Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Wormwood Mutiny pt. 3

(This session involved Jamal the Halfling gunslinger, Logan the human rogue, Jack the human oracle of Besmara, Sandra the human ranger, and Pig the dwarven alchemist/barbarian)

The gang of misfits were ready with their hands bloodied after the recent ambush from the pirates, so they decided to take a swift decision. While they knew little of the runner, they dispatched the corpses into nearby crates and managed to cover up the trails of blood as best they could.
 Moving up as casually as they could, they noticed the last guy cowering in fear in the other end of the ship, doing his best to stay the hell away from them as possible. They spent some time standing there, sending him angry and warning gazes; snitchers would be sliced into pieces. And he knew. And later that night, they snug out and dumped the corpses into the ocean, discretely and silently. 
During the upcoming couple of days, there were several questions about the missing sailors and very little answers. But the heroes certainly felt Scourge’s cold eyes on their back whenever the topic was raised…

That’s so shellfish!
Things were progressing nicely on “The Wormwood”; there was high spirit among the crew that the first sight of booty was well within reach in only a couple of days. Captain Harrigan decided to celebrate this with a fine meal for himself, which meant someone would have to go ashore at a nearby small island and gather a fresh supply of crabs. Mr. Scourge smiled at this notion as he sent the heroes off.

In a small rowboat they reached a small desolated island with white sand and a few palms. A nearby reef housed plenty of craps, and as they took their time gathering the shellfish, they couldn’t help but notice the strange trinkets of gold hanging slightly hidden between the green leafs. Succumbing to the dark side of greed, Jamal and Logan inspected them more closely and realized they were religious trinkets of sorts. They decided to bring a few for the trip. Pig didn’t like this, however; stealing from the gods was never a good idea. This fact was proven true as Sandra immediately shrieked in terror from the coast, where two demonic looking lobsters suddenly broke through the waves and attacked.

There was much cheering and celebration from the ship, as the party attacked the reefclaws. They didn’t prove much a challenge and were quickly slain, but the heroes didn’t want to take unnecessary changes and quickly returned to the Wormwood. Much to their luck, some of the misfits figured out that Reefclaw-meat was quite the delicacy on the high seas, so they gutted the shellfish and brought them home to Ambrose. Captain Harrigan was so pleased with this that he rewarded the gang with a prize from his treasury;  a wand of cure light wounds! (In the original chapter there are surprisingly few options for healing downtime for parties without channel-people. Even then, I decided to play it a bit more fair and reward them with a small wand instead of a moderate potion.)

The Man’s Promise
As the days went by the torture and slavery gradually decreased. Not due to an act of mercy from the officers, but a need to maintain the crew intact for the upcoming battle. Whispers passed among them and finally Mr. Plugg announced they would be coming up on their target in the near future; the sailing ship known as The Man’s Promise. Everyone was to prepare for battle the following day. The heroes visited the armory and stocked up on crossbow bolts, gunpowder and weapons and spent the remaining afternoon in company of their closest friends; Sandara, Rosie and Mr. Shortstone.

The following day, Sandra was approached by Mr. Plugg who gladly told her of her group’s assignment. They were to board the poop-deck and take control of the steering-wheel, all the time making sure to disable any life boats and foil attempts of escape. There were bound to be heavy resistance, but with a sly smile the officer assured her that ‘things would be fine’.

At the same time, Kroop was ordered to butcher some pigs from the cargo and toss the remains out into the sea. Not long after, a vicious school of sharks were circling the ship in a blood-infused hunger.
As they closed up on the Promise, Captain Harrigan took deck with his sorceress and trusty officers, who utilized foul magic to improve their odds in battle. The Promise seemed eerily silent as they approached, with the heroes holed up in their corresponding poop-deck, ready to launch themselves.

