The Wormwood Mutiny (GM Reference)


Skull & Shackles

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Liraz wrote:
..... I think I might have screwed myself.

I rather think you might have, too. This is why there are no-save railroad situations from time to time. ;)

I can think of three possible alternatives:
(a) Start over.

Spoiler:
(b)Figure out some way to sow dissention between your PCs and Harrigan so that he demotes them back into the crew, and go from there, or

(c) Run with what you have, and plant the idea of the PCs gaining their own ship and pirating careers. When the Man's Promise comes along get them to use Plugg's idea of making off with the ship (which will make Harrigan their enemy) and then proceed with the AP as written, skipping the mutiny as the PCs will already have the ship.

Good luck! :D


Yep I think you screwed yourself. You are going to need to re-think everything on board the wormwood as plugg and scourge are the main villains. Be careful about who you choose to replace them as some of the crew appear later on in book 5. It can be re- jigged but you will need to think it through. Sounds to me though that you are going to have a hard time until they get the mans promise later in book 1 from then on you are ok

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Honestly, I think you're probably okay - as long as the PCs are the mutinous types, anyway. Go ahead and run them through a few daily tasks rolls, then skip ahead to the Man's Promise and run that combat. Once they take the ship, Harrigan - impressed with them already - chooses them to sail the ship back to Port Peril. Then Sandara suggests going into business for themselves, Fishguts recommends Rickety's Squibs, and they change course - only to run into Bonewrack Isle. From there on out, they're back to where they should be.


I understand your aversion to railroading. I understood the traits as you awake aboard the Wormwood its not railroading its just where the action start.

Solution Patch one of the officers is said to be close to Scourge. Patch can rob and plant items in the cook's mate gear. Stealing and the accusation that the new bosun is looking the other way and can serve as a path to demotion.

There is a lingering rumor Plugg is the illegitamate son of Harigan. Perhaps its true. After a few days the angry captain dad will reinstate him. He can take revenge and put the crew in their place. You just need to be willing be brutal in squashing future attempts to get at Plugg.

Stop in a port town take on a new guy. His position on the ship changes things for the crew. He comes in as first mate. Patch is demoted to bosun. The pc has to live with it. The new guy is named Aubrech. Run the through the adventure from dungeon Salvage Operation. Dudemiested has a conversion. Run the rest of the ap with Aubrech fillingin for Plugg, Patch filling in for Scourge, and leave Plugg on the Wormwood to fill in for Patch in book 5.


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I agree, this situation seems kind of untennable. First, I'd STRONGLY recommend character generation using a 15 point buy. Stats like those you described may trivialize a lot of the combat for the beginning of this AP (as you've already seen). Second, monks are a bad choice for PCs who want to play ball with this AP with their lawful alignment req. This AP, at points, is railroady but that is honestly one if its strengths. PCs need to be mature enough to want to play ball with it and role play characters in situations where there is little they can do about their situations; that's the key to the story's drama in this first one.


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The reason why they don't get a save against the poison, or a perception check to notice someone sneaking up behind them, etc., before the AP starts is that if they were a person Scourge and his lackeys wanted to press gang, but who managed to avoid going unconscious due to the poison, or managed to avoid getting physically accosted, wouldn't be on the boat! Ipso facto, they wouldn't be the PCs who are taking part in this adventure.


Liraz wrote:
I need a way to keep the adventure on track and am having some issues. Can anyone help? I don't really know what to do here. I think I might have screwed myself.

Yes, you might very well have. Killing the initial premise, before the AP even stated is a bad thing.

You may also have noted that Harrigan dotes on Master Plugg and regards him as something like a son... so I find it hard to believe that Plugg gets demoted, and the players raised in his stead. After the PCs have killed 5 more pirates (which Harrigan can ill affod to lose atthat moment ).....

Why Harrigan actually "likes" them for it... well your call. IMHO : Harrigan goes into *chop chop* mode, settles the affair, recruits some other people in Port Peril and picks up two new PCs from a drifting raft a few days later ?


I've done that with a module before also for similar reasons. I'm not crazy about god-moding the PCs either. You'll be fine.

I think Fitzwalrus' and Shisumo's idea is simply elegant; you haven't really lost anything much of the AP.

If you still want to capture the feel of the opening predicament, you can simply have another pirate crew attack/board/get boarded by the Wormwood and have the other crew completely outclass the Wormwood's officers and press the PCs. Yep, just have Harrigan, Longfarthing et al. brutally slain in action. If your players pull out a statistically unlikely streak of 20s in the action, just have more mooks/tough officers keep crawling out of the woodwork until the task is done. Swap some names and voilà! Your PCs must balance quality work with winning over a new crew in time to effect a mutiny after they new crew and PCs take the Man's Promise. (After playing through the earlier events that you haven't used yet on the Wormwood.) This does mean swapping out names for the rest of the AP but you can still keep the same roles and stats.

Good luck!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

don't know about "god-moding"

Some gaming and setup preliminaries are a given, like "you meet in a tavern" or that most players are currently free of most other obligations (and willing to travel ).
Like everyone in a group knowing a certain local mobster (a noble-born in said campaign violently disagreed on knowing anyone in that vein... so a new character was needed ) .

...or like waking up, slowly detoxicating on a pirate ship ?

Because those setups lead you to having everyone in one place, with a likely common purpose and an incentive to adventure.

