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Skull & Shackles: Rip Roaring Fun on the Wormwood

Skull & Shackles

Shadow Lodge

I am a new GM and had only a PFS scenario under my belt when I started GMing for a home game that runs every other weekend. I read up on the AP as much as I could and felt a little dread over how deadly it could be for those who did not take things carefully.

It took a few months to find a crew that could work the AP into their schedule and I still may have one more on the way in the near future. I was still concerned because at least one stated that he was not sure if he would like it or not and might drop if it was not quite his cup of tea.

I setup a little bit of 'Net for the adventure via Epic Words. I did not use a heavy hand in what was and was not allowed. I banned LG, Evil, and Paladins stating that it could make things a bit difficult. I also disallowed the trait that gives you wealthy parents and made sure that they knew that one of the core assumptions is that they have always wanted to be pirates. The players took this and ran with it.

The crew consists of dwarven brothers with differing views on life (one is a Zen Archer and the other is a Brawler), the universe, and everything. Their father was a pirate so they had a pretty good idea what to expect. A kitsune bard found herself on board and is quickly learning that the pirate tales told in books and by word of mouth do not even come close to the gritty reality. A young, calculating Water Elementalist comes from a shipping family has settled in rather nicely. A Taldan of Mwangi descent who is slowly coming into his own controlling bits of pieces of storms rounds things out.

As the title implies, it has been a laugh riot of epic proportions. Every single session (okay, there have only been 3 so far) has had a lot of good time and laughter. Much of the time it is due to the interplay of the dwarven brothers who love battle. The other times it is usually at the expense of Fipps and/or Slippery Syl. Poor Syl, she was just trying to stick with the strong guys and help bully the new ones and has found herself beat up, mugged by the PCs (one that needed a gold piece to wager during the night's entertainments), and now has to watch her back on the Man's Promise since the majority of the crew back the PCs.

Meanwhile Rosie has been trying to teach the bard's new familiar, Pluck, new and more creative ways to utilize curse words. Words that will quickly be used should the bard fumble her diplomacy checks. Rosie has also been trying to draw the naive bard out of her shell and teach her a few songs that are a bit more appetizing to the rough and tumble pirate crowd.

The adventure has been dangerous. Lashings and the sweat box have taken their toll and a reefclaw almost had PC stew for dinner one night. Even when being dropped or taking a serious hit the PC crew has found the humor in the situation and kept on going.

As a newbie GM (I do not count my AD&D 2ed days, those were long ago) I am learning the ropes myself and try to be fair. I reward creativity and make the PCs work for their rewards. It has been such a great time so far and I cannot wait for the group to progress through the AP.


Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

As a player in this campaign, I have to say that FallenValkyrja is selling herself short. She is a fantastic GM and doesn't let the metagamers and rules-lawyers get away with much (and yes, i am referring to myself, though i like role-play too). She is doing a great job!

My favorite moment so far has been sabotaging Fipps. he spent the entire day working on ropes, tying them in knows and getting them to hang correctly for Plug. Only to have the water wizard (my character) cast animate ropes and ruin the entire job.

And don't even get me started on the Plug Club....

Shadow Lodge

Bonewrack Isle has proven to be quite the challenge to the small group of adventurers. The two day run for supplies has been stretched into more days as the group has had to stop and rest along the way due to the ghouls, ghasts, and swarms. The swarms have been the biggest problem so far.

In other words, it is all fun and games until someone pokes a rotting head with a stick. And yes, I could not stop myself from mentioning Zombie Head on a Stick from Sluggy Freelance.

The PCs were fatigued (two were exhausted even) when hitting the island due to failed job checks the days before and then being up for most of the night trying to keep the Man's Promise on course. The storm almost turned deadly when the bard fell to the deck. Fortunately for her that she was not the best climber and had not been able to get very far before the fall.

The PCs were very dismayed to hear that their two fave people on the boat had gone missing but are somewhat hopeful ever since catching sight of a Grindylow sporting a familiar tricorne hat.

They did catch a lucky break when Aaron Ivy failed to wrap himself around one of the unsuspecting PCs and he had to hang there while they dished out some damage. One thing is for certain: they have been very grateful to Grok who had gifted them with a few vials of Alchemist's Fire when they left the Wormwood.

The group still managed to find humor throughout the session but I think that everyone agreed that the session had been the most challenging to date. I still have not determined how their additional time on the island will play out. As a GM I was happy to see new tactics being developed as they sought to overcome the various obstacles.

I've got to say... the time we've spent on the island has been brutal. My character has effectively been turned into a bowling pin. He stands up, he gets knocked down, he stands up, he gets knocked down.

That being said... it's one of the few times I can say (since I mostly do society play where someone ALWAYS has a cure light wand) I feel like the damage inflicted to us is important. We're running out of supplies. We've got no potions left. We're all... adapting. We're using new strategies, hell we even RAN AWAY from a battle. Certainly a first for me.

All in all? I love it. I LOVE brutal campaigns, I like being afraid for my characters well being. Keep it coming.

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