BOOK 3: TEMPEST RISING
Lamashan 23rd, 4711
We returned to Tidewater Rock this evening. I showed Agasta the treasure we found at Mancatcher Cove. She marvelled at the wealth displayed before her eyes, yet I couldn't shake the feeling that something was bothering her. The feeling that... somehow... she knew about Hollycaryn.
I've reached an important decision today, along with the ship's officers. We've decided to venture to Port Peril to ask the Hurricane King for a letter of marque naming me a Free Captain of the Shackles. It won't be easy, since we are not fortunate enough to be backed in our claim by an existing Free Captain, or better yet, a Pirate Lord, but our fame is growing. We have recently won several naval battle, we claimed a treasure, we control Tidewater Rock, we have a good ship... It is definitely worth trying. Otherwise, we risk becoming prey to the more powerful pirate crews every time we enter the Shackles.
Lamashan 26th, 4711
We've rested at Tidewater Rock these past three days.
Granam used his newly found thieves' tools to try and disable the trap on the stone box we found in the sahuagin lair. He did so on Tidewater Rock itself, away from anyone else. This was a wise precaution, for her utterly failed to disarm the trap. A large cloud of poisonous vapor soon surrounded him, but he was thankfully protected from it by his magic and sturdy constitution. Such a toxin could have had a disastrous effect on our crew, though, if we had been foolish enough to open it aboard the True Wind.
We were disappointed to find within that stone box not a second huge treasure, but rather... a corpse. Our analysis revealed it to be the corpse of a human male, many decades old. It still wore some jewelry, as a sort of consolation prize for us. None of it radiated magic, nor did we find anything else of interest within. The spirit of this long-dead man resisted Varnas's initial attempt at necromantic questioning.
Lamashan 27th, 4711
We've begun our journey toward Port Peril today. We're still sailing aboard the True Wind and we've brought the Thresher along to sell it. I dare hope that it will fetch a hefty price, once prospective buyers become aware of its ties to the notorious pirate Isabella Locke. Even though we've just found a large treasure, I remained obsessed with finding more money, for our crew is quite expensive to pay... around five hundred gold pieces per month... Now I understand why some captains purposefully sail with a smaller crew.
Our navigation has been made easier thanks to the many excellent maps of the Shackles we've acquired in recent raids. I've got them on display in the walls of my cabin, so I can examine them whenever required.
"Here there be random encounters... what does that mean?" asked Hollycaryn this evening as she traced with a slender finger the monster-decorated corner of one of the bigger maps.
"That map must have been penned by someone with a sick sense of humor, my dear," I replied as I gently wrapped my arm over her shoulders. "Or someone with much experience at sea, where it sometimes feel like fate itself rolls cosmic dice into the aether, using them to determine in what manner to torment unfortunate mortals."
Neth 5th, 4711
We arrived at Port Peril today, flying the flag of the Shackles as a gesture of peace: the skull over two crossed shackles on a red and black background. We cautiously entered Crescent Harbor and docked our ships where they will have to remain in quarantine for one week. Worried that some of the city's thieves could steal our hard-earned treasure, some of us will maintain a watch over it at all times.
I let my sailors go on shore leave, and the majority of them immediately dispersed among the many brothels and taverns that stand close to the docks. I sternly warned them to stay away from the Formidably Maid, lest we lose them to another crew recruiting there.
I stayed aboard the True Wind for now, gazing up at Lucre Hold, the fortress of Kerdak Bonefist the Hurricane King. I tasked a few of my most trusted men to bring him a sizable offering, as well as a request to discuss my nomination as Free Captain. A few hours later, I received a summons to meet with his majesty tomorrow evening.
Though the lure of debauchery called to me from the nearby streets, I acted responsibly and remained aboard the ship to watch over the treasure with Hollycaryn keeping me company.
Neth 6th, 4711
We were most rudely awakened this morning by an uncouth oaf bellowing obscenities in the vicinity of my ship. I exited the cabin and was about to put the ruffian in his place when I immediately opted for respectful silence upon recognizing his famous and hideous face: our visitor was none other than Tsadok Goldtooth, a half-orc of considerable girth who was widely known to be the first mate of the Hurricane King himself. To insult him was to seek death, so I strove to remain polite despite the brute's extreme rudeness regarding myself, my ship, my crew and my request to meet with his master. I did not let his crass words upset me because I realized that this was just a show: a small crowd had already begun to gather on the docks. Some of them were sycophants who laughed and clapped at Tsadok's slightest jest and insult, but others seemed to hold the behemoth in very low esteem. It is to these that I appealed when I addressed the crowd in response to Tsadok's accusations. Though the brute is surely a powerful combatant, when it comes to manipulating a crowd, I am convinced that I am, by far, his superior.
