Skull and Shackles – Cannibal Isle.

9 February, 2013

After a player dropping out, we retconned Tidewater Rock and had Salty Bob marry the mistress of said stone. She preferred Aliza, but Aliza refused the match.


After taking our two prizes – a warship and a merchantman – we decided what was to be done with them. The warship we sent back to the rock. The merchantman we accompanied back to Rickety Squib’s for sale. And he were taken back a mite that we had brought him yet another ship and crew. Able to take it on, though.

I were starting to think that, seeing as we were legitimate proprietors ‘o Tidewater Rock, perhap we should charge a fee rather than taking the whole ship. Keep the area free ‘o pirates and such rabble. 10% of the goods, perhaps.

In any event, after a bit ‘o shopping we set sail for home. But Mork were in an adventurous mood, so we agreed to heave to at an island and do a raid.

Well, there were a village, right enough. And full of savage warriors it were, at least 50 or maybe more. And they were in the middle of some ceremony – chanting and suchlike. I used a tooth which I had prepared with Comprehend Language, and the chanting were all “Blood! Blood! Blood for the Blood-God!”.

For flavour reasons, Salty Bob’s prepared scrolls are scrimshaw.

Well, we were happy to oblige. Mork and Vorok stepped up to do some damage, but Aliza noticed that there were some men on litters – motionless they were, strapped in. No doubt they be prestst or wizards, lost in whate’r they were about. So she put a Magic Missile into him. There was a scream from the forest, and the barbarians increased their frenzy.

More of the savages came, and then from the sand of the beach emerged a horror – a great worm or centipede, tall as a ship’s mast it were. And I’ll tell ‘ee lad, we looked at the thing, exchanged a glance, and bolted.

But although the thing were slow, the savages were not. And they were in their element – we could not outrun them. So we chose a chokepoint and made our stand.

They had barbarian levels, so had fast movement.

There were two dozen of them, coming at us three and four at a time. Aliza used her spells, and Mork just stood there killing one after another. I called curses down from Besmara over and over.

SB has versatile channeller and selective channel. 2d6 negative energy in a 30′ radius.

But when there were only four or five left, one of the bastards got a lucky hit and felled Mork. Then they advanced towards us, who were not nearly so able to fend them off.

It were a close thing. A very, very close thing. But we managed to kill the last of them between us. Mork were dead outright, I though, so I gave Vorok a little magic. But then Aliza looked at Mork and unbelivably he spat up sme blood. Still breathing! But only just.

Those “Plot Twist” cards to the rescue, again. Andrew (I think) had a card labelled “Best Day Ever”, and the DM pemitted it. Whew!

I used my most potent magics on Mork, and we resumed running. On reaching the shore, I used my hat – Besmara’s Tricorn – and transformed it into a boat, and we got out of there.

So it goes to show, lad, although I’m not sure what. Don’t poke a hornet’s nest without need, perhaps.

Keegan reckons that he pulled no punches, but he was letting the channel negatives do full damage without rolling the will save ๐Ÿ˜ฎ . I couldn’t roll over a five. The Blood God was CR 20. There were something like 30 barbarians in all.

We are now level 6. This means Aliza gets Fireball (I expect). Fun times!

Yaaargh! We deals with some unwanted attention.

14 December, 2012

Well mateys, after handing in our first prize ship, we of the Alestorm were feeling a bit cocky, and decided we would raid a village – pickings being slim raiding fishing boats. Upriver, we went, and found a likely spot for some plunder.

First sight of the ship, the natives scattered – they being a bit used to this kind of thing. Four of their fighting men stayed behind, each with a savage, slavering mastiff – four foot high at the shoulder, and with jaws fit to tear a man to shreds

They were riding dogs. CR 1/2, I think.

After a blessing from Besmara, Havok and Mork leapt off the ship, keen for the fight, and Vorok and Aliza following. Meself, having a cooler head, spent a moment summoning a dog or two of my own to keep theirs busy and then headed onto shore. But by the time I got there, it were all but over.

We looted the place for plunder and set sail down the river. But we caught wind of a warship at the river mouth – a Chelaxian pirate hunter, no doubt sent to avenge the loss of the trader.

