• COMING SOON! -- Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition! Level up your 5E game! The standalone advanced 5E tabletop RPG adds depth and diversity to the game you love!
log in or register to remove this ad

 

Pathfinder 2E Skull & Shackles (2E Conversion), solo campaign

Owlbrarian

The Librarian is Here
I had a reason that I had Quinn and Fishguts both be poisoned though I don't honestly remember why at this point. It is kind of funny that it sometimes feels like this game started "so long ago" but it was in May when we started it. I guess it has more to do with us being on book 3 of the adventure path at the moment!

When I was planning for the big fight with Mr. Plugg and Master Scourge I had originally thought that the party was going to have more allies on their side so I kept the Rahadoumi as something of a backup. I wanted the final fight to be memorable one way or another.

Acid Arrow became something of a meme in this game because of how little damage the spell itself did but how devastating the persistent acid damage is. This is the start of the “tradition” as far as that spell goes.

All in all not much was really changed for this part of the adventure.


Review

So while it might be a bit silly to review or rate something that is almost 8 years old, I thought I would go ahead and give a brief review of the book from the perspective of running it. So overall I am pretty happy with this adventure. I feel like there is a lot of good stuff in here though like most Paizo adventures there are always minor things that I miss in my reading.

Stuff like the Rum Rations being silly, to motivations being unrealistic (or at least not being accurately portrayed) within the fiction does detract. The same problems with the start of the Out of the Abyss adventure happens here where there are a large number of NPCs. However I think just like Out of the Abyss it is very rewarding to go to the process of detailing the NPC sailors.

Later as the party gets more they don’t care as much about it, but these first few are pretty special. For example Narwhal has the special distinction of being the only sailor on board to have stabbed Mirielle. As far as the conversion goes this one doesn’t have too many hard conversions that are needed. Here are the NPC’s that needed to be converted and what I used:
  • Wormwood Pirates. (Dockhand) I just changed the fist into a cutlass.
  • Master Scourge. (Bosun) Not much to say here I described him using a whip though I didn't change his stats.
  • Rahadoumi Sailors. (Dockhand) I mostly ignored their dockhand abilities just gave them whatever weapons they used in the module.
  • Rahadoumi Officer. (Bosun) She has a magic item that I had to convert over but nothing too crazy.
  • Vine Chokers. (These are just Chokers but with vines, another monster in the Bestiary 2)
  • Devilfish. This was the first monster I did an entire conversion for that isn't in the Bestiary 2. Thankfully making monsters is pretty easy in PF2. Really he only had one or two abilities I had to completely convert over. If I was going to convert it now there is a decent stand-in from the Bestiary 2 (because of course there is) the Reef Octopus. Just slap on the Elite template and you are pretty good to go.
  • The Brinebrood Queen. With this one I just used a Grindylow and gave her spells. Though she ended up dying pretty quickly.
  • The Whale (Elite Grindylow)
  • Master Plugg (Weak Captain). I had to stat out his sword which was easy enough really was just in effect a 1/day Hydraulic Push attached to a sword. I will warn you that +2 Level (when compared to the party) creatures can be rough at low levels though not impossible.
If you do want to convert this thank your lucky stars you are doing this after the Bestiary 2 came out. Giant Frogs for example are in there along with Mosquito Swarms, Giant Crabs, and Grindylow. I honestly hate converting things over because I feel like it is a huge waste of time to build something to only use it once so I almost always try to take shortcuts when I can.

Also while you could buy the Bestiary 2 (which I recommend, it is a great book) all of the monsters are on Archives of Nethys along with the NPCs from the Gamemastery Guide.

The extra sections in the back of the module are pretty good as well. In this issue it was an overview of Besmara along with an explanation of Plunder and the Infamy system. Ultimately I revamped the Infamy system because Crys never used any of the Impositions and I read elsewhere that this is a common occurrence for players. We will see (I did this recently) if my changes helped. I haven’t read the short story at the end of this book in detail so I have no opinion on that.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆ (Great)
Conversion Difficulty: ★★☆☆☆ (Not too bad with Bestiary 2) ★★★☆☆ (Some work without Bestiary 2)
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Crys

daydreamer and poet
A Brief Review

Since Owlbrarian gave you his thoughts as a GM I figured I'd give mine from the player's perspective. Had I gone into this blindly and built my typical characters there would have been a good chance of at least some of them not surviving. Player Characters routinely get keel-hauled by GMs from what I've read of the early adventures.. After all, you are playing a game where you typically set out to be a hero, so when all your stuff gets taken and you're forced to work and you're being punished with whipping and time in a sweat box and other miserable tasks by people that are constantly giving you trouble you're very likely to try to steal your equipment back (punishment: keel hauling) or attack an officer (punishment: keel hauling) or any number of other things. So, I'm glad that I came into knowing it started out rough and that my characters needed to be at least somewhat adaptive to get through. Sure, Revel still had to get beaten up to realize she wasn't going to win with brute force on day one, but it all worked out.

Aside from that, I really enjoyed this adventure. I didn't feel at a loss for where to go or what to do and the plot seemed decently well-connected.

Now I'm going to get on with the posts, but since Session 6 was rather short, I'm posting both 6 and 7 today. :)




Spoiler Warning: Many spoilers for the Skull & Shackles adventure path are contained within these story recap posts. If you don’t want your campaign spoiled, don’t read these!




Session 6 – Making Their Own Way

The longboat reached the ship in no time at all. They dragged the unconscious Master Scourge aboard. The longboat was carried aboard as well. Dolce, Mirielle, Revel, and Nasha were greeted with cheering by the crew, and soon a party was afoot. They tied Scourge to the mast, as so many of them had been tied over the years, and celebrated the success of their mutiny.. If it could be called that. Loyalty to a captain was one of Besmara’s chief teachings, but there was nothing in her code about how to treat a captain that was as incompetent as Plugg… Or, for that matter, how to treat one who let a man as incompetent as Plugg run his ship ragged.

As far as Dolce was concerned, neither Mr. Plugg nor Captain Barnabus Harrigan were owed any loyalty from those who remained of this crew. Judging by the celebratory atmosphere, she wasn’t alone in this sentiment.

When the celebration died down a new conversation began. What would follow? The elf listened as people threw out suggestions, it seemed most had it in their heads that she would make a good captain. They were right, of course, but she had other plans. Before a vote could be cast, Dolce launched into a speech.

“What does tomorrow hold? Captain Harrigan’s bound to notice we aren’t waiting in Port Peril when he goes to collect his due, my friends. Rickety’s Squibs is still in our future. We can’t afford for him to recognize our ship in the distance, nor any friends of the Rahadoumi we took it from! But to get to Rickety’s Squibs, we need a new captain!” She let them voice their agreement before throwing her arm wide and pointing at Mirielle. “That’s the captain we need!”

She didn’t give them, or Mirielle who was looking like a man staring at his noose, a chance to break in. “We all bet against this one, didn’t we? I gave her four days! What did you bet? I heard Fishguts gave her a week, and Narwhale here figured on two nights!”

There was laughter and agreement, then a small voice broke out and said, “I bet she’d make it! And I made out good, too!” It was Jack Scrimshaw, the youngest member of the crew and Nasha’s close friend.

Dolce smiled broadly, “See? Jack knew what the rest of us didn’t! He bet on her! And he was right! Not only has she soothed our ails while we were overworked by Mr. Plugg and Master Scourge, she helped us save Fishguts and Quinn! She was born on the sea, lads! Besmara’s blessed her, and she’s a mind for sailing even if she can’t climb the rigging!” More laughter, but murmured agreements.

It was Dolce’s passion as much as her words that won them over, but no small part was the affection Mirielle had gained from those members of the crew she had spoken with. Narwhale was among the loudest to voice support for her, and before Mirielle could protest she was being raised up on the pirate’s shoulders to shouts of “Let’s hear it for Captain Mirielle!”

Dolce just watched and smiled. The rest, she knew, would be longer and more tedious. They’d need to draw up ship’s articles and vote on the other officers. She was pretty sure she knew who would be winning which positions.

The articles were sorted out relatively quickly, but wouldn’t be officially posted until they’d renamed the ship. Something Mirielle had time to think about. They covered all the normal matters such as how many shares each member of the crew would receive when they took plunder and consequences for various infractions. They also covered compensations not normally considered in the Shackles. Extra shares for injury sustained in an engagement as well as a prize to the first person to sight a sail. Dolce could see Mirielle’s hand in those aspects of the articles.

Officers were voted for. Dolce managed to get herself named First Mate; a position not normally present on a pirate crew, but one that would allow her both flexibility and authority. Rosie was temporarily named Bosun, Revel was voted Master-at-Arms, Quinn was named Cartographer/Surgeon, Ambrose kept his post as Cook, Conchobar was named Master Gunner, and Cog was voted Quartermaster (mainly because putting a known thief in charge of keeping things safe seemed logical to Mirielle). Jack Scrimshaw found himself promoted to Cabin Boy, earning him a larger share than what he’d had as a swab. Nasha was content to remain a Mate and help out with rigging where she was needed.

Dolce, while titled First Mate, really did a bit of everything. She shored up Rosie’s weaknesses as Bosun, helped Conch learn about the ballista, and served as the Ship’s only offensive mage, since Quinn and Mirielle’s talents were primarily of the healing persuasion.

With their new officers decided and their articles written they took one more survey of the ship’s supplies and the possessions of the defeated crew members and set off for Rickety’s Squibs.




Just Rewards

They were two days’ travel from Rickety’s Squibs, and on the first day of it around midday Dolce got the crew assembled on the deck. Master Scourge had been tied to the mast over night, but his wounds were well tended so he would be fresh for her plans. “Today we take care of something I think we can all agree has been a long time coming. I present to you, Master Scourge, responsible for setting crewmen against one another when he should have been keeping order and making sure our jobs were performed well. I propose it is fair today for each person who feels they have been wrongly targeted or disciplined by this malicious cur to give a lash to him.”

The crew were quite enthusiastic at this proposal, and Mirielle, who had little love for the idea of needless suffering, went along with it. She knew what the man was capable of and had been the target of his abusive plots and schemes on more than one occasion.

To Dolce, Scourge was the heart of the cancer in Harrigan’s crew. She still blamed Harrigan for turning a blind eye as the cancer festered. Mirielle lashed him first, because if she hadn’t the rest might have found fault with her, but Dolce could see her heart wasn’t in it. She wondered who else would be able to see through the aasimar’s bluff.

Every member of the crew followed. Right down to little Jack Scrimshaw. Nineteen lashes it was in total, for only nineteen of the crew remained including the four girls. And the lashing took a while, for every time Scourge passed out from the strikes Dolce had them stop long enough to treat the wounds. She made sure he was awake as every lash fell. It seemed appropriate he should be since all of them had been.

When they finished with that they had already prepared the rope for the keelhauling. Besmara’s justice, Dolce considered this, whereas the lashes were for the crew. They took their time with Scourge’s keelhauling. And when the deed was finished he was already likely long dead.

Dolce considered that chapter of her life behind her and looked to the future.




Brighter… Hotter days

Their passage to Rickety’s Squibs was quick enough, but Dolce still capitalized on the time, penning not one, but two songs about the encounters with the grindylow. She tested them out on the crew, mixing them in between songs she'd been singing for years and not telling them she'd written them. Of course, they realized soon enough when they heard what it was the elf was singing....

Monsters Aboard!

The storm roared around us while the winds whipped our sails
And the waters raged and roiled
The bosun’s voice found us above all the gales
And his cat ensured we toiled

As the wood splintered from a yardarm high above
The ship began to list
In the dark stormy seas we were all thinking of
The things we all had missed

Some of thought of women, some thought of wealth
Some thought of family too
And all I can tell you, is that for myself…
I had too much left to do

So down we went, down below the deck
And the boat was rocking as though to break our neck
As if it weren’t enough to be caught up in the storm
There were monsters in the hold’s dark form!

Three, five, soon we counted eight
Pairs of red eyes, glowing in the night
Spears held as they lied in wait
Making ready there to fight

And down we went, down into the hold
And the boat kept on tilting as though she soon would roll
Still we drew our weapons to our hands
And we fought as our life demands!

One, two, three and four they fell
Hearts pierced, oh we slew them well!
And soon they saw they didn’t stand a chance
We were the better at this fatal dance!

The grindylow chittered as it ran away
Waves still crashing on the hull
We didn’t linger, there was no time to stay
We took the yard to make her whole!

The ship she was moaning and she listed further yet
As the winds still howled and whined
We were soon groaning, our bodies slick with sweat
But the yardarm did we bind!​

The song drew much applause in the early morning on the tails of halyard shanty and tiring rigging labor. The second she sang in the evening, when everyone was relaxing from the hard day's work.

Taking Back What’s Ours

Two of our crew were stolen
Amidst a terrible storm
Two of our crew were taken from us
By the vile grindylow swarm

Below, below with the grindylow…
Below, they go, so far below
Let this not be a tale of woe
For the crew taken by the grindylow…

They used leaves of primal spellwork
To let our crewmen breathe the sea
Water embraced them in the murk
As they hurried away with glee

Below, below with the grindylow…
Below, they go, so far below
Let this not be a tale of woe
For the crew taken by the grindylow…

Most swiftly did we follow
To the caves of the isles near
And in their deepest hollow
Were our crewmen chained in fear

Below, below with the grindylow…
Below, they go, so far below
Let this not be a tale of woe
For the crew taken by the grindylow…

We took them while the tide was out
We fought them tooth and nail
And from their wounds their blood did spout
As we claimed our crewmen pale

Below, below with the grindylow…
Below, did they go, so far below
Perhaps this is a tale of woe
For no more do they live, the grindylow…​


Again, she was met with resounding applause. A good start, she decided, for the shantyman of this unnamed vessel. The songs would do well when they made port.... And make port, they soon did. They found the island in a sorry state, at least as far as water went. They were suffering from an extended drought and the heat was sweltering ashore. Still, they were received well and Squibs seemed quite keen on helping them get underway. Five days, he said, was all it would take to have the ship ready. What’s more, Mirielle had used her charms to get them quite a discount, as well as a higher rate for Plugg’s share of the take from The Man’s Promise.

Things were definitely looking up, so long as the girls could keep out of the sweltering heat.




Session 7 – A Business Investment

Rickety was quite polite to Mirielle and her crew, allowing them the use of a building they called “the commons” while their ship was dry-docked for him and his men to work on the rigging. Everyone was ready to catch a breath after their hard work under Mr. Plugg and their hellish experience on the uncharted island.

Soon enough Dolce’s stories and songs about their accomplishments to date were taking hold with the people at Rickety’s Squibs, and Mirielle capitalized on it to recruit some new crew. A crop of halflings and humans. She suspected their eagerness to leave the hot, humid, drought-ridden territory had as much to do with their joining up as her charm.

There was an incident while they were in residence. Some sailors, one of them future crew for Mirielle’s ship, invited Dolce, Mirielle, Revel, and Nasha to go drinking with them. They’d been impressed with Dolce’s tales and Revel’s relentless willingness to arm wrestle anyone.

They’d had the alcohol cooling in the water, but as one of the sailors was pulling up the line they’d lowered it on it whipped suddenly in either direction and he was pulled overboard. The four girls rushed forward to see what was going on and saw a female serpentine creature with a human-like face down below.

Revel leapt to action without delay, plunging overboard and swimming toward the two. She was too slow to really get between the creature and the man she’d pulled overboard, but Nasha was quick on her heels, and she made swimming look effortless.

Mirielle watched from the ship’s deck, ready to use her healing if it became necessary. “What is that?” she asked.

The creature took offense to Nasha getting close and struck out at her. Her attacks were haphazard, and she seemed very off-kilter, but one still found purchase and Nasha grunted as her scales were torn, but didn’t yield her position.

Dolce heard Mirielle’s question, but was too concerned for her friend and threw an Acid Arrow at the creature rather than answering Mirielle. The arrow struck true, but again, was far less effective than she’d hoped it would be.

Revel got close enough to strike now, her fangs sharp and gleaming. She bit the thing hard and tore off some of its flesh.

Mirielle’s healing energy reached out for Nasha, mending her wounds. That was when the other sailor’s cries pierced Dolce’s focus on the combat. “What’d you do to piss of the Water Naga, Jake?”

The shaken sailor stammered, “I-I don’t know.. It was just going crazy!” He was swimming toward the shore, taking advantage of the distraction Revel and Nasha had provided.

Dolce scowled, that was indeed a water naga now that she put her mind to it, but one that wasn’t even grown. It was an adolescent. And.. Hadn’t Rickety said he had a tenuous peace with the creatures? He was allowed to remain here because he didn’t cause them any trouble like the previous inhabitants of this area had. How would they take to one of their young being killed?

The elf sighed and muttered, “This just got complicated.” The naga was suffering from dehydration, best as she could guess. Probably it was attacking because it was delirious and crazed by its thirst. “DON’T KILL IT!” She cried to Revel and Nasha, hoping her Acid Arrow‘s lingering effects wouldn’t do the job itself. Probably not, but there was a chance. Still, she threw her rapier at the creature with Hand of the Apprentice to try and aid them in taking it down, because the naga certainly wasn’t pulling her punches.

This was proven further true when she bit into Nasha, and this time Dolce saw Nasha pale. The elf looked at Mirielle and said, “They have a powerful poison. Can you do any-” Mirielle was already shaking her head to indicate she couldn't..

The fight continued, though the toll it took on Nasha became clearer with each sluggish attack she made. The combat was prolonged by the creature’s use of Invisibility. Nasha’s scales were growing paler and her blood was flowing pretty freely before the creature had finally been bludgeoned into unconsciousness.

Thankfully Rickety had arrived and had brought his companion, Chandra with him. She, as it turned out, was able to rid Nasha of the poison. A good thing, too, for the lizardfolk didn’t seem capable of shaking it off on her own merit.




Side Quests

They had dragged the naga into a building and there helped it recover with water from their own ship’s stores. Rickety really didn’t have any to spare, and he’d informed them as much when they’d arrived. Her name was Selissa, and she was, indeed, quite dehydrated. She apologized profusely for the harms she’d inflicted on Nasha in her disoriented state, and explained that she had been following a legend.

Legend had it there was a temple nearby where once, in ages past, the priests kept a precious item… A Decanter of Endless Water. The legend was from many generations before Selissa herself, but she had hoped to save her tribe of water naga by retrieving the decanter. Of course, she’d gotten lost and disoriented and had ended up here.

Dolce sensed an opportunity. This drought was effecting not only the naga, but Rickety’s Squibs as well. Their relationship allowed him to keep his operation running, and the people responsible for making that relationship better by providing such an item to them to share between them would surely find this a hospitable port in the future.

She convinced the girls to look into it, and they in turn convinced the naga to stay and allow them to escort her back in the morning when she had recovered further.

Dolce, quick as ever to take advantage of a fresh story, scribbled another song and sang it for the inhabitants of Rickety's Squibs that very night with the assistance of Revel... It was fashioned as a halyard shanty, so ultimately it would be used as a work song on the boat and the crew would have to sing certain lines in response to Dolce's... Revel was a quick enough study and very fond of the work songs employed aboard the ship so she was happy to perform with Dolce, if a bit drunk. Dolce had modified the pronunciation of the naga's name, but even Revel didn't notice that as she sang to the inhabitants of the commons.

The Story of Se’lisa

Dolce: Let— me— tell you the story of sweet Se’lisa
Sweet Se’lisa down by the sea
Let me tell you the story of sweet Se’lisa
She was wearing a smile for me

Revel: Way-hey tell us the story,
How did you find her
Down by the sea?

Way-hey tell us the story,
How did you find her
Down by the sea?

Dolce: She met me there when we were a’drinking
We were a’drinking down by the sea
She met me there when we were a’drinking
And she smiled so sweetly at me

Revel: Way-hey tell us the story,
What did she bring you
Down by the sea?

Way-hey, tell us the story,
What did she bring you
Down by the sea?

Dolce: She brought to me her charm and whimsy
Charm and whimsy just for me
She brought to me her charm and whimsy
Charm and whimsy and death in the sea

Revel: Way-hey, tell us the story,
How did she bring you
Death in the sea?

Way-hey, tell us the story,
How did she bring you
Death in the sea

Dolce: My sweet Se’lisa, she was a biter
She was a biter with poisonous fang
My sweet Se’lisa, she was a biter
She almost killed me and left me to hang

Revel: Way-hey, tell us the story,
Why did she bite you,
Down by the sea?

Way-hey tell us the story,
Why did she bite you
Down by the sea?

Dolce: Se’lisa was a water naga,
Water naga caught in a drought
Se’lisa was a water naga
Not in her right mind when we had our bout

Revel: Way-hey, tell us the story,
How did you beat her,
Down by the sea?

Way-hey tell us the story,
How did you beat her,
Down by the sea?

Dolce: We fought her til she fell unconscious
Fell unconscious there in the sea
We fought her til she fell unconscious
And that’s how this story came to be…​

The performance was met with applause and a fair share of joking, the latter directed at the poor pirate who'd been pulled overboard by Selissa earlier in the day. Dolce was satisfied with this and added it to her repertoire for future use.

In the morning, they escorted Selissa home and the naga of her tribe informed the girls that this legend was indeed from their forebears and that they did not know how much truth there was to it. They did, however, tell them where they could find the temple and warned them of a perilous trap within.

The four set off for the temple the same day and made it before nightfall. Large, angular stairs led up to the top of it, and a smaller set of stairs had been carved in it more recently. Dolce explained that the temple had likely been built by the Ghol-gan, cyclopses, and was later inhabited by the Kuru, or native peoples of this region.

At the top of the stairs they removed two large stone slabs from the ground to allow them entry. Inside they saw more stairs, now leading down. And deep in the bottom, the trap they’d been warned about. It was a wheel with six symbols on it, each supposedly linked to the power of a spell. Dolce hoped she’d have the skill to disable it. Otherwise she might join the many skeletons littering the ground around it or near the bottom of the stairs. She instructed the others to remain above as she crept down the stairwell carefully.

She saw no glyphs or markings on her way down, but when she was at a certain point the wheel began to spin. Dolce cursed under her breath and took cover in a deep corner of the stairwell, hoping whatever spell effect followed would be disrupted or at least mitigated by the cover it provided her.
To her dismay when the spinning stopped the spell shot high above her and seemed to reflect off a shimmering field and aim back down toward her. It was unerring, striking her, and she could feel its magic at work as her strength was leeched. But maybe it would provider her an opportunity to get closer…

No sooner had she finished the thought than the wheel began spinning again. Dolce cursed again and fled up the stairs. She made it fifty feet up, past where the lowest skeleton was, and the magic fired off again. It hit the shimmering “mirror” effect and tried to reach her, but seemed to fizzle before it did so. She stood there and watched as the spinning continued and each spell fizzled in turn, including what she was pretty certain was a Lightning Bolt.
It had stopped spinning, but there was no telling for how long. She suspected scratching the symbols might well break the wheel’s magical effects, but… Again, there was no telling how long she’d have to attempt it. Better to tackle this with brute force. She peered up at her friends and felt she was right. At the height they’d be at there would be plenty of momentum for anything they threw below.

Dolce returned to the top of the stairs and told the others what needed to be done. They started with two stone slabs that had kept the place sealed, sending them hurtling below. Neither directly hit their mark, but there were plenty of other rocks and bits of rubble on the ancient temple. They spent hours hurtling rocks down below, and eventually Dolce saw the whole of the ground was littered with stones.

It was an amusing sight, but also a reminder that she should probably invest more time in her efforts where traps were concerned. For that day they headed back to Rickety’s Squibs. The temple hadn’t been successfully infiltrated in years and no one knew what the girls were up to, chances were it wouldn’t be infiltrated that night.




Best Laid Plans

The next day proved eventful, and Dolce’s intent to return to the temple was delayed. First Rickety’s was swarmed by giant wasps, some men killed and carried off by them. Nasha was quick on the draw and saved one woman’s life by throwing a smoke stick at her to ward the wasp attacking her away. The ploy worked and she ran to shelter, her and her lover thanking Nasha profusely when they were reunited.

As the chaos of the wasp attack settled a new problem arose. At the docks was a ship, a Chelaxian warship. It was a beauty, so Rickety said before handing a spyglass to Dolce. Mirielle was asking what the protocol was for multiple ships being in harbor at once. Rickety said it normally didn’t happen and it came down to what Mirielle decided.

