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Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

Privateers and buccaneers set sail across the tumultuous seas of the world of Uskara, setting out for uncharted waters or preying upon heavy-laden galleons that travel the dragon-lanes, where the great sea serpents extract tribute and plunder from those unlucky enough to not have patronage from the great Triumvirate of Powers: the Guild, the Dominion, and the Empire, which compete in a great game with each other over the fate of the Nine Seas. To be a mariner is to be synonymous with adventurer, and vice versa, as only the most bold (and foolhardy) would live such a life, despite the promise of quick riches, and worlds unseen just across the horizon. Even beyond the seas, the clouds now open as a new frontier, and the sunken world of the age before holds treasures even further unknown, before the gods flooded the world and drowned themselves in a great cataclysm.

The year is 1077 postdiluvian, what will be called the Hangman’s Year. It is a time of uneasy peace, six years after the Eighty Years War wound down, and already things begin to escalate again. The coalition between the Commercial Ordinaries’ Guild and the Free & Most Serene Empire has collapsed completely, and once again the Grand Old Dominion, ruled by the loathsome mind flayers in their ruffled finery and mocking wigs, has come to collect on old debts and press down their thumb on any independent peoples of Uskara that are not already under the protection of the other powers. A second age of piracy has begun with all of the privateers that have been left behind looking for other means to enrich themselves, especially with the hegemony of the Dominion and its pirate hunters in check.

But not all came to that life of their own volition. Nine souls trapped in the hold of a Dominion prison hulk, the DNS Ceaseless, were on course for the mostly unsettled lands of Magna Orna, to be put to forced labor at the penal colonies. Citing violation of treaty, Guilder ships moved to intercept, starting a skirmish that set the Ceaseless far off course, straight into a terrible storm, leaving it adrift farr off the charted dragon-lanes, into the dreaded wyrmsea. Adrift in the doldrums of the becalmed Tranquil Sea, the prisoners realized they faced a slow and excruciating at the hands of the Magistrate Cornelius Alhoon, the mind flayer master of the vessel, and plotted mutiny. Many died, but they were able to overwhelm, outwit, and overpower the mind flayer, throwing him overboard and taking control of the ship.

It was all for nought, however, as a young dragon, sensing its opportunity, capsized the ship and took much of its treasure and thralls as its tribute, and now we follow nine of the survivors out of nearly two hundred souls that were in the belly of that ship when it set sail from Old Sarum, as they awake on a deserted island. Little do they know their destinies were entertwined, and they would be soon the crew of one of the most infamous ships of the Nine Seas. Adventure awaits on the Endless Blue!

... starring ...
  • Seccacosantza Tolto VII, Vidame tir Cuothr, Half-Elf Bard, Chaotic Good, played by Tricky
  • Jan’ti, the Sea-Bride, Water Genasi Druid, Neutral Good, played by GenuineRevelry
  • Mazhar, the Red Gorgon, Minotaur Barbarian, Lawful Neutral, played by Wahad
  • Quill Scribbling, the Once Scribe, Kenku Cleric, Neutral Good, played by TheNabster
  • Lucielle Valentine, the Cursed Daughter of Alness, Human Rogue, Chaotic Good, played by Hugzilla
  • Johann Seahawk, the Drowned Guilder, Revenant Warlock, Chaotic Neutral, played by Plutonis
  • Rust Freewind, the Bastard Prodigal, Human Fighter, Neutral Evil, played by DeathSandwich
  • Ranka Volyn, the Seeker of the Nimhi, Halfling Monk, Neutral, played by Businessmanga
  • Dermid FitzCulainn, the Prince of Verani, Air Genasi Sorcerer, Chaotic Neutral, played by berenzen

The Play is the Thing
This is a Play-by-Post game, though we may use Discord and/or Roll20 for certain scenes and vignettes. If you and some other players want to roleplay out a scene in Discord when you aren't immediately pressed for time, or to go over a conversation, please feel free, but it must be posted in the fiction of the thread. It is not necessary to post your character sheet on this thread: We will use roll20 for character sheets and the Google Spreadsheet for equipment. I would prefer you use the banners or some other indicator of your character at the top of every one of your posts on the thread.

I will bold description of certain places, people, and things, and italicize any out-of-character notes or discussion.

Do not be too worried about getting everything just right, what matters is keeping a rhythm. It will be a relatively casual game with bursts of activity, and its especially important we hit the ground running. If you know you can't post for a few days, just give us a heads up, preferably in the recruitment/OOC thread rather than Discord so it's easier to track.

Make the story feel like a pulp serial.
Make the voyage of the player characters mythic.
Play to find out what's just across the horizon.

Always say...
What the principles demand.
What the rules demand.
What honesty demands.
What your prep demands.

Draw maps, leave blanks.
Describe like a pulp serial.
Address yourself to the characters, not the players.
Constantly raise the stakes.
Give up to sail another day.
Treat life like treasure.
Treat treasure like life.
Embrace the fantastic.
Give every monster life.
Name every person.
Make villains outlandish, cunning, and cool.
Give villains, even the most monstrous, drives to make them "human."
Support people, but only conditionally.
Ask provocative questions and build on the answers.
Make the move that follows.
Be a fan of the player characters.
Think dangerous.
Begin and end with the fiction.
Think in the margins between the pages.

House Rules and Variants
  • Race Changes
    • Dwarf: Replace the Stonecunning feature with the Artificer’s Lore feature from the Stone Gnome subrace.
    • Mountain Dwarf: Replace the Dwarven Armor Training feature with the Stonecunning feature.
    • New Subrace: Half-Dwarf. As hill dwarf but replace Dwarven Toughness with Skill Versatility from Half-Elf.
    • High Elf: For Elf Weapon Training, replace shortsword with rapier, and shortbow with lance.
    • Wood Elf: For Elf Weapon Training, replace shortbow with net.
  • Class Changes
    • Bard: Add the starwheel to the Bard's weapon proficiencies.
    • Druid: Add the net and trident to the Druid's weapon proficiencies.
    • Rogue: Add the starwheel to the Rogue's weapon proficiencies.
    • Sorcerer: Add the arquebus and pistol to the Sorcerer's weapon proficiencies.
    • Wizard: Add the arquebus and pistol to the Wizard's weapon proficiencies.
  • Spells
    • The material component required of the spell Goodberry is now a sprig of mulberry, and it is consumed in the casting.
  • Equipment
    • We are using the Variant Encumbrance rules, though with slightly less severe penalties. When encumbered, you lose 5 speed and have disadvantage on Athletics (Strength) and Acrobatics (Dexterity) checks. When heavily encumbered, you lose 10 speed and have disadvantage on all Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws.
    • The trident deals d10 using the Versatile feature, rather than d8.
    • Firearms are treated as normal weapons and have some specific house rules here.
    • Rename the Archery Fighting Style to the Marksman Fighting Style, it applies to firearms equally.
  • Adventure & Combat
    • Climbing and Swimming: Remember you can swim calm waters or climb rigging at half speed, without making any checks. Those with the Mariner fighting style or a natural climb or swim speed can use their full speed.
    • Flanking: If an ally of yours is opposite position around a creature, you may take advantage on your attack rolls against the flanked creature.
    • Higher Ground: Though having the high ground doesn’t give you advantage in most cases to attack, it does provide partial cover (+2 AC and Dex saves) against melee attacks, giving a reason to climb up rigging or the like. As well, for ranged combatants and it can sometimes give them an angle to bypass the cover of others.
    • Climb onto a Bigger Creature: (DMG p271) This rules variant is in use. The requirement to be able to climb onto a creature is that they are two size classes larger than you (Large for Small, Huge for Medium, etc.). We are also (re-)introducing a new size beyond Gargantuan of Colossal, because this will be a game with lots of big monsters at some points.
    • Disarm: (DMG p271) This rules variant is in use.
    • Mark: (DMG p271) This rules variant is in use.
    • Overrun: (DMG p272) This rules variant is in use.
    • Shove Aside: (DMG p272) This rules variant is in use.
    • Tumble: (DMG p272) This rules variant is in use.
Hero Points (and Villain Points)
    Based on the rules variant in the DMG p264, we will be using Hero Points, though pulled back just a bit. At 1st level, every character starts with 3 hero points. Each time the character gains a level, he or she loses any unspent hero points and gains a new total equal to 3 + half the character's level.

    A player can spend a hero point whenever he or she makes an attack roll, an ability check, or a saving throw. The player can spend the hero point after the roll is made but before any of its results are applied. Spending the hero point allows the character to roll a d6 and add it to the d20, possibly turning failure into success. A player can spend only 1 hero point per roll. As well, whenever a character fails a death saving throw, the player can spend one hero point to turn the failure into a success. Additionally, you may spend a hero point to create narrative contrivance, like having the right piece of equipment for a challenge, or a useful environmental feature, or even a connection with a certain NPC or organization, so long as it does not contradict any of the established fiction.

    However, every time you spend a hero point, the DM gets a villain point to spend with the same possibilities as described above for their NPCs. The DM loses all unspent villain points once the PCs gain a new level.
    The easiest option for play-by-post is side initiative, with my flavor take on it being that the PC actions represent the “flow tide” dramatically when they have control of the narrative, and when the NPC actions represent the “ebb tide.” However, this becomes an issue if we ever have player conflict, and there are some powers that key off initiative and the case of surprise rounds.

    Everyone still rolls initiative, and we use the lowest result for both sides to determine order of which side goes first. Each side, whether ebb or flood, can act in any order they like, and coordinate their actions as desired. However, your initiative result still matters for the purposes of surprise rounds and class features like the Assassin’s.

    I will almost always set up the battlefield, state the Armor Class and HP totals of most monsters (with legendary creatures and important NPCs excluded), signal their intent and the like in my posts. You will roll and resolve your actions, describing the effects of your action, and if the target is reduced to HP, you describe how they meet their end. I want to give players a lot of narrative agency.

    Reactions: Whenever I am aware of possible reactions, I might tap you on Discord about it, or you can “pre-load” a possible reaction in your post if you are expecting something. You can also simply post in the thread, and we can narratively edit what went down accordingly, though if at all possible with a “yes, and” twist.
    Character advancement will be done using experience points, though we will be using the "three-pillar" model as described in Unearthed Arcana here:
    • Scale: Experience will be 0 to 100 for every level, making it very easy to calculate and conceptualize what rewards mean in the context of advancement.
    • Shared: Experience is not divided among party members, the award for adventure is the same for all members of the party.
    • Combat: Characters will gain XP based on a combat encounter's difficulty: Easy gives 0 XP, Medium gives 5 XP, Hard gives 10 XP, Deadly gives 15 XP. If there is a legendary monster, major hazards or some particular story weight, it will be +5 XP.
    • Exploration: Characters will earn experience from discovering new lands, places of power, and taking treasure, as described in the parameters of the article above, though the rewards are halved. In addition, you may get +5 bonus experience whenever you name an uncharted island or land feature, to the acclaim of at least the majority of the other PCs.
    • Interaction: Characters will earn experience from swaying influential personalities in Uskara per the parameters given in the article, though the rewards are halved. In addition, you may get +5 bonus experience whenever you recruit a named NPC to your crew.
    • Epistolary: As an opt-in for bonus experience, once per adventure you may make a journal entry or in-character correspondence summarizing the events of the adventure or your character's bonds and ambitions. Doing so grants +2 bonus experience. If everyone does this, that's +18 bonus XP per adventure, but you shouldn't feel pressured to.

Current Region: The Tranquil Sea

Map merely representational, reference the world map for scale and geographic relation. The red "X" marks the spot where the party is roughly located.

Current Location: Unknown

Map to scale on the roll20, you may use the ruler tool to determine distance.

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 18, 2018 around 17:31


Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

The old city of Sarum was paired with its usual partner of gloom and smog, with manufactories belching toxic smoke into the sky while many tightly packed homes with what were surely frightened, narrow minds burned coal for their warmth. The ill-colored waters of the Bray feeding into the harbor were stagnant for years with a thin film that glinted green or purple, a far stretch from the idyllic pastoral aesthetic of the isle of Bight taught in the finishing schools, or of the rugged majesty of the Colonies. Here it took roving tin-walkers, secret police, secure checkpoints and barrels of gin to make the illusion of the Grand Old Dominion’s promise of security in the face of a dying world really take hold, and the dimness of the surroundings reflected that of the souls of its inhabitants after generations in the grasp of the mind flayers.

The Royal Admiralty building stood still and quiet, on a peninsular fortification overlooking the harbor. There were no great flags or ostentatious displays on the outside, as the mind flayers pretended to themselves and others their influence was invisible if they wanted it to be. It is said that they were once dwellers in darkness, and do seem to prefer secreting themselves away from prying eyes. In truth, everyone knew their presence, could feel it in the back of their minds, and as soon as one walked inside through the wrought-iron portals, they found every ostentatious display, though only dimly lit by quickfire-light, burning levitrol (leviathan, or whale, oil) to create the electricity that powered the flickering bluish fluorescent lamps, a unique invention of the Sarumites recently come into fashion, and the only light that did not disturb the flayers’ sensibilities.

Every conquest, every campaign and sortie, was outlined in great detail here, but most of all, trophies, especially in the form of skulls, or even taxidermy, which was also in fashion in Sarum, of humanoids that had been bent to the will of the Grand Old Dominion. Oblique references to the Queen Mother were made through her symbol, the red anemone flower, which was often a sign of heraldry along with the red kraken for the Dominion. Taking this all in was the Admiralty’s expected guest: A human woman, of some age, wearing a red commodore’s uniform with blue sash and a jack of plates intertwined with it, a heavy ceremonial saber at her hip and fur lining her ruffled collar. Her hat was under her arm, revealing her tightly wound bun of red hair that was turning gray, hinting at Vendalic heritage, but she carried herself as a true Sarumite. One eye was scarred blind, while the other had a sickly pinkish color, but she was terribly human, a willing servant of Evil. This was the Dame Morthause Corrigan Licinia, and her squadron of pirate hunters had set to targeting all of the privateers left moorless after the end of the Eighty Years War, once their letters of marque no longer applied…

But that isn’t why she was here. She had been given another task, before she returned from the Tranquil Sea. She was to find the DNS Ceaseless, or at least its fate, if possible. And she had, because the Dame Morthause never leaves a task undone. She had sent message ahead of what she found, and came prepared: Her trusted aides-de-camp hoisted a small cart that rattled in the hallway, with canvas covering its unusual cargo to its destination. She had a point to make.

The war room, where the eleven admirals of the Royal Admiralty met in council, was buried under stone and protected with whatever alien sorcery the mind flayers have mastered, and is informally known as the “Star Chamber.” Instead of seats at a table, there are pillars wherein each of the admirals takes an elevated seat, attended by their retinue, sitting in various positions of an unseen pecking order, some higher and others lower, though each is in theory the equal of the others save for the Grand Admiral, who sat highest and most distant in deep council. Of the eleven total, only six sat in their seats, the others away for one reason or another, as in theory their duties took them across the Nine Seas. With her mouth in a thin line as she was lead into the Star Chamber, the Dame Morthause waited to be recognized, taking stock of the faces that awaited her.

The mind flayers all wore their powdered wigs of station, some wearing lenses or other accoutrements that mocked human civilization. Their collars were all designed like peacocks to display their superiority in some game, their clothing being militarily styled but hardly utilitarian. Their slimy skin, which was naturally blue and purple, was painted white with grease, and then powdered and highlighted with blush, while the ends of their tentacles were stained with a rosy color like that to imitate the lips of a human, which turned the stomach to consider. Before she stepped into the sanctified circle of the Star Chamber, it was all but silent, save for the occasional clicking or hiss, as they communicated seemingly silently save for the twitching of their tentacles, some of which were arranged like the whiskers of men in twisting and unusual shapes, using wires and thick wax to hold them aloft.

Once the Dame stepped into the circle, however, there was a cacophony of bickering. They had received her report, and every one of the jockeying admirals had their own reaction, plan, and seeked to get the attention and brow-beat the others to support it, while advancing their own position. Their voices were whining, aristocratic, and filled the room inside her head. She would have never been noticed if it were not for her patron, the Admiral Rafferty Variss Higgenbottom Crassipes, who had jurisdiction over the Roaring Sea. The admitted defeat in that war of the Dominion had placed him far at the bottom of the rungs, but that made it all the more needed that he rely on an ambitious agent, and he had enough suction yet to demand attention, at least for a moment.

“We can bicker for a fortnight, but you have said you had proof, Licinia,” and the familiarity he showed with her put a chill down her spine that she dared not allow show, but knew would be writ upon the mind his filthy tentacles were already probing, “that we can make up for our losses.”

The Admiral of the Tranquil Sea, a massively bloated and corpulent mind flayer by the name of Tuppence Qhezzangubu Popplewell Lurco, let a sickly wet head, shriveled from being left to soak in wine, of an indeterminate gender, drop from his tentacles into a silver platter, where kobold manservants, stacked atop of each other and whining obediently, attempted to balance themselves and the platter with the added weight, letting out a laugh. “If a wyrm conquered our magistrate, then there is no chance of any survivors. It seems we cannot even trust this dim-witted foozler Crassipes with routine passage through his waters!”

There was a bit of laughter that caused the tentacles of Admiral Rafferty to roil in anger, his pupiless eyes narrowing at the Dame Morthause, which she took as the proper leave, caught between a beak and four hard tentacles.

“Perhaps, gentlemen, it would do to have proof.” With a motion of her hand, her aides-de-camp loosened the canvas and pulled off from the cart, reaving what she had brought all this way from the Tranquil Sea: the mystically preserved severed head of a blue serpent, the same gold-horned wyrm that capsized the CNS Ceaseless.

For once, there was a bit of a hush, before Lurco gurgled forth his question, his telepathic voice accompanied by a visceral hiss of disdain. “What, another trophy for the wall? Not even a fresh mind? Is this supposed to impress us? It looks but a kitten, compared to the ancients we adorn our walls with.”

The Dame however was already at work. “I was not merely chose for my talent at sea and arms, gentlemen. My devotion provides obedience, even beyond death.” When Morthause placed her hand down on the forehead of the feline dragon, she spake a word of power, of command, in a language that caused some in the council to recoil and look suspiciously, as it was something that made even mind flayers uneasy: The Infernal tongue of the Nine Hells.

The hell knight Morthause Corrigan brought forth in Un-Death the shriveling soul, or some echo of it, forth from the dragon’s head, as it let out a rattling breath and spoke in Draconic simply: “<I must obey.>”

Eased to his feet by several servants, Admiral Rafferty came forward to examine it, and ask the proper inquiries. “Ask this lizard, were there any survivors of the DNS Ceaseless?”

The hell knight complied, as did the young wyrm’s head, confirming their suspicions, when it said: “<Mutiny.>”. There was an uproar. The implication of what survivors there were being mutinous, or having gone free, was too much to bear for the fragile pride of the mind flayers. Once captured, it was legend that one would never be free of the thrall of the Dominion. They were infamous for going to the ends of the seas to find any that had escaped, and fate had caused an entire ship of possible thralls to escape their grasp. It was hard to understate how much this cut them to the bone.

It was the Grand Admiral himself, stepping forth in his resplendence, glowing with an unearthly mystic light, with two long extra tentacles that ended in triangular clubs, looked down upon this necromantic display. “Enough. I will have all of it, let’s cut to the quick, so that we might retire. It is time for tea.” A beam of energy shot from his eyes into the dragon’s and the head seemed to lift up of its own accord, suspended, as within moments it scanned all that remained in that fragment of its psyche, as it disintegrated under his gaze.

With only ash remaining, the Grand Admiral waved his hand. “There are nine of note. I shall arrange court martials immediately. They are to be hunted down, taken alive if possible, and made examples of.”

“I shall at once, your excellency,” the Dame said, making to bow, but she felt a twinge of his gaze that caused her to stop.

“That will not be necessary,” he clarified. “For you, I am taking personal consideration.” This caused Admiral Rafferty to look shocked… and annoyed. “There is a task for you in the Demon Sea. You are to find our truant Admiral Catesby and let him know that he is to report back.” There was miles of meaning with that statement, and she found it within herself finally to complete her bow.

“Surely, the pirate hunter should finish her drat job!” Admiral Lurco spat out.

“Are you not the Admiral of the Tranquil Sea, Lurco?” The Grand Admiral countered without looking back. Indeed, Lurco had grown the richest of them all, able to buy entire nations from the exploited treasure of Praxis, Magna Orna, and the Cazzerides, and while the other Admirals were expending all their effort to win the war, Lurco’s privateers were able to hoard treasures unknown, which he fastidiously embezzled into his vast criminal empire, though many of the Admirals had such side-ventures.

Still, he was taken aback. This would mean effort. He had grown fat sitting in Sarum without having to attend to what was going on in his own territory. “Well, your excellency, there are many irons in the fire. Many irons. It is a delicate balance, you see, and…”

“You will manage it,” the Grand Admiral said with a knife’s edge of finality.

Lurco bristled, his jowls and thick tentacles quivering. But then he settled back. “Fine. As you wish it. Everything has a price. The death of a few souls is cheap. They will not escape me, Grand Admiral.

In the city of Nevarre, across the many red-roofed homes of the cliffsides, there is a bit of a commotion. A Dominion inquisitor with proper papers to pass makes his way through to the stockade, to deliver something to the bulletin.

“My coin is limitless,” came that gurgling voice of the fat flayer. “It matters not the place, it is welcome in all ports.”

With a brush of glue he paints up the parchment, a wanted poster indicated the desired quarry. Several Vendalic brava take note of it, wearing their open shirts and open swords with a practiced machisma, crowding around the inquisitor who keeps his dead-eyed stare even as they mock the size of his sword as compensatory, compared to the short straight swords prefered by the swordwomen.

Yet the price on the wanted poster gets their attention.

“Where is this… Windspeaker, then, witch hunter?” One asks, brazenly tipping up the inquisitor’s chin with the end of her sword, giving a smile with a single gold-tooth.

