I'm planning on running a one-shot at Gen Con, entitled The Song Pharaoh's Coda, at 1 PM on the Wednesday before the convention proper. This is not an official Gen Con event, and will not appear in their event planner. We'll meet in the lobby of my hotel (the Omni Severin, which is connected to the convention center by skyway) and go ask for a table at one of the HQs.
I have two definite players and one "probably". I'm looking to recruit two more people who can definitely attend, aiming for a finished group size of 4-5 players (plus me as the GM). The two definite players appear to be playing a bard and a "gentleman barbarian".In brief, it's an adventure for level 9 PCs, set in Osirion (the Egypt analogue of Golarion, Paizo's campaign setting). The rest of this post is a player's guide with a lot more detail (much of which is probably review for people here, but I prefer to be thorough). I would put it behind spoiler tags if those were available here. But alas, they're not, so I'm using a blockquote instead.
= The Song Pharaoh's Coda: Player's Guide =
== Setting ==
The adventure takes place in the land of Osirion, in the world of Golarion, Paizo's official campaign setting. For players unfamiliar with the campaign setting, Osirion is roughly equivalent to Egypt. It is one of the oldest nations in the world, and has all the features one would expect in a fantasy analog of Egypt: pyramids, tombs, harsh deserts surrounding a fertile river valley, and so on. The gods of real-world ancient Egypt have likewise been integrated into the setting.For several centuries, Osirion was ruled by invaders from neighboring Katapesh.
Three generations ago, the native people of Osiriani finally overturned the Katapeshi intruders and returned to Pharaonic rule (though there are still many people of Katapeshi descent living throughout the country). The current ruler of Osirion is Pharaoh Khemet III, the Ruby Prince. His great challenge is restoring the traditions that were lost or changed during the centuries of Katapeshi rule, while simultaneously managing a fractious country on a treasury depleted by war.
In order to pursue these dual goals -- rediscovering past lore, and funding the current government -- the Ruby Prince has officially made it legal to excavate the tombs and lost cities of Osirion's past. Treasure hunters operating under a government mandate are required to bring their finds to Prince Khemet's archaeological staff for evaluation. Any pieces of particular historical importance will be kept by the state, and a finder's fee paid out to the person or group that discovered them. Pieces of lesser interest will be returned to the finders with papers documenting their authenticity, who are then free to keep them or sell them as they see fit. The Church of Pharasma, the goddess of death, has reluctantly agreed to this arrangement, and imposed a set of rules governing the treatment of the dead (basically, try not to disturb the peaceful dead any more than necessary, and destroy any undead).
You will be playing such a treasure hunter. As an experienced adventurer (of 9th level), you have been selected for a very special assignment by Nazmi, one of the Ruby Prince's direct advisors. Play begins in the capital city of Sothis, a sprawling metropolis on the River Sphinx. (But note that you won't be staying in Sothis for long.)
If you are interested in learning more about Osirion or Golarion more generally, consult the Pathfinder Wiki:
There's no real chance of spoilers from the wiki, as this is a custom adventure, so feel free to read as little or as much as you please.
== Mechanics ==
=== Allowed Source Books ===
In general, I'm okay with allowing anything published by Paizo, with the exception of the classes mentioned below that don't really fit the adventure. If there is some third-party material you want to use, tell me what you want and we'll discuss it.
=== Alignment ===
No evil characters, please. Also, I have a no patience for people who use Chaotic Neutral as "I'm evil but I don't want to admit it," or as an excuse to cause trouble with party members. I expect players to follow Wil Wheaton's law: Don't be a dick.
=== Races ===
All of the races from the core rulebook are present in Osirion. The population is predominantly human, but also has a large number of halflings. Dwarves are comparatively uncommon, but not unknown. Osirion also has a long history of contacts with the elemental planes, and so the elemental player races (Ifrit, Oread, Sylph, Undine, Suli) are more common than usual. If you wish to play something beyond the races listed here, please talk it over with me first.
