Jigsaw Fantasy Kickstarter

Jigsaw Fantasy: Kickstarter Review

Disclaimer: I was asked to look at these products and was given two of them for review purposes. No other compensation was involved.

The Kickstarter is here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/703093372/jigsaw-fantasy-oceans-and-deserts-setting-help-for

“Generic” products are a common trend in RPG supplements: With so many systems out there, it only makes sense to try to cover as wide an audience as possible. Jigsaw Fantasy embodies that concept, and focuses heavily on giving advice and tools for integrating their supplements with an existing campaign — hence the name. Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, these bits of setting and lore are intended to lock into the rest of the world.

I looked at two of them: The Floating City and The Sivatag Desert.

Sivatag Desert

Every fantasy world needs a desert. However, a truly generic desert —  “There’s, uh, some sand. And dunes. And I guess some cactuses? Or is it cacti? Whatever, it’s a desert.” — is pretty dull. Even if the defining quality of “desert” is “there’s nothing there”, there needs to be something there for players to interact with.

Sivatag provides the “something”.

There is a mix of relatively basic material — it’s hot in the day, it drops down to near-freezing at night, there are flowers and insects which have a lifecycle dependent on the twice-a-decade rainstorms — and the more exotic.

The latter includes some good examples of generic concepts. I like this approach, as it’s a way to get a GM to think about how to turn the general into the specific. Given the broad concept of “there are places where the bedrock breaks through, forming distinctive landmarks”, we then get a specific example: Skull Valley, which is described in more detail in the supplement. A similar pattern applies to oases: A broad description and a “plug and play” implementation of the idea.

But these are fantasy supplements after all, so there must be material that transcends what you could find by reading “The Big Book Of Deserts”. This is here as well: Mirages that are more than mere heat shimmers, and a variety of plants and animals that are just a step beyond the real, allowing them to fit into a range of fantasy settings. (GMs will need to work out the game mechanics for those which interact with the players in non-trivial ways; that’s the double-edged sword of generic supplements.)

The Floating City

Deserts may be common to most settings, but how about a city resting on pods of giant jellyfish? That’s the Floating City, an original concept that may not fit all worlds, but works with most of the major fantasy systems with only minor adjustments.

Once a small (and land-based) fishing village with an economy based on delicious smoked jellyfish (mmm… bouncy….), it was threatened with destruction when its volcanic home did what volcanoes do. They were saved by their goddess, who caused the jellyfish to form a raft to support the village, which later expanded into a city that exists in careful symbiosis with their goopy allies.

Like any good fantasy city, it has multiple neighborhoods, marketplaces, and regions. It also moves away from the generic to give it a distinct cultural flavor: It is a place where knowledge is transferred via song and story, not books, where buildings are mostly made from scavenged driftwood, shells, and cloth rather than stone or clay, and where the layout changes continuously as the supporting jellyfish drift and move.

This supplement is more focused than the Sivatag Desert. There’s not exactly a generic concept of “city build on jellyfish” that’s widespread in fantasy gaming, so the Floating City provides a more specific framework, laying out the city’s quarters, government, and the names and personalities of some of the leaders. (Again, no game stats.) It also sets up some potential conflicts and mysteries, which the GM is encouraged to find answers to. This fits the purpose of the Jigsaw Fantasy line: To provide something interesting and creative enough to be worth purchasing, while being flexible enough to fit into many milieu.

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Intergalactic Fashion Pirate

Theme: Intergalactic Fashion Pirate

As Inspired By A Throwaway Line On Voltron

Because Why Not?

All Within 30′ Must Save Vs. Awesome

Just so you know the inspiration… it’s that guy, in the picture, who commented that he was an intergalactic fashion pirate in his youth (as shown by the outfit he is wearing, which is marginally flashier than his usual togs… and he looks perfect for a game of Starchildren, now that I think about it.) As soon as I heard that phrase, which was this morning, I knew I had to write it up as a Theme for Starfinder. Here you go.

Intergalactic Fashion Pirate: Cha +1

It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you look good doing it! Regardless of where you are and who you’re with, you know how to dress to impress… or to achieve any other goal. You travel the stars seeking out new looks, styles, and accessories, gleefully incorporating bits and pieces from every race and culture to create your own unique and inimitable style. This habit of borrowing any concept, be it a pattern, a hairstyle, or a unique piece of clothing, regardless of its cultural origin or context, is why some call you a “pirate”. You wear the term — as you wear anything else — with pride and flair.

Theme Knowledge (1st)

You gain a +5 to all Culture checks to determine someone’s position in their society and/or planet/region of origin by their clothes, jewelry, tattoos or other body ornaments, or makeup. You further get a +2 to Perception checks to penetrate a Disguise which relies on correct fashion sense to pull off. (“That’s not the Duke of East Proxima! No East Proximan of noble birth would wear purple gloves to a meal where fish is being served!”). Disguise is a class skill for  you; if it is already a class skill, you gain a +1 bonus instead.

