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Pirates of the Caribbean: A Skull & Bones campaign



Following this message are a series of "story hour" type posts from my weekly Skull & Bones campaign.

These accounts contain SPOILERS for the Governor's Prize series of adventures published in Buccaneers & Bokor.

There isn't an account of the first session which was basically an encounter that ended with the death of the Fortune's previous captain, Henry "The Fox" Matthews, and the ship being passed on to Scarlett Butler, one of his trusted crew.

Player characters are:

Captain Scarlett Butler, female sea dog, captain of the Fortune
Rodrigo el Trutamundo del Viento, Spanish buccaneer with a penchant for French whores
Peregrine, upper class twit, fop & lieutenant wannabe (fighter)
Rob, short-sighted teenage boy with some skill at carpentry (rogue)
Merritt True, teenage boy with some skill at surgery (expert)
Area Ketta, oddly named quartermaster
Willam Henry, shipwrecked ranger

Any questions, please ask.


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Session #2

Monday 17th April, 1690 AD, Port Royal, Jamaica

With the Fortune repaired, and replacements hired on to bring the crew back up to full strength, Captain Scarlet Butler and her comrades head out to the Feisty Parrot on Thames Street for a night on the town. Rob decides that this is the right environment to tell everyone about the map he was given by the dying Captain Matthews. Unfortunately, he does this quite loudly, and is overheard by several dodgy characters. When a “lady of the night” tries to steal the map from the captain, Scarlet tries to trip her, fails and falls over. Before long, a bar room brawl breaks out. Rob escapes via the kitchen door and Area runs out the front door, as a few drunken pirates attack the captain and Merrick. After a few rounds of combat, the crew of the Fortune decide to beat a hasty retreat and find somewhere quieter to have a drink.

At the Fish & Chutney, Captain Scarlet assigns roles & responsibilites to her crew: Area Ketta is appointed quartermaster, Rodriguez the Spanish buccanneer is the bosun, Rob is the lookout, and Merrick True, in the absence of a surgeon to be assistant to, is given the job of surgeon. Peregrine is eager to be the lieutenant, but the Captain does not appear to be ready to give him this responsibility just yet.

With everyone clear on their new roles, the pirates proceed to mingle with the patrons of the tavern, trying to find out what the word on the street is. As well as hearing rumours about Maggie the pickpocket, Madame Journeau and Albert de Montblanc, they learn that Governor Haverford is planning to offer a reward tomorrow morning at the Square at Queen’s Street.

Back on the ship, Scarlet and Merrick search the captain’s cabin, looking for clues. They find out that Captain Matthews sailed on the Black Unicorn with “Saucy” Jack Turnbull, Bill “Clever Dick” Richards and Fernando de Posada.

Tuesday 18th April

The pirates dress up in their finest clothes (especially Peregrine) and head down to the Square to hear the governor’s clerk announce that a reward of 8,000 crowns will be paid to whoever salvages the Scarborough, an English merchantman, with its cargo wholly intact. Captain Scarlet signs the clerk’s ledger last: as well as the captains of the Mercury, the Southampton, and the Hornet, the dastardly Spanish pirate Gaspar Castillogrande has also signed the register.

The crew spend the rest of the day trying to find out what happened to the crew of the Scarborough, who its captain was and so on. Rodriguez doesn’t manage to find out anything useful – he is distracted by a beautiful French whore – but the others learn some useful information.

The Fortune makes ready to set sail in the morning.


Session #3

Wednesday 19th April

With a westerly wind blowing, the Fortune sails south to make better time, covering 72 miles. None of the other ships heading for the Scarborough are sighted.

Thursday 20th April

The Fortune changes heading to the southwest to get back on course. Unfortunately, Rob does a poor job as lookout, and the ship runs straight into a reef as she changes heading to the west. It takes three hours to haul the ship off using the boats.

Towards the end of the day, the crew spot a small group of uncharted islands. Could these be the mysterious “Shanty Isles” old Bart had been talking about? If so, they are home to “sea devils”, but also meant to hold a “great treasure”.

The Fortune drops anchor a couple of miles offshore and a landing party composed of Captain Scarlet, Rodrigo and Merritt plus four sailors rows to the shore of the biggest island, crowned with a volcano. As they near the beach, three greenish fish-men attack the boat – sea devils! A fierce battle ensues in which the Fortune’s crew are victorious, but only at the price of the lives of three sailors – one of whom was shot dead by Merritt in his over-enthusiasm.