Tsadok informed me and my three main companions (Ursus, Granam and Varnas, who were, miraculously, present and awake despite their night of intense debauchery) that we must succeed at three trials in order to be deemed worthy of meeting his master.
The first trial was a race: one of us needed to climb up the mast of a ship and untie a sail while one of his men did the same on another nearby mast. Whoever untied his sail the fastest would win. Granam promptly volunteered for the task and swiftly left his opponent in the dust as he effortlessly ascended the mast with his slippers of spider climbing. Though some hooligans tried to ruin the event by rocking the ship, Granam handily beat Tsadok's man.
"Okay," grumbled the Hurricane King's first mate, "You pass this one... Now for the second trial: the trial of luck!..."
Here are the characters at level 7.
To make some links to our previous campaign:
Akavar = myself, i.e. the DM in Rise of the Runelords, Curse of the Crimson Throne and Legacy of Fire; played Belessa in Savage Tide.
Varnas = Navan and Ruh in Rise of the Runelords, Kindrasius in Curse of the Crimson Throne; Toba in Legacy of Fire; DM in Savage Tide.
Ursus = New player who played Trinia, then Zeeva in the second half of Curse of the Crimson Throne.
Granam = Manius in Curse of the Crimson Throne; Ulfgar in Savage Tide.
Our DM = Kaeso and Hipazia in Curse of the Crimson Throne; Lagaan in Savage Tide.
= = = =
Captain Akavar Whisperquill (CN Male Elf Bard, Level 7) – Worships Besmara
Str: 20 Dex: 18 Con: 10 Int: 13 Wis: 7 Cha: 14
AC: 22 HP: 58 Fortitude: +6 Reflex: +12 Will: +6
Initiative: +8 Speed: 30’
Melee attacks: +1 rapier +9 (1d6+12, 18-20)
Ranged attacks: Composite Longbow +9 (1d8+5, x3)
Height: 6’3”. Weight: 180 lbs, Age: 126, Hair: Black, Eyes: Black.
Feats: Toughness, Improved initiative, Power attack, Arcane strike, Dodge.
Traits: Forlorn, Barroom Talespinner.
Skills: Acrobatics 8, Climb 11, Knowledge: Arcana 8, Knowledge: Engineering 8, Knowledge: Geography 8, Knowledge: History 8, Knowledge: Local 14, Knowledge: Religion 8, Perception 7, Perform: Oratory 13, Perform: Comedy 10, Profession: Sailor 8, Spellcraft 11, Stealth 8, Swim 11, Use magic device 6.
Languages: Common, Elf, Shackles Dialect.
Level 0: Detect magic, Ghost sound, Light, Prestidigitation, Open/Close, Message.
Level 1: Charm person, Cure light wounds, Hideous laughter, Alarm, Disguise self.
Level 2: Glitterdust, Heroism, Detect thoughts, Tongues.
Level 3: Confusion, Haste.
Main equipment: Composite Longbow (+3 str), Chain shirt +2, Rapier +1, Light wooden shield, Ring of swimming (+5), Farglass, Cloak of resistance +3, Belt of strength +2.
= = = =
Varnas Dalvares (CN Male Human Oracle of Battle, Level 7)
Str: 18 Dex: 14 Con: 12 Int: 10 Wis: 8 Cha: 18
AC: 21 HP: 59 Fortitude: +6 Reflex: +6 Will: +6
Initiative: +2 Speed: 30’
Melee attacks: +2 falchion +10 (2d4+14, 18-20)
Height: 5’10”. Weight: 198 lbs. Age: 19, Hair: Black, Eyes: Gray.
Feats: Extra revelation x2, Power attack, Toughness, Leadership.
Revelations: War sight, Surprising charge, Skill at arms, Weapon Mastery (Falchion).
Traits: Focused mind, Buccaneer's blood.
Skills: Climb 8, Diplomacy 10, Intimidate 15, Linguistics 1, Perception 9, Profession: Sailor 8, Profession: Cook 3, Spellcraft 4, Swim 7, Use magic device 7.
Languages: Shackles Dialect, Common.
Level 0: Create water, Ghost sound, Guidance, Light, Mage hand, Stabilize, Detect magic, Read magic, Mending.
Level 1: Command, Cure light wounds, Shield of faith, Enlarge person, Bless, Divine favor, Summon monster 1, Endure elements.
Level 2: Cure moderate wounds, Fog cloud, Lesser restoration, Levitate, Minor image, Resist energy, Make whole, Augury, Hold person.
Level 3: Cure serious wounds, Magic vestment, Speak with dead, Water breathing.
Main equipment: Falchion +2, Breastplate +2, Amulet of natural armor +1, Composite longbow (+4 str), Zul (special human-bane trident +1), Headband of charisma +2, Cloak of resistance +2.
= = = =
Ursus Major, a.k.a. "The Pirate Formerly Known as Hannibal Ring" (N Male Human Ranger, Level 7)
Unfortunately, I don't have his stats with me right now.