Wardrobe (6th)

You’ve assembled a superbly portable but highly flexible collection of accessories which you can quickly use to modify your current appearance without actually changing your underlying outfit. Given one minute, you can choose to “blend in” or “stand out” by making quick changes to the details of whatever you’re wearing. If you choose “blend in”, you gain a +2 on Gather Information checks, as you look like you belong in the area. If you choose “stand out”, you may make a Bluff (Diversion) check for an ally, as your outlandish garb draws the attention of the crowd. (You can attempt this only once in the same general region per day.) This also acts as an advanced Disguise Kit, granting a +2 bonus to uses of that skill.

Master Accessorizer (12th)

Your ability to mix and match to perfection when it comes to high fashion is not without its practical applications. You can install an armor upgrade up to two levels higher than the armor itself, or, you can gain a +1 bonus to EAC and KAC when wearing armor. You can change which of these abilities applies as you wish, but you must remove any overpowered upgrades if you wish to gain the AC bonus.


The Perfect Look (18th)

There’s no limit to ways in which various types of clothing, jewels, and other bodily decoration can be combined to create exactly the impression desired. Twice a day, if you visit some area with a rich selection of items to look at, try on, or buy (a mall or shopping center on an advanced world, or a bazaar or marketplace on more primitive planets), and spend 10 minutes or more exploring, haggling, and trying things on, you may regain a Resolve point.

Designer’s Notes

I wanted to try to avoid too much overlap with the Envoy class or the Icon theme. This caused me to go through a lot of changes as I worked on this, in particular the 12th level power. I went through many variants on that, until finally having a small epiphany (but I’m seeing a doctor about that on Monday) and coming up with a non-social ability that still fits nicely with the overall theme. For those who care (yeah, like anyone reads this site), here’s what used to be there in an earlier draft.

Trendsetter (12th)

It’s not a matter of you being fashionable… whatever you’re doing is fashionable! This has several benefits. After you’ve been on any vaguely civilized world for a few hours, the urban centers will spawn people imitating your look, which imposes a -4 penalty on Gather Information checks made by people to find you. In addition, you gain a +4 bonus on Diplomacy checks to get into exclusive parties, trendy clubs, and other such gatherings, even if normally you’d have to sneak in. (You will be expected to be visible and active once you get in, so sneaking away from the celebration to download the encryption key to the Baron’s data vault will take some doing. But that’s what your entourage… I mean, the other PCs… are for.)

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Parathan’s Persuasive Paraffin Pachyderm

Parathan’s Persuasive Paraffin Pachyderm

Aura moderate transmutation; CL 6th

Slot none; Price 6,000 gp; Weight 1 lb.


This item resembles a skillfully-carved candle in the shape of an elephant, its trunk raised and head thrown back, as if in mid-bellow. While it may seem, at first, to be a figurine of wondrous power, it does not respond to any command word. When the wick is lit, however, the figure animates, grows to small size, and looks questioningly at the person who ignited the flame. That person must merely state a topic of debate or discussion, and the elephant will begin to speak on it with skill and vigor, making the strongest possible case for its owner’s point of view, answering questions and countering objections with supernatural skill. After a minute of such activity, the owner may make a Diplomacy check with a +20 bonus. All normal modifiers apply, but part of the magic of the elephant is that no one finds it off-putting, strange, or discomforting that it is speaking on behalf of someone else.

Whether the check succeeds or fails, the Persuasive Pachyderm reverts to its normal form thereafter. It can be invoked but once a day.

It is, in other words, a wax elephant that waxes eloquent.

Construction Requirements

Craft Wondrous Item, animate objects, glibness

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RPG A Day 2017 August 30

August Thirtieth

(One Day Late!)

Prompt: What Is An RPG Genre Mashup You’d Like To See?

Cheap answer: One that makes me go “Ohhh, I never thought of combining that! That’s awesome!”

More meaningful answer(s):

  • Wild West/Classic Fantasy (Cowboys on unicorns! Dwarves panning for gold in the Rockies! City-slicker elves coming to town in their fancy duds!)
  • Cyberpunk Dinosaurs: Genetic engineering gone wild has filled the underlayers of the arcologies with all manner of resurrected critters, many of which have been cybernetically enhanced.
  • Steampunk Apocalypse: A war-torn world of Babbage-brained war machines, scavenger towns built from the ruins of crashed giant airships, and steam-powered autoduels!
  • Turn Of The Century Supers: Go read Joss Whedon’s story arc on “Runaways”. Trust me.
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RPG A Day 2017 August 29

August Twenty Ninth

(Three Days Belated — Or, For Me, On Time!)

