[CGP] Sailing the Starlit Sea Preview III

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[CGP] Sailing the Starlit Sea Preview III

Post by Allen Taliesin »

For our third preview co-author Mike Welham gives a glimpse into the monsters he has planned for Sailing the Starlit Sea.

Sailing the Starlit Sea Preview III- Monsters of the Starlit Sea
Clockwork Gnome Publishing wrote:
In addition to the rules for space travel and material on the Seren System, Sailing the Starlit Sea also contains a host of new creatures both malign and benevolent. While many are original creations, a few of these are based on classic alien monsters from literature, movies, and fantasy gaming.

Mike Welham, known for his amazing work with Open Design, Rite Publishing, and Clockwork Gnome Publishing, is the creature developer for Sailing the Starlit Sea. His unique creations have been featured in the popular Midgard: Book of Drakes, Campaign Cogs- Finwicket's Bestiary: Along the Faerie Path,the Pathways E-zine, Wayfinder, and more. Now he brings his keen vision to Sailing the Starlit Sea with a crew of monsters perfect for any campaign.

So, let me turn it over to Mike as he takes you on a short tour of the creatures he has planned for the book.

Ad’anite- This intelligent and warlike free-floating purple ooze is the predominant lifeform on Ad’an. Until extraplanar visitors showed up on their planet, ad’enites contented themselves with campaigns against each other. Once they noticed the existence of other intelligent life, they ceased their internecine warfare and refocused their plans of conquest to other worlds. The realities of living on Ad’an gives them extraordinary strength on other Seren System planets as well as an amazing resistance to magic. However, rumors indicate lower level spells are actually more effective against the Ad'an, suggesting a dangerous weakness the Ad'an would like to keep secret.

Asterid- A living asteroid or meteor, an asterid lazily floats along in the Seren System’s asteroid belt. Periodically, one or more asterids decides to take a tour through the system, smashing into whatever gets in the way. For a ship plying the starlit seas, this can cause a great deal of trouble if the crew is caught off guard. Fortunately an asterid has limited maneuverability, so watchful commanders easily avoid the creature. This is not the case for an inhabited planet, and entire cities have been leveled by the “playful” creatures.

Cacognost- This ancient fey creature appears withered and distracted, yet kindly. It imparts a lifetime of knowledge to a creature with but a touch, causing the recipient to understand the true workings of the universe. The cacognost truly believes it is providing its victim a great boon, for the creature doesn’t understand how lesser beings cannot withstand the flood of information, which often includes concepts they are not equipped to handle. Invariably, a victim of the cacognost’s gift becomes violently insane.

Comettail- This water elemental rides on a comet’s tail until the comet passes through an inhabited system. A comettail causes terror to any habitation it falls upon, bringing extreme cold, endless mist, and floods. Comets rarely pass through the system, so a visitation occurs once a generation. However, smaller comettails frequently roost on asterids, making the threat of the earth elemental's landfall an ever-present danger.

Coronal- Normally happy to reside within Seren, fiery coronals still leap from the star every now and then to explore the solar system. Gifted with extraordinary speed in flight and superheated bodies, a coronal wreaks destruction on civilizations it visits. As with the appearance of a comet, these roiling balls of fire portend doom for the regions over which they appear.

Exchanger- This race of fleshy plantlike beings travels the universe to experience other civilizations, which they do by taking the place of various members of society. This also supports their survival needs as they consume the people with whom they have traded places. A dormant exchanger travels from system to system in a hard shell, which protects it from the extremes of space. The craft focuses on a large settlement and lands in the outskirts, so the creature can more easily take an individual victim. The victim winds up in the exchanger’s craft, to be consumed while the creature lives the life of its victim. As the victim’s life drains away, the exchanger eventually loses its stolen memories and mannerisms, requiring the creature to retreat to its craft.

Guiding Star- This tiny aberration shines brighter than most stars. Apparently related to the will-o-wisp, a guiding star instead feeds on hope, which it generates by leading other creatures out of danger or to fertile new lands. The creature moves at incredible speeds and is difficult to trap, but rumor holds that a captured guiding star will eventually transform into a will-o-wisp.

