Reavers on the Seas of Fate, Season Five, First Session

First Session (13 page pdf) -“King Xeros of Old Azlant” – With a hold full of loot and way too many women on board, the crew of the Teeth of Araska is rescued from their burgeoning soap opera by the appearance of a weird, crystal ship that just cries out to be boarded!

We start out Season Five, as well as the year 2015, with woman trouble.  The PCs picked up three aasimar sisters, Aelia, Flavia, and Volcatia, who were basically sex-slaves on Staufendorf island, first of the elder Staufen and then of Amalinda Staufen.  But of course, since she was all into the envy, she welded iron masks to their faces so they wouldn’t be purtier than her.  Sindawe tries to talk them into pirating, but they are way more interested in bedwarming – it’s a lot less work. This sounds good to some of the NPC officers, who are jealous of Tommy and Serpent keeping women on board. They talk him into it, and nearly talk him back out of it as the women manipulate the officers while the men try to impress them and pair off.

The Mikes are able to get Gareb and Stoke agree to operation “officer’s woman”.  They don’t tell Mase about the plan, because “Screw that guy.”

Also, on board the Empress’ Hand, they captured an honest-to-Shelyn Chelish diva (opera singer) named Octavia Selene, who is used to being kidnapped and is not impressed with the quality of the quarters on the ship. Samaritha, who is asking questions about how Serpent has been preparing for fatherhood when their egg hatches and getting some pretty pathetic answers, decides to evict him and host the diva in their quarters to engage in what humans call ‘girl talk.’  (Lest you forget, Samaritha is a serpentfolk who is chronically in magical disguise as a half-elf wizardess.)

Also, since Sindawe puts Klangin in charge of the prisoners’ safety, she gets more screen time, which means more talk of mating with Wogan!

Before the PCs all succumb to estrogen poisoning, they come across an island.  A quick shot at the island reveals it to be an illusion covering a weird ship! A strange crystal ship, of Azlanti make. This bears investigation! And with that we start the Pathfinder Society adventure King Xeros of Old Azlant, by Greg Vaughan (and heavily adapted by yours truly).

kingxeros

 

 

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Four Retrospective

I called this season “Family Matters” because it was so family friendly!  Well, OK, it wasn’t family friendly at all.  But the major theme was family.

  • Serpent and his (serpentfolk) wife Samaritha had their egg!
  • The PCs go to help Wogan’s sister and baby nephew in Nisroch!
  • They go back to Staufendorf Island where a would-be wife awaits Sindawe, Serpent’s long lost mother (well, kinda), as well as the bastard children of the pirates from their last raid.

I must say, those who leave family, marital relations, etc. out of their games are missing out. We had some great drama this season of a much more nuanced version that “bad guy gonna blow up world go get ’em!”

This season took more than a year and a half, realtime. In fact, it contains the five year mark of the campaign!

Things I really liked about this season:

  • The PCs returning to Riddleport as conquering heroes, and partying up the place as real pirate players, instead of the hirelings and minions they started out as; dealing with Clegg Zincher as equals, etc. I meant for it to feel gratifying, and like a graduation of sorts. They left as pirate noobs in Season Two and this is their homecoming having made a legendary-scope pirate voyage. They’re unlikely to be back there ever/for a long while so I wanted to wrap it up and put a cherry on top.
  • All of Nidal. It’s crazy spooky and I tried to use every GM technique to bring the suck to life. It’s so bad that even though they could have sold the info for good money, the Araska and Dagger command crews basically agreed to not tell anyone about White Estrid’s approaching attack fleet because “this place needs to get wiped off the fucking map.” And then them having to skedaddle in the middle of the invasion when it all went down!
  • The return to Staufen Manor, and all the bizarre and horrific goings-on, from the erodaemon preying on their greatest desires (including Serpent’s lost mother), to the aasimars who have had iron masks welded to their faces by envy-haunted Amalinda Staufen, to the lacquered bodies of her family and their baby-feast, to the dungeon of amputees that provide meat to feed her new “Ravenous” template. All super jacked up, *and* with the pleasant frisson of the PCs being somewhat to blame for it all.

I liked the Deepmar module OK, but in the end it felt a bit more like filler.  But, I guess the PCs liked it, since they refused to leave before exploring every single nook and cranny of the island. And they got a new love interest for the celibate Wogan – half-orc barbarian Klangin and meek fledgling Nidalese cleric Rucia now both have their eyes set on him, much to his discomfort.

The pacing was also nice, with periods of good honest pirating between the landlubber adventures. The Teeth of Araska and its crew are a major character in their own right, and the PCs spend a lot of time interacting with, training, disciplining, etc. their crewmates.