“Looks like Cap’n Pegsworthy’s got himself a new ship,” Dolce said, recognizing the famed pirate captain on the docks. He was one of the pirates she’d looked up to in recent years. He lost his leg in service to his nation’s military in an incident that also claimed the life of his best friend. The military then tried to take sailing from him, telling him he was not fit to captain and giving him the nickname Pegsworthy.

Pegsworthy took the name as his own and stole a ship in the night with his loyal crewmen, leaving the crew that had been aboard to guard it tied up on the docks, alive. He made his career since then pirating in the Shackles and was a recognized Free Captain. Dolce relayed all of this to Mirielle, since ultimately Mirielle was her captain now.

The four girls went out to meet Pegsworthy, Mirielle leading them even though he remained behind his crew on the dock. There was tension at first as Pegsworthy revealed he recognized their ship to be a Rahadoumi merchant vessel matching a description given by Captain Harrigan, but soon enough Pegsworthy revealed he hated Harrigan and just wanted to know the names of the ones who stole the man’s ship from under him.

It was ultimately Dolce who spent the most time with Captain Pegsworthy, but not before the girls agreed to check on the state of Rickety’s sentry at the tower for a discount on their squib. They found the man dead, his parrot Rotgut repeating the phrase “Shoo fly!”

They took his body back, as well as the parrot, whom Dolce gave to Fishguts since she knew he had a fondness for birds. He had owned a pet chicken before Mr. Plugg had made him serve it to him for dinner on The Man’s Promise. Thoughts like that made sure Dolce never regretted her past where they were concerned. Turned out though, Fishguts specifically liked chickens, not birds. He did agree to take care of Rotgut until a happier keeper could be found for him.

The girls returned to the temple the following day where they found the rubble they had rained down on the trap hadn’t managed to disable it. They only realized this when it started spinning. Dolce sprinted down the stairs this time, hoping she could get to it fast enough to disable it before any of her friends were injured, Revel close on her heels.

Nasha, meanwhile, immediately took hold of Mirielle and covered her, trying to shield her from any hostile spells. In the end Dolce was too slow to even reach it before a spell went off, but the heavy layer of rubble was enough that it obscured the spell’s path. The elf stopped, laughing nervously. Another spell, and another. They couldn’t fly free so they were in effect hitting the rocks piled atop the wheel.

The girls moved inside at that point, not wanting to give the wheel enough time to shake too much of the rubble loose or to destroy it. They followed a long corridor within, at the end of which was a massive pile of skulls. “Ominous,” Dolce whispered. They could hear movement beyond.

Slowly and carefully the elf climbed over the skulls, each completely clean of any tissue. It was tricky climbing this without sending any clattering. In fact, her hand knocked one loose, but she managed to catch it between her knee and the skull pile before it made much noise.

When she crested the morbid obstacle she saw within a cyclops… Except it wasn’t just a cyclops. The creature was half-rotted, zombified. It walked circles around an altar at the center of the room. Inside the room, Dolce saw various other treasures including a satchel on the floor.

After observing the creature a while longer the elf descended the skull pile and whispered to the others to tell them what she’d seen. It was decided they would ambush the creature and so they all began to scale the pile again.

This time it was Revel that knocked a skull lose, only she did it quite spectacularly, causing a great cacophony of noise as it and others cascaded down the pile and clattered on the stone floors. A great and horrible roar reached their ears and the sound of the massive cyclops charging toward the passage. Dolce looked at Revel, who smiled sheepishly and shrugged her shoulders.

“Right then,” Dolce said, “let’s let it dig its way out. Nasha, Revel, you’ll be on either side of the hall. Mirielle and I will stay back apace so she’s not threatened.” Nasha, Revel, and Mirielle all nodded, taking their places. They would pincer the thing as soon as it got through the skulls. Mirielle moved further up the hall and cast a Bless spell, using the time it took the creature to dig through the skull pile to further the area effected by her magic.
The battle was ferocious, and Revel nearly got knocked unconscious, but they managed to overcome it by exhausting almost all of Mirielle’s spells and Dolce’s. Searching the room with the alter they collected various treasures, including the satchel. It hadn’t been harmed by time at all, making Dolce suspicious it was magical. She was correct, it proved to be a Bag of Holding. Within it… the prized decanter.

The girls returned to Rickety’s Squibs sweaty and exhausted, but with much treasure to show for their efforts. Mirielle made the gift to Rickety mentioning she hoped it would ease his relations with the naga and describing it as an investment in their future business together. Rickety was quite impressed, as was Captain Pegsworthy. The girls enjoyed a good night of drinking and games, for in the morning the good Free Captain would be christening their ship anew.




OOC Notes

That was another 5 damage on the initial Acid Arrow dice. So, just for your reference, 5 versus the grindylow queen, 4 versus Mr. Plugg, and 5 versus the Water Naga... On 3d8!!! I'm beginning to wonder if Owlbrarian has jinxed my dice or something.

So... These two posts were written while I was trying to summarize more succinctly than I do in later posts. I had convinced myself I would do a brief retelling of events that were already behind us until I caught up to our current game (which I did yesterday when I finished writing Session 24). Anyway, there was a little moment I left out as a result:
• When Pegsworthy revealed he hated their former captain he also made the comment that, "You know it's good luck to have either a Free Captain or a lady of noble heritage in good standing christen your ship. Since those are relatively rare in the Shackles I'd be honored to do the task for you." Mirielle made a decent deception check, but Pegsworthy saw through it and Dolce realized he caught her odd expression. She later snuck into his room so she could talk to him one-on-one and be certain he wasn't going to make trouble for them. That's actually why Dolce spent more time with him than anyone else, because they ended up talking for hours about a book of pirate fairy tales he'd been reading when she infiltrated his chamber and bonded over the subject before Dolce went back to her own room to get some sleep.

Also, I had meant to write a song for the temple and their encounter with the zombie, because it really was rather terrifying.. And also the first time Dolce's Acid Arrow spell rolled decent initial damage (13, so about average for 3d8). I'll have to revisit that in song later.
 
Last edited:

Owlbrarian

The Librarian is Here
The temple was an invention of mine. When the party kept the Water Naga alive, I improvised the family and everything else. I wanted to introduce the Ghol-Gan to the party and the Kuru, so the old temple proved to be an excellent place to do so.

The cyclops was just a normal cyclops with the zombie immunities and the Unkillable (scroll down to Zombie Abilities) trait. This meant it had resistance to all damage and vulnerability to critical hits. What ended up making this combat sort of "Easy" for the party was that I use Critical Hit/Critical Fumble cards. I mostly use these to spice up combat, but it really helped the party out. Nasha scored a critical hit and drew a card that dealt like triple damage, but it was spread over three rounds.

In Pathfinder 2e, vulnerability/resistance is applied as a flat number on top of the damage dealt. So having the critical hit deal damage over three rounds meant that vulnerability was added three times. I made a bit of a mistake here with the Wheel of Misery in how I ran the encounter, but just how complex traps can be a pain for the party to deal with. In this case, it was because the trap was a higher level than the party, so Dolce couldn't even on a roll of a natural 20 disable the trap because it required expert thievery.

I like that the trap is more or less telegraphed for the party since it is an ornate wheel with colored runes. I more or less telegraph all my traps now regardless of how they are presented in the rules. Though that is neither here nor there. The trap just ended up being a frustrating affair rather than a fun diversion. In the end, covering it with rocks meant that the sensor could no longer draw a line of sight path to the party, disabling the trap even though it was still there. It was a time-consuming process to drag all those rocks up to the top of the temple and then drop them down to the sensor below.

Beyond the stuff, I added this section of the adventure seems a bit poorly timed. The party just got their freedom and a boat, but they are forced to spend days waiting at Rickety’s Squibs rather than doing piracy. That being said, Crys enjoyed it, so at least there is that.

That's all for now!
 

Crys

daydreamer and poet
So, gonna do another 2-session post here. Worth noting, I'm including the songs Dolce is writing in the body of these posts, whereas on my blog the songs are separate entries. Also I'm including the ship's articles. We based them largely on the ones found on wikipedia here: Pirate Codes. Many of the items found in those articles were pulled directly into our own.




Spoiler Warning: Many spoilers for the Skull & Shackles adventure path are contained within these story recap posts. If you don’t want your campaign spoiled, don’t read these!




Session 8 – Christening

The morning of the christening found Mirielle rising early. The work was done and the girls, as well as the crew, as well as Captain Pegsworthy’s crew and the workers of Rickety’s Squibs gathered round for the christening. Pegsworthy had a bottle in hand and asked, “Ye have a name for her yet, Captain?”

Mirielle smiled. She did indeed have a name. She’d decided upon a name, based solely on liking how it sounded and the name of a pet cat she’d once owned. “Let her be named The Lady’s Purr.”

Pegsworthy’s eyebrows rose and Dolce snorted beside Mirielle, “The Lady’s Purr, Captain? You realize there will be no end to comments we’ll hear with a name like that, right?”

Mirielle started to ask why, but caught herself. Of course, innuendo would haunt a name chosen based on a cat named Lady. Still, she didn’t want Dolce to know how embarrassed she was, nor did she want to appear caught off guard before those assembled, so she swallowed it down and said calmly, “I like the sound of it. Besides, don’t you want people talking about us?” She couldn’t tell if Dolce saw through her bluff or not, but no one else did… She hoped.

Dolce chuckled. “Aye, Cap. I want the whole of The Shackles talking about us. I’m just not sure you’ll be ready for that sort of talk.”

She was smirking. She’d definitely seen through the bluff. Mirielle cleared her throat. “Are you second guessing me?”

“No!” Dolce said, “Of course not, Captain. She’s your ship to name!”

Mirielle made a small ‘hmm’ sound and gave a firm nod. Pegsworthy and Rickety looked equally amused by the little exchange and Pegsworthy raised the bottle and said, “Alright then, here’s to The Lady’s Pu-“

“No, no, no! You need a proper toast for a pirate’s first ship!” Rickety exclaimed. “Bad form not to toast her!”

Pegsworthy lowered the bottle and considered a moment. “Mm, I suppose you’re right, Rickety. Well then… Good fortune and sure sail await what one can crack the Tidewater Rock!” And then he smashed the bottle on the Purr’s hull, christening her with her new name.

Dolce’s spirits soared, and Mirielle’s embarrassment was forgotten as she watched them release the chocks so the ship could slide down into the estuary. It was a strange, beautiful sight after a long, unusual journey. The sense of freedom that came with being the captain of a ship… Even knowing that Captain Barnabas Harrigan was out there somewhere and likely to be fuming when he learned what had befallen The Man’s Promise didn’t dampen her spirits.




New Beginnings

Mirielle took the ship’s articles, complete with the signatures of every member of the crew and pinned them to the captain’s cabin. Her cabin. It made her smile. Jack Scrimshaw was grinning up at her when she turned toward the crew. Now they had a ship.

Articles_img.jpg

Dolce had come away from her talks with Pegsworthy with some advice for Mirielle. The man had said he hoped if they met again Captain Mirielle would be a recognized Free Captain, though he’d also assured Dolce by the end of their conversation that his ships would give them no trouble. Of course, he was still a pirate, so Mirielle wasn’t sure how much stock she put in such assurances.

He was right though. Theoretically, if she became a recognized Free Captain the other Free Captains wouldn’t prey upon her. In the meantime prey was exactly what The Lady’s Purr would look like to the Free Captains of The Shackles.

With seven new crewmen aboard, there were a total of 26. They hadn’t found anyone more suited to being Bosun, Quartermaster, or Master Gunner yet, but there was time for that. For now, Mirielle’s concern was getting some experience under the belts of her new crewmen. In addition, she’d gotten Owlbear, Mr. Plugg’s “pet” human, off of the chain in Mr. Plugg’s room and was getting the crew used to being around him.

Owlbear was quite simple and Mr. Plugg’s treatment of him had made Mirielle despair. Of course, she’d had no opportunity to do anything about it before. Now, however, she was in a position to help Owlbear find a place among the crew, and she intended to do so.

Over the next five days Mirielle settled into her role as captain quite well, using her knowledge of sailing to decide their headings and her charm to give her orders. Dolce reflected that she was certainly a gentler captain than either Harrigan or Plugg, but she still knew what she was doing. They had all signed the articles and had all agreed upon lashes and more severe punishments for certain infractions, and Mirielle hadn’t opposed those despite her softer side. Dolce also noticed that the longer Mirielle spent around the crew, the more the crew loved her. It was exactly what Dolce had hoped she would see.

Revel.. well, lived up to her name in meting out discipline. She also seemed to be settling in well. Dolce found that sometimes crew shuddered when Revel walked past, and yet when it came time for drinking and relaxing they seemed at ease enough around her. The hobgoblin was surprisingly good at being intimidating but also a stalwart comrade.

Nasha seemed pleased to be back on the sea. As Dolce watched her at work she noted the lizardfolk had taken to Owlbear. Jack Scrimshaw and Owlbear seemed to both have won their way into Nasha’s affections, much like Mirielle had initially. Dolce was beginning to suspect Nasha was softer than she let on. An interesting thing to realize when considering how different she was from the rest of them with her smooth, blue scales.

As for Dolce, she’d brought a project aboard. It only took her four days to complete, but she spent those first four days perched on the railing with canvas and thread, sewing their new Jolly Roger. It was all in black and white except certain additions in gold. Pirates loved gold, after all. It was good luck to wear golden jewelry. Their new Jolly Roger would be a black field with a white skull over crossed cutlasses – Besmara’s favored weapon – with a golden crown hanging slantwise over its dome and a single gold tooth.

She’d also brought a project aboard for Mirielle. She’d acquired a copy of Besmara’s Code while in Rickety’s Squibs, penned her own version, and lent that to Mirielle to copy. It was very common for followers of Besmara to pen their own copy of her Code. At least, those that could write. The reason though, was something Dolce noted during the combat with the cyclops. Mirielle had spared a spell to assist in bringing the creature down… Spiritual Weapon.
The spell conjured a weapon in the form of the caster’s deity’s preferred weapon.. And Dolce had been delighted to see a cutlass appear rather than the crossbow that should have come to aid them if Mirielle was praying to Abadar like her family. Turned out Mirielle was buying into Dolce’s speech, and was further convinced when of the four of them Quinn had chosen to give her his Besmara’s Tricorn. Mirielle believed Dolce was right. What, besides Besmara’s grace, could have allowed a noble lady press ganged by pirates to not only survive but rise to the position of Captain?

Dolce found it funny that something as important as faith could come down to something as random and inane as a guy with a crush on a girl giving her a hat. Maybe this was why her family held such disdain for the shorter-lived races… But Dolce didn’t share that disdain. If anything, she found their quirks endearing.




First Blood
Near the end of the fifth day the call came down from the crow’s nest. A sail on the horizon. It was Rosie who sounded off and thus she’d be the first among them to get the reward they’d written into their articles. First choice of any item aboard in addition to her share.

The vessel, however, was not very exciting. It was a fishing vessel. A long ways out and in dangerous waters, to be sure… But Mirielle ordered them to run it down anyway, figuring it would be good to “blood” their new crew and give them some experience in grappling and boarding a vessel.

Dolce launched into her most recent halyard shanty as they gave chase. Revel lent her voice to assist since the crew hadn't really been exposed to this one yet. Of course, it didn't take long for the crew to catch on. Shanty's were designed such that they sang nearly identical lines they could easily remember and keep time with in order to orchestrate their efforts at their labors. (Dolce's lines as the Shantyman are bolded below.)

Sing Her a Song

Our Captain is rising before the sun
Sing her a song, boys, sing her a song!
Measuring all that needs to be done
We need a song, boys, sing her a song!

With eyes on the crew and heart out at sea
Sing her a song, boys, sing her a song!
The ocean’s the lock, her ship is the key
We need a song, boys, sing her a song!

Plunder is waiting for us to lay claim
Sing her a song, boys, sing her a song!
But Gods I love playing this dangerous game!
We need a song, boys, sing her a song!

We live every day as though death is at hand
Sing her a song, boys, sing her a song!
Til the battle is over and we make for land
We need a song, boys, sing her a song!

Our names will be spoken on every isle
Sing her a song, boys, sing her a song!
Toasts raised to our conquests, wicked and vile!
We need a song, boys, sing her a song!

We’ll sell all our spoils and rake in our gold
Sing her a song, boys, sing her a song!
And live like the wealthiest nobles of old!
We need a song, boys, sing her a song!

Til the Captain comes calling in the early morn
Sing her a song, boys, sing her a song!
To beckon us back to the duties we’ve borne!
We need a song, boys, sing her a song!
The pursuit was relatively trivial, for the ship had no artillery aboard with which to defend itself. They closed the distance, got the grapple, boarded, and overtook the fishermen with relative ease. The men barely put up a fight, which was good for them as it meant only a handful died.

When the crew surrendered the captain followed suit. Mirielle looked at him quizzically once all of the weapons had been collected. She had her crew take what fish they’d caught. A fair enough haul for a fishing vessel, but only worth a measly seventy gold coins. Still, the crew would eat well tonight. Rosie, for her item claim, took the captain’s rapier and threw her old dagger overboard. The rapier would be a little unwieldy for her, given the size difference between the slight halfling and the dwarven captain.

“What are you doing out here?” Mirielle finally asked the captain.

The dwarf said nothing, but one of his crew piped up. “He thought we’d have better luck catching out here. Too much competition in Desperation Bay this time of year says he.”

Mirielle chuckled, “Well, you’re very lucky it was us who came across you because I’m not taking your vessel or your lives. I suggest you get back to the bay before someone else comes across you without even a ballista on your boat.”

The dwarf looked shocked, as did his crew. “You’re letting us go?” He sounded as though he didn’t trust her.

Mirielle chuckled, “Honestly, it wouldn’t be worth the effort to take this boat. I’d make what, 1,500 gold coins on a vessel like this in a good port if I was lucky, plus have to worry about dealing with the lot of you? No. As I said, you’re lucky. Remember this the next time you want to wander into the trade lanes. Tell your friends how you only escaped The Lady’s Purr with your lives because of my good graces.” She gestured to their mast as she said that, which was just shy of useless after being hit by The Purr‘s ballista.

That was it, the end of it. Mirielle turned and boarded back onto The Purr and her crew followed suit. They had seemed a little disappointing in not taking their first vessel when it had held so little plunder for them, but Mirielle ordered Ambrose to cook the fishermen’s catch for the whole crew and told them the time and effort they would have spent would cost them in better plunder later. She also brought Rosie to dinner with the officers that night for sighting the sail.

The crew was won over by their captain’s sentiments and Dolce found herself thinking again she’d been right to make Mirielle captain. Especially as it had given her time to sew their Jolly Roger and would allow her to pursue other distractions as well when she wished. She assisted Ambrose in the kitchens that night, saying it was for old time’s sake.




Session 9 – New Routines

Mirielle had adapted quite well to her new routine, and seemed to wake before the majority of the crew every morning. This time she spent wandering the ship and conversing with the three souls unlucky enough to draw the night duties.

Dolce was only aware because she woke early every morning to study her Tome of Arcane Whimsy. Some days she did this in the privacy of her room – privacy she was quite thankful for. Other days she wandered the deck herself while deciding which spells to prepare.

The crew never really woke until Revel started yelling at them, but then they scrambled above deck quick as they could. Revel, Dolce noted, wasn’t sleeping in her room. Rather, she was sleeping on the second deck with Cog, their quartermaster. It seemed the two had grown quite fond of one another and Dolce was wondering if it went deeper than just physical companionship at this point. Revel wasn’t the sort to discuss such matters, so she wasn’t entirely sure if she’d ever know. Perhaps if they made port and she noticed the two shared a room on land as well as at sea.

For Dolce’s part, none of the crew really held much romantic interest to her. Musical interest was another matter altogether. She spent her spare time with Rosie and her fiddle as often as with Ambrose, sometimes convincing the halfling to perform in the kitchen so Ambrose could enjoy their duets as well. She encouraged everyone to sing, whether for work or leisure, drawing in as many voices as possible.

Revel seemed to have quite a knack for singing. Mirielle had a natural talent for it and a voice that was quite gifted for it, but no education. It struck Dolce as a little strange that the noble should be so knowledgeable of ships and sailing but not of singing or needlework. She supposed it came down to their family’s dependence on their merchant fleets to keep them well funded. What a waste Mirielle would have been in Sargava.

Then there was Nasha… Dolce hadn’t heard the lizardfolk utter a single syllable in song. She’d have to remedy that. Even Grok, The Wormwood‘s quartermaster, had joined in when given the opportunity. Nasha was, by far, the strangest “pirate” Dolce had ever known. She seemed quite ready to leap into combat, and more than happy to work the sails even in the worst of storms, but had no real interest in wealth. It was mind-boggling!

Sure, Dolce’s interest in piracy was born of longing for adventure with a crew you could practically call family, but she was not immune to the charms of wealth or the comforts it provided. Nasha was, it seemed. Then again, they’d not been in a proper port yet. She’d have a chance to gauge her companions better when they did make port.

“SAIL ON THE HORIZON!” came the call from above. It was Maheem’s voice. Revel had been the one to get through to him while they’d stayed aboard the Wormwood. Dolce took out her spyglass and moved to a position with a better vantage point.

It was a ship from Absalom. A merchant vessel, if she was correct. “Don’t recognize her, Captain. Think she’s a nice merchant ripe for plucking!”

Dolce looked toward her captain and was happy to find her smiling. The pursuit began. This ship’s captain certainly seemed to have a fair mind for her vessel. She had turned to the west, sailing for open ocean or perhaps the Chelaxian trade lanes. Still, The Lady’s Purr caught her within a few hours of pursuit under Mirielle’s skillful leadership.

Artillery fire was exchanged. This ship was not so foolish as the fishing vessel, The Elten Baide. She had ballistae of her own. Conchobar took to his task with relish as Nasha and Revel aided him in reloading The Purr‘s own ballista. And soon enough the distance was closed and the order to grapple was given.

The lines flew out toward the Absalom ship, creating a crisscross of rope connections between them. The boarding ensued, Mirielle, Revel, Nasha, and Dolce among the first to cross the threshold. They dodged the bolts and arrows fired at them as they made their way across the perilous gap. Revel made the task look as natural as walking.

So fast was she that she boarded the ship before the others and found herself surrounded with enemy crew. “YES!” The hobgoblin cried, her blood rushing with adrenaline. Her veins seemed to surge in her skin as her jaw drew out and her extra rows of teeth grew in. “I CAN’T WAIT TO FIND OUT HOW YOU TASTE!!!!!”

Her roar was unnerving to the foe, a few staggering back even as she charged forward and bit their captain. Then the thick of combat came in and Mirielle, Dolce, and Nasha were stuck trying to catch up as they contended with the crew around them. Well-placed spells were making quick work of their opponents and knitting the wounds dealt to them, but Revel was beyond Mirielle’s reach.

Strike after strike she took, blood coating various patches of her clothing and hide armor, but it seemed that even though each wound brought her closer to death it also only invigorated her thrill. Her voice was growing louder as it cut above the rest. “GODS I LOVE THE TASTE OF BLOOD!”

Dolce heard and shook her head. She wasn’t sure how much of Revel’s exclamation was true and how much was an effort to scare her opponents, but one of the marines that had been protecting the captain laid at the hobgoblin’s feet with his throat torn open. The captain herself had a chunk missing from her arm and blood trailing down her side.

The elf saw an opening in the jumble of enemy crew and with a parting glance at Mirielle stole away to Revel’s aid. She somersaulted between the legs of one man and slipped around behind the captain. “You should really consider surrendering,” Dolce said calmly.

“NO! DON’T DO THAT!” Revel bellowed with equal amounts of gusto and exhaustion.

Revel needn’t have worried for the captain snorted at Dolce and said, “I would never.”

Dolce’s eyes narrowed and a smile crossed her lips. Nasha had slain two more of the marines and the captain’s crew looked on the brink of surrender themselves with Revel standing there covered in blood and so many dead around them. “Those who don’t wish to die for nothing, like all of your betters have already, lay down your arms! Those that don’t, well, my companion here is still quite hungry!”

Dolce stabbed the captain even as she was bellowing her false threat. She knew Mirielle would never let Revel eat anyone they weren’t actively fighting, but this crew didn’t. Perhaps Revel needed a nickname or a song of her own. Something Dolce would have to dwell on.

Her ploy worked though, for the crescendo of weapons thudding onto the deck of the enemy vessel sounded and the captain’s eyes widened. “Wait! We still have a chance! Don’t let them break your spirits!” She was trying to rally her sailors, but not one of them seemed stirred by her words.

She did, to her own credit, manage to dodge Revel’s lethal teeth long enough to realize she was basically fighting The Purr‘s crew alone. Then she cursed and dropped her rapier. “Fine,” she said flatly to Dolce.

