|Melusine du Tromblon|
Edges of the Map ~ Adventure #1: All the World's A Stage
The Golden Epoch of Piracy ended over a hundred years ago, but the legends it birthed live on in memory, song and prose. The tales of its Captains remains forever burned into the minds and thoughts of Orbis, not only because of their daring and seemingly unstoppable deeds (before they were wiped out that is) but also due to the wild yarns spun about the treasure and loot stashed away by these men and women.
Today, the search for pirate gold has slowly abated as treasure-seekers flock to Orada desperate to get in on the Phlogiston Rush there, but the discovery of the Tempest changed all that. One of the renowned Captain Zantares’s flagships, it was discovered lodged within the Eleanor River’s bottom barely a week ago. So while the rest of Orbis is occupied with Orada’s earthly spoils, the citizens of Strand’s interests in all things pirate has flared back to life.
Strand’s Museum of Histories and Sciences has won the bid to the salvaging rights and has a skeleton crew working to dredge the rather large caravel out of the silt and muck. The Museum has fallen on hard times lately and this project is their last ditch attempt to pull through and make ends meet. As such, they cannot afford well-known and celebrated experts. Instead, they have chosen to enlist you the players, for your skills, but also for your lack of reputation. They hope to kill two birds with one stone: hire valuable, but affordable experts as well as give said experts the chance to acquire some notoriety.
Having either recently arrived in Strand to help the salvaging effort, or having lived here before this mission, the adventure begins with our adventurers on the cobblestone streets lining the market besides the Eleanor, their diving crew getting ready and kitted out.
Chapter I: Raising the Tempest
A wooden mast-point rises, barely visible, from the murky river. The hustle and bustle one would expect from the market is easily double the norm as the diving and salvaging teams prepare their gear.
A cough from behind you draws your attention as a well dressed human male in his late thirties approaches, a rather large wooden crate precariously perched upon his rather skimpy arms.
He makes it to your group and delicately places the crate down with some difficulty. He straightens up, catches his breath while wiping the sweat from his brow before flashing you a smile.
“My experts, I presume? I’m Edgar Lowes, I’ll be in charge of our little group here today as the Museum’s representative on the field.” He offers a handshake to each of you in turn. “How was the journey here? I do hope your apartments have been comfortable and to your liking?”
He allows you the time to answer. (Feel free to do so in your first post and Edgar will happily reply.)
“So, as promised, I’ve brought over all the gear you’ll need down there.”
He pries open the crate lid and begins passing out objects as he talks. “Each of those vials holds enough potion for a minute of breathing underwater. There’s three for each of you, one for going down, one for coming up and one in case of trouble. Now remember, there’s probably no air pockets down there so make those minutes count. Try and hold your breath between doses if you can. If any of you use firearms, you can pour the potion onto it to protect it for a minute as well, if it really comes to that. If holding your breath for a bit is going to pose an issue for you, let me know. We have a few extra vials of potion but they’re the last we have and we’re hoping we don’t need to use them all today.”
He points to the mast rising from the water.
“The Tempest isn’t far off actually, you should easily be able to make it.” He hands you each a pair of goggles. “These will keep the silt and muck out of your eyes at least.”
He unfurls a large parchment scroll, flips the crate lid back onto the crate and lays the map on it. He indicates a spot on the map.
“Our preliminary dives show that there’s a substantial hole in the starboard side of the Tempest. We’ve attached a metal chain from the pier all the way to the entrance so you’ll simply need to pull yourself there.” He indicates the rest of the map. “Here you can see the different rooms of the ship. We’ve copied this down from the Tempest’s original blueprints.. Now you’ll be looking to get in there and complete two tasks today: Make sure there’s no creatures living inside before we dredge it up and recover any unattended object of importance you think might be missed when we raise the ship up with the phlogiston crank. I’m talking anything from nautical gear to pirate treasure, we want as much as we can find for the Exhibit. The diving crew is a little uneasy at the thought of some hungry river thing snatching ‘em up so clearing out the hold is probably our priority. Don't feel the need to kill ”
He nods, almost to himself. “That should be about it. Make sure to grab a pair of treated diving suits from the locker over there before you head down on the chain. They’ll ward off the river chill and help you move around in the water” He rolls up the map and passes it to Alexander. “It’s been alchemically treated so you can use it down there. If ever there’s any problems during the dive, simply make your way back to the chain. There’s a metal lever at the base that you can crank in case of emergency. It’ll ring an alarm spell up here and we’ll send someone down. So far we’ve had no accidents so we’re hoping to keep it that way.”
