GMDQ's Skull and Shackles

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S&S Ship Battle Map

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A small band of mariners find themselves press-ganged into service on the Wormwood, led by the fearsome Barnabas Harrigan. Will they turn their misfortune to glory on the high seas, or will folly lead them to an ignominious watery death?

An exciting foray into the Skull and Shackles Adventure Path.

Plunder and Infamy Overview (note there is a typo in this overview, the DC to raise infamy is (2xAPL)+15)
Party Current Infamy: 28 (Despicable)
Party Current Disrepute: 23/25

Fearsome Tide Ship Reference: sharing

Besmara's Whim Ship Reference: sharing

Besmara's Whim/Fearsome Tide Crew and Ghoral Rey Personnel (Last updated 1/14/2022): JFLU/edit?usp=sharing

Map of Ghoral Rey (last updated 1/14/2022): sharing

Ghoral Rey Upgrade Guide

Map of Brightglass Island: sharing

"Shore" Battle Map: url= TPqsUXGU/edit?usp=sharing

Ship Battle Map: zpAo/edit?usp=sharing

House Rule regarding Aid Another: PCs who want to work together determine ahead of time they are aiding each other. They both roll dice at the same time (ish, given this is PBP and you post when you're able). The highest roll is considered the base result, and any additional results equal to or greater than 15 add the additional +2.

Agreement With Kelizar:

Agreement with His Imperial Majesty Kelizar of the Empire of Kelizar

The four servants of Besmara's Whim do agree to:

- Roast one (1) shark in the Taldan style on the date of this agreement.

- Return to my atoll every six months, with goods to trade worthy of an empire: a cargo hold's full.

- Lady Threnody Nocturne shall act as my diplomatic emissary where needed and when suitable, representing the Empire of Kelizar favorably

- On worthy conquered islands, of strategic or food-providing value, the servants of Besmara's Whim shalt create a lair for his Imperial Majesty.

- On the unusual occasion that his Imperial Majesty may struggle to defend his territory, you shall come at my call to help defend it, and so too, if in dire straits, shall his Imperial Majesty assist his allies, the servants of Besmara's Whim.

Shackles Code:

• All crew members must obey the captain and his officers.
- However, if the captain puts a matter to a vote, he is obliged to do as the majority chooses. Every seaman has equal right to vote in such circumstances.
- The captain or master-at-arms determines all final punishments for any offense.

• Every crewmember receives an equal share of food and drink, and 1 ration of liquor every day.

• Every crewmember must disclose magical skill to the senior officers of the ship, and put their abilities to work for the good of the ship. Failure to do so is punishable by marooning.

• All crew get their fair share of plunder.
- Captain gets 2 shares, senior officers 1 and a half, junior officers 1 and a quarter, and regular crew 1 share.
- Any who misreports or fails to report plunder to the Quartermaster is marooned.
- The first to spot a sail gets the first choice of plunder for their share.

• A pirate does not steal from the ship or crew.
- A pirate who steals more than 20 gp worth of goods from the ship’s stores is keelhauled one time. The captain or master-at-arms can determine direr punishments for larger thefts.
- Any pirate found stealing from a fellow crew member’s personal duffle is lashed and put ashore at port.

• No gambling or betting, as such matters distract the crew from their duties and tempt them into theft.

• Every member of the crew must tend to his own kit and keep it ready for battle, or risk punishment.

• Anyone who shows cowardice in the face of the enemy or deserts in battle shall be marooned.

• No fighting is allowed between crewmates. Quarrels shall be set aside until shore leave, at which point, grievances may be settled through a duel.

• Any crewmember who loses a limb in service to the ship shall be paid 750 gold pieces or equivalent goods for its loss.

• Any crewmate caught below deck with open flame, magical or mundane, will suffer the lash. Flameless magical or alchemical lighting may be used in the interior, but no light should be visible from the ship at night if possible. Gunpowder if possessed must be stored carefully, and no crewmate may snap his gun in the hold.

