So I've decided to type up a campaign log of our Skull's and Shackles campaign. There's going to be spoilers in here, of course, so if you plan on playing through the campaign beware. Our GM has probably also altered a bunch of stuff to account for there being more players at our table than a standard 4man party.
It's also written blurring IC and OOC language. Just how it goes.
My character, Quaminiah, Human Hexcrafter Magus, a young sailor down on his luck, and native of Sargava. His mother was a witch, and he's picked up a few tricks of that nature. Character Art.
"The Necromancer 2.0", Cleric of Norboger. A charming fellow, handy in a brawl and always there for a crewmate in need of some healing.
Grag, Ogre gunslinger. He speaks softly and carries a crossbow the size of a small ballista. He has not spoken of his past, and no one else has cared to ask. "Character Art"
"Captain" Miro, halfling swashbuckler. Weak as a kitten and seemingly a bit of a coward. He's good with a rope though, and sings like an angel. Character art.
Ulf Henriksen, Human Monk. A cruel ulfen man, well versed in martial arts.
Nima, Strix Ranger fled from Cheliax. Character Art
Polarius, a tower-shield specialist merman(it's as ridiculous as it sounds).
And his brother, the merman barbarian 1/druid x.
Session 1 (Shanghaied!)
We wake up in darkness, headaches pounding and the ground swaying below us. It soon becomes apparent that we're under deck on a ship, accompanied by our drinking companions from the night before. Someone stripped us of all but the clothes on our backs.
It's not long before we're greeted by one mr. Pålsbøl, the boatswain. He's rail-thin dressed in the clothes of a grander man than he, and makes the mistake of trying to kick Grag awake. We instantly dislike the fellow, and the feeling appears mutual. He takes us to meet the captain Barbados. We're not overly enthused, but most of the party respects the fact that he's a badass, and is clearly wearing multiple magic items.
The party is set to work under the direction of the first mate, mr. Plugg, and the players are introduced to the concept of nighttime and daytime 'ship actions', which seem to amount to stealing, looting or talking. Eh, whatever. Some NPC gets executed for stealing from the "shop", and the party resolves to leave the shop and the officers' stuff alone. Apparently, our gear has been stolen and is being kept in this shop of theirs.
They feed us crap on the Wormwood, but there's plenty of rum to go round. The Strix, Mina, turns up her nose at the drunk humans wallowing in their filth, and the boatswain is quick to make sure she downs it. Apparently not getting drunk is a punishable offence. There's also no nightshift on this ship, as far as we can tell.
We set about getting our gear back. Grag's crossbow has been stowed with the siege weaponry, and he's able to watch over and take it for himself without anyone stopping him or otherwise commenting. The rest of us is worse off.
In the morning, our attempt to muster on deck is interrupted by six never-do-wells, so we beat them up. It does wonders for group morale, and we present ourselves to mr. Plugg in good spirits, if sligthly worse for wear.
That night, mr. Pålsbøl gives Mina three lashes for not drinking her rum, and we encounter Sandra, resident cleric of Besmara. She comes bearing gifts, Quaminiah's spellbook for one thing, and information.
She clearly has an agenda. So long as that involves propping us up, Quaminiah has no trouble with it. The rest of the party seems to agree.
It turns out that the thugs who accosted us were cronies of Pålsbøls, and so he continues to fall in our appreciation.
A few of our number spend part of the night investigating the bilges, acquiring the first of much available loot from there.
All in all, we had fun. Pålsbøl seems to be a potential villain, although how we're supposed to be able to off him under the captain's watchful gaze is a bit of a puzzler.
Neither the Necromancer 2.0 or the barbarian merman was present for this session, which also accounts for their lack of proper names in this writeup.
We were getting tired of the "ship actions" at this point. They felt fairly arbitrary, so we did our best to rush through them. Bright spots for the first few days included Polarius pledging his trident to Grok the Quartermaster in return for his gear, trading her various items for the return of our property, and the entire party fighting giant rats and spiders in the bilges. We barely fit in there.
