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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.

 

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