Lifebreath- A self-contained pocket of air, a lifebreath travels the Seren System searching for creatures it can help, exhibiting a passion extremely rare among its elemental brethren. Many tales speak of a ship’s crewman adrift in the void of space, running out of breathable air, only to be rescued at the last moment by a lifebreath. The creature also makes appearances on planets, saving creatures who are drowning, trapped underground, or in high elevations with dangerously thin atmospheres.

Living Ship Repair Swarm- All living ships come equipped with repair swarms, which look like collections of diminutive monkeys. These swarms can morph into a variety of tools necessary to fix any problems which occur on a ship. They can also turn into a patch to seal off any ruptures in a living ship’s skin in order to prevent decompression in the ship’s interior.

Living Ship Security Swarm- The nature of a living ship dictates the presence or absence of security swarms. Comprised of individuals larger than a repair swarm’s component creatures, a security swarm has the capability to camouflage itself as well as shapechange into whatever weaponry it determines will be most effective against intruders. A security swarm can patrol the interior and exterior of a living ship. In very rare instances, the swarm will mount expeditions to secure an area around its ship on a planet’s surface or attack other ships in space.

Sigmoid- Seemingly a red flare thrown by Seren, a sigmoid actually hails from another dimension, to which there exist gateways in various stars. This dimension is inimical to magical energy of all types, and a sigmoid occasionally extrudes itself from its home dimension in order to maliciously attack wielders of magic. Spellcasters of all stripes coming into contact with a sigmoid lose the ability to cast spells. This loss comes with an intense physical pain. Victims who don’t cast spells but merely wield magical items do not have any sort of immunity to the creature’s touch.

Zyth- An attempt to create an autonomous pilot for living ships using the morphogenic properties of the repair and security swarms, this experimental creature escaped and now threatens all biological lifeforms. With its ability to assume the aspect of any creature it digests, it can rapidly change shape to meet any challenges it encounters. Its shapechanging also allows it to move among people by hiding in plain sight, mimicking its victims using knowledge of their habits acquired by consuming them. No one has discerned the ultimate motives of a zyth, other than its apparent desire to be the system’s sole apex predator.

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Re: [CGP] Sailing the Starlit Sea Preview III

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The Coronal has a really great name. Do they stop travelling away from Seren when they get to the heliopause?. ;)

The Exchanger reminds me of the film: The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but I like the way they move around in their own spaceship and kidnap people.

There was a film like that, where the kidnapped victims were in giant pods. I remember that it was possible to get the real people out of the pods. It would be nice if that was possible with exchanger victims. If that was the case, it might be fun to swap a PC for an exchanger and have the PC not realise they were a plant! :twisted:

The Swarms remind me of Shivaks from The Spelljammer or the Systems Commonwealth ships in the TV show Andromeda.
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Re: [CGP] Sailing the Starlit Sea Preview III

Post by Allen Taliesin »

Coronals are bound creatures, in a sense. :)

The Exchanger is, indeed, based on The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

I should also mention that the Ad'anite is tangentially related to the aliens from War of the Worlds. They do not come from "Mars", but they are much like them in other ways. And yes, there will be tripod walkers in Sailing the Starlit Sea. :D

The living ships are a strong sci-fi trope, so Mike felt it would be a good thing to add to the mix. So they will also appear in the book with the swarms. The swarms definitely have similarities to the shivaks as well as the drones seen in Farscape. For me, the ultimate living ships are the Leviathans from Farscape and the Vorlon ships from Babylon 5. Those concepts are helping shape the living ship design, though there will be some marked differences.

While many of the monsters in the book are inspired by other sources, Mike is doing a great job insuring they have their own unique identities. If the line develops beyond the core book and introductory adventure, we will definitely see more bestiary style material crop up. There really are very few limits when considering the genre and I find that exciting.