= = = =
Granam Fletcher (CN Male Human Ranger/Rogue, Level 6/1)
Str: 12 Dex: 20 Con: 12 Int: 14 Wis: 17 Cha: 11
AC: 20 HP: 60 Fortitude: +6 Reflex: +11 Will: +5
Initiative: +9 Speed: 30’
Melee attacks: Masterwork rapier +8/+3 (1d6+1, 18-20)
Ranged attacks: +2 composite longbow (+1 str) +14/+9 (1d8+3, x3)
Height: 5’9”. Weight: 175 lbs. Age: 23, Hair: Black, Eyes: Green.
Favored enemies: Humans +4, Undead +2.
Favored terrains: Water.
Feats: Weapon focus: longbow, Point blank shot, Precise shot, Rapid shot, Endurance, Deadly aim, Improved initiative, Manyshot.
Traits: Bully, Touched by the sea.
Skills: Acrobatics 8, Appraise 8, Bluff 4, Climb 8, Craft bows 7, Diplomacy 4, Disable device 15, Escape artist 8, Handle animal 4, Intimidate 8, Knowledge: Dungeoneering 7, Knowledge: Engineering 7, Knowledge: Geography 9, Knowledge: Local 8, Knowledge: Nature 9, Perception 13, Profession: Sailor 10, Sense motive 7, Sleight of hand 8, Spellcraft 6, Stealth 12, Survival 13, Swim 10.
Languages: Shackles Dialect, Common, Aquan.
Main equipment: Masterwork rapier, Composite longbow +2 (+1 str), Studded leather, Lesser bracers of archery, Amulet of natural armor +1, Ring of protection +1, Belt of dexterity +2, Slippers of spider climbing.
The other trials
I faced Tsadok in the Trial of Luck: only the two of us and a "neutral" (though highly suspicious-looking) dealer were allowed on the deck of the ship. The game was "That Bastard's Fool", and the wager was 100 platinum pieces each. We quickly went over the rules, which included one specifying that the winner of each hand had to take a swig of potent alcohol.
Alas, Tsadok was a filthy, slippery coward of a player. He bet low. He folded often. He took no risks. Early in the game, I found myself winning almost every hand, but the earnings were risible: just a few coins at a time. Each time, I was forced to take a drink... I could feel my head starting to spin... That cur's intention was clearly to get me so drunk that he would finally get the advantage. It proved a winning strategy for him, the only one in fact. I could read him like an open book, and used my insights to make appropriate bets. After some time, I had amassed almost the entirety of his fortune. He was left with only ten or so of his precious coins.
But alas... alas...
He was a resilient foe...
Just as I was about to finish him off... Lady luck, ever fickle as she is, abandoned me.
Coins started moving back in huge heaps toward the half-orc's side of the table...
The next thing that I remember was being cleansed by some sort of magic that Varnas cast on me. I was standing on the docks along with my comrades. Disappointment was plain on each of their faces.
"Damnation," I exclaimed, "don't tell me we've lost?"
"Yeah... You went all out in the end, and he claimed every coin." grumbled Granam as he scratched his beard bitterly. It could have been a trick of my imagination, but it looked like it had grown considerably since I'd last seen him. Had the game been THAT long?
I was now once again in full possession of my senses, and returned to face the now considerably inebriated Tsadok. He glowed with satisfaction at his victory (which had earned him our 100 platinum pieces). He then announced that the next trial would consist of us defending the True Wind against the assault of an entity currently kept within a huge covered cage. This mysterious monster was revealed as Fishpork, a burly marsh giant of some renown in the city as a pit fighter.
Fishpork was a dangerous adversary, as he had access to some primitive form of magic, and hit like... well, like a giant... But the four of us easily bested him. Before long, he was lying on the dock, slashed to death by Varnas's gigantic falchion, and with a multitude of Granam's arrows lodged in his thick gray skin.
"You won two trials," granted Tsadok. "All right, that's good enough. See you at eight o'clock at Lucre Hold, then."
This evening, we dined with the best of the worst of Port Peril. We met with the Hurricane King himself, Kerdak Bonefist. I got the chance to see from up close his skeletal hand (which legends say he gained as a result of an encounter with a lich pirate with whom he made a deal), his magical tankard (ever full of beer or rum), and his famous pistol that never misses. I was surprised to see how "young" the Hurricane King was: even though he is a human, and has been in charge for at least forty years, he is not as frail and feeble as a regular human of that age. Surely there must be some sort of magic that's keeping him young.
Among his entourage were many of the Free Captains of the Shackles, including my acquaintance, Wide Olga (so named due to her large smile, not because of the width of her body), in whose company I had escaped the chelaxian execution squad around a year ago.