Bad news that – she were bristling with weapons and Chelaxian marines. Four of them on the trading ship gave us only a little trouble, but sixty be a different kettle of fish. But Aliza it were that saw their helm be in an odd spot – their rudder steered by ropes that could be gotten to by an open porthole.

We anchored behind a bend in the river, out of sight. It seemed to me that the best thing to do would be to send in that sneaky devil Vorak on his own to cut the ropes. Risky, that – if he were spotted, he would have no hope. And so I cast an Augury – “Besmara!”, I called, “If we send Vorak on his own in to deal with the rudder, will it scuttle the lot of us?”

Now, the truth is that I got no reply, Besmara being a temperamental goddess much engaged with business of her own. But I judged it still to be the best plan, and I told the crew that she had answered – although I am not sure they believed it.

Got a 6 on bluff. Oops.

But even then, it were still the best plan. We went overland at night, and rowed Besmara’s Tricorn out to the warship (a magical hat, lad – unfolds into a jolly boat). Quiet as a eel we were.ย Then Vorak nipped up the bulwark of the warship and into the stern steering house, armed only with his dagger, his natural stealth, and a spell of Mage Armour that Aliza had given him.

Salty Bob has a pretty-much maxed out Profession (Sailor), with Skill Focus and a bonus from Besmara’s Tricorn. It was a skill check to row silently. The DM was kind enough to allow the two of us rowing to average our checks ๐Ÿ™‚ .

Well, I be not sure what happened next, there were a fight – but in the gloom Vorak managed to cut the ropes and get out. The ship’s bell rang, and chelaxian marines pured into boats and made for shore. I cast silence and Mork and Havok rowed like the armies of Cheliax were after them – which they would be in short order if we be spotted.

Keegan gave us some Paizo cheat cards, which we burned to get Vorak out of there.

Then we boarded our ship, hoisted the Jolly Roger and set full sail. A bank of catapults, they had. I cast Fog Cloud to throw off their aim, but it were not enough to cover all of them. Still – we only took one direct hit. We passed them, jeering and cursing like sailors true, and out to the blessed sea.

Their captain swore at us departing, threatening to get the mages to scrying us out, but I knew it for a bluff. And so on to the rock, which I will tell ye about after ye have fetched me another pint of grog.

Having a little work done

16 November, 2012

The old man โ€ฆ no, that’s not right. “Older”, perhaps. Silver haired, but not snowy, not yet. Brown and weathered, but spry. Vital. And – to those with an eye to see – radiating the aura of chaos and looty piratical danger that marks a cleric of Besmara, the pirate goddess. To those without such vision, there is a clue nevertheless: an unmistakable skull-and-bones on his left cheek. No tattoo, this, but a birthmark – the goddess staking her territory, marking her claim. “This one”, it said, “this one shall reave the seas”.

But not this evening. This evening he is ashore in a dockside tavern, some weeks since he was last ashore. He is gambling, and winning. A fight breaks out between two of the players – fists flying. A brief break in the game, in other words. And then daggers are drawn, the fight gets serious. Game over, it seems. Salty Bob repairs to the bar. And there a familiar face.

“Arr lad! Ye be back! Good to see ye. Now where were we? Arr – I were telling ye about the Fever Sea. Pull up a share, ye and your mate, and I’ll tell ye a mite more”.

Need to read Treasure Island. SB is just a generic healer at this point, but Besmara is goddess of strife and war. Her clerics need to be dangerous, bloodthirsty cutthroats, and I’m not playing SB that way.

We hove the Mann’s Promise into Rickety Squid’s, and the man himself came out on a boat to speak to a likely customer. A direct man, he was – he knew what we were there for, and we knew that he knew. He gave us a bit of a price list and lad, owning a ship is not for the faint of heart. Just his basic price was an even two thousand gold – more than most will see in a lifetime. More if you wanted extra.

But we had the loot aboard the Promise, as well as some coin and various bits of magic we has found on the cursed island, chief among them being a whale’s skull scribed with spells. Between all that we had enough for the basic package and more besides.

Rickety Squid offers 50% base for items, and 30% (negotiable) for loot. Between Salty Bob’s diplomacy and Vorak’s appraise, we managed a good deal.