A dour looking Grunnish woman, a muscular mariner now though still with the spell of youth, is unloading a Guilder ship, unloading the crates. She has a broad face and back, with short hair, and seems to be thinking to herself as she sits in the shadow of the towering cliff-alleys of the city of Khazadan, peering through the torchlight to the postings board, as if hoping for perhaps an escape from her indenture, when she spots something that catches his eye.

“It can’t be…” She moves to the board, seeing a folded parchment and flattening it out to reveal its face. “It can’t be true.”

Lurco’s voice narrates once more over the din, as the poster is torn off. “All mortals quake with greed, whether elder or quickling. It is enough to make even the Queen Mother pity.” It fades to show the same woman before making to abscond and stowaway on a ship headed to the southern Sintales, with only what belongings she can wrap in a sack, with a determined look on his face, and a dagger hidden in his breeches, glinting in the torchlight.

“I watched you die, Joh.” Looking at the torn poster in his hands, the young woman of Be’el de Marr buries her face into her forearm, as the ship sets sail.

No one’s going to take me alive…

The Grand Duchy of Pretonia rests in the peaceful south of Westenfal, having been insulated from the still recent and terrible war wrought on the rest of the island and elsewhere. Seabirds trace the skies as we make our ways into the streets, down into the town square where the merchants come to converse in a forum of the public, and even the nobles come down to enjoy the fresh sea air.

Time has come to make things right…

A knife stabs into the face of a poster, with a young woman’s face on it, as a mad-eyed middle aged man, of portly stature and great finery, looks bewildered at the sight of it. He wheels back to berate the watchman that looks taken aback at this aristocrat gazing down upon him. It is the Count tir Alness, and it is difficult to gainsay him.

You and I must fight for our rights…

Soon a detachment is sent, as he turns to look back. A woman weeps into her hands, a flash of light platinum hair, gazing away at the sight of all of it. Wrenching her arm, his anger is now taken on her, but he stops himself slightly considering the display, looking at the blinkering burghers that are taken aback at the Count’s lost of composure. Gritting his teeth, he departs.

You and I must fight to survive…

No one’s going to take me alive…

In the vertical heights of Annwn Tor, airships meander slowly through the skyways, and the people live amid the trees and buildings in glorious wonder, with wide boulevards that are somewhat empty in these days, as so many are still in national mourning in honor of the dead of the war.

Time has come to make things right…

A crowd has begun to come together however for one of the favorite entertainments: An execution, with all of the drama of a proper headsmas, as the man is to be drawn and quartered in the square. A fair has come together and people have come from all over Brocéliande to see it. In a balcony overlooking the boulevard, there are masqued elves and aristocrats, including a smiling one spinning a knife on his hands, feet out the rail of the window.

You and I must fight for our rights…

Tipping his hat upwards, his gaze completely hidden behind the black eyes of the masque, left soulless and empty, he regards the curled up parchment he took with him here. With his free hand, he feels the weight of his coin pouch, and when there is a passing aristocrat across the window he is gazing out from on the balcony patio, he is gone, though the poster remains. There is the off-screen, distant sound of screams and a crowd cheering.

You and I must fight to survive…

A young man with stringy hair wearing the vestments of a newly ordained deacon of the Axiomatic faith makes his way through the bazaars of the grand city, finding himself troubled as he holds his holy book to his chest, as if it were a shield or some cherished thing, but it doesn’t seem out of reverence so much as fear.

Lurco’s voice continues. “This world needs the ileth. They call us parasites; pah! We have made it greater, but separating the chaff from the wheat. We are fair stewards, fairer than any miserly dwarf or inbred elf.”

He is stopped dead in his tracks by the sight of a poster, the color draining from his face.

Dropping his book and the papers, he moves to grab at them, but feels the eyes looking at him, stepping back, and breaking out into a full run through the crowd, leaving it behind.

No one’s going to take me alive....

Across the Sea of Sand, closer to the Middle Sea but still at the edges of Abyssidia’s desert and in the shadow of the pyramids of unknown origin, still working their arcane magic of unknown purpose to these day, smoke begins to rise out of the temple of Jehuti.

Time has come to make things right…

A humanoid man with black, charred skin that simmers with heat steps through a studdy, fire erupting in his wake and quickly catching all of the loose scrolls and books behind him, looking at the equally charred body of an Ornassi man, one who looked like a teacher or tutor, curled over a desk, covering some parchment.

You and I must fight for our rights…

The man pulls up the body, tossing it aside, and looks at the piece of parchment even as it charrs in his presence, his pupiless white eyes seeming to recognize something, and the brand-like tattoos on his skin glowing aflame as it all but disappears but for that momentary glimpse.

You and I must fight to survive…

In the opulent city of the oasis, at the other end of the Sea of Sand and near the coast of the Arid Sea, the minotaurs have built their monument to the furthest reach of their conquest centuries ago, and remain in their towers regarding the aghors most high among them, though their sultan is now no longer considered Il-Artan over their whole people. The music dies down slightly, giving presence to the sounds of the city.

In the palace of one of the aghors, however, a quick-footed hobgoblin janissary brings forward a piece of parchment, laying it out at the battle-table. There’s a hearty laugh. “The Red Gorgon lives yet.”

With a motion, some of the janissaries are dispatched, as Aghor Cleohan considers his next move, and whether this changes the direction of his own campaign, with all his forces pointed north across the Arid Sea as they are. The mitraides never got further north or west than Abyssidia, but that was only in the past...

Far to the south, as far south as south goes, in the colonial venture of the Dominion, Lurco’s voice returns as we look over the tall buildings and streets inlet against the tropical background, thick with flies and the smell of sweat and overwork. “The Royal Admiralty must defend civilization at all costs against the predation of these… buccaneers.”

In a seedy coastal tavern, where the freemen can in their time between shifts drown their boredom and misery in grog, they have found the possibility of the escape from this life. A group of disreputable looking individuals gander at it, though they are called out by a chuckling man in the corner with his own small crew.

“You’ve quite the price on you, brother.”

“Why don’t we go collect, boys, on the interest our little investment has earned?” There is cheering all around, and quickly cutlasses and dirks are grabbed, leaving the tab unpaid as the barmaid finally reveals herself from where she was hiding, held all but hostage by the pirate crew that had moved through.

At the final crescendo, we move through the winding streets of the island-metropolis of Vitrianata, crown jewel of the Sintales, with its meandering canals and aqueducts that allow ships to sail around and upwards to the higher levels, and through tunnels and locks that make it possible to float in a pleasure barge from the bottom to the very top.

It is on this barge that another poster is revealed, being slowly torn in half after a moment’s glimpse, and thrown into the canals, as a Sintali aristocrat straightens his whiskers worriedly, and Lurco’s voice continues over. “Coin is the universal leverage by which we will rule the world, better than your might or your mind, I will prove to you, gentlement. Why don’t we make it… a wager?”

And with that, everything winds down… It is done.

We find ourselves on an all but abandoned island, with the clearest blue skies, and water so clear you can see the bottom of it, like glittering crystal. The sand is intensely white, and equally hot to the touch, but the brine-soaked bodies that have run aground with scattered driftwood and shrapnel have yet to rise to it. One of these has the face of the same woman in the poster before, a small body, though in the background we see the shuddering form of a collapsed minotaur, as well as something floating up from the water shortly.

As the halfling lays, a little crab moves up, dancing back and forth with curiosity, its eyes moving in and out as it seems ready to probe and see if there is any life. It is only with a cough, wet with swallowed water, that it in alarm absconds, scuttling away as Ranka Volyn finally stirs, the first to open their eyes since the collapse, and gaze out.

In the deserted island of no name.

With no clear path to escape.

This is the real beginning to our story.

Cue title card.

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

Far towards the western horizon, where the sun always sets, a deserted tropical island, with towering black mountains of volcanic rock spotted with greenery and mist. The jungle is thick, but the skies clear as the blue, blue waters of the Tranquil Sea. Fitting a rough triangular shape, the central mountains form a volcanic crater and barrier that cuts the island into two distinct halves, windward and leeward, on the west and eastern sides respectively. There is the distant sight across the horizon of squall lines, but nothing threatening the island in the immediate moment. There is not a single sign of any other islands within eyeshot, and the lot of you are found within a lagoon enclosed by sandy shoals acting as barrier islands to the waves. No living soul has seen this island and lived to tell of it thus far, and that brings with it a certain foreboding. There are no signs of life, only detritus of the wreck of the DNS Ceaseless, washing upon the shore along with her mutinous cargo, which are just now stirring back awake.

The crew have shipwrecked mainly within the confines of a single lagoon, and three are stranded on a sandy isle about a half mile across, with only shallow, clear waters surrounding them. While to the west are the shoals enclosing the body of water, to the north is a brackish saltwater marsh, while to the direct east is an estuary fed with a narrow strait, with a imposing jungle with huge tropical trees densely packed with vines, forming nearly a wall right up to the coastline. Three of the survivors of the DNS Ceaseless are here, the first being Ranka Volyn, the shava seeker who wakes to find herself nearly at the claw-end of a tiny scavenging crab, but soon she is joined in stirring by the lumbering body of Headsman Mazhar, only a stone's throw away. Clinging to her lute which floats precariously in the water, Seccacosantza Tolto washes up a little further still as the tide finally begins to ebb, withdrawing and leaving her on the damp sand with her instrument-turned-lifesaver.

In addition to the fresh beach air, however, there is another scent in the air, one far more odious as a sinister subnote. As the three mutineers stir from unconsciousness, they can spy not too far away the bloated body of a Dominion redcoat, dead for some time and laying on his side, perhaps a human though it is a bit hard to tell from a distance and in its state. The corner of the island he rests is thick with the scuttling of scavenging crabs, which have slowly began to swarm over his body in their usual lackadaisical fashion, picking at pieces here and there and covering the majority of it with their tan and brown carapaces, brought forth by their own spoils of war to enjoy.

Mazhar, Ranka, and Secca wake near each other at point [A] on the map. There is the body of one of the Dominion soldiers and some other various detritus and pieces of the wreckage. Each of you has limited equipment in your possession, as outlined on the Equipment tab. It may not be immediately on your person, but found somewhere nearby. Please describe the state of your current clothing as well and any other items of note, such as trinkets or lucky charms or the like, that have sentimental value to your character. All three of the other locations are visible to you, though the people there may not be immediately visible or alive until they start moving.

The javelins in your possession are not being carried by you, but at actually stuck in your hide, as they were some of the grievous wounds you suffered in the vanguard during the mutiny. It will take a Medicine (or Strength) check to remove them without too much harm to you (or breaking them), until then you may have disadvantage on some Athletics rolls. What do you do?

You will find shortly that your trusted flask is missing, and there is no immediate sign in your vicinity of alcohol, denying you in the moment relief from your sickness. What do you do?

Your songbook is luckily safe within its metal case, since this wasn't your first voyage on the water, but there feels like there is something else important to you that is missing, or was taken away. What is it?

The western barrier to the lagoon is a shoal of bright white sand, which is blazing hot to the touch, a little under a mile long. It too has become alive with crabs moving to scavenge, as a far bit more wreckage is visible upon it, and a fair few more bodies as well in their red coats. We first see, of the survivors, Dermid FitzCulainn, who is torpid against the ship's wheel of the capsized vessel, which is half-buried in its mount in the sand, with Dermid still clinging to it for dear life. Half-buried much like the helm is Johann Seahawk, perhaps a dozen or so paces away, revealed slowly as the tide washes away, his hands grasping tightly onto some furtively kept away object, some unholy instrument of dark powers.

Johann and Dermid wake near each other at point [B] on the map. There are a few bodies of Dominion soldiers and a good amount of wreckage, presumably from the Ceaseless. Each of you has limited equipment in your possession, as outlined on the Equipment tab. It may not be immediately on your person, but found somewhere nearby. Please describe the state of your current clothing as well and any other items of note, such as trinkets or lucky charms or the like, that have sentimental value to your character. Point [A] and the characters on it are visible to your characters, and if you go north on the island, you will be able to see [C] as well.

As all things with you, your awakening comes suddenly and with a jolt, as your dream ends with a vision of some immediacy, with a strong emotional resonance. What did you see?

Clutched in your bony hands is something that represents your willingness to march beyond death, something you took with you from Hell. It is your arcane focus, taking the form of a crystal, orb, rod, staff, or wand. Which is it?

A bit more distant from the lagoon island, the salt marshes are abuzz with the hum of flies and midges, zipping back and forth through the air which is choked with them. Roots curl and create treacherous causeways for the water, and the water seems to be constantly rippling with the dance of water-skimmers and dragonflies. It is the biting of vermin that is likely the first sensation of waking for the two that are found not too far from each other, though not too close either: The spiritfolk Jan'ti and exile Lucielle. Both are caught a bit in the roots and half submerged, and the silty sands of the marsh form treacherous ground even if one was to pull themselves out from the water. There are no immediate signs however of other bodies, or even wreckage, as if the swamp itself opened its mouth to consume them, as it was ready to do for both the druid and swashbuckler given enough time.

Jan'ti and Lucielle wake near each other at point [C] on the map. There are no other visible bodies or even wreckage, but the wildlife here seems far more active, if somewhat muted. You are entangled with the roots (restrained), and can remove yourselves with a DC 10 Athletics (Strength) check; failure still means you escape but might have a minor consequence. Each of you has limited equipment in your possession, as outlined on the Equipment tab. It may not be immediately on your person, but found somewhere nearby. Please describe the state of your current clothing as well and any other items of note, such as trinkets or lucky charms or the like, that have sentimental value to your character. Point [A] and the characters on it are visible to your characters.

There's something caught in the roots with you, and you're not sure what it is, though it feels hard to the touch. With a little leverage it can be taken out. What is it?

You are holding your hand close to your chest, pulled forward in a curl as if to protect it. There was something you took from the ship you thought was important enough to reach out and protect, even as it sunk. What is it?

Farthest flung and least visible from the lagoon island are the last two of our shipwrecked mutineers, who find themselves in a unusually precarious position. The estuary is fed by two rivers snaking through the jungle, and in between them amid the trees that reach out in their roots to the brackish water you find yourselves suspended over it in vines, as if flung there by some thunder-wave caused by the passage of a ancient sea-serpent or typhoon. You are not the only, as a few redcloak (and thrall) bodies are suspended there as well, and beneath you is some driftwood in the wreck. Here, the water is deeper than it is in the lagoon, and the center of the estuary seems to get very dark indeed, as it falls down deep into a pit. It's the sound of a snapping vine that shudders you awake, as one of the bodies hits the water with a plop, and begins to sink, disappearing into the black below.

Quill and Rust wake near each other at point [D] on the map. There are several bodies here and some possible wreckage, though its in danger of sinking beyond sight. You are suspended and entangled with vines over the water (restrained), and can climb away back onto dry land with a DC 12 Athletics (Strength) check; failure you fall into the water and might have some other minor consequence, like losing an item. Each of you has limited equipment in your possession, as outlined on the Equipment tab. It may not be immediately on your person, but found somewhere nearby. Please describe the state of your current clothing as well and any other items of note, such as trinkets or lucky charms or the like, that have sentimental value to your character. Point [A] and the characters on it are visible to your characters, though just barely and only if they are on the southern part of the island.

The mansucript's location is unknown. You remember when they took it, where it was placed. You even remembering recovering it in the short-lived celebrations after the mutiny, though that half-elf kept prying about it. Where could it be now?

You knew one of the thralls suspended in the vines with you, his face recognizable even as its bloated with water and bruised from the waves. Who was he?

Survival means meeting certain goals. You must prioritize your actions and resources. Figure out what is most important to your character, name an appropriate Skill or proficiency, and move in that direction, while also assessing the situation and discussing steps with the others. You'll get specific skill challenges and DCs after you asses and formulate a plan, and get a handle on your immediate situation. Your basic objectives for survival are, in a relative hierarchy of needs:
  • Contact any other possible survivors.
  • Secure food and water.
  • Salvage the shipwreck for supplies.
  • Prepare a shelter.
  • Explore the windward coast of the island.
  • Prepare a raft to escape. (needs: cloth, wood, rope, provisions)
Suggested Skills for assessment include: Perception to take note of your surroundings, Investigation to search the wreckage for useful items, Nature to understand the environment, and Survival to identify possible sources of food or water. These are just examples, be creative, but you should only be rolling for one Skill, prioritizing what your character would do, and we'll play it from there.

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 13, 2018 around 22:13

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

The courtier stirs first and seems almost completely unhindered by her circumstances, moving to survey this island that she is perhaps one of the first mortal souls to discover, and while that has a hint of foreboding, it's hard to suppress the feeling of enterprise it instills as well. She is truly an explorer of the unknown, like Balor's crusaders of old that brought the light of civilization to all reaches of the Nine Seas. Though it is but a humble and less than auspicious start, this may be the start of quite the daring voyage.

It's a bit early to give the island as a whole a name, but this lagoon might deserve one, and who better than the Vidame tir Cuothr to give it one? What name would you give this place, if any?

Shaping up the lay of the land, it's a bit bereft of distinguishing features if one was to be honest about it. There are few pieces of the DNS Ceaseless to pull from, most of it likely caught by the barrier islands on the shoals or pulled by currents downwards towards the southern shallows. The body mobbed by pale tan crustaceans is the only real visible lobsterback on this central isle, though the half-elf spots a flash of a red coat lopping in the waves, drifting back from the estuary now that the tide is receding. The treeline forms a natural barrier to sightlines along the coast, which slops at first gradually and then steeply upwards towards that spine-line central range, around the central volcanic crater of dark, almost black stone visible through more sparse segments of the jungle. Thus the eye naturally leads to other features than the mainland, and from there the first signs of other survivors make themselves known.

The Vidame spies the sight of other figures not too far, five, six other survivors within earshot if one were to shout, though just barely. Two are on the shoal, kicking around on the sand and seeming to be scrounging together just as you. A bit up the coast, you see two dragging themselves through the muck of a salty marsh. And when you are on the southern end of the island, you can see through the path of the estuary two castaways struggling, and freeing themselves with varying degrees of grace.

Secca's Perception check is a success. All the other PCs are visible to you folks on the islands, though you probably can only shout at/interact with one group at a time, though you might find a way to signal all three of the other groups. You also notice a few other things, as elaborated in the fiction before and further.

The jungle however is unusually quiet, which while it serves to make it so that one's voice carries unnaturally far with a dull echo, it only enhances the feeling of foreboding that comes with the deserted isle. One does not see the expected colorful plumage of tropical birds, not even sea gulls or buzzards to come collect with the other scavengers. The fronds of the trees do not shake with life, there is no hooting culls, only a low dull din of insects. That is not to say that there is no wildlife here; quite the contrary, Ranka Volyn finds that feasting is bountiful, as the tide recedes and reveals the life of the tidepool sands.

In addition to the many scavenging crabs, the sand is peppered with mussels that can be unearthed with just one's bare hands. Taking a tin bucket with a bit of salt water, the shava collects them from the beach first, while taking stock of what else to find. The clear waters of the lagoon should be a rich environment, but she finds that there are no fish to be seen. It is almost barren of life, save for filter-feeders like crawfish, some sand fiddlers and sea slaters, and at least one unusually large isopod. One has to be careful where they step as well, as urchins dot the rocks here and there, though there is no coral formations or the like, at least not here. It feels unusual, as life should be bountiful in an environment like this, and it's only easy to forage because of the large number of scavengers attracted by the now plentiful food. It would be an afternoon's work, but she could feed a good number of people, more if she had help.

Your people have lived on the coast and rivers and live on this kind of fare regular. You may have a particular recipe in mind. What is it, and what are you missing to make it?

The issue of water is a bit more difficult. There are no freshwater sources, though with it being the windward side, Ranka knew that it would not be too hard to collect a lot of rain given time, but they would need to set up some barrels to collect them. Luckily she found two mostly intact barrels to do so, but it didn't solve the immediate thirst that caused her head to hang heavy. Dehydration was going to soon kick in for most of the castaways. It might forth them to go upriver: As one of the boatfolk she was very familiar with rivers and if they had a raft, or simply a little moxie, the castways need go only a little inland to collect the water in the barrels.

Ranka's Survival check is a success. The DC to forage in the area around the lagoon is currently 10, but that is only for a limited time. However it will take a few hours of work, so once you have recruited a few people and have the time to do it, each of you may roll a d6 (with only you adding your Wis modifier) to collect some crustaceans for food. We'll add all the results together and that's how many lbs of food your crew can collect with about 2 Uskaran hours of work. Collecting water is trickier: Simply roll a d4 every night, and that's how many gallons rainwater you can collect with two barrels. If you want or need more, you'll need to find a different source, risking going inland. I have added two barrels and a tin bucket to your "stored" inventory for now.

As the search winds down however, something else catches the Vidame's eye, and soon enough becomes obvious to Mazhar and Ranka as well. It looked like just perhaps mist if one was not paying attention, but the keen elvish senses of Seccacosantza Tolto immediately indicates something is off. To the south, on the other side of the wall of jungle, rises a plume of black smoke, relatively fresh and only just now really winding around and reaching a visible height.

Smoke of that formation and color is one you are familiar enough with. That's a controlled burn, certainly unnatural. It brings back memories. Which one is on your mind?

The likely source of the smoke added to the map as a red X for a point of interest.

The barrier shoal is littered with driftwood and bodies, some redcoats and some thralls. Johann dirties his hands immediately with an undertaker's work, as a scrounger in the immediate wake of a battle. By dragging some of them together and finding the more salvageable pieces, one is able to collect a respectable haul. One immediately notes however, the wood here is so shattered and disparate that there is little hope of finding the prison hulk even partially intact, and the pieces of driftwood, while perhaps good enough to form a raft, could never make a true means of egress.

There are weapons, equipment, and a few particular gems in the rough: First, a mostly well-kept firearm, an old arquebus with an intact wick for its matchlock and a tin box with enough powder and pellets for five shots. Second, a huge mat of hempen rope that once unwound could be very useful, likely from a torn piece of rigging. Third, several tins labeled "SPARE MEAT", often called "spam" by mariners familiar with this Dominion delicacy, potted and pressed meat gelatinized by being cooked in their tins of an uncertain origin.