I was given the occasion to present my case, to convince the King and his sycophants that I was worthy of joining their ranks. Varnas maintained a strong presence as well and ensured that the troublemakers in the room did not hinder my speech too much. I spoke of our claim over Tidewater Rock; of our victories over captains Isabella Locke and Jeremiah Pilk; and of our many battles against the vessels of the hated chelaxian navy. When my words themselves fell just shy of entirely convincing our jaded and greedy audience, I ensured to present to them some of our spoils of war, and these gifts led them to heed my request.
The Hurricane King spoke in the end and claimed that I was to be accepted among the ranks of the Free Captains of the Shackles! I was given a letter of marque (a magical document that can be made to look like a simple cargo manifest) and a list of the Free Captains (to avoid accidental battles between peers). On my part, I pledged to protect the Shackles, to spare the merchant ships from Sargava, etc, etc.
Here are my comments on the card game.
I liked the principle of it, they way it modeled a real card game, with the notion of betting several times, of having the option of choosing which type of die to roll as the 2nd die. The usage of skills in relation to the game also made sense to me.
What I found didn't work so well was that it was way too long. It took over one hour to resolve, and would have lasted way longer than that if in the end, I hadn't purposefully played EXTREMELY recklessly, just to finish it, because the other players had been completely idle since the beginning of the game, and I felt bad for them. At that point, a five-minutes-away loss was more appealing than an hour-away win.
The notion of having to take a drink with each winning hand made sense, but at the end the penalties we had were ridiculously huge. I was at -12 to all skills by the end, and that's even with some spectacular saving throws on my part. That kind of penalty seemed outrageously high compared to other penalties in Pathfinder.
We made the following modifications during the game to make it work more smoothly:
- Bets were 10 coins minimum, to make it go faster.
- Whoever won the last hand was the one who had to announce their wager first. Otherwise, it was too easy, as I was always waiting to see how much the GM committed: it wasn't fair.
- In the case of ties (which frequently happened), we ruled that whoever had used the smallest dice won. For example, if we were tied at 20, but one had used a d20 and a d10, and the other one had used a d20 and a d4, the d20/d4 player won.
We didn’t suffer from random encounters in this campaign, I just thought it would be funny to replace the usual “here there be monsters” with the mechanism of how encounters with monsters are generally calculated in expanses of wilderness as we could see on a map. :)
The idea that NOW was a good time to make my bid to become a Free Captain was totally from the DM. Actually, a lot of the campaign is the DM gently hinting: “OK, now it seems it would be a good time to attack ships… OK, now it seems it would be a good time to take control of Tidewater Rock (by an arranged marriage)… and so on.”
One could complain that even a naval campaign can be on railroads, but I don’t really mind much. I’m of the opinion that I prefer being “stuck” on a train that passes through a beautiful landscape, than having the freedom to explore a barren and boring sandbox.
Neth 7th, 4711
An old acquaintance
We've spent some time on the main shore today, selling part of our accumulated treasure and getting magically restored at the temple of Besmara. At last, we are all free of the coral curse that has afflicted us since we fought Krelloort.
I spent the evening at the Riptide Alehouse with my usual comrades, Granam, Ursus, Varnas, as well as Sandara. The place was full and noisy. At some point, Varnas nudged me and pointed toward a short-haired woman with an eye patch. It took but a moment for me to recognize her as Caulky Tarroon, the former cabin girl of Captain Harrigan. After a brief moment of shock, I realized that Harrigan was, thankfully, not around; I also noticed that Caulky was pouring small amounts of a suspicious liquid into various patrons' mugs - surely replicating the same stratagem that had led to our own capture, over six months ago.
Before we could interact with Caulky, a fellow Free Captain by the name of Pierce Jerell accosted us. He was a thin individual, his hair long and his face also sporting an eye patch, just like Caulky. He leered at Sandara in a most un-subtle way. Despite the poor timing of his arrival, I tried to remain pleasant toward him, remembering the rumors that described him as a skilled magic-user who had been raised among warriors. Varnas was much less polite, and almost growled as Jerell began flirting with Sandara.
"So how go things aboard the Salty Flagon, my good captain Pierce?" I enquired.
Before my interlocutor could respond, though, a commotion erupted from further in the tavern. Someone had apparently become aware of Caulky's tampering with their drinks, and while they were protesting with frantic gestures (spilling beer all around), they drew the ire of a neighbouring patron.
Soon enough, a good old-fashioned tavern brawl began all around us. Noticing that Caulky was trying to use the diversion to slip away, I cast a Haste spell on our group, so that we might catch up to her. Ursus, Granam and I swiftly made our way through the pugilistic crowd, only briefly stopping when two oversized inebriated individuals sought to stop us. Fortunately, they could not keep up with our magically accelerated movements, and we soon began ascending the stairs leading to the second floor, still following the elusive Caulky. The one-eyed brunette stopped at the top of the stairs just long enough to roll an empty barrel behind her. Granam nimbly dodged it at it thundered down the stairs, but Ursus was sent sprawling to his feet by the impact. Meanwhile, I had avoided the trajectory of the object in question and swiftly caught up with Caulky. I grabbed hold of her, and when she drew a short dagger to try and stab me in the face, I squeezed her wrist and made her drop the offending item. Granam and Ursus soon joined me and ensured she wouldn't offer any more resistance.