=== Character Classes ===
Most classes will work well with this adventure, but those with skills associated with dungeon delving are most useful. Knowledge skills may prove helpful, particularly those which may reveal information about the distant past. It is not uncommon to find a few traps in ancient tombs. And of course anyone who can contribute to a fight is welcome, when an expedition may at any time run into a beast or ghoul.
That said, there are a few classes that I am banning, either because they do not really suit the flavor of the adventure, or because they may find that their class features are not particularly relevant. These include: Antipaladin, Gunslinger, Kineticist, Medium, Mesmerist, Ninja, Occultist, Psychic, Samurai, Spiritualist, Vigilante. Please give those a miss.
If you have any questions about whether a particular class would work well, please let me know and we can discuss options.
=== Wealth ===
Players start with standard wealth by level for a 9th-level character (46,000 gp). In general, most magical items you might need are available in Sothis. Please don't spend all your gold on one fantabulous item; split it up.
=== Ability Scores ===
To generate ability scores:
- Roll 1d10. Add 8 to the value rolled. This is one ability score.
- Repeat step 1 five more times until you have a set of 6 scores.
- Repeat steps 1 and 2. You should then have TWO full sets of ability scores.
- Choose one set of ability scores to use and discard the other set.
- Arrange them as you see fit for your PC.
- Set 1
- 1d10+8 = 1+8 = 9
- 1d10+8 = 6+8 = 14
- 1d10+8 = 3+8 = 11
- 1d10+8 = 6+8 = 14
- 1d10+8 = 8+8 = 16
- 1d10+8 = 10+8 = 18
- Set 2
- 1d10+8 = 7+8 = 15
- 1d10+8 = 3+8 = 11
- 1d10+8 = 9+8 = 17
- 1d10+8 = 7+8 = 15
- 1d10+8 = 8+8 = 16
- 1d10+8 = 2+8 = 10
I'd probably choose Set 1, out of these two. So my starting ability scores (before racial adjustments and level bumps) would be 18, 16, 14, 14, 11, 9, arranged to suit myself.
=== House Rules ===
We are going to be using the feat tax rules from Michael Iantorno. The full details can be had here:
But to sum up:
1) Everybody gets Agile Maneuvers, Combat Expertise, Deadly Aim, Point Black Shot, Power Attack and Weapon Finesse for free. You only use them when they make sense -- for example, there's no point using Weapon Finesse if your Strength is better than your Dexterity.
2) The feats Weapon Focus, Greater Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, Greater Weapon Specialization, and Improved Critical let you pick a weapon group, rather than a specific weapon. For example, instead of picking Weapon Focus (Greataxe), you would get Weapon Focus (Axes), and gain its benefit on any weapon in the Axes group from the Fighter class.
3) Dodge and Mobility are now a single feat. It's called Dodge, incorporates the effects of both feats, and counts as both for purposes of meeting prerequisities for other feats.
4) Improved Two-Weapon Fighting now incorporates the effects of the later two-weapon feats. That is, if you have Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, when you would get an extra attack due to an increase in your base attack bonus, you automatically gain a new attack with your off-hand weapon as well without spending even more feats on it.
5) New feat: Unarmed Combatant. This replaces (and counts as) Improved Unarmed Strike and Improved Grapple. It grants all the benefits of both feats.
6) New feat: Deft Maneuvers. This replaces (and counts as) Improved Dirty Trick, Improved Disarm, Improved Feint, Improved Reposition, Improved Steal, and Improved Trip. It grants all the benefits of those feats.
7) New feat: Powerful Maneuvers. This replaces (and counts as) Improved Bull Rush, Improved Drag, Improved Overrun and Improved Sunder. It grants all the benefits of those feats.