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Re: [CGP] Sailing the Starlit Sea Preview III

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Allen Taliesin wrote:Coronals are bound creatures, in a sense. :)
I shall be comparing them with the Blazozoid and the sentient sun I from SJ. Perhaps a SJ GM might want to decide that I and Seren are related. ;)
Allen Taliesin wrote:The Exchanger is, indeed, based on The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
I wonder what happens when an Exchanger meets a Doppelganger. :shock:
Allen Taliesin wrote:I should also mention that the Ad'anite is tangentially related to the aliens from War of the Worlds. They do not come from "Mars", but they are much like them in other ways. And yes, there will be tripod walkers in Sailing the Starlit Sea. :D
Where do/did the tripod walkers walk on Ad'an? Your summary says there is no solid land. :?
Allen Taliesin wrote:The living ships are a strong sci-fi trope, so Mike felt it would be a good thing to add to the mix. So they will also appear in the book with the swarms. The swarms definitely have similarities to the shivaks as well as the drones seen in Farscape. For me, the ultimate living ships are the Leviathans from Farscape and the Vorlon ships from Babylon 5. Those concepts are helping shape the living ship design, though there will be some marked differences.
There is the Lexx from the series of the same name. That has shuttles that seem very similar to SJ's dragonfly and damselfly ships.
Allen Taliesin wrote:While many of the monsters in the book are inspired by other sources, Mike is doing a great job insuring they have their own unique identities. If the line develops beyond the core book and introductory adventure, we will definitely see more bestiary style material crop up. There really are very few limits when considering the genre and I find that exciting.
One thing that I think is interesting about the fantasy space format, especially when connected to an SRD/PRD derived game, is that a lot of people say that aberrations are either magical experiments or critters from outer space.

And if some aberrations are from space, then a book like Sailing the Starlit Sea (or Paizo's book about their Dark Tapestry) is a great way to build an alien eco-system that fits around an iconic space monster.

Will you be using or rebooting any of the SRD or PRD aberrations in StSS?

WotC have a critter called a Mercane in the Epic SRD. I've always thought that they would make a great race for travelling the skies! :P ;)
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Re: [CGP] Sailing the Starlit Sea Preview III

Post by Allen Taliesin »

They do not use the walkers on their own world. They are a type of warmachine used by the Ad'anites on worlds with solid land.
Will you be using or rebooting any of the SRD or PRD aberrations in StSS?
There will be a place for some of these. One of my favorite aberrations right now is the Neh-Thalggu, so I know it will find a home.
WotC have a critter called a Mercane in the Epic SRD. I've always thought that they would make a great race for travelling the skies!
The mercane run the city of Nimbus.

Nimbus
Covering the entire face of a small planetoid is the city of Nimbus. Founded and operated by the mercane, Nimbus is the largest city in the Seren System and by far the most productive in terms of trade. Currently Nimbus is in orbit near the Quendari Gate, the primary form of interstellar travel in the universe that rests between the orbits of Ad'an and Sophias. However, the mercane rulers can move the city anywhere within the planetary system. This remarkable feat is achieved through the use of a powerful artifact from the early days of space travel.


There are a few places that are not mentioned in the summary, for a number of reasons. But one of those places is the Mercane shipyards. They have some tight controls on the magitech that allows for space travel. Not total control, certainly, but they try.

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Re: [CGP] Sailing the Starlit Sea Preview III

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Allen Taliesin wrote:They do not use the walkers on their own world. They are a type of warmachine used by the Ad'anites on worlds with solid land.
The nit-picking nerd in me is going to wonder how a bunch of blobs that live in the air can invent tripod walkers for use on solid worlds.
Allen Taliesin wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Will you be using or rebooting any of the SRD or PRD aberrations in StSS?
There will be a place for some of these. One of my favorite aberrations right now is the Neh-Thalggu, so I know it will find a home.
I suppose if you used them on a world, you could have a variety of them that collect a different number of brains. You could either make them different species, or have them grow in ability, like dragons, and gain the ability to contain more brains as they age.

Another thing you could perhaps do is create a bunch of critters that have humanoid-sized brains and maybe customise the abilities that a neh-thalggu can gain from consuming different types of humanoids.

I think you could even have a carnivorous plant that appears to be a humanoid creature and has a brain shaped seed in its "head" that lodges inside a neh-thalggu brain-storing blister and then germinates, growing into the critter, killing it and then growing into a new plant (with a fake head-seed) from the dead body of the neh-thalggu. If you don't have uber-sized insects on your world* then being "eaten" by a flying crab-critter could be one of the most efficient ways to spread your seeds around the world.