The haul from Johann's Investigation brings a fair amount of equipment, specifically the following:
  • enough driftwood to make a raft or shelter
  • three backpacks
  • two hammers
  • a crowbar
  • twelve pitons
  • two sets of flint and steel
  • three waterskins
  • tins of "spare meat" (3 lbs.)
  • 200 feet of hemp rope
  • a set of carpenter's tools
  • an arquebus
  • five bullets
  • a saber (as scimitar)
Add what you intend to carry to your "carried" slots and make note of their weights under encumbrance on the spreadsheet, put the rest under carried. Dermid may take some of what you leave behind as well.

Johann begins stripping the bodies as he makes his grim work, laying out what can be salvaged at the side near the pile of driftwood, while Dermid stirs and seems more interested in whats beyond the isle as the fastidious revenant keeps the archdevils from playing with his idle hands. All in all, seven dead. Five lobsterbacks and two poor lost souls that will never see home.

One might wonder if you have any hope to see life among the dead, or simply find it kinder and simpler to have the more quiet kind of dead... but superstition states that bodies given no sending off are doomed to a life as the Un-Dead. Like you. Do you do anything to prevent this?

The morbid activity of the mariner Seahawk, who is giving his companion a wide berth already with a sort of absent lack of regard, leaves the entire rest of the island more or less for the Windspeaker to explore. There isn't much but burning hot white sand, driftwood and corpses, but Dermid sets to looking around, getting a feel for where they have washed up. This thin strip of sand acted as a natural barrier against the sea, enclosing the lagoon such that at low tide it is almost completely cut off from the ocean, and within a few more hours that will be the case as it recedes back. There appear to be survivors on one of the islands in the lagoon, and when Dermid reaches the north end of the shoal, he can see one or two survivors in the marsh, with one pressing a little deeper inland after something.

Something troubles Dermid, beyond all the other troubling parts of being shipwrecked on a mysterious, unknown island in the midst of wyrmsea. He can naturally feel the shifting of the wind heading in from the western waters and blowing through the islands. Rainfall would hit heavily here on the windward side, which is normal, but how were they carried so far and survived? There is almost no sign of the ship, and there was no sign of this land when they had been floating for over a week in the doldrums. The Verani prince cannot put his finger on exactly why this troubles him, but his superstitious mind would not easily accept this as a happy chance of fate that they arrived on this island.

Dermid's Perception check is a success and he can see and/or interact with the characters at [C] or [A], though only one at a time. He notices some strangeness about his surroundings, and though he spies no freshwater or alcohol, he does get a clear clue as to where better salvage may lay, as the fiction shall show...

Following his instincts, Dermid moves back down south on the island, scanning the waters as he does, and notices the wreckage becomes thicker the further south it goes, and the waters of the tide seem to indicate that they naturally would drag it further south, into the shallow waters just across the barrier of trees. To his surprise, he finds an almost intact mast, bobbing in the water, just about twenty yards or so away from the shore, in slightly deeper waters, with a tattered Dominion jack guttering in the wind like a candle's flame. That isn't the piece of cloth that immediately catches his attention however, its the white pants being shaken back and forth, not by the wind, but by mortal hand.

There is another survivor, legs tied up in the rigging and one arm around the mast-pole, the other waving those men's undergarments. It appears to be a young woman, of very slight stature, perhaps even mistaken for a child at distance. Once Dermid gets closer, however, it's clear that its an adult, perhaps a stout halfling but taller than he'd ever seen, with sandy-blonde hair and glittering green eyes. Perhaps a half-dwarf? Maybe such thoughts do not hold him, and certainly is not the distressed damsel's concern, as she calls out in a voice thick with a Grunnish accent, heavy on her vowels and with a sing-song lilt, "St. Jesoth and all the rest, please! Help! It's sinking!" Indeed, it was seeming, with the tide receding, to be pulled back out from where it had been lodged in the coral, wavering precariously back and forth, but she didn't seem particular entangled, in the mess, but it didn't take too long for Dermid to notice the real cause for her alarm.

One, two, three fins circling the wavering mast, closing in like buzzards, as the reef sharks sensed the fear on the air, coming to feed on still breathing prey.

The fate of this young lass is in your hands; not the first and likely not the last, but you'll have to think quickly, with or without the ghost mariner's help, to extricate her from this predicament. What do you do?

The sinking mast is marked on the map with a red X as a point of interest.

Jan'ti is greeted in her search by all of the myriad life found in the salt marsh. In addition to the tide life found elsewhere, there are many more molluscs and gastropods in between the roods, and entire colonies of little arthropods that begin jumping all about to and fro as she approaches. An alamringly large weta, about as large as her forearm, gnaws a bit on a piece of greenery as she passes, examining trees for any sign of fruiting that would make it suitable for Astarte's life-providing mysteries. There is no such luck, however. The kind of mulberry that grows in the tropics, sometimes called the kapa tree, cannot survive in brackish soil like this, and is liable to be further inland, alongside a river, where it greedily sups the rainwaters, though there are liable to be some on this island. However, her task is not fruitless, as she finds many possible means by which to sustain themselves, just from this marsh, or in supplement to other parts.

There's much glasswort, turned bright red and ripe with the autumn season, sometimes called "sea pickles" since they taste so good with vinegar, trailing wild bean with the weed and algae, and that old standby of cattails, which are a cornucopia to themselves of useful reeds, and multiple forms of nourishment. There's an abundance of whelks, a kind of saltwater snail, that could add a little more to the gathering. Most interesting is a grove of corkwood trees, the fruit of which, sometimes called "swamp apples," are eaten by monkeys and crocodiles both to supplement their diet. They are yellowed and ripened, but most important, hold a lot of water in their succulent fruit, without any of the salt from the brine their plants grow out from. Knowing that this is an island of fire and earth, Jan'ti can sense that freshwater would likely bubble from beneath the ground, but such springs would be found further in, but might have some medicinal properties of their own.

Jan'ti's Survival check is a success. The DC to forage in the area around the marsh is currently 12. However it will take a few hours of work, so once you have recruited a few people and have the time to do it, each of you may roll a d6 (with only you adding your Wis modifier) to collect some (mainly) vegetarian food. We'll add all the results together and that's how many lbs of food your crew can collect with about 2 Uskaran hours of work. You also roll a d4, and that equals to about how many "gallons" of water you can extract from the fruit of the corkwood trees. Feel free to take some fruit for flavor and to show to others, and to have a basket made of the cattail reeds for collecting what you forage.

As Jan'ti weaves together an improvised basket from the cattails, Lucielle, still feeling the sting of her sprain, wades through the brackish water and onto one of the more dry spots near where Jan'ti works to acquaint herself with the spiritfolk. Dazed and filled with a terrible thirst, she finds herself a bit weak in the knees, yet out of a desire to maintain her casual demeanor looks to lean on a nearby log, only to perhaps be a bit startled when that log begins to move. Instead, thick and algae-covered as it is, it animates with life, though slow and languous, swaying a bit back and forth. It is an enormous stick insect, with two antennae like fern fronds, and long segments and legs that carefully move just a little bit away before looking to return to stillness, interpreting Lucielle as a possible threat despite its size. Neither of you have ever seen anything quite like it, though it appears at face to be harmless.

Lucielle's Perception check is a failure. The only obvious consequence is a mild startle and meeting a new stick friend, but some details or opportunities may have been missed, and neither are much aware of the other survivors unless they try and get your attention.

This noble isn't quite soft-handed, but you can tell she has never lived out in the wilderness like this. Perhaps this is where you can guide her, just a little? What do you do?

There is little sign of any wreckage or bodies here, unlike elsewhere, at least at first. Both of our castaways are engrossed either in their thirst and feverish daze, or in the work of preparing to survive the harsh world they have been thrust into. Still both notice, and especially Jan'ti, a complete lack of what they might have expected from this tropical island. No birdsong or calls of great and terrible beasts. Though the marsh is alive with the buzzing of insects, there's no distinctive sound of fish breaking the surface, or the hiss of an alligator or snake. Life is abundant, and yet it is also absent. It is this stillness that is interrupted when a most peculiar sound, a a whistling of a jaunty tune, breaks through the buzz and din of the cloud of flights and midges to reach their ears.

Though both hear it, it is Lucielle that feels a bit drawn to look, just perhaps through the fronds and over the marsh's abutment to see, pressing a bit inland from the coast where both had washed up. The ground is spongy but seems solid enough beneath her feet, and it is preferably than wading through the criss-crossing arterial causeways of brackish, black mud. Whether joined by the genasi or not, she pushes just far enough that she spies the source of the sound, perhaps a stone's throw away in a basin pit of rippling mud, the sight of an old man with thick matted hair and beard sunk up to his waist in mud and stuck, not struggling against the agonizingly slow descent that has befallen him, one arm seeming stuck in it as ever. His voice naturally whistles even when he doesn't put his cracked, bloody lips together to blow, missing as many teeth as he has, and his stock and weight marks him as a dwarf, which does not bode well considering how dense they are for his sinking.

His tune reaches a bit to its end, and if he notices that anyone is around, he doesn't make any note of it, letting out a bit of a resigned groan a bit. "Finally... time to die..." It's said with an almost sorrowful finality and resignation, which is somewhat undercut by the jaunty tune that came before, and the fact that his impending death seems to be coming at the rate of drying paint, as the mud bubbles and ripples only slightly. A fly lands on his bulbous, hooked nose, and he sneezes, which does little to help the pathos of the moment.

Whatever the state of this poor sod's mind, his life is in danger, with you and Jan'ti the only ones possibly able to help him. Yet you have no immediate tools other than your wits and whatever you might whip up, though you do not precisely have an urgent deadline: It could be an hour or two before he sinks enough to drown. What do you do?

The quicksand (and its captive) added to the map as a red X marker for a point of interest.

The stillness and serenity of the estuary is given an ignominious end when the kenku falls squaking and flapping into the water, causing a great big ruckus as perhaps one or two of the other bodies fall with it, sinking into the disconcerting black abyss just beneath the surface. Quill makes his escape though, even if it's with far less gallant aplomb than the buccaneer that soon joins him at the shore. Soaked to the feather with the water, the body of the young scholar bristles a bit, puffing out in a ridiculous fashion, though he has no time for preening as he madly begins to scramble, tossing pieces of equipment here and there. Single-minded in his approach, there are a few occasions where a bauble or trinket gets thrown aside, one or two even being tossed back into the water.

You find only one item that catches your eye, even if for just a moment: a dingy compass where the arrow certainly points in a direction, but it is certainly not pointed north, and seems to change in relation to you when you move. On the bottom, scrawled with a knife are the words: "to cockaigne". It might be worth some investigation... Or might be worth nothing. Do you keep it or toss it to Rust?

Rust has the presence of mind, set as it is to mind the bird-brain, to be looking a bit at what is scrounged up before its tossed too much aside, but his desire to stay alert and see their exact surroundings means some things might get missed, but a modest amount is collected nonetheless. He notes however a deathly calm over the surrounding jungle that feels unusual, even if he's not too familiar with the wilderness as such, often having seen these from the comfort of a ship, or at least a dinghy. The lack of animal sounds and only a soft humming of insects meets with the stillness of the trees that ride right up besides the coast, acting as a wall for most of it, yet here in the estuary between the two rivers its a bit more sparse, giving you some more freedom of movement.

Quill's Investigation check is a failure, meaning only a modest amount is scrounged from the bodies and wreckage in the estuary, and no immediate clues are found as to the location of the manuscript. Rust's Perception check succeeds, which will soon play out in the fiction in a way that may help Quill towards his ultimate goal, even if it may not help much in the immediate sense of finding equipment. The following equipment is found, feel free to take and note on the spreadsheet on the equipment tab:
  • a blackjack (club)
  • a backpack
  • two bedrolls
  • a mess kit
  • a set of flint and steel
  • a waterskin
  • canned Westenfal pears (1 lb.)

Before looking much further inland, Rust takes note that there seem to be some survivors on the island near the estuary's mouth, where it opens into a lagoon of some sort. The only clear shape, thanks to the size and distinctive horns, is that of Headsman Mazhar, whom Rust was almost sure had possibly died against the mind flayer, and he was certainly comatose during the (brief) celebrations after the mutiny's completion. He had taken the brunt of the foul creature's mental assault, which Rust might have intended, it's hard to say, owing the mercenary bull no loyalties yet. Still, a bond forged in battle is quite a bond. Perhaps he would be of some use...

Then Rust noted the black plume of smoke, just to the south. There appeared to be other survivors as well, and they may have already set camp... at least, that was what one might hope the smoke was from. Isolated as he and Quill were, they had to decide how they might try and head over there, but before he could do, he realized he had let the kenku out of his sight for just a moment, and the kenku seemed to go further inland in search of something. Taking a closer look at the sparseness of the trees, Rust was struck with something he hadn't realized before.

Some of the trees had been felled. By wind? It looked unlikely. The marks there at the bottom looked like slashing, sharp edges. There was a disturbance in the grass and sand, and a trail of blood running along with it made it look like perhaps there were a few more bodies here earlier than there were now. While the kenku rummaged through more of the wreckage, Rust cautiously moved a bit closer, and saw that the sparseness was because of the mouth to some kind of cave, yawning open in between the trees, cleverly hidden in the shade and undergrowth that if one were not careful, one might accidentally take a last step and tumble into.

The cave was strangely smooth, on a steep slope downwards that then moved seemingly upwards, making it impossible to tell how far it went. It was that black, igneous kind of rock that islands of fire and earth often had, smooth until it became a treacherous sharp edge, and certainly not something one would want to attempt to climb without a little preparation. The shade made it dark as well, but there was just enough shafts of light to catch one's eye: Suspended, as if in the air floating, were several chests, including a tin box--Quill's tin box--and what might be some of the storage crates from the DNS Ceaseless. There was also a twisted up, shriveled body of what may have once been a lobsterback by the color of his coat, but the skin was blackened and beyond recognition at that point.

That's when it became clear why they were suspended: Strands of thin silk spread out in a net-like web from one side of the cave to the other, in various layers, some disturbed, and some not. By the size of the webbing, and the prey, one could only make a few guesses as to what kind of creature might lair that. And none of them were particularly encouraging to the corsair Rust Freewind.

You know that what the kenku is looking for is the treasure map he jealously guards from others from his master. Maybe, if you can stand to do so, there might be a reason to help him get it, especially if he'd be grateful enough to lead you to the riches that Amon the Historian once found in the not-too-distant continent of Praxis. What do you do?

The tunnel entrance marked on the map with a red X as a point of interest.

  • Contact any other possible survivors.
    • Rescue the damsel.
    • Extract the git.
    • Investigate the plume.
  • Secure food and water.
    • Forage from the marsh. (2 Uskaran hours)
    • Forage from the lagoon. (2 Uskaran hours)
  • Salvage the shipwreck for supplies.
    • Investigate the shallows.
    • Find a way to get supplies out of the spider's web.
  • Prepare a shelter.
  • Explore the windward coast of the island.
  • Prepare a raft to escape. (needs: cloth, wood, rope, provisions)

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

There is hesitation, tension in the air. Just as Dermid is able to size up the distance and reach the end of the isle, Seccacosantza Tolto IV rounds the corner of the coast, lute in her arms and strumming a tune, calling out to the pretty damsel and stealing the thunder (pun certainly intended, dear reader) of the sorcerer in her usual flamboyant fashion. Still, she is quite a distance away, separated by waters that could be dangerous at any moment, while Dermid, and to some degree Johann, are much more in the immediate vicinity. Trailing a good twenty or thirty yards behind and closing distance are the minotaur and halfling, equipped with anchor and harpoon respectively. The party begins to converge, drawn by the sign of smoke, but the crisis in front of them still demands some solution.

Tricky posted:

Her journey takes her near enough to the bit of coast that houses the distressed damsel that Secca finds the jaunty tune she'd been humming dying on her lips as she considers the situation. Would they need help? Could she really allow such a daring rescue without putting a hand in it? Ancestors forbid that. Secca belts out a quick tune, once more amplifying her voice, "/Lady on the waters, besieged as you are, do you need aid and succor~?/"

The sandy-haired halfling blinks with her bright green eyes, at the sign of new survivors, and her face immediately lights up with hope, a big smile beaming out over her face, even as her heart leaps with each sway of the mast as the waves recede back from the shore, each one more likely than the last to dislodge her from the reef and bring her crashing down into the shark-infested waters. "Jak! Please! I beg of you, good folk, mercy!" She did not dare struggle too hard against the ropes she was tangled up in, and it was just as lightly the fastening protected her from dropping into the water with the unpredictable swaying. Without a weapon or any other sign of help, the poor lass needed some good help.

Dermid still gets first go at the action but now our party is coming together. If this becomes an encounter it'll remain in the theater of the mind. In rough initiative turns, it'd take a turn before Secca is within much of a range to do anything, and two for Mazhar and Ranka, while Johann and Dermid can act immediately if they desire. If you'd like to preload your intent or discuss a plan, feel free.

Meanwhile, Rust and Quill make their ways down the line of the coast, making some headway and staying wary of the jungle as they go. They are a long enough distance away that they would be of no aid in the immediate crisis, but they can hear the commotion and see the plume of black smoke, so they may know to quicken their pace and should arrive shortly after the conclusion. Still, there was wreckage and sights to see along the way, so they need not remain idle, and they had time to converse further if they wished.

You two are not close enough to aid in time, but I don't want you to feel like you have nothing to do. Both of you might make another (different) Skill check if you like to gain more insight about the island or possible equipment scavenged, or even new possible sources of water or food. Once the challenge with the mast and sharks is concluded, you can arrive at the shoal to link up with the rest.

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

At the sound of Lucy's voice, the old man's head seems to tilt slightly. "Ehh? What's that?" His eyes seem unfocused, staring off still into nothing. "Oh, dear, no, don't trouble yourself on my account, girl." The thick quicksand is certainly taking its time consuming him, and without struggling, he is only prolonging his death, if that is truly his.

Lucy does find enough driftwood that could, if laid flat, provide a platform one could crawl over with, and help him out onto, but it might require some convincing to get him to actually help extricate himself. "Trying to correct the Mover's mistake. Not even a bloody wyrm could do the trick." He lets out an exasperated, whistling sigh.

"Oh, it's no trouble at all," Lucy casually assures the sinking man, "But I have to say, I don't know what you're current situation is, but it would be difficult to correct your mistakes after you've been sucked into the sand, wouldn't it? Tell me, old man, do you have a name?"

He chuckled in a way that dissolved into a wet sort of cough, the body of the old dwarf shaking slightly with ripples in the pit. "Mistakes? Mover's rear end, I have never made a mistake in my life. It's the world that's mistaken, that we are to live in it." Twisting his shoulder a bit, he seemed to try and get it free, but cannot, his eyes not turning still to look at her. "A name? Yes, I have one of those. Have ye one, girl?" His eyes widened, and then he sighed again. "Desider Aqualung, it is. It might do to have at least someone remember me. Before oblivion."

"Why yes, yes I do. Lucielle Valentine, but you can call me Lucy," she gives the man a friendly smile, "So, may I ask what made you lose faith in the world, Dresider?"

Desider's bushy eyebrows knit a bit, actually stirred a bit from his reverie to seemingly be more conscious, and thoughtful, perhaps even a little engaged. "Ye ever seen a Khazadan grandfather clock, Miss Lucy?"

"I might have seen one or two of those in my life. Why?"

There's a renewed clarity in his voice, like a sunbeam breaking through old windows and lace, like those old mansions in Pretala where the nobles that died during the war used to live, before being sold off to merchants and burghers. "Life is such like a pendulum swinging back and forth, between but two points: Pain... and boredom." There is another hacking cough, that in a strange way seems to be reverse of the previous, as it dissolves into a chuckle.

It's obvious by now that he sees poorly, but he does seem to look over in her general direction. "Heheheh, but the swing is sometimes a thrill. A good song, a stiff drink, a pretty face." Another sigh, and as he lets the air out, he does seem to sink more. "These old bones have been rocked back and forth on many a ship, hard to say if its the same Desider anymore. Better to go quietly into that night, in my four hundred years, and forget what these ol' eyes have seen of the sorrow pain brings, and the cruelty that boredom wrought."

It wasn't until he gave his age that a few pieces fell together. Two hundred years ago was the end of the Ninevarine War. The Empire waged a war with a terrible toll against the Guild and the minotaur aghors it supported that controlled most of the Ninevarine city-states, crucial points of trade in the Middle Sea. It was done supposedly to free the Ornassi people from bondage, and was responsible for why many are to this day still independent, while the mitraides are in decline, with many of the aghors merely satrapies of the Guild's influence. This was really the first time privateering came into fashion, and started one of the first age of pirates, primarily in the Middle and Demon Sea, where the first real traditions and legends took hold. This would carry through to the Eighty Years War and inform the pirates of today.

One of the most (in)famous privateers of the Ninevarine War was known as the Aqualung, who commanded a flotilla including his own flagship, a unique dwarven submersible reverse-engineered from Dominion prototypes the like of which still has not been seen. It was sunk sometime during the interwar period, and his fate unknown, but he was one of the founders of Tarturuga, the first attempt at a "pirate republic" built out of the carcass of a great dragon turtle, that still acts as a pirate haven to this day.

And now everything was starting to make sense. No wonder his name sounded so familiar to her when she heard it. The Dwarf she was speaking to was no ordinary Dwarf, but a legend. "If I may..." she speaks up, "I'm sure, in your eyes, I am nothing but a mere babe. You are someone who has experienced much in life, and accomplished much more than I ever will. Compared to you, I am still a child, still learning how the world works, but..." There is a slight pause from her, as the noble considers her next few words carefully, "...I am not sure if I agree that it is better for you to just give up your own life like this."

Lucielle looks at the Dwarf, her smile gone now, replaced with a much more serious expression, "It would be a shame for a man such as yourself to pass on so unceremoniously. Yes, life is filled with pain, and suffering, but that can't be all, can it? After all, you said it yourself; sometimes it can be a thrill, and sometimes it can bring you joy as well. Surely there are moments that you remember fondly even now?" She asks, in an attempt to reach the old, tired Dwarf somehow, "Answer me this, Desider; is this how you want it to end? Truly? Is there not something- anything- that someone like you still wants to accomplish?"