The whales skull was clearly loot intended for a wizard – I play a wizard in Kingmaker and reflexively started to drool. It had half a dozen low-level spells on it, and could be used as a scroll. The real value of it was that you can scribe the spells into your book. But our arcanist is a sorcerer, and the skull was not really a lot of use – just some one-shot spells on a skull too big to conveniently carry. Far more useful as loot.

Silk sails we put on her, improvements to the rudder and rigging. Oh, Rickety had prices to fit her out as a warship, but we would be raiding and went for speed. We decided to name her the Alestorm.

And a couple of smuggler’s compartments, but Old Captain Bob is not going to mention that.

We struck hands, and Rickety Squid and his men took the ship in charge. We repaired to the accommodations, which was part of the arrangement.

Well, we were ashore for a week or so. First night Vorak told the story of our mutiny, which did not make much impression. But second night, he told ’em about the haunted isle and was impressive. That, lad, was the very first night our fame began to spread, right there in Rickety Squid’s tavern.

The campaign has an infamy/reputation mechanic, which I will not detail. Bigging yourself up at every opportunity is important.

We had our first sign of the troubles to come the very next day. We were spinning yarns with a group of the locals fishing the river, when something grabbed a line and yanked one of the fishers into the river! A river naga it was, and he were raving mad – screaming and yelling. I summoned a squid to cloud the water so that we could get the fisher ashore. One or two of the lads jumped in and made rescue – “Get ot of the water!” I yells, but Havok has his blood up and dives back in. A few more bolts, and Havok with his dagger, and the Naga is done for. Rickety hears the rukus and comes over. Seems he has a deal with the nagas – actually knows the one we killed. We all decide that he was driven mad by the drought.

Next day, or was it the day after? No matter – next day, a half dozen wasps each the size of a horse come out of the jungle. We take down three of them, and then two more try to carry away one of our workers. We attack them, too, and I discover for the first time the power of the weapon Besmara had seen fit to give me – greyfire, lad, holy greyfire.

Keegan has given us each a character-specific item.

And as we finish the two wasps, another ship comes into port. Now, this be quite the breach of politness, as Rickety Squid’s customers like the privacy. But stap me vitals if it weren’t Captain Insert Name Here. Aye, lad – that Captain Insert Name Here. I didn’t know at the time, being new to the trade, that he was one of the free captains. But Vorak and Havok did – natives of the area y’ see.

Campaign trait

He were a right (insert nautical synonym for top bloke) and offered to christen our ship. That’s right lad – the Alestorm were christened by Capt’n Insert Name Here, and that story be true, even if most of the others ye may have heard are stretching it. Just as well we didn’t back down from the wasps and there’s the lesson lad, if lesson ye need: ye lose every fight ye run from.

If we had hid out and let the wasps attack, it would have gone very badly for our reputation. Don’t know what campaign effect having our ship christened by a notable captain will be, but it’s got to be good.

Skull and Shackles – Democracy in Action

8 November, 2012

Next day, lad, I prayed Besmara for a spell to help the lads underwater, and a right strange spell she gave me: to create a bubble of air around yer head to breathe [“Air Bubble“, of course]. There are better spells, but this one were simple enough for old Bob to cast. I were new to the religion game, back then. We made for the cove – stopping off on the way to ransack some sort of house in the swamp. There were a few vials of alchemists fire aboard, which would have come in right handy when we were fending off those insects, but no matter.

To the cove, and the sunken ship. Home to an eel it was, and gave the lads a nasty moment or two. But we had picked up a potion or three of Water Breathing – gave them to Vorak, Aliza, and Mork – so there was more than enough to deal with a single eel. Big though it were. After that, we headed into the cave. And were attacked by bloody stirges, damn little bloodsuckers. No joke, lad – those things will drink yer blood till yer die of it, and they run in swarms. Easy to kill, but you have to do it quick.

And what rotten luck – the caves were mostly sunken, with the odd air pocket. But three of us had Water Breathing, one of those a decent swimmer, so we tied a rope to one of the lad’s ankles and he scouted ahead. Two tugs, and we followed him in.

