ROOTS Skull & Shackles

Fighting, Allies, and more fighting
Oh we have our own ship now, sort of

An all too brief wrap up of the last session but here it is anyway. The group makes its way down into the grindylows’ sea caves. Once there, they kill some monsters and get some treasure. Toward the end of the exploring of the grindylows caves, the group finds the kidnapped pirates and a little more. In the same cave as the captives, resides The Brinebrood Queen, matriarch of the grindylows of Bonewrack Isle, lives in this cavern with her beloved son the Whale. Needless to say, the group kills them and rescues the captives. Sandara Quinn informs the group that Mr. Plugg and Master Scourge play on killing them as soon as they get back to the Man’s Promise. The group finds a group of grindylows that they did not kill on their way in and offer them a deal if they help them in the coming fight. The grindylows accept and the stage is set for the big fight. The big fight, aka mutiny, goes very well for the group. No one of the human allies were killed, although the grindylows were all lost. All the surviving pirates are keen to remain aboard under the PCs’ command, regardless of their previous affiliation. After all, it’s better to serve a new captain than be marooned on a monster-infested flyspeck of an island. The PCs’ new crew does, however, point out that the moment Captain Harrigan hears of their mutiny he is bound to seek vengeance. Ambrose Kroop suggests following Plugg’s plan of taking the Man’s Promise to Rickety’s Squibs for a refit to prepare for a new life on the ocean waves.

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Shore Leave

The Man’s Promise has been holed on the edges of a coral reef surrounding a small tropical island, called Bonewrack Isle. A huge ridge towers over the island’s western portion. A single raised tor glowers across the isle at the imposing ridge, with miles of jungle lying between the two. The waters around Bonewrack Isle are crystal clear (visibility 320 feet), but the island is surrounded by coral reefs, which lie between 5 and 25 feet beneath the surface. Despite the beauty, however, the tides around the island are vicious, particularly along the western shore. The rocky cliff that towers over the island to the northwest and west are some 500 feet high and covered by trees in many places, particularly the more shaded northwest and southern slopes.
From your approach of the isle from the Man’s Promise, the best place you can see to land would be a small stretch of beach along the northern coast. A small gathering of collapsed mud huts sits on the beach. The village has not been inhabited for decades and most of the huts have been completely cleaned out. A path leads away from shore into the nearby swamp.
You follow the overgrown but still usable trail into the jungle where it quickly becomes a salt water marsh. Traveling along the path, you are attack by a mosquito swarm. After several attempts of getting rid of the swarm, you retreat back up the path until you loss the swarm.
Being more cautious about more swarms, you return down the path. The pathway slips suddenly into a large green bog. Remnants of an old wooden bridge cross the bog, but only short timber platforms on either side remain, leaving just the pilings jutting from the mud. To help with cross the pilings, Gallen crosses and ties off a rope on the other end. In her attempt to make it across, Katarina slips and her disturbance of the bog water attracts the attention of two giant frogs. The frogs attack, swallowing both Gallan and Katarina whole. You manage to kill the frogs and make it across the swamp without forth incident until.
A terrible stench fills the swamp here, a fetid odor of cheap perfume and rotting flesh. A huge tree stands in the middle of a clearing in the swamp, draped with some sort of huge tent. Lurid, painted faces cover both the tree trunk and tent, and both are decorated with rotting humanoid body parts and carpets of squirming insects. Three ghouls, the rotting remains of ship’s whores occupy the tent, dressed in decaying silks and vermin-infested dresses. You find a small amount of treasure and signs that there are more ghouls beyond the ones you just put to their final rest.
You finally immerge from the swamp at the end of a long beach. Towering palm trees stretch along a white sand beach for a mile or so, each around 50 feet high and crowned with a wide canopy of palms brimming with coconuts. Shattered coconuts litter the beach beneath the trees. Off in the distance you can see the rocky ridge to your right and further down the beach is a field of some kind.
Among the many normal coconut crabs inhabiting this beach are three crabs that have reached great size. They drop out of the trees and attack. After a brief fight you kill the crabs and move on towards the field.
A clearing in the jungle contains overgrown fields of some sort of corn. The crops have gone wild, creating a high barrier wafting gently in the breeze. There is a path of some sort going into the field and branching off running into the jungle. You start to advance on the field when an ankheg burst from the ground and attacks. After terminating the ankheg, you move into the field to find that the path is actually where the ankheg has burrowed through the sandy soil. You find its lair and a bit of treasure.
Looking off in the direction of the path that runs into the jungle, you can see at the top of the ridge some sort of stockade. The gate door on the outer stockade shows signs of being forced open and claw marks can be seen. The claw marks could have been done by the ghouls. The well-built timber stockade surrounds a small lodge in a jungle clearing. Vines wrap and strangle a great tree that rises next to the lodge, blocking light from above. Beside it is a bubbling spring. The walls are made of sharpened wooden stakes 7 feet high. The small spring next to the tree is the only available source of fresh water on Bonewrack Isle. Before you get to investigate too much more of the stockade you are attacked by two vine chokers. Post killing the chokers, you find a spyglass affixed to the stockade wall is weathered but still functional. The spyglass is pointed at a cove and the spyglass has been deliberately fixed in that position. You can catch a glimpse of pair of grindylows cavorting in the water of the cove. You notice that one of them is wearing Sandara Quinn’s tricorne hat.