On the beach, Rodrigo sneaks along the treeline of the jungle towards the bonfire they’d seen burning nearby while the others take cover and try and console “Lazy” Eric, the one surviving crewman. As Rodrigo the stealthy buccaneer sneaks closer, he can see that there about a dozen shipwrecked sailors sitting and standing around the bonfire, roasting pigs. Meanwhile, the others are attacked by two 4’ tall lizardfolk, wearing feathered headdresses and armed with blowguns and obsidian clubs. Fortunately, the captain and Merritt are able to make short work of them, but Scarlet is poisoned by a blow-dart.

When the attack happens, half the shipwrecked sailors run along the beach to investigate. The sailors turn out to be mostly English pirates who served under Captain “Peculiar” Horace on the Rising Eagle. Their spokesman, Samuel, says their vessel was heading from Tortuga to raid Spanish ships off Cartagena when it ran into a big storm a couple of weeks ago and was wrecked on the surrounding reefs. The survivors who managed to escape the sea devils and the sharks have been living on the island ever since, trying to avoid the lizardmen who are based at a big temple in the jungle. One of their shipmates, Pat, was captured a few days ago and has not been seen since.

The Fortune’s crew also learn from Samuel that an old sailor called Saucy Jack can be found slowly drinking himself to death in the bars of Tortuga, and that the Rising Eagle sighted an English merchantman flying the Jolly Roger during the storm that spelt her doom.

With a stirring speech from Captain Scarlet, the shipwrecked pirates agree to join the crew of the Fortune. The bold plan is to plunder the lizardmen’s temple in search of the “great treasure”!


Session #4

Thursday 20th April (contd)

The three dead crewmen are buried on the island (God rest their souls!). After some to-ing and fro-ing between the Fortune and the beach an "away team" is assembled of Captain Scarlet, Rodrigo, Merritt and Rob to head inland in search of the "great treasure", with "Competent" Samuel as a guide. Diego and Felix, two of the crew of the Rising Eagle, are to stand guard on the beach over the ship's boat.

Friday 21st April

With a storm brewing, the expedition sets off into the dense jungle as the rain starts to fall down. After a short while a brightly coloured parrot starts following the crew as they hack their way through the undergrowth. There is much suspicious muttering about "magic parrots". Soon afterwards, the pirates are surprised by an attack from a carnivorous tropical vine which lashes out at the captain, knocking her unconscious. The vicious plant strikes again, killing Samuel, and taking out the plucky Merritt who tries to drag the captain out of trouble. Rob runs and hides up a tree where he is soon joined by two parrots; Rodrigo also makes a tactical withdrawl from the vicinity.

As the plant pulls the lifeless body of Samuel into its foliage and starts devouring him, Merritt comes round and manages to crawl slowly away. Rodrigo shoots one of the suspicious "magic" parrots off its perch, and Rob stabs the other one to death with her dagger. Then, lieutenant-wannabe Peregrine arrives on the scene, having followed the party's rather obvious tracks from the beach. He suggests lassoing the captain and pulling her unconscious body towards the others. His plan works and the pirates' bold leader is draggged back to safety. She soon comes round, but bears a nasty wound from the lashing tendril which is bound to form into a nasty scar.

Giving the dangerous vine a wide berth, the party presses on. With Rodrigo scouting ahead, they soon reach their goal: a ruined Mayan temple surrounded by crude mud huts, standing in the shadow of the volcano. Small lizardfolk and their not-so-small guard lizard can be seen patrolling the village. The pirates decide caution is the better part of valour and sneak around the camp and behind the waterfall, climbing up the side of the pyramid's steps.

Rodrigo climbs onto the temple roof and then jumps down to attack the giant blackscale lizardman inside. The others run in to help, attacking the huge tribal leader and his smaller henchmen. The pirates prevail and it doesn't take them long to find a secret door beneath the altar leading down into darkness.

At the bottom of the stairs, they find a stone door covered with intricately carved pictograms. Unfortunately, the door is trapped and a savage scything blade swings down to injure Rodrigo. Beyond is a 20 ft square room containing a large, stone sarcophagus on a raised dais. The sarcophagus is carved with skull and snake motifs. As soon as Merritt enters the room, the
sarcophagus lid flies off, slamming into him very hard.

