Nineteenth Session (27 page pdf) – “A Pirate’s Life For Me” – More time at sea; the crew gets into the pirate spirit and wavecrawls the hell out of the region. Vikings! Whales! Dead Vikings! Dead whales! Mass hysteria!
We started with role-play. Sindawe caught a case of the Lawful Goods during the first part of the session, confusing his comrades. He gives money to the ex-slave family trying to make it in Riddleport, and then has management interventions with the crew over Slasher Jim killing too much and Tommy sexing too much. Eventually the other PCs were like “this is a pirate ship! Come on now!” I thought it was interesting because Sindawe is clearly wrestling with how to perceive himself as a “good guy” while being a pirate and also with the burden of leadership.
Then we got to sea and I started up the random encounters. Man, if anything my “Today at Sea” encounter list was shorter than last time. But it sure expanded out! This session summary is 27 pages long.
First there was an Ulfen longship and a Mordant Spire elf skimmer fighting. This could have been 5 minutes if the PCs bypassed it, but they first threw in with the Ulfen and fought the elves and then fought the Ulfen. And then took Ulfen prisoners, etc. This was a livelier naval combat than usual; it’s the first time they’ve had significant amounts of magic used against them in an engagement.
We find a great deal of hilarity in the fact that Serpent and Wogan always seem to roll 1′s (or at least very low) on Spellcraft and Knowledge: Religion checks. They are good sports about coming up with super ignorant incorrect things they believe as a result. In this case, Serpent saw the elven command crew gathering up as their ship was overrun and teleporting out, but with his 1 he interpreted it as some mass disintegration suicide ritual.
I’m not really sure they intended to fight the Ulfen initially, but basically they had their blood up and decided to kill till there was no opposition. Wogan luckily saved all the crew from dying – I need to come up with a better mechanic hooked to my mass combat system to figure out who snuffs it. I’ve been letting him make a Heal check with his healing burst to see how many downed crewmen he can save and he’s rolled very, very high each time so they haven’t lost anyone in action yet. They end it all up with a new crewman, an Ulfen barbarian named Olgvik.
Then the PCs were confronted with the sad fact that sailors refuse to eat fish! They got some from the fishing ship last time and a bunch of pickled herring from the Ulfen ship, but as in RL Europe, all red blooded sailors eat fish as only a last resort, and feel themselves ill used if they must.
Then over the course of the week, the ship is attacked by an angry whale, then meets the same whale again but it’s undead. (This is from the random encounters; of course as the GM if one day says angry whale and then two days later there’s an undead whale, if they aren’t linked somehow you suck.) Then a homunculus came by. The PCs were horrified and intrigued when it simply gathered information from them about the whale like a modern telephone survey taker. “On a scale of one to five, how terrifying was the whale both before and after it was dead?” This is a good example of how linking some simple random encounters on the fly, you create what seems to be a hideous master plan going on in the world with absolutely no relation to the PCs. Makes the world seem real.
Finally, they take a prize – a small spice merchant. They take his cargo and money but leave him his ship, wife, and life. (The cook’s resultant experiment with “cinnamon eggs” was disgusting.) They enjoyed finding a book of tiefling pornography entitled “Fiend Folio.”
I’ve done a lot of reading up on historical pirates and it’s odd – same captain and crew, sometimes they’ll let someone go, sometimes they’ll sink a perfectly good ship, sometimes they’ll kill everyone with little provocation, sometimes they’ll do some of both! “Took three ships, sank two, killed some of the crew, let the rest get in the third ship and leave.” Not always explainable rhyme or reason to it (the drinking probably helps) but it’s interesting how our PC pirates are kinda turning out the same way.
Lots of great roleplaying fleshed this session out even more – good PC-to-PC interaction and also with various members of the crew.