He puts his hands on his hips and stretches his back, straightening up. “I think that’s about it. I do so apologize for the lengthy explanation.”
There we have it, the beginning of the adventure. Feel free to roleplay among yourselves as you prepare, either before Edgar's introduction or afterwards as you kit up. There won't be this massive blocks of text in the future, but I felt it right to give as much info as possible to start us off with.
At the same time, I'd love it if in discussion we can share our character's basic background that would be shared among the rest of the crew: place of birth, purpose on this venture (feel free to be creative), etc.
It's a pleasure to be able to GM such a fine crew!
Ompeet looks at his potions and his suit for a moment before shrugging. He kicks off his sandals, pulls off his linen workman's shirt and starts gearing up over his trousers.
"Mr. Lowes," Ompeet begins thoughtfully, "how will we recognize any artifacts that the museum would find valuable? Other than coins and gems... you're standard 'pirate booty,' of course."
Ompeet uses finger quotes when he says the words "pirate booty."
"I guess... where did these pirates raid? Whom did they steal from?"
|Melusine du Tromblon|
Pocketing her potions and clearing her throat, Melusine speaks up "I think that's what I'm here for... Piracy, ships, and sizing up booty is my bread and butter; with a little magic to help separate the wheat from the chaff. The name's (Mey-lu-ZEEN) but you can call me Gunny or Cannon Witch, whatever's your pleasure." She follows her statement up with finger quotes, playing along.
Alexander puts the map into a scroll case in the saddle on Lily-White, the large snake below him.
"Lily will be fine without extra potions, if that's just an Air Bubble spell I can cast it myself."
Looking slightly nervous, the grippli looks back up at the human.
"Were you... expecting any creatures? What's usually in the river? Lily is still a baby, I don't want to get her hurt.
Aaaaand I'm an idiot for completely neglecting my swimming skill despite all the obvious descriptions...Welp, time to suck it up and roleplay!
Kha'Rassi takes the handshake, nodding. She listens to the briefing, accepting the potions with a measure of hesitation, her tail twitching at each reference to water. No practice in water... she thinks. Have to improvise. Her eyes snap to the map as it passes to the Grippli's hands.
"A map? Mrrr... Let Kha'Rassi look...no interest in getting lost underwater."
"We're your experts indeed, Lowes, and it's good to be here at last. I'm Alasdair MacCiaran, and pleased to meet you. The journey and apartments were quite satisfactory, no need to worry on that front; Orada's hospitality is beyond reproach." Alasdair smiles broadly at the man, shaking his hand firmly.
After examining the gear carefully, he nods in satisfaction. "Recognizing artifacts and such is my department as well, though I deal more in historical significance and less in economic value. I'm afraid I won't be much use in dispatching hungry river things, however; I doubt my fencer's training will serve me well underwater."
|Melusine du Tromblon|
Edgar answers each of your questions in turn.
"As far as history tells us, Captain Zantares last sailed the waters of the Soley Islands before returning to Strand, supposedly to give up pirating life for good. I expect the ship to have trinkets from the voyages there. Other than that, any object with historical significance no matter how small is of interest for the exhibit."
"It is indeed simply potions of air bubble. The Eleanor is known for some rather large species of fish and amphibians but we're more worried about anything that may have been on board when it came over. As you may know, memoriae are prevalent in ruins and wrecks so it wouldn't surprise me if you found one lingering amid the wreckage. Other than that we don't expect problems but you never know."
"I wouldn't worry too much dear. The chain means you'll barely need to swim and once inside the wreck you'll have plenty of handholds."
You'll be able to take 10 on Swim checks too.
"Exactly. Historical significance trumps the economic value. We'd like to make the exhibits as complete as possible and generate revenue from visitors. Not that we're against the discovery of anything precious mind you."
"We can provide you with an additional flask if you need. Otherwise, feel free to stay on the shore and supervise from here, but unfortunately you'd miss out on the finder's cut. I don't think any of you should be too worried down there. To be frank, it's more for the civilian crews' appeasement that we're sending you down there. We've got other tasks of greater importance later but it always makes someone feel safer when professionals take a look first."
"Now as for payment, we have already prepared a flat fee back at the Museum but we are also in agreement to reward you a percentage of the value of whatever you discover down there. Actually raising the wreck will take a considerable amount of time and work, and we're hoping to begin exhibiting the artifacts discovered much sooner than that. If there isn't any more questions, I'll leave you to gear up. I shall be discussing with the other civilian diver crews in the meantime."
