Any zombies he makes act as his soldiers, and the skeletons he makes act as his oarsman for his soarwood longship. Imagine trying to outrun an undead crew who never tires.
Seaborne Sauhaugin assassins who attack the players' ship, attempting to drag them overboard where they are at the advantage.During this campaign, the players will have to deal with the current pirate king who may or may not be their ally depending on the day, the aspiring pirate who seeks to topple the king and thinks the players are the cause of his woes, and the evil cabal themselves, who can always find someone who will accept payment to attack the players. Finally, the players will also have to deal with the law, who despite the loss of one of their best ships still has a pretty impressive armada.

01-04-2008, 10:57 PM
Sounds very intriguing indeed. Be sure to let me know when it starts so I can follow the blog. Could you link me to where your keeping the current blog?

01-05-2008, 05:15 AM
Don't know why you'd want to subject yourself to my terrible writing, but here it is: http://endlessshadow.wordpress.com/

If nothing else, maybe you'll learn what Not to do as a DM :)

You can click on the Endless Shadow session category to see all previous session synopsisesses (don't know how to pluralize that word). Also have a couple page links that give some background information.

01-05-2008, 04:45 PM
Thanks for the link. I'm a big fan of these DM blogs. Can't get enough of them. Plural for synopsis is synopses (had to look it up ;))

01-06-2008, 01:20 AM
So, any thoughts on the spice itself? Is it the magical excrement of some magical beast? Is it an ordinary thing that is infused with power due to where it comes from like lay lines of power, divine/infernal intervention, or some kind of leaching from some other unique element? Do you give it to a subject who is then easily suggested or do you take it and get powers to control others? Does it act similar to a drug like in BoVD? Does it work like magic? What are the exact effects?

I think it is important to nail down some of those specifics and how it will impact the game.

01-06-2008, 04:25 AM
I agree with rabkala. It will be important to go into detail as to what spice is capable of. Why can remain a mystery if you like. You could go Dune on this one and have it be the larva of a living creature. By harvesting the spice the creatures will one day die off which will greatly affect the ecosystem of the world, removing spice from existence. Always a classic way to go. You could also say spice comes from part of an animal (like tusks for elephants, horns for rhinos, back fins for sharks, etc...) which affects the animals population and ends up like I stated above. I really like the idea that spice isn't an infinite source and if its harvesting were to be increased or handled by the wrong people, the animal could die out and spice would be lost forever :eek:

01-06-2008, 07:37 AM
Well obviously, the spice is rare enough and sought after enough that Daelker needed to hire the services of a mercenary Red Dragon to go get it, not a cheap feat, so it has to be extremely powerful and rare.

Also obvious is that the Daelker have no way to harvest it themselves, they instead have to risk detection by stealing some from a well protected source.

I'm going to go pure D&D with its effects and say it is magical in nature. Because of the price involved, it can't mimic the effects of a spell less than a 7th level wizard spell to make it exclusive.

Looking through the spell list, I think Dominate person is the closest to the effects I believe the spell should have. Basically, while in effect the person becomes obsessed with the command you give him or her to the exclusion of all else. It also allows the controller to receive full sensory input of the affected for more direct control.

The spell has limitations however, such as it has a saving throw, people can determine the subject is under control through a DC 15 sense motive check, and Protection from Evil prevents the excercise of the link, so this is where the improved magical nature of the spice comes in.

This spice mimics a new spell, Greater Domination. This spell has no saving throw, and the person affected has more control, knowing they must do something, but knowing that they must conceal they are trying to accomplish, making the Sense Motive check DC 25 instead, and provoking less suspicion in the people around them. The person will have a chance to throw off the effect however if they are told to do something against their nature (as per the Dominate Person spell). A further limitation is that a willing Nymph under no form of compulsion must be present as a "material component" (and the Nymph is not consumed by the casting of this spell :) ). This spell is a 5th level bard spell, created by a bard that is keeping this spell to himself, hence the rarity.

The spice, when ingested, lies dormant in the subject unless a keyword is spoken. At that point, the person is affected by the Dominate Person spell for the duration specified in the spell, with the creature speaking the command word considered the caster. This effect can be used multiple times before the spice wears off, perhaps 3 times, and then the spice must be reingested.

In use, this spice can be used to modify the attitude of a person in the way specified by the person speaking the command word, so in order to be of any use, usually you would choose a subject with a great deal of influence that has final say, such as a king or well trusted advisor to that king.

The spice is created as a magic item with the following creation attributes:

Gives off a strong enchantment aura
Requires Greater Dominate Person & Misdirection spell (which causes the aura of the person affected to show off moderate abjuration similar to a protection item instead of strong enchantment... this only comes into effect once digested however, the spice itself always shows off strong enchantment)
CL 13th, requires Craft Wondrous Item feat
Price, about 100,000 for magic item creation purposes, but because it is rare and so difficult to make, in practice it is much higher than that.To create the spice, one must use a mundane spice that is very expensive to begin with (consider it "Masterwork", depending on the type of spice, it probably costs 50 gp for a small vial with a single application).

