4E [Adventure] Serpent's Skull: Souls for Smuggler's Shiv (DM: Mewness; Judge: THB) - Page 3
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    [Adventure] Serpent's Skull: Souls for Smuggler's Shiv (DM: Mewness; Judge: THB)

    The Serpent’s Skull, Part One:


    An adventure path for characters starting at level 1

    Starring Our Heroes:

    Noriaki Matsumoto, male human, thaneborn barbarian (Pentius)
    Hú Lí (Black Fox), female (?) fox spirit, cunning bard (BenBrown)
    Takahaan, male dragonborn, bravura warlord (GROMkill)
    Castile, female dwarf, battlerager fighter (Dekana)
    Kane Arcane, male human, shielding swordmage|wizard (jbear)

    Shipwrecked on the Shiv
    Aerys, female half-elf from Bacarte. Very beautiful, but hides it. Has a drinking problem.
    Alkas, male dwarf from Bacarte (used to be a player character).
    The Dartmoor Irregulars, a company of piskies and grigs. (Used to be a player character.)
    Gelik, citified male gnome.
    Jade, a Magari dwarf who was being transported as a prisoner.
    Ishirou, older human male from the Kingdom of Jade. "Adopted" by Noriaki into the House of Storms.
    Pezock, a sentimental kenku who has survived on the Shiv for some time, and has an enchanted rapier named Pearl.
    Sasha, pretty young human female.

    Kovack, captain of the Jenivere
    Ieana, quiet scholarly woman

    Mentioned in Passing
    Itztecolotl, King of Cactizatziliztli
    Ihhuicac, daughter of Itztecolotl who is getting married

    Dead and/or Gone
    Tlacamatli, masked, cadaverous dwarf who recruited the heroes
    Mecatl, one of Tlacamatli's guards
    Nelli, one of Tlacamatli's guards
    Alton, first mate of the Jenivere

    Major Quest: Get safely off the island.

    Minor Quests (one for each NPC): Keep Aerys, Gelik, Ishirou, Jade, and Sasha alive.

    Minor Quest: Find a supply of viper nettle berries to help Aerys kick her drinking habit. COMPLETE!

    Minor Quest: Find the Nightvoice for Gelik.

    Minor Quest: Find the treasure at the end of Ishirou's treasure map. COMPLETE!

    Minor Quest: Find evidence to exonerate Jade. COMPLETE!

    Minor Quest: Help Sasha capture a baby pterosaur. COMPLETE!

    Introduction, Rules, Notes
    Welcome to Souls for Smuggler’s Shiv, my first play-by-post adventure. If you ever have any suggestions as to how I can improve things, I would be happy to have them.

    I’ll be keeping a plot summary updated in one of the spoiler blocks below, and there will be a list of important NPCs above. It can be very hard to remember what’s going on in a PbP game, as combats interrupt the story and can take ages to resolve. So if you can’t remember what the hell is happening, it’s somewhere on this page.

    Posting frequency: Please aim to post once a day if you can (don’t worry too much about weekends, as they are generally slow). If you can post even more frequently, feel free. If a response from you is required, I will wait for two days (with more flexibility if the two days are over a weekend) before NPCing you and moving on (and I will get annoyed if this happens more than a couple of times). Try to keep up a good posting rate even out of combat: remember that no-one can tell the difference between an inactive player and one who is paying close attention but not posting anything. Everyone appreciates responsiveness--a responsive group makes all the difference between a really great adventure and a mediocre one, so I encourage you to find things to say even if your character doesn’t have much to do in the current situation. Posting something like “Bertie quickly gets bored by the conversation, so he goes off a little way and amuses himself by stomping on ants” is perfectly fine. In fact it’s great, because it gives others something to respond to. Anything is an improvement on silence.

    If you will be away for longer than a couple of days, or if your life is getting hectic and you need to slow down, please PM me or warn us in this thread. An unexplained absence of a week or more may lead to my searching for a replacement.

    Die Rollers: My favorite online roller, CoCo, seems to have disappeared. =( Currently I am trying out this die roller, which claims to pull its numbers from Random.org and which, therefore, should actually generate random results. Feel free to use it (but please post all of your rolls for this adventure under the same campaign name). If you're a traditionalist, Invisible Castle and the die roller built into this board are still both reasonable options. Be as specific as you can in the notes you add to your die formula before you roll it--specify what you are doing and to whom, i.e. “twin strike on Nincompoop 5.” “Blazing starfall on B6-D8, catching Cloddenbeadles 1, 3, and 4.”

    Spoiler Blocks: Spoiler blocks with skill requirements will be labeled “active,” “passive,” or sometimes “active or passive.” “Active” means that you must make the check in order to have access to the information within that block; “passive” means that you must have a sufficient passive score (10+skill bonus) in the skill. “Active or passive” means that you can either use your passive score or make a check if your passive score isn’t high enough.

