Campaign Chronicles: Skulls Shackles.

Velgor gave me this idea. I thought I would keep a running log of our adventures because…



1 – It's fun.

2 – It's fun (important enough to mention twice).

3 – Keeping notes can be useful if a player misses a session.

4 – Helps other people who join us later keep up with events that happened so far.



Also, let me know if I'm using the wrong subforum for this. I hope this entertains people.



The group so far:



Afzara Airspeaker = Undine Shaman, she is a merchant who specialises in salvage of shipwrecks or pearl diving and other goods cultivated underwater but valuable on the surface.



Lois Layne (yes, think THAT Lois Lane) = Human Rogue, looking for her missing sister and also happens to be quite the alcoholic.



Terrin = Halfling Ranger, working as a trapper and here to sell off furs and hides. So far the most secretive of our group.



Rosie = NPC fighter with a fiddle.

Sandara = NPC cleric of Besmara.



We all wake up in a cargo hold, with several menacing men standing over us. They seemed to know exactly when we would wake up, because they were right there with no chance for us to speak to each other first. Naturally this means our group is a disorganised mess because we are immediately rushed into the first encounter. They announce that we've been press-ganged to serve aboard the pirate ship. The ringleader appears to be a whip-wielding unpleasant man named Mr. Scourge.



Did I mention we woke up with no weapons and armour?



So think to yourself, if you wake up unarmed and unarmoured, in a cargo hold outnumbered by pirates with clubs, does this seem like the perfect moment to pick a fight to you?



If the answer is yes, you too are a PC.



Mr. Scourge threatened Terrin with a whip, after I believe some choice profanities from the halfling. Lois tries to grab the whip, and then a group of pirates club her into unconsciousness, while Terrin also appears to continue to fight until his last waking moment.



Afzara, Sandara & Rosie stay well the heck out of it. Being well-behaved beats being, well, beaten.



So with no time to talk to anybody, we are now dragged upstairs and put to work. Presumably waiting the 3-4 hours it would take for the others to wake up from their nonlethal damage. We get given jobs climbing, swabbing the deck, running delivering messages, and Lois volunteers to be a cook with the intention of doing deliberately the worst cooking possible. For much of day 1 we are learning the ropes. Afzara tries to get a role using her magic, since between Mending spell, Create Water or Purify Food & Drink, and the Heal skill she could probably be ship doctor, ship carpenter, all-purpose repair and make life easier for the cooks and stuff. But the ship officers are not interested.



Mr Scourge seems sadistic rather than pragmatic, the clue is in the name really, more interested in bullying crew than using them effectively. Mr Plugg seems similar. There's an unfriendly half-orc quartermaster named Cut-Throat Grok. Pointless sadism seems to be the pattern on this ship; we see a man in a hanging cage (gibbet), clearly dead. His offence? He beat the captain at dice.



We also see a keelhauling. Someone accused of stealing. This means a rope is tied to them and they are dragged across the underside of the hull, which is covered in barnacles and other marine growth. The guy is essentially cut to pieces.



Then comes that night when we have some time to ourselves. Lois tries to sneak around to recover her family sword. Terrin tries to spectate on some gambling to ingratiate himself with the crew. Afzara gives a complete stranger a massage, finding someone sore from the hard work on the ship, and makes a friend that way. Some of us try to talk, for strategy sake, but are again rushed into the next morning.



Morning bell sounds = get up and get to work… on the way we are blocked in by 4 sailors who decide they want to start a fight with us so we'll be late to work. First fight that isn't caused by PCs thinking they're invincible.



The fight lasts 1 round. A Sleep spell takes out 3 of the sailors immediately, while Terrin & Lois flank the one guy still standing.



We take their knives off them, although they weren't using them in the fight. Next thing, Afzara straddles the chest of one of them, and wakes him up with the point of his knife an inch away from his eyeball. Apparently this is worth a +5 circumstance bonus to our Intimidate checks. Who knew?



It turns out the sailors picking a fight with us were put up to it by Plugg & Scourge, and never had anything personal against us. Our group makes clear this is not to happen again, by which Afzara points out that theft and killing is forbidden, but castration is not. I wonder if Afzara is a little too close to evil alignment.



Almost immediately, Lois grabs Mr. Scourge and threatens to kill him… meaning that when we do murder Mr. Scourge we will not be simply one of many people who hated him enough to kill him. Naturally, Mr. Scourge responds by shoving a flintlock pistol in Lois's face. Other crew members intervene upon realising that flintlock pistols do not have nonlethal settings.



During the day, between work, Lois sneaks into the quartermaster's stash and finds her sword, then hides it somewhere. She likes that sword. I cannot remember what Terrin did, or the NPCs. However, Afzara manages to barter with the quartermaster (by using Mending for repairs and Purify Food & Drink to keep supplies in good shape) for the return of Rosie's fiddle = now Rosie likes us and she can perform to entertain the others, meaning she can win over other people.



That night, I do not remember what else happened or if anything else happened, although I strongly suspect Afzara is doing the Florence Nightingale routine again (Heal as a good substitute for Diplomacy). I think we probably need to be a little more organised about who else is on the crew – quite a few of the crew are press-ganged, so they might be willing to support us.



Overall, there seems to be a few different plans or philosophies in effect among the players. The two opposites are Lois, whose goal appears to be to antagonise her foes with stealth and theft and sabotage and confronting them, and Afzara whose goal appears to be to get as many of the crew to like her as possible before taking any kind of decisive action. I will need to talk to Terrin about his thoughts so I can include them in.

Comments

  • Now introducing:



    Vaer = elf Oracle of Waves. Hates the sea because of all the weird things that happen to him around it (namely all his powers) and so is thoroughly displeased at being press-ganged onto a ship.



    Terrin is absent.