• No crew is to bring aboard a husband, wife, child, prostitute or any other passenger unbeknownst to the captain. Both seaman and stowaway face marooning.

• Every crewmate must do her fair share of work, and neither shirk her duty nor pass off work to another, lest she face the lash.

• A ship’s windsinger and seacaster may rest 1 day per week, but must stand ready to do their duty on all others.

• A crewmate who suspects a hazard, be it storm cloud, sea monster, or enemy ship, must raise the alarm immediately. Any sailor who sees an unfamiliar sea creature must inform the captain immediately.

• A crewmate must not speak ill of the dead lest they summon restless spirits to the ship.

• Shackles Code are guidelines, not rules. Do as your captain says, and otherwise, as the wind blows in your favor.


Part I: The Wormwood Mutiny:

- PCs have been press-ganged aboard the Wormwood.PCs have spoken with Sandara Quinn, Rosie Cusswell, and Crimson Cogward, among others.
- PCs have witnessed the keelhauling of Jakes Magpie.
- The PCs saw Fishguts get whipped for impertinence (protecting Lee's cat).
- PCs have learned about Rosie wanting her fiddle back, and Grok keeping it, in part because it is valuable.
- Lee has been assigned cook's mate and Thren rigger.
- The PCs fought dire rats in the bilges and found a vial of holy water, a suit of leather armor, three heavy maces, a masterwork handaxe, 2 tindertwigs in a waterproof capsule, and 21 gp.
- While Thren entertained the crew, Lee additionally found in the bilges a buckler, a tanglefoot bag, and 12 sp.
- Plugg held a fist fighting competition, challenging the crew to fight Owlbear. Rosie technically won, but Plugg tried to change the rules and give Owlbear an improvised weapon. The PCs gallantly intervened using a remarkable mastery of words, firmly earning the gratitude of both Rosie and Owlbear. Grok has become more friendly with Lee.
- Fipps, Syl, and Jape attacked the party the next morning, hoping to give them a lesson in the form of a beating. The party instead did the teaching.
- Thren asked Jack for a bone knife.
- The Wormwood endured a terrible storm, and the party rescued Cog when he fell overboard.
- The party fought some really tenacious and awful reefclaws, but got delicious stew and pirate's kits afterward.
- Krine trained the party in boarding.
- The Wormwood captured the Man's Promise and now the party along with all the crew regulars must serve under Plugg on the new ship.
- The Man's Promise has crashed on a reef off Bonewrack Island after a raging storm. Amidst a grindylow attack during the storm, Crimson Cogward and Sandara Quinn have disappeared.
- While looking for supplies, the party discovers the ghoulified crew and passengers of a Chelish scout ship that crashed on the south side of the island several weeks ago. They destroyed a ghast who was once a man known as Arron Ivey, and his journal gave him some information about the Chelish ship and his attempts to survive before ghoul fever took him.
- The party tracks the grindylows to a place called Riptide Cove, and after fighting through waves of grindylows as well as their queen and her bloated son, "The Whale," they rescued Cog and Sandara, who fortunately were alive but Cog without a hand.
- The party plans opportunity for mutiny, and in the meantime Plugg and Scourge decide they will take the supplies the party has found and maroon the party. After a brief standoff, the two sides of the crew fight, and the party emerges victorious. Plugg, Scourge, Aretta, Fipps, Syl, and Jape are dead, their bodies burned.
- The party are the proud new owners of a pirate ship. Unfortunately, they are also big fat targets with a skeleton crew, a recognizable ship, and no reputation or official presence in the Shackles. To survive, they will need to fix all three issues.