Friend of mine had his "pirates" start on another pirate ship, smack in the middle of a losing fight against overwhelming Chelian forces. The characters could retreat to the longboat and escape, or face utter doom with the remaining crew. Those Scurvy PC dogs leapt and escaped (and started the rest of the AP, being picked up by Harrigan and "instant-recruited").

One can setup a situation and lead the characters into the adventre, or leave everything to chance like the OP did, and then look in desperation at the wreckage.

All of that being said :
2x first or second level monks beating down a a CR4 and CR3 opponent, plus additional forces, in a barfight and being seated due to drinking ?

Whatever their scores or extensive GM-goodwill, that sounds massively unlikely to me.
Nevermind monks fitting said AP as badly as Ninjas or Samurais. But well to each his own...


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

This adventure's title is kind of a misnomer, isn't it?


yeah Kind of...but then if you think about it maybe it's not.

The players and crew on the Man's Promise were once the crew of the wormwood...hence wormwood mutiny...?

Not that good a link really though is it but I think that's what they were getting at maybe


Well the mutiny whether Pluggs subverting Harrigans plan and striking out on his, or the heroes mutiny is both against the captain of the Wormwood because it is Harrigans plans that are defied. Think of it in the Shakspearean sense. Juliet was being fixed up Paris. Paris was his city not his name. Hence the mutiny against the Wormwood is presonal affront to Harrigan as opposed to mutiny on the Wormwood.


@Zaister: Yes, quite the misnomer. It's the first thing I told the players when briefing them for the campaign.

I understand the idea behind a preliminary setup. I still know where Liraz is coming from. I kind of did the same thing with my group and played out the session at the Formidably Maid. The difference being that most of my group failed their saves in an odd display of good statistical behaviour, for a change. (One of the PCs was already on board the Wormwood due to character background.) But the monk, yes, made his save. So we played out the shanghai where the Wormwood recruiters overwhelmed him and knocked him unconscious. Plus, now that they were press ganged "fair and square", there's no suspension of disbelief required for the situation of "my PC who totally schooled these NPCs somehow fell to these dweebs in the opening scene." Instead, the opening scene established that the PCs are dealing with bonafide bad-bottoms.

I don't think the monk is much out of place at all. At least, not more so than many other classes. Provided the GM can take "Lawful" in the case of the monk as the *personal* code of discipline required to maintain access to all his mojo. Unlike maybe the paladin, the monk doesn't require that the people who surround him also uphold his standards for themselves. So long as the monk is permitted to uphold his personal method and is not ostracized when doing so, I really don't see any problem.
There was a Sinbad series, not the most recent, which featured a silent, knife-chucking character that was very monk-like. Works for me.
I did talk to my player about actually playing Lawful, rather than some chaotic psychopath with monk powers. He's doing a great job.
Arronax Endymion is a Free Captain but that doesn't stop him from being Lawful Evil and I don't think that makes him unrealistically unsuitable.

I think Skull and Shackles is a great AP in which to play a monk, actually. Good skill set, good anti-rum saves, opportunity for cinematic acrobatics and throughout the AP there is a satisfying number of humanoid opposition against whom the tricks of the trade can be applied. All good times for the monk so far in our campaign.

Dark Archive Vendor - Fantasiapelit Tampere

Quick question, wer'e starting tomorrow, and I wanted to quick-check: Do the captives keep their armors? Probably not, but I wanted to check! Any other quick tips before starting?


The pressganged PC's start with nothing!

I didn't use the rum. Seemed pointless, and the ship is brutal enough as it is. Afer fights and murders, I had Harrigan serve mandatory rum rations, but not on ordinary days. That worked fine for me.


That's right - nothing!

Spoiler:
Grok, as quartermaster, has all "their" (it's Cpt Harrigan's now) stuff in Wooden Locker #2, p15, Area A9. Quartermaster's Store.


Uri Meca wrote:
That's right - nothing! ** spoiler omitted **

Almost nothing. The GM has the option of letting each character keep one small item they have hidden away - spell component pouch, a few coins, a dagger, etc - but other than that they have their clothes and nuttin' else.....


That's true, GM always has an option. You might decide on a one-on-one basis depending on how you're setting up the campaign and how much if at all you have everyone start at the Formidably Maid. Depending on how the players suggest they keep their gear might provide clues as to what, if anything, might be missed during the recruiting pat-down.

Plus, remember Sandara's opening gambit of securing from Grok a piece of essential gear for the PCs to get things going.


Okay, I finally finished book 1 and I have to say that it was a huge learning curve for my group. They are accustomed to playing Society only. In society, they say this is for tier 1-2; this for tier 4-5. In the Wyrmwood, there was no tier difference. My crew was constantly getting killed and having to be saved or start over...the mechanics alone caused more deaths than anything. Granted, I'm a new DM and I may not have understood everything or may have played it a bit skewed as I am learning myself...

Example and this is an example and not in the book so I don't spoil it for people, but enough people should know what really happens here... the rogue early on decides to search the captian's quarters which happens to be locked and trapped. The trap was missed do to the high DC and he takes massive damage from a spear through his chest and poison damage on top of it so he dies immediately. One of the members in a great cinematic moment, jumps overboard during a rough storm and tries to save someone who was washed overboard but can't swim in the rough waters do to the DC and now the party has two to save ...and they can't do it. The grindylow's have a trip in the cave and when you're tripped in the water, you have to swim or be pulled 15 feet underwater...which places you in range of aquatic ghouls who paralyze them under water. So round 1 unconscious, round 2 -1, round 3 drowned.... The crew is shipwrecked on a deserted isle where Mary Ann offers them a coconut pie laced with Taget Oil and the Professor steals the row boat with Ginger for an outing ...