The wooden door to the lodge is of good construction but is currently ajar. Inside is a single chamber, crowded with a large amount of furniture, including a comfortable bed (formerly a captain’s), a small writing desk, cooking gear, and several barrels of rotting food. The stench of rot is overpowering and flies swarm within the room, particularly around the hooded corpse hanging from a chain off a beam in the middle of the room. A stool lies on the floor nearby where it was kicked. Investigating the corpse releases the body hanging there, which just happens to be a ghast. Having disposed of the ghast, you discover that it is a crew leftover from the underwater wreck to the south seen through the spy glass. The ghast’s name was Aaron Ivy. The ship was a Chelaxian ship named Infernus. The ghouls originally were from the ship as part of the captain’s personal shock troops. They got loose after the wreck and turn several of the other crew into ghouls.
Resting up in the tree for the night, you are attacked by the remaining ghouls. Several of you are paralyzed during the fight and you are almost wiped out.
In the morning, you retrieve the cutter and sail it to the beach by the corn field, where you can easily load the water barrels from the stockade. Securing that you investigate the cove where you saw the grindylows. High cliffs surround a deep cove churning with dark seawater. The cliffs around the cove vary in height from 40 to 80 feet. The cove is deep, nearly 50 feet in places, and the tidal waters churn considerably. But you notice that the cove’s dark waters indicate the absence of rocks below the surface.

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Room and Boarding Party
Learning how to board a ship and then doing it.

Game Day 04/20/2013.

After delivering a special dinner treat for Captain Harrigan, the day to day grid is back in full swing. You continue to make friends and enemies among the crew.

Finally after 2 weeks into your service aboard ship, you get ordered to report to Riasris Krine, Master Gunner, for boarding training. Krine’s skin is darkened from countless days on deck under the sun, and her nose has the appearance of having been broken several times over. One of her legs has been replaced with a wooden peg leg, the result of a wayward catapult shot that took off her leg below the knee. She may be the most vile-tongued wench the PCs have ever met, and her language makes Rosie Cusswell sound like a nun. Krine orders the jolly boat on the main deck to be launched at dawn for the day’s work. She takes two of you out at a time to instruct you in using grapples. The exercise consists of you in the jolly boat throwing grapples onto the Wormwood from 40 feet away, tying the rope off, and then boarding the Wormwood by climbing along the rope. To make it interesting, however, Krine has instructed four random crew members to hurl objects at the boarding characters in an attempt to knock them off, simulating a real attack. Gallen and Katarina make it on board, the rest not so much.

