Category Archives: Microsetting

Fantasy Maxims

Sometimes as a GM, you just need a new maxim to put on a tomb wall, or inscribe into a book, or have a wise old turtle say while puffing on a pipe.

So, here are some options.

“It takes more than a hoard of gold to make you a dragon.”

“Counting a man’s tears doesn’t teach you the depth of his grief.”

“A man who freezes do death does not care how soon Spring is.”

“A tunnel is just a hole that kept going.”

“Butterflies don’t help caterpillars.”

“Don’t make deals with talking skulls.”

“The differences between heroes and corpses is more skill than luck.”

“Don’t light a candle if you don’t want to see what’s in the dark.”

“No one buries something without good cause to take on the labor.”

“Blame the parent for a child’s behavior, but blame the adult for their own actions.”

“An axe that chops wood is a tool. An axe that chops flesh is a weapon. The axe doesn’t care.”

(Art by Svitlana)

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Really Wild West “Doomstone” Campaign — After-Action Report (Game Session 5, Pt. 2)

Here’s part Two of the Session Five notes for my Really Wild West: Doomstone campaign, adapted from notes taken by my wife Lj (who is playing the fenrin operative bounty hunter named “Sawyer”).

You can find Session One here: Part OnePart Two.
Session Two here: Part OnePart Two.
Session Three here.
Session Four here.
Session Five here: Part One.

If you don’t recognize a reference, it may (or may not) be in a previous session, or at the updated campaign notes page.

(Art by Jacob Blackmon)

Session Five (Part Two)

Still Day 13

The characters see that the heaviest traffic out of the Big Cavern is through the left-hand tunnel, which was clearly made by the Embanking Machine. This also shows signs of the svirfneblin-drawn sled they saw bring green ore out of the mine when observing the camp outside. This is the route the take.

  • There is a breach in the tunnel that clips some underground complex that was already there. (The players later learn this is the Svirfneblin Vault)
  • The end of that tunnel opens up beyond the breach
  • The centaur paladin, in the lead (with her darkvision) is attacked by monsters disguised as rocks at the entrance. They’re grick!

FIGHT!!!

  • The grick don’t seem to take electrical damage, fire damage either
  • The human soldier criminal grabs the Warhammer the Chimera Kid was using and uses that on the grick – bounces off. The magic fusion that was on the warhammer has already been moved to the mechanic robotisit’s drone’s bite attack (her drone looks like a mechanical dog).
  • The grick don’t do a lot of damage, but anyone near them has to make a Reflex save or take some damage from their flailing tentacles, on top of their bites or acid spit. And the grick are reducing every attack that hits them by 10 points of damage, so seem nearly invulnerable.
  • There are two Sverfneblin here. They speak some kind of old German. It takes Culture checks for people who know German to understand them.
  • The centaur paladin and fenrin operative work to asks the Svirfneblin to call off the beasts – the svirfneblin explain they do not control the gricks
  • The human soldier criminal called out the name Drungeldan Smyreonot – the name of one of the ‘neblins we talked to after death
  • Bullets don’t work against the gricks either
  • The half-orc technomancer cartographer makes a Mysticism check, and says it takes magic damage to hurt the grick. He then casts overcharge weapon on the paladin centaur’s lance.
  • The lance kills one. The human soldier has an automatic pistol with a magic rune on it, and he easily kills the other one.

AFTERMATH:

  • The centaur paladin casts a spell that allows her to speak to the Svirfneblin
  • They need to get to their Headman
    • He is being held hostage in the back
    • We will have to bypass the serpentfolk and some pact guardians
    • The Pact Guardians are varied – some mechanical, some monsters. They protect the svirfneblin, but also obey the pact, and thus don’t currently attack the serpent people who took over the pact by stealing blood of pact scion – Dwargus. Thus as long as Dwargus does not elave the area, the serpent people can come and go in the Svirfneblin Vault. (PCs realize this is why the manticore kept killing off Dwargus’s cattle–so he couln’t retire and leave).
    • Only the authority of the pact scion can get us to bypass the pact guardians
    • The PCs try the writ given to them by Dwargus allowing them to investigate the area on the door in this room, which is a Pact Guardian itself.
    • It works!
    • There are serpentfolk on the other side of the door!!

FIGHT!

  • There is a gorgeous small green snake, a serpentfolk with a gun and serrated jawbone of an ass sword, and a human carpetbagger with a staff and wearing a beautiful green operacloak
  • The two ‘neblin cast spells to aid the PCs
  • When the pretty cobra dies, it turns into a pool and evaporates
  • The soulstaff dissolves

LOOT: Sharpened jawbone of an ass that is bane vs humanoids (5,000- 10,000-year-old artifact); Who’s Who in Montana 1890; guardian greatcloak (Goes to the technomancer cartographer, and changes from venomous green to midnight blue with silver nautical symbols, route lines, and compass roses when he puts it on).)

Guardian Greatcloak (magic item, level 5): If you take an action that provokes an attack of opportunity, you may expend a Resolve Point without taking an action and not provoke the attack of opportunity

LOOT: One shotgun

PCs move through the rest of the Vault to get to the headman, using the Writ from Dwargus to bypass traps and guardians of the Pact. Final room. Locked and trapped door. The mechanic roboticist bypasses it, and recognizes the handiwork/design skills of Professor Barkane Adrameliche, whose handiwork was also found in the Martian Embanking machine.