Part II: Plunder and Peril:

- The party took the ship to the town of Lilywhite on Motaku Island for squibbing out and some much needed R&R at its annual rum festival. They recruited several potential new crewmates, including a druid named Wahhe, and Yamtisy and her fellow refugees from a ship called the Magpie Princess.
- The party earned some good reputation at Lilywhite due to Thren's winning their race, and taking care of drakes plaguing some lumberjacks, amid other exploits.
- The party found out they were being spied upon, and after being attacked, decided to seek out the spy, hoping to parlay. They confronted the "spy," a rogue agent of the Magpie Princess named Hyrix Snowfeather. Hyrix showed no interest in parlaying and attacked the party alongside his ally, a powerful sea hag named Mother Grund. Already wounded, the party was forced to surrender.
- Hyrix delivered the party to Captain Varossa Lanteri of the Magpie Princess as a show of loyalty to her--but really to catch her off guard and attack while she had fewer crew. Varossa and her crew managed to drive off Hyrix and Mother Grund regardless. Varossa healed the party and asked them to join her as she needed more hands, and was hunting the fabled Lost Treasure of Jemma Redclaw.
- In order to access the treasure, Lanteri needed three pieces of horn called the "Three Reasons to Live."[/b] The party signed a contract agreeing to serve Varossa for the duration of the hunt for the Three Reasons and, after that, Redclaw's Treasure.
- The party won the first Reason from Blackwarn's Gallows in Besmara's Throne, fleeing a horde of crab-monsters driven back only briefly by Besmara's boon.
- The party fought a siren and helped protect the crew.
- The party gained the second Reason from Kelizar's atoll. In the process they made a trade/treaty agreement with the brine dragon Kelizar, who fancies himself emperor of his little island.
- The party encountered a comozant wyrd and managed to talk it down and evade a storm.
- The party seeks the third Reason now upon an island known as Warvil's Folly, where Varossa told the party that Warvil left the last piece of the horn.
- They rescued a triton Jenesara and her horde of hippocampi.
- Wahhe parted ways with the party to seek wisdom from the tritons.
- The party earned the trust of Krentak's Lizardfolk Tribe after slaying two keches. Krentak told them how to approach the temple of Gozreh where Warvil stashed his goods.
- The party has passed the guardians of the temple and are parlaying with its chief guardian Kahobeah, who has told them Warvil retrieved the horn six months ago, but left behind a scroll.
-The party recovered Warvil's "scroll," a detailed map that marks the site where the horn is to be played: Brightglass Island.
- The party returned to the cove where they landed only to discover they were marooned by Captain Lanteri--and left at the mercy of the hag Mother Grund, who had followed them to the island to finish them. They finished Mother Grund instead and freed Jenesara, in danger once again.
- Miraculously, as the party weighed options, the crew of [i]Besmara's Whim
had tracked the party to Warvil's Folly and rescued them. They chased Lanteri to Brightglass Island. It turns out she had the third horn all along.
- After talking down the Magpie Princess, with Lark defeating their Master-at-Arms Horemheb in single combat, the party found their way into the ancient cyclops fortress Ghoral-Rey, with Threnody using magic to mimic the notes from the Three Reasons to Live.
- Fighting their way through undead cyclops and traps, the party allied with a wounded and abandoned Hinsin, and tried to talk down Creed, who had gone mad after seeing something horrible happen to Varossa on the abandoned ship of Gemma Redclaw, the Fearsome Tide
- The party discovered the cove was full of the body-snatching incutilis--and that an incutilis lord was nesting on the Fearsome Tide. They were warned about the lord, Orsilir, by an ahuizotl that Orsilir imprisoned in an old dungeon cell in the fortress, but she fled once feed.
- While they were warned repeatedly that something awful had happened to Lanteri and the incutilis lord lay in wait for them somewhere around the old ship, the party simply walks aboard the ship and quickly gets ambushed by Orsilir and his two calcified puppet minions, Gemma Redclaw and Varossa Lanteri. They are nearly killed, but Lark gets a flash of heroic insight and realizes that living beings can be freed from Orsilir's hold and frees Varossa, while the others destroy Redclaw (centuries too far gone to save). With Lanteri's aid, they destroy the incutilis lord and free Ghoral Rey.
- Varossa sheepishly thanks the party for saving her from her own greed. She leaves not only the bulk of the treasure and the Three Reasons to Live to their care, but the entirety of Ghoral Rey. She urges the party that if they wish to keep making a name for themselves, they should declare themselves to the Hurricane King before they become targets of other Free Captains of the Shackles. Declaring her intent to retire, she departs with the [i}Magpie Princess[/i] who will have to decide who is their next captain.