    Over the next night and day and night again:



    Afzara has become quite the masseuse for the ship, which might give a pirate crew ideas eventually. She spends the day assigned to the lines, where she befriends another NPC, a fisherwoman. Next night her work treating aches and pains gets the ship surgeon's attention, giving her the job of his assistant. Now she's no longer being given gruelling manual labour. Huzzah!



    Lois finished her exploring and searching for the night. Next day she's told to fish (presumably she's no longer doing the cooking, also huzzah?), and does so awfully she gets a flogging for it. Upon being healed, she tries to steal some rum, fails, and instead trades away one of her knives for rum. All the rum. She needs more rum in her life. Once she has rum, she picks a fist-fight with two other pirates, where upon she crits and decks them right down. This makes a good impression on another pirate, a volunteer, named Cog.



    Vaer is introduced gambling at first for the night, and then swabbing the decks the next day. Neither is especially eventful, although he does make some silver from the whole thing. Next day he is assigned to deck-swabbing, which goes reasonably quietly, although he does end up approaching the quartermaster and annoying her a little. That night we are treated to a fun scene where he approaches the quartermaster again to apologise to her and befriend her, the quartermaster replied “Apology accepted, now go” and Vaer decides he'd rather stick around.



    Said quartermaster is a big surly half-orc. Pummelling ensues. She socks Vaer on the jaw, to which Vaer takes a 5-foot step back, casts Obscuring Mist to fill that area of the ship with fog, and runs, screaming YOU HAVE ANGERED THE OCEAN in Aquan (with Tongues as his Oracle Curse), then using his other oracle ability (to see through mist) to run through the crowd avoiding people, leaving everyone wondering what the heck had just gone on.



    Rosie got worn out while swabbing the deck, and flogged. Sandara seemed to get all her equipment back, playing on the superstitions surrounding clerics of Besmara. It is bad luck for a pirate to keep goods taken from a priestess of the pirate goddess.



    Hold on a second. Isn't it bad luck to kidnap a priestess of the pirate goddess?



    Short session, and we are sent down into the bilges to hunt down whatever is in there. It is of course, dire rats, and our job to kill them. Combat commences with us entering the bilge (rather than just throwing spells in from the entrance), and everybody rolls terribly on initiative – with Afzara, Vaer, Rosie AND Sandara tied on 8… while Lois acts on 5, and the rats act on 10.



    So the rats go first and rush forward to attack us, initially without much success. Vaer swings and misses. Afzara casts Sleep (the spell that is fantastic for a level 1 character and becomes useless by level 5…), which takes out 4 of the 6 dire rats. Rosie kills a sleeping rat with her axe. Sandara kills a sleeping rat. Lois moves past to attack one of the remaining rats and misses.



    After that we are mostly mopping up. Since Daze only works on humanoids Afzara had to rely on projectile vomiting for one of the still-standing rats, making her manage to be even more disgusting than the dire rats. Rosie kills the rat that had been hit with ooze breath, while Lois continues fighting the one remaining, and after that we just mop up with coup-de-grace on the sleeping rats.



    Poor rodents.



    With that we find some gold, a masterwork hand axe, some heavy maces, and a set of leather armour. Because this is what you keep in the bilge of your ship.
  • Unfortunately I don't remember too much of the past week, so the update will be pretty vague.



    It all started off with us emerging from the bilges, telling the story of what we found. Or stories, plural. Because everyone tells a different story.



    Vaer tells us we have ghosts in the bilge.

    I can't remember what Lois told them.

    Afzara told them the truth.



    Bluff checks ensued. High rolls were involved. Mr. Scourge ended up believing them, starting to get generally spooked out.



    Afterwards, Vaer has become something of a folk hero, due to his habit of offending officers and surviving. Lois has been offending officers as well, just she's not as good at the getting out in one piece. The whole YOU HAVE ANGERED THE OCEAN thing made an impression. Gambling goes well, apparently Vaer is quite the successful gambler.



    Regular daily activities commence afterwards; Lois sneaks around trying to make trouble and usually gets caught and flogged to unconsciousness… whereupon she immediately tries to do the exact same thing again. I believe she may have Antisocial Personality Disorder. Afzara is trying to make friends and influence people. Vaer gambles and gathers some money.



    The main event of note is the Owlbear treatment. Afzara immediately decides to find somewhere to hide, or at least tries to get away from any exits that look like an owlbear might fit through. Because any treatment involving an owlbear might be bad news.



    It's a bloke.



    Owlbear is a person. A burly man covered with feathers. I'm not sure why that is but I'd love to find out. Anyway, burly man comes out for a good old-fashioned punch-up. Lois volunteers to be the one to fight him, because if nobody volunteered the captain would pick someone for this fight. Lois decides the best way to have a good old-fashioned punch-up is with a knife.



    We gather around, trying to get the crowd chanting loud enough to cover some of our spellcasting and help her out with spells. Our Diplomacy or Bluff checks to impress people don't do all that well, so it takes us a while, and by the time we've got chance to work Lois is already beaten to unconsciousness. It really happens to her a lot.



    She does manage to injure Owlbear at least a little.



    Next is Vaer, who decides the way to have a punch-up is with a mace. Since Vaer uses water/mist magic, Afzara doesn't need to create noise to cover for her spells… she just uses Storm Burst which covers the guy in wind and rain (20% miss chance), as it doesn't require gestures and so is just done by looking at the enemy. Anyway, Vaer & Owlbear slug it out, but once Vaer hits Owlbear the big guy decides he doesn't want any more of this fight, and tries to get out from the ring of men.



    The guys push Owlbear back in.



    Vaer finishes the fight, but heals Owlbear once he's down because he doesn't want the guy to die… and Owlbear is apparently very impressed, even if he's not smart enough to express it properly.