  • The Svirfneblin Headman is inside
  • He asks if he can close the vault, using their authority with the Writ from Dwargus – PCs all say yes
  • The Headman explains Professor Barkane Adrameliche IS the Venom King (“Toxin Krieger”to the Sverneblin)
    • The Professor found the idea of a “Venom King” while studying Martian Black Gas, and began to hear whispers. As he experimented with and perfected ways to use the Black gas, the whispers grew louder and louder, and eventually the Professor became the Venom King as much as he is Barkane Adrameliche.
  • The Professor/Venom King is a Darkling — a human who has embraced the darkness so totally he is a native outsider, and on his way to becoming a demigod. He is one of six “Dread Fates,” six unspeakable ways to die.
  • The Professor had six Lts.
    • Dathaca (who was the Chimera Kid)
    • Gaotma – (the only one with a Doomstone)
    • Athath-ka
    • Venomancer (the spellcasters the PCs *just* killed)
    • Female serpentfolk in the other tunnel. Called “Her” in fearful tones by other serpent people.
    • One Unknown
  • The Professor and his six lts are the only ones who will ascend, becoming demigods
  • None of the other six Dread Fates currently has a physical body. The Professor is trying to bring about one of them, his closest ally, the Dread Fate of Torture (who has a drop of blood as his icon, like the blood cultists encountered earlier on Neblin Ridge).
  • The Professor is currently in Montana.
  • Sverfhaim is a Hollow World– a place that is as much a concept and planar pocket as it is a material place. So is the Serpent People home. Also, the serpentfolk seek another “Hollow World
  • Headman offers PC hospitality for the night
    • Sends his folk to watch the upper caverns
  • PCs need to get into the serpentfolk city, set up a mystical “door” (a device the Neblin headman can create), go through it, close the door
    • Then the serpent city will cease to have access to our world and we would be on Neblin Ridge

End of session. XPs: 2650

LEVEL UP to 6th!!

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Really Wild West “Doomstone” Campaign — After-Action Report (Game Session 5, Pt. 1)

It looks like there is enough interest in session notes from my Really Wild West: Doomstone campaign for those to become a regular feature. So here’s a write-up adapted from notes taken by my wife Lj (who is playing the fenrin operative bounty hunter named “Sawyer”) as a quick report for Session Five!

You can find Session One here: Part OnePart Two.
Session Two here: Part OnePart Two.
Session Three here.
Session Four here.

If you don’t recognize a reference, it may (or may not) be in a previous session, or at the updated campaign notes page.

Session Five

Day 13

The fenrin operative bounty hunter takes the mask of inconsequence once used by the Chimera Kid. This magic item allows you to make Stealth checks, opposed by observer’s Perception or Sense Motive (whichever is greater) to appear to be no different form the majority of people around you. It only works when you are not in combat, and does not work against anyone directly interacting with you or who is in combat.

(Art by Jacob Blackmon)

So equipped, she heads into the mine to do Stealth recon. She overhears a conversation between two guards – they know there was a ight outside, and if anyone comes up they don’t recognize the guards will will shoot first, ask questions later. They are awaiting the return of “the Professor,” who the guards obviously fear. The Professor specifically warned them not to use the “embanking machine,” which is taken by the group to be a Martian embanking machine from the War of the Worlds.

The players decide to make a blitz attack, since these guards and part of an operation that has used slave svirfneblin labor, and mercilessly killed and hid the bodies of a dozen or more of those.

  • The centaur paladin charges in to begin the fracas, impaling an enemy operative (one of two) with a critical hit on a lance change before he has a chance to do anything. (“Yep, that’s a crit. What IS the crit effect on your lance?” “He dies?”)
  • There is a spell-casting serpentfolk in here. It casts a defensive spell, then alternates between supercharge weapon and firing snakes as arrows from a 3-limbed bow.
  • The surviving operative sniper trick attacks the centaur, and gets his own critical hit on her before she rides him down.
  • The human soldier criminal PC exhcages fire with numerous gunslingers, and two axe-lords (people with magic rune brands in their hands allowing them to make special throw-and-return and multiple-target ace attacks, an old Nordic tradition). He gets shot with a snake arrow, but doesn’t go down
  • One crook, “Mr. Green Jacket” gets away out the front of the mine and since he agreed to flee “into the desert” and not come back, and the PCs took a lot of damage, they opt not to chase him down.

AFTERMATH

  • There is a Martian Embanking Machine here, which has been used to dig dozens of tunnels. It looks like a 20-ft. wide mechanical centipede, and has been converted to be steered by human controls. The human mechanic roboticist disables it by taking out aprt of thsoe adapted controls and in doing so finds a gear with a patent he reognizes–it was created by the infamous Professor Barkane Adrameliche, a citizen of the Ottoman Empire who helped create the first automatons. It is suspected he might have known Gaotma, the Manticore.
  • This room also has a series of Martian atomic batteries, which have been salvaged from other Embanking machines. These are not as powerful as a Tripod Generator (like the one serpentfolk tried to steal in Session One), but these three have been hooked to a capacitor designed to concentrate their power, though it takes several days to power up to a generator’s power level.
  • The capacitor is hooked to an array that clearly once had a spherical device hooked up inside it. This is right next to an empty storage area which the fenrin can tell 9with Scent) used to have Martian Black gas cannisters. Also, the iron box with the Doomstone taken from the manticore gets hot near the area.
  • The PCs conclude the Venom King is using the Martian Batteries to infuse Green Iron (taken from this mine) with the toxic properties of the Black Gas, the most virulent poison now known on Earth. This creates the “Doomstones,” such as the one they recovered, but can only make one every week or two. If the Venom King had a Tripod Generator, he could make a Doomstone every few hours.

LOOT from thsi fight: High-quality handaxes x4; Allin needle guns x2 (one for Liam); Ajax revolvers (x5); three-limbed serpent person bow (no arrows), bag with 8 snake eggs; golden bullet (magical) – put it in any projectile weapon and it has a one-shot built-in supercharge weapon (given to the fenrin operative bounty hunter); gallon of butane

Cast grave words on the bodies the Serpentfolk just hisses words at the PCs. The All of the rest of them talk about weird smells and weird dreams

There are two paths deeper into the mine. The PCs go left.

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Tales of the Intrepideurs’ Guild, Pt 3 (Game Session 0)

This weekend, we actually had “Session 0” of my Fantasy AGE game, where players made characters, including asking about the world, talking about relationships to one another, and so on.