There is a screaming sound and dust swirls out of the sarcophagus, forming into a skeletal human figure clad in a feathered headdress and holding a sceptre. The undead monstrosity says something in a foreign language, laughing in a dry throaty voice, before taking a vicious swipe at Merritt, enough to kill him! Then, it dissolves into a column of tomb dust and swirls past the others and up the stairs.

Everyone present gets the feeling that an ancient evil has been unleashed on the world. However, Captain Scarlet is not easily swayed from her purpose, and checks inside the coffin where she is gratified to discover the great treasure has been left behind, including a crystal skull, gold body ornaments, jade masks and a headdress made of exotic feathers.

The pirates make their way back to the ship and are relieved when Merritt comes round. Like the captain, he will bear a hideous scar forever from the day's adventures!


Session #5

Saturday 22nd April

The next morning dawns and the weather is getting worse. Both Captain Scarlet and Merritt are still recovering from their wounds from the previous day.

While examining the treasures found on the volcanic island, the Captain notices a glowing light inside the crystal skull. As she looks closely, peering into it, she sees a moving image: the undead creature the crew released from its tomb on the previous day coalesces from a swirling cloud of tomb dust on the jetty of a Caribbean harbour. It kills a longshoreman with a single savage blow, as panic sweeps through the sailors, workers and merchants nearby. A couple of uniformed guards fire their muskets, but the bullets bounce off to no effect. The hideous figure then heads towards them and breaks both their necks before marching inland, killing everyone in his path and leaving a trail of bodies behind him. The Captain unfortunately freaks out, dropping the skull and running on deck, screaming!

Not long afterwards, the storm hits! Despite the best efforts of the crew, there is quite a bit of damage to the ship’s rigging, and two hands are washed overboard as the ship is blown 100 miles to the southwest.. Plucky Rob is knocked out, but is saved from trouble by the valiant efforts of Peregrine (although his fancy boots aren’t terribly practical on the slippery deck).

Sunday 23rd April

Bart the navigator plots an easterly course to bring the Fortune back on track, and sure enough, at the end of the day, the Scarborough is sighted, but with the Diablo de la Margarita alongside. The crew of the Diablo do not seem to have posted a lookout and the Fortune is able to come quite close before she is sighted. She unleashes a broadside at the Diablo, but the Spaniards are only able to fire back with half of their cannons. Captain Scarlet leads the boarding action, as the cowardly Gaspar Castillogrande retreats below decks. With the Diablo’s crew coming off badly in the fighting, the Spanish pirates surrender when William beheads one of their number with his cutlass. Gaspar also throws down his weapons and surrenders. Captain Scarlet offers the Diablo’s crew a chance to join hers, but shows no such mercy to Gaspar and orders him killed. 18 Spaniards join with the captain; the other six survivors are tied up and taken below decks.

An inventory is taken of the cargo of both of the captured ships.

In the hold of the Scarborough, the crew also find the ship’s logbook, an ornate key, and a female prisoner. She’s been tied up and is somewhat weak from dehydration. She gives her name as Julia Muere, and that says she is from Leogane on Hispaniola. Mrs Muere says that an English pirate named Willows took her prisoner a few weeks back and then traded her to a French pirate, who abandoned the Scarborough and left her here to die. She asks that the crew take her aboard their ship.

Peregrine translates the log book, which is in French and belongs to Albert de Montblanc.


Session #6

Monday 24th April to Friday 28th April

While Merritt (who is still recovering from his own injuries) nurses the mysterious Mrs Muere back to health, Rob and the crew make repairs to the Scarborough, doing enough to get her seaworthy by the end of the week. With a skeleton crew on each vessel, the pirates set sail for Port Royal where their reward awaits!

Monday 1st May

The pirates arrive at Port Royal, Jamaica, and after a heated debate, sail all three vessels into the Governor’s private harbour at White’s Line. The Scarborough’s cargo is left intact, with just the ornate key and Mrs Muere transferred to the Fortune. At the docks, government inspectors spend a couple of hours checking the Scarborough as Captain Scarlet and the others glower at them from the Fortune. Eventually, the clerk who originally hired them declares himself satisfied, and encourages the captain to take the Fortune and the Diablo round to the main harbour. Captain Scarlet is no fool, however, and insists that he two vessels remain anchored offshore at White’s Line while she goes to dinner with the Governor at the Purple Orchid, accompanied by her dashing lieutenant Peregrine. The others remain with the ships.

