The Wormwood Mutiny (GM Reference)


Skull & Shackles

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How did any PC live when sent to the bilges to fight against two pirates at once, and unarmed at that? I sent my fighter down there, thinking that'd be the best bet for a character living through the encounter, and in three rounds he was stabbed to death because he didn't have any weapons with which to defend himself.

I went through an entire thing where the fighter stabilized and was dragged on deck with -5 HPs, they declared him dead and tossed him overboard, where he was fished out by another PC, but... still.

How is any unarmed character going to face off against two armed NPCs and make it out of the encounter alive? How did this go down in other campaigns?


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The gunslinger in my game used sleight of hand to hide his pistol from the pat-down.


played it as was. A friendly NPC saw the set up when the other two went down into the bilges. He took off to warn the other PCs who managed to slip away from jobs to help.

Not that it was needed, as lucky dice rolls saved the day.

And then the three PCs had to deal with Plugg who came down to investigate. He beat them, but lucky the Man's Promise was on the horizon.


in my game most of pcs had weapons back or new weapons thru search and negotiation only one that didnt was the witch who promptly was picked at ramdom to go down. He managed to put one to sleep with a hex and charmed the other

Liberty's Edge

In the face-to-face game I am running, the character sent to the bilges was a barbarian sea reaver with Improved Unarmed Strike. She made fairly quick work of the two, but did lose an eye in cinematic fashion. She earned the nickname "Dagger-Eye" from the encounter.

In the PBP, in which I am a player, the GM selected the group's sorceress. She had color spray; so she made out fine.


My player's monk kicked their cheating behinds in a couple of rounds. He then got the sweatbox for "his" aggression.


Maybe I should have sent the magus down instead, or perhaps the summoner or bard. Didn't think a magic user would fare as well if he failed to cast defensively or the pirates got in some lucky saves.


honestly i had same thoughts as you:) my wife was playing and i wanted to keep it all impartial so i rolled randomly.

Grand Lodge

Any comments about my questions?

TritonOne wrote:

Did GMs start out with a prologue when starting The Wormwood Mutiny to describe the political relationship between the Shackles, Sargava, and Cheliax? The two previous defeats of the Chelish Navy by the Free Captains of the Shackles? The current Hurricane King Kerdak Bonefist? Or did you trickle this information out by using Ambrose "Fishguts" Kroop and Sandara Quinn during The Wormwood Mutiny?

Or did you presume that if players were interested they would have read the Inner Sea Primer, Pirates of the Inner Sea, Sargava, the Lost Colony, and Skull & Shackles Player's Guide?

Sovereign Court

TritonOne wrote:

Any comments about my questions?

TritonOne wrote:

Did GMs start out with a prologue when starting The Wormwood Mutiny to describe the political relationship between the Shackles, Sargava, and Cheliax? The two previous defeats of the Chelish Navy by the Free Captains of the Shackles? The current Hurricane King Kerdak Bonefist? Or did you trickle this information out by using Ambrose "Fishguts" Kroop and Sandara Quinn during The Wormwood Mutiny?

Or did you presume that if players were interested they would have read the Inner Sea Primer, Pirates of the Inner Sea, Sargava, the Lost Colony, and Skull & Shackles Player's Guide?

I would say depends on the pirate's intelligence AND knowledge skills (geography, local, nobility mostly); face it, most pirates are dumb thugs that are good with seamanship


i made my wife and daughter read the shackles entry in the inner sea guide and the primer, beyond that i reveal more here or there,

i do have the shackles book and the pirates companion available and have encouraged reading them and they have had fun with the companion but neither has picked up the other:)


TritonOne wrote:

Did GMs start out with a prologue when starting The Wormwood Mutiny to describe the political relationship between the Shackles, Sargava, and Cheliax? The two previous defeats of the Chelish Navy by the Free Captains of the Shackles? The current Hurricane King Kerdak Bonefist? Or did you trickle this information out by using Ambrose "Fishguts" Kroop and Sandara Quinn during The Wormwood Mutiny?

Or did you presume that if players were interested they would have read the Inner Sea Primer, Pirates of the Inner Sea, Sargava, the Lost Colony, and Skull & Shackles Player's Guide?