Despite all the work I had done on the Intrepideur’s Guild itself, I had not yet spent any effort on the region the PCs will be starting in. As with the guild and the entire campaign concept I didn’t need much–just a frame upon which I could hang a paper-thin narrative for the adventures. But players generally have more fun when there at least a few concepts and place names for them to build their own stories and ideas off of.

So, I took 5 minutes to create the loosest of frameworks for a town. But I wanted the players to be more invested in it than if it was just a long list of imaginary words and sounds with dashs and hyphens thrown in for fantasy flavor. So, instead of naming everything myself, I creates a Mad-LIbs-stype series of options, and asked each player to fill in two of them.

Here’s the framework I used.

Welcome to the major trade town of [Adjective][Word Associated with Elves], located on the shores of the [Word associated with seas or oceans] and bordered by the [Word associated with rock or stone] Mountains with the [Terrain feature] Woods, and an important part of the [commodity] Route.

It is a [form of government], ruled over by the [Any fantasy species] King, [Impressive or noble adjective][word GM picks based on the king’s species].

Then after each player gave me a word I tweaked a tiny bit (I originally had swimmingly forest, which I disliked, so I jogged it slightly to Forrest Swim, which I think is a great town name and immediately makes me begin to wonder how it got that name.

Welcome to the major trade town of Forrest Swim, located on the shores of the Sextant Sea and bordered by the Igneous Mountains within the Outcropped Woods, and an important part of the Silk Route.

It is a Dictatorship, ruled over by the Unicorn King, Gloryhoof.

(Art by Kate Smith)

Then we got to making characters. Everyone choose to roll for ability socres, rather than use point-buy, just to get a feel for how Fantasy AGE feels when done that way. We restricted ourselves to the Basic Rulebook, and had characters done with plenty of time left for a quick adventure.

I used a single house rule, allowing characters to pick a specialization at 1st level.

The players all worked together, comparing ability scores and social status results, talking about what they’d like to see the party be able to do, and so on.

In the end, our heroes came out thusly–
Drahul (orc warrior, two-weapon fighter with battleaxe and longsword)
Folas (elf mage, arcana of healing and heroics)
Hannah (human rogue with assassin specialization, sister to)
James (human warrior, two-handed spear fighter)
Winter (elf mage, arcana of lightning and power)

The game notes, adapted from those taken by my wife Lj, are short but to-the-point.

Session 01:

We’re all tin-level Intrepideurs. We’ve all been on our initial quests with overseers and passed our evaluations. We’re ready for the bigtime.

Only Hannah and James know each other. The Guild recommends this group of 5 band together, at least initially, as an Intrepideur’s party.

We take our First quest: Escort quest (pays 50s per member of the group) – A request to the Guild from King Gloryhoof, himself

  • Five orphan children, arrived by ship. Need to be taken to a holy site of their order up in the Igneous Mountains. Their escorts were killed by Pirates, who were paid by a cult known as The Fists who want to kill the children. The pirates were driven off before they could harm the children.
  • Four days to the end destination, then four days back. Have a cart for the children, and the Guild provides food and basic supplies.

Day 01

Ambushed by 5 members of the Fists on the road. GM says this fight LOOKs too tough for us and it may be a TPK, but since part of this is playtesting and getting used to the game, we all agree to play it out.

  • Everyone knocked out at least once, and in the end everyone but Hannah and James are killed.
  • Except the GM retcons having a near TPK in the first session, as a blessing from King Gloryhoof for those carrying out his errands keeps the “killed” PCs from quite dying.
  • We get the kids to the mountain and back

Day 09

  • We get 50sp each + another 60sp from selling the gear we took off the Fists. Several characters take light chain recovered from the Fists. Including Winter, a spellcaster.

GM says to level up to 2nd level, and everyone gets one common temporary magic items to represent adventures between now and the next game.

So, that’s it. I ran the game… and nearly killed all the PCs with a fight WAY too tough for them. And that’s okay, we all got to use the death and dying rules, which often don’t get played with much, and learned I was right–that fight was WAY too tough!

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Tales of the Intrepideurs’ Guild, Pt 2

So as I noted a little over a week ago, I am starting a Fantasy AGE campaign, specifically designed to help me have a place to try things out as the Fantasy AGE developer for Green Ronin Publishing. This will be the “Tales of the Intrepideur’s Guild,” and have as a framing device that the PCs are entry-level professional adventurers belonging to the aforementioned guild, and doing jobs it sanctions.

I explained a bit about why such a guild would exist in the imaginary game world of Fage I am creating for this campaign. Now I want to delve a bit into the guild itself.

For this article, we’ll discuss the guild’s place in the world of Fage.

The Intrepideur’s Guild is one of the major “Slate League” freelance unions (an unofficial designation that comes from only the most successful such groups able to afford slate tile roofs for all their guildhalls). It among the oldest still-active freelancer unions, third only to the Ratcatcher Society and the Right and Honorable Order of Dragonslayers, both of which are a good deal smaller and not considered Slate League institutions (though the Dragonslayers were, at one time). It is also among the most trusted (along with the Lady’s Sewing Circle and Heroic Alliance) most widespread (challenged in that regard only by the Council of Warlocks and Alchemists’ Consociation), and most successful (consistently placing in the top three best mission-clearance rates, often with the Court of Justiciars and Council of Warlocks, though it worth noting the Lady’s Sewing Circle refuses to discuss their clearance rate, or who their clients are).

Nearly every major city has a Intrepideur’s Guildhall, along with many towns, trading posts, and crossroads. Outside of emergency or disaster relief, only members of the guild in good standing can stay at a Guildhall, and they can do so extremely cheaply—though anyone staying for more than a few weeks without taking on some missions (officially called “Quests”) will get relocated to another Guildhall if members who are on quests need the room.

Because the guild will only accept and sanction quests from individuals or groups that agree to a set or rules regarding the treatment of its members, most city-states and townships have formal treaties with the it. these treaties insure that the guild will have a guildhall at a set rate or tax, that income from performing quests is not taxed, and that guild members are treated fairly and legally always have the right to demand to see an Intrepideur’s Guild representative before being taken to trial or having any criminal punishment carried out.