=== Background Skills ===
In addition to the above, we're going to use the Background Skills option from Pathfinder Unchained. It divides the skill list into two chunks: adventuring skills and background skills. Ranks in adventuring skills can only be purchased with your normal skill points from your level, Intelligence modifier, favored class bonus, or human bonus skill point. The following skills are adventuring skills:
- Disable Device
- Escape Artist
- Knowledge (arcana)
- Knowledge (dungeoneering)
- Knowledge (local)
- Knowledge (nature)
- Knowledge (planes)
- Knowledge (religion)
- Sense Motive
- Use Magic Device
You get 2 extra skill points per level to spend on background skills. These are the background skills:
- Handle Animal
- Knowledge (engineering)
- Knowledge (geography)
- Knowledge (history)
- Knowledge (nobility)
- Sleight of Hand
If you want to spend some of your regular skill points on background skills, that's fine.
== Backstory ==
For backstory, I want to know:
- Your PC's name, gender, race, and so on. Include cosmetic details like hair and eye color.
- Where are you from?
- You need a reason to be in Osirion.
- You are an accomplished adventurer at this point. Please make up one thing that your PC thinks of as a major achievement.
If you want to add more backstory, that's encouraged! But not required.
=== Languages ===
The native language of the region is Osiriani, but virtually everyone also speaks Common to some degree. Note, however, that modern Osiriani is substantially different than it was in the past, and no one really uses the hieroglyphic scripts any longer. Ancient Osiriani is thus considered a language unto itself, and is not available as a starting language (even to races that are ordinarily able to pick any language, such as humans). If you wish to know Ancient Osiriani, you must put a skill point into Linguistics to learn it.
=== Religions ===
If you are playing a cleric or a religious character, any of the major non-evil deities of the Inner Sea region are fine. Those are:
- LN Abadar, god of commerce and civilization
- CN Calistria, goddess of vengeance, trickery, lust
- CG Cayden Cailean, god of freedom, bravery, ale
- CG Desna, goddess of travel, dreams, and luck
- LG Erastil, god of family, hunting, community
- CN Gorum, god of war and strength
- N Gozreh, dual-gendered deity of wind, waves, and nature
- LG Iomedae, goddess of honor, valor, justice
- LN Irori, god of knowledge, history, self-perfection
- N Nethys, god of magic
- N Pharasma, goddess of birth, death, fate and prophecy
- NG Sarenrae, goddess of redemption, honesty, healing, and the sun
- NG Shelyn, goddess of beauty, art, music, love
- LG Torag, god of protection, craft, and dwarves
In addition, and of these from the Osiriani pantheon are fine:
- LN Anubis, god of burial, mummification, tombs
- CN Bastet, goddess of cats, pleasure, secrets
- NG Bes, god of households, luck, marriage, protection
- CG Hathor, goddess of dance, joy, love, music and the sky
- LN Horus, god of rulership, the sky and the sun
- NG Isis, goddess of fertility, magic, motherhood, rebirth
- NG Khepri, god of freedom, the rising sun, work
- LN Maat, goddess of justice, law, order, truth
- NG Neith, goddess of hunting, war, weaving
- CN Nephthys, goddess of mourning, night, and protection of the dead
- LG Osiris, god of the afterlife, fertility, rebirth and resurrection
- N Ptah, god of architecture, craftsmanship, engineering
- LN Ra, god of creation, rulership, the sun
- CN Sekhmet, goddess of fire, healing, vengeance, war
- CG Selket, goddess of emalming, healing, scorpions
- CN Sobek, god of crocodiles, fertility, military prowess
- LN Thoth, god of magic, the moon, wisdom, writing
- LG Wadjet, goddess of good serpents, the River Sphinx, and wisdom
Domains, favored weapons, and basic info about all of these deities can be had in the Pathfinder Wiki:
If you want more info on any of these, please let me know and I'll be happy to answer any questions. In general, the wiki articles on the core deities are pretty good, but the ones on the Osiriani pantheon are stubs -- they've got info like domains, favored weapons and such, but precious little about the deities themselves.