    During the fight, Lois tries to break into the captain's quarters yet again (just after being healed from unconsciousness)… suffice to say this repetitive badgering of the toughest guy on the ship starts causing certain crew members to lose patience. Lois tries running away from the sailors and climbing up to the crow's nest, and the captain puts an arrow in her. Eventually she gets confined to quarters, until a storm is coming.
  • Last time we were about to get hit by a storm. Everyone gets assigned a job to do, such as working the lines or the rigging or the sails.



    Vaer was working the lines I believe.

    Lois was released to work, fell off the rigging twice and was assigned to work the main sail by the mast.

    Afzara went below deck plugging holes, because if the hold ends up flooded she doesn't have to worry about drowning.

    Terrin the halfling is working on the lines as well.



    From what I remember the first round of tasks went more or less well. And then a gnome fell overboard during the storm. Poor gnome. Looks like his chances of survival are not great.



    Until someone notifies the flippin' undine, who runs out and dives to the rescue like she was looking for an excuse to dive overboard all campaign. The DC to swim in rough seas is 20… which might make a difference to someone who doesn't have a natural swim speed; it gives her +8 Swim and the ability to take 10 regardless of conditions. Essentially she makes a DC 22 swim check without even having to roll. With that she manages to get him back to the ship, where Vaer and Terrin throw a rope to them and pull them back up to the ship, which gives a +4 bonus to their attempt to get back to the ship from Vaer and no bonus at all for Terrin.



    Suffice to say the gnome is suitably grateful.



    Just because someone fell overboard doesn't mean the work stops, so another round of skill/Strength checks begins, meaning that Vaer is tired from “single-handedly” saving a gnome and a fish woman and he should sit down to rest.



    Naturally he gets hit with the captain's daughter for being sassy.



    Our next assignment is to go onto the beach of a nearby island and get dinner for the captain. We row to the shore, get onto the beach, see some reef crabs that serve as dinner. The reef crabs feel the same way about us, and rush over waving their pincers at us. The preparation for the fight is remarkably complex, since these are apparently sophisticated battle crabs with 4 different special attacks.



    The crabs win initiative, and realise that Owlbear has eaten many crabs in his time, and thus seek bloody vengeance upon him. They hit, because he has his rippling abs on display, and as pleasant a view as it might be someone needs to invest in armour on him. Lois moves to sneak attack, taking an Attack of Opportunity on the way. Owlbear swings. Crab 2 attacks Lois from the other side, you could almost call it a pincer movement.



    Vaer moves to flank the crab attacking Lois, while Afzara decides that since these crabs are intended for the captain's dinner, she need not be shy about using her projectile vomiting attack upon them.



    We also discover the DM is a nicer person than I am. For future reference, when I run the game, crabs gain an escalating +1 to hit every time you say they're like turtles. Eventually we crush or stab our way through the various crabs on the beach, and return them home for dinner.



    In return, most of us receive… a healing potion, I think some gold, and all our gear is returned. Except for Lois who has kept antagonising people during her stay. Now Vaer is AC 19 between his scale armour, shield and DEX. Afzara is AC 17 and has a boarding pike with her. Terrin ended up leaving the game at this point so I don't know what kit he has, and Lois is stuck with leather armour and a knife.



    Over the next day, Lois tries approaching Scourge with some rum, for reasons I cannot yet fathom. Afzara is doing some finishing repairs, and Vaer discusses a plan to continuously hassle Grok, the half-orc quartermaster who angered the ocean. The plan involves her getting soaked with Create Water at random intervals, and Afzara contributing with Storm Burst since she doesn't have to worry about being caught casting spells.



    Lois eventually tells a story about a mutiny. And the tale is shared with people being interested, and Scourge shows up slapping his scourge. In public? Put it away man.



    Next day we are given boarding practise. Which means we get into a rowboat, throw grappling hooks at the ship, and try to climb on board while people throw garbage at us. Suffice to say we do abysmally at it. I think Lois is the only one with any Climb skill. I get persistently annoyed at the use of the verb “sail” for a rowboat, and we eventually make it back on ship, after much embarrassment.



    The reason is we saw another ship in the distance, which may or may not be a fight. I'm guessing we will do some proper pirating next session.



    Before that happens, Scourge is still making trouble for us, assigning us to the bilges, and telling us we won't need our weapons. Naturally, Scourge saying we won't need our weapons is a big clue that we will need our weapons. Vaer tries to fake compliance, with the plan of waiting to ambush the ambushers and attack them on the ladder. Lois just refuses and gets attacked by both Plugg & Scourge, until she yields.



    For some reason they didn't invite Afzara to this, but she hears the fight later.



    Let me say, Lois has been beaten unconscious or near-unconsciousness so many times in entirely avoidable circumstances that she might have some S&M issues. During the fight, Lois gets knocked out since she was injured in that fight she got into with Plugg & Scourge, while Vaer uses 5-foot step & Murderous Command to make one charge the other, moving through his threatened area provoking an Attack of Opportunity.



    The Attack of Opportunity critical hits and drops him like a stone.



    By now Afzara has joined the fight and tries poking with pikes (in the bilges), trying to move back and use her reach advantage. Instead of using any attack spells we have this annoying pattern of heal Lois and then Lois gets hit again and then heal Lois…



    Eventually the enemy is gathered together and Afzara casts Sleep on both of them. With both asleep she decides to murder them… or at least murders one of them and pins it on the other guy, who “picked a fight with his fellow and killed him before we managed to subdue him.” Afzara also makes sure to tell one of the others who was sent to cause her trouble before finds out about what happened, not trying to Bluff him, but telling him the fake story for plausible deniability sake while reminding him that she is willing to effing murder anyone who picks a fight with her.



    Next time we raid a ship.
  • Onto the ship, which goes much more smoothly than all the practise sessions we tried beforehand. None of this struggling to climb up ropes, we get onto the quarterdeck, and fight a few sailors for control of the sterncastle/aftcastle (same thing, the raised bit at the back) of the ship.



    The sailors are a relatively easy fight, save for two main concerns.

    1 – The officer with an extendo-pike.