In many ways, the Intrepideur’s Guild is a government itself, run by a Guildroyal (currently Guildmistress Akachi), overseen by a Council of Senior Hallkeepers, and able to negotiate with the most powerful city-states on near-equal footing. Of course the Intrepideur’s Guild lacks a standing army, and city-states can gather in alliances… but since the guild also shows no sign of wanting to impose its will on anything beyond how its own people are treated, most governments consider the benefit of access to its quest-boards more than worth the cost of agreeing to its terms.

After all, sometimes you need a high-level Intrepideur.

(Art by Jesse-lee Lang)

So, how does the guild decide what Quests to take? How do you join? What’s in it for the Intrepideurs?

Well get to that stuff in time!

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OGL Warlock for Starfinder Part 8: Archetypes and NPCs

Unlike a lot of other d20 games, the Starfinder Roleplaying game needs special rules to apply archetypes to PCs of any class, and to create NPCs for that class. So even if you have all the stand-alone class rules, you haven’t really “finished” a class until you have these.

So, here are the last rules you need to fully integrate warlocks into any Starfinder Roleplaying Game campaign you might have (such as the Really Wild West!).

(Really Wild West Lashunta Celestial Warlock by Jacob Blackmon)

Warlocks with Archetypes.

As with any Starfinder Roleplaying Game class, a warlock that takes an archetype has some of its class features altered or replaced, as noted below.

Altered or Replaced Warlock Class Features

For any level at which an archetype provides an alternate class feature, a warlock who takes the archetype alters or replaces the listed class features.

2nd, 9th: You do not gain an invocation.

4th: You do not gain your pact boon until 5th level. At 5th level you gain a pact boon rather than an invocation.

6th, 12th, 18th: You do not gain a patron gift.

No description available.
(Really Wild West Tiefling Fiendish Warlock by Jacob Blackmon)

Warlock Class Graft

If you wish to make a warlock NPC, you can use the following class graft along with the standard rules for doing so found in the Starfinder Alien Archive.

Special Rules – Patron: Select a patron and give the warlock the associated eldritch blast and eldritch power. The eldritch blast should do damage appropriate for the NPC’s CR.

Special Rules – Spells: All spells must be selected from the mystic or witchwarper spell list. If the warlock is CR 10 or higher, reduce the level of all its available spells in each encounter by one spell level.

Required Array: Spellcaster.

Adjustments: +2 to Reflex saving throws.

Skills: Master Bluff, Intimidate, and Culture or Perception.

Ability Score Modifiers: Highest bonus goes to Charisma, Intelligence, or Wisdom, then Dexterity and Constitution.

Gear: Light or heavy armor (item level = CR), small arm (item level = CR), and basic melee weapon (item level = CR – 1).

ABILITIES BY CR

CR           Abilities

1              Patron and one special ability.
2              Patron, one invocation, and one special ability.
4              Patron, pact boon, one invocation, and one special ability.
9              Patron, pact boon, one invocation, one patron gift, and one special ability.
12           Patron, pact boon, two invocations, one patron gift, and one special ability.
15           Patron, pact boon, two invocations, two patron gift, and one special ability.
20           Patron, pact boon, eldritch mastery, two invocations, two patron gift, and one special ability.

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Worldbuilding Through Language, Part 1

The online Merriam-Webster dictionary has a “Time Traveler” function, which allows you to see what words first saw print in a given year.

Which means if you have a campaign set in a real-world year, you can create a list of words that were first used in print that year. This becomes a list of the cutting edge of new discussions in various fields. If ‘antibiotic’ is first used as a word in 1891, and that’s the year of your campaign, that tells you something about the state of medicine and awareness of it as a concept. It also means you may want to look at the history of the word and see how it was being used. (Antibiotics, for example, were being explored as a concept in 1891, not yet available).

As an example of what I mean, here is a list of words first used in English in print in 1891, the year of my Really Wild West campaign.

(Art by Digital Storm)

addictive

antibiotic

anti-gang

antimicrobial

appendectomy

atmospherics

AWOL

balloon tire

batting cage

bipartisan

bodywash

collective bargaining

compass rose

diving board

domestic violence

electromagnetic radiation

electron

exhibitionism

eyedropper

fair catch

fair market value

fellatio

fine print

fingerprinting

flea market

frenemy

handheld

house detective

leatherneck

legwork

motion picture

multimillion

mystique

nationwide

neuron

prosciutto

reinforced concrete

secondhand smoke

seismogram

skeletonizer

slot machine

stinking smut

supersecret

supraliminal

synesthesia

table tennis

tabloid

Tasmanian tiger

tattersall

time card

torpedo tube

trade in

transpacific

traveler’s check

tuberculous

ultrarich

vaccination

wasabi

water cannon

wiretapper

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Really Wild West “Doomstone” Campaign — After-Action Report (Game Session 4)

Since people still seem to be enjoying after-action reports of my Really Wild West: Doomstone campaign, here’s a write-up adapted from notes taken by my wife Lj (who is playing the fenrin operative bounty hunter named “Sawyer”) as a quick report for Session Four!

You can find Session One here: Part OnePart Two.
Session Two here: Part OnePart Two.
Session Three here.

If you don’t recognize a reference, it may (or may not) be in a previous session, or at the updated campaign notes page.