I read this board and see that people are rampaging through here, but my group needed help all the way through... What did we do wrong?!?


Most of it..bad player decistions I think.

1) Save for the captains cabin, yep its high but its meant to be, you are not suppossed to go in there. Not sure what you could have done there. Maybe try and pervent in the first place?

2) Saving the overbaord person in storm, player mistake, they should have thought about help for him too, rope maybe? other players helping as well?

3) drowning in the water.. potions of water brathing found in the cabin should have prevented this,that's why they are placed there.

other bit with coconut milk not in the book so thats something you needed to adjusdicate yourself so can't comment sorry. If that's if not I don't get what you mean by it sorry.


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There will be less of this as the players progress and grow stronger (higher level), but throughout the AP, they will continue to meet people who are more powerfull and dangerous than them. Somethings are not meant to be fought, and allways jumping to action (be that fighting, breaking in or diving in) will certainly lead to more player deaths.

This AP is set in a living world, where high-level enemies (and allies) live side by side with level-appropiate encounters. You'll only be forced to fight the level-appropiate ones, but you can choose to challenge things way out of your league, and some of these things will kill you if you do.

Preperation and common sense is going to help you, lack of these is going to kill you. Welcome to a pirates life.


simon hacker wrote:

Most of it..bad player decistions I think.

1) Save for the captains cabin, yep its high but its meant to be, you are not suppossed to go in there. Not sure what you could have done there. Maybe try and pervent in the first place?

2) Saving the overbaord person in storm, player mistake, they should have thought about help for him too, rope maybe? other players helping as well?

3) drowning in the water.. potions of water brathing found in the cabin should have prevented this,that's why they are placed there.

other bit with coconut milk not in the book so thats something you needed to adjusdicate yourself so can't comment sorry. If that's if not I don't get what you mean by it sorry.

-on no 3. What cabin had multiple potions of underwater breathing. I know the vine chokers had one in their lair in the tree tops, but it was only 1 and my party mentioned deliberately they were going to avoid the tree...so the vine chokers did not come into play. Did I miss something somewhere else then?!?

Also, I noticed going back over my notes that the group did not keep and use any equipment that they discovered. I know in society they use what they find in that scenario but then it's sold back at the end of the adventure. I'm wondering if they thought they could only keep and use it the night they discovered it. I should probably have a come to meeting with them, and let them know they get to keep the gear they find and use it over or sell it back to get better stuff. They played the gear and equipment more like society. It just went away and never came back when the next session moved forward.


Uri Meca wrote:


I don't think the monk is much out of place at all. At least, not more so than many other classes. Provided the GM can take "Lawful" in the case of the monk as the *personal* code of discipline required to maintain access to all his mojo. Unlike maybe the paladin, the monk doesn't require that the people who surround him also uphold his standards for themselves. So long as the monk is permitted to uphold his personal method and is not ostracized when doing so, I really don't see any problem.
There was a Sinbad series, not the most recent, which featured a silent, knife-chucking character that was very monk-like. Works for me.
I did talk to my player about actually playing Lawful, rather than some chaotic psychopath with monk powers. He's doing a great job.
Arronax Endymion is a Free Captain but that doesn't stop him from being Lawful Evil and I don't think that makes him unrealistically unsuitable.

I think Skull and Shackles is a great AP in which to play a monk, actually. Good skill set, good anti-rum saves, opportunity for cinematic acrobatics and throughout the AP...

Precisely : all the advantages if you can just finnagle your way out of the alignment-coding (similar to that of Paladin, or many inquisitors or clerics.) . Not missing ADnD much, but the monks personal disavowment of possessions and worldly power back there, I do miss.

I also do not feel too comfortable with monks being non-reliant on their goal of personal perfection and self-restraint... or living in harmony with the world....basically everything a pirate is not supposed to be within the story-thrope. Just think Jack Sparrow. But monks are story-thropes as well (even more so), and down a totally different path. Monks habitually seek loneliness to study their perfection and style or apprentices to teach their (simple, non-possessive) art of perfection..

Andorax Endymion.. yeah the usual tale of the outcast prodigy. But actually I don't see his attraction for many more self-interested pirates, or him being very piraty (basically he is a seabourne avenger of his own misfortune ?). My take, that is.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Belamorte wrote:

Example and this is an example and not in the book so I don't spoil it for people, but enough people should know what really happens here... the rogue early on decides to search the captian's quarters which happens to be locked and trapped. The trap was missed do to the high DC and he takes massive damage from a spear through his chest and poison damage on top of it so he dies immediately.

Yeah, so what ? we lost a character on the second session opening another door on the ship

Spoiler:
, the one of Peppery's lab
and died instantly due to the high shock damage.

Players' took it in stride , replaced him from with the friends they had made in crew. They went about "Plundering" the ship far more carefully ever after - being constantly reminded by their dead gnome friend's charcoaled corpse still dangling from the foremast.

The adventure is definitely supposed to be deadly, too deadly even. While I find the post about the two monks "breezing" rather astounding, I wonder what will happen to them when meeting

Spoiler:
the infamous mosquito swarms or the Giant Moray Eel in the Infernus wreck
.