    2 – Lois. Just Lois.



    More accurately, Lois is trying not to hurt people, which puts one at a disadvantage in combat. Little does she know that Afzara just gained the healing hex to stop people from dying… meaning Afzara is screaming “Stab him! STAAAAAAAAAB HIIIIIIM!” at Lois when she keeps messing around, followed by “Gut him!” Which is not doing much to make her feel better.



    Vaer is doing a fine job of tanking, because he has good Strength & Dexterity combined with scale armour and a heavy shield, making him quite a capable fighter at low levels. He even goes toe-to-toe with the officer for a while, driving him back and constantly forcing him to give ground.



    Afzara drops 2 of the sailors with her Sleep spell, and hinders the officer with Daze spells. Lois falls flat on her face trying to grapple or punch. Our NPC cleric provides some useful healing and a Doom spell. On that note, our group probably laments the lack of a warrior, because someone with the Intimidate skill to demoralise foes would be very handy. Eventually the officer is beaten badly enough that him and the remaining sailor surrender.



    Whereupon Afzara immediately grabs the +1 extendo-pike (nobody else seems to use boarding pikes).



    Lois then, after having won, wants to switch sides. Seriously. After having won.



    When that is established to be non-viable she instead wants to help sailors escape, although I'm not sure how. We're in open water with no land in sight, so the best the sailors of the merchant ship can do is get onto launch-boats and row away… which means they either get rounded up by the captain who is more angry at them than he would have been otherwise, or they dehydrate at sea.



    Someone tries to sneak up on the pirate captain, and Afzara shouts a warning to him, earning Lois's hatred, along with a +1 Amulet of Natural Armour. Everyone gets some pretty valuable loot from the fight, around hundreds of gold each, except for Lois, who gets none – I think she offended someone to get a reduced share, and then refused the tiny amount she was given anyway. I cannot remember the specifics.



    There is pomp and ceremony and rewards and celebrations, and then we all get given our next assignment: to sail the captured ship back to port under Scourge's command. Who put Scourge in command of anything?



    Sir! Excuse me sir! Let me talk to you about management.



    Since Vaer has antagonised the quartermaster, she's not going to sell him anything from the ship stores. Lois has refused the share of the loot to buy anything with, so the rest of the party ends up buying things for her. Afzara buys her a sap (so she can do nonlethal damage without being useless) and a masterwork buckler (no armour check penalty), while Vaer gives Afzara the money to buy a short bow, which is then given to Lois.



    Lois and Afzara talk, and it is generally unfriendly. Afzara is trying to persuade Lois to work with coherent plans, and Lois has contempt for Afzara's playing politics and trying to ingratiate herself with people. However, Lois does agree to take the gear.



    I think the two of them rather hate each other.



    Vaer of course wants the quartermaster hassled, so she now has Arcane Marks all over her storeroom, which are orcish for YOU HAVE ANGERED THE OCEAN.



    Sailing on a ship under Scourge's command is about as fun as we might expect. He has 5-6 toadies who support him, and they don't have to do any of the work. Meanwhile, there's about 13 others on the ship – 4 PCs (including Terrin who is not present), 2 sailors from the captured ship, and 7 other crewmembers from the Wormwood who have been made allies of Afzara during their time on the ship. So we outnumber him greatly. All that past few sessions of making friends and doing favours for people paid off.



    Notable among Scourge's toadies is a mute half-orc, who is seen as the weak link in Scourge's group. Afzara and Vaer form a plan to use Murderous Command on him to make him suddenly attack his comrades, hopefully causing some infighting in the group, because the half-orc is mute and cannot explain himself to the others. Whether half-orc kills some of the other toadies or the toadies kill the half-orc, it will weaken his group.



    Scourge changes our heading, apparently intending to betray his captain to lead his own pirate ship. Only Scourge is completely incompetent and unsuited for leading. We are already seeing this as our opportunity to kill him. People had been thinking about mutiny before, now it looks like an opportunity.



    Unfortunately we don't get to stage our own mutiny, because Scourge starts it for us by trying to force himself onto the cleric of Besmara, and beating her when she refuses. Naturally the rest of us intervene, changing our plans ever so slightly… Scourge is awake when we murder him.



    The fight itself is dominated by NPCs, but is very one-sided due to Scourge having so few people willing to side with him. He gets overwhelmed and finally cut down to unconsciousness by the crew, which is a shame because Lois had a line she wanted to use on killing Scourge, so Afzara uses the Healing Hex to make Scourge conscious again all for Lois to strike the last blow.



    Lois forgot the line she wanted to say.



    Now we have a ship of our own, which gives us a lot to do. We need to:

    -pick a captain or ship roles.

    -recruit a full crew.

    -Appraise & Identify all the loot from Scourge.

    -gather information for follow-up raiding targets.
  • Last session was cancelled, so I thought I'd throw out a little more information about the main characters so far.



    Vaer Non – Currently the tank/defender of the group, due to good STR & DEX, decent CON, scale armour & shield giving him a total AC 19. Essentially he is the closest we have to a fighter, although a defensively oriented one. Low skills due to his INT & WIS being kind of low, but he does a good job as a stone wall. This will probably involve him using protection spells and buffs more at higher levels. He has the CHA to be a functional Oracle.



    He is something of a loveable egomaniac, who kind of claims credit for things other people have done. He also has a kind streak, shown by him acquiring a bow and then giving it to Lois, or his healing of Owlbear. He likes to encourage superstitions since he is the ocean, and has a love of tormenting the half-orc quartermaster (who I believe he rather likes). Essentially he is playful, although also able to work together as a team player when needed.



    Afzara Airspeaker – Currently the crowd-control specialist of the group, with low STR, high INT & DEX, in addition to the obvious WIS needed for a Shaman. Her main tricks have been Sleep to clear out part of a group, sickening people with Ooze Breath, and using positioning and her pike to set up flanking bonuses in combat. Recently she gained the Healing Hex which means she doesn't have to reserve healing spells, and will probably using a little more variety in buffs and debuffs.