Day 12

  • Heroes spy on the enemy encampments on Neblin’s Ridge. There is a camp at a mine entrance at the base of the mesa, and on top an outpost with a tower and a wind sock, and a couple of miles away a telegraph hut with a wire trailing off to the East. There are multiple species present among the gang running the camps, including seprent-folk.
  • Using ask the wind their name, PCs determine the following:
    • A Large serpentfolk (with a snake lower body) wearing onyx armor is Aakath-ka (naga form). He is a Monstrous humanoid, venomous, spell caster
    • The human who seems to be a foreman is – Boston Bob (bowler hat)
      • No special powers, has a price on his head ($200)
      • Busted during the war for smuggling refugees out of cities on military trains for money
  • The PCs form the following plan
    • The human mechanic makes a timed cutter box to go off an hour before dawn, to be placed on the telegraph wires
    • Human soldier watches the camp for the day
    • Fenrin operative flies around to check the telegraph (using DaVinci wings), plants the cutter, looks for a way up, and checks the outpost
    • Centaur paladin keeps our camp safe, secure, and secret
    • When the cutter goes off, we immediately attack the outpost up on the mesa
    • Then, we attack the camp at the mineshaft at the base of the mesa within the hour
  • Recon
    • The fenrin operative finds a switchback good when it’s dry – will take 3 hours to get from there to the outpost
    • Set the cutter on a particularly difficult place to repair on the wire
    • Spot 3-4 criminals in the outpost watching the Western skies (the direction of the Circle Axe) – packing pistols
    • There is a manticore nest next to the house and a platformed tower with a crane and a windsock. Think this may be Gaotma‘s base of operations, and his minions don’t know he’s dead yet–just late.
  • The human soldier spends a day observing and notes
    • Sverfeblin come out of the mine, escourted by some humans and a snakefolk, and pulling a sledge. One of the sverfneblin appears to be in charge of them – has questions for Boston Bob, isn;t happy with the answers
    • Some kind of strange questioning going on – sverfneblin taken to a blackout tend and peered at from outside (are the gang member checking the deep gnomes for some radiation glow?)
    • There is an underground storage, with a trap door in the camp, and boxes from the sled (which seem to be very heavy) are lowered into it.
    • The rowdies who came out of the mine undergo some kind of procedure in a tent that takes 30 minutes
      • They come out rubbing their faces and somewhat cleaner
      • Different rowdies escort the sverfneblin back into the mine.

Day 13

The attack on the Outpost on top of the mesa takes too long and is too noisy, because half the player’s skill and attack rolls were 1 or 2. Even so, manage to defeat all the rowdies, including one dressed in red who apparently could cast spells, but only when accessing his own blood.

LOOT: Sawed off shotgun; 3 bowie knives; cultist wavy dagger; emblem (of a twisted barbed wire, held by pliers, blood drops coming off the barbs, similar in style to the poison emblems fund earlier); $50; piece of paper from a writing desk

Soldier/mystic talks to the dead. One says: “Dark days are coming, mortals will not survive, ascension is the only option”

The letter was as folows:

Dathaca,

I understand your doubts and concerns, but I assure you this venture is worth the risk. Allow me to address your concerns individually.

The Daemon Darklings are mortals best route to gain the powers needed to protect ourselves against the outer powers. Of the Six Dread Fates that have proven able to empower a Darkling, Venom seems most within my reach now that I have accessed the alchemical process of the Aresian War Clouds. That will not be enough, of course. I’ll need a Genus Foci, a Concept of Thought, to draw the lingering spirit of the Comte de Adalgiso back to the Material Plane.

The cost of such an operation will not be insignificant. But with the promise of unlocking the ability of Ascension, and the Theosophic formula to prove it possible? I believe I will be able to procure the needed patrons.

What I lack is the martial backing to ensure our patrons remain our allies rather than our masters. With backers from the Material world, I could perhaps just hire the needed defenders. But against the Scale of Aakath, I have no doubt more… experienced warriors will be needed to protect our interests. My belief is that your contacts, especially Gaotema and his band, will allow us to deal on equal footing.

And yes, old friend, there will be money in it well before we make our fel godlings. I have already received interest from numerous individuals of means, and am sure

This letter was handed to players as a prop, crumpled and stained. Also a few letters had a tiny drop of gold ink in them. The players noticed, and wrote out the gold-flecked letters to discover the spelled )-B-E-Y. With this information, they release the letter had a secret magic message OBEY that compelled the addressee.

Then, the PCs attacked the camp in front of the mine shaft at the base of the mesa.

And discover the Chimera Kid is there, even though they never noticed him in their recon.

(The Chimera Kid, Art by Jacob Blackmon)
  • The human solider opens by tossing sticks of dynamite into the tent area, taking out number ruffians.
  • Akatha-ka casts spells
  • Another red-clad cultists that uses blood magic, but has a neat wire on his wrist he can pull to just shed 1 drop of blood for each spell.
  • The Chimera Kid engages the Centaur Paladin, with ram’s head hammer, poison pistol, and fire pistol. He severely damages her, and she him, but then he flies away to engage other targets with his own DaVinci wings, and he drops.
  • Akatha-ka targets the fenrin operative with a psychic thrust attack – hate
  • The operative fenrin focuses on Akatha-ka with her awareness – she is able to see through his blur
  • The human mechanic and her dron Pinion use two sticks of dynomite to take out ruffians in a rifle position, then hold a spot in the middle of the camp for the rest of the conflict. She is poisoned by the Chimera Kid’s pistol as he flies by, though the centaur paladin’s lay on hands later fixes that.
  • The centaur paladin turns out Akatha-ka with her smite… and he is of the dragon type. He has significant DR, but the smite ignores it, and the centaur paladin takes him out, then takes out Boston Bob.
  • The human solider, rifle in hand, manages to take out the flying Chimera Kid

Aftermath:

  • There is an irradiated mutant plant behind a bulwark
    • It was growing out of Sverfeblin skull
    • Dug it up from a grave
    • PCs wonder why did the gang kept it? But decide to destroy it and the skull) with fire.
    • The soldier/mystic uses Grave Words on many of the bodies. The Chimera Kid’s corpse says – “You can’t confuse other worlds with other planes or you’re gonna have a bad time”
  • Within the storage under the trap door are twelve ammo boxes – all hooked together like it’s gonna be lifted all at once
    • They are all locked – no keys on any of these bodies
    • The human mechanic picks one open
    • Inside are lumps of unrefined green iron ore – it glows. And gets on her skin through her gloves. She has to clean her hands thoroughly to stop having glowing specks.

LOOT: Six miner hats (butane lights on them)

The PCs choose to pause here, recuperate, then go into the mine itself.