Dolce flashed her a smile and stepped between her and Revel lest she get eaten after all.




To the victors…

Mirielle ordered the spoils of their engagement moved from The Truewind to their own ship. She split the surviving crew on both vessels. Dolce was made the temporary captain of The Truewind with Revel alongside her to help keep everyone there in line. Meanwhile Mirielle and Nasha oversaw operations aboard The Lady’s Purr.

Maheem, who had spotted the vessel, laid claim to a blanket and pillow set as his one extra item. The entirety of The Purr‘s crew burst into laughter as one asked, “What are you gonna do with those, Maheem?”

The Rahadoumi flashed a smile at the pirate, “For my hammock, of course! I’m gonna sleep good from now on!” More laughter erupted, but Maheem was not dismayed. He too was brought to dine with the officers that night, reinforcing a new unspoken tradition on The Lady’s Purr.

Mirielle set a course for Senghor, a vehemently anti-slavery port. Their stance on slavery mattered little to The Lady’s Purr as they had no intention of engaging in slaving. It was a missed opportunity for profit, but Dolce found herself in agreement with Mirielle on this point. After all, she’d not much enjoyed being forced into piracy the way she had been. They would allow all of the captured crew to disembark at Senghor before selling their ship.

The journey was four days and change on the sea heading southeast by east, and the time gave Dolce an opportunity to see what sailing under Revel would have been like… At least, potentially. Revel kept the captured crew’s spirits so low they dared not raise a complaint, and she seemed to enjoy doing it. At the same time, to those of The Purr‘s crew that were aboard, she showed a completely different side. She encouraged them. Despite this, some of their own crew were a bit put off by Revel’s harsher antics and Dolce found herself glad she’d nominated Mirielle to captain rather than the hobgoblin.

Senghor was a well protected port city, and before either ship made it near their destination another vessel approached. A warship. A ship’s boat came out and requested to board The Lady’s Purr. Mirielle granted permission and was soon speaking with the commander of the impressive warship. She explained they’d taken the ship and her crew several days to the northeast and had no intent of enslaving them. She submitted to rigorous inspection and allowed the captain to question the crew of The Truewind.

One of them declared that Mirielle was a pirate, but the visiting captain only chuckled and said that much was obvious. It was night by the time they actually docked in Senghor. The fees for docking were steep, but the city was a proper city with resources and an economy one wouldn’t gain access to in a lesser port.

Mirielle had the crew rotate shifts onboard as well as days off so they could enjoy the port for a week. She anticipated needing the time to find a buyer for The Truewind, though ultimately she managed it quite quickly. They netted a profit of 4,085 gold coins for that, plus more for their plunder. Dolce handled this and paid the crew out of their earnings before deducting an additional 530 gold to use as a gift to Besmara. She’d decided some time ago she would give ten percent of anything she earned at sea and five percent of anything she earned on land to the Pirate Queen now that she herself was a pirate.

It took some convincing to get Mirielle to agree, but not as much as Dolce had expected. Nasha shrugged and volunteered to cover Revel’s share if Revel didn’t agree. Revel had said no until Dolce had shown her how much gold was leftover, and then shrugged and said it was fine. After all, the leftover gold was more gold than Revel had seen in her life. This set a precedent. Much like having Rosie to dine with the officers on the night of sighting the Elten Baide.

Dolce roped Revel and Mirielle into helping her scour the prosperous city for spells she wished to learn. They would help the ship and the crew, she promised, and Mirielle agreed after learning the spells in question. Between the three of them they tracked down every spell Dolce wished to have. One individual was a common thread. An instructor and benefactor at The College of Gales.




Preparations

Dolce sought the wizard out herself, finding him in the midst of a lecture about water elementals. He was a human, quite stern seeming, and of middling age. Dolce listened quietly in the back of the room, watching as all of his pupils scrambled to take notes. He seemed rather intelligent and rather unyielding in his manner. Gidras was the wizard’s name.

When all was done and the students left Dolce waited further for him to collect his things, but before he’d completely finished straightening the pile of paper on his desk he said, “And what can I do for you, Elf?”

She smiled and approached, attempting to charm him with her manners and respect. “I’m told that you are quite the scholar and with quite an impressive collection of spells under your mastery, Professor. I was hoping I could trouble you for some scrolls.”

He looked her up and down and Dolce felt certain his eyes had lingered on her bicorn hat and the cutlass she wore. After a time he said, “The school is always happy to accept donations. What are the spells you’re seeking?”

She listed them off and he occasionally informed her of extra costs for those that were more rare than others. The cantrips she desired to learn he said he would instruct her in himself. The rest he said he would take scrolls from the library to provide her if she had the coin.

The transaction completed and scrolls acquired, he had her sit in a student’s desk. In his hands was a long, thin rod of varying colors. It was carved in such a manner that it made a pleasant noise if swiped quickly. She’d seen that earlier when he had rapped a student’s knuckles for answering a question incorrectly during his lecture.

Thankfully, cantrips were a simple enough matter and Dolce was finished within three hours without making any mistakes. She wasn’t sure she wished to be disciplined by one such as he. She thanked him for his time, and inquired if she could return later when her abilities had grown. Gidras agreed, stating again that the college was always pleased to receive donations.

Aside from that, their time in Senghor was spent relaxing. Dolce was right. Nasha had paid only for a common bed in one of the inns, meaning she slept in the common room with many others. Revel at least had indulged in a private room. As for Dolce, she was staying in luxury, paying ten gold a night for an inn with private bathing chambers and a servant.

Mirielle stayed in the same luxurious appointments Dolce was indulging in. She spent at least a portion of her time reflecting on her new life as a pirate captain. She found herself rather surprised by how good it felt to her to have such autonomy after a lifetime of being groomed to be of service to a husband. In the end, she expressed her feelings through a poem she carefully penned in her captain's log. No one else ever reviewed the logs so she felt it a safe enough space to record her feelings.

On the Sea

Who would have thought that, bred to finer things,
My fortune waited on the open sea?
Not to be bound, I’m gifted silken wings
That carry me where e’er I wish to be.
When heavy rains thunder upon the deck
Or raging waves thrash our fine Lady’s hull
There is no fear which crawls along my neck.
'Tis my sure fate to meet the storms in full!
Within these waves, I’ve found a precious prize –
Worth more to me than gold or my own life.
I feel it every morning when I rise,
My mind relieved of burden and of strife.
The sea spray carries both freedom and bliss;
I’m but a lass enamored by her kiss.​

She got Quinn to agree to help Mirielle with getting some new clothes tailored to her. Their captain still looked like a swab, and that was unacceptable. She told their stories in Senghor, drawing crowds in different inns each night, and was surprised to meet with another pirate at one of them. A shantyman by the name if Ikiko who was also a tengu. Fortunate for that vessel as the tengu were considered quite lucky to have aboard.

It was lucky that Mirielle’s new clothes were ready, for the tengu suggested they should meet with his captain. Ikiko and Captain Slip were relatively new pirates, not unlike themselves. They seemed to agree on the point of slavery, and Mirielle proposed they be allies. After all, they had enough to worry about with the Free Captains of the Shackles. The captain agreed. A night of drinking ensued, and in the morning The Lady’s Purr departed Senghor to seek more prey upon the seas.




OOC Notes - lots of them this time...

1) So on the Articles, we read up on Besmara as well as on actual pirate codes (like the ones from the wikipedia article (I'll link it again: Pirate Codes)) before I pieced them together.

• Mirielle justified "Good Quarters Given when craved" because Besmara, "...cares little for senseless murder or other unprofitable acts, but is willing to take risks to attain great prizes."
• I added a clause regarding Mutiny (which I imagine is normally common sense, you try to mutiny you die) as well since that's how they attained their ship.
• We decided on shares based on how Owlbrarian imagined most Shackles pirates operating (he said he figured most Shackles captains claim 5-6 shares of any take).
• Mirielle added the provisions regarding injury, while Dolce insisted on the article for musicians, indicating she plans to have some in the future.

2) On a related topic, let's briefly look at one thing that ended up being a common theme in the four girls... They all care greatly for close relationships, but not in the sense of blood at this point. So I guess more "chosen" family than "birth" family.

• Revel, who was lost on the docks of Port Peril as a child, hates her hobgoblin kin for 'abandoning' her, and thus highly prizes anyone who sticks with her.

• Mirielle is waking up to the fact that her friends who shield her from mortal danger and take lashes for her by switching places with her are showing her more devotion and compassion than her cold and distant father did when he groomed her to be a noblewoman and expected her to marry a stranger. She comes to highly prize her freedom, though is accustomed to finer things and certainly looks forward to having more gold to spend.

• Nasha is the worst pirate. As a lizardfolk monk who was originally sent to mingle with the humans to get an idea of their motivations and future plans by her community, she's not really interested in wealth. Originally she was just an observer. She has a massive soft spot for families and children because she was raised by a community rather than by an individual. This is why she's so fond of Jack Scrimshaw. Nasha is finding the chaos of the seas and that of boarding enemy vessels helps her find a strange sense of 'balance' in life, and is also starting to feel like the crew has become more her family than the home that sent her away.

• Dolce loves Besmara's teachings that the crew should stand behind their captain and work well together. She idolized and exaggerated this idea in her mind so that to her a crew should equal a family. (The adventure path says this of Besmara: "Besmara is brash, lusty, confrontational, and greedy, but follows a code of honor and is loyal to her crew and allies as long as it serves her interests."; Dolce just conveniently omits the 'as long as it serves her interests' part of that.) Also, in Dolce's mind, a crew should support what you wish to do so long as it's no hindrance to them, wheras the family she was born into wanted her to stay on their mysterious island (in canon Pathfinder an elf settled an island called Kepre Dua in the Shackles and a bunch of the elves that were pirates on the seas felt strangely drawn to it and live there. That island is where Dolce was born as one of the first babies born on the island, but she always wanted to travel the seas and met with resentment whenever she spoke about it, so freedom became really important to her).

3) Note that I had been having Mirielle basically pay lip service to Abadar prior to the grindylows. Quinn giving her his hat and Dolce's rousing speech (she rolled a very high diplomacy check when suggesting Mirielle should be captain and listing off her reasons why) just pushed her into a new faith.

4) Revel scored a natural 20 on her boarding roll for The Truewind. With the ship combat rules we're using this mean she could choose to be anywhere on the enemy ship. As a result, she started the fight out in the extreme end of the ship by the captain because that's what she would have done if she could reach anywhere. Meanwhile, Mirielle, Dolce, and Nasha began the combat clear across the ship with Mirielle sweating bullets as Revel went flying past them into the thick of the fighting by herself. By the time Mirielle got within reach of Revel I believe she was at about 15% of her max HP. Gotta love those reckless types.

5) Currently the night shift is rather small. Owlbear was placed on permanent night shift because it is less demanding at the moment (they don't do as much rigging work). Nasha volunteered for it so that she could teach Owlbear until she felt he had a very firm grasp of what was expected of him.

6) Props to you if you recognize the basic rhyme structure of an Elizabethan Sonnet in Mirielle's poem, On the Sea. I did not go to the trouble of ensuring the syllable stresses followed the traditional pattern, but the rhyming and syllable count are easy enough to adhere to. Something more structured felt appropriate for Mirielle.
 

Owlbrarian

The Librarian is Here
So ship combat rules.

There are rules for ships in the Gamemastery Guide but I will admit that once I read and understood them I saw that they were...well quite lacking. They were basically rules for the DM to use if the players happen to be onboard a ship or a carriage when combat breaks out. They were not meant for long term use.

They for example have set levels for a ship. So a sailing ship is level 9 which means the PC’s would have had serious trouble making the piloting checks at level 3 but eventually they would have become trivially easy. Also the rules are the same for movement in a carriage as if you are on a sailing ship.

So I ended up making my own rules for them; a mixture of the original rules from the Skull & Shackles adventure path with rules from the Razor Coast and some Starfinder sprinkled in for good measure. The rules have undergone a few revisions at this point but I am pretty happy with them.

I married the 3 action system into the original rules making certain piloting actions take 2 actions or 3 actions depending. During combat a ship can target the Sails, Structure, Stearing, or Oars. Hitting the sails is often the best choice though it is a harder shot (in fact all but the structure is a bit harder to hit).Hitting the structure means the ship has to make a reflex save (dependent upon the ship and how good of a captain they are) or some of the crew is killed. What that looks like and what it is like for boarding is explained here:

When the PCs board the ship their crew does as well and they have a morale score rolled at the start of the ship combat (those that know of the Skull & Shackles fleet combat rules, this is more or less stolen from that). Each time they take “damage” a 1d4 is rolled. For the enemy crew this is how many of them die as a result of that action.

For the PCs I have them roll an additional 1d4 for each number rolled for the damage. For the additional rolls a 1 means that crew member dies, on a 2 they gain a permanent injury (like losing an arm or similar), and a 3-4 they are just knocked out. If one crew is knocked out the winning crew can start taking shots at the officers. Basically I have them roll a 1d4 and that is how many successful attacks they get against whomever they want to attack.

This has only happened once or twice and has always been the PCs crew defeating the enemy one.
 

Crys

daydreamer and poet
Spoiler Warning: Many spoilers for the Skull & Shackles adventure path are contained within these story recap posts. If you don’t want your campaign spoiled, don’t read these!




Session 10 – Plunder on the Seas

Dolce spent the next several days learning spells… Though on occasion she managed to fumble the process, frustrating her and drawing to light how she’d neglected her arcane studies. She translated more spells successfully into her spellbook than those she did not, but still it challenged her assumption that this would be an easy process and one at which she’d expend little effort.

The first spell she had learned had been Ghostly Weapon, for the memory of the night before The Purr approached Senghor was fresh in her mind. They’d entered a heavy mist, and passing by within grappling range had been a ship she was certain was known as The Honeysnake. With the crew spread thin between The Purr and their captured prize, Captain Mirielle had not allowed them to investigate it, but Dolce had gotten Revel to grapple her rail and rip a chunk off. It was amazing how strong the hobgoblin was.. The chunk of railing was retrieved by Nasha when it fell into the water. Now they at least had the means to try and find the ship later if they wished to. Still, she’d learned the spell first so that she could use it should they encounter any other ghost ships on the seas.

Mirielle’s course was for Ollo, a port of great infamy. The Free Captain who owned the port was rumored to be a werewolf and had a werewolf crew aboard his boat, The Blood Moon. It was said that on every full moon they came back to port and ran loose through the streets murdering and pillaging. Still, that was where they were heading, but taking their time about arriving so they would make port two days after the full moon’s passing. Mirielle wanted to be sure the pirates were gone before they arrived.

Why Ollo? Well, she was chasing a rumor Rickety had given them in exchange for the Decanter of Endless Water. The rumor of a shark that could eat islands contained in a magical egg somewhere in Ollo. Rickety’s rumor came in the form of a story and a treasure map, and Mirielle reminded them all that when a treasure map came into your path it was because Besmara was seeking entertainment.

Dolce had heard the saying, but still.. What would one do with a shark that could eat islands? On the other hand, no enemy fleet would survive them if they had command of such a creature… But what would it take to control it? Besmara was known for beating sea monsters into submission and using them like chained dogs to attack her enemies. Perhaps they would do the same… Only there was Revel to consider. The hobgoblin had more fondness for sharks than she did for most people.

Dolce supposed they’d figure it out when they got to Ollo and set about copying more spells. This didn’t last long though, for a cry rang out, accompanied by the shrill blows of a signal whistle. Dolce was at once pleased and displeased, for the whistles she’d gotten in Senghor to make sure every hand on deck would know when a sail was sighted. That part was working just fine, but there were distinct signal patterns decided. Short bursts for a sail, short and long for a monster, long bursts for anything else. Ratline wasn’t doing any of the three.

The encounter went without issue. They pursued, barraged the ship from a distance, boarded the boat, defeated the marines, and claimed victory. It was an Aspice Consortium vessel. A bold enemy to make when you were not yet a Free Captain, but Dolce was finding Mirielle had more teeth than she’d given the aasimar credit for. Mirielle, again, chose to spare the lives of all the crew, including the captain who had surrendered.

Ratline claimed the captain’s sword for his prize for sighting the sail, but Dolce gathered the crew and explained to them again the signals of the whistle. For failing to use it properly, Ratline was given a single lash. The Articles allowed discipline for failure to perform one’s duties to be meted out at the captain’s discretion, but in this instance the infraction was quite minor. He had blown the whistle, Dolce just wanted the crew to understand the signals served a purpose. It was helpful to know if roused in your sleep if a long pursuit of a vessel lay before you or if you should have weapons at the ready to deal with the denizens of the deeps.

Ratline was invited to join the officers for dinner, and Dolce even toasted his good spirits about the whole affair as they enjoyed Ambrose’s cooking.
They split the crew between both ships again, though The Kurstav required rowers. The captain and the single surviving marine were kept on The Purr while the rest of the surviving crew worked under Revel’s terrifying directions on The Kurstav. Dolce did her best to convince Mirielle to kill the captain, after all… Of all those who survived he was the most likely to cause them trouble in the future when they left all these souls stranded in Ollo. Mirielle agreed and Dolce was pleased.

The next morning, however, Mirielle had the most senior among the surviving crew, the one the rest seemed to be looking to in the absence of their captain and the marine, brought aboard The Purr. She spent about half an hour in conversation with the matronly woman in her cabin, and when she emerged and had the woman returned to The Kurstav she also informed Dolce, via Message, that they would not be killing the captain.

When Dolce inquired why the response was that they would not be leaving the crew in Ollo. Rather they were going to take them to Slipcove, a settlement under Captain Raffles and one that clawed its way out of the jaws of slavers. Chances were, many of the crew would survive Slipcove and manage to leave it in time. They would tell the stories of The Purr‘s assault on The Kurstav in great detail, at Mirielle’s own request. Mirielle explained that they needed to earn a reputation to survive in the Shackles. And this was how she meant to do it. The captain did not need to die.

Dolce felt flummoxed. This open advert of their abilities and battle prowess ran counter to her own personal preference of not letting on about what she could do in the field of combat. She preferred to be an unknown quantity in any equation, and wondered if it was not a mistake to be advertising their conquests in such great detail. Mirielle would not be deterred though, so the elf sulked about The Kurstav as they made for Ollo.

On the fourth day of their leisurely sail to Ollo they came across a ship adrift. The sails were not maintained and no men were sighted on the deck. Rather than board the vessel, Mirielle decided she, Revel, Dolce, and Nasha would investigate. The four made their way on a ship’s boat. The vessel was called The Pelican, and on the deck they found weapons and clothing, but no sign of people. The same was true below. When they explored the entirety of the ship they found the reason why. Two Crystal Oozes lurked within. The creature devoured flesh, but left metal and other materials unharmed. Dolce recognized them as they lurched up from the bilges and slammed the door in the nick of time so the girls could prepare. They positioned themselves ideally for the fight as the oozes slammed on the door.

When the door broke, Revel and Nasha slowly pummeled the oozes to death with brass knuckles and fists rather than claws and teeth. Dolce spent the combat hurling Rays of Frost at the creatures. It was a slow process, but relatively harmless. When they won the day they had the crew remove everything of value from the ship and scuttled it. Splitting their manpower between three boats would have made each unmanageable.

They continued toward Ollo.




Blood Moon

They arrived two days after the full moon. No sign of The Blood Moon in sight, but evidence supporting every horror story they had heard at every turn. Clawmarks on the docks, bodies floating in the water or slumped in chaotic corners. Even the dock master had fallen casualty to the madness, his door ripped clear off its hinges. Revel tipped the young man now falling into the Dock Master’s job well and helped him move the body to the harbor when she paid their docking fees.

They sold The Kurstav, as they’d intended, and Dolce spent the day spreading their tales of success while gathering rumors about the egg. In one tavern she heard a haunting song performed as she was taking a break from her own stories and songs...

The Blood Moon

If the moon was pale above us I’d sing you a different song,
But the tide is rolling, the waves are crashing, and the smell of blood is strong.
The wind whispers of violence and weeping fills my ears.
A life in all this chaos has spent all of my tears.

The Blood Moon rises
Higher with the seas
And she takes her prizes
Despite all of our pleas

If you’ve made port in Ollo while the moon is round and still
I’d suggest hiding, and your time biding, for the crew must take their fill.
There’s naught that we can do here to make them go away;
They feed upon our flesh and fears and never far will stray…

The Blood Moon rises
Higher than the seas
And she takes her prizes
Despite all of our pleas​

It sounded as though incomplete and the elf asked the minstrel who performed it if there were any further verses during one of his own breaks. "Alas," said he, "we’ll never know. The song's creator died on a full moon the day after he got this part down." It sent a small shiver down Dolce's spine.

Dolce’s activities drew attention from more than she would have liked, but with it vital information. A single person, at the end of her long day of asking questions and telling stories, not only told her where the egg was, but gave her a map of the private estate it was held inside. Of course, she’d agreed to procure the egg for him in exchange.

She took the information she’d gleaned, all of which she felt was accurate, to Mirielle. They roped in Nasha and Revel and had a discussion about the whole affair. Revel was keen to steal the egg. A shark that could eat islands was of great interest to her even after Dolce reminded her they couldn’t just toss it into the sea and let it run amok carelessly if they succeeded in capturing it. Nasha seemed fine with whatever the other three decided.

Mirielle, upon hearing the egg was in an estate owned by Avimar Sorrinash, Captain of The Blood Moon, decided they would steal the egg. That very night. The map Dolce had procured showed the routes of guards on patrol as well as laying out an entry. Mirielle decided not to use the intended route proposed by their strange benefactor. She didn’t particularly trust him not to be seeking the egg himself. She couldn’t have known Dolce had agreed to sell it to him since Dolce kept that bit of their conversation to herself.

Nasha went to scout the estate and verify the map’s information. Revel made contact with a guard by befriending him at a tavern where he was winding down from his shift. Dolce acquired disguises for the lot of them, and Mirielle bribed the guard Revel had befriended handsomely. It was a busy evening that would lead up to a busier night.

The heist went well. They managed to infiltrate by climbing an adjacent building and jumping across to the estate’s roof. There they found a hatch that was locked, but Dolce’s thieves’ tools made quick work of it. In the attic were a number of costume pieces, some of which Dolce incorporated into the servant’s disguises they all wore. They also found an old box marked ‘donotion’ containing golden jewelry. All of that went into their Bag of Holding.
Revel was spotted on two occasions. On one Revel convinced the person she was supposed to be there, on the other she flustered the guard and his servant lover enough they didn’t verify if she should be there or not.

They took a small detour to investigate the bar, stealing literally every bottle of exotic alcohol within the place while the halfling bartender slept on the bar itself. Dolce nearly dropped a bottle on him, but caught it at the last second thanks to her Elven reflexes. They left the shelves barren and their bag of holding was starting to get quite full, but the alcohol would net them a tidy profit, well worth the effort.

They then descended to the first floor, where the trophy room was located. Approaching by the hallways they saw a very heavy door. Dolce had been brushing up on her familiarity with traps since the incident of the jungle temple, and was now quite thankful for it. This trap wasn’t particularly subtle with its glowing runes, but she felt certain she knew its effects thanks to her additional studies. She did not wish to be disintegrated, and so they crept outside and sought another entrance.

There was a window into the trophy hall, and they crept closer to attempt opening it. They were seen here by a single guard patrolling, but it was the guard that had been bribed so he just shuffled along his way after recognizing Mirielle. The window lock was harder than the lock on the roof, and it took a bit of time for Dolce to crack it. In fact, she broke a pair of picks, but thankfully she always had an extra set on her. They opened the window and moved inside.

There were traps on each item, and tempting as it was to steal even more than they already had, disabling every trap was a daunting prospect. The girls stayed focused, breaking but the one trap and placing the egg into their bag while placing some of the golden jewelry on the scale it had been resting on to avoid setting off the trap by weight disparity.

As they retreated Nasha covered their trails. Rather than go back to the attic, they found a portion of the wall in deeper shadows than other parts of the estate and climbed over that. Knowing full well she had been sighted asking after the egg in town, Dolce informed Mirielle she might have a buyer if she wished to sell it.

Revel protested and Mirielle decided to humor the hobgoblin. They made for The Purr and set off to sea as soon as the tide allowed.




Thief in the Night

They were one night out from Ollo, the captain and crew of The Kurstav still aboard. They were all still feeling the high of their successful heist, and Slipcove was getting closer by the hour. Dolce woke up from the sound of someone moving in her room. Her keen, elven ears missed very little. Subtly and slowly she reached for her rapier, thankful she always kept it close at hand.