Following the boarding class, Plugg and Scourge start assigning you the worst of the duties they can in your area hoping that you fail. The only one that gets away from their wrath is the Cook’s Mate.

One day Gallen is pulled from rigger duties to duty in the bilges. On his way to his work he is stopped by Plugg and Scourge and searched for weapons. All Gallen’s weapons are taken and he continues on to his duties along with 2 of Plugg/Scourges’ lackeys. While working away in the bilge, Gallen sees that the two have hidden daggers on them. The two lackeys finally make their move to kill Gallen but he sees them first and gets both of them knocked out. Quinn appears in the hatchway and offers to help tie up the two naked in their hammocks. She gives a quick healing touch to Gallen and then disappears.

Finally after almost three weeks, you get to be pirates as the lookout spots a merchant vessel. Captain Harrigan orders pursuit. After almost a day of pursuit you catch the Man’s Promise, a Rahadoumi merchant vessel. As the Wormwood closes to within half a mile of the Man’s Promise, Riaris Krine summons you to the Wormwood’s poop deck to give you your task for the upcoming battle. She give you the following orders, “_The ship’s wheel is on the aft deck, just below the sterncastle. You’re going to grapple over, kill the guards on the sterncastle, take the wheel, and guard the ship’s boats. Kill anyone who tries to get away on one of the boats. Don’t move from the wheel until the fighting’s done, or you’ll have to answer to me. Oh yeah, as we get close, it’s going to get foggy. Just stick to what I told you to do._” She puts Gallen in charge of the boarding party and tells you to pick two other crew to go with you. Right before the ships meet Kroop and Johan, under orders from the Captain, slaughter several of the pigs that are on board and use them as chum to attract sharks.

The boarding begins. You manage to capture the wheel as you are instructed. You also manage to foil an ambush attempt on Captain Harrigan. After taking procession of the wheel, you have to repel attempts by some of the Rahadoumi crew to escape via one of the jolly boats. An officer and several crew try and escape. Most of the crew, with the officer, are killed. Katarina offers them a chance to surrender and they do. Katarina coup de graces the officer but is then bull rushed into the water by the remaining crewmember. She is later rescued from the water.

You receive a nice slice of the pie from the capture of the Man’s Promise. Gallan for foiling the attack attempt receives several extras gifts, including Plugg and Scourges’’ growing hatred. The celebration last the rest of the day on into the following day too. The Captain does remark that it would have been nice to capture more officers because they are worth a nice ransom.

Captain Harrigan assigns the task of taking the Man’s Promise back to Port Peril to Plugg and Scourge. He gives them the job of picking out a skeleton crew, including you. You can guess that about half the crew are Plugg/Scourge lackeys. Mr. Plugg and his first mate Master Scourge gather the crew together to inform them that although this is a new ship, the rules are the same, though discipline on the Man’s Promise will be a good deal harsher than on the lackadaisical Wormwood— all crimes are now punishable with the cat instead of the whip. All of the crew keep the same jobs they had before on the Wormwood, but they will have to work a good deal harder, as the crew is smaller. Master Scourge ensures that the PCs continue to have the worst jobs. As night falls, the sails of the Wormwood disappear over the horizon. Mr. Plugg does not believe in crew entertainment or rum rations, and anyone caught above decks after dusk without leave gets six lashes with the cat. The very first night out, you and few of the crew are left in the crews quarters as not so subtlety Plugg and Scourge are having a meeting with their lackeys that they bought over with them.

The night of the second day, rumors begin to spread among the friendly crew that Mr. Plugg might decide to claim the Man’s Promise for himself and establish himself as a pirate captain in his own right. These rumors become more certain when a Kroop deduces that the ship has changed course and is heading east toward Bloodcove, a notorious port on the edges of the Mwangi Expanse. Kroop suggests to that he knows where the Man’s Promise might be heading—to a seedy, isolated dry dock on the Slithering Coast west of Bloodcove called Rickety’s Squibs. For a price, old Rickety Hake completely refits ships into “squibs,” providing new identities by changing ships’ lines, silhouettes, and general appearance to be unrecognizable to their former owners or anyone else familiar with them.