XPs: 2400

Bringing the PCs to 14,400 (15,000 to 6th)

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Tales of the Intrepideurs’ Guild, Pt 1

It should come as no shock that, as Green Ronin’s developer for the Fantasy AGE RPG, I want to run a Fantasy AGE campaign. Running (and playing) the games I write and develop for is an important part of being connected to the material as-played for me when I can arrange it, and it helps me build and maintain system mastery.

I have been *meaning* to start a Fantasy Age game for months, but (waves hands at… everything).

However, since I’m only going to be able to run a single campaign at the moment, I want to set up its framework to maximize its benefits to me. That means organizing it so I can run no matter how many of my players can show up, maximizing the amount of time the campaign focuses on game mechanics, and having a framework lose enough I can experiment with and playtest new material without having to spend a lot of effort working it into the game.

My players are, of course, aware that these are goals of mine. I’m currently only able to play in-person with the very small group in my social bubble, all of whom are folks I’ve been playing RPGs with for 20 years or more, so that’s not an issue.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t want ANY framing device for the campaign. I just want one with a great deal of flexibility and a focus on small, variable groups going and doing dangerous or difficult things.

And for this game, that’s going to come in the form of the Intrepideurs’ Guild. Which immediately leads to the question, what the heck is an Intrepideur?

(Art by Luca Oleastri)

The word is a portmanteau of Intrepid and Entrepreneur that I am intentionally creating for its slightly cheesy flavor. It will, in-world, be used the way “adventurer” might be in a lot of fantasy game settings. Within the context of the fictional world I am creating, an Intrepideur is someone who makes a career out of being brave and bold, and facing things most people don’t want to.

So in our fictional world (which, for the moment, I am naming Fage), its considered normal to have your day-job be facing dangerous things to make money. In many cases, someone will pay you to do this, because the dangerous things make their lives difficult. In other cases, a group might decide to seek out and face a danger because they think there’s money to be made in doing so. Folks of Fage treat Intrepideurs the way our current world treats first responders, extreme sports athletes and mountain climbers, and entrepreneurs. It’s not for everyone and it’s a bit off the norm, but in general it’s seen as a reasonable choice for people drawn to such work.

Now some of this work is pretty intermittent stuff — if bandits have taken to preying on a road between countries, you can hire Intrepideurs to guard you as you travel it or even to clear off the bandits entirely. Need someone to hunt down and stop an arsonist? Protect your sheep from wolves? Hunt down giant crabs suddenly tearing up fishing nets? Gather the prophetic and altering spice Mordant from the Shifting Desert? Intripdeurs are your best bet.

But there are also some things that happen at least as often as severe weather, tornadoes, hurricanes, and wildfires, and that really do call for a society to maintain an entire class of people trained to deal with them. Here are some common sources of ongoing Intrepideur work.

Bone Stars — It’s well known that the night sky is the inside of the skull of the giant that was slain by the First Gods to make the world (though there is significant disagreement on which giant, and which gods). Sometimes, the long-dead giant forms a wicked thought in its skull, which flakes off a bit of the bone from the skull and plummets to Fage in a bolt of colored fire. Bone Stars can be seen for days before landing, and are often signs of misfortune or the death of a ruler.

But they also often have actual… things… on them. Screaming, mobile fungi that consume all they come across. Metal spiders that build webs of crystal that drink sunlight. Evil, psychic rats. And whatever it is? It does not belong on Fage. it does not seek balance with its environment. The things from Bone Stars was plagues on the land that, if not dealt with, can eventually scrub whole kingdoms clean of life.

And if one of those Bone Stars lands near your town? You want some Intrepideurs to show up and take care of it. Quick, while it’s small.

(Art by Dominick)

Catacairns — There have been waves of evil spirits, demigods, and demons that have attacked the World of Fage in the past, sometimes swarming over entire continents. When those things are defeated, it turns out they mostly can’t be “killed” in the mortal sense of the word. But they can be placed within massive underground tomb complexes, which are filled with puzzles and traps and hazards to keep the spirits from ever finding their way to their physical remains, or out into the world. these tomb-prison complexes are known as Catacairns. Some are centuries old, built by fallen empires or lone genius/hermit mages, marked by weird mehirs and monuments.

Mostly, they are pretty stable prisons. Mostly.

But sometimes some energy leaks out of an abandoned Catacairn into the nearby wilderness or town and… CHANGES things. That usually mean a seal or lock has cracked, and SOMEONE has to both deal with the twisted “cairnite” abominations it creates, and go fix the thing. And sometimes cultists or power-mad idiots crack into a catacairn intentionally, to siphon such power, or even release what is within in hopes of being rewarded with vast power. Sometimes the outer locks and traps fail after centuries of disuse, and minor spirits even escape outward, and have to be put down and trapped again.

And sometimes? Sometimes the worst things, at the lowest levels, wake up and start to tear down their whole prison, block by block.

(Art by info@nextmars)

Prismatic Mountains — There are multiple ranges of Prismatic Mountains throughout the World of Fage, and they… shift. Not all the time, but always during the winter. A pass found one year is likely useless by the next. Residents, animals, monsters, even weather shifts from year to year. And Prismatic Mountains are almost always right where you want to take caravans of trade goods through.

So, every year, there’s a huge demand for Intrepideurs to go into the nearest Prismatic Mountain range, and map what they can, learn what they can and, if possible, find a route through. With trade routes cut off nearly all winter, the first group who can prove they can get a caravan through can command steep prices of their route, and some small traders will risk heading into the mountains before a pass is established, with many escorts, hoping to be the first to reach the trade routes on the far side so they can charge premium prices for their wares.

Finding a new route can make Intrepideurs reputation. Finding the FIRT route through in a given year also makes them temporary celebrities.

So there’s the campaign basic set-up. Players will be members of an Intrepideurs’ Guild, starting as Tin-ranked members, hoping to work their way up to Copper, Silver, Gold, and Mithral ranks. They get jobs dealing with problems, each one designed to be a single night of gaming. If a player isn’t free a given night, their Intrepideur can’t make it for the mission that time. Weird things and dangers are built into the campaign setting, so I can test things out and, if they don’t work, discard them never to be mentioned again.