Prompt: What Has Been The Best-Run RPG Kickstarter You Have Backed?

I am in the fortunate minority in never encountering a truly badly run RPG Kickstarter. Every one I’ve backed has either delivered the goods or is on-schedule to do so. But I have to give props to Green Ronin’s Pathfinder Advanced Bestiary. There were constant updates, sample pages, and progress reports, that made it clear work was being done and progressing smoothly — and, of course, it’s an update of one of my “must have” books for D&D 3.x.

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RPG A Day 2017 August 28

August Twenty Eighth

(Four Days Belated)

Prompt: What Film/Series Is The Biggest Source Of Quotes For Your Group?

Well, nothing shocking here: Monty Python, Mel Brooks, A Game Of Thrones. Now that we’re playing Starfinder, I expect a lot more Star Trek/Wars. I find myself often quoting Order Of The Stick and Knights Of The Dinner Table, because it is far too often the case that our actual play approaches their satirical spin on things.

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RPG A Day 2017 August 27

August Twenty Seventh

(Getting To My Average Level Of Lateness)

Prompt: What Are Your Essential Tools For Good Gaming?

What, you mean aside from Chinese Food?

My laptop. I replaced my GM screen with a laptop sometime around 2002 or 2003, and I have never looked back. (Obviously, the laptop has gone through some upgrades since then…)

A free-form database/organizer. For a while, I used TreePad Plus, but then I discovered ConnectedText, which hits a lot of sweet spots in terms of what features I need to document a world and run a game.

Mapping tool: I’ve been using Campaign Cartographer since it came on 5.25″ floppies and the mapping symbols were actually a custom vector-based font.

Dice. Lots of dice. A whole freakin’ lot of dice. Because when one die starts rolling badly, you have to be able to swap it out for a fresh die. Don’t tell me all about the “laws of probability” and “superstition”. I know how dice work.

Two pounds of carrots, a tub of low-fat ranch dip, and two two-liter bottles of soda. (Portions are for a 5-6 hour game. Adjust as needed.)

Optional (but becoming necessary): A tablet computer, size dependent on your eyesight. I use a 12″ iPad Pro. While I use the laptop for my game notes and other tools, like a spreadsheet to track initiative, I find that a tablet is the perfect companion upon which to read rule PDF files.


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RPG A Day 2017 August 26

August Twenty Sixth

(What’s That, Five Days Belated?)

Prompt: Which RPG Provides The Most Useful Resources?

Hm. There’s a lot of good answers here, depending on how you define “resources”.

Pathfinder probably has the largest bulk of both official and third party material. (There’s a lot of high-quality stuff in the latter category, and a lot of low quality. See Sturgeon’s Law.)

GURPS Third Edition has a well-deserved reputation for mountains of excruciatingly well-written and well-researched sourcebooks that contain tons of ideas and information applicable to other gaming system. GURPS Fourth Edition has less material per se, but the majority of the 3E stuff is usable for the non-rules content and the rules content is easy to convert.

I am extremely impressed with the “Doctor” sourcebooks for the Doctor Who RPG. Each volume covers an individual Doctor’s tenure, with stats for anything that needs it and plot hooks for each episode summarized.

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RPG A Day 2017 August 25

August Twenty Fifth

(Six Days Belated)

Prompt: What Is The Best Way To Thank Your GM?

Oh, another easy one, at least if the GM is me: Chinese Food. Or pizza, if it’s got meat on it (mushroom are honorary meat), and no weird hippie California toppings like artichoke hearts or broccoli or tofu cheese on a GMO free, gluten-free crust with locally sourced ingredients picked on a cooperatively owned farm and that’s why we’re charging $45.00 for a small pie.

But I digress.

Beyond that, the obvious: Show up on time. Pay attention to the massive lore infodumps — they spent six hours writing the backstory for the tiny hamlet you pass through and has statted out every NPC and their chickens, the least you could do is pretend to listen. Let them know you appreciate it when they spend two hours designing a battlefield in Campaign Cartographer that will only be in play for five minutes because you one-shot the boss monster they spent another two hours statting out in HeroLab. Not that I have any particular incidents in mind, of course.,

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RPG A Day 2017 August 24

August Twenty Fourth

(Getting Worse As I Somehow Got Nothing Done Yesterday)

Prompt: Share A PWYW Publisher You Think Should Be Charging More

Well, this is an easy one. I don’t know of any PWYW publishers. I primarily buy print products or Kickstarter things or stuff on DriveThru that has a fixed price (often when it’s on sale, as I’m a cheap bastich.) So, moving on.

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