The sound of our scuffle was easily drowned by the cacophony of the bar brawl below. We dragged Caulky to a side-room normally reserved for shady, illegal deals (which, in Port Peril, are simply called "deals"). We began questioning her and learned that she was still a member of Barnabas Harrigan's crew, though she had now risen above the rank of mere cabin-girl. We understood that Harrigan's ship was to leave on the morrow. Our nemesis was seemingly unaware of our presence in the area, as well as of our fate and that of Mister Plugg and Master Scourge. I sought to keep it that way, and sensing that Caulky Tarroon was more dangerous to us alive than dead, I gestured discreetly to my companions a query regarding the woman's fate: to get rid of her, or spare her life?
We discussed the matter in whispers for a few moments, and sensing our grim intentions, Caulky offered to join our crew. Looking into her eye, I felt I could not trust her at all. I also knew that Harrigan was a psychopath and might seek to kill us if he learned of our presence in town - say, if she escaped and warned him. What's more, I had very bad memories of awakening in the Wormwood's hold, and to see Caulky seeking to replicate the scheme on some poor, unsuspecting sods this evening had awakened within me a profound and implacable anger towards her and the rest of my erstwhile tormentors.
So I drew my dagger and slit her throat.
Meanwhile, the fight had died down in the main room, but we soon heard the sounds of the city watch intervening. We were now in a small room with only one exit, and a dead body. Not good.
I decided to use my magic to change my appearance into that of one of the city guards, to try and divert them away from where Ursus and Granam remained in hiding with Caulky's corpse. Returning downstairs, I tried to act like a regular member of the guard, but very nearly failed in that endeavour, as they soon became highly suspicious of me. By some miracle, my true identity was not revealed, and I was tasked, along with another guard, to bring a large ruffian to the garrison.
We exited the tavern and walked along the dark streets. Having no desire to push my luck further, I helped my "captive" to escape and fled in a different direction. I ran and hid in the shadowy alleys for a few minutes, shedding my magical disguise to further elude pursuers. A short while later, I returned to the Riptide Alehouse and found Varnas and Sandara, who had both taken part in the bar brawl while the rest of us chased Caulky. Varnas had apparently delivered quite a thrashing to Pierce Jerell, who had fled the scene with the use of a scroll after temporarily stunning Varnas with a spell.
Soon after, Granam and Ursus also made their way out, not very subtly, but mercifully, the guards were gone by then. Granam looked pale and shaky; Ursus, on the other hand, seemed to be in a good mood and very relaxed. I could only infer that the poor Granam had been forced to watch Ursus perform unspeakable acts upon Caulky's corpse while they waited for the guard to leave the premises.
It seemed we'd had enough excitement for one night, so we all walked back toward the True Wind. Along the way, we came upon two suspicious-looking characters (by Port Peril standards, meaning really, really suspicious-looking) carrying a large bag containing an oddly human-shaped burden. My first instinct was to just keep going on our way, but again, being exposed once more to Caulky's treacherous body-snatching scheme earlier that night made me suspect that perhaps it was one of our own crew members who was about to be press ganged.
I approached the two ruffians with my four comrades in tow. The two cowards didn't even wait for us to come very close. "Screw this, let's tell Adelitta!" they grumbled as they dropped their package and fled in the darkness.
Approaching the bag, I untied it and curiously peered inside to see which unfortunate soul we had saved from waking up in another pirate ship's hold.
Imagine my surprise when, instead of the round-bellied tattooed sea-dog with a wooden leg that I'd been expecting, I discovered within the bag none other than the unconscious shape of my dear golden-haired belle, Hollycaryn! To think how close I'd come to losing her!
After explaining to my thunderstruck comrades that, no, I was not forcing her to remain a prisoner within my cabin at all times like a caged animal, and that I had given her the liberty to enjoy shore leave like everyone else, I gently took the sleeping beauty in my arms and carried her back to my cabin aboard the True Wind.
Neth 8th, 4711
A messenger came aboard the ship this morning. At first, I had expected him to have been sent by the mysterious "Adelitta" we had heard about last night (perhaps some sort of thieves' guild mistress), but I was pleasantly surprised to hear from him an invitation to meet with Tessa Fairwind, one of the most famous of the Free Captains of the Shackles: mistress of Motaku Island, she was well-known for her beauty and her luck. Apparently, she wanted to meet us.