    Her personality is more serious than the others, who wants to get things done. She's helpful, but it's a calculated helpfulness aimed to ingratiate herself with people, and she's fairly matter-of-fact about being political and trading in favours. This makes her very good at gathering allies but puts her at odds with Lois, who seems to resent Afzara's apparent disloyalty. She's also the most ruthless, having put a knife right up against the eyeball of someone who tried to beat her up, and the second time it was tried she murdered the guy in cold blood and pinned the blame for it on his partner… while making sure the people she once threatened realise it is a lie. She wanted people to know that attempts to cause trouble for her result in death or maiming.



    Lois Layne – Currently her role is vague, for while she is a Rogue, she has yet to use any of her skills on behalf of the group. She has a broad spread of ability scores, with decent STR, CON, INT and good DEX, WIS & CHA, although she's so generalised she doesn't really have a clear strength either. She tends to fight on the front line an awful lot, and will probably need to multi-class to Swashbuckler in future or maybe Duellist. For now she seems to be a jack-of-all-trades, specialised in being as self-sufficient as possible, since she seems to work without the rest of the group as much as possible.



    Personality-wise, she is impulsive, stubborn and headstrong (as in the Drawback; she has to interfere with actions against her alignment). Her alignment is Neutral Good, and she tries to do the right thing on principle when she can, she just does so without thinking her ideas through. Overall, she has put up the most direct resistance to the pirate ship and crew in her time here, although is mostly unsuccessful because she tries to oppose them in everything (meaning they never let their guard down) and is usually not that subtle about it.



    Those are our regulars.



    All of the regular PCs have their kinder sides and their more destructive traits. Vaer is absurdly arrogant but quite dependable in trouble. Afzara is extremely helpful but horribly ruthless and kind of manipulative in her political-mindedness. Lois tries to save people but repeatedly picks fights, and becomes resentful when others don't join in.



    I do see a lot of conflict between Afzara & Lois in the near future: Lois resents Afzara for her playing politics with the pirate captain and other officers, while Afzara considers Lois's lack of teamwork intolerably selfish and begrudges the idea of having to use up the favour she gained in order to bail Lois out of trouble. I know Afzara wants to hash these issues out before they have to work together on anything else.



    If I remember correctly, the ship our party has is the Man's Promise, and some of the original crew escaped on lifeboats. I think the first order of business would be a search-and-rescue mission, because those lifeboats on open water is not going to give the sailors who escaped a good chance of surviving alone.
  • First order of business. Loot.



    We wake up the next morning, identify the potions Scourge was carrying (but didn't think to use), and sweep through the ship looking for any remaining loot – in the hold, in the armoury, in the captain's quarters. We find some fairly regular kit; bows, crossbows, a pistol, sunrods, yet another masterwork handaxe, some platinum and more gold or jewels which gives our total treasury around 394 gold worth, that is not being dished out yet.



    There is some discussion distributing the loot and we assign ship roles…



    Bosun = Cogward.

    Carpenter/Surgeon = Afzara.

    Navigator = Hishi.

    Master at Arms = Rosie.

    Gunner = Jebb (temporary).

    Cook = take turns.

    First Mate = Sandara.

    Helmsman = (Hishi again).

    “Captain” = Vaer.

    Quartermaster = Afzara.



    Sandara graciously volunteers to be captain, which honestly doesn't work because she's been a fairly dull NPC who none of the PCs particularly have a strong opinion about. We weren't going to let Scourge abuse her, but she's not going to be our boss. Vaer wants to be captain, and delegates responsibility completely while wearing a fancy hat. Afzara wants to run things by committee rather than having one person who clearly outranks all the others. I think Lois was only interested in being captain, and not any other roles.



    Our compromise is that Vaer is officially our captain and delegates all the stuff that requires any skill or knowledge to Sandara…



    Jebb & Hishi are Rahadoumi sailors to cover those roles for now. Rosie is the only warrior-person, so might as well look after the weapons.



    Afzara is Quartermaster by default; I'm the player who keeps records and the treasury and notes, so it might as well be me. Her ship role will be Surgeon/Carpenter. Honestly, she could become captain since she's the one who has been winning the support of NPCs (Rosie, Conchobar, Gifford Tibbs & Sams Toppin… and probably most of our former enemies as well), but I don't want to be in charge like that.



    We treat all of Scourge's flunkies with relative respect, treating their wounds after the fight is done, leaving them embarrassed and surprised.



    Next morning, we wake up, and I should add is what follows is some good-humoured ribbing at the somewhat rail-road nature of adventure paths. We see an island, Bonewreck Isle, where there used to be a fishing village before it was destroyed by creatures called Grindylow (aquatic goblin-like monsters). It also has all kinds of reefs which might damage the ship. Because of course it does.



    Sounds like a place to sail away from.



    We also find out that a Chelish warship once disappeared here. Legend has it the ship was carrying ghoulish shock troops…



    Wait, hold on, as in actual ghouls?



    Yes.



    Right, then.



    So the ghouls being carried on the ship to do the fighting for them (because getting ghouls to attack the other group of warm meatbags with sharp weapons instead of your group of warm meatbags with sharp weapons is such an easy task), turned against the crew. Would you expect any less? And it is believed the survivors were struck down by a fever which drove the people mad. Is it ghoul fever by any chance?



    Dear Cheliax, what in the Nine Hells convinced you that bringing ghouls on ships was in any way a sensible thing to do?



    So I am expecting us to find lots of ghouls in the area, because that is what ghoul-fever does. The question is how many bodies were eaten, and how many rose as new ghouls. I don't actually know if the victim has to die from the disease to rise as a ghoul or if they can just be killed and rise as a ghoul, but I'm sure we'll be facing ghouls at some point.