Opps my mistake with the potions, long time since I played it. As for the equipment they should be keeping it not getting rid of it the next session.


Thanks for the responses. I'm just trying to do a good job and I'm still new, so when I'm seeing posts that they are breezing through, and my group is struggling...I need to find out what I've done or created that sets the balance so off..


I guess (not knowing much about PFS stuff) the best way to deal with the group and the AP is to say it's kind of like an extended session? In other words the session never really ends and they pick up where they left off,same equipment, same HP's gone, same spells used everytime they stop and restart the next week. Also bear in mind there are no heavy restrictions for rules here, don't get bogged down in restrictions impossed in the PFS guide, this is you're game, if the rules are too restrictive relax them, the aim is to have fun and not get mired in tournament play.

Also try to get them to think a bit more especally as a group, use tactics etc. It's a meat grinder if you just wade in for the kill on you're own every time.

I might suggest as well, maybe try the hero points out to give them some kind of leeway, maybe try them one week and see if they work. I have a group of 3 players and we use them, the players see them as a godsend and they work well for us.

As a newish GM though you have jumped in to the deep end with this one, it's not a beginner friendly AP for GM's and players alike, you all have to think on you're feet a lot otherwise deaths are a plenty here (as you have found out anybody who is breezing through book 1 is not playing it right trust me), its pretty unforgiving in book 1 (it gets easier though in later books). Steep learning curve but im sure you will get there. :)


Belamorte wrote:
Thanks for the responses. I'm just trying to do a good job and I'm still new, so when I'm seeing posts that they are breezing through, and my group is struggling...I need to find out what I've done or created that sets the balance so off..

I personally don't think you are doing anything wrong.

Skulls and Shackles (especially part One ) is pretty deadly, especially for non-optimized players and semi-competent GMs and the stuff you describe is actually quite normal in my experience of the AP.

Man-overboard : did almost not turn out all well with my own group, too, even though the rescue swimmer was an Undine who was actually geared to swim well and fast. They actually cut a lanyard, dropping both the mainsail and going to trail the longest availble rope to catch their man (and victim).

As a player (last year) we lost two very experienced PCs in the first AP (out of five in the whole campaign ) , and yes, both they and the GM were/are pretty experienced.


If none of the PCs are really really good swimmers, e.g. a race with a swim speed or someone with a high strength with swim as a class skill who took skill focus swim, then it would be a good idea, if a player says, 'I jump in after (whatever character)' for the GM to say, 'You run to the edge of the ship, but the wild waves and rough water give you pause before you jump -- you realize it's entirely possible that you might end up needing rescue as well if you jump overboard. Do you still want to chance it?'


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Yeah, I didn't say that... In a highly cinematic moment, the Gunslinger with a high Dexterity and Charisma, dove from the rigging into the giant waves to save Rosie. The waves were rough and the ship was sailing forward, Rosie was getting further away. The halfling bard was trying to throw a rope to them, but was struggling to get it the distance in the wind and waves to help. The Gunslinger kept trying to stay above the waves and make it to Rosie who was growing tired by fighting the waves...

Also, the crew made their group but didn't put skill points originally in swim, climb, profession sailor...they got it at level 2, but at level 1, they had a learning curve. Well, not all of them...a few of them picked skills that would help them.

Later the halfling bard, had been bitten by the rats and spiders in the bilge, was struggling already with penalties to her strength and now constitution...was tossed into the water and encouraged to swim to the coral reef to gather crabs. She did, but grew exhausted in the water and slowly slipped beneath the waves. The halfing swim skill just wasn't enough to overcome all the penalties for strength and then diseases. Was just rough all the way around... But I think they did well, and in the end they got their ship and completed the first book, but it was not a cakewalk.


vikingson wrote:
While I find the post about the two monks "breezing" rather astounding,

If one of those 2 monks is the one in my campaign, well, let me assure you that "breezing" would only be a very selective account of his experience so far. He did excel at a couple of encounters: vs Owlbear (as he should have) and in the bilges vs 2 random goons - Fipps and Lonegan in our case (as luck would have it - it was pretty quick)(Sadly in our campaign Fipps is unable to roll any double digits.) That's about it for breezy. Sure, he made his save vs oil of taggit back at the Formidably Maid but then immediately had the beiomadae beat out of him.

He has also spent time in the sweatbox after each of those encounters, has been flogged to unconciousness, has acquired an addiction to rum (which took a concerted party group effort about one game week to cure), been worked to fatigue and exhaustion a couple of times on top of fatigue/exhaustion for each stint in the sweatbox, dropped to mid-single digits Con due to rum rations/addiction and lost a good fistfull of Str as well due to reefclaws. We played through every day without shortcuts in part to give the party time to recover ability damage. And he took it all like a brave half-orc.

vikingson wrote:
...being constantly reminded by their dead gnome friend's charcoaled corpse still dangling from the foremast.

Heh, nice touch. :]


deathbydice wrote:
do not feel too comfortable with monks being non-reliant on their goal of personal perfection and self-restraint... or living in harmony with the world....basically everything a pirate is not supposed to be within the story-thrope. Just think Jack Sparrow. But monks are story-thropes as well (even more so), and down a totally different path.

