Gaming Stories: Pirates of the Astral Sea

Well, that was certainly unexpected.

Last fall, my players greased up a rowboat and sent it hurtling down a waterslide of doom. They wound up in an entirely different world that used a version of the classic AD&D module Dungeonland, tweaked to fit with Pathfinder 2nd edition. And, well…they found a way out of Dungeonland. And now they have a bigger boat.

I Only Have Myself to Blame

Two different houses in Dungeonland try to kill the party. The home of the Mad Hatter and March Hare turns into a caterpillar-like creature that starts to digest the group, and the home of Charldos the wizard attempts to crush the group into goo. My players had the misfortune of visiting both of these houses in quick succession, giving the impression that every house in the place is filled with disaster. (To be fair, they’re mostly right.)

The second house shrank down to pocket size after the PCs escaped from it, and the gnome druid who has a habit of doing suicidal things (previously flooding a lost city with molten gold that nearly killed the party) dropped it into the party’s bag of holding.

And then things stop. Because the house was technically an extradimensional space, and one thing you never want to do in a fantasy RPG is drop one extradimensional space into another.

Now, I could have ruled that the house didn’t actually count as an extradimensional space; that’s my interpretation of the scenario, not something specifically mentioned in the module. I could have kept the PCs from even having the bag of holding, because the module requires them to shrink down to diminutive size and lose all their equipment prior to entering the house, but I didn’t like the idea of removing the group’s gear. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I don’t know of any rule in Pathfinder 2nd edition that says there are consequences for mixing extradimensional spaces. That’s an artifact from prior editions that I just happen to like.

But I did rule that the house was an extradimensional space. I did let the group keep their bag of holding. And I did decide that putting the extradimensional house inside the bag of holding ripped a hole in reality.

Welcome to the Astral Plane

The combination of the extradimensional spaces created a rift to the Astral Plane which pulled in the contents of the bag of holding and everything else nearby. Everybody in the group made their Reflex save to avoid being pulled in…except for the anghazani that I’ve wanted to kill off forever. He got sucked through the rift and sent flying into a silver sea of nothingness. Well, that’s one problem off my hands (he said, ignoring the obvious path that his crazy group would choose).

The players have decided that not only is the anghazani the group mascot, but that if he dies, I “win.” So naturally, when the anghazani seemed doomed, they collectively leaped into another reality to save him.

Now, one of the historical problems of the Astral Plane is that it’s a big empty nothingness used largely to travel from one dimension to another. But some editions of the game have spruced it up a bit. Fourth edition D&D reimagined it as a roiling sea, and Pathfinder has a lot of interesting creatures native to the Astral Plane. But when trying to think of a quick encounter in a pinch, my mind latched onto some classic AD&D Astral pirates: the githyanki.

Sailing the Astral sea, a crew of githyanki saw a helpless anghazani floating along and saw its value as a prisoner. They steered their ship toward the surprised creature, intent on capture…and got blindsided by eight other adventurers who had just appeared in the dimension.

The crew battled the pirates and defeated the crew. Then the spellcasting captain launched a fireball to devastate the group and set fire to her own ship. She launched into a diatribe about to stupid Primes who thought they could seize the property of the githyanki and promised that her people’s black ships would swarm over their world, leaving devastation in their wake.

But by then, the anghazani had mastered the subjective gravity of the Astral Plane.

He came in hot, a distant wail at first, before landing right on top of the captain and pounding her into a pulp. The PCs put out the fire and claimed the boat for themselves. They named the anghazani the ship’s captain, and he now has a pirate hat and a pair of mithral longswords to mark his rank. The ship, appropriately, is named the SS 2 Stupid.

Something like six months ago, my Pathfinder game was about one of the PCs running for mayor in a small town. Then they found a strange tunnel in a dungeon, took a wounded anghazani onto a greased-up adapted land boat, and wound up in the fantasy RPG equivalent of Wonderland. Apparently that wasn’t weird enough for them. So, after foolishly ripping a hole in reality, they are now pirates in the Astral Plane, piloting a ship capable of sailing into different dimensions and swearing fealty to a talking four-armed albino gorilla in a pirate hat.

Damn, I really love role-playing games.

Images: Rjuranek (CC-BY-SA), Wizards of the Coast, Sirwhiteout (CC-BY-SA)


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