Twenty-second Session (11 page pdf) – “A Dreadful Dawn” – After a daring and violent escape from Magnimar and the Hellknights, the party goes to find the cursed son of a dead pirate to get the secret to entering the smuggler’s caves under the Riddleport Light. When they find him running an inn near Korvosa, however, they have to contend with a squad of cultists conducting a nighttime slaughter off the staff and patrons! If only they weren’t all so drunk…
The first part of the session was inspired by Chris (Sindawe) telling me how much he enjoyed the pirate movie “Nate and Hayes” and described a running land/sea fight with the heroes running around under bombardment. So I set out to reproduce that feel with the send-off the Wandering Dagger got in Magnimar from the Hellknights!
I was half afraid that the PCs would go after the Paralictor himself, but they correctly divined that a Hellknight in bizarre armor with an enchanted adamantine halberd is probably more than, say, twice their level. Plus, that pier was being bombarded with cannon fire, which helped them make their minds up. They avoided that and headed down the next pier to try to catch up with the Dagger – at first, they planned to commandeer a fishing boat but after a bit they saw there was no way they’d get it out into open water in time so they fought their way onto a parked Magnimarian Navy ship that was firing on the Dagger and then boarded the Dagger from there. Very awesome!
The funniest part was when Tommy first leapt into the fishing boat and asked me, “Is there anyone in it?” As a DM, that is a cue to toss a random encounter into the mix, and I rolled a fierce guard dog. This took Tommy aback, but Serpent jumped aboard and murdered the dog with a single shot. After that, the cries of “And they EVEN killed the DOG!!!” were incessant. Everyone got a gold coin (which I use to represent Infamy Points) for that one.
So then they wanted to go back to the Riddleport Light to stop the evil deeds happening there, which I’m mixing together from Madness in Freeport, the third installment in Green Ronin’s Freeport trilogy, and Shadow In The Sky, the first chapter in Paizo’s Second Darkness Adventure Path. But I wanted them to have to work for it (and I needed more time to work up the grand finale) so Captain Clap sent them on the track of the man who could get them into the smuggler’s caves under the Light – Jaren the Jinx.
There’s all kinds of weird synergies in RPG products that make them entertaining to remix. In Freeport, the sea caves are Black Dog’s Caves, named after a dead pirate. In the Pathfinder NPC Guide, there’s a cursed pirate named Jaren the Jinx whose father is a dead pirate named Black Dog. Cha-ching! I decided he was trying to retire from pirating and was running an inn. I wanted to walk a narrow line with him – a bit of a sad sack that does have bad luck and some bad judgment (hence Thalios Dondrel’s explanation of “Because he’s a dumb asshole, that’s why!” to all queries about Jaren) but is also a, say, sixth level pirate who’s the son of a really famous pirate. I think it came off OK. Also, I made it where Jaren was missing his arm, not only because it adds to the pathetic aspect but also because I’m using him as a hook to run the Wicked Fantasy Factory adventure “Throwdown with the Arm-Ripper” next time!
The whole serial killer thing in the inn is from the Atlas Games module A Dreadful Dawn (on sale for $2 on paizo.com!). They were basically there at the behest of a minion of the Shark God – something I’m using to bridge Jaren’s backstory (a pirate called the Shark Lord was Black Dog’s nemesis) and the upcoming Sinister Games release Razor Coast (if it ever actually releases). It wasn’t intended to be too difficult, which is good because the PCs decided to drink themselves into abject stupors beforehand.
That whole thing was really entertaining. It wasn’t a surprise – the bartender said “sip it!” and they quickly realized that drinking Grandma’s Secret Recipe required continually escalating Fort saves with decent INT damage and being sickened for each one you miss – but they didn’t care. Sindawe and Thalios quit and staggered away, INT-drained and vomiting, but Serpent and Wogan were determined to get to the bottom of the jar of moonshine or die trying, and they both drank themselves to 0 INT and fell into comas. This caused quite a stir at the bar, since basically four guys walked up to the bar, grabbed big jars of turpentine, and just slammed them and were vomiting and/or unconscious in less than a minute. And then, rather than be concerned about the pretty good likelihood that they’d die of alcohol poisoning, Thalios and Sindawe haul the two upstairs, strip them, put them in bed together, and scrawl things like “I Like Cock” on their faces. Pirates really are the medieval equivalent of frat boys. Luckily that was early afternoon, so by 2 AM when the killing started they were up to 2 INT and could stagger around and try to fight people.
In the end, Jaren’s girlfriend, staff, and some of his patrons were killed. Ah well, all’s well that ends well! Next time, and old school dungeon crawl extraordinaire!