[this was last week, so memory a little hazy]

We came up into a cave with an air pocket – stale, but breathable. And full of grindylows. One of them with Sendara’s hat. We fought and beat them, and reclaimed Sendara’s hat and holy symbol, which I kept for safekeepin. The hat was magic – one of Besmara’s Tricornes. Made it easier to swim, among other things.

After that, we swam some more. There was a chamber with ghouls at the bottom, behind a grate. Ghouls are simple to create lad, you just lock some bad men up together without food until they turn cannibal. They die and rise as undead if they are wicked enough. Only way to stop it is if the men come from a place where cannibalism is an acceptable thing to do, or if the men cast lots to decide who gets eaten. Even then – a man who has decided in his heart not to abide by the result of the lot if he is chosen, and who eats his shipmate regardless can still rise as a ghoul. (Most men will fight once they have been chosen – that’s different and to be expected.)

But that’s by-the-bye lad – they were sensible enough to swim up for their priest treading water on the surface, and I swam below and called down the power. Once, then twice, and they were laid to rest. The lads had ripped out the grate, and a thing or two had fallen down.

We explored some more, untangling ourselves from the traps the grindylow had lined their passages with, and came to a chamber with a ledge and Besmara bless me Sendara and Maheem hanging from the roof on ropes, alive but unconscious, their feet ballasted with bars of silver. In a moment we were attacked – a grindylow giant (a giant of it’s kind, you understand) and another one, some sort of spellcaster. The giant swallowed Vorak in one gulp, but our sorceress blasted him with a Color Spray and knocked him senseless, it spitting up Vorak in the process. The spellcaster were wielding a magical spear of narwhal horn, which returned to the hand after it was cast. I never can picture in my mind exactly how she managed it, but somehow she speared her own head and killed herself.

It gets pretty random when you are rocking the Critical Hit and Critical Fumble decks

“Please,” she said as her last words, “do not kill my son!”. We gutted the abomination quick, before it recovered from Aliza’s spell, and made calamari of his tentacles.

Then we recovered Sendara and Maheem. There were a cage of ghouls below the water (where they would drop if they were loosed). Mork took care of them himself, which were foolhardy but no accident came of it. Maheem told us that Mr Plug fully intended to kill us when we made ship again.

Well now. Weren’t that a thing.

The rest of the cave had more grindylows, but with their queen dead they ran off right quick [Keegan was keen to wind up, I think]. There was a trap at one point, a spiked grate in the ceiling, which Vorak disabled by way of setting it off while he was under it. Nothing like a few holes in you to teach a lad to be more careful next time!

A few more bits and bobs, then we loaded the loot into the longboat and rowed back to the ship. We didn’t have the water, ‘o course, but between me and Sendara we didn’t really need it – were only Plug didn’t like the idea of spelled water.

What to do? Well, we were pirates. No point mucking about – we decided to simply attack and kill Plug and Scourge if we could. Almost all of the old crew were on our side. Mork, the well-spoken young half-orc, told us he had prepared something.

We made fast the boat and climbed the cargo net. Them Mork stepped up and accused Captn Plug of mutiny and drew his steel.

Funny enough, I think it were effective. Certainly it confused him for a vital second or two. We attacked him and Scourge, Havok with his greatsword splitting Scourge clean in two, and Vorok gutting Plug. Aliza has an interesting trick – firing mer magic missiles solid enough to tip someone over, which she used to fine effect. And I have a trick or two of my own: calling down the power ‘o healin but withholding it from one or two in the blast. Between us all, and with most of the older crew on side, the matter was over quickly. The other sailors cried for quarter, and that was that.

We decided to continue on to Bloodcove and rename the ship – the silver would more than pay for it. Now don’t give me that look lad. Yes, it were what Plug was going to do, but Plug had been given charge of the ship by Harrigan and then turned around and betrayed him like a scurvy dog. We, on the other hand, had pirated the ship from its captain fair and square, and so it were ours. And if that’s slicing the salt pork a little fine, no-one cared to object.

Sendara gave me the hat to keep, and part of its blessing be to improve your skills at sailing, so I were made ship’s master and got us underway. Vorak [I assume] turned out to be decent with a sextant, and set course for Bloodcove. We left off electing a captain for a bit.