Sources I used putting together Season Four, besides homebrew:

That’s not a huge amount of published page to get a year and a half out of, but it was well leavened with the PCs’ own plots and my fantasia upon all the published Golarion lore I can get my hands on from the various guidebooks, NPC books, etc.  The deep Golarion lore forms a kind of base layer it all sits on; every trip somewhere has some point of interest or whatnot… Heck the PCs even feel safe asking.  “Oh, what kind of things do they ship out of here?” “Well, lumber goes downriver, primarily darkwood and strangle tree wood.”  “Whoa cool!  Let’s buy some!”  Nowadays for session prep I really just need some notes in Evernote and a Hero Lab portfolio with some NPCs and critters in it, and it all just runs itself.

Player Reflections

Chris (Sindawe) says:

  • I enjoyed the minor missions and the party in Riddleport. But I also enjoyed leaving that place — I had the sense that it was a place we were permitted to touch but not break. And as with all social structures, most PCs don’t have the patience or time to penetrate them without murder and arson. [GM – Heh, it’s pretty appropriate as pirates that being around large settlements where there are consequences for e.g. arson is undesirable. The PCs always needle me about Riddleport being a pirate-started city and it still not letting people go on murder-sprees or burn stuff down… But that’s why the deep blue’s out there!]
  • I liked Deepmar – it had a mystery that we could solve without having something held hostage. Fighting crazy derro was memorable. Mitabu had several moments to shine. [GM – Yeah, this taught me to continue to have a strong exploration element in the game because they really took to it.]
  • I am disappointed that Ed and Ashley didn’t continue gaming with us. [GM – Agreed, Ed hadn’t left quite yet by the end of the season but I think Ashley had, I’ll cover this in a later blog post.]
  • I enjoyed the return to Staufen Manor, though I had hoped to find a baby Sindawe. [GM – I briefly considered this but thought it would be too dark and uncomfortable in what was already one of the darkest sessions to date, apparently I was wrong!]
  • I enjoyed Nidal’s redneck country side and the story around Wogan’s sister. Patrick was given more face time than he wanted and he handled it well. I regret not having Sindawe bathe in the “golden god hot springs”. I also regret that the PCs were not called upon to commit atrocities that guaranteed the sister’s noble position. [GM: Yeah, Patrick is a quiet player and I wanted to put him in a lead role for a little bit, worked out well I thought.]
  • We got away with murder in Nidal, which was nice. [GM: Quite so. Seems like a good vacation shirt slogan. “I got away with murder in Nidal and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”]

The other guys didn’t comment in email.  Their feedback is in summary 35, though, where I asked everyone what they wanted less of, liked and wanted more of, etc. going forward.

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Four, Thirty-fifth Session

Thirty-fifth Session (10 page pdf) – “The Empress’ Hand” – A fat Chelish merchant ship beached on a sandbar proves a difficult prize, as there’s limited time to board, best, and loot it before the Chelish Navy shows up!

Well it’s the last episode of Season Four and our pirates have their latest plunder-taking go sideways.  It gets worse fast as Wogan has one of his gunpowder bombs go off prior to throwing it. They finally manage to rally and get the captain to surrender.  Sindawe is healed – he would have been killed outright except for use of an Infamy Point – the net result is he’s lost an eye!

They plunder the ship some and skedaddle before their escort arrives.  This adventure was an interesting and largely successful experiment in a “timed” adventure – every round spent fighting and looting was measured against the progress of the overwhelming-force enemy ships.

Besides money, they come away with a hostage – Octavia Selene, a Chelish diva!

The rest of the session is accounting and me taking the temperature of the players on what they want to do next.  They have a voyage planned, so I get their feedback on how much of each thing they want – Rahadoum, Ilizmagorti, Shackles, Sargava… Their votes and other feedback on what they want more or less of is recorded in the summary.  I’ll try to make it happen!

 

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Four, Thirty-fourth Session

Thirty-fourth Session (11 page pdf) –  “Old Flames, False Promises Part III” – Cut to the Teeth of Araska, where a daemon tries its level best to sink the ship while it’s manned by a skeleton crew. Then, the town is looted! And while making their escape, the pirates see a prize too tempting to pass up…

Well, the crew manages to fight off the daemon, but lose two men in the process.  Then the crew negotiates a tenuous agreement with the townsfolk as they return the amputees and babies; they spend most of the rest of their time trying to get the villagers to give them supplies while restraining their crew from rapine and arson till they get underway. Finally they leave Staufendorf Island behind them, with a good honest fear of what I’ll have in store for them if they were to visit a third time. They bring three of the aasimar women, it turns out that Amalinda kept them around for the same reason her father did, but out of envy welded those iron masks to their faces. Eek!