Yeah, I hesitated about how to handle her, and I'm not sure it was the right decision. However, I feel like we've done a lot of "turning the other cheek" regarding some of our other enemies (Aretta, Narwhal Tate, Conchobhar, etc) ... I feel like we've been a bit too soft with those characters...
Basically, what I was trying to convey was that, given the trauma that Akavar suffered when he was captured and brought in the Wormwood, seeing one of his former tormentors, not in a neutral setting but replicating the *exact same* scheme, is what condemned her in Akavar's eyes.
Also, she tried to stab me in the face. So... she started it!
The skeleton crew
A strange derelict sailed into Port Peril's harbor this morning. It stopped against the docks not far from where we were located, and a number of skeletal beings emerged from its rotten and darkened mass. Along with several visitors and inhabitants of the city alike, we drew our weapons and defended the lives of the living against this unexpected attack. Among the crowd was Tsadok the half-orc, who fought mightily. Fortunately, the undead proved no match for us, and soon we found ourselves on the deck of the enemy ship.
An unfortunate man, emaciated, pale, sweating and delirious, was tied to the mast. Ursus immediately recognized the symptoms of ghoul fever in him.
"Raugsmauda sends her regards," croaked the wretch. "She tells the Hurricane King that the next time he sends mercenaries to kill her, she'll get his f~%+ing head."
Tsadok growled and ended the prisoner's torment.
Later, we discussed this event among ourselves. Raugsmauda is a well-known lich who lives on a volcanic island southwest of Motaku Isle. She is considered a plague upon the entire region of the Shackles. Legend says that she goes on a foray in the neighbouring area once a month, when the moon is full, aboard her black ship, seeking the souls of those unlucky enough to cross her path. We were in fact fortunate to avoid such a fate when we ventured to Mancatcher Cove, not so long ago!
It is rumored that the Hurricane King has already sent 3 expeditions to try to exterminate the lich. The last one, sent two months ago, was led by a man named Boros, and it was apparently unsuccessful, like those before. Thinking about Kerdak Bonefist's withered, undead hand, we wondered if he had previously made a deal with this very lich, a deal which he now regretted...
A big meal
We had lunch on the main shore at a place called La Carconte. The owner was a short and plump woman of advanced years with a Nidalese accent. We sat at one of the five or six tables, not far from the place's big hearth, and were told that the restaurant's meat comes from a place called "F&M's Exotic Meats" (so named after its owners, Festerscale the kobold and Myzra the half-elf). These two have apparently devised a way to keep meat fresh longer by storing it in a magically cold location. Of course, the nature of the meat itself can sometimes be considered... dubious. Coincidentally, Tsadok was yet again present in the vicinity; he was apparently a usual patron here.
Catching, around the corner of the door leading to the kitchen, a glimpse of a familiar ample-bellied figure who had been very secretive and mysterious lately, I called out loudly: "Ambrose, you old sea dog, so this is where you've been hiding!?"
The rotund cook cringed at my vociferous greeting. He sheepishly joined us in the main room and explained that he'd been discreetly hiding here since we docked. Apparently, Captain Harrigan had come here two or three days ago to try and coerce the owner of the place into revealing Ambrose's whereabouts... for it turned out that she was his mother! Thankfully, Tsadok's presence had prevented Harrigan from exerting too much physical force in his questioning.
We had gotten confirmation that the Wormwood had already left Port Peril by now, mercifully, so Harrigan wasn't an immediate threat anymore. Chatting with Ambrose's mother as we ate the daunting amount of meat she served us, I got confirmation that Ambrose had become something like Harrigan's personal slave due to a bet he had made and lost because of his drinking problem.
In the evening, we went to the district where the richest inhabitants of Port Peril reside, a place both physically and metaphorically above the rest of the city. Even using a map of the city, it was surprisingly difficult to find a place of ascension toward this area. On the way, we discussed about Tessa Fairwind, who she was and what to expect from her. She was the captain of a ship called the Luck of the Draw, she was rumored to be extremely lucky, and to be the next in line to be named Hurricane King (Queen?). Despite her humble origins as the daughter of a priestess/prostitute of Calistria, she had gained great renown in the Shackles thanks in part to her friendly demeanor.
Tessa's house wasn't as large or extravagant as one might have expected for the second most powerful Pirate Lord in the Shackles, but it was nice enough.
Inside, a servant led us from the lobby into a boudoir, and after a short wait, our host came to greet us. It was a true pleasure to meet her: a beautiful young half-elf with crimson hair, Tessa was so striking that Sandara seemed quite plain in comparison. She was playing heavily the seduction card, smiling and touching us quite frequently.
We began by discussing the day's most unusual event, the attack of the undead crew. She gave us a bit more information regarding Raugsmauda, who had been a human wizard who came to the Shackles around 200 or 300 years ago. She had been at war with a rival spellcaster, and she won her battle, but nonetheless interred herself after her victory. Some time later, someone had unearthed her. She had later relocated to her current island. She ruled there now, protected by many undead minions and a cleric of Lamashtu. It was definitely a place to avoid, especially around the full moon.