And it were plain sailing for the next few days. And that be the tale of the Wormwood Mutiny, and as to whether it were us or Plug and Scourge who were the mutineers, only Besmara can judge.

Now see those two lads in the corner with the wench? Watch closely: in a moment the wench will start them fighting, then pick their pockets while โ€ฆ arr, there you go. Watch her hands, lad. It might come this way, so we should shift. If ye be here next week, I might tell ye the tale of the Raiders of the Fever Sea.

S&S – A new ship, and an Island

23 September, 2012

Jarrod โ€“ Havok, half-orc barbarian
Tim โ€“ Mork, half-orc fighter
Andrew โ€“ Vorok, tiefling rogue
Doug โ€“ Aliza, female human sorcerer
Paul โ€“ โ€œSaltyโ€ Bob, human cleric of Besmara
Keegan, DM.

Arr, thank ye lad, and Besmara bless ye! Come dawn, we had nearly caught the other ship and the armsmaster gave us our orders. Special, ye see, because we were new on ship. The goal is first, to test our courage in battle; and second, to make sure that to survive we must kill someone. No turning back after that, laddie. We were to take the wheel at the sterncastle, and to see to it that no-one made the stern lifeboats. Well, it were a while back now and I can’t give ye a blow-by-blow account. There were about four on the ‘castle, and the helmsman, and the lads took them down. I mainly stood back to heal if I were needed, but I wasn’t. I told the sorceress lass to keep her powder dry, so she switch to the bow, at which she was pretty terrible if memory serves.

Then the captain boards and heads belowdecks. One sailor steps up to stike him from behind, bit one of the half-orc lads deals with it. A few seconds later, the met of the other ship emerges and heads for a lifeboat. Our sorceress fires a spell at her that tips her into the drink.

Doug has given Aliza “toppling spell” and a feat that lets her put it on Magic Missile without penalty. Not a bad combo for a sorcerer. As she levels up, she will get more missiles, and the combat maneuver check scales with her level. Nice for the rogue, as he then gets sneak attack.

Harrigan, who has run out after her, yells “I want her alive!”. The officer is in armour and is just barely treading water. She surrenders, and we haul her up.

We have successfully taken a ship, and divided the booty. Grog all around, and the sailors that don’t join us walk the plank. Harrigan gives Hakok or Mork a bonus for quick thinking.

Harrigan orders Mr Plug and Mr Scourge to take the new ship to [I think] Port Peril, and tells them to choose a crew. They take most of the old hands, and us, offering a nasty little pair of grins as they do. Mr Plug will be Captain Plug on his new ship, and I don’t like out chances of making port.

The quartermaster gives us each a little bonus. I had taken to the scrimshaw, and asked for some materials – mother of pearl, some whaletooth.

The materials will be for crafting scrolls, which for colour reasons Salty Bob is doing as scrimshawed icons of the goddess. I jumped the gun on the night – he cannot actually do the scribing until 3rd level when I will take the feat. Doh!

So, we set sail for Port Peril. The ship is quiet. After a day or so, it becomes plain that we are making for Bloodcove, where they will give yer ship a new name and fitout. No-one likes it, but Plug is captain, now.

A few days in, we weigh anchor at an island. “We are running low on water”, says the capt’n, “go ashore and get some”. I protest bit – Besmara can supply us with all the water we need – but the capt’n seems to not trust my spells. Well, some is more pious than others, suppose. And the problem with spelled water is that it doesn’t keep – ye must drink it in a day, or it evaporates. If you rely on spelled water, it’s wise to keep a hogshead of the natural stuff, and to purify it occasionally. The gods can be a bit capricious, is what I am saying.

So the captain has a point.

We launch a boat and circle the island. There seem to be one or two abandoned farms, and an unusual number of skeletons in the surf. This, my lad, is never a good sign. We land at a beach – coconut trees and a few crabs. One of the lads, for gods knows whatever reason, decides to climb a tree and haul down some coconuts (ye can’t drink the ones that fall by themselves – ye must get then green, or ye’ll get the squits).

But something’s made its home in the tree – a giant crab it was, five or six feet wide. They come down and we all fight the thing. One of the other lads also decides to climb a tree, but the gods decide not to treat him as he deserves, and there be nothing up there.