They hand over two of the aasimars to the succubus and then decide it’s time to interrogate Luca Caletti, ex-Chelish Marine, to see if he has anything to do with the Chelish dogging them; they decide he’s clean.

Raid-on-the-Emperors-Hand-coverAnd then, they see a fat Chelish merchantman stuck on a sandbar, with its escorts far away and downwind!  They attack!   This is from the Legendary Games mini-adventure Raid on the Emperor’s Hand.

It goes well at first but then the worm turns when the ship’s captain faces off against Sindawe and takes him down with a rapier thrust through the eye-socket!  What will become of our pirates?!?  Will they end their days hanging on a Chelaxian gibbet?  Read on…

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Four, Thirty-third Session

Thirty-third Session (12 page pdf) –  “Old Flames, False Promises Part II” – The pirate crew fights their way through Staufendorf Manor, finding grotesque secrets along the way.

If you thought the previous session got squirrelly  you might want to skip this one. Things have gotten crazy for our pirates; a good honest shore raid has turned into a real mind-screw as everyone is confronted with what they long for the most. And not the least, the now ravenous Amalinda Staufen, who has apparently been pining away for Sindawe in his absence.  Anyway, as the pirates fight the keep guards – ceustodaemons!

ceustodaemon

Ceustodaemon

These guys get summoned by the erodaemon and one heads out after the skeleton-crewed Araska while the other joins in the fight. After some hot action the pirates take the keep, but it’s up to the PCs to go confront Amalinda and her friend. In the chapel, they make a gruesome find…

Wogan investigates the bodies. The flesh is sunken to the bone, the faces twisted in agony. The skin is lacquered. Wogan announces, “They were strangled to death.”
Sindawe asks, “Strangled? Or suffocated?”
Wogan points at ligature marks on a corpse, then says, “Literature marks.”
Sindawe stares at the round cleric a moment, “Uh… they got read to death?”
Mitabu offers, “Maybe someone put a heavy book on their necks.”
Sindawe nods at that; it sounds exactly like something Chelish nobles would do. What bastards!

erodaemon

Erodaemon

Of course even gruesome finds are rendered funny by the degree of confusion the PCs bring along with them. But humor fails them as they go down into the crypt. Trigger warnings for cannibalism, matricide, baby endangerment, forced matrimony, forced amputation… Not sure if I’m missing anything. Read on.

Of course, the erodaemon (who has been preying on the greatest desires of the PCs, including Serpent’s desire to find his lost mother) skedaddles once the going gets tough. And how is the Teeth of Araska doing with its own daemon attack?  Find out next time!

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Four, Thirty-second Session

mansionofshadowsThirty-second Session (21 page pdf) – “Old Flames, False Promises” – The Teeth of Araska returns for a second raid on Staufendorf Island. But the locals there remember them… Perhaps over-fondly.

OK buckle in because this one’s a humdinger.  You may remember the harrowing tale of Staufendorf Island and the Staufen family from way back – starting in our eleventh session summary of this campaign, from back in 2010! “Let’s go back there and hassle them,” thinks the pirate crew.  Mmmmwah hah ha ha haaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!

Sorry.  Anyway, the old Green Ronin module Mansion of Shadows was the original source for this. The Staufen family were all “sin-touched,” being unnaturally aligned with the seven deadly sins. The PCs killed everyone except for the anorexic and envy-aligned Amalinda Staufen, in at least some part because Sindawe had sex with her in the family tomb. They had sealed her and the father’s four aasimar sex-slaves in the tomb to protect them from the pirates’ depredations. Then they looted manor and town and left. A year later, they reckon they might be able to double dip, since they’re so familiar with the place.

They plan their assault.  The first hint that there’s something wrong here is when Sindawe’s wendo goddess Mama Watanna visits him  for sex and cryptic plot hints as she is prone to.  But…

Watanna listens for a while then interrupts, “Never mind, boy. Give mama some sugar.”
Sindawe complies. Then it occurs to him, “The walls aren’t bleeding. What the hell?” The walls always bleed when he lies with Mama Watanna. The sex is that good. Sindawe throws himself clear of the woman, demanding, “Who the hell are you?”
Mama Watanna seems confused and hurt. Sindawe’s attitude doesn’t change. The woman’s attitude changes to scorn. She says, “Too bad.” A third eye of red opens on her forehead. Sindawe screams and screams.