When she had it in her grasp she cast the spell Dancing Lights. The faint, will’o’wisp like lights illuminated her chamber in soft hues of green and purple and there before her was the thief she’d agreed to acquire the egg for. He had been searching through her things.

“I had hoped to do this without waking you,” he said simply.

Dolce tumbled to her feet, grabbing her extradimensional satchel as she went, for within was what he was here to claim. “INTRUDER!” She yelled loudly, thinking surely he wouldn’t have come alone.

The man winced a little from the volume of her cry, but said only, “That isn’t necessary. Please, I don’t mean to fight you. I wouldn’t stand a chance.”
She couldn’t discern any lie in his words, but it made her uncomfortable. What man who felt he wouldn’t stand a chance against a single woman in a nightgown with a rapier would board a pirate ship in the dead of night to steal from them? “Out!” she demanded, gesturing with her sword.

The man listened, leaving her room and moving out of the narrow space leading to the other officers’ quarters. They were on the deck. “Why are you here?”

Owlbear came bounding toward her, looking apologetic. She noticed the other two sailors who’d drawn night shifts were unconsciousness by the mast. The man simply said, “To get what we agreed upon. We mean to pay you.”

Her eyes searched the night. Alas, her vision was not as keen in the dark as Revel’s or Mirielle’s. Still, there was enough of the moon for her to see by and she could detect no other creatures in the shadows. “We?” Quinn and Ambrose were on deck now, weapons in their hands as well. To Owlbear Dolce said, “Wake those below.”

Owlbear nodded eagerly and threw open the trap door to go below. Soon enough she heard him bellow, “WAKE UP! SOMEONE’S ABOARD!!! WAKE! WAKE!!!”

The man, still at the point of her rapier chuckled. “Really this isn’t necessary. We just intend to transact our arrangement.”

Mirielle, in a long, white nightshirt, came onto the deck as well now, from the captain’s cabin. “What is going on?”

Dolce frowned. “This one here’s the one that gave me the map. There’s not a ship in sight, but he says ‘We’ve come to finish our transaction’.”

Mirielle looked from Dolce to the man as bleary eyed sailors began emerging from below. “Transaction?” she asked.

“Yes, you were to acquire the egg for me. Did your First Mate not tell you? We had an arrangement.”

Mirielle’s eyes fell on Dolce again, “Perhaps you’d best explain.”

With a sigh Dolce said, “I- I did agree, technically, but I said before I’d see what you wished to do with it. And I did ask, but you wanted to keep-“

Mirielle was annoyed now, “I did indeed, but you still should have informed me, Dolce.”

Revel’s eyes were gleaming with delight, and Dolce could only assume she was hoping Mirielle would deem the transgression worthy of discipline.

“Ladies, there isn’t much time. My companions will sink your ship if we don’t conclude this quickly,” the man said. It was unnerving how calm he was.

Dolce told Revel to keep an eye on him and the hobgoblin responded by clapping one of her strong hands down on his shoulder. Dolce handed her Rapier to Quinn and fished through the satchel, producing manacles they had not yet had occasion to use. These were known as Shackles of Compliance. When Dolce snapped them on the man’s wrist she spoke the word of power – ‘acquiesce’ – to cast Suggestion through the shackles and said, “I suggest you cooperate with us so you don’t endanger your life.”

“Really, this isn’t necessary. I’m quite a bad liar,” the man said.

“Where are your companions?” Dolce asked, ignoring him. He did seem to be a bad liar, but that could have just meant he was particularly skilled at deceit.

“Below the ship. They swam me aboard. There are no other vessels here.”

This brought a new question to the fore. “What are your companions?”

“They are Iku-tursos.”

Dolce wracked her brain. She knew of these creatures. They often worked alongside Sahuagin and proved quite a problem for sea-faring individuals like herself. “How long do we have before they sink the ship?”

He smiled. “About five minutes, I believe. If you want to know precisely, there is a watch in my pocket.”

Stranger and stranger, a watch in his pocket. Dolce moved forward, reaching inside and pulling it out. His estimate was on the nose. “Why aren’t you concerned with your life?” She met his eyes as she asked this question. She couldn’t understand how he could stand here knowing he couldn’t harm them in any meaningful way and not seem afraid in even the slightest.

“The Iku-tursos gave me this life. I have nothing to fear.”

“What do you mean?” Mirielle asked, sounding surprised.

“I mean, I had been involved in a shipwreck and floated in the sea for what seemed like days. I remember drowning, and yet I awoke and they had taken me into their care. They gave me this second chance. I have nothing to fear from you.”

He said it as though it were factual. Dolce frowned. “You said you wish to pay us?”

He nodded at this. “Yes, they brought the coin. They’ve no concern with you. They simply want the egg.”

“So we steal the egg, you make sure the blame falls upon us. What good is gold when Captain Sorrinash will hunt us down tomorrow?” Mirielle again.

“Captain, we made certain that suspicion would not follow you. There was another boat in port as fate would have it. Her name, The Swift Lady. Even now they are finding “the egg” in her hold, for evidence led them to it.” He was still unnervingly calm.

Mirielle frowned. “Enough. Take him below.” Ambrose nodded and took the man below deck.

“There is no point to this!” He called as he disappeared through the trap door.

The girls made ready before diving into the sea to face the Iku-tursos. As they were fighting it finally clicked for Dolce why the man was so indifferent to his life. Iku-turso were known for creating mind slaves. They did it through a disease. She warned Revel and Nasha to try not to get hit, but that was really the best she could do for them at this point.

Of course, both did get hit, and more than once. One of the creatures swam deep below the water and created a fascinating light effect that caught Revel’s attention. Dolce was afraid Revel would drown herself, swimming below the surface to float among the lights. Why hadn’t they taken the time to cast Water Breathing?

Nasha was pretty heavily injured, but managed to finish off one of the creatures as Mirielle’s magic bolstered her flesh. Dolce finished the other with an Acid Arrow. For once, the spell seemed to perform to her expectations.

Revel surfaced from the water at the last possible moment, gasping for air and asking, “What the hell was that?” Her blood frenzy had clearly subsided.
Dolce chuckled as they swam for the ship, noting that Nasha had sunk into the water after one of the bodies. The lizardfolk returned shortly bearing a satchel over her shoulder. When they climbed on deck they took stock of its contents… Eight thousand gold coins in ancient currency.

They had the egg, they had the coin, and now they were free of the thief. More free than Dolce realized for Ambrose’ call reached them, “Captain! Captain you should see this!”

When they went below deck they found the thief not only dead, but rotting. And also… de-aged. He looked like a young boy who’d been adrift in the ocean for days. It was quite unsettling, but Dolce was convinced now that she was right. He’d been one of their mind slaves, for once created their lives were linked to the one which made them.

They returned his body to the sea with his masters. As they left the bodies behind Nasha said, “Something strange happened while we fought.”
Dolce looked toward her and asked, “What’s that?”

“I- I heard music… and… and I could breathe the water,” Nasha said. She looked down at Dolce from her seven foot height, lean and muscular, but looking uncomfortable. “I still hear the music.”

Dolce frowned and called, “MIRIELLE! We need you over here!”

Mirielle came and asked what was going on, but needed to hear little before she called upon her divine magic to try and abolish Nasha’s disease. The first casting did not work, for Nasha still reported the eerily beautiful music. The second seemed to cast it out.

“Thank you,” Nasha said simply, bowing her head to Mirielle.

“You just, you just tell me if you start hearing it again, Nasha. Don’t want anyone succumbing to that noise on our ship.” Nasha nodded at Mirielle’s words and the aasimar watched as she went below deck. The seas were certainly dangerous…

But the girls relaxed. They’d won their prize and the pay for it, and now were safely heading for Slipcove. Dolce had another reason to celebrate. It seemed she wouldn’t be tasting the lash for keeping Mirielle out of the loop after all. The night’s distractions had proven enough to make the aasimar forget her transgression.




OOC Notes

I almost had Mirielle kill the captain of The Kurstav, but it seemed to me her aasimar heritage (which she is constantly ignoring and struggling with while taking people's livelihoods from them) would be much louder about killing him if she's planning to leave his crew alive in a safe port, so at the last moment she changed her mind. I honestly think this is a decision with important implications, because it's where Dolce starts realizing that as manipulative as she is, she made Mirielle the captain.

So, Owlbrarian ran the heist itself using the Infiltration rules introduced in the Pathfinder 2 Gamemastery Guide. This means the entirety of it came down to various skill checks. Three out of four of the girls were trained in stealth and three out of four were trained in deception for the infiltration. The things they did before hand (Nasha scouting, Revel befriending a guard, Dolce making costumes, and Mirielle bribing Revel's guard) gave us a resource we could use to basically turn a failed roll into a success. The costumes came with the requirement that the situation had to be appropriate for them (like convincing people, "Oh we're supposed to be here, we're cleaning this wing."), but the others were basically just something we could auto win at. I used one of these when I failed to cover our tracks with Nasha because I actually didn't want them to know how Dolce and the others got into the trophy room. I think Revel used two cause she was spotted, and the last was used when the guard spotted us outside. Dolce only stopped the bottle from dropping on the bar keep by way of a hero point to reroll her stealth check there.
 

Owlbrarian

The Librarian is Here
At the end of each Skull & Shackles adventure there is a section where several different bits of treasure with some lore tidbits about them. No price or stats for any of them just there for the DM. A few of these have come up in the game though this was the first appearance of it.

I mostly ran the infiltration as an improv section using, as Crys said the infiltration rules found in the Gamemastery Guide. I enjoy the rules pretty well though they can sometimes be a bit wonky with all of the PCs having to complete certain checks though I am happy with them in general.

The obvious bad guy would have been Sea Devils for the people that wanted the egg, but since this adventure (spoiler alert) involves Sea Devils later I didn’t want to overload the adventure with them.

My version of the Iku-turso are slightly different from the canon race. I have two versions of the disease, one of which created the person that the PCs talked to. This mostly comes from me making everything up on the fly and just randomly picking an underwater race. They are not natives to the Shackles so I had them traveling here just to try and gain the egg.

I had created my Mr Morden-like character (Babylon 5) before I had read about the Iku-turso and their love of diseases. So I just sort of merged the ideas together. Overall I was pretty happy with the result. As far as the egg itself the PCs know it is magical, and thus far all attempts at trying to identify it have failed. I do know what the egg will do and it will be fun to see it in action at a later date.
 

Crys

daydreamer and poet
Another 2 session post. I decide how many sessions to include in the posts based on how long my blog estimates they will take to read, by the by. This is a 12 minute and 7 minute read for a total of around 20 minutes. Some of my blog posts are 30+ minute reads, so they get to be their own post.




Spoiler Warning: Many spoilers for the Skull & Shackles adventure path are contained within these story recap posts. If you don’t want your campaign spoiled, don’t read these!




Session 11 – Meeting a Free Captain

As they left Ollo and the Iku-tursos behind, a storm had come upon them. The weather was abrupt and violent and greatly hampered their progress. It took them almost three days to gain the distance they would have on one less turbulent day.

When the storm quieted Dolce found herself admiring Owlbear’s new cloak. He’d claimed it from The Pelican for he’d been the one to sight her sails. It was certainly a fine thing, expertly crafted of Shadoweave. For someone who was not as sharp of mind he’d made a good enough choice, though Dolce suspected it had been based primarily on the cloak’s appearance. Thankfully, he’d sounded the whistle correctly and hadn’t required discipline. Dolce suspected this was Nasha’s doing, for the lizardfolk was quite fond of Owlbear and had taken him under her wing when it came to mastering ship tasks.

Dolce was considering retiring for a bit of rest after the days on the turbid seas – it looked like the storm might return and she didn’t want to miss her chance to sleep while she could – when the familiar signal whistle call rang in her ears. It was a halfling Mirielle had recruited at Rickety’s Squibs that sounded the alarm. “SAIL ON THE HORIZON!!! STARBOARD!” For a halfling, Finrin sure had a good set of pipes.

Dolce yawned and drew the spyglass from her pouch as she climbed up the stairs of the aftcastle to have a better look. As she caught the ship in her focus she began reporting to Mirielle, “They’re bearing right down on us Captain… And… I’m pretty sure that’s The Red Mariah. It’s a Free Captain’s ship! Captain Aspogar Astian, the Switch of the North. Likes to torture prisoners he takes for fun.” She handed the spyglass to Mirielle.

The sleepiness was gone from her as she wondered what her aasimar captain would order. Mirielle delayed a good minute as she watched them in the distance, then returned the spyglass to Dolce. “BRING US HARD TO STARBOARD!” The aasimar’s voice, more often soft and placating than anything else, rang with resounding authority. This quality had made it quite tricky when Dolce had impersonated her.

They were taking on a Free Captain. The very prospect of it made Dolce smile as she looked over at Mirielle. Certainly the captain had adapted well to her new life, and with a nod Dolce headed down the stairs again.

“Where are you going?” Mirielle asked, though her eyes were passing from Dolce to the crew even as she asked the question.

Dolce paused, “I’ve some spells I’d like to change a bit before we engage, at least if I can manage. See they’re more general purpose spells for the ship and we’ll be wanting my more combative-“

Mirielle cut her off, “Very well. Be quick about it and get back to the rigging. We will need all hands against an actual Free Captain.”

“Aye, Captain,” Dolce said, slipping into the officer’s quarters below the aftcastle to study her spellbook out of the chaos of the deck.



The Switch of the North

The sea was calmer than it had been in days, but the hurried hustle and bustle aboard the The Lady’s Purr had not diminished in the least. When Dolce rejoined the deck she found sailors working in concert to bring them closer to The Red Mariah.

It certainly got Dolce’s adrenaline pumping. She joined in working the rigging as she’d been instructed, taking over leading shanties from Revel, who’d proven quite adept at the task. Dolce felt Revaress’ tentacles alight on her shoulder and nuzzled the octopus. Fond as she was of the sea she’d never imagined she’d grow to like such a creature. She cast a glance toward Mirielle, who carried a backpack on her person even aboard the ship to tote around her own familiar, Cupiir.

The elf shook her head and put her back into the rope work and her voice into the singing. When the distance between the two ships had grown small enough Nasha yelled at Conchobhar, “READY THE BALLISTA… FIRE!” Revel looked disappointed. It seemed she and Nasha were always competing to see who would give the order first, and the other inevitably spent their time and effort reloading for the next shot.

The ballista bolt flew true, striking the structure of The Mariah and tearing through part of the wood. It made Dolce smile to see flakes of wood splinter off into the ocean. Of course, they returned fire, and as their ballista struck true and flew clear through the officer’s quarters Dolce noted some of the crew losing their resolve. Not on her watch. She launched into a popular song about an encounter between the current Hurricane King and a vessel called Naiegoul. It was supposed to have been quite a defining point in Bonefist’s life and it was, after all, about seizing opportunity much in the way she and Mirielle had.

The song’s upbeat tempo and boisterous nature had the desired effect, rallying the crew even as Mirielle was giving a rousing speech of her own. Dolce heard the beats of it, this man thinks because he’s a free captain he can take us, this man is known for torturing people just for the pleasure of it. Keep that in your minds as we storm his ship, prepare to board….

Prepare to board? Dolce looked back toward the other boat. They were still a good ninety feet away and not faced to draw alongside… Unless she meant to… Surely not?

“FULL AHEAD!” Mirielle bellowed, and the crew leapt to life. They were heading straight for a collision!

Dole took hold of the railing and bellowed in turn, “BRACE YOURSELVES!!!” All the while thinking, ‘What is she doing to my ship?’ She couldn’t question her aloud though, she’d nominated her to captain, after all. And they needed their momentum going into combat.

The Lady’s Purr slammed into the side of The Red Mariah and an awful splintering and groaning sound reached their ears. It had been a smart choice in a way, for the collision did far more damage to the enemy than to them and also closed the distance fast enough that Captain Astian hadn’t had the opportunity to fire off any more shots from his ballistae. Still, it pained Dolce to see the damage to their ship’s prow even as she was climbing across the ropes to board The Mariah.

She, Mirielle, Revel, and Nasha made their way to the wheel, dodging crossbow bolts and thrown weapons all the way. It was a feeling Dolce had grown accustomed to, and she, Nasha, and Revel had their fair share of scars from being hit in the crossing. Dolce had made certain Mirielle didn’t gain any, insisting that either the aasimar or Quinn used magical healing to knit any wounds she incurred. It was all going to be baked into her legend… The captain so skilled or gifted she’d naught a single scar upon her flesh.

At the wheel the four engaged Captain Astian as well as his lover and three marines. The battle was quite intense, but thankfully they had clustered up very well and Dolce rewarded them for this with Chilling Spray. Mirielle was targeted, but also safe behind Reven and Nasha, making it a hard shot for the opponents to hit her.

Early on Captain Astian was bold, asking whose idea it had been to ram his ship. Dolce had said naturally it was the captain’s and Astian had promised Mirielle he’d keep her alive… But of course, as his companions fell to their swords, claws, and fangs, his tune started changing. When he himself was killed, his lover jumped overboard. In the water she cast a spell that let her stand atop it.

Before anyone could say otherwise, Revel chased her into the sea. Dolce could have tried to snap Revel out of her bloodlust, she heard the woman surrender, but she didn’t particularly want the dead captain’s loyal, spell-casting lover alive to betray them.. So instead she moved to the edge of the boat and reported to Mirielle, “Two in the water, Captain.”

Mirielle did try to make Revel stand down, telling her to cease her attacks, but the hobgoblin was too far gone with bloodlust and ripped into the woman’s shoulder and arm, taking it clear off her body. Her attention then turned to another man who’d jumped overboard. One of the officers… She tore him apart too, ending their lives in quick succession.

Mirielle was quite displeased. “You will have to discipline her for that,” Mirielle said to Dolce.

Dolce knew Mirielle was right. The whole crew had heard her order Revel to stop her assault and the hobgoblin hadn’t listened. Quietly the elf responded, “It will be best if… you handle that, Captain.” She put emphasis on ‘you’ and met Mirielle’s gaze purposefully. The aasimar nodded.

They dropped the bodies of the dead into the sea. Easily Revel’s favorite part of any ship encounter because it never took long for the sharks to arrive. Of course the hobgoblin was aboard by then. While she took on their aspects, she had no special affinity with sharks and they would as soon eat her as the drifting dead.



Discipline

They split the crew between the two ships, as usual, but before Revel and Dolce went aboard The Red Mariah the crew was gathered on The Lady’s Purr. Dolce slipped into the captain’s cabin with Mirielle for no more than ten minutes, and when they emerged the elf, now disguised as Captain Mirielle gave the order, “Dolce, bind the Master-at-Arms to the mast.” Mirielle, who now looked like Dolce, nodded and did as she’d been bidden before standing among the crew. The false Captain Mirielle continued, “You all heard the order given, and all saw the order disobeyed. Not only did our Master-at-Arms directly disobey me, she killed a woman who had surrendered. Good Quarters to be given when Craved.” She said the last as deeply and heavily as she could, trying to mimic the real Mirielle’s voice. The crew was quiet and murmuring agreement even before she continued, “We ALL signed the articles. We ALL agreed to these rules, and that means always. Whether we be in the heat of combat or on an idle day, these are the rules we live by. For Revel’s transgressions, thirty stripes lacking one.”

Dolce saw her own face registering surprise at that particular sentence. It was strange to see herself react, but kind of exhilarating, for no one in the crew seemed to realize the switch had taken place. Not even Ambrose or Quinn, who both knew Dolce had this ability. As far as the discipline went, she knew Revel.. Nothing else would sting enough to remind the hobgoblin to obey the articles in the heat of combat.

Mirielle, appearing as Dolce, nodded and moved forward. They had planned on this. Naturally, if the person responsible for issuing out discipline on the ship was being disciplined it fell to the Bosun or First Mate to mete out their punishment. Just as her disguised friend prepared the first strike, Dolce as the captain said, “Stand down, Dolce. I will see to this personally.”

The lash was handed to her then and she moved close to Revel, saying over her shoulder, “Remember this the next time you think to kill someone who has surrendered. Remember it when you think to act against my orders. Orders are given for a reason, and we all agreed to the articles.”

Revel murmured her understanding, and Dolce earnestly believed the hobgoblin hadn’t intended to murder the two survivors who had fled… She just got so caught up in the taste and scent of blood all reason left her. The elf felt a little guilty to be punishing her for something she’d allowed to happen. After all, the death of the woman had suited Dolce and she suspected her voice could have cut through the cloud of Revel’s bloodlust if she’d directed it like she had just now… But… This way she didn’t have to deal with containing a spell caster that would certainly hold a grudge.

She moved back, and one by one the lashes fell. With her expert precision, she made sure none were too harsh and none too gentle. To her surprise, Revel remained conscious throughout the vast majority of the discipline. Only in the final lashes of the twenty-nine she’d been prescribed did she fall unconscious. When the deed was done, Dolce also noticed that Mirielle was still watching. She’d not expected that. So extreme had been the aasimar’s reactions on The Wormwood to witnessing such disciplines that Dolce hadn’t thought she’d had the stomach for it.

The crew likewise seemed surprised that Mirielle had meted out this punishment herself. This was as Dolce expected and why she had switched places with Mirielle to begin with. The crew needed to believe their captain capable of meting out the punishments they’d all agreed to. As well as to believe she could give a proper dressing down. Sure, they would have likely followed her anyway, but the air of respect they would show her would change after today.

“Master Surgeon, you may tend the Master-at-Arms’ wounds, but not with magic. Am I clear?” She was addressing Quinn, who nodded his understanding and took Revel to care for her.

She went about her business as Mirielle for a time, not wanting Quinn, Ambrose, or anyone else to be suspicious if they disappeared back into the captain’s cabin again after the discipline as well as they had before. To her surprise, Quinn caught up with her after treating Revel, finding her alone near the kitchen to say, “I didn’t think you had it in you, Mirielle.”

She feigned Mirielle’s discomfort with violence and said, “I only hope it’s not necessary again.”

Quinn smiled and leaned in, kissing her on the lips. Dolce’s eyebrows shot up in surprise, but luckily his eyes were closed. She had suspicions the two were growing close from watching them aboard the ship, but hadn’t thought they were actually … courting? This gesture seemed relaxed and expected and as though it would be strange if Mirielle rebuffed him, and so she did not.. She returned the kiss and was thankful it was but a brief peck on the lips and nothing more intimate. “You did well,” Quinn assured her as his eyes opened again. Dolce supposed she’d managed to mask her surprise well enough when he didn’t look confused.

“Th-thank you. I need to speak with Dolce about something now though. Perhaps we can catch up later, over dinner?” Dolce was tempted to intimate that more may happen over dinner, just to mess with Mirielle, but if the two were getting along she didn’t want to complicate things. She liked the idea of them together.

Quinn nodded and she darted off to find ‘Dolce’ and took her to her cabin before swapping appearances again. “Quinn kissed me!” She said when the door was closed.

“He did?” Mirielle asked.

Thankfully it was but a moment to drop the spell and the two looked like who they really were again. “Yes. Thinking I was you. Are you sleeping with him?” She didn’t suspect they were, but if they were it would mean trouble… When Mirielle’s cheeks grew dark red, Dolce knew she was right. “Well, if that changes you let me know. Being pregnant on a pirate ship as its captain would certainly complicate things.. And growing up on one is no place for a baby.”

Mirielle agreed and they separated. Now Dolce and Revel went to The Red Mariah with a few other members of their crew. They had seen Finrin take the captain’s hat and knew he’d be dining with the other officers on The Lady’s Purr tonight while they ate in the captain’s cabin here.

Except, the storm picked back up and Revel and Dolce didn’t have enough crew aboard The Red Mariah to break for dining at any length. They each snatched a bite and continued working. The rest of the trip to Slipcove proved wretched and slow.




OOC Notes for Session 11

The terrible storm that slowed their progress was actually a result of me miss-measuring the travel time between Ollo and Slipcove and my husband deciding rather than altering how long it took to arrive we’d just make their travel slower.

When Dolce and Mirielle switch places describing who is doing what becomes quite fun and convoluted.

Dolce can take ten minutes to replace a single spell she has prepared in a day for another spell of the same level thanks to her Arcane Thesis of Spell Substitution. She frequently does this when they approach enemy ships because the spells she prepares for ship emergencies (things like Feather Fall and Air Bubble) aren’t as useful in combat.