The lightness of her voice does make him wistful. "Ah, to have a book, and the eyes to read it. It can soothe the stormclouds for a time... Or the cracking thunder of the ten-pounders." He finally wrenches that arm out, groaning a bit in pain as it had twisted a bit. "Now, Miss Lucy, do not mistake what ye be seeing here. Ye make think it a coward's exit, but there is nothing more to life a man may have title to but his own life. And when its over, that's it. It don't much matter what happens before or after." His cataracted eyes narrowed a bit.

"But there is what's left behind still. Who are ye exactly?"

"Just a girl who's trying to carve her own path in life," she says, her bright, friendly smile returning back on her face, "Now, let me ask you again; do you need any help? Or would you prefer if I kept talking and bored you to your own grave instead?"

"Heheheh," he wheezed. "That be depending on whether ye think it a good idea. I'm only a mostly harmless elfson when not belly deep in the pit of Asmodeus. But it may take a while, and it don't feel right having an audience."

You've got some means to get him out, and he seems willing to be helped, but it's still a risk so it'll do to be careful. What is your plan?

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 15, 2018 around 22:03

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

There are some assumptions that can be made about islands of earth and fire such as this. Back in the east, both Hyklos and Ornassus are quite volcanic, but not nearly as tropical in climate as the Cazzerides here in the west. Yet the fish and birds of the Tranquil Sea are world-renowned, as are their apes and monkeys, those curious things that looked not unlike one of the quickfolk or smallfolk to Quill, that were far more intelligent and agile than the baboons or macaque found in the west. These environments are diverse and varied, and the migration between the islands means there's a fair amount of mixing but also isolation leading to some very specific and strange environments. Mass extinctions can be caused by volcanoes, but usually, the fertile soul is recolonized quickly elsewhere.

Yet with nothing preying upon the arthropods, they are growing to fantastical size. The great dwarven natural philosopher, Karloman Hammerbeak, made a specific study at the island of Antimony that provided evidence towards his claim that beasts acquire traits and size over time due to how much they consume, and take on the elemental effects of their environment, thus accounting for the wide variety of adaptations and diversity of species across the world. Of course, the Ornassi scholars laugh at this childish nonsense. It is far more likely, the priests of Jehuti would argue, that the spirits of the animals reflect their environments, rather than any concept of "internal elements." There is much debate to be had over that, but ultimately it means this: There are likely more, and far larger such beasts further inland.

The tunnel that you saw earlier, a lava tube, also indicates that the center of the island is like a dormant volcano basin, and the tunnels are likely all interconnected, meaning if one were to map or explore them, you could travel throughout the island without having to move through the heavy jungle, though that thought also leads Quill to a very disturbing observation: Rust had found the sign of felled trees. That isn't something that a spider would do, and it looked that some sharp edges were used. If there were mammals, like sun bears or the like, it could be easily explained by their claws, but insect mandibles rarely leave such clean marks. It looks more and more likely that this island isn't deserted. There have been some studies of invasive species (the plague of hares across the plains of Magna Orna is one of particular interest to some natural philosophers), but there is one natural species that rarely gets so studied yet Quill cannot help but think of: Quickfolk.

Humans live and breed such quick lives, like the kenku, that they can adapt very well to new environments. They tend to leave the environment they move through changed compeltely by their passage. Without more evidence, it's hard to come to a direct conclusion, but the evidence of a super-predator that has some intelligence beyond that of a mere beast is there.

One thing is for certain: The jungle may be quiet, but it is certainly not empty.

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

With the assistance of the genasi, Lucielle is able to crawl out, spreading out her weight with the wood such that she can be balanced near perfectly, and help provide the leverage necessary for Desider to wrench himself free, pulling his legs up with groans of effort, as they take it slow and easy, with the occasional brusque and staccato corrections made by Jan'ti whenver they move too quickly. They are to be as the sand, she says, in their movements, and refuse to fight it. Flow natural. And it seems to work, as with a bit of a pop the soaked body of the dwarven git is pulled free and they are on the relatively dry shore of the marsh. He was never very impressive a specimen, even in the context of knowing his history as Lucy did, but it is almost shocking how thin and emaciated he looks, and how he seems to constantly hover near death.

His chest heaves slightly, and he shakes a bit, waving his hand weakly to bat away at the cloud of midges that hovers all around them. "Phew, do I have a thirst..."

With the expenditure of a Hero Point and the help of Jan'ti, Lucielle saves Desider from a slow, slow, slow death, freeing them to decide where to head next.

Desider is not likely to be of much use as a helping hand in survival. Another mouth to feed. The feeling of dehydration smarts again. He's liable to need some help and will slow you down if you want to get over to the commotion south across the lagoon. What do you do?

If what the old dwarf says is true, he has lived far older than most of his kind. The Aittic Mysteries teach that all things must pass in time, like the tides. Does his presence make you uneasy? Or are you unconcerned? What do you do?

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 16, 2018 around 16:21

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

While the kenku tries to impress upon the cutthroat their situation, stymied by his people's curse, Rust does make a cursory attempt to sift through the wreckage. However, it culminates in disappointment after finding the crossbow, slung over his shoulder, when the first sign of any alcohol is revealed as nothing more than saltwater seeping through the seal. It was enough to make someone want to give up, but there was still a few other pieces here and there he or Quill could collect if they felt the need to. However, the most interesting find is a large barrel, what would be likely a cask for stored drink, complete with brass tap. Hope is raised only to be scuttled once more when it becomes obvious the barrel is cracked on one side and been pried open. What is perhaps a bit more surprising however is when the barrel sprouts from its open side two antenna, and then two eye stalks, glistening black, as the giant hermit crab within spots the approaching pair, and retracts back in for its defense, claws positioned forward. Soon enough, its legs sprout from the sides, and it moves to inch back and away, floating on the receding tide.

Rust's Investigation check is a failure, but he does find a little bit of equipment himself or Quill could take for themselves.
  • two waterskins
  • a backpack
  • a stiletto (as dagger)
  • a golden tooth (1 gp value)

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

This post was accidentally deleted, but to sum up: Dermid's illusion worked to scare the sharks away and give a wide berth, but it certainly would carry very far through the water and might provoke some PTSD from the other castaways. This would require a Wisdom saving throw at DC 12 from everyone, with those immediately present and witness to the magic taking advantage. Failure meant having disadvantage on one's next ability check, saving throw, or attack roll.

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 16, 2018 around 16:27

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

The sharks circle with a much wider berth, low and moving through the reef cracks and crevices, not daring come too close to the surface. While the passing of the Vidame tir Cuothr was elegant, leaving little wake in her passing that did not immediately get swept back in the receding tides, it may be a different matter when the both of them hit the water. The half-elf climbs up the wobbling mast-pole, the additional weight causing the pendulum swing to become a bit more urgent, and as she worries away the knots with a knife, there's an alarming sound of stressed wood, not snapping, but groaning, before a wave pushes it back up with a shuddering shift. It won't last much longer, and with their cruel predator's intellect, the sharks seem to know it.

Luckily, the damsel does not seem all that shook, with the usual halfling pluckiness in the face of it all, looking at Secca's fast work with wide sparkling eyes and all-in-all taken more aback with a chivalrous display as this compared to the dragon's roar, though she shudders none the less as she loosens and consents to being held, at least for the moment as the remainder of her other foot is freed. She is indeed tall for a halfling at four and a half feet, all gangly limbs, but its hard to say that she might have the blood of the dwarf as "robust" is not the word that comes to mind. She answers the question posed in that thick accent, not fumbling with the words so much as with her thoughts, heart beating up to the bottom of her throat. "Urszula S-sandydowns, if it please." She squinted at the wig, and seemed to light up. "You were one of the pirates that took the Ceaseless! And look at me, being saved again."

With her other foot free, she was able to mostly hold at the rigging herself, looking trepidatiously down and then to the rest of the crew making their way up. "What now?"

After Dermid takes his next action, everyone may act again, including Mazhar and Ranka for the first time directly if they like. For the purpose of attacking the sharks, their AC is 14 (modified due to partial cover from being under the surface). Mazhar, if you do not wade out into the shallows and thus take a bit of a risk if you miss, they will be just out of short range, giving you disadvantage on your attack roll.

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 16, 2018 around 16:30

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

The old man, so recently saved from certain death, finds his whole body feeling the coming of it once more with that great roar. His eyes wide, his cracked lips spreading in a resigned sort of grimace over his gap-toothed, bloody gums, he looks up to the sky. "Ah, can't be helped." It is to his surprise though with the genasi not only moves to defend him, but quickly pushes with the swamp apple life-giving drink, which he greedily sups from, grabbing the fruit with his emaciated but still broad grubbyg hands, drinking his fill from the succulent.

"It wouldn't do if ye both died now, not before ye friend Desider." He warned in a cracking voice that dissolved into a phlegmatic cough, as Jan'ti rushed to follow after Lucielle, the two of them following the coast of the lagoon, unless they chose to try and cut across through the water and swim the way to the shoal, at as much of a sprint as their dehydrated bodies could handle.

The two of you will take some time to get there, likely arriving at the end of the action, but just so you aren't just waiting for nothing, both of you may make Perception checks for me.

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 16, 2018 around 18:40

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

At the encouragement of the half-elf, the gangly halfling nods once, reaching out and holding out a hand to the Vidame tir Cuothr with a winsome smile. "Only way out is through, right love?" Whether the hand is taken or not, they fall into it, like a daydream or fever, into the clear crystal blue of the shallows. The water splash is small, and once they hit the water they start making their break for the shore. The sharks stir, starting to move further in formation, which gives Headsman Mazhar the opportunity he is looking for, hoisting the harpoon and readying it for a hefty throw. Seccacosantza quickly closes the distance, rolling out onto the wet sad as the ebbing tide recedes back from where she lay, turning around only to see that Urszula lags just a bit behind, still in the water as the sharks close in! Those halfling legs could only propel her so far and fast, and in the rush the Vidame had not even noticed until now, when the moment was right.

Our crew of castaways and mutineers would have to work together, and fast, to pull her from the jaws of the beast before it closed close enough in to bite!

Johann's Eldritch Blast misses and Seccacosantza's Dash moves her the 30 feet through difficult terrain to the shore line, but Urszula's 25 feet of movement is not enough even with a dash. The following still have actions this turn at the shoal: Dermid, Mazhar, Ranka.

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

Then tension bleeds, becoming dimmer, though it is still there, pressing down on both Jan'ti and Lucielle, but it is their exhaustion that takes the center stage. Catching up with them, as the golden sun moves past its apex, and the shadows begin to deepen with the receding of the tides through this afternoon. Lucielle is more or less blind to her surroundings, but as Jan'ti takes a look around, she searches to find some way to help address their needs. To her surprise, she finds exactly what they are looking for, just across the water on the central island of the lagoon. Some equipment had been left behind by the other castaways, including two wooden barrels that are mostly intact, next to a tin bucket with some mussels and tan-shelled crabs in it.

There is also the body of a lobsterback, though his red coat has been torn up and otherwise ruined, covered with a layer of those very same crabs picking lazily at this or that piece of his body, only a little bit at a time as they pinch and grab each piece of bloated skin to their moving mandible.

But that is not the only sight to their immediate south that catches Jan'ti's eye. While those in the vicinity are currently distracted by a fair amount of activity, the pair have the mometn to notice that the black column of smoke, after a single wide mushroom-like plume, has started to dissipate and no longer billows upwards towards the sky. It has been extinguished. Between the bard's clarion call and the roar of the dragon, it would be hard to blame them, but that is the direction the other castaways seemed to have gone, and indeed, they see two others, a puffed-up kenku and a swarthy mariner, on the opposite side from them on the island on the coast, making to move around to the south all the same, and might be within shouting distance.

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

With explosive action, the remainder of the crew work in concert in those few moments just before disaster. Dermid FitzCulainn's crackling magicks first light up the scene, a distinct flash of the scent of ozone in the air, when the shark that closes in on Urszula gets too close. The fingers of lightning curve and hit the water with puffs of smoke, wrapping out across the body of the reef shark as it thrashes. It is flung up from the water in a twisting arc, hitting the sand at Dermid's feet as the winds twist about him, carrying him aloft and out of reach of its grasping jaws, as it uselessly tries with its powerful tail and scarred fins to gain purchase. It is stranded, though might be able to make its way back in the water if given the chance.

Across the strait, one of the other two is speared from both ends. Striking the glossy black eye is a well-aimed wooden dart from Ranka's hands that half-blinds it, staining the crystal blue waters with a cloud of dark red blood, distracting it enough and bringing it closer to the surface such that the minotaur's harpoon strikes true just beneath the fin. When the line goes taught, he holds the thrashing creature in hand with all the means to drag it out, given some effort, though it will fight with whatever remaining strength it can. Between the thunderclap of Dermid's attack and the other part of its small pack in terrible danger, the cold-blooded survival instincts of the third shark kick in. It darts and turns tail, with a flick of the fin moving further south into the shallows and out of sight under the glint of the sun above, a beast to live another day as the pack was surely outmatched and out of their element.

Thus there is no remaining danger at all for the halfling as she reaches out, grabbing Secca's hand and coming ashore. She's in good spirits, though can't help but let out a light laugh. "I'm not a child, just smaller than you folk, I do know how swimming works. Just you know... Shorter legs." The young woman is still wearing the striped red and white, like a barber's pole, of her prisoner's garb, but had also some leather armor with straps from one of the dwarven thralls, and some overlong breeches that she tore at the knees, complete a red strip of cloth as a bandana.

Now that she wasn't in immediate danger, she looked far more brigand than damsel, though lacking any weapons. She came up to stand, looking over at the thrashing shark. "Poor thing! Out of the shallows and into the soup pot..." Her lilting, sing-song accent went well with the irrepressible cheer in her voice, her grin a bit toothy at the prospect of the tables being turned, though the job was still only half-finished for both of them. For the others not focused on the remaining fish, they might notice that while they were engaged in the struggle, the black column of smoke had begun to dissipate, as the fire had been extinguished along the edge of the shallows. Whether that would add urgency or not, remained the prerogative of our daring crew of castaways.

Combat ends as no sharks really remain threatening. The one hit with lightning lure by Dermid is functionally helpless and any character can with a coup de grace or two end its misery, though they should do so before it wiggles its way away. Mazhar must succeed at a Athletics check to reel in the other shark or it will break the harpoon and escape. Otherwise we're back to being out of "initiative." +5 XP for a Medium difficulty encounter. +5 XP for saving Urszula Sandydowns, as even if she hasn't said she'd join the crew, she does owe you all a lot and compared to Desider might be more immediately useful in an extra pair of hands.

Both Quill and Rust may arrive on the scene at their leisure now.
Both Jan'ti and Lucy can also arrive shortly, though either as a group with Quill and Rust, or after they make some water, or both. You might coordinate on Discord but don't feel too restricted either way, it's a fluid narrative time.

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

"What, you didn't know each other before the mutiny?" Urszula, of all things, seemed taken aback in surprise. "It was because of all of you that the Magistrate was thrown overboard, we though surely you were working together." The unspoken we in this case seeming to be the rest of the prisoners. Indeed, though there had been one or two that had helped, the nine castaways of our story were the core of that mutinous action, and could claim it easily. As some introductions were made, Urszula butted in just after Mazhar, and before Johann or Dermid could, brimming with exhilarated enthusiasm after her resuce. "Urszula Sandydowns, if it please. I'm... not much of anybody, but very grateful."

As they dealt with the shark, her eyes trailed over first over towards the lagoon, where she saw some of the others, and she gave a bit of a wave in their direction, but then seemed to remember something, turning back. "Oh! You were not awake for long, right? There were some redcoats further down in the shallows. They were moving in on the fire, I saw a few other survivors in a boat beaching that way, I think they recovered the ship's launch. But they were few, and the redcoats many." No one conscious could remember any sounds of fighting or the like. "I tried to signal but I passed out into the head, until I could just barely see this man here," beaming a bit at Dermid, before turning pensive.

"... Where did the other halfling go?" Turning back over to the other side of the beach, where Ranka had left to scout ahead.

E. Castaways' Camp

Ranka makes her way along the sandy coast. The jungle grows even further from the water near the shallows, and with the ebbing tide there's a good twenty yards between the water and the cover of the treeline, but it does still effectively work to cut off line of sight, and she cannot see any of the other castaways. As she makes her approach to where the smoke was coming from, one of the first things she notices is on the ground are more bodies, but these are not the bloated corpses washed up from the sea. They are relatively fresh, though still having collected some scavengers. The bodies are lobsterbacks, curled up in their own blood, having been shot or stabbed, it varies from each one, but there is little signs that it was terribly violent: They were shot in the back, while moving in your direction it would seem.

The halfling counts four dead lobsterbacks, but one is being dragged away by an especially large scavenger: a giant centipede with bright red-orange appendages and mandibles, its antenna twitching. It is long enough to stretch out six yards past the treeline without you seeing its other end, grab one of the bodies and start snaking back, to drag it into the undergrowth, its legs moving in a wave-like motion as it does with a disconcerting elegance. Giving it a wide berth, she also doesn't have many options for cover without going near the increasingly dangerous seeming jungle, but she does her best to inch her way along the coast, and finds perhaps five more bodies along the way, leading to what appears to be a shipwreck: though it does not appear to be the Ceaseless, but a smaller vessel, like a sloop.

Near a smoking fire-pit, she sees a single individual, sitting and leaning back on a large, metal-banded wooden chest. One of his feet is lifted up so that he can polish it, and he works on it with a cloth damp with oil, blackening it to a fine sheen. The mocha-skinned Sintalese man appears young, with a braided topknot and otherwise shaven pate, and white tattoos adorning his face in a ritualistic pattern. He wears fine clothing that does not fit him well (one can surmise from the prominent neck ruffles, which he has loosened somewhat, that it was likely from the Magistrate's wardrobe), and has perched on his shoulder a pied crow.

Letting his boot hit back against the sand, he reaches into the inner breast pocket and pulls out a fine dark wood flask, which has leather cut and sewn in an intricate pattern that shows off the carved design without sacrificing grip. Ranka can appreciate the craftsmanship, because she knows that it is her flask, and the Sintali drinks from it quite deeply, before brushing it off his lips and looking down in her direction. There was not much means to hide, and he seemed to be waiting, without any obvious ill-intent or weapons near him. However, him sitting there alone, unarmed, amidst all the dead lobsterbacks, hardly makes the camp feel welcoming.

"Ah! Another exile of the zee! Better company than a wyrm, and zertainly more comely." The crow caws and its head seems to turn, looking in different directions. This was a tell that Ranka, living in the line of work she did, learned from the cutthroats she encountered on the hunt. Many of these sorts loved to keep pets as little symbols of their wealth, but animals rarely are "in" on a plan. Too often, their wandering eyes are indications of other, hidden vantages. When Ranka follows the crow's gaze, she sees a shadow peaking out from behind the dinghy, placed up on its side as if for cover, and sees a shape move ever so slightly behind a crate on the shipwrecked sloop's deck. That's at least two others that are hidden, though whether in ambush or caution... Is there much a difference in this line of work?

"Zay, tell me, thought to scare Nax from his earned plunder with a trick of the wind? And zend a little scout before they come marching one-by-one? That did not fair well for the last to try, little dove."

Your passive perception beats both the Stealth checks of the hidden cutthroats. You can see their location below marked with red X's. You can easily escape now without moving forward, as you noticed far before you would be in close range. The rest at the shoal could arrive shortly if alerted, but not immediately. What do you do?

Mazhar, Secca, Dermid, and Johann are close enough to arrive in short order at [E] and the castaway camp there if they follow after where Ranka left off to, but something might go down as they are going there depending on what Ranka does. If you do, just describe that you are heading that way, at what pace and what you might be expecting/prepared for.

Quill, Lucielle, Rust and Jan'ti are on the Lagoon Island at [A] though within shouting earshot of the folks at the shoal. If they begin to move along down the south, it will take them a bit longer. The ritual casting will take 10 minutes so will be likely be long enough to move through the entirety of the encounter if Jan'ti's attentions aren't pulled elsewhere.

Updated relative positions for everyone per the map below.

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

E. Castaways' Camp

The braggadocio on display is not what was expected in the slightest, and the Sintalese man's breath is all but taken away. His eyes dart along with hers to the other positions, and he gives a nervous, white-toothed grin as he turns back and holds his gaze on her with growing intensity through all of it. Of course, his pride his pricked by the little halfling's shutdown, but a Sintali man always prefers a position of apparent weakness, and they are known for being like fowl, as it simply washes over him like water from the back of a swan.

That isn't to say it doesn't have an effect. He is cowed, most certainly, raising his free hand with fingers outstretched, and with the other, tossing the flask in her direction. The crow caws in its best attempt at menace, and more effects annoyance. "Zea davaro marviggio! I am undone! Of course, it waz not Nax's idea, the others thought that he would be, least threatening."

"Enough." The word comes like a bark, as the one that was on the ship comes to sand. It is a hobgoblin with sallow flesh, ugly even for his kind, with prominent scarring especially around his bare scalp, with metal staples in, usually a sign of Dominion tampering. "No talk. Don't move." Wearing a breastplate recovered from the captain of the redcoats, as well as part of their uniform, he has slung under each arm a caviler, braced and with each barrel pointed down now at Ranka.

"Is this when the killing starts." From behind the dinghy, a Vendal woman in mostly ragged clothing, some padded pieces placed together haphazardly, with long stringy red hair that covers msot of her face, raises up as well, revealing herself as she draws two shortswords, held flat against her forearm. "It was getting boring waiting." Her voice is dull, with a blunted affect, almost mumbled through.