Interlude: Adventures on the Fever Sea:

- The party decides to take over Ghoral Rey and rebuild it as their own stronghold. It is far enough away from other islands it is likely to be uncontested by other pirates.
- The Long Sunset approaches Ghoral Rey, bearing Captain Luna "Drakerider" Fleetfoot, daughter of Golly, Lark, Lee, and Thren's first captain. Her crew heard from the Magpie Princess that they might be in need of supplies; Ghol-gani Ruins-Chaser Emberar "Sunstruck" Lealtus asks to stay to help the party and explore the ruins.
- The party also temporarily hires a few skilled laborers to help Doc Imogene build a drydock so the Fearsome Tide can be properly restored (and eventually other ships can be repaired as well).
- Lee's cat Muffin undergoes a several week "cocoon" period, and emerges a silvanshee, a type of azata. Muffin's new tendency to fly around and talk and draw attention to himself alarms Lee.
- Sandara un-desecrates the altar in the temple. She also decides she needs to keep a closer eye on Threnody because the tiefling keeps getting herself in trouble, and improves her fighting skills to do so.
- The party, including Sunstruck, explore the island and come across a pair of cyclops fending off a mammoth. While they first aid the cyclops, their boasting about conquering the temple of Ghoral Rey and taking it over offends the cyclops and they attack. After Threnody nearly dies and they temporarily lose the Three Reasons to Live, the party bounces back and they kill the two cyclops.
- But the cyclops oracle leaves a curse upon the Three Reasons to Live with her dying breath. Whoever plays the horn will be blinded permanently.
- The party clears off the vegetation so Ghoral Rey's lighthouse may operate once again.
- The party makes Ambrose "Fishguts" Kroop the steward of Ghoral Rey, though this puts their ship out one cook.
- Since it's an oracular curse, Belina advises sailing to Plumetown to ask the oracles there how to fix the horn.
- Besmara's Whim, leaving behind some crew to work, sails for the Smoker.
- On the way, they encounter a Chelish ship, the Famished Mane, attacking a pirate ship Vorsfang. They sneak up on the Chells in the fog, and slaughter the Cheliaxans while rescuing the pirates. The Vorsfang is too damaged to save, and they scuttle the Vorsfang. The captain of the Vorsfang, Tisserond, escapes.
- The Whim races to Plumetown just before a huge storm hits.
- The crew begins spreading their reputation and recruiting crew, and registers to obtain an audience with Keeba's Eyes.
- They have already recruited many interested souls, including Kahuranga and Corwin, two trustworthy looking adventurers. They also earn the services of a master carpenter, Gorton the Hammer, who agrees to lend his services to the stronghold.
- The party gains its audience with Keeba's Eyes. The cyclopes seer advises the party that they could try to find a horn that makes a similar note via a couple of easier routes, or the seer will agree to use her magic to lift the curse on the One Reason to Live if the party agrees to lift another curse, the one laid on Yoha's Graveyard near the Devils Arches. Corwin learns his amulet has something to do with the Graveyard. The party chooses the most difficult option.
- The party stops at Arena on Widowmaker Isle for some bloodsport and shenanigans first. After leaving, the crew gets infected by a passing red fog, which gives many of them an insatiable hunger for the next day. This may be a hint of what's to come, as the fog is said to come from Yoha's Graveyard.
- It then sails into Hell Harbor to gather information. Corwin and Kahuranga serve as an elegant entourage to Lark as he works to spread news of the crew's successes, while Threnody snags a part in a Chelish opera. Lark learns of a Iomedaean paladin who died on Yoha's graveyard.
- Thren's performance is not only a triumph, but Kahuranga's outfit is on point and the party stops a spy from sabotaging the production. Pirate Lord Endymion is grateful.
- Regardless of being warned away, the party head to Yoha's graveyard, infested with ghouls and daemons. The red fog inflicts deep hunger and eventually turns all infected into ghouls. Before some party members succumb, the party finds the source of the fog--the unearthly substance comes from an open Abyssal gateway that had been opened by Cyclopes millennia ago to free an Old One. The party fights Yoha the Ghoul andhis crew and closes the portal, saving the island.
- Learning his grandfather escaped Yoha's folly and curse, Corwin decides to stay on the island to build a new settlement, called Meria's Rest. Meanwhile Emberar has decided to stay at Hell Harbor to explore the Gholgan ruins on Devils Arches.
- The rest of the crew delivers treasure to Kelizar to help meet their end of their deal with him, including the remains of Yoha's Taldane ship, with which Kelizar is quite pleased.
- The party decides they have earned enough infamy to try to become Free Captains.