Session 12 – Slipcove

By the time they reached Slipcove, Calden, the lone surviving marine from The Kurstav, had proven himself a capable member of their crew. Mirielle had recruited him shortly after revealing her plan to transport The Kurstav‘s crew to Slipcove rather than stranding them in Ollo. It seemed the battle-hardened marine was fine working with pirates so long as there was no slavery involved. He’d taken to instructing the crew of The Purr in combat, trying to shore up the shortcomings of those with little battle experience. Honestly something Dolce and Revel probably should have taken the time to do…

Dolce suspected part of his willingness to convert was how fairly the crew of The Kurstav had been treated… Even their captain left alive and all of them fed from the same food The Purr‘s crew ate. Perhaps there was some merit to Mirielle’s mercy, even if it would bring the Aspice Consortium down on their heads.

The aasimar was right about their reputation… Without a reputation Mirielle would never be named a Free Captain. While technically being named one wouldn’t do much for the crew of The Lady’s Purr, it would mean that other Free Captains should leave them be… Should… But they were all pirates, so Dolce made no hard assumptions about that particular point.

Conchobar had really taken to his post as Master Gunner. Cog and Rosie were another matter. Their Quartermaster was quite capable of keeping inventory and securing the quartermaster’s cabin, but he was miserable doing it. Aside from frolicking with Revel, his duties gave him little in the way of distraction and he missed working the rigging. Strange creature, that. Rosie, on the other hand, didn’t like the weight of her responsibilities as Bosun. She did the job well enough, but Dolce honestly wanted to free her of it so she could be a full-time entertainer.

Songs did much to break up the monotony of long days at sea, and Dolce suspected Rosie’s passion for music would make her a natural at that particular task. Even Mirielle had suggested as much in private conversation. As a result whenever they made port Dolce kept an eye out and an ear open for good candidates for Quartermaster and Bosun. Perhaps in Slipcove.

As they approached the port a vessel of respectable size came alongside them. A longboat came out, and much like in Senghor, a detachment of personnel requested to come aboard. Mirielle allowed them and openly told them they meant to sell The Red Mariah here in Slipcove as well as to release the crews of both The Red Mariah and that of The Kurstav here in Slipcove, where they were likely to find a softer landing than they might have in our last port of call, Ollo.

The fee, as a “fleet” with neither a reputation for freeing slaves nor a reputation for taking them, to enter Slipcove was a single payment of a thousand gold coins. Luckily, Mirielle, Dolce, Revel, and Nasha had eight thousand gold coins they were eager to be free of. They didn’t particularly want the ancient currency of the Iku-Tursos lingering with them. It would give them an all too easy thing to scry upon since it was rather distinctive due to its age.

The payment for their two vessel fleet was made to the halfling who had inspected their ships. When they reached land, Mirielle loitered long enough to see that the halflings who had met them on the ocean were setting up the two crews The Purr was leaving here with work and a place to stay. Senghor had made sure they’d been true to their word and freed the people they’d taken there, but Slipcove went a step farther. It made sense to Mirielle, after all, Captain Raffles had had his start as a slave aboard a Chelaxian vessel.

The Chains of Freedom was at port, meaning Captain Raffles was at home. Dolce was sure he wouldn’t claim their ship, even though it was in his right to do so. Raffles had a reputation of singling out slavers and Dolce felt certain the money they were about to spend upgrading The Purr in his settlement would put them in his favor.

Mirielle and Dolce set about selling The Red Mariah. The buyer was employed by none other than Captain Raffles. Dolce asked him who he recommended to improve their hull, sell them silk sails, enchant their catapults, and sell them light ballistae. The people suggested to them also worked for Raffles. Mirielle and Dolce spent thousands of gold, easily more than the remaining seven thousand from the Iku-Tursos’ payment on these improvements, plus buying the supplies to carve a figurehead.

The last was a surprise project Mirielle assigned to Dolce. Dolce then set about acquiring better tools for all of their needs.. Healer’s supplies, higher quality thieves’ tools, better-suited climbing kits, carpentry tools, jeweler’s tools, tailor’s tools, and on and on. Soon she felt like she had a tool for everything short of smithing in her Bag of Holding.

She bought an extra set of the healer’s tools for Quinn, plus two nice spyglasses for herself and Mirielle. Her old spyglass, claimed on the island of the grindylow, would go to the crow’s nest for whoever was on duty up there.

Dolce sang for three nights of their recent deeds – of course, not mentioning a thing about the shark egg that hadn’t left her Bag of Holding since the night they’d claimed it. She emphasized their most recent conquest, for The Switch of the North was known to participate in slavery and this port was overflowing with freed slaves. She was right, a swelling of appreciation could be felt when she sang the tale of their combat with Captain Astian...

Head to Head

The storm had cleared but an hour before-
The waves lilted and they lulled-
She’d followed us from the nearest shore
And all our senses dulled.

Her thunder, that mighty anger voiced,
Receded with the clouds.
And for the reprieve we rejoiced
So tired of her shrouds.

Then came a cry from overhead;
Sail on our starboard side.
The ship showed not a sign of dread
And toward us did she glide.

Her ruby silk above the waves,
Like fire over water,
A captain known for making graves,
‘Twould spare as soon as slaughter.

The Red Mariah, she was called,
Switch of the North, was he,
And toward us now his crew was hauled
To meet us on the sea.

Our Captain let the spyglass down,
And ordered us to starboard.
We would defeat him or we’d drown,
Beneath the hate he harbored.

Head to head our course is set,
And not a soul dismays,
We’ve no time to feel regret,
Our colors do we raise.

The catapults exchanging fire
Above the ocean blue,
Wood splinters and sailors tire
And yet our course stays true.

They hit us good and turn to port,
More weapons, now, they bare.
Their plan, our captain means to thwart
For her, their threat can’t scare.

“Full ahead” she yells aloud,
“Prepare to board!” soon follows,
Into her hull, The Lady plowed,
Some of the crew, she swallows.

The groan of wood rings in our ears
As we board the other vessel.
Our enemy shrugs off their fears
And soon our crews will wrestle.

Captain to captain came the fight
At The Mariah‘s wheel,
And the Switch, too prideful for respite
Took death before he’d kneel.
Of course, the song would be met in other harbors with at least some respect for the captain who wouldn't surrender. Here it was simply met with cheering at the fact that he was dead.

The fourth night, as she was sitting to dinner with Mirielle and Quinn, they were approached by a group of halflings who informed them they had been invited to dine with none other than Captain Raffles. Mirielle sent Dolce to hunt down Revel, and accepted graciously. The inside of Captain Raffles’ estate was covered in broken chains. It seemed there was a constant clinking sound. Dolce approved of the atmosphere it created.




Broken Chains

They dined on the overturned and warped hull of the ship’s boat which his previous slaver had tried to escape on. During the course of dinner Captain Raffles informed them that the bones were still inside the overturned hull. A bit morbid, but understandable to Dolce. He also told them the sounds of the chains clinking had driven some servants mad. She wondered at the truth of that.

Raffles commented on their presence being bold when he could simply take their ship from them, but Mirielle calmly replied, “My first mate here seems to think quite highly of you, Captain. She assures me it would be very out of character for you to do something like that considering we’ve no history of, nor intent to engage in, slavery… And, I trust my first mate’s instincts.” Mirelle offered a smile to Dolce.

Raffles leaned back in his chair, considering first Mirielle and then Dolce. Dolce smiled at him when his eye was upon her, but she felt convinced he didn’t trust them. And why should he? Everyone at the table was a pirate. By the end of the meal he had warmed up considerably thanks to both Dolce and Mirielle’s efforts. They’d exchanged stories and Dolce had recounted going head-to-head with The Red Mariah yet again.

Here Captain Raffles laughed and said, “Ah, The Red Mariah. Was Captain Astian still wearing that ridiculous green hat?”

A test, Dolce sensed, to see if they’d really slain who they claimed when they themselves were pirates he’d never heard of before. “Ah, no Captain. 'Twas a red hat with varied colored plumage. One of our own claimed it for himself, his prize for sighting her sails. It was quite comical though, taking it in for him. He’s a halfling, like yourself, and Astian was a big man.” Captain Raffles laughed about this, and conversation moved on to his conquests again.

When they left Captain Raffles they were well-fed and Dolce felt they’d passed his tests. Of course, any alliance or friendliness was as likely to change as the winds. They’d leave here when the modifications were completed to The Purr and head back out to the trade lanes. Senghor was still a better port, and for now they were not selling their plunder because even with the gross influx of their coin the halflings wouldn’t be paying as well as Senghor would.

Dolce shopped some more, buying a number of blank books as well as a book full of designs for basic things one needed on a ship. Sails, ropes, anchors, wheels, etc. etc. And of course, a figurehead. She’d have to consult this to be sure the figurehead she designed for Mirielle’s vessel would stay affixed to it properly. They were having it mounted, but of course, right now it was just a large hunk of wood she could carve out of.

With all of those mundane needs handled she went back to her luxurious inn to relax. The atmosphere was amazing, but she expected no less from a high-end inn run by halflings. They were renowned for their love of homely comforts.

A week in total was spent in Slipcove by the time they got to survey their ship’s upgrades. The sturdier hull would cost them in room for plunder, but not much. The silk sails would make the vessel swifter. Dolce had gotten the craftsmen to work in imagery of mist and ice crystals in their silken sails. Chosen primarily because Mirielle had Greed and Gluttony – the two catapults they mounted on the forecastle and aftcastle – enchanted with Frost. When Dolce had inquired why, Mirielle had said she was taking a page out of Dolce’s book.. Frost was safer than fire or electricity or even thunder on the sea.

True, it would be more likely to slow enemy vessels than inflict additional damage or burning to them… That was why Chilling Spray was Dolce’s go-to spell rather than Burning Hands. She hadn’t even invested the energy or coin to learn the latter.

Now though, it gave Dolce ideas for the figurehead and she wanted the sails to blend with what she was going for. An angel with wings of ice crystals and a glowing halo not unlike Mirielle’s. That was how Dolce would repay her captain for the surprise task of making their figurehead… By featuring her prominently in it.

Dolce was smiling as they took to the sea again, leaving Slipcove in their wake. She had rigged a rope harness for her work carving the figurehead. If it was all she did for the next several days.. she figured she could manage it in four… But more time would have been convenient.
 
Last edited:

Owlbrarian

The Librarian is Here
So pretty much all of this session (or rather two sessions) used material either found at the end of the Skull & Shackles adventures (The Switch of the North encounter) or from the Isles of the Shackles Book (Slipcove).

The main noteworthy thing was me messing up my description of Raffles. It is interesting looking at the description of him compared to the picture they present for him. I guess the picture is the “old Raffles” from 6 years ago. When I did this encounter I went with the brief historical writeup at the start along with the picture as my basis for this character.

In truth he is a washed up hasbeen who likely is part of the slave trade he was trying to fight against. Honestly I am kinda glad I designed him before I read that section because he is written up now as a plot hook (investigate the rumor/stop him if true) sort of a deal and honestly they didn’t need more plot hooks!

That and I enjoyed the sort of “good” bad guy that he was originally.
 

Crys

daydreamer and poet
Spoiler Warning: Many spoilers for the Skull & Shackles adventure path are contained within these story recap posts. If you don’t want your campaign spoiled, don’t read these!




Session 13 – The Trade Lanes

Dolce had done a double take when the crew had assembled in the morning on their first day out from Slipcove. There were at least twice as many halflings on board as she remembered, and now 32 crew. She supposed her stories must have gotten the attention of some of Captain Raffles’ kin while they were on Bag Island and it seemed Mirielle had felt they needed more crew.

She was, at least in part, correct. With the now four ballistae and two catapults on board they required more crew to man them. But the crew’s aggregate height had to have decreased by half, and the thought of that was amusing to Dolce and probably more so to someone like Nasha who already towered above the humans aboard.

Dolce didn’t get much opportunity to mingle with the new crew in their first days out. She was too busy hanging over the front of the prow getting splashed by waves as she carved at the figurehead. Mirielle had been all too happy to point out Dolce could have done this while they were in port, but Dolce just ignored her.

It did take a bit longer than she’d imagined, but… The image really came out as she worked the wood. The extra days were worth the effort as each detail of her ice-winged angel version of Mirielle came to life. Painting it would have to wait til the next time they made port… Which would likely be in Senghor… When she’d want to catch up with Gidras and buy more scrolls from him… She could manage both, surely.

The sixth day she finished her work and bid Mirielle look at it. The Captain looked at first surprised and in awe, and then amused. “I suppose I should have expected that..” she gestured at the angel’s halo.

“Aye, Captain, have to be true to your likeness,” Dolce said.

Mirielle snorted. “I don’t have wings.”

Dolce tilted her head, “What are those then?” She gestured up at the silken sails with their misty, ice crystal motif.

Mirielle followed her gesture and blinked, regarding her closely for a moment. Had she seen the poem in the captain’s log? Surely not. No. Dolce wasn’t snooping through her things. “I suppose a fair counterpoint, Dolce. Well done. I knew you wouldn’t disappoint.”

Another day passed in relative peace, but near the end of it the whistle sounded. This time the whistle blew long bursts. Dolce made her way to the prow, happy not to be dangling on a rope this time, and looked through her spyglass. In the distance, almost due east of The Purr was a column of smoke.

In the open ocean, that could only mean a vessel was burning. “Smoke, Captain.” Dolce nodded toward it as Mirielle joined her and looked through her own spyglass. “Can’t see just what boat is burning, but I’m sure I’ll be able to tell you when we get closer.”

And closer they did get. As they drew close enough to see properly Dolce could make out a single masted Chelish naval cutter and a brig. “Looks like someone’s already won the battle, but they’re busy with the crewmen.”

Mirielle smiled at Dolce’s words. “They’re still grappled with each other?” the captain asked. The elf nodded in response. “Good," Mirielle said, "I bet they don’t even see us coming with the sun setting behind us.” She kept them on their current heading.

Dolce, as they drew nearer, identified one of the vessels. “That’s The Famished Mane. She’s a pirate hunter. Likes to animate some of the crew from every pirate vessel she takes to hang over the side of her ship as a deterrent to those who would board her. Captain Tisserond selects five or six. The rest of the crew gets chained in the hold and they burn the boat.”

Mirielle shuddered. “Well that might put a damper on our boarding plans. Do you have a solution for it?”

Dolce smiled. “Oh aye, I can handle the undead, Captain.” The elf was grinning again.




Lightning
Not a shot was fired as they made their approach. In fact, they were lined up to pull alongside with Dolce at the prow waiting for the perfect moment before they heard the enemy sound the alarm. Shortly after the elf completed the gestures and murmured the words of power required to summon a crackling bolt of electricity that bridged the gap from The Purr to The Mane and arced straight along her side and her dangling, animated corpses.

The undead were undone, hanging limp or falling apart when the Lightning Bolt finished its work. The rest of the crew boarded swiftly, met with armed resistance. Captain Tisserond had a compliment of six Chelish marines aboard, as well as a crew mostly on the vessel she’d captured. The Purr‘s surged from The Famished Mane onto the other vessel to contend with her crew another ship apart. Meanwhile, Mirielle, Revel, and Nasha engaged Captain Tisserond, while Dolce slipped to the side to line up another brutal Lightning Bolt, this time aiming for the marines.

The battle was harder than Mirielle had expected. Her healing magic and her halo granting great boons to Nasha and Revel. Dolce went almost unscathed until she let her second Lightning Bolt fly. Then she fell under the focus of the two marines that survived it while the Captain tried to deal with Revel and Nasha.

In the end, Dolce slew one of the marines and Revel tore Captain Tisserond’s throat out. The hobgoblin was getting unnervingly reliable at performing that particular sort of attack. Sure, she’d bite an arm or a hand, or even a leg if the opportunity came to her, but she seemed to aim for the throat when she was able.

The last marine, seeing his captain fall, surrendered. Mirielle gave the order to release the men in the hold to her crew, who quickly set about it, hurrying down below on the burning ship, but not before Dolce cast Personal Rain Cloud on Ambrose to help him contend with the heat of the flames.

She’d learned the spell on a lark, intending to use it to let people know when they’d annoyed her, and here she cast the scroll of it for a practical reason. The constant pattering of rain would dampen the heat for him.

Only eight were saved from below before Mirielle had her crew come aboard The Mane. They released the grapples in a hurry and they all watched as the Vorsfang sank into the sea, the fire damage taking too much of her to keep afloat any longer.

In total they had rescued fourteen, for Captain Tisserond had selected six to animate as undead. The Vorsfang pirates were grateful to be saved, and quickly set about working for Mirielle even as she dealt with the crew of The Famished Mane.

At least having the pirates in addition to their own crew made dividing The Mane‘s crew easy enough. Dolce and Revel captained The Mane while Mirielle and Nasha stayed aboard The Purr and they set sail for Senghor… Though, not before Dolce and Revel destroyed the undead hanging from The Mane‘s other side. Dolce had no love for Captain Tisserond's tactic and didn’t wish to listen to the chains rattle with their struggling while she was aboard.




New Beginnings
Among the six Captain Tisserond had chosen to be animated were the Bosun and the Shantyman of the Vorsfang. The Bosun was peculiar. He dressed covered from head to toe in wrappings, wore a rather large hat, and even goggles. It made Dolce suspicious… Though, she likely would have been anyway. She trusted very few that weren’t her own crew.

The Shantyman, to Dolce’s delight, was a tengu. A race said to be good luck aboard a ship. Though she gathered this one had not come into the luck they were rumored to possess, for he told her that twice before he’d been the only survivor of his former crew.

Dolce didn’t have much more opportunity to get to know them as they both stayed aboard The Purr, but she wondered if she could convince Mirielle to recruit them both. She passed the idea along to Mirielle through a Message spell, and Mirielle agreed their expertise might be useful. Dolce would see what came of that in Senghor, she supposed. To be honest, she would have been just fine with them only recruiting Vixi, the tengu. But…. but if they recruited Shade and he was actually decent at the task of being Bosun, it would free up Rosie to be a full-time entertainer.

Dolce still didn’t trust Shade, but that seemed a fair trade off to her as someone who loved music. She was also working on convincing Mirielle and Nasha to learn to sing. The aasimar was more willing than the lizardfolk, but with persistence… Or perhaps by pulling rank… Dolce would win them both over.




On the Purr

Mirielle oversaw the usual work on The Purr. The prisoners from The Famished Mane were moved below deck and watched closely by Maheem, Fipps, and a few others. Ernald, the halfling who’d sited the smoke, had claimed Captain Cyvantras Tisserond’s hat as his prize. It would need to be adjusted.

It looked good on him, if oversized, and Mirielle quipped, “I think you’ve earned yourself a nickname with that prize, Barb.”

The halfling cocked his head to the side. “Barb? Why Barb?”

Mirielle smiled, “The pin. It’s a barbazu skull.” She tapped a silver pin on the captain’s hat. “Revel told me only those who do well at the Chelaxian Naval Academy are awarded these pins. This particular pin means she graduated second in her class. They are quite rare as a result.”

‘Barb’ looked quite please with this and shortly said, “I like it!”

Mirielle didn’t tell him, but Revel had also said some pirates collected the Chelaxian pins. She wasn’t especially interested in doing so herself, and anyway it was unlikely she would have the opportunity given captain’s hats were turning out to be a popular prize for sighting a sail.

Barb joined Mirielle and the other officers at dinner. There was lively conversation, though it always felt a bit quieter with Dolce and Revel aboard their captured vessels. The next day she discussed with Rosie her ambitions for the future. The halfling was quite displeased with her responsibility, but willing to continue shouldering it if necessary because it came with a bigger share of plunder. She also pulled Cog aside, who more or less informed her he was bored to tears doing inventory and staying locked up in the Quartermaster’s closet.

She decided this was a keen opportunity to try Shade and Vixi, since both she and Dolce had noted they’d saved the Bosun and Shantyman of The Vorsfang. She was a bit concerned Vixi would have Cog’s disposition regarding being a quartermaster, but she needn’t have feared. The tengu’s eyes lit up at the prospect of being in charge of all their shiny tools and expendables. Shade was impossible to read, covered as he was, but he said he was happy to perform the role of Bosun if required.

They both effectively went into a trial period, and Rosie soon filled the air with fiddle music while Cog was the happiest man working the rigging Mirielle had ever witnessed. Her spirits climbed watching this, and Vixi and Shade seemed to perform their tasks well.




!!! Trigger warning. This section regards an NPC who committed suicide. The act is not described in great detail, but the topic is of an understandably sensitive nature so I've chosen to put it in a spoiler. !!!

Foreign Customs


On the third day after taking The Famished Mane Nasha brought the single surviving marine to Mirielle. She had considered recruiting this man, and was still entertaining the idea. She wondered if he had come to the same idea.

They stood by the wheel as he said, “Forgive me, Captain. I’m sure you’re quite busy. When we are accepted into the Chelaxian Naval Academy we are trained to live as a unit, and to die as one. I’m asking you for permission to fulfill the oaths I’ve made.”

Mirielle’s face fell as she took in his words. He wished to kill himself over some oath? She knew as someone raised to ‘fulfill a duty’ the power of such oaths, but they seemed almost anathema to her existence now, in rebellion of her family. She looked to Nasha and said, “We’ll speak in my cabin.”

The lizardfolk nodded and Mirielle had Shade step up to oversee things while she went into her cabin with the marine. Mirielle’s cabin was well appointed. Not only because it possessed Mr. Plugg’s Hospitality’s Hammock. There was a small table within as well as two chairs. Most often they were occupied by herself and Dolce or Jack Scrimshaw, her cabin boy. Mirielle noted he had followed her inside, but she shooed him away before regarding the Chelaxian.

“Now then. Explain this to me,” Mirielle said.

The Chelaxian looked perhaps a bit flustered, but also accepting of his position. He said again, “We are trained to live together and to die together. All of my comrades died. I cannot be the only one to survive this. There was a dagger among my things, its only purpose is fulfilling this oath, Captain.”

Mirielle leaned back in her chair and swept her hat off, balancing it on her knee. “But, you’d rather die than seek your own fate?” Her blue eyes were intense and quizzical. Realizing she may have come across as judging or mocking to him she said, “I’m sorry, it’s just.. Such a foreign concept to me… If you don’t mind, please expand upon why.”

The man took in a slow breath and nodded. “Beyond just wishing to fulfill my oath… I’m sure you have heard rumors of Cheliax. To advance within the nobility, we make pacts with devils. These pacts promise our souls not only in life, but in death, to the devils we make them with.”

Mirielle nodded. Her angelic heritage made her particularly aware of the dangers of such pacts. It only served to puzzle her further. “But… in dying you would…” she let the sentence trail off.

The man nodded, “I would, yes. I know what awaits me. And believe me…” He tried to steel himself, but his nerves showed through in the tremble of his hands. “I don’t want to do this. I must.”

Mirielle ran her finger along the feathers of her captain’s hat. She swallowed and said, “Why though? Surely the pact will still be binding if you die in thirty years. Wouldn’t you rather claim what you can while you can?”

He frowned and said, “My father made this pact for our family. He said, and I don’t know how true it is, that if we fail to serve the burden falls on the rest of our family. If I don’t do this, they will pay for it while I claim what I can.”

Now Mirielle rubbed her temples. That was quite a position to be in. One that might have even moved her to being dutiful, for she loved her sisters and her mother and father, even if she had no intention of returning to them. “I see. And you’re.. you’re sure about this?”

He nodded resolutely, only the tremble of his hands betraying his fear.

“I will allow you to do this, though I wonder if it isn’t folly.” Mirielle put her hat back on and stood, moving to her bedside and withdrawing her captain’s log. She flipped to the back of the page and tore a sheet of parchment from it. “Here then. You will pen a letter to your family. I will see it sent.”

The man nodded, though he seemed hesitant. When Mirielle inquired he informed her he wished to send two letters if it wasn’t too much to ask. Mirielle provided him an additional piece of parchment. “I will be outside with your dagger when you are ready.”

She stepped out of her cabin, where Nasha and Jack Scrimshaw were lingering. “Nasha, go and find the marine’s possessions. Bring his dagger to me.” Nasha nodded and departed. To Jack she said, “I believe Ambrose could use some help in the kitchens. Why don’t you run along and see?” It was nearing lunch time and Mirielle felt certain Ambrose would keep the boy busy for long enough.

Nasha returned with the dagger and when the man opened her cabin door Mirielle saw he’d left the two letters composed on her desk. She nodded and said, “You did not tell me your name.”

The man looked surprised. “It’s Vulpius Scariano, Captain.”

Mirielle nodded. It was not a name she would soon forget. She said to Nasha, “Escort Vulpius to the head. He wishes to maintain his oath and protect his family, and I won’t deny him that. When the deed is done, return to me.”