He heads off in the direction he indicated.
For the sake of brevity, I assume you all gear yourselves up and make your way to the chain. Feel free to RP among yourselves at any time, even after an event continues but indicate when you are doing so, so there's no confusion. I'd also ask you to let me know if anyone's got a problem with taking 10 to make it down into the water and we can work this out.
I'll give the rest of the day for discussing and then move on to the shipwreck unless anyone opposes.
Potion in hand, Ompeet stands by the chain and looks expectantly at the others. While he is impatient to be the first one down to assess the wreckage before the others start to gather things, he respects that there might be dangers down there that he doesn't want any of them to handle alone.
|Melusine du Tromblon|
"An extra would be great, considering I'm breathing for two," patting her blunderbuss lovingly. Melusine follows Ompeet, keeping some distance as she puts on the suit and goggles. She sits down on a rock nearby and prepares her spells for the day [Identify, Color Spray] and waits on the others.
Kha'Rassi looks over the map, gleaning what she can for points of interest, entrances, and exits. She sniffs at her diving suit a bit before donning it, growling a bit at the discomfort of having to tuck away her tail. "One drink, one minute, three drinks each. Let us be quick, then." She makes a point of securing her weapons, then proceeds to the chain.
She performs a few stretches near the water's edge, running through the task in her mind. No problem, cub...it is like climbing, only in all directions, yes? Down the chain, in the boat, take what's found and back again. Just like snatching from the fishmonger. Except...sideways. And wet.
Taking 10 is your friend and mine. It's a strange, STRANGE time when I object to taking 10, so let's roll.
Wait...I see what I did there...
"A minute, Ndongo, if you please? The stars and I have some magical assistance to supply you with, but you'll need to handle some of the finishing touches yourself. Now, given the current planetary alignment..."
Alistair rattles on astrologically for almost exactly a minute, sketching out a carefully-inked star chart, then coating it in a waterproofing solution (taking 10 on Craft (Alchemy) for a 20). He prepares another star chart for himself, then puts on the diving suit, stretches uncomfortably, and joins the others at the chain.
One Enlarge Person horoscope prepared for Ompeet and given to him; one Identify horoscope prepared for himself. Ompeet, you can use the horoscope targeting yourself as if it were a scroll, except that you automatically succeed at activating it.
Seeing the rest of the group nearing readiness, Kha'Rassi makes one final check that her gear is fit properly and that the breathing potions are within easy reach, takes a deep breath, then jumps in. Must be first in, before the others can see...save the potion for a few moments to gain more time, and...in we go!
taking 10 on swim would give me an 11, barring any circumstantial bonuses from the suit or anything. Should be able to hold my breath for...2 rounds per CON point...so 20 rounds or 120 seconds?
Twice your constitution to hold your breath. You can also choose to wait until you're under the water to drink. I'll be honest, the vials are more for flavor. I'm not going to be actively tracking five player's breathing rounds. Think of them more as magical tanks of air. If I get the sense you're taking too long I'll indicate it. So, maybe don't take fifty rounds hauling kegs and crates.
The group finally makes their descent into the cold waters of the Eleanor River with the other diving teams waving you off. As you submerge into the murky water and the crowds and noise fade from you, the wreck of the Tempest slowly looms into your field of vision.
Since only a hundred or so years have passed, the wreck is relatively sound and it doesn't seem to have suffered much damage. Much of the ship lies buried under the mud however, leaving only the starboard half and the deck clear of muck.
As you descend, keeping your hand on or near the chain you make your way to its anchoring point, where it lies embedded in the timbers of the hull, right besides a gaping hole in the hull.
A1. Tempest Exterior
You float gently besides a large rent in the wooden hull of the Tempest. The ship lies partially buried in the mud at the bottom of the Eleanor River but the hole provides easy access to the interior.
I will always leave a short description and an area key (A1 in this case) so that you can easily let me know where you wish to go to. From this position, you have quite a few open ended options. You are welcome to make hand signals to other players and I'll assume they understand basic commands.
|1 person marked this as a favorite.|
Kha'Rassi spies the entrance to the interior, glances back at her approaching party, then carefully takes out a vial, holds it in her mouth, unstops it with her teeth and allows the liquid to flow in, keeping out as much water as possible.
Once the air bubble forms around her, she spits out any stray water, takes a breath and goes for the gap leading inside.