There is a ridge in the middle of the island, and likely a soak at the base of it where there be fresh water, so we head inland.

We make our way along a trail, almost overgrown now. A bit along, we are attacked by a swarm of flying insects, but huge things as big as your thumb. We run for it, but get lost off the path. It’s a bad lookout, but we light torches and drive them off with the smoke and fire.

Swarms are immune to weapon damage, and will simply kill low level players. Especially these, which did bleed or Con damage or some shit. The DM handwaved and ruled that our torches did 1d12 damage on the swarm.

Apparently, Richard Pett tends to kill characters.

We made our way on. No soak at the base of the cliff, so we climbed. At the top, an abandoned building of some descripion. And a spring! Contrary to all laws of science and physics, there is a spring right at the top of the ridge.

One of the lads climbs a tree, for no discernable reason, and is attacked by something above. He tackles it and falls out, knocking hmself unconscious and squashing it flat beneath him.

Welcome to falling damage, noobs!

A couple more lads climb and deal with whatever is up there, uncovering a nest and some loot. Meanwhile down below is a telescope. The telescope is fixed in place, aiming at a cove on the shore. That explained a fair bit, as that cove was probably a smugglers cove. And one of the lads with sharper eyes than me spots a grindilow [?] and a tricorn hat. Our priestess was washed overboard weeks ago during a storm, and there were these things on deck. The lads became convnced that that hat was her hat, and decides to explore the isle for another day. Also in the cove is what is clearly the shadow of a sunken ship. I explains that Besmara can give me a spell to create a bubble of air – good for only a minute, but enough to clean out anything big living in that ship. But it will have to wait till tomorrow.

The lads are adamant – we have to run to the rescue today. So I says, “All right lads”. But there is one final thing – the building. Inside is a gruesome thing: an undead corpse left by a man who has been hanged from the rafters. It’s twitching and moving, but not going anywhere. The sorceress lass shoots it, and somehow – somehow manages to part the rope it was hanged by. It attacks. It’s tough, but the lads beat it, and just as we are ready to relax it vomits out another swarm which we deal with with the torches again.

We make back for our boat, to go to the cove. But the tides are wrong, and so we stop at the only other landing place on the island – what looks like a farm. Night is coming on, so we head for high ground: an old tor. There is a watchfire atop – probably laid by the smugglers that were once on this island – but we leave it alone. We set watch, and it’s well we did, for we are attacked in the night by more undead. Three of them.

The rest of the night is quiet. We want to investigate that ship, unravel the mystery of the tricorn hat, and then get the water and back on ship, off this cursed island, before Captain Plug decides to abandon us here or keelhaul us when we return for taking too long.

S&S – The days slip by tranquilly

11 August, 2012

Jarrod โ€“ Havok, half-orc barbarian
Tim โ€“ Mork, half-orc fighter
Andrew โ€“ Vorok, tiefling rogue
Doug โ€“ Aliza, female human sorcerer
Paul โ€“ โ€œSaltyโ€ Bob, human cleric of Besmara
Keegan, DM.

Arr well. Where was I?

After the storm, we proceeded along quietly enough. Most of the crew thought well of us, saving onty Mr Plug, Mr Scourge, and their four cronies. A few days in we hove to off a reef. Mr Plug ordered us: “Capt’n wants crabs. You lot go get some!”

We were given pots to put the crabs in, and Mr Plug was gracious enough to allow us an empty barrel which we tied a rope around. I asked it for Aliza, really, as she couldn’t swim to save herself and she was going to be no help at all. It was to be the five of us and another lad who would also be no help. [don’t have my notes here]. He would keep watch.

The pots were filling nicely, when the lad calls out “Reefclaw! Them is good eatin, them is!” Two reefclaws, there were. Horrific monsters near the size of a rowboat, covered with poisonous spines. And we fighting them in water, without our armour. The lads got stuck in. One of the ‘claws attacked Aliza and injured her badly and one attacked one of the orc lads. Aliza struck ’em with magic, she did, and the lads with daggers. And what a melee it was! Blood flowing, flesh flying – it was all I could do to keep them all alive with The Power.