    Incidentally, I have no problem with your reading spoiler blocks that you’re not strictly entitled to, so long as you don’t have your character use the information therein.

    PC Stat Blocks: Please make a summary of your character’s stats and include it in your first post. You should also include it whenever you take a turn in combat, and whenever something happens out of combat that alters your hit points, surges, action points, etc. Here’s a sample stat block.

    Ingvar Goldenhorn Male Minotaur Cleric|Runepriest 1
    Initiative: +0, Passive Perception: 16, Passive Insight: 14, Senses: Normal
    AC:17, Fort:14, Reflex:11, Will:16
    HP:27/27, Bloodied:13, Surge Value:6, Surges left:7/10
    Action Points: 1
    Righteous Brand
    Word of Binding

    Goring Charge
    Divine Glow
    Healing Word
    Rune of Mending
    Second Wind

    Moment of Glory


    Defiant Word: Whenever an enemy misses Goldenhorn with an attack, he gains a +4 (non-cumulative) bonus to damage rolls against that enemy until the end of his next turn.

    Full sheet: Goldenhorn

    Pictures: If you have a picture you’d like me to use to represent your PC in combat, post it somewhere.

    I will be using Mal’s Rules for speedier PbP combat. You can read about Mal’s Rules in the spoiler block below.

    The Malenkirk Conventions
    Mal Malenkirk came up with some house rules for speeding up PbP combat that are now so ubiquitous in L4W that almost nobody actually bothers posting them anymore, which can lead to confusion. Here they are:

    1. The DM rolls initiative for everyone to save time. Only one initiative value is rolled for all of the bad guys.

    2. Any PCs whose initiative beats the bad guys get to act first. They can act in any order they like and their actions are resolved in the order they are posted.

    3. The DM then runs all of the bad guys’ turns together.

    4. All of the PCs (including any who won the initiative before) now get a turn. Play then proceeds with all the bad guys having another turn, then all the PCs, etc. Again, the PCs can act in any order, and their actions are resolved in the order of posting.

    5. Effects that last until the end of someone’s next turn need a special rule, because the changing order of actions could otherwise lead to abuse. Such an effect gives its benefit (or its penalty) to each recipient for one turn only, no matter when that turn occurs in relation to the other recipients or the originator of the effect.

    Example: Suppose that PCs Algie, Bertie, Cecily, Dickie, and Edna act in alphabetical order on round 1. Cecily uses a power that grants herself and all her allies a +1 to attack rolls until the end of her next turn. Dickie and Edna each benefit on round 1, as normal, because they act after Cecily.

    On round 2, the PCs happen to act in reverse alphabetical order. Even though Edna and Dickie act before Cecily, they no longer benefit from Cecily’s effect, because they have already had it for one turn. Cecily benefits from it on her turn, just as she normally would, and Bertie and Algie benefit on their turns, even though their turns take place after Cecily’s is over.

    This rule can be tricky to apply correctly at the beginning, so let me know if you have any questions about it.

    6. To save time, the DM makes enough of the bad guys’ stats available to the players that they can resolve their own attacks and any opportunity attacks that they provoke.

    This rule is frequently ignored; many DMs are simply not comfortable disclosing enemy stats on the first round of a fight, and prefer to reveal them gradually. Unfortunately, that can cause delays (players will wait to see whether the previous attack hit or whether a bad guy is bloodied before deciding what to do). What I’m going to do is to put the stats in individual spoiler blocks, and ask you to look at them only when it is necessary for figuring out what happened on your turn, after you have decided what you’re doing and made the rolls. Don’t look at them at other times. You’re on the honor system.

    7. If any other issues come up, I will play them by ear (with the help of our good Judge).

    Time, Exploration, and Travel on the Shiv
    Here’s some information to help you plan out your days on the island.

    Days are about 14 hours long. Sunrise is at 6 am, sunset is at 8 pm. Low tide occurs at 6 am and 6 pm. High tide occurs at noon and midnight.

    You can take full extended rests while you are in your permanent camp. You can take extended rests in other places as well, but will have to make some checks because of the difficult conditions. If you have enough time and daylight to set up a temporary camp, I’ll call for a group Nature check, success meaning that you can take the extended rest normally. If you don’t have time, or fail the Nature check, I’ll call for individual Endurance checks to determine how bad you’re feeling the next day.

    Your hiking speed along paths and through clear terrain is 2.5 mph. (This is standard for a speed 5 party.) In rough terrain, your hiking speed is halved. The jungle is especially thick, so you travel at one-quarter normal speed through jungle (i.e., only 0.625 mph). This extra-slow rate only applies when you are exploring (breaking a trail); if you retrace your steps through the jungle, you go at 1.25 mph.