On the 4th day on Man’s Promise, a storm hits. The wind blows with incredible force, driving the Man’s Promise far off course. The ship is tossed about on the high seas, and all hands are called on deck to work, including the cook’s mate. All of the crew is required in the rigging. Toward dawn, as the sky begins to brighten almost imperceptibly, the storm redoubles its ferocity, and dark shapes loom out of the sea all around the ship—small islets and coral reefs that dot this area. At the end of the storm six grindylows are discovered aboard ship and attack you as they try and make their escape.

As the storm begins to abate, the Man’s Promise hits the coral reefs surrounding Bonewrack Isle and runs aground. As the sun rises and the tide goes out, the members of the crew slowly come to terms with their predicament. The Man’s Promise is holed in the main hold on the starboard side near the ship’s water barrel. Although the ship is not in immediate danger of sinking, she’ll eventually sink unless repairs are made, even if the bilge pumps are operated 24 hours a day. Mr. Plugg immediately instructs several of the crew to begin dismantling the ship’s deck to repair the vessel.

Early in the morning, Mr. Plugg calls the roll of the crew, and two of the ship’s sailors are discovered to be missing. One of the missing crew members is Sandara Quinn; the other is Rosie Cusswell. A quick search the ship for clues finds signs of where the grindylows clambered aboard, as well as Sandara’s holy symbol of Besmara on the deck, dropped when she was captured by the grindylows. Mr. Plugg is dismissive of the two pirates’ fate, declaring that they were washed overboard during the storm. It is suggested that the grindylows were responsible and there should be a rescue mission, Plugg immediately forbids it, claiming that it is better to lose a few expendable scum and get the ship to Port Peril than to risk crossing Captain Harrigan.

At the same time, the crew discovers that the ship’s water barrel burst when the vessel ran aground and is now empty. Mr. Plugg orders you to take the ship’s cutter and a couple of empty barrels and find fresh water and supplies on the nearby island. Plugg refuses to consume any magically created food or water, fearing it might be poisoned. He tells the PCs that the repairs will take a day and a half, and that the ship will sail at the first high tide thereafter. That gives you roughly 48 hours to get to the island, find supplies, and return, or the ship will leave without you.

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Welcome to the Sweet Trade

Game Day 04/06/2013.

After a hard night of drinking and, in one case attempted thievery, you awaken to find yourselves press ganged into service aboard the Wormwood under Captain Harrigan. Your equipment and money are now the property of the Captain.

Master Scourge, the Wormwood’s boatswain, master-at-arms, and infamous disciplinarian, has entered the hold to wake the PCs and get them up to the main deck. Six rough-looking Wormwood pirates, armed with saps, accompany him.
“Still abed with the sun over the yardarm? On your feet, ye filthy swabs! Get up on deck and report for duty before Cap’n Harrigan flays your flesh into sausage skins and has Fishguts fry ye up for breakfast!” , snarls Scourge.

You quickly discern the aftertaste of oily nutmeg on the tongue. The aftertaste is a clear sign of oil of taggit poisoning. You also remember seeing the face of Master Scourge last night as well.

When you reach the main deck, it’s quickly apparent that they are on a sizable ship in the middle of the ocean, far from any land. Port Peril and the mainland of the Shackles are just an ochre haze many miles astern. Figures cluster around the ship’s mainmast, looking up at the higher deck on the stern, where two figures stand. One of them is a broad, muscular Garundi man with a shaven head, a long beard bound with gold rings, and an eye patch— clearly the captain. The other is a younger, balding man with a long black ponytail, wearing a long coat and carrying a well-used cat-o’-nine-tails.

At this point you also notice that they are not the only new recruits—four others are standing with them on the deck, set apart by their relative cleanliness and their apparent unease with their newfound situation. A dozen or so other pirates, clearly existing members of the crew, stand about on the deck or in the ship’s rigging.