The discussion then turned toward the Hurricane King. Tessa expressed her opinion that his hold on the Shackles was weakening, hinting that his reign would end soon. I remained neutral in this discussion, but Varnas asked her if she sought to replace Kerdak. Tessa said that she had no interest in the role, as she was too much of a free spirit. Either she was truthful, or her lie was very convincing, because I was led to believe her.
It is only later that Tessa revealed why she had invited us: she needed someone to investigate the rumors of an upcoming massive chelaxian attack on the Shackles. Since I was the newest Free Captain, she surmised that I was still not well-known, so that I could investigate the matter more discreetly than she would. This tale of a chelaxian invasion reminded me of what Cesare had told us when we met him in Rickety Squib; but upon further reflection and discussion, I became more convinced that Cesare had in fact tried to fool us by planting some seeds of misinformation: there was likely no plan from Cheliax to launch an attack against Korvosa. The young man had probably just tried to spread confusing rumors that would create an artificial sense of safety in the Shackles, as we thought that Cheliax was focusing its army toward the north rather than toward the south.
Tessa had met Cesare when he'd come to Port Peril to try and sway the Hurricane King. I saw that she didn't like him, yet there's something more she knew or felt about him that she didn't tell us.
Always the most pragmatic among us, Granam asked Tessa how much we'd get paid for the mission she proposed, and she described the reward... Which is pretty decent. Truth be told, though, the notion of her personal gratitude was the only reward I needed at that point. I think it was the same for most of my comrades. We were just too polite to say it out loud.
Tessa gave us two leads to follow: we might learn more information at the House of Stolen Kisses, the temple of Calistria in her home base of Quent. The place is rumored to be the best brothel in all of the Shackles. We received a note to show to Dindriane, the high priestess, our allegiance to her good friend Tessa.
That sounded like a good start to the mission...
The second lead was definitely less appealing: we were to visit another temple, but that one belonging to the cult of Norgorber, the god of secrets, poisons, assassinations and other such unpleasant things. That one was located on Beachcomber Isle. The priests of Norgorber are notoriously unpleasant and dangerous scum, but they do tend to keep up-to-date with the latest gossip, so I could see the interest in trying to negotiate for some of their information.
Once the mission had been described, Tessa gifted us with a map of the Shackles that was enchanted to show the current weather patterns. Very nifty.
She also discussed the subject of Varnas's mother, whom she had known before her untimely death at the hands of the Chelaxian navy.
We then parted ways with our new acquaintance, despite our reluctance to leave her home ... and her company.
She was playing heavily the seduction card, smiling and touching us quite frequently.
Lol, funny how two simple words like "It worked" can put a smile on your face. I really feel your journal has become more fun to read again over the last couple of months, as if you've gained more inspiration or pleasure to write.
I also liked seeing Ambrose Kroop again. Ever since I bought his miniature from the Pathfinder Battles line I've had a soft spot for the man.
Nice, I’m glad you’re enjoying it. Sometimes it is difficult to write an interesting journal entry, given what actually happened during the game. There’s not a lot of character interaction (between PC’s and NPC’s, and between the PC’s themselves), compared to our previous campaigns like Savage Tide, Rise of the Runelords or Legacy of Fire, so there’s definitely less to work with from the “raw material” of the games themselves. Also, like we said before, there’s a fair amount of railroading going on, so when comes the time to write the log, I need to kind of “reverse engineer” the situation to try and justify *why* the characters made those decisions…
Neth 14th, 4711
Left Port Peril today. 9 sailors missing, they either decided to stay in town, or were "recruited" by rival crews.
Passed a noteworthy ship on the way out: gold-hulled "Bitter Steel", the vessel of the Golden Company, some mercenaries exiled from Cheliax, as they were among the enemies of House Thrune during the war.
Neth 21st, 4711
The House of Stolen Kisses
We docked in Quent today. It's a beautiful city, around fifteen thousand inhabitants. Navigating the approach was easier than at Port Peril, I can see why it has the reputation of being the nicest natural port in the Shackles.
Finding the House of Stolen Kisses was an easy task. We were led inside this place of class and refinement and met with the madam, Dirdreane, a good friend of Tessa's. She agreed to give us information, but for a price: she gave us the task of finding a missing ship of her clergy. The Lady's Sting went missing some time ago. It was supposed to be coming to Quent from Mediogalti Island, and there was aboard a golden relic of Calistria's cult: a statue named Vespal Golden. The Lady's Sting had apparently fallen prey to a crew of wreckers, pirates that specialize in luring their marks into reefs, only to later take advantage of their stranded victims. There were many such crews in the Shackles, though, and Dirdreane's divinations hadn't revealed the location of the missing ship, nor the precise identity of its attackers. Dirdreane suggested that we question the cultists of Norgorber regarding the matter, which was fortuitous: we were planning on visiting them next anyway.