Generally, I hear what you're saying. Jack Sparrow was not the only character in that movie, though. Just think Will Turner. A straight man who just had piracy thrust upon him. He suffered without (too much) jeopardy to his goal of personal perfection and self-restraint. There can be a place for it in a campaign. (Hint: especially if that's what a player would enjoy playing.) A monk pirate? No, probably not, I hear you there. This guy is not a monk pirate. He's a monk who was press-ganged by pirates. Could a whole party composed of such work in the campaign? Maybe not; they might just disperse as soon as they secured their freedom. Can one such character out of the whole party work out? So far, so good, I must say. :-) What happens when he secures his freedom? That remains to be seen. But appropriate plot seeds have been planted... Plus

Spoiler:
it doesn't hurt that much of the scripted piracy in the rest of the AP puts PCs on the defensive against evil jerks. So not too worried about any finangling out of lawful obligations to self for the monk. Not much threat of moral ambiguity if one wants to play it that way. I'm not sure I do and it all depends of course on how he wants to play it. There may well be cause to quest for an appropriate cleric to atone a suitably remorseful monk...

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Uri Meca wrote:
vikingson wrote:
While I find the post about the two monks "breezing" rather astounding,

If one of those 2 monks is the one in my campaign, well, let me assure you that "breezing" would only be a very selective account of his experience so far.

No, I was thinking more along the lines of the two monks who saved against everything, killed Scourge and replaced Plugg smashing up the APs start

BUT watching your avatar, I guess at a certain fondness for monks ?

Uri Meca wrote:


vikingson wrote:
...being constantly reminded by their dead gnome friend's charcoaled corpse still dangling from the foremast.

Heh, nice touch. :]

Was a mean reply to the players who for years have been claiming "thieves prosper"...


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Going to start this campaign tomorrow. Just finished reading this entire thread. The tips have been very helpful preparing me for what I'm in store for. I'm a fairly novice GM, but have played (on and off) for several years and feel that I should be able to modify encounters on the fly. I will be playing with 5 PCs (who are very efficient 'Roll-Players') so I had to adjust the encounters to keep the challenge. Let me know what you think of my adjustments.

Wormwood Spoilers:

For Rum Rations: threw out the addiction. Kept the 1d4 CHA bonus, but dropped con drain to 1(Unless playing heave).

Heave: DC 15 FORT +2 per drink, 1d6 nonlethal, then a DC 10 FORT +2 per drink to pass out

Day 1: Added a few more sap pirates (just muscle anyways) | Added a 2nd rigger position | Made PCs bring out Magpie (I liked the idea of getting lose and attacking the captain to show that he is not one to be messed with)

Day 2: Added Hareem to the fight to keep the PC vs NPC equal.

Day 4: Upped Rat count to 8, but only starting with 4 and adding 2 on round 2 and 4.

Day 8: I continued storm into morning of Day 9 and had the overboard even happen that morning.

Day 14: Let the PCs climb one at a time while the rest of the PCs throw rotten food.

Removed Days 15 and 16

For Sails on the Horizon, I will make a PC be in lookout that day. (Give them the excitement of being the first to see)

This should get us to the "Man's Promise"

I'll have Fishguts give them some stinky oil for insect repellent to deter some of the flies.(should allow some roleplaying for the stench)

Haven't thought too much about the island, but I like the idea of Aaron Ivy still being alive.

Wish me luck...


My crew has six we are just getting to Bonewrack. I can say this. If you have competent players and 5 if they mutiny before the island make sure one or two more NPCs are in the mix on pluggs side. The additional person makes for alot of opportunity for influencing the crew. Which can make the mutiny a little easy. If it runs as presented in the AP after the island you will want to take into account thier resources so the extra NPCs might not be needed.

I found the avoiding the hit mechanic in the fight with Owlbear made fight way to easy.


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My players are going to get to the Promise tomorrow or next session. So far

Wall O Text:

- I've forgotten about the rum as often as not. I downplayed the Con damage and played up that it tastes like turpentine mixed with kerosene. People have been consistently getting rid of it, spelling it, handing it off to Rosie (who apparently has a cast iron liver) or otherwise disposing of it when it comes up. Because dying of liver failure isn't very heroic

- My PCs ended up with weapons more or less from the get go. Plugg runs the crew on what he thinks of as "Discipline" which amounts to being a petty bully and has very little to do with actual discipline. Pretty much everyone was armed within the first five days simply because none of the officers beside Plugg actually consider the crew a threat.

- The Officers are totally ambivalent to the crew. As far as they're concerned the crew are there to be used up until they can get together enough ships and money to hire a proper crew of seasoned pirates.

- Half my PCs joined a few sessions in. They were found drifting in a ship's boat after a "Kraken" attacked their ship. Harrigan, on a hunch, followed the flotsam to find the drifting ship. The PCs were sent over to "Check out the wreck" and bait the squid out of hiding. When they returned to the Wormwood the "Kraken" attacked. The PCs and crew various tentacles on the deck. Longfarthing takes to the air, grabs Harrigan off the deck, then goes into a power dive and sends him diving into the water at high speed. A few rounds later the tentacles start convulsing withdraw from the ship. Then Harrigan pops up, covered with squid blood, and tells Longfarthing "you were right! It's just a giant squid!". From that point on the PCs were properly terrified of their captain. "Just" a giant squid?! Then I made them do all the worst jobs stripping the stricken ship of sails, lines, timber, and fittings.

- My PCs haven't made any effort to explore the ship in detail. I think it's because they're all new and don't have that Murderhobo larceny in their hearts yet. Upshot is no one has died to any traps.