Nasha nodded. Mirielle couldn’t bring herself to watch this, for in her mind it was a tragedy. He sentenced his soul to hell and servitude where she would have fought to find a way out of such an obligation. But then, his reality was a far cry from her own. And her own reality was far cry from what it had been. Would she have been the same as this man if she’d been raised in Cheliax?

Mirielle returned to the wheel, as far from the scene as she could be, and watched as Nasha took the man forward and sent sailors away from the scene. When Nasha returned the man had gone through with his grim task. The lizardfolk said, “He asked me to tell anyone that asked that he died bravely.”

Mirielle nodded.

“He was crying,” Nasha said.

Mirielle smiled softly but grimly. “Sometimes bravery is not the absence of fear, but acting when you are faced with it.” Nasha nodded. “What of his body?”

Nasha said, “He said it was just a husk. I have pushed it overboard. Narwhale and Giffer and swabbing the deck. I kept this.” Nasha held out the dagger, thankfully clean of blood.

Mirielle took the blade from her friend, her own hand trembling now. Mirielle said, “I will keep this.” Nasha nodded. “Go tend your duties. And… thank you.” Nasha nodded again and strode off.

Further inspection of the dagger revealed it bore minor magical energy. It’s single property, to ensure that any attempt at ending one’s own life with it was successful. It’s very existence sent a shudder down Mirielle’s spine, but she would keep it all the same, to remember this man who was so… so opposite of she. There were many brave deaths Mirielle imagined she would be willing to face for friends and family, but dying for a pact she was not certain required it of her at that very moment? She wasn’t sure she would have done that.

She found herself turning the blade over in her hands and wondering… Did she still love her family? Her father? And would she truly still die for them? It seemed to Mirielle that she would have once, but that now she had a new family… And before she would die for the old family or the new one, she’d fight tooth and nail to survive for them and to lead them and heal them.




OOC Notes 1

I rolled the craft check for the figurehead as Dolce was making it. She named herself first mate specifically so she could duck out of duties to pursue other activities for a time, but in this instance Mirielle imposed upon her freedom and she spent six days working on the figurehead. Her total was a 32 (a 19 on the die) on her craft check and they spent 1000g on materials… So The Lady’s Purr currently has one of the best made figureheads on the seas.

My husband came up with Barbazu skull pin signifying how well the captain performed at the naval academy. I really enjoyed it as a nice touch since Cheliax is quite heavily themed with fiends and devils.




Session 14 – Senghor

Dolce saw what had transpired on The Purr through her spyglass and had since spoken to Mirielle about it. The captain informed her it was the man’s wish to fulfill his duty to his family and his country. Dolce couldn’t help thinking the man was a fool for the latter. Sacrificing himself would only ensure he toiled in the fires of Hell for eternity. She could tell, even from the brief correspondence Message allowed, that Mirielle was shaken.

‘Still too soft for her own good,’ Dolce thought. A day out from Senghor they saw an abandoned boat. Rather than board it with the full crew, Mirielle signaled Dolce and Revel to join her and Nasha and the four of them went aboard. Soon they found themselves fighting off a sahuagin ambush, but it posed little trouble for them. They had made the boat look as though it were sinking and had cleaned up the signs of their combat with her previous crew.

Ultimately the trouble of transporting the boat would have only netted them a small profit and it could only carry a small crew. Mirielle allowed the twelve pirates from the Vorsfang to claim it and to leave with it to make their own fortunes. They were grateful for the opportunity and to have a boat at all, and so they named it Miri’s Kiss in her honor.

Dolce was amused at the name and was pretty sure it made Mirielle blush. They continued to Senghor, once again being subject to detailed searching of their two holds and interviewing of the crew of The Famished Mane. They made port and allowed the Chelaxian pirate hunters off the ship. Dolce magically mended, cleaned, sealed, and painted The Lady’s Purr‘s figurehead, taking the time to visit Gidras for more scrolls…

Only the bastard didn’t sell her scrolls. He made her copy the spells from his spellbook. And when she made a mistake he rapped her knuckles with the long rod she’d seen him wield against his students before. It was infuriating being treated like a child in Dolce’s mind, but he was the single best source of spells of the like she was seeking in all of Senghor.. At least, of those that would willingly deal with pirates. Also… irritatingly… he helped her master spells she might not have by stopping her from making foolish mistakes.

Dolce also noted while in Senghor, when she sang their tales in taverns at night, the common populace were more eager to hear them. They remembered them from before. And that brought a smile to the elf’s lips. Soon enough they set sail again, leaving Senghor behind them.




Prey

This time they were only two days out from Senghor when the short bursts of the whistle pierced the day’s doldrums. Soon after a female halfling’s voice, “SAIL!!” She was gesturing to port.

Looking through the spyglass, Dolce saw a Rahadoumi schooner. Not a pirate vessel, nor a pirate hunter, nor any other ship Dolce knew by name. “Rahadoumi. Sails as white as clouds… And.. something big on deck.” Dolce couldn’t see clearly enough to identify what the big thing was.

Mirielle gave pursuit, ordering their course changed. This one proved elusive, staying out of firing range for a whole two days of their chase. When finally they drew closer the large thing they had on deck took flight.

Dolce’s hair stood on end. She’d learned the spell Earthbind and prepared it every day, but this was because she’d seen large avians in the distance one day when they were entering a storm. She hadn’t anticipated anything flying off of an enemy ship. She looked through the spyglass, by the size of it, at this distance.. Perhaps a hippogriff, gryphon, manticore, or wyvern. None would bode well for ship combat.

“FIRE GREED!” She heard Revel shout triumphantly. They’d closed the distance considerably and her hobgoblin friend was beaming at having beaten Nasha to the order. The lizardfolk took no delight or dismay as she started preparing to aid reloading. Greed was loaded with chain shot, and when the sails were met they were thoroughly shredded, part of the mast collapsed.

Dolce didn’t have time to dwell on that though, for the creature had drawn closer. It was a manticore! “Captain, that one will have dangerous spikes it can fire at us from a distance. Might want to ready the ballistae, though I do have a contingency.”

Mirielle looked from the catapult to the flying terror and said, “Do what you can. I mean to cripple that ship!” She ordered another fire of Greed as soon as she was ready.

Dolce nodded, weaving her magic as soon as the manticore was close enough. The magic worked, weighing down on the beast and dragging it into the sea, but unfortunately it was more resilient than Dolce hoped, shaking off the effect and taking flight again after a brief struggle.

The second shot of Greed was fired and shortly after whistling reached them from the other ship. Their mast was completely gone now, and they were dead in the water. The manticore seemed to heed their whistles well, for it turned and flew toward the ship.

Mirielle wasted no time in boarding the enemy, who promptly requested a parley. She said she would hear them out.

“It is in your best interest, Captain, to agree to our terms. We propose you take the bounty in our hold and let us leave with our ship.”

Mirielle raised an eyebrow. “Why would I do that?”

“Because we’ve scuttled it,” the Rahadoumi captain said with confidence. “She’s taking on water even now.”

“Mm. Dolce, if you woul-” Mirielle began, but the enemy captain must have realized she meant to ask the elf to mend it for suddenly she drew her blade and combat erupted on the deck.

The manticore acted swiftly, taking to the air and landing on the bowsprit. It launched a volley of its deadly spines at Mirielle and struck her true. She didn’t fall, but barely kept her footing. Dolce sprang to action, tumbling through the legs of one sailor to line up a Lightning Bolt. Her spell hit two marines, the captain, and the manticore. The marines died from the spell, but the captain took it better than they had. The manticore was unharmed.

Nasha and Revel advanced next, not allowing the enemy captain time to close on Mirielle. They surrounded her, and with claw and fang tore her flesh. She was nothing but a dead body at the end of it.

Mirielle turned her focus on the manticore. The ship’s morale had broken, her crew were fleeing and jumping into the sea. Not wanting to try and withstand another barrage of spines, Mirielle called upon her own magic and said, “Flee,” as she invoked the spell, Command. The authority of her voice rang true.

The creature, as it caught it’s breath, took in the scene but briefly before taking flight and turning away, just as it had been bidden. “Very nice, Captain. Are you alright?” Dolce asked, moving to Mirielle’s side.

“I will be fine. You tend the boat.” The enemy crew was still trying to flee themselves, and Mirielle, beleaguered by her injuries and the needless combat said, “WAIT! If you try to swim only death awaits you! We have no intention of killing you!” But the crew didn’t listen. They swam for an island in the distance. Near enough some would surely make it, but not large enough to support the life of man upon it.

Mirielle sighed as she called upon her angelic heritage, her halo glowing around her head. She knit her wounds with magic, watching the spines eject from her arm where some had lingered. It took a number of spells to fully heal her, and yet not as many as if it had been Revel who had been so injured.

Dolce magically mended The Sandbalot, but it required true repair work to be done if it were to be seaworthy again. They would need wood for that, which meant anchoring at a distant shore. And so, with magic keeping the ocean at bay in the bilges, Mirielle and Dolce set a course due east to the shores of Sargava.

Eveth, meanwhile, was allowed first choice of the non-magical items onboard The Sandbalot. She took an item from the captain’s cabin, though she would not tell anyone what it was. She did, of course, submit to a Detect Magic spell so they could verify it hadn’t been of a magical nature. But beyond that, she wouldn’t say a word.




Old Wounds

Literally the day after The Sandbalot another sail was sighted. This one was engaged in combat. It also flew a jolly roger. Dolce chuckled. “That’s The Devil’s Pallor. Believe her captain is Gortus Svard. You might-“

“What?” Revel’s voice cut Dolce’s jest short.

She sounded so angry Dolce wondered if her teeth were already bared. She lowered the spyglass. “You know him?”

“Yeah, I know that cur. One of the bastards that left me in Port Peril.” Revel was seething.

Dolce looked back at The Devil’s Pallor. It was a Shackles drekar. Its prey was a galleon Dolce didn’t know. She cast her gaze toward The Lady’s Purr. Mirielle was at the wheel, but on the side closest to Dolce, allowing their communication via Message. “Are we engaging, Captain?” The elf could practically feel Revel’s gaze intent upon her as the magical message whisked away and returned Mirielle’s answer just as quickly. Dolce looked at Revel. “Our crew’s spread too thin.”

“UGH!” Revel slammed her fist into the railing and Dolce swore she heard it splinter. She’d be sure to mend that. “Of course we find the man while I’m stuck babysitting a sinking ship!” Revel turned on her heel and strode down among the crew on The Sandbalot. They were all Purr crewman, for the Rahadoumi had all fled.

Dolce looked back toward The Pallor. She’d remember that about Gortus Svard. Mirielle was right not to fight him. Dolce’s ship was currently undermanned and The Purr had only exactly as many hands as was needed to pilot her aboard at the moment. But perhaps in some future port or trade lane…

As it was, Dolce was using all of her most powerful spells just keeping The Sandbalot afloat. Every eight hours she had to cast Shipwright lest they take on too much water, and she was eager to make landfall and get repairs underway.




OOC Notes for Session 14

Gidras granted Dolce a +2 to her efforts to copy spells into her spellbooks with his harsh instruction and it did make the difference in her succeeding or failing with two of the spells she copied.

Also, the girls got to pick a favored port where it is easier to gain Infamy and Disrepute (mechanics for their pirate shenanigans) and they chose Senghor. They get a +2 to story telling there now.

You may remember that Mirielle’s aasimar quality is the authority of her voice. We made the DC to impersonate her higher as a result. We also gave her a +1 to her DC when she uses the spell Command because her voice rings with authority. Ironically, in this instance, the manticore made its save, and Mirielle knows this. She did not enlighten the crew, and just let them believe she scared the creature away with her magic.

Revel’s backstory was that she was left in Port Peril at a very young age. I created her without knowing there were any hobgoblins statted out in the adventure. My husband thought it would be cool to have her recognize the name of this pirate as one of the hobgoblins that abandoned her in her youth. It was not an expected plot twist, but quite a fun one to me.

In 1E you could use the Mending spell to repair a ship, but in 2E it is quite limited by the size of items it can repair, so my husband made a homebrew spell called Shipwright to allow for the same sorts of things Mending could do in the original adventure path. Casting it can either restore 15 HP to a section of the ship, or can prevent sinking for 8 hours. Dolce is currently using all three of her 3rd level castings to keep The Sandbalot afloat. No Lightning Bolts for her until she’s done with that.
 
Last edited:


Crys

daydreamer and poet
Yeah... Mirielle's discussion with him is only represented here in brief. It was actually a rather long conversation because it was just so extremely opposite of Mirielle's actions and ideas at this point that it was surprising to her. Over the course of the conversation she managed to make him helpful to her and could have possibly persuaded him to instead stay and be a part of her crew, but she felt guilty about the idea of doing that because she has no way of knowing if the contract they have with their particular devil would endanger his family as a result of it. In the end she respected his wishes, but it's something she thinks about often and she's replaced her old dagger with his (she's been carrying one since they got their equipment back on The Wormwood just in case she's ever stuck in a situation where she needs it).

Owlbrarian has cryptically suggested more may come of this particular plot point in the future... So naturally I'm a bit curious about that. Mirielle did send his letters including one of her own (which might not actually be stated in the write up until the next session, I don't remember at the moment) back to Cheliax. I suppose we shall see.
 

Owlbrarian

The Librarian is Here
I was pretty amused that Personal Rain Cloud ended up becoming useful. In my version of Pathfinder Gidras is the inventor of that spell which is why Dolce ended up being excited to meet him. I hadn’t really thought about PCs meeting the inventor of specific spells before though I thought it was a pretty neat idea. Not original or anything, just something I hadn’t done before this game.

As far as my version of Cheliax goes I added in the idea of suicide for the maintenance of infernal pacts along with another noteworthy thing. People who graduated at a high grade or accomplished important feats gain special pins that are put on their hats.

Each of them are minor magical items that are modeled off of specific devils. Something I sort of regret is the pacing I chose to do for this section. I wanted to get everything “done” before a certain future event, but honestly I think it would have been better to have taken my time with it.

Still even though I packed in a few too many encounters, going around devastating ships and getting plunder was a lot of fun. Honestly a pure sandbox with lots of random tables and maybe a plot or two set in the Shackles would be a heck of a lot of fun.

Though that is my bias toward sandboxes showing.
 

Crys

daydreamer and poet
There is a small chance these posts might slow down in the relatively near future. We are unexpectedly moving out of our current living arrangement and into a house. This means we haven't been playing as much as we normally do. However, my blog is still several sessions ahead of this thread, so it may end up that said delay isn't really felt over here. I suppose we shall see.




Spoiler Warning: Many spoilers for the Skull & Shackles adventure path are contained within these story recap posts. If you don’t want your campaign spoiled, don’t read these!




Session 15 – A Daring Plan

They found a nice cove on the shores of Sargava near a small outcropping of trees. They anchored The Purr and began repairs on The Sandbalot. The cove was a convenient hiding place, and one with terrain advantages. From the nearby landmasses they could keep watch on the shores around them. Watches were assigned, water was gathered to restock both ships, and for four days they worked in peace.

The Sandbalot was almost seaworthy again when Samms Toppin, one of the original Wormwood crewman, came rushing over to Mirielle saying, “Captain! Captain! We’ve got trouble! A ship’s anchored, and she’s big!”

Dolce looked at Mirielle and the two looked back at Samms, “Show us, Barefoot.” Samms nodded and led them to the vantage point from which she’d spotted the ship. Flat on their bellies they peered through their spyglasses.

Dolce knew this ship almost at once. “She’s called The Dominator, Cap. Bad news having her so close at hand.” She was a man-o’-war, and more than The Purr and The Sandbalot could handle even if they’d both been fully crewed. It looked, from what she could see through the spyglass, like her crew were re-provisioning too. “I don’t think they’ve spotted us. Good thing our boats are smaller than theirs or they might have made for our very cove, Captain.”

“What can you tell me about her Captain, Dolce?” Mirielle was watching the crew unloading water barrels as well.

“Captain Paravountess Axia Lorvika. Mouthful if I say so, but she’s taken her share of pirates to their graves, she has. She’s a ruthless combatant, quite skilled at captaining. That particular vessel carries at least a hundred marines, has a whole slew of officers, and a commander who’s said to be more ruthless than even our Revel. Commander Kyan Kain’s his name, and he’s the meanest cur on the ship,” ship's boats were making for shore. Luckily, The Purr and The Sandbalot were already stocked with fresh water and the crew of The Dominator would be going inland rather than up the shore. Still, they might find recent tracks by the river and follow them back. “We’re in a bad situation. With all her yards of sails, we wouldn’t stand a prayer of getting away from her.”

“Aye, that’s true,” Ambrose said. Dolce hadn’t even noticed her friend join them, but she smiled and rolled to a side to make room for him on the ground beside her and Mirielle. She also offered him her spyglass.

Ambrose scooted further forward, “She is a fearsome ship, but…” He let the words trail off.

Mirielle looked at Ambrose now, “But what? Don’t leave us hanging, Fishguts.”

Ambrose smiled over at Mirielle, “We may not be able to match her speed, but that’s assuming she’s ready to sail, right? What if someone were to say, sneak aboard and sabotage her?”

Dolce grinned. Ambrose was an old salt, been on more ships than she’d heard stories about if his own tales were true. “What are you thinking, friend?”
Fishguts rubbed his chin and said, “Well… It takes forever to refit the pulley ropes of a tiller.”

Mirielle’s eyes lit up. “That’s true… and with our magic…”

Dolce nodded, “We could swim to the ship from underwater and climb aboard without much issue. I can give Nasha and myself the ability to see without light and you the ability to climb walls without effort.”

Nasha, who had apparently also crept up on them, said, “There will be very little moon tonight.” She was nodding as though agreeing with them.

“Revel could be a problem though. She’s not exactly quiet…” Dolce said, considering. She had learned many spells for contingencies, but she hadn’t counted on needing stealth when they spent so much time aboard their own vessel and in pursuit of others.

Mirielle shrugged a little, “They aren’t likely to hear her if she stays below. She can just listen for trouble and join us if fighting breaks out… Or provide a distraction.”

Dolce nodded now. “True. Right. I need to change some spells around for this to work. I’ll be nearly spent when you figure in allowing us to breath water. Besmara’s bounty, I’m glad you bought those Rings of Swimming.”

Dolce crawled away from the hill and made for their encampment. There she changed out her spells. It was indeed a plan that centered heavily on clever magic. Spider Climb, for Mirielle, Darkvision for both herself and Nasha, Water Breathing for the five of them. Unfortunate that she needed to use more power with these castings to pull off longer effects. Still, she’d have her trusty Truestrike / Acid Arrow combo to fall back on. The thought made her snort a little. She also had a slew of scrolls though, from all the spells she’d learned.




Under Cover of Night

The night was dark, as Nasha had said it would be, with just a sliver of the moon overhead. Also working in their favor was an overcast sky.

The girls snuck as close to the ship as they dared along the beach. Not close enough to be easily spotted or for Dolce to be heard casting the numerous spells she was about to make use of. Soon enough they were wading into the water and then below it into the sea. The Rings of Swimming made approaching the ship a simple matter, though Mirielle was slow enough that Nasha had her captain hold onto her shoulders to pull her through the sea.
When they reached the ship they came up from beneath the water and Dolce spotted a slew of parrots on the deck. Quietly she whispered, “Those are actually imps. They keep watch at night, but from this angle they shouldn’t see us. You…” she singled out Revel, “…you listen for trouble and only come up if you hear it. Straight up from here to the window.” She gestured. Revel already knew this, but the hobgoblin could be headstrong so Dolce wanted to reinforce it.

“Right, Boss,” was all she said in response.

Dolce went back under the water and pulled Mirielle down with her. The captain was the weak link when it came to their athletic prowess, and now Spider Climb would make that a non-issue. She cast the spell under the water so there was no risk of sound carrying to the imps above.

The girls scaled the boat, well, three of them. Dolce and Nasha had little trouble, and Mirielle none at all for the strange spider limbs Dolce had granted her simply carried her up the side as though she was walking on flat ground. Of course, she leaned forward to minimize the chance of being seen.

Dolce used slender thieves’ tools to open the window and Nasha entered first, followed by Mirielle, and finally the elf. Within all was dark, but all of them could see the thick rope that was the tiller’s pulley cable. Nasha looked at Mirielle, who gave a nod. The lizardfolk fell into the all-too-familiar fighting stance and slashed at the cord with her mighty claws. She cut about halfway through when the door to the room opened.

There stood Commander Kyan Kain himself, mid-sentence, “The inspection shouldn’t take lo-“

He stopped, shocked to see a seven foot tall lizardfolk in the room, Dolce imagined. Nasha capitalized on his hesitation, striding to the door and closing it.

“More will come.” She said simply. The door thudded as the men outside beat upon it and Dolce clearly heard Kain directing someone to go in from above.

The elf moved Mirielle into a corner where she’d be more protected should the assailant make it before they finished their task and fished through her satchel for the right scroll. The elf also readied her rapier. “Break the cord, Nasha.”

The door splintered first and Kain triumphantly shouted, “Did you think that would keep us out?” His battleaxe swung hard at Nasha and bit into her flesh, sending blood splattering on the floor and walls. Dolce swore she saw her friend’s scales grow pale.

Nasha grunted, but hadn’t moved. She hesitated, weighing her options. Thankfully Revel joined the fray, for she’d heard the commotion from below. “OUT OF THE WAY.” The hobgoblin shouted, and Nasha obliged. She stepped back quickly, leaving Revel just enough time to get in Kain’s face before he gained entry to the room. “Good. I was hoping I’d get to taste you!”

The man snorted derisively. “Really? Not before I cut you to pieces!”

There posturing was all well and good, but Nasha sawed at the cord again. It almost cut through.. Almost. Hanging by a tantalizing thread as she prepared one more strike.

Mirielle, meanwhile, called upon her halo and sent healing energy flowing into their companion, who – stoic as she was – displayed obvious duress after the blow she’d been dealt. The magic knitted much of her injuries, stemming the tide of blood that had covered her belt and scales, but still there were parts of the gash that were open.

Dolce paged through the scrolls in hand briefly, but another combatant joined the fray. “Took you long enough!” Kain shouted. “Bar their escape!” The soldier nodded and moved in front of the window they had entered through, taking a swipe at Dolce in the process.

The elf felt the blade cut her and cursed. She launched her Acid Arrow at Kain, but used the time she would have needed to ensure a more accurate hit to find the right scroll for her future plans instead.

Kain’s axe came down on Revel now. Not as hard as he’d struck Nasha, but still quite mightily. The hobgoblin laughed heartily as she felt her flesh tear open. It was one of the more disturbing traits of hers. A fight wasn’t good in her mind until she’d been cut open or bruised. "Just what, exactly, is wrong with you? Stop – ” another swipe, “- laughing!” and a third.

Three jagged hack wounds bled through her steel blue skin, but her sharky maw still curled in a smile before she said, “I told you I wanted to KNOW!!!” and bit at the man. He dodged the first, but her teeth clamped down with the second and she left gashes of her own in his flesh. Kain snarled.

Nasha sawed the cable one last time and there was a loud snapping noise as it broke followed by the noise of it falling through the lower levels of the ship. “Curse you!” Kain exclaimed. “You will pay for this!”

Even as he issued his threats Mirielle was healing Revel, for now she was worse off than Nasha. It was time for their escape. Dolce’s fingers curled round the scroll she’d rifled for and she cast another spell from it, watching as the magical text upon the page disappeared in time to her speaking it. The room suddenly filled with mist, thick and agonizing. The elf shoved the man barring the window and heard him stagger back.

“Go!” Dolce ordered.

Revel didn’t listen, instead staying toe-to-toe with Kain, but honestly Dolce had been counting on that. Another bite landed and the hobgoblin growled happily as she tasted his blood.

Nasha hesitated until she heard Mirielle make for the window. The man Dolce had shoved tried to swipe at the Captain, but his swing went high and they heard it thunk into the wood. Soon came the sound of Mirielle splashing into the water. Nasha followed without hesitation.

“REVEL!” Dolce barked.

Kain assaulted Revel further, drawing more blood, “You gonna run like your companions?” He said, and the words were charged with magic.

Dolce feared the worst. Her companion was not exactly the most resilient to such effects and the elf suspected Revel’s own desire would be to linger and fight no matter how futile it would have been.

Another bite from the hobgoblin. Dolce was about to berate her when she heard her say, “Pity, I’d love to see how this ends..” And then she made for the window too.