    We decide that this is an island best avoided, and kind of make a game of trying to avoid the plot hook the Adventure Path is trying to force on us…



    A storm is coming, and our crew estimates that we can get out of the storm's path without going to the island. So we suggest doing that ASAP and hurrying up to get away from it. Of course the storm speeds up, as if sensing our plans. Though the storm seems to go relatively smoothly, we have a fight on our hands, namely the octopus-goblins (apparently squid-goblins would be incredibly insulting to them).



    Combat commences, in which the grindylow charge in and get stabbed by the one character who keeps a boarding pike for these occasions. Terrin, it turns out, is quite the archer, with Precise Shot & Point Blank Shot, so he just shoots safely from back. His is the only character sheet I have not seen, but I'm guessing he is around +7 to hit & 1d6+1 damage. He is good at this.



    Vaer now has the magic amulet (Afzara gave it to him rather than hogging all the magic items), and so is an excellent tank. Afzara makes the mistake of assuming Sleep wouldn't work on abherrations (note; Sleep works fine against them) so throws out a Burning Hands instead to hit three of the grindylow. Those guys have very low hit points by the way. Lois rushes up to engage one. The grindylow attempt to trip using their tentacles, without any results. I think they trip Vaer but fail to actually hurt anyone in the combat.



    Afzara then moves to vomit on one of the remaining enemies (Ooze Breath), doing slight acid damage and sickening it. Suffice to say the battle is fairly one-sided and the grindylow decide to flee… getting stabbed in the process.



    We now have a prisoner to deal with, who Afzara heals back to consciousness (Healing Hex is awesome), and a very pleasant conversation ensues about how Sandara and Sams Toppin have been taken by the grindylow to be tortured and eaten. Mr Grindylow gives us directions to a cave, considerately enough, allowing us to launch a rescue mission.



    For the record, we are also forced to stay behind on the island because the ship was damaged by the reefs (I have Mending to fix that…) and our water barrels have been contaminated (we have Create Water). One of our crew says we also have to mount the rescue mission because we are already short-handed and cannot afford to lose people (which is a reason not to send more people into danger…).



    We could be annoying and try to score points on the Henderson Scale, but we go along with it.



    What to do with the grindylow? Ironically, Afzara is the one opposed to killing him (there's a reason she isn't evil, I promise). I'm sure the crew would have killed it if not convinced otherwise. The party seems largely indifferent. Afzara suggests tying up the grindylow, and Vaer suggests keeping it in a barrel. We compromise. We tie it up AND stuff it into a barrel.



    We are asked what to do about its tentacles, since they're difficult to tie up conventionally. Afzara suggests braiding them together.



    Whereupon the DM's question is how we put the grindylow to sleep so we can do this.



    Are you familiar with the Bardic Knock spell? This is where you walk up to the door, ball your hand into a fist, and you knock… on the door. Well, we introduce the Thuggish Sleep spell. One of our players has a one-button roll labelled “Unarmed Strike” that rolls both attack and damage for a punch to the face, and begins spamming that button (I think 7-10 rolls) in response. Suffice to say the grindylow is no longer awake, and probably has a severe concussion.



    Why are we keeping the grindylow alive? Well, first, it answered our questions. Murdering it afterwards would be most impolite. Second, Afzara wants to keep it (whose name is Runt by the way) in case of an exchange of hostages. The crew are initially calling that crazy, which is probably fair, but she wants to keep that option in reserve just in case. This actually earns their respect.



    Off to the rescue. We find the destroyed village, with corpses, that Afzara stabs because she doesn't trust corpses. No movement from them.



    Our path leads us to jungles with patches of quicksand, although the village seemed to have platforms that allowed them to cross safely. However, those platforms are spaced a little far apart (we'd need to make jump rolls). Instead we get a few long planks to cross by using them as bridges rather than taking unnecessary risks.



    Meanwhile, our travel is noticed by a pair of giant frogs, who start pursuing us as we get near the water and near the safety of a beach. I know exactly what is supposed to happen here – frogs use their extendo-tongue to drag us into the quicksand. We move to the beach to prevent that from happening.



    Combat begins with Vaer casting Murderous Command, causing Frog 1 to rush over and attack his buddy. As Buddy is also a giant frog, he is not particularly intelligent, and so cannot reason out that he was attacked due to mind control magic. The end result.



    FROG WAR.



    We have no need to finish the combat. On the beach, we find a tent pitched in the middle of nowhere, which turns out to be fairly luxurious, containing very revealing outfits. I know enough about pirates and sailors to guess the purpose of this tent. No ladies around, although they seem to have some very fancy gear. I imagine they probably made a brisk business before the ship suffered a ghoul apocalypse.



    I am calling it. We will probably meet those ladies in the future, and they will probably be ghouls.



    PS: there's some great stories about tabletop games going off the rails. Elfslayer Chronicles is perhaps one of the finest.



    PPS: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/extras/pirates-arrr-us Pirates Arrrr Us!
  • Here comes the role-play session, we all talked about what we wanted beforehand and everyone was looking for more role-playing, but not pushing it on the others… Time to fix that. Another thing is no we don't want to move to the next encounter. No we still don't want to start the next encounter.



    We begin with an hour of in-character discussion to get the members of the group more comfortable actively role-playing. I try my hand at some voice-acting, but Afzara is meant to have a voice like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwd8v_u_fj0

    Meanwhile I keep slipping into a voice that sounds more like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw9jSl9lPg0



    So limited success.



    Our conversation starts with Afzara asking Lois why she joined on this rescue mission, since she's not exactly friends with anyone on the crew, and Lois starts making her morality clear. There is a long conversation, where Lois decides she's thought about it and Afzara was right to save the captain… and Afzara says she'd fully support murdering him if she thought it'd work. :P They also talk about how helpful the other has been, as both Lois & Afzara saw the other as not being helpful, so they explain what their plans were to the other and their reasoning, making them able to find some common ground.