Reefclaws are actually size S. But you pay an old man for fish stories, this is what you get.

Well, we took one of them down – Havok grabbing it before it sank beyond reach – and then the other. Our pots full, we swam back to the Wormwood.

And drew the attention of Capt’n Harrigan. Pleased, he was. “Reefclaw!”, he said, “Excellent! Come to my cabin later!”. Arr. Not necessarily a good thing, to draw the attention of the captain. But he were in an expansive mood that evening, and gave us a brace of healing potions out of his personal stock.

Two potions of cure mod. We gave them to the half orcs, who get banged p enough to make use of them. We could have had other rewards, but I’ve taken it that the negotiations about what occured out-of-game. Wouldn’t have been a good idea for our characters to have dickered with Capt’n Harrigan.

So, all was smooth sailing aboard the Wormwood. Or should have been. But that evening Mr Scourge drags Vorok into the crews quarters, and a sorry-looking sight he was. He’d been snooping about the armoury and had taken a poisoned harpoon to the gut for his trouble.ย I healed him up as best I could, but he was clapped in irons and thrown into the hold. They’d keelhaul him in a week.

A few days more, and an officer we hadn’t met yet comes by. “Time to turn you into pirates!”, she said. Turns out that piratin’ is mainly about boardin’. She had the four of us out on a jolly boat trying to grapple the Wormwood and then shimmying up the line over the rail. While being pelted with rotten vegetables, I might add. The girl and I made the cast but didn’t manage the climb, although Aliza did make a very creditable effort. The two orc lads, though – Havok and Mork – no problem at all.

Next morning, Mork is called belowdecks. A few minutes later, we hear a scream. Vorok. We run to help, but Mr Scourge and Mr Plug are blocking the way. Aliza flings a spell their way, and thank Besmara the two of them are stunned. We run in, and what do we see but two of their crew of four fighting Mork and Vorok all chained up an covered in blood, steaming icicles (did I mention he were demonblood?). We attack ’em, the four of us and the quartermaster (a half-orc lass who was sweet on Mork, I think). In the melee, the two bastards with the daggers accidentally and completely unintentionally have their heads crushed by barrels which they have pulled down onto themselves.

Now, I should mention that there were a stern prohibition about killin’ each other on Captn Harrigan’s Wormwood. We were questioned by the priestess – Besmara bless’er! – who got to the truth of the matter and with her word and the quartermaster’s, well, there were not much Mr Plug and Mr Scourge could say.

Yeah, we totally gakked those two. Keegan had to retcon fast to stop the campaign going off the rails at that point, as attacking Plug and Scourge was a mutiny in itself. But the quatermaster is sleeping with Mork and the priestess was on our side from day one, so that’s good enough if you squint your eyes and look at it sideways. And that’s two less bad guys to worry about. ๐Ÿ™‚ Fortuitous that the Colour Spray worked, eh?

And then, they day before Vorok’s keelhaulin’ it’s “Ship Ahoy!”. We chased her down for three days, milad, under sun and stars – all hands and full sail. But Captain Harrigan and the Wormwood were her match, and finally we had her to rights and would be boarding in a few hours. They released Vorok and sent as many of us as they could to the racks for some rest. He’s fight with the rest of us in the morn, and either die fighting or be forgiven his indiscretion at the armoury.

Not exactly three days and nights, if you get my drift, but yes. Next session: boarding! We are level 2.

Skull & Shackles – a life at sea is the life for me!

26 July, 2012

Jarrod – Havok, half-orc barbarian
Tim – Monk, half-orc fighter
Andrew – Vorbrk, tiefling rogue
Doug – Eliza, female human sorcerer
Paul – “Salty” Bob, human cleric of Besmara
Keegan, DM.

So I had a bit of a chat to the lad.