* = And I've got to say that it is about time that someone made insects (and other critters) the same size as a spelljamming ship, so that people could kill them and harvest the wings or the legs.

This bit is interesting:
Pathfinder RPG Reference Document wrote:Some speculate that neh-thalggus encountered in this reality may merely be juveniles of their kind, perhaps exiled from their home worlds by greater kin until they can prove their worth on other worlds. Their brain collections may be a morbid form of currency in their home realm, or the thoughts in these brains may merely be fuel for a dark apotheosis into an even more sinister mature form.
That implies to me that there will be a bigger critter that somehow extracts the brains stored in a neh-thalggu.
Allen Taliesin wrote:
Big Mac wrote:WotC have a critter called a Mercane in the Epic SRD. I've always thought that they would make a great race for travelling the skies!
The mercane run the city of Nimbus.

Nimbus
Covering the entire face of a small planetoid is the city of Nimbus. Founded and operated by the mercane, Nimbus is the largest city in the Seren System and by far the most productive in terms of trade. Currently Nimbus is in orbit near the Quendari Gate, the primary form of interstellar travel in the universe that rests between the orbits of Ad'an and Sophias. However, the mercane rulers can move the city anywhere within the planetary system. This remarkable feat is achieved through the use of a powerful artifact from the early days of space travel.


There are a few places that are not mentioned in the summary, for a number of reasons. But one of those places is the Mercane shipyards. They have some tight controls on the magitech that allows for space travel. Not total control, certainly, but they try.
I think that Nimbus is going to do far far more than your Campaign Overlay concept to pull SJ fans into using Sailing the Starlit Sea. :cool:

Whatever method you use for space travel, if the mercane are involved in selling it, that is going to make it feel familiar to a SJ player.
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Re: [CGP] Sailing the Starlit Sea Preview III

Post by Allen Taliesin »


The nit-picking nerd in me is going to wonder how a bunch of blobs that live in the air can invent tripod walkers for use on solid worlds.
Boggles the mind, doesn't it? ;)

In all seriousness, their society is a little more complex. One of the dangers of short previews is the lack of clear connections.

And remember, there is a whole part of Ad'an normal creatures cannot access.

I suppose if you used them on a world, you could have a variety of them that collect a different number of brains. You could either make them different species, or have them grow in ability, like dragons, and gain the ability to contain more brains as they age.

Another thing you could perhaps do is create a bunch of critters that have humanoid-sized brains and maybe customise the abilities that a neh-thalggu can gain from consuming different types of humanoids.

I think you could even have a carnivorous plant that appears to be a humanoid creature and has a brain shaped seed in its "head" that lodges inside a neh-thalggu brain-storing blister and then germinates, growing into the critter, killing it and then growing into a new plant (with a fake head-seed) from the dead body of the neh-thalggu. If you don't have uber-sized insects on your world* then being "eaten" by a flying crab-critter could be one of the most efficient ways to spread your seeds around the world.
Those are great ideas. I will definitely consider them.


This bit is interesting:
Pathfinder RPG Reference Document wrote:
Some speculate that neh-thalggus encountered in this reality may merely be juveniles of their kind, perhaps exiled from their home worlds by greater kin until they can prove their worth on other worlds. Their brain collections may be a morbid form of currency in their home realm, or the thoughts in these brains may merely be fuel for a dark apotheosis into an even more sinister mature form.


That implies to me that there will be a bigger critter that somehow extracts the brains stored in a neh-thalggu.
This is one of the features that really appeal to me. I am not sure I want to try to completely explain the mystery, as grey areas give GMs lots of room to develop stories, but I would like to explore this thread a bit more. We will see how much fits in the final book.
I think that Nimbus is going to do far far more than your Campaign Overlay concept to pull SJ fans into using Sailing the Starlit Sea. :cool:

Whatever method you use for space travel, if the mercane are involved in selling it, that is going to make it feel familiar to a SJ player.
The mercane have long been a favorite race of mine. They play an important role in the politics and trade of not only the Seren System but the entirety of "known space".

