Tag Archives: pirates

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

The Kraken’s Spite

Tenth Session (11 page pdf) – “The Eye of the Storm” – The pirates take on a skald and set off through the Eye of Abendego, which tests their mettle as sailors harshly – and Samaritha is lost overboard when a waterspout hits!

So first they come across a weird sight – an Ulfen longship!  This far south? They decide to parley instead of fight (probably a good idea, as the ship is the Kraken’s Spite from Ships of the Inner Sea, and the crew is pretty stout). They just want to get rid of a skald that needs to go further south.  Why?  Well apparently Ulfen Linnorm King White Estrid sacked Nisroch and sent skalds in all four compass directions to spread the word of her feat!  And those of you who’ve been with us a while remember that the PCs were there when her fleet attacked…

Maar Eiderson

I hadn’t yet determined what happened in the Estrid vs Nisroch battle, and decided to leave it up to the dice, and dependent on the fight between White Estrid’s ice linnorm thrall Boiltongue and the ancient umbral dragon the Nidalese had put in place after her first raid for such an eventuality.  So between sessions I rolled out a fight between the two and – OK I’m such a nerd – composed a skald poem to relate it to the PCs.  The fight took a long time. Here it is, The Battle of the Two Dragons in its entirety, related by the skald Maar Eiderson.

As the fleets of the Northmen reaved into Nisroch harbor
Estrid’s Pet wreaked destruction on the darkling city
When an ebon tower rove asunder and a great shadow wyrm arose
The two huge beasts circled each other and darkened the ground
Boiltongue spoke first and his maw sprayed ice across the blackness
The other replied in a cacophony of shadow that drained the icy one’s might
But then the ice hardened and it fell like a mountain to earth
The crash was felt throughout the bay
As darkling buildings were crushed to gravel
But Boiltongue raged aloft, blinded by the shades
As the dark one tried to free itself from the frost
The linnorm’s vision cleared, and he followed the shade to ground
And snapped at its flitting flanks, as it shook free of the encircling ice
The dark dragon’s eyes blazed as it uttered a dark word of destruction
That caused the bravest men’s hearts to quake
But Boiltongue the linnorm is beyond such magics
And continued to press his attack unslaked
The shadow wyrm pulled together the shadows to encircle him
But Boiltongue struck unerringly through the darkness
The shade spoke again and shadows spilled out, covering the wyrm of ice
Whose claws and fangs lashed out but could not find purchase
The shade took to the air with frightening speed
Its wings blew building walls down, like a storm from the north
As men and darklings fought and died around
But Boiltongue followed it into the twilight sky
The shadow wyrm called upon its dark magic and became faster still
Like a shadow flits across a wall, it darted by Boiltongue and each
time opened a rent
In the great linnorm’s side. But the linnorm’s wounds knit
Almost as speedily as they opened; and he bode his time
And iced its wings again as it approached
The shade fell into the bay, and the wave it made as it smote the water
Raised up boats a dozen feet; the ice wyrm followed right after
But the shade broke free of the ice and turned his full fury onto Boiltongue
Ripping into the linnorm with fangs and claws and pinions again and again
Till Boiltongue’s blood stained the dark waters oil-black
The linnorm coiled around the dragon and dragged it down into the icy waters
It burst free and shot out of the waters into the darkened sky
And circled enraged looking for its opponent
But Boiltongue lurked below, the icy waters knitting his wounds
The shadow wyrm descended on a longship, and shadows vomited from its maw
Draining the life from a dozen Ulfen warriors
Boiltongue surfaced by Estrid’s flagship and the king saw he was weakened
By the shadow wyrm’s foul darkness
She ordered her war-priest to restore his strength and enchant his fangs
That they might find purchase on his ghostly foe
And the Lord in Iron’s blessing was given unto the linnorm
The umbral dragon’s fiery eyes espied this and he spoke his word of
destruction against the priest
Whose ears bled, and quaked in agony
Boiltongue surged from the waters to answer this offense
And the dark one eagerly met him
Determined to rip him asunder once and for all
Boiltongue’s fangs sank into the shade in turn
And their serpentine bodies coiled about each other in a death-knot
The shadowy one broke free of Boiltongue’s embrace and shot away
Boiltongue coiled up into the sky proudly awaiting its charge
It paused, muttering draconic magic, and then advanced
But turned aside, hurtling down towards Estrid’s ship
The linnorm ignored this, and charged and struck at air
Whence the real dragon commanded its shadowy double
Taken aback, it again breathed out its shadows on the linnorm
But prepared for its tricks, Boiltongue was barely affected
And his mighty jaws crunched down on the shade’s neck
It roared as the linnorm’s feared venom, the black blood of the earth
Flowed into its veins. In a frenzy it tore into Boiltongue
As Boiltongue replied fang for fang
But the shadow dragon’s pinion struck to the heart of the great linnorm
And this time it was Boiltongue that fell from the heavens
Into the icy heart of the bay; the dragon roared in triumph and followed
Him down to finish off his victim; but in the chaos of the spray
He missed the linnorm’s throat with his claws
And Boiltongue, his wounds healing, lashed from the waves
And raked his foe with poisoned fang; the umbral one raged
And slashed and battered his wounded foe into icy hunks of flesh
Then tried to rise, but the venom in its blood found
Its dark heart, and it fell again into the waters
And sank into the depths alongside the linnorm.
Men on both sides shrank from the fray
To see such destruction wrought by the massive titans
Upon each others’ colossal frames
Ice and shadow unleashing their might
To finally take each other in their death-spasms
But the linnorm is no mere beast
He is a part of the arctic primeval
Even as the battle between Ulfen and darklings swelled
His corpse began to come together
And knit itself back into its ancient shape
Ice gripped the hearts of the Nidalese scum
As Boiltongue rose again from the waves
The umbral scourge defeated
He devoured its dark heart And his roar was like the north wind
And the howl of the wendigo in winter
The defenders quailed and fled from the fight
And thus did the men of Halgrim, led by White Estrid the Linnorm King
Sack Nisroch again.