    Fundamentally the obstacle is Lois is too honest and Afzara is too devious, but they're at least looking in the same direction.



    Vaer joins in the discussion, making light-hearted banter, teasing Conchobar for writing into a book. It turns out Conchobar was writing love poems for Afzara. Gah, have to nip that one in the bud. People share stories of their homes, finding out Lois was a noble, Afzara comes from beneath the rivers and was in Port Peril to trade in shipwrecks. Conchobar says he was there to learn stories about pirates. Vaer teases people, a lot.



    Eventually the conversation turns towards zombies, as conversations tend to. Lois brought up what to do about the crew who don't want to be pirates, and Afzara said there was no point in having anyone on the crew against their will when she can just use undead for those tasks anyway. This, naturally, horrifies people (Conchobar will stop lusting after her one way or the other)… bringing lunch to an early close, they were chatting over meals, and now everybody just lost their appetite.



    We gather our party before venturing forth (Baldur's Gate reference), and find what looks like crucified corpses on the beach. Upon closer inspection, they are shackled up, exposed to the elements, and had pieces of bone replaced with coral, as a kind of torture method.



    It is important, because this is a fairly slow form of torture – implying the grindylow take their time with their victims. We have a few days. I'm sure they're not a fun few days for the crew members captured by the grindylow, but it means we don't have to hurry as much. We also have some sand dunes that we keep a cautious distance from, and Afzara pokes with the extendo-pike (boarding pike of repelling can extend to 20 feet), and they have giant crabs.



    Vaer starts off away from the main group, apparently having wanted to not investigate, which means two crabs rush for him, while the third crab goes for Afzara. The good news is those are the two characters with medium armour and shields, meaning the best AC. Vaer tanks for a while, while Afzara takes down two of them with a Sleep spell, to be quickly finished off by Vaer and Lois rushing to Vaer's aid. Conchobar tries to rescue Afzara from the crab.



    You know how we mentioned that talking about your plan for zombie minions is a good way to deter unwanted affections? Projectile vomiting is another. Afzara uses her ooze breath on the remaining crab, while others rush in to slay it.



    Our next hazard is some heads on sharpened stakes, buzzing with flies. There is a pretty heavy risk that those flies carry ghoul-fever, we move to avoid it, staying near the coast. Behind the stakes is a small farming field, overgrown. As we bypass the fly swarms, we instead meet a local resident.







    Mr Ankheg.



    I remember those things from AD&D (second edition) and they were scary. The updated version is less of a nightmare, but still very dangerous for second-level characters. Thankfully we win initiative, and RUN AWAY. Our chief problem is there is only so much coastline we can use to flee. Afzara is fine, she can just go into the water, where the Ankheg has a much harder time following and which will dilute any acid spray.



    The others, not so lucky. Particularly as Afzara & Vaer have slowed movement from armour, Ponchobar has reduced movement for being a gnome, and Lois ends up with slowed movement for carrying Ponchobar…



    So fleeing doesn't work. The ankheg chases them down and bites Lois, grappling her, and the rest of us rush to save her. She puts her Escape Artist to good use and moves around the side to flank it with Afzara, whose 20 foot extendo-pike threatens from the water. We use Bless & Inspire Courage to gain boosts, and Conchobar puts Cause Fear to good use. When the Ankheg finally flees we get attacks of opportunity on it that kills the thing.



    That creature gets the shell peeled off for armour. I can't find any Pathfinder edition rules for it, but in 2E their shells made lighter acid-resistant plate armour. With any luck we can make 2 breastplates from it instead of one complete set of plate, since the heaviest armour we can wear is medium. There's also some dead bodies in the field we loot.



    Having used up most of our spells, we find a good point to rest, before exploring a stockade. That stockade is in remarkably good condition for somewhere so close to a grindylow lair. This should have been a clue. Really.



    Lois moves ahead to scout… and GOES INSIDE. To the player's credit, she knew this was stupid, but it was in-character. She opens the stockade, goes inside, and peers inside the door, noticing a vile stench and hearing footsteps getting closer. She remains and tries to look inside the door again…



    Ever since the ship being overrun by ghouls was mentioned I wondered when we were going to meet a ghoul.



    We didn't… we met a ghast. That's a ghoul's bigger meaner brother with a prison-record.



    The reason the stockade was undamaged by the grindylow was because it was home to the nastiest thing on the island.



    At level 2, ghasts are terrifying. At level 5 they are terrifying if you factor in Intelligence 17, Wisdom 18 & Charisma 18 (the charismatic ghasts).



    Luckily, we decided to follow up as soon as Lois went in there alone, so we were almost in time to rescue her. The ghast started mauling her and a swarm of flies attacked her, between them she was sickened, bleeding, infected and generally having a very bad day. I would like to clarify that the DM was very generous, and Lois should not have survived. You do not mess around when ghasts are involved.



    Lois is already close to unconscious after 1 round of attacks, and by round 2 is down to -9 hit points. She dies at -13… and she's taking Bleed damage as well as the dying condition.



    Vaer takes a double-move to get near enough to help, Afzara throws her Bless and moves closer, in the hope she can move and act next round, while also giving the order to Ponchobar to get to Lois and heal her. Briefly, I am threatened with a rules discussion in response to Afzara's orders for Ponchobar. I say “threatened with” because I give my instructions to NPCs as the character = Afzara shouts out the words “Ponchobar! Move to heal Lois!” no matter what rules are found on any given page in any given rulebook. Those are the words she shouts.



    The reason I was threatened with a rule discussion is because Ponchobar was more than 20 feet away from Lois, and could not move close enough and cast a cure spell on her in a single round… so Ponchobar moves closer and uses Inspire Courage.



    We have Bless & Inspire Courage active, Afzara throws alchemist's fire on the ghast (igniting it so that it burns every round), Vaer moves to engage the creature, and Ponchobar casts Cure Light Wounds on Lois, saving her life. Luckily, the swarm of monster-flies stops attacking Lois once she's down and attacks Vaer instead.