Battle erupted as everyone sprung out of hiding and fired a volley of bolts towards the Wormwood. The barrage fell some of the sailors, but the remaining went into a frenzy and locked the ships in battle. Harrigan and his troops marched resolutely across, slaughtering any signs of resistance, as they made their way towards the hull. The heroes managed to fling themselves across nicely, landing in the midst of six Rahadoumi sailors with crossbows. They took some deep wounds, but Jack was soon in their heels with his heals, turning the flow of battle against the sailors. Seething with rage they growled “Bloody pirates!” through their teeth and drew swords.

The battle pressed on for several rounds, the heroes slowly getting the upper hand as Cause Fear spells sent some sailors running and Jamal’s gunpowder shot crippled another. At one time, Pig noticed a hidden sailor make a feeble attempt at backstabbing the unknowing Captain Harrigan, and immediately called out. The captain angrily turned around and fell his opponent, giving a nod of approval to his trusty henchman.
Logan sprang to the railings and had a cinematic fencing-show with one of the sailors, while Sandra skewered one of the few remaining. At this time an explosion went through the ship, as Kipper set off a barrel below deck. Everyone was tossed around, making acrobatic checks to remain on deck. While Jamal got dangerously close to tumbling overboard, he grabbed the railing and hauled himself back up. As he did so, he noticed a civilian couple sprinting across deck, aiming for the life boats. Shouting to pig to do something, the alchemist dwarf shambled to block their path, shouting out a warning not to approach. In blind panic the couple darted past with the infant on the arm, and pig took his attack of opportunity. In one fell blow he killed the husband but the wife managed to drop the already swinging life boat into the water.

With the officers screaming at them, the heroes had to take drastic actions, but nobody knew what. So Jamal took initiative and sprinted for the boat, dropping an alchemist fire in its centre. It quickly caught fire and the remaining part of the family burned to death. (Gruesome, man. Definitely worth some dark side points!)
With more time on their hands, Sandra and Pig started destroying life boats but were interrupted as a fierce woman entered the deck with two sailors. She was a Rahadoumi Officer and plunged directly at the heroes.  She inflicted a nasty wound on Pig and her sailors began chopping up Sandra who was already pretty wounded. Jack couldn’t reach them in time, but the oracle scared off another sailor with Cause Fear and through a use of Rage, Pig managed to stay alive.

All firepower was focused on the officer and she went down soon after. Then they saw two merchants trying to aim for one of the floating life boats; they managed to hit it and started sailing away. But Logan, who had been locked in combat till now, took the jump and landed right between them, aiming his sword for their throats.

“I’m afraid I can’t let you leave just yet, gentlemen…” he said.

Not long after, Captain Harrigan entered the deck with an almost still beating heart in his hand. He grinned and shouted out victory and everyone knew it was over.

In the aftermath, everyone gathered on deck on the Wormwood and split the spoils of war. The situation had been generous for the heroes, who completed all their objectives but a very few and they were handsomely rewarded. Among the cargo from the Promise were several crated with fur and some really strange crates with arcane components, materials and voodoo trinkets.

Skeleton Crew
The party went on all night and the following day Captain Harrigan spoke to the crew. The survivors from the Promise were all very eager to join in on the crew, which had led the captain to decide that she would be sailed to Port Peril along with a skeletal crew, to sell her for a tidy profit. Meanwhile, the new crew would serve aboard the Wormwood well and good. This new skeleton crew would be led by Mr. Plugg and Mr. Scourge who were to set sail in no more than 10 minutes from now. Of course the two officers had in advance decided to take along the heroes and their most trusty friends, along with Mr. Owlbear and Mr. Kroop the cook. As the heroes saw little choice in this they gathered their belongings and wished the Wormwood goodbye, soon sailing into the horizon.

That very night, however, Mr. Plugg addressed the new crew. The heroes noticed that a more or less steady group of nine sailors seemed to stay in good favor with the officer, whereas his gaze could nearly kill as he told them the rules would be much more strict from now on. The hours would be longer, work would be heavier and punishment would be more severe. The heroes noticed how they were now forced to undertake the tasks they despised more than anything, and even though their degree of mastery had increased substantially, they were more than often fatigued and beaten when going to bed every night.

