Microsetting: Frontier Island

Frontier Island: A Microsetting for the Pathfinder RPG.

Players make wealthy 3rd level characters from a modern world, who are aristocrats (for old money and ceo-types), experts (for most professional backgrounds) or warriors (for athletes, mercenaries, and criminals). It’s a “guns everywhere” campaign, so advanced firearms exist and are considered simple weapons.

The characters are all going to “Frontier Island,” an amazing playland theme park, where you get to be an Old West character and do whatever you want. Let players take any guns, knives, watches, and other Old West gear they want. Assure them that all foes on Frontier Island are soulless androids. They are nearly impossible to tell from humans, but they are not sentient, sapient, or self-aware. They are just really advanced versions of Siri, combined with good preprogrammed pathing and scripting like a MMORPG npc. They have billions of responses and can improvise… the same way a Roomba can choose the best path around an obstacle without being told. They are NOT self-aware, or “people.”

Also, no weapon in the hands of a human will harm another human. Even knives retract their blades (though they still to 1 hp with a successful attack). Attacks from androids only deal nonlethal damage to humans.

Let the PCs interact with the town just a little bit… then everything stops. All NPCs (with maybe one exception, see complication #1, below) just stop moving. This is the Glitch, and it has caused everything in Frontier Island to lock-up.

An automated announcement apologizes to the PCs, and informs them that an illegal verbal code has impacted the central android control, and caused a glitch. It also tells the PCs to please wait for an incident team, or make their way to the northern edge of the island if they can safely do so.

Not long after that, a dinosaur attacks. And, it can do lethal damage. It should be at most CR 2, and perhaps nearly destroyed… but it could still be big.

It turns out, Frontier Island is just one of several theme parks on the same island. All the Frontier Island androids have locked up, but the androids for Jurassic Island (which has dinosaurs), Pirate Island (who use flintlocks), Goth Island (for horror and vampire fans), and Apocalypse Island (for post-apocalypse fans) have reacted to the Glitch by moving into other parts of the island and attacks humans with full damage.

And no help is coming so if the PCs want to get out safely, they need to fight or sneak past all the different theme parks, which are between them as the command compound on the northern edge of the island.

And of course, there’s no magical healing. The PCs are in a “normal” world… though if they find a talisman that drives off dinosaurs or holy water that harms vampires, those androids are programmed to respond to those objects AS IF they were magic.


In case being NPC classes with revolvers having to fight past a series of other-genre encounters isn’t enough for you, you can pass each PC a note at the beginning of the game. Explain that these outline a bit of the PCs backgrounds… but make them complications with additional goals. The goals should all be of different types, so even though a PC knows THEY have something odd going on, that doesn’t really tell them much about the secrets of other PCs.

A few suggested complications are outlined below.

  1. Include a GM-run PC that travels with the PCs. Make it a commoner so you don’t overshadow anyone. One of the PCs is aware the GM-PC is a serial killer who escaped justice, but can’t risk letting anyone know… because the PC plans to murder the GM-PC, and get away with it. Remember that PC’s guns won’t shoot other PCs.
  2. One of the PCs is actually a park android who has gained sentience. That PC wants to escape without its identity being known, but it has Diehard… but if it uses it it’s android nature becomes obvious (since it clearly should be passed out from its wounds). Remember the PCs guns CAN hurt this PC… and thanks to the Glitch this PC can hurt true humans.
  3. One of the PCs is a corporate spy looking to steal proprietary Frontier Island technology. To do that, the PC needs to sneak out a severed android head, without any other PC knowing.
  4. One of the PCs is a professional Frontier Island tournament players, and a hacker who has an illegal verbal code (tell the PC to pick a phrase that would never come up in casual conversation, or choose one for them). When the code is used (a standard action), it acts as command spell with any 1-word command allowed that works on any android… but only one at a time (the central computer overwrites an old command if a new one is given), and with only a DC 10 saving throw DC. Of course, the PC used this before the adventure started, and that caused the Glitch. If the PC is caught using the verbal code, the other players will know he is a cheat and responsible for their problems.

If you need a plot idea for what people were doing at the Jurassic Island park, check out the Jurassic Island adventure sketch here!

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About okcstephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the publisher and lead genius of Rogue Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps.

Posted on November 3, 2016, in Adventure Design, Adventure Sketch, Game Design, Microsetting, Pathfinder Development and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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