- When the Carpenter went overboard one of the PCs immediately starts running for the railings to jump after him. The bard uses animate ropes and manages to get a rope around him more or less the same moment he goes diving off the railing. Then the three biggest PCs spend several rounds trying to hauling him back on deck.

- I expect my PCs are going to mutiny against Plugg the moment the Wormwood's sails are over the horizon. I'm going to have Plugg and Scourge confiscate all of their weapons first thing. We'll see how that goes.

For the Island

- I'm going to downplay the swarms drastically. I'm thinking that if they move into the PC's square that PC has to make a fort save or become sickened and remain so until they can disperse the swarm. The swarms will cause disease as usual. Should make the swarms a significant nuisance without being deadly. The PCs have a good motivation to get rid of the swarm but they're not going to all die because no one has AOE damage.

- I'll probably run with Arron Ivy being alive and available as a carpenter.

- Not sure what I'll do about the caves, we'll see how that goes.


Update on my party's progress:

Not sure if these are spoilers:

Party Comp
Halfling Rogue
Half-Orc Monk
Human Cleric of Besmara
Aasimar Druid (took storm domain instead of Animal Companion)
Fetchling Fighter (Planning Arcane Archer, so he's bow focus)
Fetchling missed our first session

We have currently made it to the start of the storm after our first session.

The Rum Rations turned out well. They allowed my PCs to still have a healthy drink without the need to spill their rum. (Who promotes party fouls anyways?)

No one has dared yet to try their hands at Heave. (I'll most likely have a big heave match after day 9.

Day 1: Players seemed to be excited to start campaign and didn't put up any resistance to being guided to the upper deck. I did have the PCs lead Magpie out of the bilges to add a little back story of what he did. I tried to portray Magpie breaking free and attacking the captain, but it kinda came off cheesy and a little too much like a 'cut scene.' (But the PCs haven't tried to mess with the captain)

Day 2 Ambush: This fight really pans out unfair for the pirates. With a monk, unarmed attacks just don't end up well. I had the 1 conscious pirate run and say that he was ambushed by the PCs instead. Lashes all around and stuck the monk in the box for a day.

Day 4 Bilge Rats: Even with only 4 PCs the rats didn't pose much threat, even with upping the count to 8.

Day 5 Owlbear: In hindsight, I should have left Monk in the box for this encounter, but I had let him out at this time. A lvl 1 monk wrecks this encounter. After 2 rounds Owlbear would have been unconscious, I had to give Owlbear nearly 60hp just to add all the breakpoints(The club and the retreat) and make the fight pan out like it should.

PCs have managed to sway several NPCs to helpful and have gotten a fair deal of gear back. My PCs haven't done a lot of exploring or theiving so a lot of there time is spent influencing crew.

Cook's mate has really taken to the position and brags to the crew about the meals he makes. He's been pretty unlucky however because Fishguts has only been sober twice thus far.

I think I did well at moving the days along, but can definitely see where GMs can get stuck and have the days drag on far too long if you get stuck role-playing every crew member interaction.

I will be starting the storm this week and have to think of a way to introduce my fetchling. Don't think I want to wait for the Mans Promise. Maybe a stranded sailor on a sinking ship?... We'll have to see.


my party is mostly inexperienced players so we are crawling a bit before we actually hit the painful onramp of this AP. we did the whole get to know you and character coaching through emails, applying for jobs at a lousy economy time way up in varisia. they struggled through the job application trial on board a training ship but had tons of fun with the simulated challanged (rats released on deck, using harrow cards to pick their challenges, having to dive under the boat to re attach the anchor chain etc... literally learning the ropes of profession sailor etc.

next they are on their chosen ship from a merchant cooperative trading group, d will be stopping in ilsurian for a while (murder's mark) to get some roleplaying problem thinking pratice. they all chose low charisma characters so i chose this adventure to get them up to level two and get their diplomacy up a little for when they need it. sailors on Coney Island type stuff right?!
One is a drunken brute half orc oarsman, the second is a half elf monk who is learning navigation and ship's carpentry, and the final is a beardless sorcerer dwarf/cook who fled working in a roadside inn to escape his cruel uncle and get a fair wage applying for this job in Biston Harbour, lake syantula.

there are only three of them so i hope to buff them up a bit by playing them one level off the suggested and giving them a pair of sidekicks who I'll NPC and then dissappear when they have the swing of things. one is a cleric grippli another is a gillman river type who is an artisan (red dragon inn) and finally Caulky.

I have already had Caulky on the same ship as them, at this point in the narrative she has escaped the Wormwood and has many bad things to say about how scary her old boss was. She reveals that her brother is hidden in a jail somewhere held hostage by harrigan and if she escaped he had threatened to have him killed, but she thinks he may have already died.

My new players have been very cautious thus far about any drink offered them so part of my appoach is to ensure that even if they have heard about press gang drugging tactics, I will lull them out of their caution by the time they reach Magnimar (where they go to celebrate before the long haul to Andorran past cheliax (the preliminary conversations with other crew about the future point on the voyage they will never actually make providing an opportunity to get them familiar with cheliax as a place with demonic expansionist foreign policies)

Of course in Magnimar, caulky gets spotted by Plugg who hires a local to lure and drug them all, getting him much praise from the captain for returning his cabingirl. And so they are already a groupof 2nd level friends by the time they wake unarmed and naked in the hold of the wormwood with the aftertaste of oil of taggit lingering on their tongues.


oh yeah, when they miss an important saving throw they can take their own actual challenge, i have a list of sailor's knots and they can pick one and tie it in under a minute, but they can do each knot only once so they get harder each time they use one. One of the guys has copied the book and is practicing his knot tying at home!