Nax for his part has no weapons, and makes no threatening move, both hands up. However, Ranka can hear, just at the edge of her mind, a voice. It's not like the silent speech, which simply sounds like words coming forth, but a little more edged, like something creeping up behind it. Not completely unlike the way the squids can speak inside your head, when they aren't using their speaking stones. <Zay, how many in Ranka Volyn's party? If she is azz dangerous as Nax Tirrinu, we kill the other two, and Nax joins the winning team. He sharez, not like the corzair, or the zwardwoman.>

Not missing a beat, Ranka snatches her flask from the air and drains what little remains from it, even as the two playing at hiding reveal themselves.

As they make their threats, she wipes her face, relief palpable, even though the liquor in the flask hasn't had time to hit her system. Glancing up toward her would-be assailants, she casually lets her quarterstaff tumble to the ground at her feet and rests her hands on her head, flask clasped between them, silent as asked.

When the voice creeps into her head, she's all too happy to respond <"Can't say as I would have expected this. But to answer your question there's another 8 or so, some bigguns, some loud ones like the dragon you heard too.">

<A zerpent-charmer, is she? Ranka Volyn is mozt impressive.> Whether he actually believe it or not, it was difficult to say. <Nax will follow when she make her move, conzider it a Sintalese promise.> A Sintalese promise is a peculiar thing. It is always given in a time where trust is not assured. It doesn't actually offer any guarantee that the giver will make good on the promise, except their honor and reputation, but it means that the person promised will owe the Sintali something if they do, if accepted... which in the Sintalese culture, makes it very much more likely that they will keep the promise. They are always transactional, in a way that would make a Guilder dwarf blush.

The Vendalic woman approaches now, ready to collect and guide the prisoner back towards the ship. "The hold. Tied up." The hobgoblin barks out again in a gruesome growl. "Wait for the others. Bait."

Seccacosantza has her noble sensibilities assaulted by what appears to be a recent battlefield of corpses, fresh by comparison to the bloated bodies on the Lagoon island, and by the sight of bloodshed somehow a little more difficult to stomach. She maneuvers about the same way as Ranka, not at first seeing any sign of her save her slight footprints on the sand, until she starts hearing a voice, barking in the distance. There is someone else out there, and it doesn't sound good. Especially when it says "Wait for the others. Bait."

Rounding the bend, she can just see the battlefield in sight. There were two figures near Ranka, as well as the hobgoblin barking orders down the barrel of two cavilers from the deck of a shipwreck's hull.

Roll initiative and prepare your first action.

Rust's impromptu trek through the jungle is somewhat slowed by the thick undergrowth, and without any tools to hack away through it he makes slow progress, yet he is careful and considerate with his movement, able to twist back and forth through the vines as he approaches, unheard. He more than once sees the twisting of an antenna, or hears the stridulations of some awful creature in the dim darkness of the undergrowth, where only tiny shafts of light from above peak through. The most harrowing moment is when he realizes just before he places his foot down that his pathway is blocked by the glossy black carapace of a giant centipede, which twists like a little black stream in front of him. He waits, patiently, for it to pass, and it seems to not notice... but to his dismay, he finds it is dragging a body, that of a recently slain lobsterback, in its bright red-orange mandibles.

Better a red than him, one could suppose.

He does finally make it there to the end, right at the edge, and can hear a barking voice heard over the crashing of the waves. Crossbow cocked and ready, he shifts forward and can spy through a small break in the jungle opening the scene before him. An ugly hobgoblin with two calivers in his arms, as well as Vendal cuthroat and some Sintalese man with his hands in the air, seem to have their attention completely on Ranka in this moment.

Rust remembers these three. During the mutiny, they attempted to recruit him to abandon the rest of the crew. They had a plan to bust the treasure and move out in the dinghy while the others were distracting the mind flayer. Rust, perhaps rightly, called it foolish, because if the flayer lived, they had no hope, but they seemed gambling sorts. The hobgoblin was an Aridian Corsair, not to be trifled with. The Vendal, he heard, was named Sunniva, and had killed twenty men in a spree in Pretala, including a Dominion dignitary, though for what reason seemed dubious. The Sintali he knew by Nax, because he said that name quite a bit, but he had no earthly idea what he was doing on the vessel. It definitely seemed like he belonged there, just as Rust did.

Just as Rust was getting a grasp of the situation however, it felt like the scene was about to escalate. It was soon time to make a move, as the tension came to a corded knot... and snapped.

Your Stealth check was a success. Roll Initiative. Because of Ranka's impending action, no chance of a surprise round, but you will have Advantage on your first attack, as well as some cover.

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

When the halfling kicks up her staff in hand, the Vendal's expression hardens and the hobgoblin Ganzorig's muscles twitch. He makes to squeeze on the trigger of his caviler, having readied it in case she made to make for a strike, but her waiting until the Vendal got close means that both Rust and Secca have arrived as well. A gunshot rings through the air with a flash from the muzzle, and with a whistling sound the bullet strikes the side of her shoulder with significant force and a small splash of red, shattering into many pieces and embedding in the tendons of her muscles, hitting up against bone and sinew. It is a serious wound, but aid has already come.

With a shunting sound, two bolts lodge themselves in the hobgoblins body as he lets out a gutteral cry, hunching over. Landing one one knee as the leg that was hit in the t high collapses under him, both Ranka and Secca can see from the woods a hidden bandit of their own, as Rust Freewind draws first blood, which comes out in rivulets from the hobgoblin's armor. The sound of Ganzorig's gunshot rings out and echoes all over the deathly quiet island, heard at the those at the lagoon whether they stayed or followed Rust, and at the shoal not too far away. It is unmistakable what this means.

Battle is joined.

Round One.

Ganzorig the Hobgoblin Corsair has a AC of 16 (18 in partial cover) and 32 max HP. He has 17 HP left.
Sunniva the Vendal Murderer has a AC of 13, and 32 max HP.
Nax Tirrinu the Sintali has a AC of 14, and 24 max HP.

Ranka takes [7] HP of wounds from Ganzorig the hobgoblin's caviler shot, which was a Held Action if she made an aggressive move, which she did.

Initiative is Flood (Players) then Ebb (Dungeon Master). Rust has taken his action. Secca and Ranka, you may take your action.

Mazhar, Dermid, and Johann, you may declare your intent to join combat by saying you followed after Secca when she left, and now a bit more hurried once you heard the gunshot. You will join on Round Two.

Jan'ti, Quill, and Lucielle, you may declare your intent to join combat by saying you followed after Rust through the jungle, and now a bit more hurried once you heard the gunshot. I will need you to make Stealth or Survival checks however (your choice), because the jungles are not safe. Depending on the results, you will join on Round Three.

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 18, 2018 around 03:07

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

The unseelie magick that the Vidame tir Cuothr wreaks with but a strum of her loot quickly scrambles the mind of the former thrall, as Ganzorig's eyes widen, his flat nostrils flaring and snorting as he wrenches himself away, running out of cover and down the ship's hull, hopping down on the opposite side before he catches himself, back to the rail and looking over his shoulder. This wasn't how it was supposed to go, that much was clear. Between the psychic pain and the grievous, heavy bolts in his armor, he was well-bloodied and only a push or two away from death's door himself. He considered his options, briefly, raising up his caliver to give a shot over his shoulder, this time at the bard...

There was certainly a shot, a blast of fire and smoke from the muzzle, and perhaps Secca braced herself, but the whistle of a pellet never came. The caliver had misfired! Poor maintenance at sea, and now it had jammed, smoke raising from the wheel-lock mechanism and muscle both. Loudly barking in the goblin-tongue, likely curses to consign all of the others to the Nine Hells, he tossed the misfired caliver behind him and made to run in that peculiar way that goblins do, bent over with his arms and neck outstretched but not quite on all fours, as if throwing himself entirely for it. He was heading for some rocks just across the way, which opened into a tunnel not unlike the one at the estuary. At his pace, he might reach it within the next turn, or at least the very edge!

Meanwhile, Ranka's fell-handed staff blow and kick brings the Vendal down on the knee, but she doesn't give much more than a disinterested grunt at first. She makes to wrench herself up, but catching the shava's glare, the Sintalese scoundrel gives a smirk. "A promize is a promize." His irises begin to glow an unearthly green color, almost burning as the rocks around them begin to shake and there is an uncomfortable feeling spreading throughout the surroundings, like a heavy gravity. The Vendal turns just as, materializing from his hand is a twisting blade of corded energy, as he moves to stab the Vendal in the side. Her eyes grow wide and she manages to roll to the side, managing to only get sliced in the side with a ruby cut across her side.

With his other hand he materializes a second blade, a soul's knife, floating and spinning in the air. The crow caws and flaps its wings to disappear, as he all but blows a kiss in the direction, sending the knife in a bolt heading after the hobgoblin, though it misses its target, flying past the corsair as he makes some distance. This momentary distraction is enough for the Vendal to come back to her feet, and something has changed. Her face is contorted with with psychotic rage, and she seems to completely ignore Ranka, focusing entirely on Nax. She returns the favor with a much more fell blow, giving him a sinking jab to the side and drawing blood, before withdrawing back, now both shortswords pointed forward instead of flat against her arm. She screams, that Vendal warscream that has caused many armies before to shake, and though the hobgoblin runs for his life, Vendals never retreat, even in such odds, though in this case, it seems much more than a swordwoman's woad-cry.

She seemed more attentive to both of them now than she had, but she was desperate to draw their blood. Though aid was soon on its way, she may yet take one of them with her.

Ganzorig fails his save, and grievously wounded, making an attack on Secca but rolls a natural 1. The caliver was in disrepair and misfires, becoming useless for the time being. Seeing how little chance he has remaining, he makes a break for it, his AC dropping to 16 but making good headway towards a path of escape in the form of a nearby lava tube.

Nax enters the fray on Ranka's side, manifesting his soul-knives as a reaction and hits Sunniva with a melee attack though dealing only 4 damage, while making a ranged attack and missing Ganzorig.

With a bonus action, Sunniva enters a rage, gaining resistance to piercing, slashing, and bludgeoning damage. She attacks Nax with her shortsword, hitting and dealing 6 damage.

Round Two.

Sunniva, AC 13, HP 16/32
Ganzorig, AC 16, HP 7/32
Nax, AC 14, HP 18/24

Ranka, Rust, and Secca may take a new turn. Johann may now join combat, as can Dermid and Mazhar if they decide they had followed Secca narratively. New people on the battlefield start on the far left side at the edge of the colored part of the map.

Jan'ti, though you cannot enter combat until Round Three, you can lead the others through a safe trail, giving them advantage on their Stealth or Survival checks to follow, and encounter no obstacles along your way.

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 18, 2018 around 04:21

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

In only few moments more, with a crimson flash as the Vendal's head is split in twain by a crackling bolt of eldritch force, the battle ceases, with a corresponding half of both Ranka and Nax stained with the scarlet spray. Sunniva falls to the ground, first on her knees and then down on her chest, slumped over, with the scream having been cut off ignominously. Likewise, a pool of blood begins to fill around into the sand around the hobgoblin. This is the scene that Jan'ti, Urszula, and perhaps Dermid, arrive to find, as everyone's hackles slowly settled, and the blood begins to cool. The shadows are lengthening, and the tide has begun to roll back in.

It's late afternoon, nearly vespers. There's only a few more hours of daylight left.

Nax, the twice-turncoat, opens his palms and both the materialized daggers seem to dissipate into nothingness, and almost reflexively he raises both there at his shoulders, palms forward in a gesture of surrender, showing no pride in having chosen the winning side of overwhelming numbers. He doesn't even make to wipe the blood at this point, only watching the treeline for Rust to come forward and the approach of the revenant and minotaur, tense like a jungle cat but with a nervous, deferential smile like a cowed wolf. "Nax Tirrinu, as ever, made a wize decision."

Urszula, for her part, stares at the scene, from the bodies to the split head of the Vendal, and seems to have forgotten to be horrified, her face a bit of a mask, before her eyes seem to alight and she covers her mouth, turning over to Johann for a moment, and then facing away, as if averting her gaze from the proceedings. She doesn't comment on it, as the deed is quite done, and surely soon enough they will find their spoils, once they have all arrived.

Combat is over.

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

The expression of the halfling is a bit strange in that moment. She doesn't seem terrified or more than a bit disconcerted, and it is obvious that she is bounding back with that cheer, but just for a moment a little bit of a peak behind the curtain was there, a calculation., before she gave a slightly weakened smile to the half-elf. "I don't think your halfling very much cares for me, your ladyship. She wasn't eager to stick around once I had my two feet on the sand." Looking down at her bare, furred pair with a bit of a chuckle, before she shook her head.

"Maybe I can help you look around once you've attended to her? I can fit into the small areas, so I'll start looking in the hull of that ship's bow." Whatever the way the folks split up their coming tasks and who they decided to converse with before they made to set camp, there was quite a bit of loot to sort through. Whomever went to the body of the hobgoblin, like Freewind, found a pewter chest key along his straps, which was easily surmised, with Nax's corroboration, as the one that went to the chest there next to the camp circle.

Anticipation gripped as the chest was opened, and the first real taste of treasure was opened up to our castaways.

Unlocking the treasure chest Nax was sitting on with Ganzorig's key reveals the following, obviously the personal stash of Magistrate Alhoon:
  • ten hundred-pound bank certificates in Dominion bonds (5000 gp value, though only theoretically)
  • a wooden puzzle box
  • a statuette of a brain made of coral
  • invitation to a formal ball at Pretala in two years time
  • a writing kit (portable desk, quill, and ink)
  • a silver ring
  • a silk coat
  • ceramic holy symbol of the Queen Mother with a sacred scroll in Deep Speech text
  • a potion in a crystal phial decorated with tentacle suckers
  • 40 Guilder doubloons (320 gp value) (Nax requests four as his cut, as an equal of ten shares)
From the bodies of Sunniva and Ganzorig you can recover the following:
  • a caviler
  • a caviler, jammed (Urszula would request this if no one else wants it, and offers to help repair it otherwise)
  • powderhorn, 8 pinches
  • bullets, 8 shots
  • padded armor
  • a breastplate
  • two short swords (Urszula would request to use these)
Amid the dead Dominion redcoats you can recover the following:
  • two sabers (scimitars)
  • four blackjacks (clubs)
  • a pistol
  • bullets and powder, 3 shots
  • a chain shirt (Nax would request to have this, in exchange for his leather armor, which would likely go to Urszula)
  • ration tins, "spare meat" and beans, 7 lbs.
  • seven waterskins
  • six backpacks
  • four bedrolls
Thanks to beating a Medium encounter, recruiting one of the cutthroats to your side (for now), and discovering a small wealth of treasure, the party earns 20 XP, bringing the total to 37/100.

The silver ring in the chest looks like it might be worth a pretty penny, but you spot a telltale groove, and if allowed to examine it a little closer, you will identify it has a use beyond just ornamentation. It has a secret reservoir that is to hold a liquid poison, to be palmed into someone's drink, or perhaps even against a blade, though it would only be useful for a single application. It is empty now, but it would be worth a little extra to the right buyer... And might be worth keeping. Do you share this knowledge with anyone else?

The brain statuette is made out of brightly colored coral, tipped orange and a deep blow at its root, and looks remarkably anatomical. There are no signs of it having been carved or tampered with, but having grown naturally, organically. Most alarming, or intriguing, to you is the fact that you think the coral is still alive. It is soft to the touch at some part, and there are little fronds that twitch and shudder like antennae within little tubes, though it is as you can tell completely dry. Have you seen anything like this before?

The puzzle box that is in the chest might be worth as much as gems, but you recognize immediately that it is shava craftmanship. Legend has that the kindfolk, the gnomes, were close with the shava, living in the forests that lined the rivers, and taught them such things. The Nimhi script, what remains of it, is based on what is sometimes called Gnomish, and there is script on here that you do not recognize, meaning it might be quite a find. It may take a few hours to figure out, but these are designed for amusement and children... What will you find inside? No need to mention it now, but after you have some time with it.

As the others fawn and sort through the treasure, the gleam of Guilder doubloons is hard to miss. Especially when you see the grasping talons and stretched wings, stylized with geometric lines, of the Lodge of Seahawk. These were minted in your lodge's banks. Have they been doing business directly with the Dominion? That would be very brazen, as you imagined they would at less sell to those in the Ninevar to keep a degree of separation, but a smuggling network to Bight would be far shorter a voyage, and far more profitable. Do you find any other evidence of this Magistrate's involvement with your old Lodge?

As you examine the wreck, you find that there is a gun still in good working order: A carronade, designed for short-range and used nowadays primarily on merchant vessels to protect against boarding. It is heavy but powerful, a fine weapon, though without the proper amount of powder not useless at this current juncture. It hasn't been rusted out of use, and you find six roundshot in the hold as well. Something else in your examination catches your eye, something that distinguishes it. What is interesting about it?

The invitation to the formal ball in Pretala catches your eye. It is written in Heathish with inflections of High Sarumite, and you would recognize the wax seal anywhere: It is from the Countess Katarin Melissidae tir Trembethow, sometimes called the Wasp Countess. She is a dowager of a wealthy fiefdom in Westenfal, born in Bight and married in, and controls through the inheritance of her young children, after the tragic circumstances that took her husband, and her adult son. Then her second son soon after he came of age. Thank the Saints there are three more sons to go. In Pretala she is well known as a back-channel diplomatically between the Empire and the Dominion, and fond of throwing lavish parties at her intricate estate, where she disseminates invitations like this one all across her network and encourages them to be stolen or otherwise acquired through skullduggery, as there are no names on any invitation. Those who survive her balls tend to receive extravagant gifts and influence. Though it is a far time off, it could be useful leverage. What else have you heard of the Wasp Countess?

Whether you remain at the shoal or trail along behind the others, your eyes notice as the tide begins to wash back, just before they are taken at the water, the signs of two other shipwrecks in the bay. One of which you see reflecting in the sun with mostly intact canvas sails. That is great luck! Though, it is far out near the sand bars, while the other is closer to the coast at the mouth of a river. If you approach the wreck at the camp, you recognize it as a sloop, and likely a merchant's trade ship, likely from the north by its make, certainly not Sintalese, Guilder, or Ornassi in make. Then it occurs to you... This is a Verani ship! At least, one repurposed by them, by the signs of the habitation. You recognize the name .From where?

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 18, 2018 around 18:28

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

The expression of the halfling is a bit strange in that moment. She doesn't seem terrified or more than a bit disconcerted, and it is obvious that she is bounding back with that cheer, but just for a moment a little bit of a peak behind the curtain was there, a calculation., before she gave a slightly weakened smile to the half-elf. "I don't think your halfling very much cares for me, your ladyship. She wasn't eager to stick around once I had my two feet on the sand." Looking down at her bare, furred pair with a bit of a chuckle, before she shook her head.

"Maybe I can help you look around once you've attended to her? I can fit into the small areas, so I'll start looking in the hull of that ship's bow."

Secca tilts her head, a mite curious, but doing her utmost to maintain the facade. She hasn't quite understood the purposes beyond it, but every Sarnathqar noble knows that the best plot is one that the plotter does not know you've caught on to. She says, "I suppose you might read that into her actions, but I'll daresay that we've all quite a bit on our mind from the events at hand." She looks over at Ranka, by her newfound companion, and says, "How are you faring, Urszula?"

"Oh, as well as you can expect for a farm girl being flung by a dragon's breath out farther west than any soul has sailed and lived to tell of it." She makes along the way down towards the hull, giving a bit of a berth to the concentration of folks and blood both. "That is to said, it's very exciting, but only if I survive it. Which I very much intend to, and I think I have a better chance, now that I've met all of you." She hops onto the deck, turning back around with a smile. With the change in elevation, she is just a bit over eye-level with Secca, and puts out her hand.

"Your ladyship."

With an elaborate flourish, Secca curtsies in response and takes her hand... brushing her lips against it in proper courtly form. She says, brightly, "I'd dare say we're all united in that goal! What waves we would make at court, were they to see such a collection of people working as one. Not even the greatest mask could hide Mazhar's mighty frame." Secca laughs at the mental image of Mazhar in courtly attire and a too-small mask. "So, dear one, you mentioned a farm? What sort of produce did you raise?"

Urszula would have been a bit flattered at the kiss, if not for the wince on her face as she realized something, and actually pulled back slightly, and as Secca kissed against the hand, beyond the taste of salt and sweat, there was something more surprising: A gap in the fingers, her ring finger missing down halfway down from where the knuckle would be, leaving only a stump. A bit self-consciously, she withdrew and turned, and went to answer the question. "Tubers from the colonies, squash and vegetables. It was simpler then, but I suppose I'm not really a farm girl anymore. I've been on the main for a few years. I suppose my mother is still there, with the rest of my cousins."

She moved up towards the hatch down to the lower deck, answering the question she would surely be asked next. "Easiest way for smallfolk like us to leave one of the islands, start a new life, is on a ship. We're always welcome. Of course, most ships that go out now need cannons, so that's where I found myself. They say you know if someone is green if they still have all their fingers, so, I suppose you can trust me when I say I know my way around a ship." She gives a bright smile and flash of her eyes, before hopping down into the lower deck.

Secca clambers up onto the hull herself and follows after Urszula. As she peers down into the hatch, she says. "I'm... My apologies, I hadn't intended to remind you of forgotten pain. I have no doubt of your naval mastery, and... Well, to be perfectly honest, my own skills at sea are nothing to speak of. I've relied on the help of others and, I fear, the time is coming where I shall need to learn such skills as well. Would you be willing to share such, Urszula?"

"This work will ruin those nice hands of yours, your ladyship," she offers, looking around. "I can show you to tie a few knots, if it please you, but I'm not real seasoned. I just know enough to keep the rest of my fingers." Once Secca drops down into the dimly lit underdeck, she sees that it more or less opens up to the beach on one side, though some driftwood has been set against it crudely to block against the wind.

Nearby, there's two crabs on a nearby small chest, one of which she brushes off while the other clings to it which she examines. "Hm, this doesn't have a latch on it." She turns away and looks around, moving to the other side to look out the port hole. as it seemed the wreck was mainly hollow. "Strange, there should be more even in a shipwreck. Some wrecked crates, rope, some cannon pieces. Nothing topside either, like someone came through already."

