Tag Archives: pirates

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

Fourth Session (13 page pdf) – “Ra-ha-DOOM! Part II” – Planning, a hard boiled egg eating contest, and a prisoner escape – Port Godless has everything!

Habib_Al_Talib

Ahbib Atomy

Crewwoman Zorzi has been bought by a local man obsessed with green eyes. The PCs have diva Octavia Selene, who also has green eyes, and they try to broker a swap but my random roll decides Atomy’s pretty happy with the current deal.  The “two women with green eyes” thing, as you might surmise, was ad-libbed as a Big Trouble in Little China reference (the whole slaver thing was made up on the spot due to bad shore leave rolls). I considered spinning it into a bigger Lo Pan kind of thing but in the last season I had asked how in depth the PCs wanted each leg of the journey to be, and they said “not much Rahadoum.”  They sure got into it once they were there, but I respected their earlier vote and didn’t go too nuts.

They hire a navigator to get them to Ilizmagorti, secret island of the Red Mantis!  Well, not that secret, it’s a big port.  But secret, they destroy all maps!  Somewhat confusing in the lore, so I decide that maps are out but navigators who’ve been there before are in, and a valuable commodity.  Also, high level crewwoman Kitty the Cantankerous came down pregnant from a bad shore leave roll months ago and absents herself on pregnancy leave.

rambam

Rombom the Sage

They go to a sage named Rombom to research the black stone egg they cut out of a xill survivor.  I made that shit up off a random roll in the first place so I had to scramble, off a random Google I decided it’s related to a nalusa falaya, a Choctaw shadow-type spirit. They were into it enough I decided that having it in you (embedded, swallowed) would protect you against inhabitation by the nalusa falaya and related stuff, like say the recurring shadow demon villain who likes to possess the PCs. So Serpent swallows it (using his serpent transformation to make that feasible).

After this the session took a turn for the increasingly more hilarious.

The egg thing “inspires” the PCs to hold a Cool Hand Luke style egg eating contest to gamble with the locals about. I forget the exact mechanic I used, but it was like a Fort save that got incrementally harder with each egg eaten… It couldn’t have been more than +1 because Billy Breadbasket managed to make it to 23 eggs and defeat all comers.

Drunk and full of eggs they wander back to the ship.  Crew craftsman Karomander had gotten a good shore leave roll and so got something… I don’t remember how “clown puppet” made the list but it was probably stolen from something a player said.  So Karomander decides to put his new clown marionette guarding the ship’s gangplank.  To a crew of PCs, ‘creepy clown figure’ is just another day in the life, but typically, they start ultra botching the fight against an inanimate object. Wogan nearly shoots Serpent in a panic when the clown jumps on him.  Good times.  I gave it 50/50 whether Sindawe would murder the man, but he was so impressed with its ability to inspire incontinence in potential boarders he gave his approval to the whole scheme.

argentatebladesAnd then, having a Chelish diva on board leads inevitably to DRAMA!!!  So the Argentate Blades, a bunch of swashbuckling do-gooders from the Rival Guide, come to spring her! Sindawe’s the only one who notices a noise on deck and goes out there…

They exchange blows while Sindawe yells, “Boarders!”
From the map room, Wogan yells back, “Charge them rent!”
Serpent yells, “Hoarders?!? The bane of every tidy ship!”
A caster hidden by the fog shoots a blinding light at Sindawe that dazzles him for a round, then Estella stabs him. Then she steps back into the mist.
Serpent charges out and seeing no one else demands, “Captain! Settle a bet. What did you yell – boarders or hoarders?”
Sindawe grits his teeth.

So the Blades fight with the three PCs, with the swordswoman Estrella giving Sindawe a run for his money, their little halfling mom popping out of the mist to cast spells, and…

A voice rings out, “Haha! You are too late!” A man wearing light armor and hot pants is standing on the rail with Octavia clinging tightly to his torso. The man grabs a rope and swings them to the pier. Wogan shouts, “How did we see that? There’s fog and darkness!” The man yells back from the pier, “I used my cloak to swish the fog away. Drama!”

Wogan keeps trying to find the halfling in the dark and mist and he just keeps rolling so badly, I couldn’t keep from punking him…

Wogan finally hears the stealthy halfling and slaps her with a held cause critical wounds. But it turns out to only be the ship’s clown doll, Mr. Smiles. “Come on!!!” he laments.

So Billy Breadbasket, as careful readers of the summaries may note, has been eyeing Pirro for a while, and Pirro is pretty drunk right now; they didn’t quite make it back to the ship but as the fight moves to the dock…

Serpent runs after them only to slam into the partially naked figures of Billy Breadbasket and Pirro who are emerging from behind the crates to figure out what the heck is going on. All three pirates go down in a heap.

I’m a big fan of “the dice are often more right than I am.”  Sindawe demands to know who was supposed to be on watch when these goons got on board.  I roll randomly on the crew table and it falls on a couple crewmen who died, but no one took them off the Word doc we use as a crew list.  So I decided that in-game, too, no one had noticed that the people who were supposed to be on watch weren’t around any more.  The group found that immediately plausible. “The bane of every pirate – paperwork!!!” They updated their list.