White Estrid and Boiltongue

Both of them had DR and SR and high saves so the fight went many rounds. The umbral dragon had the linnorm generally outclassed, but its regeneration (and a little help from the Ulfen) kept it in the fight long enough to finally get its poison to proc, and once that happens it’s a short trip.

Well roused by the recitation, the Teeth of Araska sails into the permanent hurricane the Eye of Abendego… The storms batter the ship, and they manage to keep control but Samaritha is washed overboard!  Fly doesn’t do the trick when the ship’s flying before a gale wind…

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

Ninth Session (12 page pdf) – “The Sea Queen’s Pearl, Part II” – While they are making their escape, the crew encounters their own Jurassic Park. Once they return, it’s all shopping and celebration and planning for their voyage south to reclaim a secret Chelaxian superweapon!

I like the sessions where they have their pirate crew around; I really try to set a certain tone with their pirates, best described as “murder frat” – equal parts casual brutality and juvenile fucking around. It’s that contrast that makes similar fiction compelling, from the Sons of Anarchy biker gangs to the Goodfellas mobsters. The PCs seem to have an unlimited appetite to getting drawn into whatever problems or shenanigans their crew is into.

Little Mike gets a new nickname, “Tasty Mike,” this session, for how the monsters all seem to want to take a bite out of him.  He takes this on enthusiastically because being “Little Mike” to Big Mike really irritates him.  (This is actually taken from my Memphis gaming group, where we had two Mikes and dubbed one Little Mike and one Big Mike and Little Mike just couldn’t ever get over it.)

After more shenanigans and equipping, it’s off to get the Chelish superweapon, the Terraken, to become terrors of the shipping lanes!

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

tarins-crown-coverEighth Session (8 page pdf) – “The Sea Queen’s Pearl” – A trek overland to a pirate hideout, and then it’s pirate on pirate murder as they storm a rival captain’s redoubt!

Pretty much the entire session is a lightning raid on the pirate keep, which is from the Legendary Games adventure Islands of Plunder: Tarin’s Crown, only very slightly modified from its original form. It’s hard hitting action all the way through!

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

ilizmagorti

Ilizmagorti

Seventh Session (10 page pdf) – “Ilizmagorti” – The home of the Red Mantis assassins! But fear turns quickly to drinking. And safaris! Shimye-Magalla commands her faithful to recover a holy artifact…

So Ilizmagorti is the not so secret HQ of the Red Mantis assassin cult. So “don’t jack with the locals” is the order of the day.  This puts a bit of the fear into the PCs but then they have a good time…

Ilizmagorti is detailed in Cities of Golarion, and they have a sidebar with all these local booze concoctions.  I buy these books to use every scrap of local color, so I make the navigator Tarek more interesting by him being a closet epicurean who knows all the best places to eat and drink on the island.  The PCs happily take his lead and I get to roll off all the various boozes of the island… From the Rusty Cutlass to the Dark and Stormy to the Whore’s Breakfast, they drink them all.