A2. Cargo Hold
You enter the Tempest through the hole and find yourself in the ship’s hold. Smashed crates, chests and barrels litter the portside of the ship, the contents of the hold having long ago shifted towards the direction the ship is leaning. Visibility drops as little light filters through into the ship itself.
In the dim rays of light that pass throughout the hold, you spot numerous small objects embedded into the mud.
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (17) + 7 = 24
As you look closer, you notice a large lump of a beast nestled in the grime, the black and brown river mud camouflaging it against the wood of the hull.
Knowledge (Nature): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 2 = 18
You remember what you can and recall that some abnormally large amphibians inhabit pockets in the Eleanor (and many other rivers around the world.) As best you can tell, this is a common enough denizen of river bottoms. Though not aggressive, they are territorial and will fight if their space is disturbed.
|Melusine du Tromblon|
If the cat isn't afraid of the water... Melusine thinks as she rubs a vial of the potion on her loaded gun, throws her arm around the chain, and takes a deep breath before following Kha'Rassi into the watery depths.
Once the pressure in his lungs gets uncomfortable, Alexander pulls out the first potion and carefully drinks it, before casting the same spell on the snake. Noticing the two head inside, the grippli takes advantage of his greater mobility to begin looking around the bottom outside of the ship, primarily for anything threatening, but with a keen eye trained on the riverbed for dropped artifacts.
Hoping that this "horoscope" won't be damaged when it gets wet, Ompeet stows it and then starts making his way down the chain. He'd like to get an idea what sort of artifacts are being recovered before they are bagged.
Kha'Rassi keeps her distance from the creature, skimming the surface to feel for something she can lift from the muck without disturbing the nestling beast, as well as keeping an eye out for doors to open. Do not mind Kha'Rassi, slimy one...I am only here for trinkets.
Alasdair follows the others down, clinging tightly to the chain, then climbing along the hull into the ship itself. Staying well back from the beast, he examines the wreckage carefully, looking for anything of interest.
The group within the hull take precautions and are able to maneuver around the sleeping amphibian. With careful teamwork, they manage to extricate several lodged items from the muck.
As you pull piece after piece out of the muck, your eyes adapt to the lighting within the hold. You spot a forward area where tatters of waterlogged cloth sway in the feeble current passing through rotted timbers. Towards the aft you can spy a small corridor, leading to storerooms. You recognize these as the crew quarters and storeroom from the map.
The Tempest contains primarily nautical or pirate artefacts along with some examples of minor baubles stolen from encounters along the ship’s journey. Examples include a rusted ship’s compass, bottles of dark rum (some hopefully still drinkable), cutlasses, a waterlogged journal or chart, necklaces made of bone, beads, and shells, a gold tooth, and a broken spyglass.
Alexander performs a sufficient sweep of the exterior of the vessel and ...
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (19) + 8 = 27
... a gleam catches his eye. A silver flash promises something valuable if it can be recovered from the silt.
|Melusine du Tromblon|
Still holding her breath, Melusine gingerly pilfers through the trinkets looking for anything that catches her eye.
+7 Appraise, Spellcraft, Know (Arcana, Geography), +5 Prof. (Sailor)
For good measure she straps on the best looking cutlass and bags a bottle of rum.
|Melusine du Tromblon|
You're welcome to make rolls yourself to save time in the future. I just tend to roll in advance when it would cause a delay.
@Melusine: You manage to carefully pry the items out of the mud and stow them away on your person. The giant river frog shifts ever so slightly but makes no other movement.
You head towards the storeroom corridor.
A4. Storage Room
The aft of the cargo hold corridor opens into a smaller room containing heaped crates and barrels, most buried in mud.
The room is almost pitch black as only light from the corridor makes its way inside.
@Alexander: As you approach the object that caught your eye, you see that it's a small silver chalice, with only the lip extending outside of the river bottom.
You easily dredge it out of the silt and pocket it for now.
Looking back, you see the rest of the crew make their way into the ship entrance.
@Kha'Rassi, Alasdair, Ompeet: You finish your own salvaging and see Melusine heading off alone towards the aft of the wreck.
The amphibian only stirs slightly but does not wake up.
Kha'Rassi scoffs at being beaten to the first real prize; she heads in Melusine's direction towards the aft. Old swords and wet maps... no no no, this was a pirate ship, yes? There MUST be more than that hidden away... She wastes no time catching up to Melusine, with her eyes open for more valuable prizes...