Part III: Tempest Rising:

- The party arrives in Port Peril and begins working on bragging and recruiting more crew. Chakam, a druid pirate, and Chad Wassen, a bounty hunter and former Aurora's Kiss crew member, join.
- The party declares their interest in (and pays the requisite bribe for) becoming Free Captains, and the Hurricane King's first mate Tsadok Goldtooth tests them, including at basic ship skills, fighting, and gambling. The party passes the tests with considerable finesse, often using wit and charm when brute force was a poor option. They then are invited to a grand banquet at Bonefist's castle and must entertain all present, at which they also succeed considerably, and earn enough votes from the King's Council to become Free Captains and earn their letter of marque at last.
- The party then goes on Shore Leave. Free Captain Pierce Jerrell asks their aid in rescue a seeming maid in distress, who turns out to be Caulky Tarroon, Harrigan's cabin girl, being forced to poison new potential crew for her captain. Wading through a barroom brawl that erupts, the crew manages to talk down Caulky and convince her to join them instead. Jerrell is impressed.
- Another Free Captain is also impressed with the party's accomplishments in the city: Tessa Fairwind, one of the most powerful Free Captains in the Shackles and Ruler of Matoku Isle. Inviting the party to dinner, she asks the party's aid in using their skills at wit, diplomacy, and derring-do to find evidence of a Chelish spy network operating in the Shackles. She suggests she start by asking either the Temple of Norgorber in Beachcomber or the Temple of Calistria in Fairwind's hometown of Quent.
- The party goes to both temples. Both want favors in exchange for information: the Calistrians want a stolen statue returned to them, and the Norgorberites want to know the secret of the speed of a vessel called the Brine Banshee, problem being the ship sank a few months ago and no one can find it.
- The party hunt down the statue's thief, Vakarla the Wrecker. Barely getting past the illusionist-pirate's tricks, the party nonetheless have tricks of their own they use to catch Vakarla off guard and they ultimately defeat her, capturing her alive and delivering both her and the statue back to the Calistrians.
- The party then seeks out the Brine Banshee, first by looking for a contact they were given: Hanaelius Fitch in Ollo. Fitch has an amputated limb of the Banshee's first mate; if the party steals a ring from a pirate called Milksop Morton, they can use the ring of the iron skull to find the limb's owner. Deciding to opt for finesse rather than brute force once again, the party operates a covert mission to get Milksop drunk and steal his ring with the aid of a local brothel. The mission goes splendidly.
- The ship finds the location of the wreck, but has to contend with sharks, an angry druid, an aberration or two, and finally an aboleth who nearly gets the party to tear one another apart. Nonetheless the party prevails and finds the ship's secret: a magically enhanced steering wheel. Since all Norgorber wanted was the secret, the party tells the secret but keeps the wheel.
- During a pit stop at Brightglass Island, Lark, Chad, and Chakam remain to handle a cyclops mummy problem that has emerged in their stronghold. Leaving Besmara's Whim behind, Threnody becomes captain of the Fearsome Tide, and Kahuranga her most senior officer.
- The party's next two clues are to seek out a scrimshawer in Drenchport or a naga on the Slithering Coast. The party goes for the naga, and in exchange for ridding her of a clingy boyfriend, she gives them information that directs them to Elliece Farhaven in Parley Point.
- But the party finds Farhaven's ship recently vacated, a dead imp and some clues pointing to Hell Harbor and the initials R.K.
- Returning to Hell Harbor, the party uses some of the goodwill they earned to track down city quartermaster Roweena Kellett, and in turn then try to reach one of her contacts, a tengu smuggler named Corlan. But they arrive at Corlan's home just as an assassin kills him. The party in turn kills the assassin and learns of an apothecary who sent him orders (including calling for the deaths of the other contacts they'd learned about): Zarskia Galembar of Jasperleaf Apothecary in Port Peril.
- The party heads to Port Peril and gathers some information on Jasperleaf, and learn a password that would allow them to enter the shop in the guise of customers. The party opts for a stealthy route instead, and use a spell to teleport into the building's chimney, not realizing they are inside an escape route that Zarskia built as she was getting ready to close shop and flee the Shackles before she could get caught. With keen senses, Zarskia hears the party's entry, sees them blocking her planned escape route should trouble appear, panics, and starts throwing bombs at them which are extraordinarily painful. Not recognizing Zarskia's reaction as panic but rather a challenge, Threnody tries to engage her, while Zarskia turns herself invisible and tries to reach the evidence that would condemn her--currently in the basement which the chimney leads to. She struggles to get past Kahuranga, who is in her way, as Taniwha brilliantly manages to steal the very papers Zarskia is after. He flies down the escape route, unfortunately still not quite realizing that's what he is in, despite the scent of sea air coming from the end of the tunnel. Zarskia panics even more when she sees the evidence gone, and nearly kills Taniwha in the effort to recover the evidence. Threnody carves through nearly half a dozen guards on her own, who are successfully detaining her and keeping her from pursuing Zarskia, but fortunately she and Quinn reunite with Kahuranga and Taniwha as both are about to go catatonic from poison. Zarskia successfully flees with her satchel of goodies, but leaves behind a crumpled piece of paper that fell out of the bag. This fortunately has enough information--an encrypted letter in Infernal, and mentioning "Nisroch" as a spy contact--to satisfy their quest to find proof that Chelish spies are operating in the Shackles.
- The party reports on their successes to Fairwind in Quent. Tessa is pleased with the results, even if they could only retrieve the one document from Zarskia. Giving them gifts of ioun stones and other goodies, including some personalized items, she departs with the advice that the party should enter in the Regatta and win a seat on the Hurricane King's Council.

