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 … 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 – Havok, half-orc barbarian
Tim – Mork, half-orc fighter
Andrew – Vorok, tiefling rogue
Doug – Aliza, female human sorcerer
Paul – “Salty” 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.