Another thing that truly concerned them was that the ship didn’t sail up the northern reaches as would be expected for Port Peril. To the contrary, it had set sails towards the east. As Mr. Kroop mentioned one night, he had his suspicion well enough. Plugg wasn’t going to sell this ship; instead he was going to see Mr. Squibs who lived near Blood Bay to the east. He would redesign the entire ship, make it almost unrecognizable to anyone, more than likely in an attempt to take up piracy for himself.

But what would happen with the existing crew when this happened? Anyone’s guess was as good as anything, but it likely spelled bad news for the heroes. So that night, they decided enough was enough and took matters into their own hands.

‘Dis be a mutiny, Captain! We’re leaving ya.
Everyone went to bed, but only half the bunks really fell asleep. A couple of hours later, one half of the room slowly started crawling out their bunks and snug up to the various other sailors. On the mark a collective coup de grace was executed and fell eight sailors in one fell swoop. With bloodied blades, the heroes marched up on deck with Rosie, Sandara, Crimson and Shortstone and assaulted Kipper and Patch standing guard. Into the fray came Owlbear who had been chained on the deck as well, and a couple of rounds later Scourge and Plugg were on the spot. 

The battle went (surprisingly) fast.  The mighty Owlbear was put out of the battle immediately by a Hideous Laughter and systematically the group ganged up on one opponent at the time. With plenty of sneak attacks and a ranger with favored enemy: humans those damage spikes were truly hideous and fell Kipper and Patch almost instantly. Both Jack and Sandara made sure that even the nasty Plugg and Scourge wouldn’t keep up their carnage for long, and with a roar Pig cut the evil Mr. Plugg in two. Before taking in his last breaths, he cursed them and their entire crew, calling out to Umberlee that she would only bring them ill fortune on the sea! When Owlbear came around, the crying giant couldn’t bring himself to hurt his best friend, the Pig, who’d so generously spared his life early on. Instead, the group managed to capture Mr. Scourge alive and took control of the ship.

They tied him to the mast and while the celebrations were being prepared, they healed him back up and taunted him for long. Scourge, a cowardly cur at heart, sneered and immediately offered to join them, having plenty of knowledge about their new enemy, Captain Harrigan. Once he found out, they would be in for a hell of trouble! But the heroes weren’t impressed and forced him to walk the plank. As he sank into the depths of Davey Jones’ Locker the party started and went on for the entire night.

Now, show me that horizon…
The heroes spent a long time the following morning on what to do now. The first decision was finding a captain. After some debate they agreed for Logan the human rogue to take the lead. Declaring thus to the crew was met with cheers and the first decision was continuing on to Mr. Squibs to have the ship redecorated. With a dangerous opponent as Harrigan not that far away, they were well aware an overhaul of the visuals would seem in order.

As they set sail, they noticed, however, how a nasty storm was heading in their direction. They attempted to evade it the best they could, but Sandara clutched her small trinket to Besmara and looked worried. Umberlee had apparently heard her servant’s call. The grey skies were upon them in hours and violently shook them off course. The thick and dense rain hurled the ship around and with all hands on deck, there was panic on the already undermanned crew. Several checks were made to ensure the heroes remained aboard and as the night finally started to pass they dropped anchor and decided to wait it out till morning and set out again.
Waking up to a much better weather, they realized they had little idea of their precise location. With blue ocean to all sides, not far away was a strangle large island covered in green jungle. The crystal clear waves washed up on a white beach and the hot weather greeted their tired faces. Doing a checkup, they realized their cargo hold seemed intact, but for very mysterious reasons their water had turned sour. Pig shrugged in fear by this, growling it to be Umberlee’s revenge. Even worse was it, when they realized Sandara and Shortstone were mysteriously gone. The only trace left was her symbol of Besmara, dropped near the railings along with some strange puddles of goo. As Captain Logan inspected this he looked up and into the island. 

They would have to resupply some water and find fresh materials. He had no doubts that they would find it all in the jungle. And no doubts that they would likely find quite a bit more.


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