And we end with a civilized sit-down and deal with the Argentate Blades.  It’s really, really hard in D&D to pull off the otherwise common trope of fighting someone and then befriending or at least dealing civilly with them; usually it just puts them on the ETERNAL IMMEDIATE HATE MURDER LIST so I was proud of me and my players that we managed to pull it off.

This whole session was pretty much driven off a couple random rolls and whatever the PCs got it in their minds to do and me brainstorming ways to make their lives interesting while in port.  It was a very successful session, from my side of the table it seemed at least! It’s these kinds of sessions that get us these 13-page summaries, whereas combat heavy ones are just like “and we fought something, done.” There’s a lesson there somewhere.

 

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

azir

Azir, aka Port Godless

Third Session (13 page pdf) – “Ra-ha-DOOM!” – A layover in Azir, also known as Port Godless, gets complicated when some of the crew are sold into slavery. A mix of diplomacy, wealth, and violence is used to solve their problems.

This session was about flavor – Rahadoum is like an atheist Morocco (Essaouria, specifically, I decided, especially since it still looks ancient not modern making pictures like the above ready-made visual aids).  So I wanted the PCs to get plenty of the cultural flavor.  First, the Pure Legion searches their ship for any religious contraband and warns them about divine spellcasting in the Kingdom of Man.

Rahadoum_FoodThen, their rescued friend Youssef ben Youssef turns out to be a man of some means. He gives them guidance, hooks them up with people that can craft magic items, helps them sell their booty… All for a very reasonable percentage, at least that’s what they are led to understand.

They have lovely and exotic dinners with Youssef (“a tajine of lamb, plums, and eggs, harissa with olives and lemon pickle, and a pastilla of squabs”), drink mint tea, et cetera. When hitting a new country, I do a lot of prep work – I read everything I can find Golarion lore wise, and then I research relevant real-world cultures where there’s an obvious analogue, and then I make stuff up.  But for some north Africa, there’s not a lot of need to make stuff up, there’s flavor galore. Architecture, culture, food, clothing, etc.

And of course, as with any shore leave, I roll for every member of the crew to see what goes well or awry – there’s a lot of crew, so even with just 1-2 and 19-20 being material, a lot happens.  Nazzio buys into some scam about being a Chelish count and leaves the ship; they get an albino goat as a mascot which they immediately name Nazzio.  And slavers try to abduct a bunch of the crew; half get away but Slasher Jim, Mase Venjum, Pirro, and Zorzi are taken!

Lacking divine magic, they draft children instead, and manage to free everyone but Zorzi. but they find out who she got sold to.  However, slavery’s legal here and there’s a bill of sale and everything, so they just barrrrrrely restrain themselves from home invasion and murder and negotiate for her return. The local urchin Said is a big hit, especially when he sasses the pirates about “of course, all citizens of Azir can read” and philosophizes, showing that even street urchins in Azir consider themselves well lettered.

The negotiation ends up involving their captive Chelish diva, Octavia.  She’s a drama queen who spends half her time getting kidnapped and ransomed so she’s usually a step ahead.  She convinces the soft-hearted Rucia to sneak her off the ship – the plan’s discovered. I was interested in whether Wogan would narc her out to Sindawe and whether Sindawe would beat/murder her like he would any disobedient crewman, but he puts her on laundry duty as punishment and handles it “in house.”

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

Second Session (6 page pdf) – “King Xeros of Old Azlant, Part II” – Alien lobster men beset the pirates as they tamper with Things Men Were Not Meant To Know aboard the planar ship King Xeros. But, they end up with a new Rahadoumi friend!

Sorry all, the summer got super busy.  But I’m back with more Reavers goodness, and plan to start posting about more than just the summaries too.

Xill

Lobster men, aka xill

This session had its ups and downs.  This is a Pathfinder Society module called “King Xeros of Old Azlant,” and it’s weird, with a planar-travelling Azlanti crystal ship and xill (lobster men) and more.

Sindawe went in alone, and was good-humored about being paralyzed and stuffed into the ship’s workings. Mitabu tried to mess with the controls, which ended up throwing a disintegrate at Hatshepsut, which would have zorched her if not for an Infamy Point spend.

They they fight off the rest of the xill, which turns out to be quite a challenge, but Samaritha frees the night hag whose soul-energy is currently being used to power the ship (it runs on sentient creatures, of course, because the Azlanti are dicks).

They beat the xill and free some Garundi humans, and then Mitabu goes to fiddle with the controls again.  This ended up in an argument after Samaritha mind controlled him to stop him from disintegrating anyone else.  Ed, Mitabu’s player, was upset about being mind controlled by Samaritha and felt it was railroading that they couldn’t get the planar ship for themselves. He had already been unhappy; Mitabu was built to be pretty ineffective in combat, and I tried to put in opportunities for him to shine but they got sabotaged (like when Serpent swiped his scouting mission on Staufendorf Island).  And his girlfriend Ashley had already left the game. End result, he ended up not returning to the game. Unfortunate, and I could have handled the mind-control differently (in fact, we retconned it right after it happened) but on the other hand, I wanted to be able to put in a side adventure like this without having the campaign turn into Planescape, so IMO you gotta work with the narrative sometimes. But, different strokes.

Then we have some “Alien” style aftereffects (the xill are Alien ripoffs) with some of the survivors, but they catch that early. And it’s off to Azir, also known as Port Godless!

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…