Kain got a parting shot and left a nasty gash in Revel’s leg, but as soon as the hobgoblin got out the window Dolce was following behind. They swam straight down first, knowing the ballistae on board would be at a strong disadvantage and the ship’s crew would have trouble sighting them. Once they’d made it a decent way below they headed back to their own vessel, following Mirielle’s Know Direction spell to orient themselves in the water.
Dolce already had new song lyrics swimming in her head. This was going to be one of the better ones, she felt.

The rest was simple, for The Dominator was still scrambling to repair her lines when The Lady’s Purr and The Sandbalot fled the cove. Shots were exchanged between The Purr and The Dominator with one or two errant shots seeking The Sandbalot, but no real damage was incurred. The crew’s morale shot through the sky and they continued on their way to Senghor.

Fishguts joined Dolce at the rail watching The Dominator‘s sails vanish on the horizon. “I’m making a song of that for sure, Ambrose.”

The old salt smiled, “Oh, I expected you would be, Dolce.”

She looked at him. “You care if I give the Cap credit for your plan?”

Ambrose chuckled, “You earn it by working in the kitchen with me and I’ll consider us square.”

“Sounds fair…” Dolce was quiet for a while, but soon she said, “It’s Inara, by the way. My name. It isn’t our custom to share it outside of our family.” She emphasized the last, hoping he would take her meaning.

Even in the dim light, Dolce was pretty sure she saw Ambrose’s eyes tear up. “Aye, well, ye needn’t worry. I’ll be calling you Dolce all the same.” He put a hand on her shoulder and she smiled.

She and Revel would soon be moving back to The Sandbalot, but they’d all climbed onto The Purr initially to be sure there were enough hands for the ballistae and catapults til they got out of range. “The kitchen will have to wait til after Senghor though.”

“I expected. Have fun swimming.” He clapped her on the shoulder and headed off to join the rest of the crew in their celebrations.




OOC Notes for Session 15

Big difference between Pathfinder 2 and D&D 5e (and also I think D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder 1), scrolls are not consumed when you copy a spell to your spellbook off of one regardless if you succeed or fail. On a failure, you can't attempt to copy that particular spell to your book again until you gain a level. On a critical failure it also costs you half your materials. On a critical success you manage to use only half the materials required. Anyway, Dolce has been learning a lot of spells from scrolls so she has tons of scrolls to use.

This bit here: “His battleaxe swung hard at Nasha and bit into her flesh, sending blood splattering on the floor and walls.” This was where Commander Kain almost 1-shot Nasha with a critical hit. We use the Critical Decks for Pathfinder 2 and the card I drew for his nat 20 was triple damage and an abdomen shot. She was still standing though.. At 6 HP… With 1d4 persistent bleed going on. She was at 4 HP by the time Mirielle healed her.




Session 16 – Strange Winds

Revel and Dolce had crossed over to The Sandbalot once they were well away from The Dominator. It only took two days to reach Senghor. Once again the guardians of the city boarded The Purr, but this time it didn’t seem to take very long. Dolce asked Mirielle why that was with Message and the Captain simply responded that the commander had taken her word they had no prisoners aboard.

If Quinn was to be believed, the commander had a thing for Mirielle, and this made Dolce suspect he was right. She didn’t harass Mirielle about that though. She was already causing her captain enough problems by making sure people knew her not just as a fierce tactician, but also as a pirate who still blushed at lewd comments and jokes.

They didn’t tarry in Senghor this time, simply paid the docking fees and sold The Sandbalot. Once the sale was handled they were back out to sea again. Of course, Dolce made time to share her new song in every tavern she could visit over a single night. Clipping the Dominator was well-received by every crowd she performed for. She was sure the tune would eventually make it back to the ship she’d written it for.
Clipping the Dominator

Well, wouldn’t ya know,
We took us a boat
But the boat, well, scuttled she be?

We weren’t deterred,
Our spirits were stirred,
And our magic kept her on the sea!

When we made land,
We formed us a plan,
And repairs we got underway fast,

But when we was done,
There under the sun,
We saw a most ominous mast!

‘Twas a man’o’war all fearsome and black
With devils carved over her hull
And her sails of silk lay idle and slack
For her journey had taken a lull

There sat The Dominator,
So many pirates she’d ended
There sat The Dominator,
Clearly her needs were attended

Well, wouldn’t ya know
We’d fixed up the boat
From the last pirate hunter we’d fought?

But even with two,
‘Twas naught we could do
When faced with such perilous odds

Least not on the sea,
Says my captain to me,
And I realize that she is a’scheming!

And just what, says I,
Be that glint in your eye?
My captain, just what are you dreaming?

With that man’o’war if we should set sail
We wouldn’t have hardly a prayer,
But imagine now, if we could prevail
And somehow leave her anchored there…

There sat The Dominator,
Waiting to mete out our end
There sat The Dominator,
What did my captain intend?

Well, wouldn’t you know,
She sketches the boat,
And with little delay she proceeds

With a few choice spells
And some wish you wells,
We took to the water like reeds

We shared a prayer,
And then entered the air,
Below the window we sought

Then did we climb
Taking our time
To be sure we wouldn’t be caught

To the man’o’war we stealthily crept
And into a cabin we slipped
Where the rudder line was taught and kept,
We meant to be sure it was clipped!

There in The Dominator,
As the line was starting to strain,
There in The Dominator,
We met with Commander Kain!

Well, wouldn’t you know,
He was checking the boat,
And the rudder was up for inspection!

He didn’t expect
To find us when he checked –
You could tell by his startled expression!

But quickly did he,
With a face full of glee,
Nearly axe our man down with one swing!

We blocked the door,
And he cursed and he swore
As the rudder line waned into string!

On the man’o’war we battled and fought
As we sawed through the line til it tore
Then we turned and fled lest all be for naught
And swam into the ocean once more!

There stayed The Dominator,
Watching our ships sail away,
There stayed The Dominator,
And we’re still breathing today!​

Maybe not the smartest enemy to make, but an enemy that they would have had regardless of if they pissed them off or not. The elf wasn’t too worried for the time being. It seemed Mirielle had finally set her sights on Tidewater Rock. This because she wanted a place to stash some gold in case their ship got stripped from them and they somehow survived. Enough, she said, to buy a new boat and new armaments for her.

Her goal, ten thousand gold coins. Dolce was still pondering how they would hide such a fortune without risking it being claimed. She had an idea, but she was still fine tuning it. Ten thousand coins would be easy enough to hide in an extradimensional space. The real question was, who did you trust to guard something so important to you (and so valuable)? But Dolce had ideas about that too.



Unnatural

Just two days out from Senghor they had their first sighting of another ship. The winds were coming out of the west, which was where the ship was when they saw it disappear on the horizon. “Strange that,” Shade said.

Mirielle looked toward him, “What’s so strange about it?”

“They sailed into the wind, but their sails were full.”

Mirielle had noticed too, but her mind had immediately turned to magic. “Not so strange if they have magic aboard."

“Aye, Captain,” Shade said, returning to overseeing the rigging work.

Mirielle watched him and the crew performing their tasks, but as she observed she swore she heard a distant bell tolling. Her gaze was drawn to the sunset again.

The next day the weather was turning sour. Not so harsh as the storms they’d encountered with Mr. Plugg and later on their course from Ollo to Slipcove, but still enough to keep them busier than usual. When sunset came a strange fog seemed to creep up on them, and at the last moment possible a ship was sighted within.

A sonorous bell rang, and the sound was familiar to Mirielle. The collision was avoided and the ship seemed to withdraw as quickly as it had come upon them, taking the mist with it. Dolce cursed as she watched the mists receding.

“What?” Mirielle asked.

“That’s The Deathknell. Renowned ghost ship. Stalks its prey for three days before attacking. Same ship we sighted yesterday, and the reason we heard the bell.” The elf was pacing. She had copied the Ghostly Weapon spell to her spellbook, but wasn’t sure what kind of creatures served as The Deathknell‘s crew.

Mirielle scowled before saying, “And what kind of safeguards can you supply against a ghost ship, Dolce?”

The two started going over details, though shortly moved into the captain’s cabin and left Shade in control of the ship. Mirielle decided not to make for an island. After all, legend said if you sought shelter the ship simply waited until you left again to resume its stalking.

Dolce prepared one casting of Ghostly Weapon since it would benefit primarily her out of The Purr‘s strongest fighters. The magic would not take hold on Revel’s fangs or Nasha’s claws. She also prepared Lightning Bolt and Chilling Spray, though their effectiveness would depend upon the nature of The Deathknell‘s crew.

With plans set in place Mirielle and Dolce left the cabin and informed the crew they intended to fight The Deathknell. No one was particularly pleased and some seemed downright wary of the idea. Many cursed Narwhale for sighting her sails the night before.

Mirielle managed to raise the crew’s spirit while impressing upon them how important it was why fight without mercy. Their enemy certainly wouldn’t show any, and if they had their way the crew of The Lady’s Purr would never be seen again.



The Bell

On the third night the mist formed again, and soon after they all heard the sounds of the bell tolling. Rather than flee the ghost ship, Mirielle ordered them to make toward it. The combat was fierce before the ships even closed the distance between them. Greed took a good bite out of The Deathknell‘s sails, but their artillery proved superior, completely shredding The Purr‘s own sails.

Mirielle used the last of their momentum to ram into the decaying ship. The maneuver was not a risk like it had been in their battle with The Red Mariah because Mirielle had paid for a proper ram to be installed on the The Lady’s Purr along with all of the other improvements made in Slipcove.

As the two ships collided, Mirielle ordered the grapple. The ropes flew through the air and they caught hold, The Purr‘s crew boarded the ghost ship before its unliving crew had the chance to board their vessel. The crew was not ghostly, but rather composed of more substantial undead.

A deep voice rang out when Nasha, the quickest of the girls, first set foot on The Deathknell. “What is this? They’re boarding us!? No one has been so bold as to board us in decades, mates!” It sounded jovial, but also menacing, and issued from the remains of Whalebone Pilk, the cursed captain of The Deathknell. “Let’s make them feel welcome!!!”

The decaying crew of The Deathknell started shambling forward, but one bumped into the bell by Captain Pilk. His voice rang out almost in time with the bell, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING! GET OVER THERE!”

The undead that had done it shrank from his yelling and said, “Sorry, Captain,” as it shuffled off toward the girls. The creatures were quite slow in reaching the girls.

Dolce and Mirielle discussed something in Celestial as they fended off the initial surge of the sluggish enemy crew. The two seemed to be in agreement, and their agreement didn’t require Nasha or Revel to understand.

The hobgoblin was reluctant to bite into the undead at first, but her fists – even with her brass knuckles – proved inconsequential to them. She started tearing chunks up, though the taste was enough to make her wretch.

Nasha basically cut down anything that came near her and made her way toward the aftcastle. She seemed intent on facing off against the captain beside his wheel.

Captain Pilk set his sights on Mirielle, most likely because she was the captain of his target vessel. He extended a decaying hand and an incorporeal shadow of it appeared, snatching at the aasimar. He caught hold of her throat with his spectral hand and started trying to squeeze the life from her.
Mirielle gasped for air, but her eyes narrowed as she pointed a finger toward Captain Pilk and sent a ray of holy, fiery death at him. The spectral hand almost foiled the casting, but Mirielle choked out the words of power just well enough to keep from losing it.

When the ray struck Pilk he called out in anguish, and when that cry faded he snarled, “KILL THE ONE IN THE HAT!”

Immediately the shambling crew made for Mirielle. Revel capitalized on their careless movements to take one down, but the captain fielded three attacks in retaliation for her spell.

Dolce took advantage of the crew’s distraction and made her way onto the aftcastle with Nasha and Pilk. She moved right past the undead captain, putting his precious bell between them before unleashing her first Lightning Bolt spell of the battle.

The captain seemed to reel as the electricity coursed over the metal and wood of the bell and his own body. “NO!!!!! I’LL KILL YOU! KILL THE ELF!” He bellowed, immediately overriding his previous command. For his own part, he tried to stab Dolce. The attack was true and she felt her flesh rend, but it was not a mortal wound.

The crew, slow as it was, tried to obey his command and crossed almost the entire length of his ship to do it. They were cut down by Revel on their way, and slowed by Nasha as they topped the stairs. Only one swung on Dolce before she released another Lightning Bolt in tandem with Mirielle’s second Searing Light spell.

The bell still stood, but between Mirielle and Dolce’s attacks, plus a few strikes from Nasha, Captain Pilk was undone. The necromantic energy that bound him fizzled out and his body fell to mist. The shambling crew did as well.



Consequences

For a moment all was still, but the moment passed quickly. The ship began to tremble and the water around her rippled perilously. “BACK TO THE PURR!!” Mirielle bellowed.

The crew largely obeyed. Four crew members were fallen, dead or merely unconscious. Revel lifted two, Nasha and Ambrose took one a piece. Dolce, however, started pulling her thieves’ tools out of her bandolier. Mirielle was already back on The Purr when she noticed. “DOLCE!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?”

Dolce looked straight at Mirielle, “I’LL BE FINE!” It seemed a storm was brewing, but Dolce and Mirielle had agreed at the start of this combat that they needed to destroy the bell. Ghosts were often anchored to the world by but one simple thing or simple motive. If his was not simply to plunder, surely it was this instrument he was so fond of.

Dolce nimbly worked to free it from where it hung, for she hadn’t the strength to just shatter it and if two Lightning Bolts hadn’t gotten the task done… They would need more time. Sweat beaded on her brow as the ship continued trembling. It started slowly sinking in the water. She heard Mirielle give the order to cut the lines excepting those to the aftcastle.

The elf worked faster. Every time a tool slipped her heart skipped a beat, but if she could just get this last bit… And then the bolt came lose and the bell fell with a loud clang. She tucked the tools away and reached for it just as the ship lurched. The bell rolled toward the edge where it would fall into the ocean and likely be lost.

Dolce dove after it! She wrapped one arm around it and grabbed the edge of the ship with her other, coming to a halt just short of sliding overboard herself. “Besmara's grace...” She clambered to her feet and ran for the last remaining grapples, keenly aware of how low in the water The Deathknell now seemed to be. Once she had a good hold of the rope she cut it on her side.

“Cut every line but that one!” Mirielle bellowed, and the crew obeyed, though they almost cut Dolce’s too in their enthusiasm. Only Nasha’s steady hand stopped the blade from going too far and to do it the lizardfolk got cut.

Dolce swung into the side of The Purr, but held tight to the bell. The crew pulled her up. On deck she set the bell flat and looked behind her. The Deathknell was sinking further into the water. Mirielle ordered them to pull away, and they did as best they could.

Dolce suspected Besmara was watching over them, for they managed to escape the sinking ship without getting pulled under themselves. When that was done she took to her pack and pulled out a hammer. With all her might she struck the bell, but all she accomplished was sending a spine-tingling ring echoing across the ship.

Dolce sighed. “Revel! Break this cursed thing.” She held the hammer out.

Revel grinned, “With pleasure, Sir!” The hobgoblin seized the hammer and swung it hard. She too created an ominous ring, but also furthered the cracks Dolce’s electricity had put into its metal surface. Enough hammering eventually caused the whole of it to shatter and crumble.

Seemingly in tandem with the bell breaking, the weather started to improve. Of course, it was possible that was related to the ghost ship finally coming to a rest below and the seas in the area growing calm as a result.

Dolce collected the bell’s shards in her satchel and reclaimed the hammer. “Well done, Master-at-Arms.” Revel just grinned at her in satisfaction. “Well then, Captain, are we going down below to see what was in their hold?”

Mirielle just stared at Dolce for a moment before saying, “Are you serious?”

Dolce shrugged. “We are pirates. We do have the means.”

Mirielle sighed. “Narwhale’s dead.”

A cloud settled over Dolce, but then she said, “Wouldn’t want it to be for nothing. He sighted the sails, you know. We’re just shy of what you wanted before seeking to join the Free Captains.”

Mirielle’s expression softened and she ran her fingers through her golden hair. In the moonlight Dolce could see a strange pale impression of a hand on the captain’s throat. “You’re right. Besides.. I’d like to know he won’t be returning.” She cast her gaze out to the sea.

Captain Pilk had been slain before, but always returned. So the legends said. The girls took the time to prepare, Dolce changing her remaining spells around and collecting what belongings she thought would help them most in the water.

A casting of Water Breathing infused with more powerful magic than it required gave the girls and Owlbear until morning. Mirielle cast a spell known as Wanderer’s Guide to lead them to the ship’s resting ground. What followed was a long night of hard work lifting loot from the hold of the sunken Deathknell up above to The Purr. Several Ant Haul spells were cast to alleviate at least some of the task, and Dolce’s magical satchel was emptied of its contents on the first trip back up so that it could be used to carry some of the weight.

By morning they had lost another soul. This one had been badly injured, and try though he might, Quinn just couldn’t save him. The man’s name was Rollo, and he had joined them in Bag Island. Two deaths. The first since they’d mutinied.

Revel, Nasha, Mirielle, Dolce, and Owlbear slept late into the day after their hard day’s labor. The next day they continued their work, but also took Maheem, Shaveka, Barefoot, Calden, and Cog along with them. By the end of that day they’d emptied two thirds of The Deathknell‘s hold. They’d also all spent quite a long time around the mass of skulls in The Deathknell‘s hold. Apparently they were collecting them for some reason.

Before they drank that day, a new tradition began aboard The Purr. The crew was gathered on the starboard side and Mirielle said, “Two of our friends are fallen, but we can rest easy knowing they were not claimed for eternal unlife like the crew that took them. I want us to remember those we lose. Now is the time for this remembrance. Who will share a memory of Narwhale?”

The next hour was spent sharing stories of Narwhale and then of Rollo. Most of the latter from the halflings who had joined them in Slipcove. Then Narwhale and Rollo were released to the sea. The crew’s spirits were pretty high, all things considered. Moments of silence and stories of their lost friends were shared throughout the night above deck.

Dolce suspected Mirielle had or would cry over the loss of Narwhale. She’d grown rather fond of the dwarf. The elf joined in on the stories until she was ready for sleep, and then slipped away to her tiny private room in the officers’ quarters. There she contemplated how fleeting life could be. Many elves didn’t form bonds with those of other races. They’d grown too jaded from watching them die, but Dolce supposed in her line of work even an elf was likely to be quite short-lived.

Dolce used magic to clean herself up from her hours of swimming in the ocean and set about to penning the lyrics of the song she’d sing in their next port to regale taverns with the story of their victory over The Deathknell.​




OOC Notes for Session 16

I love ghost ships in cartoons and stories. I had mentioned this to Owlbrarian when we encountered The Honeysnake. That said, I was really excited for The Deathknell once Dolce's Lore Pirates check revealed it was another ghost ship. I also can't wait to track down The Honeysnake, but the girls haven't had much downtime for side dalliances like that in the current plotline.

The encounter was cool. I'm going to prod Owlbrarian to create a google doc of his ship encounter rules so I can link to them here. Normally the way it goes is something like this:
  1. We sight a sail.
  2. We roll captaining checks that determine how long it takes us to catch up to the sighted ship (there are very few contested checks in PF2E. Almost everything is against what is basically 'Passive' scores from 5e. These captaining checks work like that. I roll against a DC of 10 + my enemy captain's captaining score. The enemy captain rolls against 10 + my captaining score. The three skills you can use for captaining are Diplomacy, Intimidation, and Lore Sailing. Mirielle captains with Diplomacy, Dolce with Lore Sailing. Revel could do either Diplomacy or Intimidation if she had to do it, but would do best with the latter. Thankfully I've never needed her to pilot a ship yet).
  3. Once we catch up, starting heading and position relative to one another is determined by rolls.
  4. Combat begins with initiative rolls using the relative skills (this is baked into PF2E. It's part of how they got away from Dex being a god stat in d&d 5e. The other part being there are very few ways to get Dex mod to damage in PF2E, so it's still AC and Reflexes, but your fighter needs Strength to hit harder and can use Perception - the default initiative stat that is Wisdom based - or other relative skills - stealth is pretty common for sneaking, athletics for bursting down a door or engaging in combat while swimming or working on a ship, deception if you're bluffing to catch them flat-footed, etc.). Mirielle uses her captaining stat (diplomacy), Dolce uses perception (it's higher than all other relevant skills), Revel and Nasha typically use Athletics unless they are engaged in something that makes another skill more thematically appropriate.
  5. We go in initiative order.
    • Mirielle has a number of special things she can do as the captain including turn the ship, speed it up, slow it down, ram the enemy, shear their oars, etc. A lot of them are dependent on range and speed. Also at the start of each of her turns she gets a roll to 'Gain the Upper Hand'. This allows her to move the ship 1 square on a success and +1 square for every 5 by which she beats the DC. Alternatively she can use those squares of movement to turn the ship up to 90 degrees. This roll is meant to represent taking advantage of the ocean. The enemy captain also gets this roll against my captaining DC. Notably, these actions and this roll go to whoever is captaining, it's just usually Mirielle.
    • All PCs gain access to special things they can do as crew members. They can sing a shanty to increase all ship action rolls (including attacks and steering and gaining speed, etc) by 1. They can order a single ballistae or catapult to fire (1 action), or order a broadside (3 actions, but fires all ballistae on one bank). They can order the Crew to Take Cover (1 action) and give them a +2 to AC and Reflex saves against enemy attacks til the end of the next turn. They can order a Grapple (2 actions if I remember right), but only the captain can order a Board and it requires her to use her reaction.
    • Note that Mirielle can do all the stuff the non-captain PCs can too if she chooses, but usually she needs to control the ship movement. Quite often it ends up being Revel or Nasha or Dolce that orders a grapple after Mirielle tells them to get ready for it. Also, they can cast spells and use their normal actions from the combat system (like Dolce has a spell that puts out mundane fires she may start preparing soonish (relative to session 27, not the above recap) because fire is a serious danger on a ship, but she'd be spending 2 actions to cast that spell and only have one left over to use on a ship action.
  6. The enemy ship's actions all happen at once on the captain's turn. They get more than 3 actions to represent their crew doing stuff. This seems to work pretty well for balance purposes.
  7. After the order to board is given the girls all roll Athletics for getting onto the enemy ship. A critical success means you can place yourself anywhere on the enemy ship (such as Revel did in one of our earliest fights, separating her completely from the other three player chars). A normal success means you board at a logical point close to where you came off of your own ship. A failure means you board, but have trouble and lose an action on your first turn to keep your balance. A critical failure means you fall into the ocean (rolled a few of these, but used hero points to reroll them, cause yeah... >.>).
Then we move into normal combat on board the ship where the captain and any notable presences (like marines or manticores) roll initiative with the rest of us (so new initiative order). As initiative is rolled any PC can make the crew Morale check that determines our starting morale. This is done with Performance, Diplomacy, or Intimidate. If you use intimidate they start with normal morale but take a penalty later. I think to date this has only been done by Mirielle with Diplomacy.

There are still some custom actions available to players during the combat aboard the enemy ship. They include things like raising our crew morale (done in a pinch once or twice by Dolce), lowering the enemy's morale (also done once or twice by Dolce), and instructing the crew to 'Take no Quarter' (done by Mirielle once or twice). All of these impact crew actions which happen at the end of Mirielle's turn. Basically by default our crew attacks the enemy crew in the background as we fight the 'highlighted' opponents who are on the initiative tracker. We roll an attack roll with Mirielle's captaining bonus and if we meet the DC roll 1d4 to see how many enemy crew we kill (the enemy roll the same at the end of their captain's turn, but we roll an additional d4 to determine what happens to the crew in question.... so if they roll 3, we roll 3 more d4. On a 1 someone dies, on a 2 someone gets a scar of some sort, on a 3-4 they are knocked out for the rest of the combat but come away relatively unscathed).

Any time we hit the enemy crew they make a save versus morale damage. If they run out of morale, they surrender (this has happened a lot). At this point we can have our crew attack any of the surviving enemy people on initiative (this has surprisingly only come up once or twice despite morale breaking a lot. I guess because it usually happens near the end of combat). The default at this point is that our crew rolls 1d4 to see how many attacks hit Mirielle's designated target. Each attack deals damage separately.

Take no Quarter increases the d4 to determine crew killed or attacks landed to a d6.

Phew. That was a lot longer than I thought it would be. Anyways, The Deathknell was a normal ship combat, only it wasn't running. It actually hurt us more than we hurt it, completely destroying our sails to the point where Shipwright would not be sufficient to repair it and we had to use resources from a nearby island to do so. Shade oversaw this, sending some of our crew to said island with a ship's boat to bring back supplies while we were diving down below.