Humiliating the PCs can work better than lashes alone... some events that happened on our Wormwood:

Spoiler:

-Our magus, whose backstory included some previous pirating, kept asking Scourge to see the ship's papers to make sure he got a fair share of the loot. Eventually, Scourge brought him some papers to sign in front of the crew. They were actually pictures of scantily clad orc maidens... As an unintended consequence, now there are some rumors about him and Grok.

-The magus likes to show off his knowledge about ships and sailing, so Scourge sometimes gives him very specific instructions of how to rig the sails incorrectly, which of course pisses off the magus. To add insult to injury, Plugg comes by later and notices, then tells Scourge to lash the magus for messing up the rigging.

-The barbarian of the group served as the witch's bodyguard prior to joining the Wormwood. When the witch failed at her task for the day and was about to get lashed, the barbarian jumped in front of Scourge to take the lashes for her. Scourge happily whipped him into unconsciousness and sentenced him to the sweat box the following day. The next day, while the barbarian was in the sweat box, Scourge lashed the witch anyway, then broke the barbarian's great axe, threw the axe head overboard, and returned the broken stick to the barbarian after his time in the sweat box.

-Animals keep popping up to cause problems, so Scourge sends the druid PC to scare them off in any violent way he can think of (a flock of seagulls lands on the Wormwood to take shelter from the storm - here's a bucket o rocks to scare them off.)

-Our cleric was interested in playing an undead-type creature, so we created a custom template for him using the rules in the ARG. Anyway, Scourge eventually caught on, but has no way to make this creepy undead guy get off his ship. Instead, he occasionally asks Sandara to say a prayer to Besmara over the daily rum ration (essentially casting bless water), making it also have the properties of holy water. He hasn't figured out what to do about it yet since asking Sandara to stop would probably get her lashed.

As for showing off Harrigan's power level, I'm planning to add a giant enemy crab in a bit of a different way. I'm hoping it's a good way to show off some of the other officers, who I've done a poor job of including in my descriptions so far. I'm also hoping it will deter the crew from trying to explore the officer's and captain's cabins - despite repeated warnings from their friends, they've been saving up to buy some thieves tools from Grok to pick the locks they see around the ship:

Spoiler:

After going crab fishing, several crab swarms, reef claws, and a giant enemy crab follow the PCs back to the Wormwood. At night, they attack! (DC 15 check to notice them climbing on board if you are on the deck. DC 20 if you are belowdecks). A round after the crabs get on the ship, whoever is on night watch rings the bell to summon everyone to the deck.

Harrigan kills the giant enemy crab in a single stroke. Plugg and Scourge take on a reefclaw each and kill them quickly. Peppery casts some chain lightning, which takes out a few... Cue the PCs to take out three more reef claws.

Sczarni

Has anyone else noticed this?

MAJOR SPOILER!!!!!

SPOILER:
I noticed last night that the plot for Skull and Shackles looks to be HEAVILY influenced (don't want to say taken) from the Movie Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End? My party noticed while playing the Carrion Crown AP that the 4th Module, Wake of the Watcher is HEAVILY influenced from a particular story by Lovecraft, to the point that when they realized it, the rest of the module was just a walkthrough until they could finish it and get on with the AP.

Now we won't be playing Skulls and Shackles.

Has anyone else noticed this about this or any other AP?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
medlii wrote:

Humiliating the PCs can work better than lashes alone... some events that happened on our Wormwood:

** spoiler omitted **...

I don't want to be the spoilsport, but players may well ask, just how the crabs climbed a sailing/drifting ship out at sea ?. Crabs don't float (or swim ), and the side of a ship are sheer anyways ?

Perhaps take some precautions there. Or perhaps have a wyver circle the ship hip looking for decent prey... and have Harrigan, Longfarthing and co attack it when it makes its move ?


vikingson wrote:
medlii wrote:

Humiliating the PCs can work better than lashes alone... some events that happened on our Wormwood:

** spoiler omitted **...

I don't want to be the spoilsport, but players may well ask, just how the crabs climbed a sailing/drifting ship out at sea ?. Crabs don't float (or swim ), and the side of a ship are sheer anyways ?

Perhaps take some precautions there. Or perhaps have a wyver circle the ship hip looking for decent prey... and have Harrigan, Longfarthing and co attack it when it makes its move ?

In my game (at least) the Wormwood had anchored in the shallower waters of the reef area for repairs, and also for Riaris to do her training session (which my players failed abysmally. :( ) This made more sense for the Reefclaw fishing encounter, and also would logically allow for an attack by the reef denizens. Perhaps they climbed up the anchor cable, or the reef is home to an aquatic druid of some type who doesn't appreciate interlopers and used a spell to deposit them onboard.

You know..... "Dragons". ;D


Hmm. we simply had an actual "training session" with everyone participating to assess the characters' fighting abilities. base attack and Int or wisdom to see who was how competent.

Party tank actually challenged Harrigan for a friendly match (after having wlaked through everyone of the "lower level" crew....