I put that into a briefing I handed out to the players prior to character generation and also included some experiences from my own run as a player as "piratical advice". Such as hints concerning relevant spells, important skills and likely difficulties (no heavy plate in the rigging, please, one handed weapons being best choices with regard to seamanship). Left out the precise details of the Shackles and their "rulers" but simply named it a "ramshackle republic of free ships"

Still, one guy picked a Chelian and was pretty surprised when he quickly became the universal scapegoat and an undeserved reputation as a cheat and liar. Which shows that not every player understands a not so subtle warning.

Grand Lodge

I would be delighted to see that, deathbydice, if you would be so kind as to share the character briefing.

Bummer for picking a Chelian, but what is a GM gonna do?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I plan on running this AP soonish. It sounds like expanding and keeping up with the NPC details is the most important. And keeping an eye on the encounters on the island.

Any other important notes to add, or important plot points not to miss?


people will most likely die, a lot! so i might encourage them to bring an extra character, just in case:)


TritonOne wrote:

I would be delighted to see that, deathbydice, if you would be so kind as to share the character briefing.

Bummer for picking a Chelian, but what is a GM gonna do?

Sorry, saw your post a tad late - will translate it from my native language, then mail it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

How do people help guide the PCs away from the officers? I've had a few of them keep to themselves. Now a PC thinks that there's a stowaway on board. that could be fun to play with, but not what I was shooting for.


Seannoss wrote:
How do people help guide the PCs away from the officers? I've had a few of them keep to themselves. Now a PC thinks that there's a stowaway on board. that could be fun to play with, but not what I was shooting for.

Quarterdeck is/was for officers only - approaching it without orders, is a punishable offense (lashes). Harrigan & Co stayed there for us, observing the crew. Sailing done on the quarterdeck (manning the helm, shifiting sheets was done by "old hands"

Plugg, Giffer, Scourge and the master carpenter were "approachable" since they worked the decks, but no-one ever bothered to talk to Scourge and Plugg, and everyone else really implicated really hard that ingratiating themselves with their betters would not do. Peppery walked around the ship, but kept an unearthly "DO NOT TALK TO THE WIZARD" attitude around her.


I can't figure out the Riptide Cove dungeon at the end of the module. From the map's side view, it looks like most areas are several dozen feet or more deep with water. Most of the encounters look as if the PCs need to be treading water in them, which isn't that big of a deal, but do the grindylows trip in water? And how does the Cauldron work with getting tripped? Where are the rules for this?

And if everything is just treading water, how are some of these combats balanced? I ruled that since Water Breathing could be divided among characters when cast, then a potion could be shared, which has helped, but still, my players have no maneuverability in most of the dungeon chambers, and it's been too easy for the grindylows to surround the party. We almost had a TPK tonight except for the fact that the grindylows look like they take prisoners, and one party member managed to kill the last grindylow in one encounter while hanging on to his literal last HP.

The way it's looking, there's a trap coming up that will probably knock 3/4 of the party unconscious, the devilfish seems like it's going to grapple and devour anything that stays in combat with it, and then we get to the boss fight of the dungeon. And after that, because of the campaign imposed time limit, the party is going to return to The Man's Promise, find themselves immediately in a fight before they can rest up, and probably be killed by the actual "final boss" of the module.


Yep, that's pretty much it, Riptde Cove is deadly, its not so much the eniemies its the environment too. Grindys may seem small but they pack a punch when they gang up, don't forget the tripwires too. As for that Devilfish...

I had 1 near death with the Devilfish and 1 death by the whale, clever thinking saved the day along with each memeber having a potion of water breathing and use the of hero points. (Im not one for TPK's as I like to have the players survive as long as possible if im playing a campaigh like this otherwise what's the point? Stupdity is another matter however).

It was slightly easier for the party as they had the mutiny on day 2 of the voyage so the ship was theirs, they still had the water problem though so they still has a time limit.

The island is a deathtrap but if they survive the rest of the ap is not as deadly as this.