    The daily downpour happens somewhere around 5-6 pm. It can last half and hour or more. Traveling in the rain is almost impossible (it slows you down even more and severely hampers your vision) and traveling after the rain is unpleasant, as you are slowed somewhat by the soggy ground.

    The Story So Far
    Tlacamatli, the strange retainer of King Itztecolotl of Cactitzatziliztli, recruits our heroes to participate in a grand games to be held in honor of the marriage of Princess Ihhuicac. The heroes take passage aboard the Jenivere, heading toward the Isle of Opposition, from whence they are to journey through a portal to the Valley of Bone.

    Day 1

    Disaster! The heroes wake up stranded on the notorious island of Smuggler's Shiv, unable to remember what happened, and immediately have to fight off some giant hungry lobster-things. With them are Aerys, Gelik, Ishirou, and Sasha, as well as a dwarf prisoner named Jade, who is accused of stealing from King Itztecolotl, but who claims to be innocent. After examining the other shipwreck survivors, Jade suspects that everyone was poisoned.

    Noticing the wreck of the Jenivere nearby, some of the adventurers climb across the rock face to explore it. They find the bodies of everyone else who was on board, except for Captain Kovack and the scholar Ieana. The crew seem not to have even attempted to escape the ship, and Noriaki notices that the first mate has a deep stab wound in his abdomen--further evidence of poisoning and betrayal. Castile recovers the captain's logbook from his cabin, but it is too blurred to be easily read.

    Meanwhile, the Dartmoor Irregulars observe the flight patterns of the local birds and conclude that there may be fresh water to the southeast. The group sets off in that direction and is attacked by some spiders. Upon defeating them, they find another shipwreck survivor wrapped up in their webs.

    By the time that they have found the stream they were searching for, it has started to rain, and is getting late in the day. They decide to set up camp. During the evening’s discussion, Gelik mentions a ship called the Nightvoice that was lost in the waters around Smuggler’s Shiv decades ago. Jade speculates on the possibility that a man who could prove his innocence might have been shipwrecked on the island as well. Noriaki devotes his time to perusing the logbook, which reveals that Captain Kovack has no gift for poetry at all. More importantly, it reveals that he was so obsessed with the woman Ieana that he neglected his duties and even contemplated killing his own crewmen, should any of them desire her as well. It also hints that Ieana’s true form is different from the appearance she presented. The night is otherwise uneventful save that the Irregulars notice some large creature flying overhead, and Noriaki has a disturbing dream.

    Day 2

    In the morning, Ishirou gives Kane an interesting map (further detail here) and Aerys asks Hú Lí to help her kick her drinking habit. The group decides to travel along the east coast to look for the distinctive rocks shown on Ishirou's map. Before they have gotten very far, they come across a sheltered beach, where they find the remains of a campfire and some discarded clothing--and overcoat and a scarf--that belonged to Kovack and Ieana. This pair's trail is very faint--the rains of the previous afternoon have all but obliterated it--but the adventurers follow them south, eventually coming to a river, where they notice viper nettles growing on the other side and cross over to gather berries. While searching for more they bump into some very aggressive plants and have to fight for their lives, but they do find a large viper nettle patch.

    After gathering berries and having some lunch, the adventurers continue south past the river, following Ieana and Kovack. Later in the afternoon, they find signs that their quarry re-entered the jungle, but they realize they will have to head back to camp if they want to spend the night in relative comfort. Kane marks a tree with his sword to make it easier for them to pick up the trail again.

    Back in camp, they give the viper nettle berries to Aerys, who resolves to stop drinking immediately. They also learn that Sasha has been exploring the north-eastern coast and now has a notion to capture a baby pterosaur and train it.

    The night is uneventful, save for another sighting of the mysterious flying creature, and the disturbing dreams of Castile and Noriaki.

    Day 3

    The party is determined to track Ieana and Kovack down at last. Taking Gelik with them, they retrace their steps to the place where their quarry entered the jungle. Once through the forest, they come across an actual trail--and a trap laid on that trail.

    Unable to tell which direction their quarry took, the group follows the trail northwest. They find more traps along the way, as well as an abandoned campsite whose inhabitants appear to have been murdered--all but one, who exchanged that fate for one possibly worse: she has been transformed into a mindless a plant-creature like those fought on the previous day. Kane decides to kill her out of mercy, and has a vision of the last moments of her life. Continuing to follow the trail, the adventurers find another campsite, whose inhabitants also seem to have met a grisly end. From there they spot some movement in the distance and set off after it. They soon come across a truly immense crab, which at first appears threatening but proves to be only a dead shell that has been rigged up as a giant puppet by Pezock, a mechanically-inclined kenku, who also uses the crab as his house.

