Our aspiring pirates get their first taste of honest ship-to-ship combat in the third installment of our Pathfinder campaign, Reavers on the Seas of Fate – “Water Stop.”
Third Session (12 page pdf) – The crew of the Albers goes foraging on an island to replenish their stores, and comes across some escaped slaves. Of course, the Chelaxian naval frigate bearing their former owner arrives shortly thereafter. Just as they discover a goblin pirate ship! It’s hot three-way action in a naval boarding action. And then it’s off to Riddleport!
This was a stretch session. I had planned for them to get to Riddleport and get into that this session, but the character who has lived in Riddleport and has most of the hooks for them wasn’t going to be there. So I figured I could expand the travel part enough to fill a session.
Leafing through some random supplements, I found a couple things that struck a chord. In WotC’s Stormwrack, there is an adventure called “The Sable Drake,” basically an encounter with a goblin pirate ship. I had thrown some canoes full of goblins at the PCs last time, supposing they came from a village on the nearby island. By converting those to goblins on two ship’s boats from the Sable Drake, it was a lead-in. Then in Atlas Games’ En Route II: By Land Or By Sea, there’s an encounter called “Water Stop” detailing some escaped slaves hiding on an island; the PCs meet them and then their old master shows up looking for them. This was perfect; I wanted to start pulling in elements from PCs’ backgrounds, and most of them have a beef against the Chelaxians. Ox had been the slave of Captain Marcellano, a Chelish seafarer. Thus I mixed the two together.
It wasn’t too hard to convince them to go onto the island and poke around; they thought maybe the goblins came from there and they’d get to kick some more ass. They came across the slaves and managed not to kill them (the way the encounter’s written is that the poorly armed commoner-type slaves surround the PCs and try to get them to surrender to figure out if they’re likely to rat them out; somewhat dangerous in that often PCs take any manner of threat as an invitation to maximum overkill). The slaves tell them about a “weird black ship” in a hidden cove and then the Chelaxian Navy ship Raptor appears and approaches the Albers to see if they have seen some missing slaves. Soon, they’re both going after the goblin ship, who the PCs finger as having drug off a bunch of escaped-slave looking people.
Really, the tough part about all this was that in Golarion, goblins are all total meatheads. It was hard to believe they could pilot a ship, even with a wererat captain and a handful of adepts. But hey, you work with what you’re given. I changed them substantially from the “leet ship” in Stormwrack to a barely actionable converted fishing ship.
In the end, everything worked out for the PCs and the slaves. The PCs hoped that the goblins would whittle down the Chelaxian marines enough that they could take them; they were quickly disabused of that – one of the things I wanted to get across before they took up their future life of piracy is that the Chelaxian navy is no one to screw with. They were pretty sober as the goblin ship took three massive broadsides and sank to the bottom.
The noble was Marcello Marcellano, the son of the guy who owned Ox. I expected him to go to greater lengths to try to kill him, but he played it cool. A shame, I built a pretty good 4th level swashbuckler using the new class from Tome of Secrets (Adamant Entertainment) and the duelist feats etc. from Way of the Duel (Sinister Adventures).
They went back and started diving the goblin ship for loot… It was funny, they encountered a reefclaw and after beating it all borked their Knowledge: Nature checks so that they were “sure those things live in large colonies!” (They’re solitary). They made the checks in the open and came up with the alternate interpretation themselves.
Selene, Vincenz, and Thalios Dondrel son of Mordekai are now at large in Riddleport as well, so I’ll have some good NPCs the PCs are very familiar with to use. Next session’s based on Pulp Fiction!