Having the PCs make a knowledge: nature check (or even an INT check if no one has the skill) to understand that the water level lowers and they gain some advantage at low tide is what I did. The devilfish isn't as deadly if it's just hanging out on the rock waiting for the water level to rise. It's definitely a PC-killer otherwise.


Yup my justifiably cautious players did the same: waited for low tide. They ended up skirting much of the lair sticking to the left the long way around which allowed them at least solid footing and ability to breathe most of the time. I still didn't allow 5-foot steps for all the sea weed they were sloshing through. They did end up missing some loot. At least they lived and thanks to strong Bluff and Intimidate checks (and chewing through most grindylows), they very convincingly negotiated a hostage exchange.


But even at low tide, there are rooms full of water where treading water is necessary. The Cauldron, for example. Can grindylows make trip attempts in deep water? And does that normally force a character to sink? What does going prone in water mean? I just want to understand the second paragraph in the Cauldron's description about being tripped.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Are there more or better rules for underwater combat than the page that's in the Core rulebook? Had the fight with the reefclaws last night and many things came up and I know that Riptide Cove has the potential for much more of this.


martryn wrote:

But even at low tide, there are rooms full of water where treading water is necessary. The Cauldron, for example. Can grindylows make trip attempts in deep water? And does that normally force a character to sink? What does going prone in water mean? I just want to understand the second paragraph in the Cauldron's description about being tripped.

Yes, creatures can be tripped underwater. I'm fairly certain that the AP book itself deals with this somewhere in the text. The rules aren't expressly written in the CRB or Bestiary 2, but I know I've read it somewhere. I don't have access to the AP book right now, but look through the sections dealing with Riptide Cove and you should be able to find it.


Seannoss wrote:
Are there more or better rules for underwater combat than the page that's in the Core rulebook? Had the fight with the reefclaws last night and many things came up and I know that Riptide Cove has the potential for much more of this.

Not really, but I've found what's written in the CRB to be completely adequate. If you have a specific question to ask about a scenario, people can probably help you.

Dark Archive

From earlier in the thread:

Rob McCreary wrote:
Robert Jordan wrote:
Oh also while reading through it all it says in The Cauldron (area D8) that characters tripped must start making swim checks, according to the low tide marker on the map there's still a good 40-50ish feet of water. So 2 parts A) wouldn't they already be swimming? and B) can you be tripped if you're in/under water?
The PCs are likely already swimming. A trip attack represents being pulled below the surface, thus requiring another Swim check to recover.

Dark Archive

Reading over the ship's actions I've noticed that the nighttime actions Influence, Sneak, and Steal are all marked with an asterisk. Does this asterisk mean anything or point to something else I need to read over?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I don't have my books in front of me but I believe those are 'late' night actions and the PC needs to roll to avoid being fatigued. Its hidden in one of the paragraphs before those charts.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

"Each PC can normally take two ship actions each day, one during the day and one at night. A PC can also attempt to take up to two additional ship actions during the middle watch in the dead of night (any nighttime ship action marked with an asterisk), but to do so the PC must make a successful Constitution check (DC 10, +4 per extra ship action taken) or be fatigued for the next day." (p. 24)

Dark Archive

Thanks, found it. I was looking for something after the paragraphs in question.

Dark Archive

A question about the rum ration. Would you allow your players to 'Take 10' on their Stealth check to dump their rum, or would the chance of discovery and subsequent punishment be enough of a deterrent?


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Don't see why not. Taking 20 wouldn't work thoug


As it is a DC10 stealth check to get noticed...

a big fat NO, otherwise whats the point of it in the first place

Deliberately tipping away rum on board a crowded ship without being seen
requires a DC 10 Stealth check.

Sovereign Court

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just drink the rum

Dark Archive

I've just read this in preparation for running it next year.

The one little problem that jumped out at me hasn't been spoken about here and that's the illogicality of the "going to get fresh water" reason for going onto the island.

Even if Plugg doesn't trust Create Water, which is weird enough in itself, once the PCs have their barrels on the island they could just fill them up this way once they're out of sight of the boat.

And if Plugg thinks they might poison the water, then he wouldn't trust them to get it in any way.

And if he did think the water was poisoned, he could just get them to drink it first.

A rescue mission seems like a more likely reason to go to the island. Anyone had any other ideas?