Secca says, a little dryly, before continuing on in her normal patter, "Yes, well, dying at sea might ruin the rest of me at well. I shall begin with knots as you suggest, though, and we can move from there on to whatever else you care to share."

She looks around the underdeck and rapidly comes to the same conclusion. Someone had salvaged the wreck. Likely they'd have taken the gear to a more secure location than the beach... the lava tubes, perhaps? The hob had been making for them as if his life depended and, while he was unlikely to be a member of whatever forces were at work here given the timing involved, the same promise of shelter and safety would likely have occurred to whoever else was on the island.

Secca voices her suspicions, "I'd dare say you're right. Not the three on the beach, I think, but perhaps another wrecked ship's crew? There are tunnels nearby that might make for a more secure lair."

"I saw two other wrecks when the tide was at ebb, maybe there are some clues there?" Then her eyes lit up, with all honest excitement. "Oh, or a treasure map!" The tall halfling stands at the front of her feet, quite enamored of that idea. "So is this your first voyage, your ladyship? You have a lot more confidence than I'd expect, that being the case." She considers her surroundings for a moment, and then blinks, looking over at the small, featureless chest on the side. "Oh, where'd the crabs go? I was hoping for an early dinner." She looked around and sighed, looking around and pointing at a rusted piece of iron. "Can you hand me that crowbar? I'm going to try and get this open."

You can barely see it in the dim light, but the light catches it just so, but three beady, carnelian eyes seem to open up on the chest, before closing back shut. You blink, and it's gone, and you are not even sure if what you've seen is real, or some dehydration induced mirage, but it sticks in your mind just enough, sharp as your elfin senses are even in the dark.

Secca, with far more calm than she's feeling, says, "Dear one, would you step back from that chest? I fear that everything here may not be what it seems." She grasps the halfling's nearest hand with both of hers and firmly, though gently, tugs at her until she steps back. Her voice starts to tinge with subtle worry, "Perhaps we could speak more of those wrecks you saw outside?"

"What?" Urszula seems thoroughly confused, and Secca's calmness might work against her in this case, until the worry begins to tinge the voice. "Don't worry, I don't think it's trapped. There's no external mechanism at all." Speaking with maybe a little more experience than was warranted. "If you're worried, we can get one of the big ones to come smash it for us while we stand behind them, always works for me."

And it's with that, that there's an eruption of motion, and Secca instinctively tugs perhaps a bit tighter to get the halfling out of the way as those eyes open back up again and the chest opens up along what was previously a seamless edge, showing a purplish inside lined with rows of teeth. Yet, instead of aggression, there's almost a whimpering sound, as with a purplish pseudopod it throws itself forward, hitting the ground with a clatter and changing into an overturn cooking pot with a disconcerting malleability and camouflage, not unlike a cuttlefish. The pot shivers for a moment, and goes still.

"Mm, so I wasn't imagining the eyes." Secca continues to back away from the mimic, at least out of range of another pseudopod. "I've heard stories of creatures such as these, though... I cannot say they speak much of whimpering."

"Really? What do they... say, exactly?" She looks to find some kind of stick, finding one of the old ramming sticks used to pack the powder down in a cannon, though she seemed a bit alarmed. Gulping, she moved forward, and tapped the edge of the pot. It remained absolutely still. "It... Forgive me for saying so, your ladyship, but it don't look dangerous."

"Oh, as one might expect, they speak of chests that devour hearty adventurers whole, heroes what try to open a door and find themselves naught but a meal. Some even whisper that these creatures might even mimic the language we speak, though I find that quite a bit harder to believe." Secca stiffens as the stick pokes the mimic, though nothing happens. She says, "Mm. It seems... sad, mostly. Perhaps it suffered some harm of late?"

Carefully, she edges forward until she's next to Urszula. With a moment's trepidation, she lowers a hand to touch the now-pot. If her hand doesn't stick fast, she'll gently rub it.

The surface of the mimic does not feel like that of cast iron. It is warm, fleshy, and it quivers. There is a slickness to it, and indeed, it is stick, but it does not undulate or reach out. She can see again that configuration of three eyes, around the lip appear, and its flesh roils in a disconcerting fashion, unfolding outwards and appearing then as a stool, which allows it to display what it had folded inside of itself to hide more clearly: a wound created by a rusty dagger, looking very old now, with dried purplish blood and a wound that did not heal very well. It looks like it wasn't very fresh. It could have happened quite a while ago.

"The poor thing," Urszula intones as she also moves to approach and crouch down, and shows no trepidation in Secca's example to reach out and stroke at it. "It's just a wounded animal, isn't it?"

Then, of all things, it purrs. Not like a cat, but like a mimic, but close enough that it is... a new experience, and perhaps unsettling.

The purr of a mimic is most certainly disconcerting. It's quite like a rumbling, almost as though something of iron and stone were attempting to mimic a cat. Secca says, "Mm, indeed. Perhaps one that will bite when more energetic, but..." She shakes her head. "I'd not wish this fate upon any. You may wish to step back, as I plan to heal this one's wound."

Secca unlatches the case around her treasured book with her free hand, expertly flipping it open to a bookmarked page. She slowly exhales, inhales, then begins to softly sing in the secret language of the Feywild itself. The song is one honoring the Host of King Balor, a particular favorite of hers, and speaks of the many who came to follow him. They were not all, as history says, even full-blooded Sarnathqar. It is this that she keeps in mind as she channels the soothing magics into the old wound. All can make the choice to follow something greater.

Secca using Healing Word on the mimic.

The wound begins to stitch over as the thing quivers under the ministrations of her bardic magic. Urszula looks on at first with wonder, and then determination. For all the healing, it's not removing the knife, like the thorn in the tiger's paw as the old Ornassi fable goes. Of course, in that fable, the young boy is eaten by the tiger, at least when you wanted to frighten your children.

Urszula reaches out with both hands on the rusted handle, and the mouth opens, across the lip of the stool's seat, a slit full of fangs and that bright purple pseudopod, which reaches out and seems to touch against her flesh, causing her to tense. Her muscles taut, there's a moment there, perhaps a crucial one. Does Seccacosantza Tolto VII flinch? Does she fear for the halfling's other, intact fingers?

Secca keeps singing. Perhaps a touch of fear causes the slightest waver in tune, but she charges forward nonetheless. She simply had to trust the motives of all involved. Surely the mimic would recognize what they were doing for it. Surely Urszula means what she says. Surely the tiger won't bite, if only this once.

Urszula, emboldened, shows no fear herself, giving a genuinely warm smile, even as she has to pull it from the mimic's flesh. It takes some wrenching out, as the rubbery flesh seems to have twisted and scarred around it over some time of poor healing, but eventually it becomes free, and the remainder of the magic in Secca's words knit the rest back together. It shudders, slowly folding back into the first form, that of a chest, its three eyes blink in succession.

It reaches out with the pseudopod again, reaching out for Secca this time. It is wet, and sticky, and certainly unladlylike, though so is, one might argue, the kiss of a hound. It's hard to say whether it's affection or probing, but there is no predatory intent. Urszula, for her part, seems thrilled, looking over to Secca with a mixture of gratitude... and a bit of worry.

"We can't let anything happen to it, your ladyship." After seeing what happened to Sunniva and Ganzorig, she had an immediate reaction as to how the other castaways might react to a perceived threat.

Secca finishes the final bars of the tune, her voice finishing on a strong vibrato. She secures the songbook once more, her other hand touching the pseudopod. It is, indeed, wet and sticky and entirely ladylike. Of course, even a noble lady such as herself can find the beauty in such pure love. What else could it be after such a touching moment? She chuckles, the pseudopod tickling her hand, and says, "I wholeheartedly agree. Such a creature has suffered enough, it surely deserves an escape from this island as much as any of us do."

"Swear it?" She offers, of all things, a pinky, with a grin full of child-like glee on her face.

Secca smiles and matches the gesture, hooking her pinky with Urszula's, "Upon my honor and that of my ancestors."

"Well, I don't know about all that, but you have my honor as a Sandydown, at least." Satisfied, Urszula released and looked back down to the mimic. She considered it. "I think it'd hide itself well, I can keep an eye on it, just... you know, use that silver-tongue of yours if it becomes... an issue." She considers for a few moments. "I wonder if it could be trained?" And indeed, as they discussed a bit, they managed to leave out the boat with the small chest slung under the halfling's arm, with an easy enough explanation provided as to why she would have it.

An extra mouth to feed had found its way into the crew, in secret... for now.

With the "recruitment" of a mimic secretly to the nascent crew, the players gain an addition +5 XP.

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

As the party returns back to the shore with the old, emaciated dwarf in tow, along with barrels of soon to be fresh water, for once our nine shipwrecked crew are together, of a sorts, beleagured perhaps but filled with a renewed resolve. They have the means of their survival, at least for the time being, and have recovered a few like-minded souls to join them. Yet as the day threatens to end, they know now is not the time to settle. They have the makings of a camp already, but they have much work to do before the sun sets.

Soon enough, everyone is seeing to one task or another, leaving Urszula Sandydowns to herself. With a stiff piece of driftwood laid against her lap and perched up on a rock near the shore, she has a sheet of borrowed paper and quill from the kenku's writing kit, and begins to jot down a missive. The driftwood shivers slightly, three carnelian eyes opening up and looking up at her. "Shhh," she offers urgently. "Not now, supper's later."

The foraging is being done across the jungle through the path blazed through by Rust and then marked by Jan'ti, both at the lagoon isle and further north up the coast at the salt marshes. Buckets of soft-shell crab, tidal mussels, and shelled whelks are collected, supplemented by cat-tails, trailing wild bean, and glasswort. It will make quite the feast, given some time.

When she has returned with a big bushel of marsh vegetables, Lucielle finds in the chest the stack of papers. A quick examination indicates to her what they might be valued at. If only they could make landfall, and she could send a message, she would know many in the underbelly of society that would love to get their hands on cash like this, and turn a profit.

Near where Urszula is perched, Johann does the drudgery, shovel in hand, of seeing every body buried in the upper part of the sands, so that the vermin of the island will not be attracted and the stench of death might slowly pass from here. Marked with simple stone, it also provides a rest, including that of the hobgoblin corsair and headless Vendal. Urszula watches this, and jots something down, her smile faded somewhat as if anything she looks pensive.

She turns and sees near the trees, out of earshot of the rest of the crew where the shadows have drawn longer, Rust Freewind has pulled the Sintali, Nax, aside, and the two have their exchange. Her eyes squint a bit, but she can't make out anything no matter how hard she strains, so while she keeps it at the back of her mind (and the corner of her eye), she returns back to the message she is writing.

"Ye look like you have coarse hands, stout. Would ye be so kind to help an old git? Mine are too shaken for the work..." Desider Aqualung, covered with some recovered rags, rests on his knees near where the shark was hung up on hooks to bleed near the bow of the ship. He has the tools in front of him to gut and clean it, and has something else in mind.

"Of course!" She chimes, but hesitates for a moment. She rolls up the message she was writing and stuffs it in her shirt, setting the "driftwood" aside and moving to join Desider. As she does, a crab starts to poke around at the stone, nearing the piece of driftwood, and its eyes open up once more, blinking with a sort of casual, animal innocence.

Acting as Desider's hands, Urszula helps him with the task, as they skin and fillet the shark. The dorsal fin is cut. Eventually, finding the strength, the old dwarf makes a few cuts of his own and begins to work the hide and scales, removes the jaw and teeth and the cartilage, working with it and preparing something. Soon enough, a remarkable piece of craftmanship is hung out to dry, for the next day.

Meanwhile, the kenku makes his work, first with a blessing of the Drowned Gods to bring water for thjem to drink, and then setting from the items collected, overlooking the chest. He goes over one by one a few of the items: First catching his eye is the scroll. With some assistance from the Sintali, who surprisingly seems to know the strange, circuit-like script of the mind-flayers, he speaks the incantations for Quill to memorize. Then holding the potion at each side of his face, glancing with each eyes, he plucks the magic essence from it and returns it to Johann. Last, and perhaps most surprisingly, the little trinket he brought with him, that compass, he finds a minor enchantment within, though perhaps not the one he was expecting (or wanting).

Soon enough, the sun begins to set. Urszula returns to where she left the "driftwood", the crab missing completely and the piece of wood just a little bit bigger, she pulls the letter from her shirt and finds the glass bottle she had been saving for it. Before the sky, already gold and pink, begins to darken into indigo and blue, she makes her way to the shoal, looking to cast it where the wind might take it far from the island with the tides. She aims, and pitches it quite far, watching the arc as it finally hits, and begiuns to bob up and down.

With a sigh, she holds her hands folded close to her chest. "Please. I must believe you will receive it... Some day."

A bonfire from the sun-dried driftwood lights up the campsite and provides much needed warmth, as already the eternal summer heat of the island is beginning to leave the air. The smoke and fire makes the constant biting of flies and midges more bearable as well. There is water, food, and good company, and after a long day of hardships, it finally becomes a moment where all can relax and enjoy the fact that the castaways have survived, at least for a day, after an ordeal that most others would never have passed through. The crew acquitted themselves well in the crises, but what will the next day bring?

The twelve (and one extra, hidden mouth) share a meal mostly gained from the carcass of the reef shark killed by the swing of the Headsman's anchor. The meat is filleted, and its fin used to make a broth. Desider proves himself an able cook, though without any real provisions it still cannot cover the fact that the taste of the shark is poor, pungeant and fishy. "Milk," Desider says, mostly to himself with a whistle, as if that was the element missing from the meal. "Though damned luck keeping that from spoiling aboard on voyage." It is thus supplemented with steamed mussels and some glasswort salad flavored with a bit of the brined rum, which makes a sort of vinegar that pickles the bright-red vegetable. There is enough for even those who wish to pass on meat can have their fill, and gallons of water to drink from and deeply. There will be no starving bellies or thirsty throats this night.

After the initial, hungry part of the meal, the castaways finally have a time to, all together, share their thoughts, observations, hopes and fears. Up above, the starlit heavens are intensely bright. Though a mariner is used to the sight, far away from the pollution of smokestacks and manufactories, it seems particularly clear and beautiful tonight under the Silver Moon, only partially covered by the black shape of the Vagrant Planet.

Who will be the first to speak, and break the ice, this night of merry?

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

DeathSandwich posted:

After the Battle

At hearing Ranka's quip about being dangerous, he turns his head sideways slightly while keeping his eyes locked on Nax and says "The world is a dangerous place, lass. It's our line of work it's a matter of survival. But this man here, let me get a good look at you!" Rust reaches his hand out to shake Nax's hand and as he reaches for it, Rust grips his hand tight and pulls the Sintali man in close, clasping his other arm around his back. In a hushed growl, Rust switches to his Ornassi tongue and speaks inches away from Nax's ear. <"Just so we are clear, you try and pull a stunt like you did on the Dauntless again, I'm going to leave you on this Thrak-Dammed island. We survive by coming together, not by further dividing ourselves at the first opportunity. You know how a Freewind deals with a rabid dog; Don't give me a reason. And while we're at it, don't go poking your telepathy in my head or we're going to have a problem.">

The Sintali keeps very still, his movements like a serpent's in a bit of a sway, but smooth and practiced, biting his bottom lip at the feeling of Rust's whisper in his ear. Whether instinctively or intentionally, he tilts and turns his head, as if to expose part of his neck, returning the words in the mariner's tongue. "<The Wheel smiles, Rust Freewind. It was surely fortunate that we were found with the treasure and launch intact, and in such few numbers. A windfall, even.>" Rust knows he has not cowed the man, yet there is no edge to his voice, no defiance. The Sintalese will let it wash over them, they are a people that have always lived at the mercy of others.

"<Nax Tirrinu hopes you enjoy your share. We have all earned it, as brethren.>" A term used sometimes in jest, sometimes in full sincerity, of the shared plight and brotherhood of outlaws on the sea.

Filled with that irrepressible cheer that comes natural to the smallfolk, Urszula, who sits with her legs outstretched before her and a small wooden stool that she balances her bowl on top of, waves her hand as she offers soon after Johann, splitting the storm clouds of his introduction with a shot of sunshine. "Urszula Sandydowns, if it please." Her Grunnish accent is a bit affected, hard on the consonants but a bit more sing-song than the staccato and purposeful Primordial tones of the Sea-Bride. "I owe all of you my life, I think, though especially her ladyship, Mazhar, and..." She looked to Dermid for a moment, light glinting off her green eyes, and she quickly realized she hadn't even yet been introduced to him, "this gentleman."

Her gaze lingered a moment before she seemed surprised for a moment. "Do you think there were more survivors than us? I was expecting a few of the redcoats to live, but..." Her voice trailed off. The three cutthroats, now only one, had killed quite a few. The bodies now encased in sarcophagi of sand beneath their feet, thanks to the work of the drowned man, whom Urszula looked at with a superstitious glance, and beyond towards Nax, who was and remained silent so far, feeding his pied crow pieces of the shark, which he did not himself partake in. "Surely there must be a few more we can save..."

"Aye, I doubt it," came the creaking voice of Desider as he stirred at the broth in the cast iron pot, staring off towards basically nothing. "This island is a grave for us all, I say. If not the great vermin, then surely the young buck will return to finish us off after that call ye gave earlier, that all but demanded 'come and get me, ye sodden elfson'." His voice whistled through the gaps in his teeth. "That is, if ye all don't cut each other's throats in your sleep. Heheheh." His lips curled back from his gums.

"I suppose then ye'd be wanting to know what sorry git you'll be sharing eternity with. Aye, Desider Aqualung, I was known a spell ago." It was a name that might have carried a lot of weight a spell ago, but he wasn't seeming to swing it around to impress. If anything, by his mocking, bitter tone, it seemed just as much as he was aware of the pathetic and emaciated figure he cut.

A simple DC 10 History check will reveal what Lucielle recognized earlier about the Aqualung, though I am going to give Johann, Rust, and Dermid automatic success because of their backgrounds.

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

"Pirate states? Aye, I was one of eleven captains to sign the Code of Conduct at Tarturuga, when we had come together to slay the dragon-turtle and carved from its shell our stench-filled fortress. But it was no true republic, as the Triumvirs worked quickly to divide us along our old loyalties. The Ninevarine War had come and gone and no longer had we protection as privateers, so we made our home in the Middle and Demon Seas." His cataracted eyes seem to stare out into the sky. "But those days are long gone. I am the last of three who live of the Eleven, and now that they aren't bloodying each others noses, the Triumverates has decided to civilize the uncivilized sea. Dame Morthause, Cardinal Jagganath, and the Grindstone this year alone have hung a score of captains, and hundreds more buccaneers are ready for the stockades." Three names that carried with them a bit of weight, the most famed pirate hunters of the age. Dame Morthause was a ruthless hell knight said to have sold her soul to a devil serving the Dominion, and the Grindstone the captain of an ironclad that belches toxic plumes of smoke and burned smugglers' coves in its wake. Cardinal Jagganath was a more mysterious figure, an elf that along with his other cardinals held huge political power within the Empire and Axiomatic Church, but also fond of showing his willingness to spill blood for the father church and the honor of his ancestors.

"Aye, blessed be that they have plenty to chew on, and so many of the freebooters from the Eighty Years War have come here, to the Tranquil Sea. Here booty is plentiful, and law is meager. Some remember the brethren of the devil coasts, but the dream of Libertatia should have sunk to the Nine Hells where it belonged, a fool's errand." He cackled a bit through his gap-toothed gums. "Though I wonder if the same will happen here. First as tragedy, heheheh, then as farce. Aye, look at ye all. What is to bind ye but to survive? And what a meager bond that is! We have seven and two more bodies under the sand to prove it not a fastening one." The old dwarf was grim about the prospects in his bitter way, not entirely impressed by the crew before him, or the lack of fire behind it.

Nax, for the first time, cuts in, looking to Dermid with a placidly pleasant expression. "The cargo of your vessel, Dermid FitzCulainn, was cleaned out before Nax Tirrinu or his late conspirators arrived here, I promise you. If Nax had to judge, perhaps a few years, but not much more than that." His expression seems to turn apologetic. "The Wheel may yet smile, but the odds are poor that the men aboard it lived. They may have gone upriver, to stay away from treacherous waters. Shallows such as these rarely stay so shallow in the shadow of mountains and against the walls of storms. And floods may poor bed companions." He smiled with his bright white teeth and then continued. "There is little more to explore, only the bow survived. Perhaps the figurehead might be recovered at least? Nax supposes its sentimental value might outweigh the gold it'd otherwise give us, especially split ten ways."

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 21, 2018 around 17:03

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

Desider continued in his soft cackle at that. "Heheheh, ohhh? I haven't done any captaining in quite a few years, so need for master this or that, but I didn't start the silver-fed son of a magnate. I was a serpent-angler on the deck of a Guilder factory ship when the letter of marque came and offered a different life, and the promise of elvish livre. Aye, I fought, and watched men who stood back to back with gaff and hook in hand turn against each other at the first shadow of a mind-flayer. Many cowards will use the excuse of a clouded mind, and the squids know it well. Survival only works to fasten us together so long as we need each other, and just as soon as it might look like we don't..." The dwarf pointedly looked, though it was uncertain if he could see very far, towards Nax who frowned and turned back his attention to his pied crow.

"If that's all ye lot got, well... Ye haven't a chance against this place, much less that dragon ye've lured back to finish us off."

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

"Aye, farce it is then," though for someone resigned to his fate, the old git was in good cheer, his voice whistling through his teeth. The ball had already started rolling a bit when the half-elf prodded, but now it was at full steam, biting as a gadfly he was. Laying back down, he drank his ration of water from his flask, as quickly everything started coming into motion, being mapped out as a proper crew.

At the halfling's gesture, Nax seems somewhat surprised, but quickly nods. "Nax prefers open skies to an earthly coffin. The only thing one finds in tunnels are spiders, men's greed, and kobolds." None of which particularly appealed to him. "The redcoats were marching from the south, around that bend. The late Sunniva wanted to seek them out, but the equally late Ganzorig thought to go to ground, deeper in the island." He considers for a moment, and looks a bit around as folks talk about going further in.