But when people respond to his screams, he remembers nothing…

Cut to, the infiltration and assault. We had a… miscommunication… among the PCs that led to some humor but also some hurt feelings.  Ed’s character Mitabu was supposed to do the scouting – his character is really not very good in combat, but a scout and trapsetter.  But Paul (Serpent), who has a reasonably short attention span for listening to attack plans, heard that he was doing that so he swims ashore, kidnaps a halfling, and hoofs it all the way to Staufen Manor while his puzzled and consternated crewmates stand on the deck of their ship wondering WTF he’s doing. While he’s doing this,

Serpent hears a noise and glances up to see a woman stepping out of the darkness. It is Samaritha. She says, “Oh, what a tasty looking halfling.”
Serpent says, “What are you doing?”
Samaritha answers, “Sindawe sent me. To help.”
Serpent decides, “I don’t believe you. I was listening the whole time. He didn’t say anything about you flying ashore.”
Samaritha replies, “Oh, don’t worry. I’ll fly us back to the ship.” Serpent backs away and points his staff at her. She says, “Calm down…” A third eye of red opens in her forehead.

Serpent is dazed as the figure disappears, but retains some memory of this and animal-messages it back to the ship.  Lil and Tommy decide to bring out their succubus mistress (lest we forget, they have accepted the profane gift of Seyanna the succubus and are Nocticula worshippers) to help. She identifies the witchy creature as an erodaemon, the tempters of Abbadon, who tempt you with the person you desire the most. They offer up crewman Pirro’s “services” in recompense for this info. Back to the invasion! They go ashore and approach the keep, Mitabu going ahead.

Of course the fun thing about this crew is that “knowing doesn’t help…” As Mitabu infiltrates the keep he sees his lost love Marissa being mauled by a guardsman! He kills the guard and sneaks off with her. We (I can’t remember if it was Mitabu or someone else) ad-libbed that she had been a singer in a Chelaxian tavern called the “Pit Friend” whose sign bears a pit fiend in a two-thumbs-up “Buddy Christ” kind of pose. This provided hours of entertainment for us and is now canon as far as we’re concerned.

amalindaanorexic

Amalinda Staufen

The keep is unguarded and seemingly unoccupied which leads to a lot of tension as they wander through it… And this leads to coming upon a “Rocky Horror” style human-meat formal dinner with Amalinda Staufen, four aasimars with iron masks welded to their faces, Mitabu, Serpent’s long lost mother, and other craziness! Here’s my visual aids for Amalinda and the aasimar women.

Amalinda is still all anorexic but now more strangely attractive. The aasimars are still hot but with the masks now. It’s all extra extra disturbing. What happens at dinner? You’ll just have to read the summary…

black cat mask 3

Iron-Masked Aasimar

To be able to run the erodaemon, when the session began I asked the PCs to write on a note card “who they desired most.” For Sindawe it was Mama Watanna, for Mitabu it was some waitress he’d known, and for Serpent it was a split between his wife and his unknown mom. They were pretty game about it, though Serpent did metagame hard when Samaritha showed up in the forest. He got into the spirit more when his “mom” showed up though.

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Four, Thirty-first Session

Thirty-first Session (20 page pdf) – “Leaving Deepmar” –  The crew tears up the prison colony on their version of shore leave while the party investigates every part of the island that might contain something to impale themselves on. And Wogan may have gotten married.

Wogan decides to interrogate Klangin about her skills, and she takes his inquiries into her combat power and cooking skills to be mating inquiries. Oh, the other PCs needle him about that, insisting that clearly an orcish wedding had taken place. This becomes a recurring theme, with both orc barbarian Klangin and meek waitress Rucia trying to win the affections of the chaste-by-Gozreh-rules cleric.

They get back to Deepmar to see what happens when a pirate crew is bored for a couple days.

The travelers enter the colony, which is in very poor condition after three days of occupation by the Teeth of Araska’s crew. Several of the buildings have been burned. Every wall is covered in graffiti or filth. Furniture, clothing, and other mundane items litter the ground, evidence of overly ambitious looters. Pirate crew dot the facility, sleeping, fornicating, gaming and otherwise passing the time.

aurumvoraxdontcareThen the pirates decide the rest of the island requires investigation!  Well, Paizo module to the rescue, there’s plenty out there.  And the aurumvorax from a couple sessions ago gets another lick in as its dead body now hosts a rot grub swarm. Needless to say “the dead body is twitching” requires up close investigation. Cue screams.

They come up with an innovative and money-making method of killing off the penal colony’s Chelish leader, a lottery!  All the pirates put in money to win a chance at deciding how the hapless Chel will die. Mitabu wins the lottery (fair and square, against a bunch of NPCs) and decides on “death by trap.” They tell the warden they’re letting him go back to his quarters.  Then…

From inside Ashforth angrily yells, “Who shit on my bed!?!” Saw blades spin to life. Then the screaming starts.

Next, they plan their next voyage, and it’s a long one – from here to Azir to Ilizmagorti, past the Eye of Abednego, through the Shackles, and to the Razor Coast!