@Kha'Rassi: You follow Melusine into the Storage Room (A4) and see the same sights as her. Heaped crates, barrels and more river mud.
Melsuine Perception: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 1 = 9
Kha'Rassi Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (7) + 7 = 14
You manage to spot a bleached, skeletal arm wedged between crates at the back of this store room. The rest of whatever lies attached to it are out of sight, buried beneath the contents of the room.
Ompeet is only interested in artifacts that are of value to the cultures they were stolen from. Jewelry and other baubles, the more intact the better. The first step in getting them returned to the cultures that value them are to get them out of the pirate ship. If they have to spend time in a foreign museum first, then so be it.
He'll continue his own search unless he spies someone who needs help or is in danger.
Alasdair ignores the obviously shiny treasures that caught Kha'Rassi's and Melusine's eyes, choosing instead to examine the old swords and wet maps they ignored. Something among those, perhaps the journals, might be of interest; and the charts and journals could easily be destroyed in raising the ship...
Knowledge (History): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (9) + 8 = 17
|Melusine du Tromblon|
Content with his find and that the immediate surroundings are safe, the grippli whistles his companion back and enters the wreck with the rest of the team. Hopefully they'd be able to locate the rest of the significant finds soon, before this much poking around attracted ghosts or memoria.
So reminder that the hold opens up to the aft storerooms where Kha'Rassi is about to have some serious fun and Melusine is swimming. There's also places to move to the front of the ship. The "entry" to what would be the upper deck is within the muck so that's a no show.
Props to Alexander for mentioning Memoriae.
And yes, if you mention something like "I'm searching around," please also roll. I'll personally roll if you just enter a place for example but it'll save us all time.
@Ompeet: The scattered artefacts are surprisingly devoid of what you'd imagine would qualify as stolen pirate treasure.
@Kha'Rassi: Your discovery is obviously that of a skeletal arm jutting out from collapsed crates and barrels. The arm seems to be wedged hard and isn't easily extricated. Perhaps with some assistance.
@Alasdair: Though many of the papers are beyond legibility, a few ledgers are visibly sealed in wax or are encased in rusted metal covers. Perhaps ashore you'll be able to open them safely.
Alexander Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (18) + 8 = 26
@Alexander: You enter the hold in time to see everyone swimming about, with Kha'Rassi and Melusine nowhere in sight. As you move into the hold, you spot a shadow out of the corner of your eye passing over the wreck as you make your way into the hold. Glancing back, you spot a human sized pale white bony fish swimming in semi circles, slowly descending towards the ship.
Kdg (History): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (10) + 7 = 17
You recognize it as a Ghosthead, an aggressive fish native to Cetzan waters. Its presence here strikes you as not only particularly odd, but slightly worrisome since they're prone to attacking prey much larger than themselves.
Frowning at the tightly wedged bones, Kha'Rassi looks around, attempting to wave Melusine over. "A body here! Stuck tight! Help me free it so we can see what it holds!" She begins to remove debris from the top of the pile to lighten the load where possible, shoving things off into the muck if they slide loose...while keeping her eyes open for anything notable falling off.
perception, to watch what she's throwing around: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (16) + 7 = 23
|Melusine du Tromblon|
Melusine shuffles over to Kha'Rassi and assists moving some debris before cracking open and quaffing the potion, gasping for air as soon as the bubble forms. She crams the butt of her gun in the crevice and uses it like a lever to dislodge the corpse
Melusine and Kha'Rassi use their combined weight and tools to dislodge the clutter and free the remains. Nothing of specific value is thrown around as far as Kha'Rassi can tell.
The remains are revealed to be dressed in tattered and almost unrecognizable clothing. Of particular interest, the skeleton clutches what seems to be a metallic tube of some kind to its chest, clutched within its other bony arm.
Nothing happens, you easily extricate it with minimal effort.
|Melusine du Tromblon|
The grippli swims further into the ship, trying to catch the attention of the others, pointing towards the outside of the wreck. Using a few signs he indicates there's a large-ish creature headed towards the wreck,hoping to group the adventurers slightly closer together in case of an attack. The snake swims below him, protectively circling the smaller scientist.
Kha'Rassi takes the tube and secures it, giving Melusine a small salute before continuing on behind her. A map, perhaps? No, jewelry. But it did not jingle...if it is merely a bottle of drink, Kha'Rassi will be angry...
Searching, also I guess we eventually have to notice the frog...perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (9) + 7 = 16