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Re: [CGP] Sailing the Starlit Sea Preview III

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Allen Taliesin wrote:
Big Mac wrote:The nit-picking nerd in me is going to wonder how a bunch of blobs that live in the air can invent tripod walkers for use on solid worlds.
Boggles the mind, doesn't it? ;)

In all seriousness, their society is a little more complex. One of the dangers of short previews is the lack of clear connections.

And remember, there is a whole part of Ad'an normal creatures cannot access.
I'll look forward to seeing the final product.
Allen Taliesin wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I suppose if you used them on a world, you could have a variety of them that collect a different number of brains. You could either make them different species, or have them grow in ability, like dragons, and gain the ability to contain more brains as they age.

Another thing you could perhaps do is create a bunch of critters that have humanoid-sized brains and maybe customise the abilities that a neh-thalggu can gain from consuming different types of humanoids.

I think you could even have a carnivorous plant that appears to be a humanoid creature and has a brain shaped seed in its "head" that lodges inside a neh-thalggu brain-storing blister and then germinates, growing into the critter, killing it and then growing into a new plant (with a fake head-seed) from the dead body of the neh-thalggu. If you don't have uber-sized insects on your world* then being "eaten" by a flying crab-critter could be one of the most efficient ways to spread your seeds around the world.
Those are great ideas. I will definitely consider them.
Go for it. Use them, ignore them or adapt them. Whatever works.
Allen Taliesin wrote:
Big Mac wrote:This bit is interesting:
Pathfinder RPG Reference Document wrote:Some speculate that neh-thalggus encountered in this reality may merely be juveniles of their kind, perhaps exiled from their home worlds by greater kin until they can prove their worth on other worlds. Their brain collections may be a morbid form of currency in their home realm, or the thoughts in these brains may merely be fuel for a dark apotheosis into an even more sinister mature form.
That implies to me that there will be a bigger critter that somehow extracts the brains stored in a neh-thalggu.
This is one of the features that really appeal to me. I am not sure I want to try to completely explain the mystery, as grey areas give GMs lots of room to develop stories, but I would like to explore this thread a bit more. We will see how much fits in the final book.
I think that only Paizo themselves can completely explain the mystery. But in a universe of aberrations, there could easily be neh-thalggus travelling to various worlds (or being taken there) and interacting with a number of conventional* and bizarre ecosystems.

* = Conventional fantasy, that is.
Allen Taliesin wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I think that Nimbus is going to do far far more than your Campaign Overlay concept to pull SJ fans into using Sailing the Starlit Sea. :cool:

Whatever method you use for space travel, if the mercane are involved in selling it, that is going to make it feel familiar to a SJ player.
The mercane have long been a favorite race of mine. They play an important role in the politics and trade of not only the Seren System but the entirety of "known space".
There should really have been a Spelljammer SRD, but the Mercane are the next best thing.
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Re: [CGP] Sailing the Starlit Sea Preview III

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I'll look forward to seeing the final product
I do think there will be some more specific previews for the Ad'anites. They are one of the major enemies of the setting (along with the city of Totenstadt) so I would like to showcase them further.
Go for it. Use them, ignore them or adapt them. Whatever works.
If I do, you will definitely get a reference in the book. :)
I think that only Paizo themselves can completely explain the mystery. But in a universe of aberrations, there could easily be neh-thalggus travelling to various worlds (or being taken there) and interacting with a number of conventional* and bizarre ecosystems.
Well, of course any thing I create would not be official. I mean I am reluctant to give my version of the "true answer". I would guess we will never see an official answer to the mystery from Paizo. If it did happen, it would likely be pertinent to Golarion and not likely open content.

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Re: [CGP] Sailing the Starlit Sea Preview III

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Allen Taliesin wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Go for it. Use them, ignore them or adapt them. Whatever works.
If I do, you will definitely get a reference in the book. :)
IF StSS = StSS + ME THEN REPLY = "Woot! :mrgreen: "

;)
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Re: [CGP] Sailing the Starlit Sea Preview III

Post by Allen Taliesin »

I wanted to drop in and let everyone know that the next preview for StSS is coming along soon. Morithal, Lord of Unceasing Hunger is heading into editing now and will hit layout after that. The rush with that project has meant a bit of a delay on getting a new preview out. It should be coming within the next two weeks, I promise. :D

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