GM Pastes:

Chad [dice]1d20+7[/dice] (3 normal, 5 urban, 7 water)
Chakam [dice]1d20+5[/dice]
Kahuranga & Taniwha [dice]1d20+3[/dice]
Lark [dice]1d20+8[/dice]
Threnody & Sandara [dice]1d20+3[/dice]

Round #
Round #
Chad | HP 80/80 | AC 19/21 vs ranged T 14/16 vs ranged FF 15 /17 vs ranged | CMD 21 | F +5 R +8 W +4 | Electricity 5
Chakam | HP 61/61 | AC 23 T 16 FF 18 | CMD 22 |F + 11 R +11 W +9 (+4 vs fey+plant targeted)| Rusalka Form
Kahuranga |HP 56/56| AC 28 T14 FF 16| CMD 17 | F +3 R +5 W +7 | Electricity 5 |
Sandara | HP 39/39 | AC 16 T 11 FF 15 | CMD 16 | F +5 R +3 W +8 |
Taniwha | HP 24/24| AC/T/FF 19/13/18| CMD 13| F +5 R +7 W +7 | Immune Paralysis, Sleep
Threnody | HP 72/72 | AC 21 T 13 FF 18 | CMD 20| F+5 R+10 +7 | Fire 5 Cold 5 | [/ooc]

Weather: condition
Events: Typical Day