Once the PCs are on deck, the captain addresses the crew.
“Glad you could join us at last! Welcome to the Wormwood! My thanks for ‘volunteering’ to join my crew. I’m Barnabas Harrigan. That’s Captain Barnabas Harrigan to you, not that you’ll ever need to address me. I have only one rule—don’t speak to me. I like talk, but I don’t like your talk. Follow that rule and we’ll all get along fine.
“Oh, and one more thing. Even with you new recruits, we’re still short-handed, and I aim to keep what crew I have. There’ll be a keelhaulin’ for anyone caught killin’ anyone. Mr. Plugg! If you’d be so kind as to make pirates out of these landlubbers, it’ll save me having to put them in the sweatbox for a year and a day before I make pies out of ’em.”
At the end of his speech, the captain walks away, leaving behind the man with the cat-o’-nine-tails. This is Mister Plugg, the Wormwood’s first mate. He looks down at you and other impressed captives and smiles unpleasantly.

After and a climbing test, Gallen becomes a rigger. Joenah becomes a Cook’s Mate. Katarina and Thadius become swabs. The group is quickly befriended by Sandara Quinn a cleric of Besmara. She was recruited to assist Habbly Quarne, the ships surgeon and carpenter.
Your first day aboard the Wormwood sets the pattern for the succeeding days, as they get used to the routine of the ship and her crew. In general, days always follow the following format of work, leisure, and rest, unless other events take precedence.

The first day on the ship does introduce you to “Bloody Hour”. The crew gathers on deck at dusk to witness the keelhauling of Jakes Magpie, a pirate caught stealing from the quartermaster’s store the night before. After a brief interrogation at the hands of Mr. Plugg and Master Scourge, Jakes admitted his crime, and is now brought up from the bilges to be slowly keelhauled before the evening meal.

On day two, mere seconds after the bell tolls to summon the crew on deck, four pirates—Aretta Bansion, Fipps Chumlett, Jaundiced Jape, and Slippery Sy Lonegan—block your path. “In a hurry?” one says, and laughs, blocking the way. Master Scourge has already talked to the four, telling them he doesn’t like these new swabs, and that the sluggards need to be knocked into shape. The four of you handle the situation without much trouble and make it on deck in time to the scowling of Master Scourge.

At about mid-morning on the fourth day, young Jack Scrimshaw rushes onto deck. You can notice his ashen face as well as overhear what he reports to Mr. Plugg. Jack was below on rat-catching duty when something big swam out of the bilge water and bit him. Plugg immediately looks for volunteers to investigate, and selects all of you, telling them to get down to the bilges and not bother coming out until whatever is down there is dead. On the way to the bilge, you are stopped by Quinn who gives you and your crewmates your preferred weapon. You and your fellow crewmates kill 6 dire rats and find a little treasure in the process.
On the fifth day out, Plugg and his cronies lead Owlbear onto deck just after the evening meal “for a bit of sport” and dare Thadius take him on—bare-knuckle fists or wrestling only, no magic tricks, and the last one conscious wins. Thadius wins the fight.

On the 8th day out, a major storm hits. You do manage to rescue a crew member

On the 11th day out, approaching the Slithering Coast, the waters become shallow and navigation is tricky. As the afternoon wears on, Mr. Plugg calls the PCs together on the main deck. At his feet lie four crab pots. Plugg informs you that the captain wants fresh crab for supper. Plugg points to a reef lying some 200 feet north of the ship and instructs you to swim to the reef, fill the pots with crabs, and swim back. Plugg brooks no further discussion. You are your crewmates are attack by to reefclaws. Instead of crabs you stuff the pots with the reefclaws, which are a delicacy. Once they are back to the ship and Harrigan sees what you have brought back, he rewards you and your crewmates with the return of the rest of your equipment but not your money.

During your days at sea you have also made may a friends and enemies of the crew and a couple of the officers.

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