Being a group of largely competent sailors, he never had much cause to punish us, but the boatswain continued to harry us nonetheless.
At this point, we had sped up "ship actions" as much as we could - at this point we were mainly focused on making diplomacy checks, reasoning that if we were going to get Pålsbøl kicked off the ship, we'd need as many allies as we could get. Quaminiah spent his time trying to get in good with the gentle giant they kept chained belowdecks, while the dashing Miro swept the crew away with his songs. Our new friends awarded us with many a sob story of their cruel fates. We helped some of them. Nothing wrong with making friends.
That said, the strix in particular did sneak off and steal things at times. Polarius replaced the other merman in the party as the cook's assistant, as the captain pulled the first one off the job to complete some mysterious task. We hardly saw the guy after that.
Pålsbøl arranged a pit-fight between Ulf and Hudson, the gentle giant. Ulf handled himself well against the halfwit, but when they threw him a club "to even the scales", the martial artist went out like a light.
Brawling against foes wielding superior weaponry was a theme - one night, all of the boatswain's cronies met us on the deck in what we thought were fisticuffs. Alas, they had armed themselves with nightsticks and we were narrowly defeated, the three winners standing beating the lot of us bloody.
We'd have been content to leave it at that, especially as the storm raged above us for two days, and all hands were needed to ride it out.
That was not to be. Pålsbøl had soured the first mate against us, and we rose from the storm met with all the worst duties, the officers arrayed against us. Even that we might have worked through in good spirits, where it not for one final incident.
Pålsbøl and Plugg cornered the Strix, and ordered her to leave her weapons, as she was to report to the bilges, and help a trio of men deal with the mounting rat infestation, pumping water besides.
They caught her there with their cutlasses, and cut her to an inch of her life.
I'm not sure how a 2nd level character is at all supposed to survive this encounter, especially as our GM revealed that he went soft on her - the pirates were supposed to attempt her entirely, according to the AP. Maybe our GM beefed up the stats of the individual pirate to account for our larger party, and failed to take that into account while keeping the 3 pirates down there? They carved her up in two rounds flat, despite the nice tactics she used. Strixes have darkvision, and there's quite a bit of water in the bilges, so she tried to dump the lanterns in the water. Had she succeed in dunking both of them, the trio would have been forced to fight her in the dark.
The rest of us went looking for her when she didn't return, and found her left for dead, but stable, in the bilges.
This would not stand. They'd broken the rules against lethal combat, crossed the line. It demanded an answer.
Our halfling friend in particular, the esteemed "captain" Miro, argued that we ought to shank the trio responsible in their sleep. The strix, once her wounds had been tended to by Sandra, was all for it, but the rest of us argued a mesure of caution. We wanted it public. Determined not to be caught blindsided again, we armed ourselves with nonlethal weaponry, and set out to give Pålsbøl's cronies a proper seeing to.
We meant to find them up on the deck that night, playing cards and drinking as they were wont after the evening meal, but we saw neither hide nor hair of the lot.
Turns out they knew they were in trouble. Upon investigating we found them camped before the stairs to the officers' cabin, certain that we would not dare start a fight while the officers where that close.
So we didn't. We camped out in front of them, figuring we'd pick off whoever got up to take a leak or make their way to their hammocks. No such luck, but Miro had an inspired idea. He set about taunting the cowards, and eventually goaded them into an ill-adviced charge.
Even drawing steel, they were not much match for us, and the only thing saving their hides was the captain coming to investigate the ruckus.
He had half a mind to see the lot of us keelhauled, including, and oh was this music to our ears, the boatswain and first mate, who where tasked to keep the crew under control.
None were punished, as the captain all hands ready for the morrow. Sails had been spotted, and we would be boarding at earliest opportunity.
We went to our hammocks in high spirits, vindicated in having finally struck a blow at the boatswain. It was a sip of the sweet wine of justice, and tomorrow, we feel certain that we will taste victory.
And there'll probably plunder.