01-06-2008, 08:08 AM
The difficulty involved of creating the item leads to a whole new set of questions:

Who is the person capable of creating this spice?
Why would a nymph (a Chaotic Good creature) willingly aid in the creation of the spice?
How is the spice distributed- it must be kept an utmost secret to avoid suspicion and to be of any use.

To answer these questions, I think I need a new organization. This organization will be led by the only one currently in the lands able to enchant this item, a 13th level bard with incredible charisma. He has an network of allies that form an organization which gives services such as spying and information gathering to many factions, and is independant of any one master, other than the money for which the services must be paid for.

The nymph considers the bard to be her friend, but he must convince here of the planned use of a shipment of enhanced spice (We'll call it Spice of Greater Domination) before she will give her willing support for the Greater Domination spell. She doesn't mind when mortals use the spice for political shenanigans, as she always enjoys the tales about how these mortals treat each other, but under no conditions will she allow the spice to be used for blatant evil. Though the bard himself doesn't care much about what the spice is used for (he cares much more about the payment), he makes sure to cater to the Nymph's wishes to insure she will continue to help him create the spice.

So there you go... does that cover the questions sufficiently?

01-06-2008, 11:34 PM
Sounds like your well on your way to having a working template to start your new campaign with. Well done. I look forward to reading about it. Any idea when you'll be starting it?

01-07-2008, 04:59 AM
Depends on my players and when whether they'd like to try something else in between. I might even wait and make this our first 4th edition campaign, assuming we like it at DDXP.

Plenty of time to change the details just in case someone from the group sees this thread :)

Joe, if you're out there, I'm on to you!

01-07-2008, 08:54 AM
It looks pretty tight so far, should be fun. Just yell for more ideas if you need any other areas pumped up/ filled out.

01-07-2008, 04:01 PM
A discussion about lopped off limbs in another thread got me thinking... Seeing that this is a pirate campaign, how could there not be a share of NPCs with peg legs, patches, and hooks?

Perhaps I could do something to encourage the players to take one of these impediments for flavor. Maybe allow them an extra feat if they take them. How would you guys work the mechanics?

My initial thoughts:
Peg leg: -5ft movement speed, -2 penalty to balance rolls. Bonus feat.
Patch: -1 attack rolls, Bonus feat
Hook: Hand can't be used to hold items, but player can do 1d3 lethal with an unarmed attack. +2 bonus for unarmed trip attacks. Probably no bonus feat for this one.

01-07-2008, 04:16 PM
I think the loss of an eye would cause a negative to at least spot as well.

Peg leg would probably influence jump checks and running max as well.

The hook for a hand is tricky if no bonus feat. Will they lose the ability to use shield/buckler how will that affect two weapon fighting?

Maybe, it would be best to limit which feats they can take with the disadvantage as well. Maybe since they have lost a hand they gain the hook as a natural weapon or virtual two weapon fighting. You know, things that may have developed as a result of living with the deficit/handicap.

Also, maybe drop a few hints that they might be able to get really cool grafts in the future. That would get the power gamers cutting off every appendage they could.

01-07-2008, 05:11 PM
I think the loss of a hand is quite significant and definitely deserves a bonus. I think future grafts would definitely be great motivation to take such handicaps, not to mention its a pretty sweet idea all on its own :p

01-08-2008, 07:29 AM
Good ideas. I like the idea of enchantable peg legs and hooks, or a magic eye of some kind. Could be the find of things they find on pirate captains that have had similar maladies.

Peg leg: - 5 movement, -2 balance & jump
Patch: - 1 attack, -2 spot
Hook: Natural weapon: hook (so not considered unarmed)
Various attachments include a hook, 1d3 +2 trip, or alternatively they can connect a special made dagger or other light weapon. They could have an assortment of attachments for different situations (think climbing tools, hand crossbow, etc).

Because the hook hand is so versatile, and it can be enchanted, etc, they won't bonus feat, but for eye and leg they will. As suggested, the feat must be related to the malady somehow, and I'll treat it on a case by case basis. If a player can make a convincing argument how the loss of his eye encouraged him to improve his other senses, and they should get combat reflexes as a feat, I'll let them.

01-08-2008, 03:17 PM
Sounds very good. Since the hook is indeed so versatile, something I neglected to consider previously, I agree now no bonus feat should be present. Any other parts of the campaign that you could use some feedback on or are you pretty much good to go for now?

01-08-2008, 03:20 PM
I'm good for now. I'll revisit if I need new ideas or feedback, no worries :) You guys have good ideas.