Given the popularity of the Really Wild West session recaps, I may recap my Tales of the Intrepideurs’ Guild game sessions as well. And if there’s interest, I can go into more details on how the Guild is set up to speed play along.

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Really Wild West “Doomstone” Campaign — After-Action Report (Game Session 3)

Since people still seem to be enjoying after-action reports of my Really Wild West: Doomstone campaign, here’s a write-up adapted from notes taken by my wife Lj (who is playing the fenrin operative bounty hunter named “Sawyer”) as a quick report for Session Three!

You can find Session One here: Part One, Part Two.
Session Two here: Part One, Part Two.

If you don’t recognize a reference, it may (or may not) be in a previous session, or at the updated campaign notes page.

Session 03:

Day 06

The players investigate the eponymous Circle Axe the Circle Axe Ranch is named for. It is 4ft tall, 30lbs. When the land was pioneered 50 or so years ago, Dwargus hardfist (the current foreman and a dwarf) was here with his grandmother. She had them stop here and dig up this axe, buried in the ground, because she could sense it. She believes it dates back to when a Hardfist was with Leif Erikson’s exploration of the area.

  • Discover it is a magic item, The Double Blade, which is Axiomatic, Bane vs. creatures aligned to, or serving humility or gluttony.
  • Serves Pride and Patience. “Pride and Pateince” is the Hardfist family motto. It dates back to Nordic days, when Pride was seen as a sin by the family, and patience their failing.
  • Can oversee an oath – is doing so right now. Therefore, that oath is still intact. Dwargus is sure no one has used it for an oath since it was buried. Since it was buried, the PCs think the oath might have been a treaty of some kind (for “Bury the hatchet’)
  • Made of steel alloyed with a star metal – noqual. Not usually compatible with steel.
    • Some magical process fused them
    • It weighs 2x-3x what it should
    • It has become a crystalline matrix of steel

Since the PCs are here to stop the Manticore only Dwargus has ever seen, which always kills of his (and ONLY his) cattle each time they are picked from the general hear, their plan is to have the cattle picked, put in buildings in a nearby abandoned town (Horse Creek), and wait for the Manticore to arrive. Sawyer (fenrin operative bounty hunter) buys a cow to mix in with Dwargus’ herd

Day 07 – At the ambush

  • The cows are in two buildings
  • Two ranch hands — Bohoss (an ogre) and Waterlily (an elf) are handling the cattle to keep them calm
  • PCs wait for the attack … and it comes!

FIGHT!

  • First there’s a distant “thump” then a silvery fog rolls in. Everyone needs to make a DC 10 Will save, and those who fail it can’t remember any element of the situation they aren’t currently seeing. Tess (human mechanic) fails her save… but asks her drone what she is doing in a building, at night, near cows, and when explains she rushes out to help.
  • Then the hossest-looking manticore flies in
    • Wearing a previously Union Artilleryman’s hat – debadged
    • Armored forearms with mechanical thumbs
    • Mounted, heavily modified and updated Puckle Gun on its shoulder
The Manticore, Gaotma, by Jacob Blackmon
  • He swoops in and fires at Anuthyr (centaur paladin) – same “thump” sound occurs
    • It’s his fog gun!!
    • MARTIAN BLACK GAS!!
    • He calls her a bad name in Ottoman Turkish – Pislick (“dirt” – piece of crap or asshole)
  • Sawyer flies up and shoots the manticore … real hard
  • Liam (human soldier) was in a sniper position behind the saloon sign on its roof. He drops his rifle and leaps upon he Manticore’s back in an attempt to sunder its gun harness.
    • Gets stung – poisoned
    • Extremely virulent (Doomstone does not use the normal Starfinder poison rules for common poisons, but DOES use them for this poison. Which, worse, uses the track of your HIGHEST ability score!)
    • Liam and damages the harness (As an Experimental weapon it rolls on a failure chart each time it is damaged — it is now a full action to use. So the manticore can no longer use it while flying, and must land).
    • Hangs on, dragging the Manticore to the ground
  • Anuthyr sets for charge and challenges the manticore
  • He shoots her, she stands strong and challenges again
  • Brone (Half-orc technomancer cartographer) tries to cast from cover and is stung and poisoned. The manticore’s tail has reach AND can make attacks of opportunity around corners!
  • Four serpentfolk teleport in, drop off masked bandits, then disappear
    • The bandits have sawed-off double-barrel shotguns, and mining picks with green rims
  • Liam sends up a flare so that Anuthyr can see the manticore on the other side of the black gas
    • Liam starts to succumb to the poison – Dex for him
  • Anuthyr charges – her attack glances off the Manticore’s shoulder armor
    • Manticore identifies himself as Gaotema
  • Gaotema stings and poisons Anuthyr
    • She begins to succumb to the poison – Str for her
  • Sawyer (flying with Davinci wings) keeps Gaotema flatfooted with successful trick attacks
  • Tess and Pinon take on the bandits
  • Brone begins to succumb to the poison – Int
  • The bandits finally get to take action
    • One of them takes on Tess
    • The other two enter the building with Waterlily and 6 cows
    • Lily is shot, but manages to keep the cows calm… during an active shootout right next to them!
  • Liam is stung a second time – poisoned
  • Lily kills a bandit
  • Anuthyr drops her lance, activates Smite, and smacks Gaotema with her sword
    • SMOTE!!
  • Gaotema flies by, attacking Anuthyr
  • Sawyer misses this time
  • Tess takes out another bandit
  • Brone throws a magic Missile at Gaotema
  • Liam shoots Gaotema, putting him on his last leg. Liam’s poison finally stops progressing.
  • Anuthyr charges
  • Gaotema attempts to fly away
  • The last remaining bandit wings a huge knife at Tess, injuring her and knocking her down with a critical hit
  • Liam shoots Gaotema one last time – finally killing him
  • Anuthyr steps up to remove his head saying “You shall see your master in hell.”
    • He responds “Kral Zenhiri is not in hell”