And in an entertaining cameo, when Sindawe goes to the Quarterdeck, a ship’s captain-only tavern, he shares info and shoots the shit with Captain Harrigan, the villain of the first part of the Skull & Shackles adventure path.

But then, a dream… Many of the crew share allegiance of some sort or another to Desna, Gozreh, or the janiform combo of the two, Shimye-Magalla, who is worshipped down in these parts. She comes to them and encourages them to retrieve a holy artifact!

They ask around and find out that Captain Jared “Red Skewer” Tarin and his crew are holed up at their base on the island with the loot. And that a half dozen other pirate ships are lurking nearby because they all want his score for themselves.

Wogan asks, “What’s on the land side?”

“Apes. Man eating plants. Folks building ice factories. It would be daring but certainly less awful than the sea wall.”

Note the Mosquito Coast reference?  Paul Theroux?  Read a book!!!

Anyway so safaris to see dinosaurs aren’t uncommon here, so they book one as cover and head out into the bush with the plans of ascending Tarin’s Crown…

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

kemblor

Kemblor the Gnome

Sixth Session (8 page pdf) – “Finding Ilizmagorti” – Betrayal and gnomes go hand in hand as their castaway reveals his dark secret. Then it’s all storms and sea-whores as they sail southward.

Well so one day I had this idea come to me about a guy who was a “castaway” but was really like a ship serial killer.  Specifically a summoner who could blame attacks on “the monster” – his eidolon.

Kemblor is the implementation of that daydream.  His sea-dragon manages to drag off and devour one crewman, Nimborn, and harries the ship for days. Finally, as PCs do, they go into crazy no-backing-down-follow-it-into-the-depths-and-kill mode and drag it up, causing ol’ Kemblor to start busting out the spells.  Pit and grease spells make for an entertaining if foregone conclusion. After a break to combat a storm, they keelhaul him to death (there’s convenient rules for keelhauling in Skull and Shackles).

Kemblor the gnome meets his end after only one pass over the keel. His spirit joins that of his eidolon Odosha. The head is removed, a brass plate “Kemblor” is attached, then it is thrown into the corpse barrel.

The crew remains riled up for the rest of the day.

Then they come across a prize that ends up taking them… At least for most of their spare cash.  The Nun’s Dishonor under Captain Pugwash is a ship full of whores bound for Ilizmagorti. And by pure chance on the weather tables both ships are becalmed for a couple days. The entire ToA crew blows their ready money on days of straight debauchery.

Once they get underway, they experience one of the heavy storms that the giant permanent hurricane known as the Eye of Abendego throws off.  They came through it but there were some close scrapes and they are grateful to see Mediogalti Island finally heave into sight.

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

Fifth Session (9 page pdf) – “The Way South” – The crew finishes up their business and intelligence gathering in Azir and set sail to Mediogalti Island.  Along the way they pick up a castaway and a strange sea dragon begins picking off crewmen!

The first part is the PCs wrapping up all the various subplots they self-initiated while in the city. Warnings of Chelaxian warships, information about White Estrid, hook-ups between the aasimar women and the ship’s officers…  Local lad Said becomes Sindawe’s cabin boy… And per “the deal,” the Argentate Blades are put to use *by* the PCs and abduct Zorzi back!

Sindawe is initially really worried and thinks the woman will be traumatized or damaged.  As is my wont I roll d20 off the cuff to determine magnitude of things and – she was unfazed.

“I got fed and bathed and lounged around and all I had to do was some sex with a modestly ugly man.”

The scene with the warring stevedores is drawn from my reading of historical naval stuff… The amount of cajoling, threatening, outright bribery, competition, duplicity, etc. is mind-boggling so I tried to capture some of that flavor.  Sindawe’s player has read a lot of the same things so he’s pretty clever about making it all work out OK.

Then it’s goodbyes and off with their hired navigator Tarek to go to Ilizmagorti, home of the Red Mantis assassins and friendly pirate port.

kemblor

Kemblor

And then they pick up a gnomish castaway!  His name is Kemblor and he seems nice, but his last ship got destroyed by some kind of monster.  Some kind of monster that then begins to raid the Teeth of Araska!

More on that next time…

 

 

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.