Before leaving the establishment we, of course, paid our respects to the clergy and "worshipped" Calistria in the company of several of the most highly-recommended employees. I must say that the reputation of the House of Stolen Kisses appears to be well-deserved.
Neth 26th, 4711
We arrived at Beachcomber Isle today: it (like Bag Island in general) is the domain of the majority of the Halflings of the Shackles, most of them ex-slaves from Cheliax. Rosie had been hoping to come here for quite some time, but she was in for some disappointment: the town isn't much to look at, and its inhabitants are boorish thugs for the most part.
A bit of subtle investigation led us to a warehouse in the Lurker District. Inside, a halfling wearing servant's clothes and a cherub mask welcomed us. After a brief discussion, it became clear that he could answer our most important questions, but would demand as payment some secrets of our own.
In exchange for the location of the Lady's Sting, I told him the story of the unfortunate chelaxian sailors of the Infernus, those who had been shipwrecked on that mosquito-infested island we had been on earlier. After hearing that tale, our host (who asked to be referred to as "Slip") revealed that the Lady's Sting had last been seen east of Rampore Island and had likely fallen prey to the group of wreckers led by the half-orc wizard Varkala.
Regarding our other query, the one regarding a chelaxian spy ring (Tessa's original request), Slip asked us to obtain some information for him: so we were sent on a third mission. We were to investigate the disappearance of the Brine Banshee, rumored to be one of the fastest ships in the Shackles due to some mysterious magic that had been cast on it. We were to find the ship, its fate and/or the secrets of its enchantment. All that we knew about it is that it had been scheduled to take part in the upcoming Free Captains' regatta, and that it had disappeared west of Shark Island after leaving Ollo, a port where many werewolves dwell.
Neth 29th, 4711
Three days of sailing brought us to Rampore Island, where we hoped to find the Lady's Sting, or what remained of it. During the trip, I kept a mental eye on the state of my crew, as usual, via my magical thought-reading spells. Strangely, one of them, a fellow elf, seemed aware of my probing, despite my extreme discretion in the matter. I learned that this individual, named Xaveak Silentread, is half-forest elf and half-aquatic elf who joined our crew in Senghor after having grown bored of the dull life of a mere sailor. In fact, he admitted that he was eagerly anticipating the next battle.
Today, we came upon a Rahadoumi vessel near Rampore Island: its name appeared to be "The Shining Star". As we approached, the sailors seemed to notice us and scrambled madly to escape. Yet I was not so easily fooled. Knowing that we were entering the hunting territory of a band of wreckers, I had instructed my crew to be extra-careful and to trust their eyes less than usual, and their other senses more. Examining the far-away ship closely with my spyglass, I noted that the way the sailors handled the sails was all wrong, and that the ship's waterline was much too high. I smirked as I passed the spyglass to my companions; Varnas and Granam confirmed my suspicions: this was but an illusion...
Varnas used his power of Levitation to look at our surroundings from a high vantage point: he confirmed that what looked like a Rahadoumi ship was but a two-dimensional illusion. He saw no signs of another ship, or of enemies on the nearby island, though. Not wanting to risk damaging the True Wind, I went on a rowboat with Varnas, Ursus, Granam, Sandara and our designated rower, Xaveak. We meant to take a closer look at the situation...
No, sorry.We're still playing, but I decided to stop writing the logs due to time constraints and emotional fatigue (been writing logs almost weekly for 6 years).
I'm sad to hear you decided to stop writing the logs, but I do understand. They take a lot of time. I have always loved your journals, so thanks for the effort you put into those.
Also, I'm happy to see you're still around, I was already getting worried something had happened to you, since you hadn't posted in a while. Time constraints are something I am very familiar with. It isn't always easy to find a balance between the job, family life and the hobby. And since the last factor is the only one that is not 'necessary', it is the one that has to give in when the balance is lost. I can only hope that taking the pressure off by not writing the logs will give you enough breathing space to recharge the emotional battery. I also wish you a lot of (emotional) enjoyment of just being a player for a while.
Don't be a stranger and chime in form time to time. Some wise, kind or motivational words from Moonbeam always make my day :-)
No, sorry.We're still playing, but I decided to stop writing the logs due to time constraints and emotional fatigue (been writing logs almost weekly for 6 years).
Takes a breath...
Now that that has been taken care of, I'm sorry to hear this. I can understand it being draining, and respect that. Mostly I just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed your campaign logs. I have followed each one since I long ago found your Rise of the Runelords campaign.
I hope your captain career continues in the dramatic fashion as we've followed in the past. I wish to sincerely say, your stories will be missed.
|Smarnil le couard|