Aftermath:

  • Brone falls over
    • Anuthyr helps him
    • Brone is still in trouble
  • Waterlily is bleeding out
    • Sawyer helps her – stops the bleeding
  • Tess tries to make an anti-venon
    • We need to get his venom out to do so
    • There is something stuck inside the stinger
    • Bohoss smashes it with a rock and gets out a piece of glowing green iron
    • It’s a piece of green iron – radiated. “Doomstone” Get it far enough away from the poisoned, will help
    • Tess gives it to Pinon, who runs it far, far away
  • Brone is still in trouble
    • This isn’t gonna kill him… it’s final state will turn him into something
    • Finally, he stabilizes

We set watches and discuss what to do with the body. Bury them all.

Day 08

  • Brone’s good
  • Bury the bodies – the bandits are all branded with a manticore, and they used to have bounties on them
    • Each had a token of one drop of poison – likely used to locate them by the serpentfolk. We give them all to Anuthyr.
    • The manticore had a flower stuck in his gear (cliff dandelion) that locally is only found on Neblin Ridge – in the disputed territory between the Circle Axe and Vicious Hippogriff ranches.
  • Bury all the items tainted with radiation
  • Leave it unmarked for now

LOOT: Artilleryman’s hat (magical), compression gear harness, Puckle gun (original to 1700s, and upgraded by the Confederates and again recently with Martian-derived tech), one black gas shell, one silver shell, two gray shells. Four sawed-off double-barreled shot guns, four bowie knives, 400 credits worth of Vicious Hippogryph script. Lead case for the Doomstone.

  • The hat
    • The bones and fangs cover up the Union marks
    • Brone mends it
    • It helps the wearer see through smoke, fog, and vapor
    • Gives wearer immunity to smoke, fog, and vapor effects once per day for an hour
  • Harness
    • Once per day, for one hour, allows +4 to bulk carrying capacity, and +2 damage with melee attacks (2 bulk)
  • Puckle gun
    • Grenade launcher – custom made (5 bulk)
  • Lead case
    • Designed to hold the green radiated rock Domstone
    • Inscribed with

Mark II

Doomstone

Go out and get the stone and put it in the case. All the vegetation around it has died.

The rock doesn’t want to be enclosed. It *fights* being put in the lead case, but Tess forces it in.

Anuthyr and Liam can both tell where it is. Brone can too.

PCs return to Dwargus

  • His cattle are fine
  • Bring back the manticore head
  • They cheer, feed us, put us to bed
  • We take watches

Day 09

Everyone’s healed up. Now, only Anuthyr and Brone can feel it where the Doomstone is.

LOOT: 200 credits each for the bounty

Dwargus gives the PCs a writ to legally explore Neblin Ridge, in the disputed territory, as there is enough evidence to suggest criminals are operating out of there.

  • Wants to send the Puckle gun ammo to the Speaker of the State House
  • Wants to buy the Puckle gun for 1500 credits
  • Tess wants to keep the tech

The Plan

  • Stay here tonight
  • Send the ammo to Fontz and Bizmark to take to the State Speaker of the House, who Dwargus trusts, as evidence of criminals with access to martian tech, in the hopes of getting state or federal peacekeepers out here… in 3-4 weeks.
    • Sawyer and Tess write letters of witness for Dwargus
  • PC’s keep the stone with us and head to Neblin Ridge first thing in the morning
  • Use the VH scrip to buy some anti-toxins here at Circle Axe. (Medicinals cost 1/10th list price in Really Wild West)
    • One tier 2 anti-venon
    • Six tier 1 anti-venons
    • One tier 1 sedative

Day 10 – 2 days to Neblin Ridge

Brone says if we take the direct route, the PCs will be seen.

  • However, he says they can take a dry creek bed, not be seen, and take three days instead of two. So they do.
  • As we approach the entrance to the gully, Sawyer finds a trip wire made of spider silk.
  • Loud gunshot goes off – green iron shot
    • Not radioactive, not poisonous, but it would sicken you if shot with it
    • They must have a green iron mine
    • Tess gathers up the pellets

LOOT: Shotgun w/a manticore symbol in the butt

  • We notice that this gully is wide enough for the manticore
  • They have a trail-craft expert with them
  • Find his half-way campsite
  • Used in the last week 5-20 people, possibly the manticore
  • It’s been here weeks, months, maybe years
  • PCs camp aways off so we can watch the camp

As we settle down to camp …

  • Sawyer’s hackles raise
  • Tess sees impact terms in her tea
  • Something is vibrating. Underground?
  • The local fauna doesn’t seem to care
  • Tess determines it’s happening at Neblin’s Ridge, whatever it is
    • Ten to twenty miles away
  • For the next 3-4 hours, the vibration goes off for one minute every half hour
    • Tess gets no sleep

Day 11

On toward Neblin Ridge. Find another trip wire. This time the PCs disarm it and rig it back up to appear to be set up.

LOOT: green iron shot, shotgun

Tess determines these are very well-made shotguns made by a master engineer, but using an extremely simple design, as if he’d never made guns before.

That night, the PCs find another camp site, with a shallow grave next to it.

  • At least three sverfneblin. Dead for awhile.
  • Liam talks to them.
    • In olde German, the corpse will say
    • “They said it was part of the pact. Why are they killing us? They said it was part of the pact. I didn’t know they were killing us.”
    • The body turns to dirt. Released?
    • They were on their way to becoming undead, but being allowed to speak after death has given them epace.
  • We dig them up to give them proper burial.
    • Find a total of 9 bodies
    • Looks like they were buried every three months
  • Other relevant things they say
    • “They do not respect the ore. They do not respect the old ways of mining.”
    • “Damn the pact. Damn the traders. We should have closed the vault.”

XPs: 950

PCs at 12,000 total (15,000 to 6th)

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