On the map of the Wormwood, where would the weapons be? Is the Middle Hold also a Gun Deck? The Wormwood seems armed with only two light ballistas and a catapult. (A6) I would assume a catapult would need to go on deck.
Similarly, the Man's Promise also seems to only have two ballistas as well.
So because it is the first book of an adventure path and the rules on ship to ship combat doesn't come into play until book 2, they just note that there are two ballista and a disassembled catapult in the hold. They are not on deck, or in anyway in a position to be used, and for good reason. You have Harrigan and Peppery Longfarthing. Between him and her there are maybe 4 ships in the Shackles they couldn't take.
As for the Man's Promise, it does indeed only have the two ballista. Again, think of it as convenient because of it being a book 1 encounter, but also siege weapons are expensive. Paying crew is expensive, maintaining a ship is expensive. So the neighboring countries have to play the cost/benefit analysis with every single merchant ship. If you load it up too much, you cut heavily into your profits. Too little and you are an easy mark. If it was just about any other ship than the Wormwood hitting them that day, they might have been fine. Remember, you are not seeing all the officers or the captain fight, just random sailors and one officer. They could easily be level 6-10 and still be handled easily by Harrigan and his officers, but solid against a host of other ships and crews.
Hope that helps. Getting ready to run it a third time (different group) next Saturday and have lots of fresh ideas on it.
Have you started it yet?
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That makes sense.
I have started.
Is the link to the game and the group, All 18 or 17 year old young ladies using Roll20
If you haven't gotten to Book 2 already, I HIGHLY recommend letting your group decide whether to squib at Rickety Squibs (and thus follow the plot of Raiders of the Fever Sea) or travel to Lilywhite to be squibbed, and follow Plunder & Peril (the official alternate Book 2 of the AP).
This lets the AP feel much more "Open World" while still letting you control exactly which rail line they're on.
I've done this with my group, and even made notes about how the decision tree branches into Part 3 (if they follow Raiders, they eventually get their Letter of Marque from Kerdak as planned; if they follow Plunder and get the "good ending" from saving Lanteri, they get it from Tessa Fairwind after (secret DM Fiat) losing their tests in Book 3; if they kill her without knowing she's still alive, they get their Letter from Cerise Bloodmoirn! if they kill her knowing she's still conscious, they get their Letter from Grudd (who sends them on a hunting mission to take down Cyclops Jane as payment for it, and later a mission to help take down his ex-wife).
Also modified the Infamy track to be something more like a Light-Side/Dark-Side track in KOTOR, where the Infamy they gain is either Honorable or Dishonorable and depending on which is more prominent, they get different effects and Impositions available. It helps a lot when your party may want to follow a more "Pirates are Freedom-Loving Adventurers!" route like the Straw Hats, rather than be the more overtly villainous way the Infamy track seems to think you'll be (what with outright murdering crewmates and passengers to earn a tiny bit of temporary street cred & all...)