After the lavish dinner, Governor Haverford produces three bags of “gold crowns” as the pirates’ reward. In fact, the bags contain only worthless silver cobs! The Governor accuses Scarlet of stealing the captain’s private journal from the Scarborough and orders his guards to place them under arrest. Scarlet dives through the window and into the street, closely followed by Peregrine. The guards open fire with their muskets – fortunately, inaccurately – as the two pirates run for their lives through the streets of Port Royal. When they get to White’s Line, Scarlet and Peregrine frantically signal their ships and a boat is sent over to pick them up. While waiting for the boat to arrive, an old black blind man grabs the captain’s arm and tells her, “You have done a very bad t’ing letting him escape from his grave. You should put t’ings right. Go find Madame Laveau on Hispaniola – she will tell you what to do.”

With the captain being rowed back on the Fortune, the Governor’s soldiers arrive on the docks. Merritt orders the crew of the Fortune to open fire with grapeshot which kills eight of them, despite William managing to jam yet another cannon! Captain Scarlet and Peregrine are picked up and the two pirate ships make sail for Tortuga.

Once they are underway, the widow Muere tells the pirates she will give them a necklace of pearls and gold, and also tell them what she knows of the mysterious key if they take her home to St Domingue.


Session #7

Friday 5th May

The Fortune and the Diablo sail into heavy fog, flying French flags. Pass an English schooner, the Breeze, without incident.

Saturday 6th May

Arrive Gonaives, St Domingue, without incident. Merritt and Rodrigo accompany Mrs Muere to her estate to collect their reward while Captain Scarlettt takes care of business in the town, selling the Diablo and some of her cargo, and organising repairs for the Fortune.

At the Muere estate, the widow is horrified to find there has been a robbery, although Merritt and Rodrigo are convinced there is something untoward going on. Mrs Muere is relieved to find her secret cache of jewellery has not been touched so she is able to give the pirates the necklace she promised them. In her jewellery box, she also finds a note from her nephew Christophe (a bit of a black sheep), saying he has gone to Leogane. This worries her as Leogane is the home of a feared crime boss named Soliere. Christophe, she says, used to sail with Albert de Montblanc and knows more about the key found on the Scarborough and the iron chest full of doubloons it opens.

On their return to town, Rodrigo and Merritt meet up with the captain, and spend the evening trying to find out useful information about the Fox’s shipmates and Madame Laveau from the local sugar farmers. They fail. Captain Scarlett divides the plunder: each officer gets 58 doublooons; each crewman gets 29 doubloons.

Sunday 7th May

The Fortune repaired, with a full crew aboard, sets sail for Tortuga.

Tuesday 9th May

The Fortune arrives in Tortuga. Before leaving the ship, Captain Scarlett and Rodrigo decide to have another go at getting their six prisoners from the Diablo to join the Fortune’s crew. With some words from the captain, and some threatening behaviour from Rodrigo, all six sign on and are released on shore leave with the rest of the crew.

Rodrigo introduces the captain and Merritt to his fence contact, Willem Credo – a strangely accented Dutchman with a pet iguana sitting on his shoulder. Scarlett sells him the treasure found on the mysterious volcanic island for 700 doubloons. Meanwhile, Rodrigo gives in to his vice and blows lots of cash on three French prostitutes: Fifi, Gigi and Mimi.

Later, in the Blue Boar tavern, Scarlett and Merritt are confronted by a Spanish pirate (and friend of Gaspar Castillogrande) named Ricardo Montalbano, egged on by four of their former prisoners. A fight erupts, with Merritt making a daredevil dash forward and running the villainous Spaniard through. Unfortunately, Ricardo is not mortally wounded and manages to get in a couple of accurate strikes on the young lad with his rapier. Rodrigo who has been canoodling with his Gallic whores in the corner joins in the fray and the men of the Fortune win the day.