We rammed The Deathknell with the last of our momentum (once the sails break you lose 30ft of speed per round, and the boat was only going 60, so it lost 30 and slammed into them and then the next round would have been dead in the water).

The on deck combat was a little different because it was kind of like a monster spawner. I say this in the sense of similar sorts of things in video games. We cut down all the initial notable undead, but more were coming in subsequent rounds. Ultimately the combat probably wouldn't have ended until we focused on Pilk, but luckily Owlbrarian telegraphed his obsession with the bell enough that I decided to focus on that primarily and catch him with as much damage as I could while I did it.

Also worth noting, since the undead feasted on the living they had a d6 by default. As though always 'Taking no Quarter'.

Again, it was a fun fight.
 

Owlbrarian

The Librarian is Here
So it’s been a while! We ended up moving into a new house and have been super busy trying to get everything unpacked.

Clipping the Dominator is my favorite song by the way. Just saying. ;)

The combat on board the Deathknell was the first time I killed an important named NPC using my ship combat rules. Narwhale way back in the first few sessions was the one that stabbed the captain (when they tried to kill her in the bilges) making him the only crewmember to almost kill her and stay as crew.

At least so far that likely will change since the Purr tends to recruit people from conquered crews.

Now onto the Deathknell itself. This is one of those things that Pathfinder (and D&D in general) does that I kinda hate. It will mention something like in this case that Whalebone can only be slain by destroying the bell. It doesn’t give the players any way of knowing this instead relying on the DM to give (or not) the information to the players.

Now yes you could just run it as written and have the PC’s figure it out after the fact that he is still around. This may be the intended way of doing this encounter I am not sure. Because it really doesn’t say much one way or another.

Though if that is the case it almost comes across as the PC’s “missed” something especially since I let them know about Whalebone Pilk beforehand. Which honestly is another issue I tend to have with these adventures in general. The flow of information. What should I tell the players or not?

There is all this lore locked behind DM sections without any guidance on how it should be used. Even just some suggestions would be nice! Because DMs might very well run the Whalebone encounter without the players finding much of anything out about it.

Anyways little mini-rant aside from what I remember this was quite a fun session with a somber ending. Though at this point it feels years ago with the move in between.
 




Crys

daydreamer and poet
Thank you! The move was thankfully relatively small in distance. We only moved about 25 minutes away from where we were before. Working nights also meant we did all of our moving between like 8pm and 5am most days, so very little traffic to contend with and much cooler temperatures (summer in Texas is not a fun time to move, even at night). It was fun getting some of our bigger pieces of furniture over, and the first time I ever tied something to the top of a car (we have an SUV with a roof rack, but we'd never used it for anything until moving our bookcase). Ultimately though, it was relatively painless and didn't involve much contact with others. We've had more contact with strangers by bringing them into our new house to look at issues it has (leaky sink, broken oven, etc). But we have all our things here now and are getting everything sorted away. When we do have contractors over we ask them to wear a mask and we do too. Texas had 14,000 new cases of covid19 diagnosed on July 17th and 8,700 yesterday so we're trying to be as careful as we can. I'll be really happy when these last issues are ironed out and we can just isolate.

I did not account for Owlbrarian being so tired when I said I doubted the posts would slow down much. I was tired too, but it's a lot simpler to edit existing content than to write a response so it probably wouldn't have slowed me down much. That said, onto Session 17.




Spoiler Warning: Many spoilers for the Skull & Shackles adventure path are contained within these story recap posts. If you don’t want your campaign spoiled, don’t read these!




Session 17 - Cracking the Rock

Ultimately, their encounter with The Deathknell had occurred only two days from Tidewater Rock. The Rock had a long history of changing hands and being a launching point for renowned pirate captains. It was a very defensible position, and while not as profitable as it once was... Pirates were a superstitious lot, and Dolce and Mirielle felt sure taking the Rock would earn them further renown in the Shackles.

Unfortunately, the current Lady of the rock was said to be interested in a marriage alliance. Something Mirielle had no interest in entering into considering she had only just started enjoying the prospect of choosing her own future. The plan, as such, was to see if Lady Smythee could be convinced to consider some other alliance, and failing that, to take the Rock by force from within.

They were sure they'd been seen from a distance. After all, being an excellent vantage point was what Tidewater Rock had been prized for when Sargavan vessels were still commonly preyed upon. The girls were met by Lady Smythee's commander at the dock. Dolce noted the man seemed displeased when Mirielle informed him they were here to see if Lady Smythee would consider an alliance. The elf had suspicions he had feelings for his Lady.

Still, he was dutiful and showed them inside. They were taken up to the fourth floor, where the dining chamber was. Royster, the commander, knocked upon Lady Smythee's door, and soon enough the lady joined them. They supped with her and discussed at length her interest in the current situation in the Shackles. Mirielle broached the topic of an alliance carefully, but found that Lady Smythee would not give ground.

The woman would only be satisfied with a marriage contract to a strapping young captain like the man she'd lost. With a sigh Mirielle began to announce that their goals were at odds. Dolce, Revel, and Nasha, who had all been informed Mirielle would not consider a marriage contract, began to rise, but Smythee reacted first.

She seemed to relish the opportunity for combat, drawing her rapier with almost shocking grace for a woman of her age. Mirielle was nearest her, and she nearly knocked the aasimar unconscious with a well-placed blow from her cutlass, but the captain returned the favor with a fiery ray of magical energy.

Revel charged across the table to join Mirielle in assaulting Smythee while Nasha closed with Royster to keep him occupied. It did not take long for further soldiers to start assembling.

Lady Smythee used the soldiers for cover as she attempted to flee the room, but she was not fast enough and Revel's teeth laid her low by the door to the chamber. One of the soldiers attempted to lift Lady Smythee, but Revel bit his arm and ceased his first attempt. He grunted and bore the pain to lift her again, this time successfully, and retreated into the downward stairwell.

Royster ordered two of the soldiers to go above and fire on The Lady's Purr. He closed the distance between himself and Mirielle, but did not have the chance to kill her before she used her Vanishing Wayfinder to turn herself invisible. Revel pursued the soldiers with the fallen Lady Smythee into the stairwell, tearing into them as she did so.

Dolce ordered Nasha to go above and stop them from hurting The Purr. She said a silent prayer to Besmara that there wouldn't be more soldiers above than Nasha could handle.




Above

Nasha obeyed Dolce's order, going in pursuit of the two soldiers who had run above. They had gotten to the top much faster than she'd expected, but her speed was greater than theirs. A puzzle for later. She had thought to fight them, but one realized she was giving chase and told the other to fire the ballista before meeting her in combat.

Nasha took a blow from his blade and felt the wiser course was not to engage the two, but rather to disable their weapon. Unfortunately the soldier's comrade did fire off a shot before she tumbled through his legs and made her way to the ballista. She could see The Purr below and that the ballista had struck true. Nasha severed the ballista's cord. That would stop them from using this one, but there was another on the other side of the roof. She made toward it.

The two men cursed and both started firing at her with crossbows. Bolt after bolt struck true, and Nasha began to fear she might not accomplish her task, but she did with just enough time to spare. When the second cord was severed the lizardfolk climbed over the battlement and clung to the wall, carefully moving around the corner while she was out of their sight. This would, she hoped, at least buy her time as they tried to locate her.

Besides the terrifying fall that awaited her if her grasp on the wall should slip, Nasha saw sailors below with a battering ram. Shade's doing, no doubt. He'd proven rather useful and skilled at his job.

To her surprise, Nasha heard the men say, "Nevermind this, let's help the Lady," rather than pursuing her. She waited a short time to climb back onto the roof, and sure enough, they were gone. She looked at her wounds for a moment and steeled herself. If they were rejoining the fight, she would as well, and if luck was on her side, Mirielle would restore her strength.

Nasha made her way toward the stairwell across the rooftop.




The Battle of the Stairs

As Nasha gave chase and made for the roof above, Dolce retrieved Lady Smythee's sword since her own had not been allowed in the tower. She joined Revel in the stairwell and saw, to her delight, the recently roused Lady Smythee still in the arms of one soldier with a group of others clustered around them. The elf moved directly into harm's way so she could cast Chilling Spray and catch them all in the spell's effect.

Her ploy worked. It hardly hurt them, but Lady Smythee had only regained a small amount of vigor from whatever they'd brought her back with and fell into unconsciousness once more. The rest were chilled to the bone and their movements hampered. Still, they were retreating.

Royster snarled in agitation, joining the stairwell combat. He targeted Dolce with one attack before tumbling past her to run to his lady's side. Revel and Dolce pressed the combatants hard on the stairs while Mirielle stealthily moved along as well, making sure her friends were still standing.

The fighting continued as they made their way down an entire flight of stairs, halfway around the tower's perimeter, before one of the guards poured a third healing potion down Lady Smythee's throat and stopped in shock. "It's no use, Commander. She's-- she's not breathing." The commander was enraged upon hearing this. "What do we do?"

"I don't care what you do, but I'm going to kill them all!" He shouted, turning back to face Dolce and Revel now. Dolce expertly slew one of the remaining soldiers as Revel moved opposite Commander Royster, climbing along the walls to get there. The hobgoblin was delighted her prey had stopped running and happily attempted to sink her teeth in him.

She missed. He was quite an experienced veteran and skillfully dodged her attacks. It didn't deter Revel, but when Royster returned her onslaught Dolce saw to her horror that Revel fell from nearly top condition to sagging on her feet in a single quick exchange of blows. Dolce fished a wand out of her pack as Mirielle cast healing magic on Revel from a distance, breaking her invisibility.

Thankfully, Royster seemed fixated on the hobgoblin and didn't turn his attention on the injured captain. Revel managed to land a blow on him now that Dolce was in position to distract him, but it was not the strongest hit. Royster struck her savagely again and Dolce swore her hobgoblin companion teetered on her feet. It was now or never!

The elf invoked the magic of the wand, shrouding herself with Mirror Image before saying, "So vulgar. It's no wonder your lady didn't return your affections." It worked. She could tell it by the rage in his eyes as he wheeled toward her. She took advantage of his wild shift in attention to stab him once with his lady's sword to decent effect, but he was still standing.

Mirielle spent more of her healing energy on Revel since Dolce hadn't been injured yet. She too sent up a prayer to Besmara that the Mirror Images would hold out since Dolce was not nearly as hardy as Revel was.

Royster sliced into Dolce relentlessly, twice erasing an illusory image. The third blow struck the elf with shocking force and she found the wind knocked out of her as blood gushed from her wound. Still, she held her ground and returned his assault with her own, another good strike. Revel also bit into him as his attention was turned on the elf.

Mirielle's healing magic flowed into Dolce now, knitting her fresh wound and restoring her vigor. Another strike from Royster dispersed the last illusion. His second miraculously missed, but the third struck true. Dolce felt certain she would meet her end if the fight continued much longer. She stabbed back at him, but only one blow connected.

To her relief, he fell to Revel's teeth just before his blade fell on her again. Dolce's hand reached out for the wall, trembling, and she steadied herself even as Revel's attention turned on the last remaining soldier. "There's no need for further death, Revel," Mirielle said.

Revel looked back at her captain, disappointed. The soldier didn't seem convinced. He'd yelled at someone named Birney to stay in the room he now guarded. Mirielle talked him down. They were not here to claim lives, she explained, but to take the Rock and that was accomplished without slaying him or the occupant of the chamber.

The soldier dropped his weapon. Mirielle bade him stay there. She took Revel and Dolce to seek out Nasha above.

They encountered the soldiers before they found Nasha, making Mirielle's eyes tear up. Revel screamed in fury, saying "I'll KILL you!!!" and bit wildly at them, but managed to get her teeth stuck in the frame of the door they were passing through.

The soldiers, while rattled by Revel's fury, didn't hesitate to strike back, and one landed a solid blow that resulted in a sickening crunch. Revel wrenched her fangs free of the door, but her jaw hung awkwardly open and was clearly broken.

Mirielle's healing repaired enough of the damage for Revel to bite anew as Dolce caught up and stabbed into her attacker. The two took the soldier down with little trouble and turned their attention on the last one. This one exclaimed, "Forget this!" And bolted, though not before feeling the gnash of Revel's teeth.

They didn't give pursuit though, because just as he ran for the stairs Nasha landed softly beside them. Seeing Mirielle, she smiled weakly and said, "Good. I have made it."

Mirielle healed Nasha and Revel both even as the hobgoblin hugged Nasha, her rage subsiding. "I thought you were dead!" She exclaimed, tearing up a little herself.

Even Dolce's eyes were watery, though she hid the gesture of wiping the tears away as one meant to brush her hair out of her face. "Indeed. When we saw the soldiers we thought the worst."

"No. But I could have been. Their bolts were sharp," Nasha said calmly. She had returned Revel's hug and placed a hand on Mirielle's shoulder. "Thank you again, Captain." The respect and gratitude was clear in her voice. "Your sailors are breaking down the door below."

Mirielle blinked, dashing the tears from her eyes openly. "Are they?" Nasha only nodded, and the four headed back down.




Survivors

Only four of the inhabitants of Tidewater Rock survived The Purr's assault. Mirielle let them leave, with their personal possessions. One cursed her and she coldly told them to go before she changed her mind. They even allowed them to take the ship's boat that had been docked here since there was no other way off the island.

Within the Rock, they found a number of spoils, including a magical spyglass and magical breastplate. The Rock had clearly seen better days, for what wealth was within it seemed meager compared to what a successful captain would have accrued. Of course, Lady Smythee's husband had been gone for quite some time.

With this wealth, and the last of the stores still below the waters on The Deathknell, Mirielle believed they could impress the Hurricane King enough to earn her the title of Free Captain. So they returned to The Deathknell's underwater resting ground, using Mirielle's magic to guide them, and spent another day's labor bringing up the last of the wealth below. They left no one at the Rock for the few days it took them to retrieve the sunken treasure, thinking nothing would try to take it in that short a span of time.

The crew got treated to Dolce's newest song about their most recent exploit during this venture. She gaged their response, and decided ultimately it wasn't her best work, but would certainly have a place in her tavern repertoire.

Cracking the Rock

I’ve heard a story ’bout Tidewater Rock
That I’m sure you’ve all heard as well-
It says that glory you can unlock
If you claim the old fort for a spell!

Captain Mirielle wanted the place,
And she always gets her way.
So mercurial, Besmara’s grace,
Yet always with her does it stay…

Take up a tankard, I’ll tell ye a tale;
True as the day is long.
Sure as we’re anchored, and sure as we sail,
Our lust for the rock was strong!

Smythee’s commander met us at their dock
To learn about our intention…
We didn’t pander with flattering talk;
An alliance was all that we’d mention.

He led us inside to meet with the lady
And she asked us please to dine.
This did we abide, lest it seem shady,
While our causes might yet align.

Sadly, sadly my friend, the lady, she had some demands
My captain was loathe to meet…
And so, the meal at an end, we felt that she’d tied our hands
And conspired, their lives, to cheat.

To my surprise, Lady Smythee was swift;
She’d seen through our veiled presentation,
Before I could rise, she gave us a gift –
Much to my consternation.

Her blade drank deep of my captain’s blood
And we all rose up to the fight,
The battle grew steep, Smythee fell with a thud,
From the power of our captain’s smite!

Now far from the battle, she’d fallen just short of her men,
And we followed with haste.
Her breathing, still did it rattle, they took her to carry her then,
And down the stairs they raced!

They tried, oh they tried – just to save her life,
But we didn’t give them an inch
And when she died it filled them all with strife;
Not a man of hers would flinch.​

During this time, Dolce finally took note of Shade purposefully avoiding her. She eventually confronted him and forced him to tell her why. When he removed his gloves and she took in his dark skin her first instinct was to stab him with her rapier... For she recognized the distinct hue of drow skin without ever having seen it before. It made his strange accent make sense as well.

The elf restrained herself, imagining the hassle of explaining to Mirielle why she'd attacked the bosun when he'd been doing such good work, but she did make certain he had nothing else to hide from them and interrogate him regarding why he was a pirate and not below with his kind. The drow revealed to her that he had been part of a heretical society, one which worshiped the devil, Moloch, rather than the demons they usually prayed to.

As a result, surrounding drow settlements had deemed his a threat and murdered all but a few of them. He was among those who escaped and now sought out a new life far from the underground. Dolce snarled that he should watch himself, because she certainly would be, and hastily withdrew from him to go and inform Mirielle.

As the elf predicted, Mirielle was not on board with the idea of murdering Shade outright. Rather, she said they would continue with him and see if he gave them reason to. He did his job well, and was a capable combatant. He'd proven useful once or twice already, and until he did give them cause she would let him continue to do so. The two debated this at some length, but ultimately Mirielle pulled rank on Dolce, ordering her to stay her hostilities unless directly merited.




OOC Notes

So, as it turns out, the people of Tidewater Rock are supposed to take a hostage, unarmored and unarmed. Likely I would have chosen Nasha since she doesn't need armor or a weapon to be devastating as a monk. My husband didn't read that paragraph of the module though, and I only saw it because he lets me reference the books for proper names when I'm writing up these posts.

I figure this is fine, cause he also accidentally converted both Lady Smythee and Commander Royster as one level higher than they were supposed to be, and that battle was terrifying. We'll call it even, huh?

There's a big difference in how PF2E handles dying and how D&D 5E does. In 5E the player characters are, for the most part, perpetual yoyos. They can go down and come back an infinite number of times as long as there's healing to be spared and it happens before they fail 3 death saves. In PF2E when you fall unconscious you gain the dying condition. So when Smythee went down, she became "Dying 1". When she was revived, she lost the dying condition and instead gained the wounded condition, so "Wounded 1". In PF2E you die when you reach Dying 4, and your Dying rank is based on your Dying condition + your Wounded condition. You can use a hero point to revive yourself without gaining the Wounded condition, but of course... NPCs don't have those.
• So Smythee was Dying 1, got a potion poured down her throat and became conscious, Wounded 1.
• Got knocked out by Chilling Spray, Wounded 1 + Dying 1 = Dying 2.
• Was given a second potion, Wounded 2. Got knocked unconscious by another Chilling Spray. Wounded 2 + Dying 1 = Dying 3.
• Failed a death save while being carried down the stairs, Wounded 2 + Dying 2 = Dying 4 = Dead.
Notably, Chilling Spray, is a slightly weaker option than Burning Hands, if you strictly look at damage. Chilling Spray does 2d4 damage. Burning Hands does 2d6. But... but... Chilling Spray also gives creatures a -5ft move penalty on a failure and -10ft on a critical failure. (A critical failure is any save that is 10 or more below the caster's DC in PF2E. Rolling a natural 1 makes your result one category worse than it would have been based on your total (usually also a critical failure)). The marines were our level or lower (so they failed most of the time) and Royster and Smythee were higher than us (and succeeded most of the time). Movement in PF2E is looped into the 3 action economy. All actors (PCs and baddies) have 3 actions, they can choose to use one or more to move. You can't break up your movement (so move, then act, then finish moving). Instead you would spend 1 action moving, then 1 attacking or whatever, then have to spend another to move again. So... that -5/-10 is really as much as -15/-30 feet of movement per round. The spell was beautiful here. And I only chose it for Dolce over Burning Hands because she spent her whole life daydreaming about being a pirate and knows fire is dangerous on ships.

Revel has a climb speed when she is raging courtesy of a Barbarian feat. This meant that it was faster for her to climb on the walls of the tower in her pursuit than it was to run down the stairs (difficult terrain), so just imagine the blue-skinned hobgoblin scurrying along the inside wall of the stairwell and gnashing her teeth at her enemies the whole way down. It was a wonderful image in my mind.

Shade being a drow was sort of my doing. I had found a picture of a really cool drow swashbuckler and had commented that it would be cool if they recruited another elf since Dolce is quite young. In Golarion an elf reaches physical maturity and adulthood at around age 20, but aren't considered emotionally mature by other elves until they are closer to their first century. I thought it would be fun to have someone aboard who might note that Dolce is still young (she's 85). Owlbrarian decided to use the cool drow pirate and put him aboard our ship to give Dolce another elf to interact with. Of course, this changes the dynamic of the relationship she will have with said elf because she was raised to hate Drow.
-In Golarion, the elves fled a catastrophe that threatened the entire planet by retreating to another planet... Except a few who remained behind and went below the surface. These elves were influenced by the presence of Rovagug (a god who seeks only to destroy creation and the other gods; they did not realize they were influenced by him at the time), and became Drow. In fact, this effect can still happen should an elf be cruel and evil enough they can spontaneously become a Drow. The reverse has never occurred. The Drow take special delight in torturing their surface kin, and view their flight to the sheltering planet as The Abandonment.

Last note for this lengthy OOC section, this was a fun thing for me to get into the mindset for. I don't play characters who are so... cutthroat... basically ever. And somehow this felt more ruthless than taking over a ship. So getting into the mindset to go and just murder all these people living in this fort solely so they could put another feather in their cap was definitely playing outside my normal wheelhouse, but it made sense for the characters. In my head...
• Nasha is indifferent to it. To her all that really matters is her companions and the crew, and if this furthers their renown and position then she's fine murdering these warm blooded strangers.
• Revel is a bloodthirsty fighter, perfectly willing to take from others by force and relishing fear that she brings upon others. Again, perfectly fine with this.
• Dolce is a scheming, thrill-seeking, elf. She wants them to be renowned throughout the Shackles and beyond as their powers grow. Perfectly content to do this. Even more so to do it the way they did, by getting invited inside and then taking them from there. It really caters to her motivations and will make for another defining point of their pirating career in her stories.
• Mirielle thrives in her newfound freedom and appreciates comfort, but she actually doesn't like violence. It is a means to an end for her. She preferred to find a peaceful resolution or form an alliance with Lady Smythee, alas, the module literally said all the woman wanted was marriage (pretty sure Owlbrarian also said it would have to be to the captain when I floated the idea of maybe marrying her to The Purr's mysterious bosun or to Dolce)... And marriage is one thing Mirielle is not willing to do because of her own backstory. She also wants to lead her crew to glory, so she basically chose to ignore her aasimar heritage and her guilt in order to claim the Rock and further their reputation. Of course, she also is saddened by how many ultimately died. She clings to the fact that Besmara "cares little for senseless murder" (this is from the writeup of Besmara in book 1 of the adventure) as justification for why she spares the lives of her enemies whenever possible. She also had to make a diplomacy check with her crew to make sure there were no ruffled feathers when she allowed the four survivors to keep their belongings as they left the Rock (this she chose to do just cause she's a softy).
 

Owlbrarian

The Librarian is Here
It is super stressful especially when we have to have people come over to service things. Honestly at this point I feel like I understand people who are afraid to be around other people better.

Ah cracking the rock. Honestly there is part of me that wishes I just had skipped this part of the adventure. Paizo adventures are designed so that in theory people can come in from the middle and more or less play from there. So you could play in book 3 of the adventure path without too much issue. Because of this they rarely reference stuff from previous adventures. Because of this Tidewater Rock is just sort of an afterthought, and becomes a bit pointless since the PC’s get another island at the end of book 2.

Add on to that the encounter with Lady Smythe isn’t all that interesting in of itself made this section a little blah. Though you know what makes things exciting?

Screwing up your conversion levels!

Lady Smythe and Royster were a level higher than they were supposed to be.

You might think one level? (and yes level not CR or Challenge everything in PF2 is based on levels) That doesn’t sound too bad.

That one level meant that I almost killed Mirielle the entire encounter went from being a fairly even one to a lucky crit or two away from being a TPK.

Honestly it is kind of refreshing that it is pretty easy to turn the “challenge knob” without resorting to shenanigans like I often had to in 5th edition. Though on the flip side it can have unintended consequences where for example I made a custom monster using this site (PF2e Monster Tool) and used “extreme AC” on accident. This means for that level it has very high AC.

To the point that when I used the monster because it also happened to be 2 levels above the party they could only hit it on a 16 or better.

Oops.

Still I rather err on the side of finer control than looser when it comes to creating challenges. I got pretty good at balancing encounters in 5e by the time I stopped playing it though it was all from gut feelings based on the group rather than math.

Overall while at first I felt kinda blah about the encounter, the party splitting up with Nasha separating from the group and climbing on the side of the tower was lots of fun. So I guess I ultimately am glad we did this encounter even though in a lot of ways it was sort of pointless. I suppose they can do a whole “Lord of the Seven Kingdoms thing…”

“Lady Miirielle. Captain of the Lady’s Purr. Lady of the Rock and Ruler of the Island of Empty Eyes”
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top