    Ponchobar keeps healing, and Afzara moves around to catch both the ghast and the swarm with Burning Hands, while Vaer continues trying to chop up the ghast. Round after that, the ghast dies, and Vaer steps out of the swarm just as Afzara uses her vomit-weapon upon it (because area attacks work well against swarms). We then try throwing another alchemist's fire on the swarm and Vaer casts a cure on Lois…



    By this point, the swarm had taken 14 damage from various area-effect attacks, and still had 17 hit points left. That is a very powerful swarm. However, we start to flee and the swarm decides not to remain in the area after the ghast is destroyed and there's lots of smoke and fire around (which saves us a lot of trouble, as we were short on area-effect options to use against it).



    The session ends after this fight, with us doing a brief search and discovering a trap door we can use for shelter.



    We are also Level 3 now, which I'll hopefully record some interesting stuff about later in the week.
  • Interlude to cover our level-ups. We are now level 3 – I'll cover some of the things we have recently gained.



    New feat.

    Usually some nice class features.



    Afzara



    Slumber Hex (taken with Extra Hex feat).

    Access to 2nd-level spells.

    Craft: Armourer skill to make that ankheg armour – hopefully we'll have ankheg breastplates in our future.



    The Slumber Hex is useful because it allows her one attempt to put every foe she meets to sleep without spending any of her spell slots. It is single-target and has a shorter duration, but it means she doesn't have to use up her regular magic in order to still fill her crowd-control function. This gives us a lot more survivability and sustainability, because we don't have to use up finite resources for each combat.



    New spells include such things as Wood Shape (now we're able to leave, makes repairs vastly easier), Commune with Birds for information-gathering, Eagle Eye for maps of the region. Now she has access to Lesser Animate Dead, which means we might start bringing frog skeletons for reinforcements. Being a Shaman she has her full spell list to work with, meaning she can do all of these on the days she's not planning on battle.



    On the days she is planning on battle, she has some nasty options. Barkskin is her spirit-spell, a nice protection spell for either her or Lois to be harder to hit. For the actual fighting, she can rely on Spiritual Weapon & Summon Swarm. These are fun options for “action economy”, between Spiritual Weapon and the reach of her pike she can get 2 bonus attacks per round. Meanwhile, Summon Swarm means she can fight remotely through a swarm of bats, who do minor damage, crowd-control through Distraction (save or lose actions), and Bleed. For the record, Bleed is nasty for hit-and-run tactics, because the enemy keeps taking damage for as long as they give chase.



    Even better, if Lois scouts properly, we can just summon a swarm in an area without entering combat ourselves. That room full of grindylow can have a 10-foot cloud of bats conjured in there while we wait outside. Since the swarm is immune to weapon damage they'd have to use up their spells or area-effect powers to get rid of it. And those wounded will be bleeding at the end of it. It's a perfect attrition spell.



    Lois:



    Extra feat.

    Sneak Attack +2d6.

    Still needs to choose her Rogue talent from level 2.



    From what I recall, the Rogue Talent recommended to her was Fast Sneak = she can sneak all the time, and not have to choose between sneaking and moving. This will be very useful for scouting, for instance if she wants to move AWAY from the ghast rather than towards it without giving away her position. It also means she can start off combat from hiding and still be able to move and stab someone once the fight begins.



    With extra sneak attack damage, she'll be able to function more as the damage-dealer of the group, since she's now had a +50% jump in damage per hit.



    I don't know the feat she'll be taking – she was thinking of Exotic Weapon: Firearms. Before doing that, we need to see where they stand in terms of these ( http://www.d20pfsrd.com/equipment---final/weapons/firearms ) rules, because if they require Exotic Weapon Proficiency they would be prohibitively expensive. But there is one huge advantage… close-range gunshots use TOUCH AC = none of that armour Mr. Ankheg. I think I might have to make her cartridges of plenty.



    (Technically Extra Rogue Talent for Firearms Training would be better – it allows her to take Grit as a Rogue Talent in future, which gives Amateur Gunslinger AND a bonus Grit Feat).



    On this note, I would say Grit stacks well with her plans of being a Swashbuckler in future. Grit & Panache stack together into a single pool, which can be filled by killing blows whether with sword or gun. Taking the Swashbuckler class sooner rather than later would be better.



    Also, Lois gained her first magic item last session. A Ring of Swimming (+5 Swim checks). Considering the other regular party members include Aquagirl and someone who Walks on Water, I figure she needs it the most.



    Vaer:



    Gains an extra feat.

    Gains a Revelation of Waves.

    Extra 1st-level spell.



    I've not spoken with Vaer's player on updates, although I guarantee he'll make them interesting, because he likes making gimmicks to his characters. Hence his tongue-speaking Oracle of Waves who hates the water, and tells people they have angered the ocean.



    Options for Revelations are Ice Armour (armour weaker than his current armour), Wintry Touch (a touch attack weaker than his current weapon), Freezing Spells (adds a slow-effect to spells he doesn't have yet), Icy Skin (cold resistance, not really been facing any cold-based hazards) and Fluid Nature. Of these Fluid Nature seems the most useful, just because it's +4 CMD, making him harder to grapple, trip, or otherwise hinder, making him more useful as a tanking oracle.



    1st-level spells on the Oracle list are too situational for the limited spells known, which is kind of difficult because those spells need to be stretched out to as wide a range of scenarios as possible. Summon Monster I can be sneaky if you need an expendable creature to trigger traps, act as bait, or cluster the enemy together for an area-effect spell. Sun Metal can be a handy weapon boost (adds fire damage to your weapon), although I don't see him taking that. Shield of Faith is a dependable +2 AC - armour + shield + shield of faith + barkskin will do a lot to make him a viable front-liner.
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