While the fight was in progress, an old man with an eyepatch and a peg-leg, sitting at a table near the door, had been laughing and cackling loudly to himself. This turns out to be Saucy Jack, a former shipmate of Henry “the Fox” Matthews. He gives Scarlett the pirate name “Bloody Mary Flint” and proceeds to ask for 1,000 doubloons for his piece of the treasure map leading to Black Bellamy’s hoard. Scarlett and Rodrigo try and negotiate, offering him a chance to sail on the Fortune in search of the treasure, and manage to beat the old man’s price down to 700 doubloons. Merritt is feeling a bit too faint to take much part in the discussions but tries to help as best he can. In the end, Captain Scarlett is unwilling to pay the asking price and Saucy Jack leaves the pub. The stealthy buccanneer Rodrigo follows him but isn’t stealthy enough: Jack spots him and shoots him twice, before hobbling up to him and taking a swipe with his cutlass. Badly wounded, Rodrigo gets the message and withdraws.

Realising that there is no other option, Scarlett and Merritt knock on Jack’s door. He invites them in to his shack and sells them the map for 650 doubloons, as well as telling them where they might track down the other two shipmates (and pieces of the map).


Session #8

Tuesday 9th May [contd]

Merritt and Rodrigo ask around the taverns of Tortuga, trying to find out where Hell’s Cove is. In the end, they give up and ask Bart who tells them it’s marked on his sea charts.

Wednesday 10th May

After much debate among the crew, the Fortune sets sail for Leogane.

Friday 12th May

Arrive in Leogane. Merritt and Rodrigo head for the raucous Gens Plaisants d’Orleans tavern where they try to find out more about Christophe Muere, Soliere and Madame Laveau, and Rodrigo is yet again tempted by the gorgeous French prostitutes. The two pirates manage to find out roughly where Madame Laveau lives (in a hut on stilts in a swamp that no one has ever returned from) and where to find Soliere (in the hotel Ville du Sucre Bienfaisant). After a while, a couple of men approach, saying they work for Soliere and that the crime boss would like to meet them at a nearby naval supply shop called the Marchand de Gruyere.

Merritt and Rodrigo decide to take Peregrine, Rob and three more of the crew along with them to the meeting. Inside the waterfront store, the pirates are confronted by Grodin (Soliere’s assistant) and a dozen men with muskets who accuse them of working for Albert de Montblanc. Peregrine produces a note from Mrs Muere and another from Christophe – enough to convince Grodin that the men of the Fortune are on the level. He agrees to take the party to Soliere without chaining them up.

Grodin escorts the crew to the Ville du Sucre Bienfaisant. Leaving their weapons outside with their men, Merritt, Rodrigo, Peregrine and Rob are shown into a ballroom where a party is in progress. The bearded Soliere approaches, challenging the pirates to prove they are not with Soliere by “eliminating” six captives who work for Montblanc. He instructs his men to issue both sides with cutlasse and rapiers.

Rodrigo is quickest off the mark, lunging for one of Montblanc’s men before Soliere has finished speaking. Peregrine swishes his sword around in a dazzling display of swordsmanship which serves to demoralise the party’s opponents as battle is joined. Merritt makes one of his trademark reckless charges while Rob leaps up to take refuge in a chandelier, before swinging over to the next one and cutting the rope to drop into the melee. Rodrigo, meanwhile, is fighting his opponents while straddling a French whore. Deciding the battle is too simple as things stand, he complicates the situation by stabbing one of the pirate spectators.

As the fight wears on, the men of the Fortune start to get the better of Montblanc’s lackeys: Peregrine manages to disarm one of them (twice) and Rodrigo takes down four opponents. While this is going on, Rob, who has tried and failed to start a fire, hides behind the curtains and picks a couple of pockets. Unfortunately, Merritt is not so lucky and is run through by a French pirate when his hiding place under a table is discovered. The young lad collapses unconscious.

With all of the French pirates defeated, Soliere applauds the party, giving them a bag of 500 doubloons for the “entertainment”. He also allows them to speak with Christophe Muere who had been watching the battle with interest. Christophe tells them about “Bullhead”, Montblanc, the Governor of Jamaica, the chest and the key.


Unlucky Session #13

It gets worse: if we were playing straight D&D, it would have been a TPK.

Lesson learned: a CR 4 monster (displacer beast) vs four 3rd-level characters is much tougher if they don't have magic and aren't wearing armour.


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