Richard

P.S. With some reservations, I basically liked the module. It's very 2-paced, but I applaud the attempt to create a simulation of life on board a pirate ship, and I get the idea that the PCs should start off being treated like skum so that they appreciate when, in the next module I suppose, they're the masters of the ship instead.

Sovereign Court

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just roll with it richard... forget those convenient "Plugg doesn't drink magical water" excuses and the fact that those water barrels would probably require a horse-drawn carriage to carry through an island with no roads (I guess you could roll them down the ridge towards the west coast and swing your boat around to that side to scoop them up, but there's a 30 feet per round undertow on that side of the island... lol)


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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I had Captain Plugg be right up front about not liking the PCs, and he told them that he had enough water to sail with a reduced crew but not to take them along. If they wanted to leave the island they had to provide more water, and none of that magical crap. If they wanted to rescue their buddies, then they needed to provide water for them, too.

This meant that the PCs knew that he wasn't bluffing when he threatened to sail away without them.


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If ran into a similar issue with "Hey let's conjure up water" while preparing and I plan on handling it as follows:

While Plugg doesn't trust the PCs, he still needs the water. So he sends them on the island to scout for a water source saying something along the lines. "Once you found a good source, report back to me and I'll send some mates to help retrieve it".

He hasn't made up his mind on how to kill them, so this is buying himself some time while at the same time, potentially getting some scouting info on the island before he kills them.


My group is playing the card game and I asked if they wanted to do the real thing. They said yes. Thing of it is they are three players so I am tossing in Ranzak the goblin as an extra npc to hopefully fill them out. Also doing it because on our second run through of the rise of the runeloards I played the goblin ranzak and one of the players hated him. So giving the player a chance to see him die. I think it will make his day. Ranzak says he is a raider where it says class best fit I could find was rouge.


WampaX wrote:
Azmyth wrote:

Second, I have hand picked miniatures for each (prime) member of the crew and plan to add others as they become relevant to my story.

Having this strong visual/physical association with the personalities will help you GM them and your players to relate to them.

I was thinking of doing this too, but realized I probably don't have enough unique non-metal-armor-wearing human or near human minis to represent the entire crew . . . so I went and purchased the Paper Minis, which has the entire crew!

I made quarter inch plywood decks on dowel of the wormwood and mans promise, and with thirty people on a boat it is very very crowded. Like having a graduation ceremony in a pup tent crowded. Just navigating the deck with all hands on deck is horribly like getting on a japanese train.

Lots of opportunity for little inter personal moments.


Zaranorth wrote:

Mornings and evenings the crew uses the stairs in the officers' cabin. It doesn't come out and say it (or maybe it does, I'm blanking now), but it appears that the ship anchors at night. Which makes sense in island-ladened waters, don't really wanna run into one in the dark. Even into the 1800s ships would lay to at night, maybe under light sail to keep steerage. (And I'm lead to believe that a ship not under motion wallows about rather sickening in any sort of swell, so you'd want at least some headway if you weren't anchored.)

At nights Owlbear keeps guard over the stairs.

As for relieving themselves, well, that's what chamber pots are for ... or the bilge.

"Ugh, pumping duty again. Man look at the size of that rat floating in the water."
"That's no rat."

We played a bit on the nonesuch , an actual sail caravel in the manitoba museum, and the outhouse is the ropes out front, at the Head, of the ship. You hold to the lattice wood off the prow, dangle yer own poop deck out and back, while you balance on a swaying rope. The last thing you want is a honey bucket below decks.


Varthanna wrote:
WampaX wrote:
Trinite wrote:
WampaX wrote:

I don't think I saw this in the AP,

But was it mentioned anywhere what colors the Wormwood flies?
Does Harrigan have his own private signal?
I wondered the same thing. Any chance it's covered in Isles of the Shackles of Pirates of the Inner Sea?

Nope.

Without official input, I think I will base it on the Wormwood's clock.
I'm sure that the PCs will want to initially keep an eye out for it to stay away from, but near the end of the AP, they will specifically be seeking it out.
I like that. A crimson rotting whale, in profile, on a field of azure.