“Lad, what do you think be the good of complaining to Mr Plug about our stripes for being late? You think he be running a pretty court of law, taking evidence, making a fair judgement? You think he doesn’t know why we were late on deck? Of course he knows! Like as not, he put them up to it.
“Why? Well, well – for two reasons.
“First, it be good for discipline to give the new salts a taste of the lash early on, before they think of doing something more severe. They know who’s in charge, they’ll understand the penalty for giving sauce to the officers. Makes a man think twice, if he’s been whipped once.
“Second, this is a pirate ship, lad. There’ll be fighting, and Mr Plug needs to know if any of us be a coward. If you can’t take three strokes, you won’t be much use in a fight, and it’s into the drink with ye. Same for the girl, although she’ll like as not get the ladies’ cat.
“So lad, when he calls your name this afternoon, you step up and take your stripes like a man. Show ’em you’ve a little brass (although not too much, ye understand). Ye may scream a moment, but don’t sob or cry or beg.
“And most of all – if ye struggle, if ye fight – well, that be mutiny. Ye’ve been ordered to take three stripes, and take ’em ye will, if ye wants to live past sundown.
“I’ll clean our wounds after, but I won’t be asking Besmara to heal ’em. They’ll only whip us again, and deeper. We’ll all have stripes on our shirts for a day or two.
“Cheer up, matey. It could be worse.”

Well, the lad had a bit ‘o common sense and kept his hatch good and shut. And the rest of us. But seem he has a strictly limited supply of common sense, because that night he got into a drinking game. Damn near killed him. I spent the night making sure he and another five lads weren’t choking on their own vomit.

Our new players are learning the game. Doug is learning that a sorceress stays at the back. Andrew has learned that constitution damage is not your friend.

Each day and each night we get a single “ships action” – snooping, stealing, shopping, or diplomacising the NPCs. Keegan permitted me to do a night of “long term care” with the heal skill as my ship action for that night. 8 hours and a DC 15 means you get back 2 points of ability damage instead of 1. Salty Bob is not a big fellow, Str 10, but has good Dex and Con and Profession (Sailor) 7. I’m beginning to think of him as a middle aged, nut brown, small-but-wiry bloke who’s practical.

Maybe I’ll change his accent.

Time drags on at sea, usually, but we were not a week in when young simms comes bolting out of the hold. Rats. Big ones. Mr Plug sends us down.

Well, wasn’t a minute or two before we found them. Or they found us. Huge things they were, two foot high at the shoulder and vicious as a drunken halfling (always wear your protective, lad, when you are in a fight with a halfling). I get bitten, young Monk gets bitten badly. Bit of claret. But I fix him right up with the power of Besmara.

At the end, no serious harm done. We scour the hold for an hour or two and find some bits and bobs. Mr Plug is surprised we come out as soon as we do – perhaps we should have stayed down longer. The big lads decide to bring the barrel the rats were in up on deck for proof. That night, I call the power down to heal everyone.

A few more days, and the crew are mostly beginning to warm to us. Mr Plug brings out an unfortunate called Mr Owlbear – an idiot who they have tarred and feathered. He wants to see a fight, so Monk steps forward to oblige. But Mr Plug takes objection to my wishing Monk good luck – as if I would cheat a fair fight! And so Havok steps up instead. He gives Owlbear a bit of a beating and lays off when Owlbear surrenders. Mr Plug tries to welsh on the winnings as Owlbear was not knocked out. But most of the crew are with Havok, and he wins a very tidy purse. Monk finally breaks his silence, and blow me down if he doesn’t have the poshest, most hoity-toity accent you ever heard in your life.

We have successfully diplomacised pretty much everyone who can be made helpful. Tim was really finding that his backstory – Monk won’t speak common because he knows he has an upper class accent – was very much cramping his style. It would work out ok usually, but this particular campaign starts off with social skills being key.

The “wishing him luck” was indeed a spell – Guidance. Very minor. I think it’s something a chaotic character would do. ๐Ÿ™‚

About a week in, a squall blew up. Twenty foot high, the waves were, and blowing a gale. All hands on deck. Took me a while to get into the rigging. Eliza didn’t manage it at all, and Plug lashed her for her trouble. Knocked her clean out. Lucky she wasn’t washed overboard, as she is a fine cook.

Right at the height of the squall it was man overboard – I forget who. Touch and go for a moment, lad, but we managed to get a line to her and drag her in, and kept everything fast.

Now hold on for a moment while I go for a slash lad. I’ll finish the story when I get back. I’m partial to the “White Rabbit” dark ale, if you’d be so kind.