    Pezock tells the woeful tale of how his friends were murdered by a tribe of cannibals on the island. Dartmoor asks a bird to take a warning message back to the party's camp, and the adventurers decide that the cannibals must die. That night, they ambush a cannibal war party using a combination of a clever ruse and extreme violence. After this very long day, they rest in Pezock's crab, disturbed only by some unsettling dreams.

    Day 4

    The next day, the group heads back to camp, persuading Pezock to come along. On the way, they pass close to the hill depicted in Ishirou’s map (Pezock having revealed that he is familiar with the location) and are unable to resist the lure of treasure hunting. Pezock leads them to another abandoned camp (where they discover some signs of sinister magic) and on to the bare-topped hill. The Irregulars head back to camp, knowing that Dartmoor will be able to send an animal messenger to the top of the hill should anything untoward occur, and Pezock points out some shipwrecks visible from the hilltop. The group decides to spend the night on the hill, in order to see the sunrise as depicted on the map.

    Day 5

    The sun rises, proving the picture to be amazingly accurate: the adventurers soon locate a spot offering exactly the view depicted and, after spending most of the day digging, uncover a stone shaft. They are immediately attacked by ghouls, but defeat them. Kane is undeterred by the vile-smelling, murky water in the shaft and swims through to recover a box of treasure that includes a beautiful gold Magari calendar disk.

    On the way back to camp, the party comes across the wreck of the Brine Demon and retrieves from it a coffer containing Kinkarian's ledgers, as well as an odd little figurine that turns out to be a magical prison holding a trapped fey beast, which Kane frees. The trip back is otherwise uneventful and the night passes peacefully, apart from a strange dream.

    Day 6

    With Sasha along, the group heads out to try to capture a small bird-reptile. On the way, they discover the corpse of an adult that appears to have fallen out of the sky. When they reach the nest, they find it under attack by other bird-reptiles, seeking to devour the undefended young. They beat them off, managing to save two of the chicks, one of which takes a shine to Noriaki and suffers an abrupt growth spurt as a result of one of the Irregulars’ odd concoctions.

    Leaving Sasha back at the camp, the adventurers decide to explore one of the wrecks, but find it occupied by a hostile presence that they decide is best left undisturbed.

    Continuing to explore the island, they follow the stream south from the nettle patch until they reach the top of the ridge. Climbing down again, they cross the valley and climb another ridge, finding there a winding stream that leads to a waterfall. Traveling upstream, they eventually discover a sinister hut with human bones piled around. As the rain is starting, they venture inside. Nobody seems to live here at the moment, but they find an old journal that seems to have been written by someone on an Allarian-sponsored expedition to establish an outpost on the island. Sadly, the journal is mostly illegible, and after the rain passes, the adventurers return to their companions. With some light left in the day, they move their campsite south, to the ridge overlooking the path.

    Time & Experience Records
    Start Date: May 30th, 2011 (for Black Fox, Castile, Dartmoor, Noriaki, and Takahaan); July 6th, 2011 (for Kane)

    May 30 - June 30 rewards approved here. (Post 361.)
    June 30 - August 30 rewards approved here. (Post 687.)
    August 30 to October 30 rewards approved here. (Post 758.)
    October 30, 2011 to January 30, 2012 rewards approved here. (Post 958.)
    January 30 to March 30 rewards approved here. (Post 1143.)
    March 30 to May 30 rewards approved here. (Post 1343.)
    May 30 to the finish rewards approved here. (Post 1448.)

    Key to the Map
    The black line shows the party's travels. The light green line shows Kane's travels before joining the group. The orange line shows Sasha's travels.

    Current location.
    Party's current camp.
    Party's old camp.
    A: Beach where the lobster-things attacked.
    B: Wreck of the Jenivere.
    C1: Cliffside nests that seem to be inhabited by large, flying, predatory reptiles.
    C2: Joompin spider’s nest.
    D1: Wreck of Kane’s ship.
    D2: A wrecked ship with some sort of hostile, shadowy presence.
    D4: A wrecked ship already explored by Pezock.
    E: Viper nettle patch.
    F: Ieana and Kovack's temporary camp.
    G: Wreck of the Brine Demon.
    H: The blighted caller.
    I1: An old campsite (where the plant-creature was standing).
    I2: Pezock's old campsite, where the cannibals took a thorough drubbing.
    I3: Old campsite (with pentagram and human teeth on wall).
    J: A trap.
    K: The shaft containing the ghouls and the treasure box.
    L: Pezock's crab.
    M: Rolling log trap (an old cannibal ambush site).
    N: Old hut decorated with human bones.
    O: Crossing (available at high tide).
    P: Crossing (only available at low tide).
    T: Cliff with hanging ropes.
    V: The lighthouse.
    Attached Files Attached Files  
    Last edited by Mewness; Tuesday, 25th September, 2012 at 04:55 PM. Reason: This page is edited constantly to keep it up to date.

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