"This island has taken many wrecks, despite being further west than any would sanely travel. And we have not seen even the bones of her castaways in the sand. It has picked clean all that came before. What is our plan to rid us of this place and make east for the Cazzerides, Nax Tirrinu would like to know."

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

A storm is the last thing any of the castaway's need, and the Sea-Bride's gift brings a quiet that is interrupted by the dull tone of the drowned man. It will mean some will need to wake early indeed to make it out to the wrecks in the shallows. The Sintali's unnamed pied crow lets out a mocking caw, flapping its wings and taking flight, to perch at the edge of the hull overlooking the crew. Nax made himself the first to retire, looking all in all quite relaxed despite their circumstances. "We have no maps, no sextant or spyglass. It would be as blind men to go now into the water. Perhaps the drowned man is right. Nax should like to go upriver as well."

"The mountains!" Urszula offers at Johann's suggestion, looking quite excited. "The rivers should lead inland towards the slopes. Maybe we can reach a higher place from there? Should we build a raft or use the launch? It could get a bit crowded..." She glanced between Mazhar and the other men, considering. "If we can find a camp site on higher ground, it should keep us out of the rain as well." Her mind seems to be racing but she finds herself yawning, stretching her long arms up and leaning back on the still warm though quickly cooling sand.

At this time, though, it seemed many had their hearts set, and talk of ideals had all but passed. One by one, those who were to awake early would need to start rest soon, and those that lingered before their watches could only see an empty horizon and bright starry sky. Before the Freewind disappeared completely, the dwarf regarded him. "Don't think I didn't hear ye question. I'm old, not deaf. Aye, I seem to be cursed with living, but should we survive another night, and have a little grog, mayhaps we can talk as brethren then." His gap-filled smile sunk back as he made to find his shelter in the shadow of the wreck as well, emaciated body certainly nothing near as impressive as what the stories might be.

Even if he were a "legend," he was little more than a shadow of it now, yet his prodding did do some of the work intended. It remained to be seen if his dire warning about the dragon would hold out.

Watches begin now.

Ranka and Secca may take Inspiration for playing to their Flaws at personal risk this day.

First Watch:
Whether uneventful because of a quiet night, or because the two noblewomen had distracted themselves with their company, it is hard to say. They do have the advantage of Secca's elfin senses, which are not inconsiderable and proven themselves several times on this journey, and the stars light up her world in a perpetual twilight rather than dark of night. The jungle remains disconcertingly quiet, and the rest of the crew rested peacefully. The first Nocturn comes and goes, with nary anything to say for it.

Second Watch:
The same cannot be true for the second. Both are keen to any possibility, listening for anything that may come passing through the night. Both notice something strange. The jungle, while it has always been bereft of the expected sounds of wildlife, seems especially quiet. It lacks the hum or music of insects as well, giving all the impression of the dead calm before the coming of a predator. They both feel their skin bristle, and that uncanny feeling that they are being watched by some unseen observer.

It is Johann Seahawk, however, that notices something far more unusual and alarming. Turning his attention away from the jungle for just a moment down the coast, he notices movement. Down near the shipwreck at the mouth of the rivers further down the coast of the shallows, he sees figures, black and outlined only by the faintest starlight, moving in and out of the water. They are silent, and with no features he can discern from this distance. Their gait is loping, almost on all fours, barely humanoid but seeming to have hands and feet all the same. With continued observation, it seems they are taking something from the wreck into the jungle... Or perhaps they have left something there.

They are far enough away that they do not seem an immediate threat, and if not careful it would be easy to alert them that you are aware... But what could they be doing there? What are they, and what are they planning?

What do you do?

Third Watch:
With Ranka feeling the sting of her disease, only exacerbated by the meager taste she gained from her flask, and Quill fretting over his life's work in the cocoon of a monstrous spider, neither is at their best this night. They are alerted that they have failed in their duty by the sound of trickling water, as they find one of their water barrels has been tapped. Hammered in is a copper tap, with the spigot left running, draining it down to a quarter amount. They also find all the crabs and their tin bucket have been stolen as well by the thieves!

A quick investigation by Ranka reveals the culprits: The pawprints left in the sand are those of kobolds, and likely a pair of them by the pattern. They lead over towards the tunnel near the camp, where they are likely sheltered. There were many kobolds on the Ceaseless, and despite their puny natures they are well-known for being quite resourceful and difficult to be rid of them, even if you wanted to be.

Does this change any plans?

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 22, 2018 around 10:06

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

The first party, after a quick discussion under the dim, dim twilight of early morning before dawn, packs their things and prepares the dinghy to launch from the shore across the shallows. It is chilly, surprisingly so for an island in the Tranquil Sea, and that along with the almost complete quiet of the jungle adds a certain pall over the proceedings.

A few times, the bow of the dinghy hits sand, as the water has become so shallow that the ridges of the bottom jut up just enough. Each time it's a bit nerve-wracking, as the sound scrapes against the hull. Yet the castaways keep rowing, moving further and further from the firelight of the camp. As they approach the barrier shoals, it seems to become deeper, and there are less scrapes against the sea floor, but creeping out, it feels from every direction, is a slowly swirling, rising mist from the waters, obscuring one's vision until the light of camp, two miles away, is a barely visible mote of blurry light in the distance, and then is gone.

It is in this thickening mist that the four crewmates turn back to look for the shapes of the shipwreck, which they were bearing down upon, and the dark outlines of the old war galley become visible through the mist soon enough. The sleek lines and draconic design speak of elvish make, though that has not been the style for hundreds of years. They rest there just out of sight, like a ghost from the past, and the four cross through the still waters without incident.

Soon enough, they make landfall on the shore. Urszula, with the caviler on her back and shortswords at her hip, strikes the flint and steel to light up the improvised torch, and with some effort it is finally done, lighting up a bit of the beach, and through the mist reflecting against part of the hull of the exposed aft of the galley.

The water is shallow, but the aft appears flooded and half-sunk into the sand. It has been here for a very long time indeed, and the shoal seems to have more built itself around it over time. With it so buried, access seems limited purely by making way through the top hatch down into its belly, though it would be an easy climb up onto the deck. It is at an incline but it is gentle, and would make balancing upon it easy.

The front portion, barely visible as more than just an outline through the mist, is sixty feet out from shore and appears to be a bit more on the surface. The water out there is higher but not by much, and one could (if they were not a halfling) wade out there on foot and dive down to climb up into the lower deck from the water, or climb up its surface onto the deck. However, the front half is far more steep in its incline, and might be a bit slippery to scale.

What is your approach?

The three castaways exploring the coast heard warning before setting off from camp, were given a warning from Quill and Ranka, who heard it from Mazhar and Johann. There was some activity at the wreck near the mouth of the river, dark loping figures that moved in and out of sight, and returned to the jungle. It would do well for the three to keep that in mind as they made the approach.

After walking two miles down the coast, without much need for a dinghy or the like and with the Sintali holding a torch in hand and walking astride with Rust in the van, they do finally happen upon the wreck. It is only a good thirty feet from coast, and the water is only ankle deep until about twenty feet in, at which point it begins to deepen around a collection of rocks, upon which you three stand to take stock of your surroundings.

It appears to be a cog, an older ship without any visible munitions or use in war. It looks in surprisingly good shape at a first glance, save for its torn open belly under keel. The ground it is in seems deeper, like a ravine, or that the cog itself might have cut through into the ground. A light mist forms off the waters, but it is nothing obscuring.

Considering the warnings given, the castaways are alert to any signs of passage, but there are no tracks, no broken branches or anything immediately visible of the sort, at least not without a closer examination. The only life that seems to be around is the occasional shellfish in the tidal pools, trapped in the little eddies in the sand.

The torchlight reveals four means of ingress, once they have finished exploring the interior. There appears to be a hatch on deck, as well as a door leading into the hull on the aft and bow side. As well, one could simply dive in and come up in the deck from its opened side, though there is little visible from this distance within.

What is your approach?

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 26, 2018 around 16:01

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

The Sintali makes to comply, hopping forward on the stones and making to join Rust up on the deck. However, there's a horrendous sound, a groaning of the wood beneath Rust's feet. He hear sa strain, and the snapping of some taut cables. He is caught completely off-guard, but not entirely flat-footed as his body makes to move on instinct, as the floor of the deck moves to collapse under him, intentionally sabotaged to collapse under his weight into a waiting pool of still water below, malevolent intentions written all over it.

Make a Dexterity save, DC 12. Failure means you take 1d6 piercing damage from falling on some crude spears below set beneath the pit, and find yourself in the flooded deck below, about waist-deep in water. Success means you roll back to the edge before falling in. You do not have Disadvantage to notice any other surprises so long as you're within Nax's circle of light. An Investigation check might reveal some others as well.

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 22, 2018 around 19:00

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

The ship is positively ancient, but is made of fantastic materials that have stood the test of time. It creaks under the weight of the genasi as she climbs up onto the deck, but remains otherwise solid. It might be worth breaking down if one were inclined to think of it in such a way, yet it feels much more like the bones of a great leviathan than merely a discarded wreck. It feels like it had a life, a soul once, and you aren't entirely certain if it has left.

There's a soft sound of waves lapping as a wind crosses through over the wind, a chilling breeze coming from the south, cutting to the bone. The once starry sky above is barely visible through the clouds.

The ship is old, that much you can be certain of, and does not appear to have been disturbed for some time. It was cleaved in two, but there are no signs of damage or battering. The sand appears to have accumulated over many years, and it has more or less remained where it is, perhaps having drifted a bit in the shallows before finding its equilibirum. From what you see, you wager an interesting conclusion: That the ship was not wrecked and washed ashore in the same way as the sloop or the Ceaseless, but had entered the shallows of its own power, and likewise broken in twain there.

You look for the markings, and from the figurehead and other clues you think back to the shape of the ship. It is certainly an Imperial war galley, a galleas, from the Sunset Crusade. Few ever got as far as here, in those days. You could probably date it to having been constructed in the fourth century post-diluvian. These ships usually had a knight-commander on board, and were sent out to prosleytize and root out evil across the world, but records only indicate they reached as far south as Aitne, never crossing the Demon Sea. You do not understand the Sarnathqar script, so are not certain what this vessel was named, but you can memorize the script to transcribe and translate later.

Investigation: Building on Ranka and Quill's observations once shared, you are able to notice something. You are in a better vantage point, and by stepping a bit further down, you look to see if you can find any evidence of what capsized the ship. No struggle, but there are burns. It appears that whatever carved it in half did so with a burning power. Or a lightning bolt? It is far wider and more clean, almost surgical compared to what brought down the Ceaseless. Perception: There is an ill wind on the air, carrying down on the breeze. There is just the faintest smell that you smell, and it disturbs you. It is the faint smell of death hidden under the driftwood, of a fresh shipwreck. The smell of those who could not escape. Yet, this is not a fresh shipwreck. This is one that is surely many, many hundreds of years old.

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

A nasty wooden punji set in the water, its sharpened end sticking just above the surface where its barely visible, spears itself through one of Rust's thighs, causing a more grievous wound than expected. They are spaced out, hastily put together it seems. But it was obvious now that whatever those figures were in the night, they set traps. They knew, or guessed, that the castaways would come to this ship. As he works through the pain, Nax perches and leans in, pointing the torch light down inside in the belly of the ship, while Dermid floats down with the power of his magic at hand, and engages in an interestingly timed discussion.

"Za? That is fascinating, Nax did not know you intended to remain as a crew after this venture. Nax Tirrinu would have no interest in the captain's hat, but he would have great interest in being a captain's friend," his white, white teeth shining through the night as he seemed quite interested in the intrigue being started there, and being open in his interest to join it. As Rust collects himself, and examines his surroundings, something immediately goes through his mind. The whole ship is a trap.

Spending a Villain point to trap them further in their environment.

It was bait on a hook all along. The inside of the cog is... starkly bare. The outside merely a facade. There are no bulkheads, no crates or hidden chests. The wood is fresh, and isn't even treated with pitch against the water, already warping and rotting where it has been placed... And it must have been recently. Which only adds to the alarm. That not only was this a trap set, but that they had been expecting guests to the island. His senses are sharpened by the painful experience, and he sees where there are netted snares are placed against each break in the hull, designed to catch, and if the water were a bit higher, drown any who crossed by. There are literal hooks, barbed at the end, hanging from the ceiling, as if something to hang meat on.

But perhaps most alarming of all, and the last thing his eyes settle on before all havoc breaks loose, is an undulating, moving pale shape on the roof, about ten feet in the air. It squirms out of a place it burrowed into the rotted wood, like a tamilok encased in a Sintali junk, but it is much, much larger, like a dirt grub the size of a horse, with mandible and tentacles waving outstretched and glossy eyes as it makes to crawl in the direction of its prey, starved of its usual carrion and looking to make new meals.

Battle is joined.

Battle posted:

Initiative is Flood (Players) then Ebb (Dungeon Master). Rust and Dermid, it's your go.

Movement is difficult terrain until you get back on the deck of the ship or the rocks, and both "exits" have snare traps that require a Dexterity save at DC 12 to evade, or an action to disable (Wisdom check, thieves' tools check would apply but neither of you have the proficiency or tools.)

Carrion Crawler, AC 12, HP 48.

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 23, 2018 around 00:07

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

Lifting up the black metal of the hatch, it creaks open and lands with a plume of dust, and a groaning sound. A small shaft of light moves downward, revealing little to them until they hop down. Ranka enters, and is assailed with the scent of a crypt, of dust and bones and decay, though it has in time faded. Jan'ti follows soon after, as they stand there, looking around. It is nothing but still darkness, so soon the third follows in, as Urszula climbs down the ladder with the torch held up, and Quill waits to follow up above.

As the torchlight pours into the room, it reveals a macabre sight. Arranged on the floor, in piles, dozens of skulls are stacked and arranged with a cruel, even artful sense of design, certainly not discarded. Their bone has yellowed with time, and all are bereft of flesh, though on inspection they are marked by gnawing teeth here and there, and some are missing chipped pieces or jawbones. Most have the cranium itself cracked in some fashion.

And all of them are arranged pointed, almost accusingly, towards the center where they have descended. The place is otherwise almost spotless, as if it is well kept, other than the water that is up to your knees, with the skulls gazing up from you from the dark, rippling waters. On the right and left of the room are some barrels, four on each side and stacked on top of each other. Each has been broken into, as if through some animal's claws, but the detritus has been removed and cleaned. There are two doors to your flank, going into separate officer quarters, and two bunk cabins on your right and left, which are more thoroughly flooded, the doors closed.

What do you do?

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 23, 2018 around 01:46

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

Quickly, the three castaways make into action. Elevated by a windspout that carries up even some of the still waters below and the mists upon it, Rust raises up with his crossbow cocked and ready to let loose a bolt, overlooking the battle below, soon enough over thirty feet in the air over the deck. Dermid lands safely on the opposite ledge of the outside of the dummy-cog, crackling with energy as it begins to charge in his hands.

With the soft, sussurous sound of its many feet inching along in a wave like motion, and a chittering of its mandibles, the carrion crawler shows itself, stretching its long body and its tentacles that seem to unnaturally extend and wrap about Dermid's exposed ankles, hitting him with a paralytic venom like the sting of a manowar!

Dermid takes 5 points of poison damage, and must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 minute. Until this poison ends, Dermid is paralyzed. Dermid can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of his turns, ending the poison on itself on a success. The carrion crawler also marks Dermid.

This exposes it to the fire of Rust from above, while Nax, the Sintali, reveals his power once more with an ethereal glow of his irsies, manifesting two psychic blades that he lets loose with a spinning motion, cutting through the vile corpse-eater's flesh with psychokinetic force!

Rust's readied attack is activated. Nax hits both of his attacks, dealing a total of 13 damage.

Battle posted:

Initiative is Flood (Players) then Ebb (Dungeon Master). Rust, you fire off your prepared attack, and then it's your go again for you and Dermid.

Dermid, you are threatened by its 10 ft. reach of its tentacles, and are subject to an opportunity attack if you move away without Disengaging.

Carrion Crawler, AC 12, HP 35.

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 23, 2018 around 02:15

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

Combat ends.

The vile carcass of the carrion crawler grows still, though still occasionally twitching. Its blood is a black ichor that oozes out slowly, like tar. It looks nothing like a beast, not even the gargantuan insects of this island, but like a monstrosity from the vile reaches of nightmare, only masquerading as an animal. Yet it is dead, and there is little threat it can post now to the three survivors.

Nax cocks his head to the side, the ethereal energy dissipating as he considers. "I think Nax Tirrinu might vote for this man as captain," he says with a considered flattery to Rust, "as I've seen many murderers in my line of work, but none quite so to the point."

There is not much treasure or salvage to find here, but the traps can be repurposed into other tools. The line and hooks can be used to create two kits of fishing tackle, two fishing gaffs, two nets, and a snare trap. The carrion crawler can also be harvested for its poison, though you will want to find someone with Nature to do so for you.

The other scene might take a bit, so I would recommend you continue role-playing within the scene, since your conversation was so rudely interrupted. You can also make Investigation checks to find any clues as to what laid the trap for you in the first place.

While Quill comes down with Urszula, Ranka and Jan'ti clear each of the small cabins one by one. The doors are unlocked, and enter into finely appointed, if quite antiquated, officer cabins on each side. Neither room is flooded, save for an inch or two beneath your feet, and you track in the salt water as you walk in. Though little attention is spared for the decor, the manner of each room indicates a different station. Though this was before the time of great navies and the military maritime tradition, one was obviously the ship's master, full of ledgers in elvish script as well, as well as outdated maps that show nothing beyond the shadow of Praxis, once though to be the end of the horizon. Resting on top of the desk is a single skull, in very bad shape indeed, with it having been split in half, looking almost mockingly ajar from its position there.The other room is that of the knight-commander's, including an armor rack with rusted pieces of half-plate upon it that looks like its ready to fall apart if removed. There is no skull in this room. Each of the rooms has a locked chest in it at the foot at the bed.

There are no signs in either room of any creature laying in wait. Ranka examines the entirety, looking behind any creases or floorboards, behind the shattered barrels, anything that might indicate an ambush. Eventually she ends at the flooded corridor, and looking through where the shafts of torchlight land, she finds that at the very end is a dark passageway, a tunnel leading into the earthen sand. Suddenly, everything is coming together, at least in part. Occasionally an air bubble rises from that water, releasing a corpse-like stench with a soft pop. This is the work of a lacedon, a sea-ghoul. Desperate and wicked men who consume the flesh of the dead and become monsters for it, or so the legend goes. They prefer to hide from the light whenever possible, whether undersea or underground, and have great claws.

But that doesn't explain a few other things: Lacedon are opportunistic predators, and a single one would not be able to kill an entire crew of crusader elves. Is it a pack? If so, they are in mortal danger... but a pack would tear itself apart without anything to feed on. More likely, it fed on the dead that already were here, perhaps one of a few survivors of the actual attack. But undead such as these are bestial, not motivated by anything like compassion or reverence. Why is it honoring the dead? That thought hangs in the air. With the two cabins mostly flooded, at lowest about chest height in water, Jan'ti takes the point in investigating. When she dips under water, she moves to open one of the doors, on the left.

Underwater, and with the portal open, she can hear it, though distorted and deepened. A slow, methodical scraping sound, back and forth. It is the sound of the bristles of a stiff brush against the wood of the hull. Standing before her, dimly lit in the cabin, is a humanoid figure, but the light passes through its form against the wall here and there, casting a skeletal shadow. There is no flesh on it, having been rotted or gnawed off, though it still wears remnants of a chain cuirass, and holds behind it a broken broadsword, the other hand holding a brush as it pushes back and forth against it, stopping at the stare. Its head swivels, turning and looking back, and in the empty sockets, two dull red points glow.

Behind you, you hear even in the water the door being pulled open. From deeper in the depths, beyond the tunnels, there is a deep howl.

Battle is joined.

Battle posted:

Initiative is Flood (Players) then Ebb (Dungeon Master). Quill, Urszula, Ranka and Jan'ti, your actions are first.

The blue "waves" separate what is not flooded, partially flooded, and fully flooded. Partial flooding is difficult terrain, fully flooded is essentially underwater.

The green arrow indicates the entrance into the ghoul's warren.

Skeleton A, AC 13, HP 13. Resists piercing, vulnerable to bludgeoning. Underwater.
Skeleton B, AC 13, HP 13. Resists piercing, vulnerable to bludgeoning. Underwater.

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

The sharpened oars and the use of the hooks signals some kind of design, but they are all quite crude, rather than a practiced hunter. It feels almost like imitation, though the craftmanship of the cog facade is a bit uncanny. It feels unnatural... It's not illusion, for certain, but it might not be of merely mortal make. The tide has washed away most tracks, but you are diligent enough, with Nax's torch, to find an almost complete track near the treeline. It is almost humanoid, but with a jutting digit that certainly makes it not human, looking more hand than foot.

"The old man is but dead weight," Nax offers, recalling Rust's own terminology used the day before, "but Nax Tirrinu knows he's right about one thing: A crew needs a reason, even if it is only an equal share. We are all free on the sea, but already Nax sees that they would scatter to the Nine Seas in every direction if they had their way. Whomever truly wants the captain's hat, would have to give them a reason to stay, when we leave this graveyard isle."

He shifts the torch, eyes and white tattoos glinting under the light as he looks to Dermid. "And you? What does Dermid FitzCulainn think makes a good captain of a man?"

The bones are as dust, exploding into cloudy bits of water with the sudden strikes of the shava, who moves with some difficulty through the water, but not enough to slow down the focus of her strikes, which might amaze the onlooker at their impact. With the two Un-Dead dispatched, she breaks once again from the surface, allowing Jan'ti to advance and sink low, spear upraised and shield before her. Her form is backlit by the brightening torch held by Urszula creating a silhouette in the darkness before the hole into the warren, from which occasionally bubbles of foul air spews forth.