Rotting whales explode, type that into image search on google. Ravens dream come true!


Maglok wrote:

Apologies for the double post, but I was looking into piratical punishments some more and I had a few questions:

First of all the keelhauling, slow is 12 rounds, fast is 6 rounds. A character can hold his breath for twice his CON score if he doesnt take standard/fullround actions. Basically if you are keelhauled slow and you have 6 CON you are fine. If you run out of CON rounds, you still get to make a CON check every round to see if you actually drown. The basic pirate has 11 CON, thus 22 rounds of holding your breath. What am I doing wrong? Or is it really only supposed to be the dmg that do characters in? If anyone can pretty much live through a keelhauling with breathing it is not that scary..

Keel hauling as holding breath is not that scary, but if you imagine a barnacle and razor clam encrusted hull scraping by while you hold your breath. Imagine grating cheese for thirty feet of grater, but here is the clincher, no cheese, all knuckle. Now imagine keeping all your bubbles in your lungs. Shark bait woo haha Gil.


Keelhauling: The most frightful of pirate punishments
is keelhauling, as it generally ends in death—often by
decapitation. Being keelhauled involves being tied to a rope
looped over a ship’s keel and dragged down one side of a
ship, underwater across the barnacle encrusted hull, and up
the other side. Keelhauling takes several rounds and can be
done either fast or slow. If done fast, the barnacles cut deep
and f lense the victim, dealing 1d6 points of damage per
round. If done slow, shallower cuts are incurred, dealing
1d3 damage per round, but the risk of drowning increases
(see page 445 of the Core Rulebook). In either case, the victim
can make a DC 20 Ref lex save each round to take half
damage. How long keelhauling takes typically depends on
the vessel, with a keelhauling on a ship like the Wormwood
taking 6 rounds if done fast and 12 rounds if done slow.

This ain't an episode of Survivor folks! It is unlikely a level 1 character would survive it and if he did he would be in sorry shape! No way you are holding yer breath for more than your CON.

Sovereign Court

when you go in the negative you fall unconscious, so that is the true danger of keelhauling for low-level PCs:

PRD: Unconscious characters must begin making Constitution checks immediately upon being submerged (or upon becoming unconscious if the character was conscious when submerged). Once she fails one of these checks, she immediately drops to –1 (or loses 1 additional hit point, if her total is below –1). On the following round, she drowns.


Lightminder wrote:
Maglok wrote:

Apologies for the double post, but I was looking into piratical punishments some more and I had a few questions:

First of all the keelhauling, slow is 12 rounds, fast is 6 rounds. A character can hold his breath for twice his CON score if he doesnt take standard/fullround actions. Basically if you are keelhauled slow and you have 6 CON you are fine. If you run out of CON rounds, you still get to make a CON check every round to see if you actually drown. The basic pirate has 11 CON, thus 22 rounds of holding your breath. What am I doing wrong? Or is it really only supposed to be the dmg that do characters in? If anyone can pretty much live through a keelhauling with breathing it is not that scary..

Keel hauling as holding breath is not that scary, but if you imagine a barnacle and razor clam encrusted hull scraping by while you hold your breath. Imagine grating cheese for thirty feet of grater, but here is the clincher, no cheese, all knuckle. Now imagine keeping all your bubbles in your lungs. Shark bait woo haha Gil.

You forget that although you can hold you breath for 22 round, it takes an additional "tick" when you exert yourself. So to avoid the damage you must exert yourself and make a Ref save. You also excert yourself by taking damage.

For example you start with 22 rounds of breath, first round under you make a ref save and pass. Now you have 20 rounds of breath holding left. Next round you make a ref save and fail. Now you have 17 rounds of breath left. -1 for the round, -1 for the ref save, and -1 for the damage.

I have to double check, but I also thought that you minus your breath holding rounds for each number of damage taken.

Sovereign Court

are you sure making a Ref save represent exerting yourself? AFAIK one can still make a Ref save when paralyzed...


It is kind of a DM judgement call. More like forces are being exerted up you without your control.


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Well holding your breath says that you can only take a move or free action. I think you are right on that, ref, will, and fort saves are free action because something triggers them.

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