Riffing to Paizo Publishing's PFS#8 – Slave Pits of Absalom

So, Paizo recently published my first Pathfinder Society adventure (PFS#8: Slave Pits of Absalom), which is very exciting for me. Some discussions on the boards, however, revealed people also have a desire to play with the adventure – or elements in the adventure – outside Pathfinder Society organized play.

As it so happens, there were ideas that came up in the course of writing and developing the piece that really weren’t appropriate for Pathfinder Society’s organized play, but might be fun to monkey with at home. In direct response to a customer request, I decided to post some of those ideas and elements here.


This has nothing to do with Paizo, because I’m just a freelancer. I’m not employed by Paizo. This is just me posting up some cool stuff for people to play around with at home, because I love to play around with cool stuff. It’s just like any other customer posting up some homebrew ideas related to a Paizo product. In fact, most of this will make absolutely no sense unless you already own PFS#8: Slave Pits of Absalom, which you can buy here.

Ok, disclaimers aside, what came up on the message boards was Chris Mortika noticing that people might want to sneak aboard the ship instead of fight their way aboard. Here are some suggestions I think support that kind of fun:

Sneaking Aboard Changes (Spoiler Alert!)
1. Have the Puddlejumpers ambush the party at a different location on the dock. That way…
2. The crew of the ship does not notice the fight. They are inebriated and sleep through any distant noise.
3. Let’s add torches on the ship, illuminating the dock poorly and…
4. Put some of the tie lines mooring the ship outside the illumination so they become a viable “sneak ramp” into the ship.
5. Let’s turn the ship into a more fantastical 3-decker contrivance, as that allows for portholes PCs can reach from the water.
6. And to support this way of access, let the read aloud text describe all sorts of little dinghy’s and rowboats also tied to the docks. The PCs might steal one and float it in the darkness around the other side of the ship.
7. Place the PCs rescue target in the bottom level.
8. Finally, turn the fighting tower on the top deck into the captain’s quarters and have the mate sleeping down below with the slaves he punishes. This allows us to transform the ship into a system of balanced tensions whereby the worse the PCs are at sneaking:
-- The sooner they are stopped from reaching their goal, the bottom hold, and
-- The more monsters they wind up fighting at once, and
-- The worse the circumstances under which they fight

So if the PCs are good at sneaking aboard, they are rewarded with an easy entrance. If they are bad at sneaking aboard, they get punished with more difficult tactical situations of their own contrivance.

So here’s how I would implement those changes to create a fun, ‘sneak – friendly’ way to access the ship in the final encounter. Remember, try this at home but not in PFS play, as I have no say in anything Pathfinder Society or, for that matter, in anything Paizo at all.

Hand drawn map variant.
Word document with non PFS encounter variant.


Ernesto said...

interesting changes Lou, deppending on my party quite possible i would have to use them...

i also plan to put a time limit... the ship would be leaving before dawn... so if they fail they have no other chance increasing the tension... or so i hope :)

Lou Agresta said...


The countdown is always a good suspense tool. For what its worth, I concur. In one of the versions, Pildapush's office contained two sets of accounts: one fake and one real; the real one (hidden and in code) mentioned the No Return was leaving by a certain time. Important to let them know the ship is leaving or no suspense, right?

If they miss the ship, you could always have another nearby for hire or to commandeer, thus getting yourself a swashbuckling ship chase!

Glad you're having fun!

Ernesto said...

thanks Lou
my players decided to advance the pilot of our campaign for tomorrow... so i will test it with 3 1st level characters, with maybe abit of help of a 2nd level one...

as i intend to add this to a longer Campaign Philduh will be only a small link in a bigger chain, and i will see if the spy's plot can be extended, thanks for the recommendations.