Categorized | Reviews, RPGs

The Ship of Fools (Pathfinder RPG) Review

Posted on May 1, 2012 by Megan

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    Opening with a truly beautiful plan of the ship itself, and detailed background that explains how The Green Lady came to be drifting empty, Marie Celeste-style across the face of the ocean, we continue with little ado into various ways in which your characters can be enticed to explore, to risk the unknown dangers that await… Perhaps the ship they are on is sinking? Or someone aboard the ship owed one of them money? Or they heard a rumour about treasure concealed aboard? Or… maybe you have a better hook, you know what intrigues and attracts them, after all. There are even ideas to deal with the minor hindrance of the group not being at sea when you want to run the adventure!

    So, once you have got the characters there, the adventure can unfold, redolent with atmospheric descriptions for you to read aloud. The default situation is a meeting on the high seas, with the characters as passengers on another ship (NPCs provided), but it is straightforward to modify that to suit your needs. Once you’ve got them aboard, everything is described concisely yet with sufficient detail for you to make it all come alive. Sidebars explain references that you may not know or have considered – for example, the use of arbelests, very large crossbows, as ship-to-ship weapons (especially if your world does not have gunpowder and cannons). There’s plenty to explore, things to find, with appropriate checks to ask the players to roll right where they are needed, and that’s before they encounter…

    Suffice to say, they are not alone. The ship is not quite as deserted as it appears. In figuring out what went on, in merely exploring, they may unloose terror upon themselves, as well as discover interesting things. There are clear notes on how and where attacks may take place and on likely tactics to be used by the opposition.

    There is no real ‘end’ to the adventure apart from the challenge of clearing the vessel and maybe even finding out what happened aboard. A few suggestions for how to make it even more difficult are given, but once the ship is safe once more it will be up to the survivors to decide what to do next. The detailed description of vessel and contents is followed by an NPC Gallery with full stat blocks and role-playing detail for everyone mentioned in the text. Then come detailed notes for scaling the adventure depending on the numbers and levels of the characters who are to enjoy this little salvage operation. Finally there is a player handout in the shape of a page from the ship’s log (which quite looks the part) and full plans – and battlemap tiles – of The Green Lady in all her glory!

    Presentation is excellent, with some neat techie bits. Not only is there a properly hyperlinked Table of Contents, but from every page there is a link to take you back there, something rarely remembered! There are lots of links to apposite pages on the d20pfsrd website as well, particularly in things like stat blocks, so that you can check a rules reference without hauling your rulebooks out.

    It’s a cracking ‘ghost ship’ adventure, with enough going on to keep characters busy and on their toes – if they do not wish to end up in Davy Jones’s Locker! Yes, it’s dangerous, but ought to provide excitement and enjoyment for players, if not for their characters. Stories to tell in portside taverns for many a year to come.

    Review by Megan Robertson

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