... couldn't hit Harrigan for three rounds Harrigan only tapping him for single points of damage, finally got feinted and struck for massive non-lethal damage that almost killed him.(Non lethal sneak feint for about 36 points - char had 18 (of 22) HP at that time)

After that, everyone was pretty certain that Harrigan was "competent" and not to be trifled with. conclusions were drawn about the likely power of Longfarthing and noone considered mutiny as long as those two were around.

I do see a problem if the chracters actually try to put up a show against any "monstrous" assailants... and fail


Update on my party's progress:

Progress:

This was two sessions together

The storm was pretty fun. Our druid fell from the rigging and landed on deck. I had Rosie(Helpful) and Tam 'Narwhal' Tate(Hostile) fall overboard. A random group of pirates were able to save Tam. For my PCs however, not so lucky. Our STR monk refused to help and stayed up in the crows nest watching for rocks and reefs. Rosie made some poor swim checks and lost the rope twice.

My fetchling was found is a stray life boat that the group found after the storm. It had my PC and 2 NPCs, one of which was dead.

Reefclaws turned out to be a lot harder than i had initially though. Ended up draining 14 STR from my monk. Fetchling kept searching for crabs to fill the pots and flee. Cleric was stuck between doing damage and healing the monk. They killed the reefclaws, but just barely.

For boarding school I made 2 PCs go at a time while the other 3 launched fruit, vegetables, and bottles. Cleric shined and became the leader of the boarding team.

I attempted my assassination in the bilges on the cleric. He noticed the daggers but was blocked from the stairs. After both of my pirates hitting round 1 he cast sanctuary and ran away (failed both my will saves). I still stuck him in the box for slacking off.

Man's Promise: Fight seemed well balanced. Neither side really had the overwhelming advantage. Having Captain Harrigan killing the captain and displaying his head made the fight feel more rewarding.

My party had whispers of mutiny as soon as the were aboard the Man's Promise. Fishguts reminded them of the Code of Besmara "End Your Quarrels on Shore." The PCs are chomping at the bit to get their hands on Plugg and Scourge.

Fishguts gave each of my PCs a jar of nasty smelling oil(insect repellent). Next session we take on the island. Since they didn't have a true arcane caster it seemed unfair to throw so many swarms at them. I'm working on rewriting the Arron Ivy encounter.


My group just finished this adventure (I being a player). I am curious about the end dungeon/encounters.

Unless something was changed by our GM, it appears the last group of encounters take place in water that is at least waist high with no dry places to access. When someone falls unconscious you have no options for helping them (you have to swim underwater to get back out).

We ran out of spells and healing, we had two people unconscious and we had few solutions on dealing with this issue of keeping the unconscious from drowning. Furthermore, anyone falling unconscious drowns rather fast. Plus, with the water there are no 5' steps. In essence every fight was a fight or die, with no option to flee because we can't outrun swimmers.

Seems like a death trap if you are wounded and run out of healing. We lost half our group and have to leave water-logged corpses behind because we can't drag the dead back through the underwater entrance.

Anyone else run into this issue?


Im running, not those specific issues, my group had water breathing potions but yes it is designed as you played it out. Book 1 is a very tough adventure.


My players will likely try those caves next, Lejanius. I hope they remember that retreating is a perfectly valid option. I know that in the middle of a fight that won't necessarily be an option for the reasons you list. If, between encounters, it comes to being low on resources and deciding to press on in unfavourable conditions (armed with the meta-knowledge that the team has not met the "boss fight" yet) or pull back for a breather, no shame in exercising the better part of valour.


Try asking the GM if you can wait until low tide to tackle the caverns. That should make some differance.


OK, so the Wormwood is chasing the Man's Promise but I and they have lots of problems. The party is too chaotic even for the Wormwood and were determined to get revenge on Mister Plugg.

First, they stole a bunch of items from the quartermaster's store and tried to pin the thefts on Mister Plugg - failing miserably to convince Grok (not that she could so much against the first mate anyway) that they weren't in fact responsible. They would have gotten away with the theft itself if they hadn't tried to plant evidence on Mister Plugg and attempted to drop him in it with Grok, offering 'found' items and pointing her toward his bunk where they'd stashed the rest. All it served to do was lose them the stolen items and earn the distrust of Grok.

Then, after one of the PCs was killed in the ambush on Day 19, the party worked out who the culprits were and the dead guy's RL brother's character vowed revenge, persuading most of the rest of the party to attempt to murder Mister Plugg in his sleep. I had Sandara talk them out of that but on the following day, when the player's new character arrived, a fight broke out during his 'indoctrination'. I made sure that the captain and his inner circle stayed out of the fighting until someone died but the party got lucky and Master Scourge and Mister Plugg were both defeated before the party looked to be overpowered and decided to surrender. As a parting shot though, the party Fighter decided to coup de grace Mister Plugg and managed to kill him.

The killer was put in the sweat box to be keelhauled at the bloody hour while the rest of the party were chained up in the bilges. Their release was secured when the Man's Promise was spotted though that's when we run into the third problem: Even after being awarded XP for Plugg, Scourge and a crewman also defeated in the fighting, none of them have enough XP for level 2 yet. The one party member who's accomplished the most is still 70xp off advancing with the rest being several hundred xp away.

I plan on advancing Master Scourge and Patch Patchsalt to make up for the loss of Plugg but unless I retroactively switch to the fast XP track I'm not sure what to do about their lack of XP without setting a precedent I'd have trouble passing off to my players.

Any advice?

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