Fourteenth Session (11 page pdf) – “Return to Riddleport” – Extracting the Teeth of Araska from its precarious harbor at Shatterhull Island is difficult, and becomes more difficult when some merrow show up to the party.
The first part of the session was the PCs sweeping and clearing the hags’ lair looking for treasure. But quickly they had to turn their attention to getting their ship out of its dangerous perch surrounded by rocky spurs.
This wasn’t a trivial maneuver and proved to be the action setpiece of the session. It actually got a lot worse by dumb luck – I was rolling random encounters by the hour and three sea ogres showed up first thing in the morning, which was when they decided to try to extract the Teeth of Araska. So what I figured would be an important but minor part of the session turned into most of the session!
Maneuvering a large sailing ship is very imprecise work. They wisely decided to try to tow it out with the longboats. This is safe if arduous in open water, but in the swells that near the island it was extremely dangerous. The first critical step was swinging the ship’s prow around to point away from the island. Sindawe and Serpent each led a longboat and Wogan and Tommy kept order on the ship. Many Profession: Sailor checks were made and they got the ship reoriented OK (though Serpent’s launch was bashed against underwater rocks enough that it was starting to leak). And then the sea ogres attacked. Dude, the saltwater ones are fricking huge!
This was complicated for me, the beleaguered DM. The PCs had a crew of twenty diverse crewmen (some pirates, some ex-slaves) I was handling, along with the merrow and the forces of nature. There was fighting, sailing, paddling, shooting of cannon, falling overboard… My goal with this game is to make the naval stuff not just “color” but to make the sea, and the ship, important characters of their own and I think it was a success.
Then they loaded on the cargo from the island and headed out. They came across the Riddleport ship that left the Devil’s Elbow before them, the All Due Restraint. All the gendarmes had been killed and were missing; all the dwarves had been killed and hung by ropes off the ship so that sharks and whatnot would eat their lower halves. This caused a lot of debate amongst the PCs. Bringing in or trying to claim the ship would almost certainly get them hung for piracy against Riddleport. They made the somewhat questionable decision to leave the ship, but take all the dwarves with them, stuffed into barrels in the hold. The crew was so not happy about that. The PCs, ever frugal, seriously asked “Can’t we fit more than one dwarf per barrel?” “Fuck you, man,” was the general tenor of the response to that. Then Wogan spent a lot of time down in the hold muttering to the barrels. This revealed that Morgan Baumann of the Kraken’s Claw took the ship, and further convinced the crew of the monstrousness of their new officers.
And then finally, Riddleport hove into sight! R&R at long last? Fie on that!