All eyes are on the warren, and soon enough, a creature emerges from the darkness. Its body is twisted and elongated, a monstrosity beyond the shape of a mere humanoid. It is emaciated down to skin and bone, with spines down its back and a hunched over gait that favors its huge, wicked claws. Its jaw is exaggerated and large with great teeth, and a lolling purple tongue. Its eyes are merely pale and pupil-less, its gaze difficult to tell, as it asserts itself forward, only to be met with the sea-witch's magic! With a Primordial incantation that above the water sounds like the distant song of a leviathan, there is a cracking sound in the water, like a breaking iceberg, and a chill that passes through like a current swirls about the lacedon. Its body finds itself chilled to the bone, purplish-blue frostbite beginning to form at its extremities as it howls and moves forward, to bear down on the genasi.

It swings its claw madly forward, striking at her true... but the claws are halted before they meet flesh, revealing in the brightening light the sharkscale underneath. Even with the full weight of the lacedon's Un-Dead hatred behind it, it could not break through.

An hour earlier...

When the spiritfolk woman rose from the ground, she found, perhaps to her surprise, that the old dwarf was awake as well. Desider tended at a drying rack where he had cured the shark's skin, and was now finishing a few details of sewing it pieced together. He did not wave her over, but it was obvious he was waiting for her, speaking up through his gap-toothed grin as she did approach. "Those soaked leathers, ye won't be needing them for long. Don't consider it gratitude, aye'll be sore about ye not letting me die as I asked for some time. But perhaps it'll come useful to ye, come morrow." Though not metal, the shagreen glistened in the camplight, that strange combination of smooth and rough, the edges lined with the shark's serrated teeth.

Back to the fray...

The surface of the dark water, lit up as it was by the torch burning with Quill's thaumaturgical blessing, ripples and crashes open, and a horrible stench roils off as the lacedon thrashes like a shark amidst its prey, catching both the Jan'ti and Ranka in its cloud. The fullness of its wrath seems to be bore down on the genasi however, as she has dealt it with her magic a smarting blow.

The lacedon fails its save, taking 7 cold damage. It attempts to attack Jan'ti, but even with a villain point expenditure, fails to hit. However, both Jan'ti and Ranka are within range of its Stench ability. Both of you must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned until the start of your next turn. The lacedon marks Jan'ti.

Urszula body quakes. Her thickly accented voice whispers, "I do not truck with spooks." She nearly leaps out of her skin at a rattling sound, that all above the surface water hear, the rattling of bones across the deck suddenly in motion. Were they laying in wait? Had they come from the sea, climbing the sides of the deck? Or did they materialize out of the mist like some spectral malevolence? Neither Urszula nor Quill had much time to react before above at the side of the hatch, two skeletal figures with dull red eyes appeared in their rotting crusader cuirasses, armed with bows, firing off arrows into the interior. The halfling tumbled back, only being grazed at her side, but the one aimed at the Kenku struck more true.

Spending a villain point to create an ambush from the other angle. Both skeletons hit Urszula and Quill. Urszula takes 3 piercing, while Quill takes 7 piercing.

Urszula rolls up from the tumble, back against the broken barrels and torch aside, bracing the back of the caviler against her hip, and fires off a shot. With a popping sound, a piece of one of the skeleton's jawbones is blasted off into dust, before she takes cover in one of the officer cabins, to try and get herself out of the range of the two skeletons firing down as if trying to spear fish in a barrell. Her torchlight still shines through, but she is thoroughly now on the defensive. And there is no way out, but through.

Urszula deals 9 piercing damage to Skeleton C, reduced to 4 via its resistance.

Battle posted:

Initiative is Flood (Players) then Ebb (Dungeon Master). Quill, Urszula, Ranka and Jan'ti, your action.

The blue "waves" separate what is not flooded, partially flooded, and fully flooded. Partial flooding is difficult terrain, fully flooded is essentially underwater.

The green arrow indicates the entrance into the ghoul's warren.

Lacedon, AC 13, HP 29/36. Stench 5'. Underwater. Marking Jan'ti.
Skeleton C, AC 15 (partial cover), HP 9/13. Resists piercing, vulnerable to bludgeoning.
Skeleton D, AC 15 (partial cover), HP 13/13. Resists piercing, vulnerable to bludgeoning.

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 24, 2018 around 12:17

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

As the lacedon is taken down with the skilled maneuvering of the genasi and the fell-handed blows of the shava, it collapses, twisting and still thrashing for some time as they work to subdue it, pinning it under the surface of the water as the last vestiges of Un-Death works its way through its system, until with a final howl that resonates through the misty wreckage it releases it, the vile twisted soul within being put to violent rest and consigned to the Shadowfel.

However, the skeletons remain animate, falling down from the hatch having discarded their bows for swords, rattling as they did. The fleshless automatons lurch forward, but their rusting joints make their maneuvers wide and clumsy. One makes for Ranka but its rusty blade instead meets the wall, as it seems to keep trying to move ignorant of it, taking a moment to glance only for her quarterstaff to dust its dome with a single thwack, followed up with a sweep of its feet such that it lands in a dusty clatter.

The other turns and seeing the door slam shut makes for it, plunging the door in and through the wood, a blade breaking through with splinters visible by Quill who took cover within. Urszula, still shaking, raises her gun to fire, but takes just a moment to think... long enough to decide to flip the gun back and swing the butt forward in the back of its spine, knocking it against the door and following with an underhanded strike, knocking pieces of it elsewhere as it lets out a silent cry of its jawbones.

Shrugging off the water as she rises up, and raising that Ornassi style round shield before her, Jan'ti rushes forward, crushing the rest of it against the door and finishing it off, leaving the door creaking and swinging open to reveal Quill within, collecting his wits after his magic all but sealed the fate of the (briefly) terrifying lacedon.

The foes have been dispatched. It is over. Urszula continues to shake, holding that gun threateningly towards the pile of skulls and looking to the other, missing her usual halfling cheer as she blithely says once more, "I do not truck with spooks."

Battle is left.

Beyond the bowels of this part of the ship, the rest of it remains empty. It is best to remain on guard, but nothing living nor Un-Dead stirs. In the other, larger half of the ship, the bowels are more sparing, seemingly having been mostly stripped, but there are a few treasures to find, including a coffer and a cask of elvish cider, made from the apples of Annwn Tor and finely aged within the mystic oak, perfectly preserved and perfected over centuries.

The chests seem a bit daunting, but once she has had a moment, Urszula proves herself again uniquely skilled, revealing that she had filched a few tools for himself and sets to work picking t he locks of both of them. She complains that they are much too old, but she gets both of them, revealing treasures within both... including, perhaps most notably, a treasure map.

The only part of the wreckage that is still suspect to explore is the deepest bowels of the other ship, which stink of the lacedon even now and its vile work. It speaks of a possible charnel house beneath the ground in the warren, yet there may yet be things to find if one is willing to brave it. Yet it might not be the healthiest decision for our castaways, for their mind or body.

What do you do?

The Wreckage of the Galleas posted:

Giving you the full haul here so you can describe going over it on your own time and posts. If you want to take actions like Investigate or Perception, or especially if you want to dig down deeper, let me know. I have removed the dynamic lighting feature from the map now so you can properly see the shape of things.

Squeezed on one of the over-large clawed fingers of the lacedon is an iron band, a signet ring that likely signifies an elvish noble lineage, descended from one of King Balor's followers.

The chest found in the ship master's quarters contains the following:
- the ship master's ledger, written in Sarnathqar
- ancient navigator's tools
- a yellow tunic with ornate embroidery around the neck, in a very antiquated style
- a potion in a jeweled case with what looks like golden hands cupping the mouth
- a single amethyst (100 gp)

The chest found in the knight commander's quarters contains the following:
- the knight commander's journal, written in Sarnathqar
- wrapped in a red silk square is a shortsword of dark starmetal, forged of meteoric iron, inlaid with silver and gold on the hilt in the design of what looks like a weeping mermaid being impaled from below and out her mouth by the blade.
- a black crusader's cape, with the white morning star symbol of the Knight of Summer
- between pieces of folded wood, an old map on parchment, with notations on it in Sarnathqar script, that appears to be of the island you are on, along with a path that indicates two points with red X's along a path leading deeper inland... a treasure map! There are two evocative names on it, in a different hand and ink than the Sarnathqar notations: The Lost City of Sinjh, resting on a deepwater harbor inland, and at the base of the mountains near the volcanic crater: The Temple of the Monkey King. (History check at DC 20 might reveal more.)

In the storage deck of the other half of the galley, you find the following.
- A pewter coffer (itself worth 25 GP) filled with 200 livre (200 GP).
- A partly emptied barrique of Annwn gold cider, finely aged over centuries. This is a priceless treasure, though there is "only" twelve gallons of it remaining.
- Long, intact galley oars
- Four small launches in various states of repair, each enough to hold 4 people in them, with a pair of oars each. Two of them are rotted, one is in good condition and the other just needs patched up.

Salvaging the sails or wood would take more time, but either could solve the needs for building a raft. However, there's a foreboding feeling that if you return, the dead might not remain restful.

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 25, 2018 around 01:39

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

It is perhaps fortunate that Ranka sees very little in the depths of the ship, at first.

What little light can filter down through shows that most everything has disintegrated into silt, coating the bottom in a loamy bed. Interestingly, she finds the torchlight is not the only source of light. Very dimly, in the loam and across the wooden walls, is a bioluminescence, more algae than fungus or mushroom, that creates trails of prismatic colors like the skin of a manowar under the moonlight, in strange configurations that look almost living. They move in between the shapes of a catacomb of bones, arranged and placed according to some mad design or obsession, all eyes pointed inward as before to her.

She is not caught off-guard, and is able to navigate through the warren with relative ease, and do so quickly. She looks for any signs of what might have been missed, but there is little down here but signs of death. She begins to piece together parts of what terrible tragedy haunts the hull. The lacedon was almost certainly one of the elves on the ship at one time, and feasted on the corpses of his fellows, after they were attacked. The lacedon was not likely the one to have killed them, and the bodies down here seem different, more intact. Whereas there were only skulls above, here there are entire bodies, the bones separated and stacked like an ossuary. Usually ghouls are depicted with only a beast's intelligence. Did some shred of his former life maintain through it, through the centuries of waiting?

There appear to have been other bodies here, not given the same treatment, as well as the carcasses of animals. Ranka works her way throgh the filth, trying to find any valuables, but there is nothing that is not rusted or rotted away, save the sign that for years this has been the graveyard of many castaways. Finally she arrves at the very end, and finds glimmering in the dark through the light of the algae the one treasure hidden amid all of this.

A crusader's broadsword, shaped as the banisher's cross, made out of lunargent, that silvered steel that cuts through the flesh of astral demons with the warding power of the Silver Moon, it almost glows as that moon does, perfectly reflective and holding a bit of its own. However, the beauty of it is somewhat muted by the state of where it is found: Plunged into the side of the ship, pinning a skull with a brass circlet on its head, missing a jewel at the center, akin to what the elvish windjammers wear to focus their wizardry.

The inset, one might find, would match exactly with the amethyst that was found in the ship master's possessions.

You find a silvered longsword, and nothing else in the depths. What do you do?

Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

The son of the Dread Freewind makes for the bow of the ship, his hand tracing the surface of the false cog. It feels unusually smooth, without the natural grooves or grain of wood, rather feeling like a complete solid, more akin to the sculpted stone found in a riverbed. At the end, Rust looks for the name of the cog, and finds what looks like the squared, clean calligraphy of Guilder Grunnish, but on closer inspection, it seems to be only a facsimile of a name at all, forming letters he could not identify. Grabbing on a piece that is ajar, he wrenches it off. It bends and deforms, more malleable than it should be, stretching but not snapping as rotten wood might.

A plume of dust exudes from the opening, blowing into Rust's face and nostrils, stinging at his eyes. With a reflexive breath, he breaks into a fit of coughing, that does not subside for some time, his body aching in the effort to rid itself of the material he breathed in, leaving his chest and shoulders sore from the labor. When he regains his bearings and looks inside, he finds that the thin, smooth facade is insulated with a fibrous mess, that looks but does not feel like fur, the dawn colors of pinkish, purple, and yellow. At touch, it easily breaks down into something not unlike sawdust, and with his working knife he can cut out a ball of the strange substance, if he so chooses. Crushing it between his palms, it forms that powder, and remembering how violently his body reacted to inhaling it, it's not hard for a man of his inclinations to imagine a use for it, that perhaps was not entirely intended. Though, one has to wonder, what exactly was it intended for?

There's no real way for me to explain it sufficiently in-character within the fiction, but the wood of the ship is far more like plastic than wood to Rust's examination, a material that is alien in make and unlike anything he might have seen. It wouldn't be useful to build with, but it might be interesting to someone with alchemical expertise. The inside is a fire retardant insulation, but also could be improvised into a few bags of dust that causes coughing and restricted breathing.

As Rust busies himself with investigating the cog, Nax applies his surgical barber's expertise to the body of the carrion crawler. He does not dirty his hands however at first however, slicing it open with a move his hand hand and then dragging out organs as such. From its alien biology, he crouches with scissors and tweezers in hand, to remove from the base of the tentacles the venom sacs and stingers, collecting them in a small glass phial as he did, enough for two doses of the paralytic venom.

With that, most of their work is done. The trap sprung, it is time for them to make for camp, if they do not want to travel much further from the ship's grounds. Perhaps they will get back a little before the rest, and have some time to nurse their wounds before the other party arrives back at camp.

Without any clever ideas, there isn't much more you can find here. Beyond the previously described snares and hooks, and the tracks of the humanoids, two doses of carrion crawler venom, and five handfuls of the choking powder, there isn't anything left to salvage here, though that is a fair amount of utilitarian tools to work.

Deep in the vision at the bowels of the elvish galleas, Ranka hears her words are echoed by another person's voice. "I will find you." There is a heavy weight in her hands, and she remembers the sword is still in her hands. Yet it is not the sword she sees when she glances down at her hands, but one of the shee on death's door. Black hair that is curt in an exacting way to frame their androgynous features, pupiless eyes with clear violet irises gazing upward. A grievous wound having cloven through their cheek, revealing the teeth within as they return Ranka's gaze, giving a pained look. The brass circlet on their head lacks the patina, with the amethyst set in its place. The same bright yellow embroidered tunic on the ship master's form. The master reaches out, and whispers to Ranka specifically: "Now, I can finally die. Pray for me, as the Hells takes us for what we've done."

The vision flickers, and she sees only the sword where his body lay, only a flickering memory, with the skull still hanging from its end, the circlet clutched in her hand at that end. The silver-haired vision that asked the promise seems to reach out, as if to grasp Ranka, but involuntarily, she releases her breath into the water with the promise made. She has her wits enough to not inhale the water, but black threatens to take her vision. She must escape, now, or be taken by the black forever.

Urszula crouches near the water, holding her torch near the dark, still surface that occasionally ripples or bubbles up with an intensely worried expression, her free hand gripped down on her knee. She was essentially alone, while Jan'ti and Quill were on the other half of the ship, and she could feel the creeping dread of being alone in the haunted wreck. So when Ranka bursts from the water, barely clinging to life and inhaling deeply, nearly weighed down by the silvery sword in hand, Urszula loses all semblance of composure, screaming as she falls back in a less than dignified manner.

The torch hits the deck and rolls down, as it is at a sharp angle, and she finds herself tumbling a bit as well, before catching herself on a piece of bulkhead. Unfortunately, even her long arms cannot reach and grab at the torch before it continues to roll and finally plunges into the water below that opens up at the end of the ship, the other half of the wreck barely visible through the mist, and extinguishes itself with a faint hiss.

"Ah..." She offers, contrite. "Sorry."

Neither have much time however to consider it. The ship lurches, seemingly of its own accord. There is a soft, but sinister sound, a breath of wind that sweeps through the mist and length of the wreck, and in the darkness there seems to be rising, like the glowing algae below, of a green luminescence coming from below. Indeed, lining the sides of the wrecks comes up an unearthly green light, pulsing softly at first, but beckoning. The ship lurches again, and with a creaking sound, begins to lean further and further so that the slope becomes steeper and steeper, as the sand below begins to open up, as if forming a hungry Maw.

The Hells have come for their due.

On the surface deck on the other end, Quill and Jan'ti are given a moment with the treasure, though without torchlight they must rely on the adjustment of their eyes, and the slowly increasing dim light of twilight as dawn approaches. They wait for any sign of Urszula and Ranka's return, their moments interrupted when they see the flash of a torch, soon met with a lurching sound and the pulses of green light below the front half of the elvish galleas.

To their horror, the ground beneath their feet begins to move as well, with much of the treasure still in the belly of the ship. Though either are used enough by now to the rocking of waves, this is a much more alarming sort of movement, as the ground itself becomes alive, and hungry, and the already mostly buried ship begins to sink into the ground inch by inch, just slow enough to give them time to panic.

What do you do?

Skill Challenge posted:

It's time to introduce skill challenges. This is a relatively simple one. In a skill challenge, the party has to accumulate a number of set successes on a number of skill checks in order to succeed. If they instead accumulate three failures, some complication arises. Each time the same PC makes another check, their DC rises by +2 over the base DC, and if you use the same skill in immediate succession, you take Disadvantage on the roll. You can roll any Skill you think applies, though if I feel the Skill use less than appropriate, I may increase the DC, but I will only do that rarely, I trust in your creativity.

The skill challenge is to escape the wreck of the elvish galleas with the treasure intact. Your target number of successful checks is 3, and the base Difficult Class is going to be 12. Since you are in the dark, any Perception checks will be at Disadvantage. If you succeed, you manage to take with you all of the treasure before the wreck is swallowed by the Nine Hells. If you fail, you lose one of the following for every success you are short of the goal: The ship master's chest, the knight commander's chest, the ghoul's ring and skeleton bows, the pewter coffer, the oars and launches. Feel free to roll in any sequence you like, or coordinate on Discord!


Tricky Dick Nixon
Jul 26, 2010

The body is but a vessel for the soul, a puppet which bends to the soul's tyranny. And lo, the body is not eternal, for it must feed on the flesh of others, lest it return to the dust from whence it came. Therefore must the soul deceive, despise and murder men.

  • Contact any other possible survivors.
    • Rescue the damsel.
    • Extract the git.
    • Investigate the plume.
    • Track the kobolds.
  • Secure food and water.
  • Scrounge for salvage and supplies.
    • Explore the shipwrecks in the shallows.
    • Find a way to get the crates out of the spider's web.
  • Prepare a shelter. Get a shelter/forward camp on higher ground, more inland.
  • Explore the windward coast of the island.
  • Follow the river inland for higher ground.
  • Survive the storm.
  • Prepare a raft to escape. (needs: cloth, wood, rope, navigator's tools, 2 weeks provisions)
Everyone benefits from a long rest, and has nothing to worry about for hunger or dehydration at this time.

With the treasure secured and tied down upon the large dinghy, Urszula doing her part in the drama with ropes in hand, the quartet manages to avoid the grasping flames of the Hells as the two wrecks are consigned to their restless fate. The four stand to watch, bathed in the baleful glow as it is done, as the cursed hulls, along with all of the sail and wood that it might have presented, are swallowed up by the earth, yet with it too go the restless souls. There are few fates after death that provide any rest in the world of Uskara, and the sins of the crew must have weighed heavily indeed upon their souls that they sunk now to join the Old World in the grasp of devils. Perhaps that is why they clung so tightly to Un-Death, even under the hungry gaze of the lacedon.

Yet once there is nothing but the still, low waters, and the rolling mist that seems to be receding back towards the mainland, there is another light that begins to shine down upon them, coming in with the tide as in the eastern distance the golden sun begins to rise. It was time to head to camp.

The party of Freewind and FitzCulainn arrive first, just before the breaking of dawn, to be met by a few already stirring and readying for the day before them. The Aqualung stokes the fire with his dried driftwood poker, huddled under a mantle woven of leaves and dried seaweed, humming to himself but not with enough volume to be a bother to any still grasping onto sleep. Soon enough, the camp can spot on the horizon coming back from the edge of the shallows the crew that headed for the elvish galleas, laden with treasure and rowing vigorously to drag the extra launches with them. Thus success was mixed, but even those that had just escaped from the grasp of the Nine Hells could feel the sting that they were not much closer to escape, as neither party was able to recover the cloth or wood needed to construct their means of escape from this seemingly less and less deserted isle.

They had perhaps an hour before they would have to set out, to marshal and steel themselves for the next expedition's work.

You have time for a short rest and discussion with the rest of the crew and going over the recovered treasure. Feel free to "off-screen" your report as to what happened in your post, beginning in your fiction with the conclusion, though if you leave any details out be sure to mention that explicitly. I'll start up the expeditions at the lava tubes tomorrow morning around the same time.

Expedition Rewards posted:

The party earns +30 XP total from the two combat encounters, and the treasures of the galleas uncovered. Just to cover everything that was found below, it is the following. I've marked as well what appears magical according to a detect magic ritual.
  • two kits of fishing tackle
  • two fishing gaffs (as spear but replace the Thrown quality with Grasping)
  • two nets
  • a snare trap
  • two doses of carrion crawler venom
  • five fistfuls of choking powder
  • two chests
  • the ship master's ledger
  • the knight commander's journal
  • two shortbows of Brocéliande yew
  • a side-slung quiver
  • twelve arrows
  • a starmetal shortsword with weeping mermaid hilt (faint abjuration aura)
  • a lunargent longsword in a banisher's cross (unusual enchantment aura)
  • a brass circlet (very faint evocation aura)
  • a antiquated yellow tunic, embroidered and fine quality
  • ancient navigator's tools (poor quality, inflicts a -2 penalty)
  • a potion of greater healing
  • a black crusader's cape
  • a treasure map
  • antique maps from the 4th century
  • an iron Imperial signet ring
  • a pewter coffer (25 gp)
  • an amethyst (100 gp)
  • 200 Imperial livre (200 gp)
  • a barrique of vintage Annwn gold, partial (12 gal.)
  • a set of galley oars
  • a launch, four-person
  • a launch, four-person (damaged)

Tricky Dick Nixon fucked around with this message at May 26, 2018 around 16:07

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