Epic Experience: Rough Start

A sick player, a sick child, and a virtual table top glitching. Was a tricky night to handle. But somehow, still had a lot of fun! Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Skulls and Shackles adventure path! Read on if you want to find out what happened to the players, and how I got the game going through all the trouble! 

The First Session

Creeeeak. Urrrnnt. Clo-clo-clo. You wake up in darkness. 
“STILL ABED WITH THE SUN OVER THE YARDARM?” A voice cracks through the darkness. You look back and and several figures are silhouetted by a taller one holding a lantern. (Here I note that those with darkvision are blinded as he steps forward and the hooded directional lantern sends its beam directly to their faces. Others are merely disoriented.)

At this point in time I let them know in more flavorful detail that they can go up on deck to get their job aboard the ship. Or, they can be dragged up top in which more than just a job will be waiting for them. A long whip is coiled up along the man’s belt. 

The disoriented party realizes their circumstances as they walk out into the blinding noon light. Their out at see aboard a pirate vessel. They have none of their belongings, been merely draped with rags for clothing. A very tall, muscled, tan figure steps down from the helm and onto the main deck. His deep voice booms a welcome to the new pirates, and introduces the man they have already met. Master Scourge, and what would be his personal crew of pirates. And, a new man, armed with a cat-o-nine-tails, Mr. Plugg. The captain introduces himself as Captain Barnabus Harrigan. He don’t like being talked to, leave him be and he’ll leave you be. Just get your job done. 

At this point, Mr. Plugg is left to assign the players their jobs. He loves games almost as much as he likes ripping flesh with his cat-o-nine-tails. Now, in full daylight, we see our cast of characters.

Rook – A Strix gunslinger, played by my wife “ShySiren”
Scorch – A Goblin alchemist, played by our good friend “GraveAT9”
Machev – A first time pathfinder player, Human swashbuckler, played by a close but far away friend “PointCaliber”.
Zak – A Tiefling sorcerer played by our close friend Rob.
Renza – A Human rogue played by Grave’s love, our lovely Linda.

Within moments of Mr. Plugg’s introduction, he orders all of the players to climb the 60 foot mainmast to the top. The first one there gets the job as a ship rigger.

Let me tell you. The group decided to get their natural ones out of the way this particular night. The Strix wasn’t allowed to fly, in a storm she wouldn’t have the chance, Plugg wanted to know if she could make the climb. The group spent round after round climbing and failing, and falling, and getting rope bashed for their failure. Zak retaliated with color spray and was immediately dropped unconscious by a lash from the cat-o-ninetails, he spent the day in the sweabox. The other players were worked until Rook made it the highest, but no one actually made it to the top.

Zak was assigned to be the cook’s hand. He’d proven he’s pretty good at cooking, being in the sweatbox and all, the rest of the players were set to be swabs. 

By the end of day one, the players do their first job and get to witness the keel hauling of one “Jake Magpie” Who is drawn up bloody and drowned, then fed to the sharks. This is his punishment for stealing from the quartermaster. 

Later that evening a cleric of Besmara introduces herself as Sandara Quinn, press-ganged onto the ship not long before the players. She managed to recover some of their gear and return it to them. She was looking to make fast friends aboard the ship. The players settled into their life pretty easily, each making friends here and there. We got through the first four days and are starting the fourth night out of many to come. Unfortunately with technical glitches between our internet or the virtual tabletop we moved to skype. Then Rook’s player, and our kid started showing signs of being too sick to continue on so the night ended early.

What I learned

We had a lot of fun. The rules for Skulls and Shackles give everyone a turn to do their own thing. Sneaking about the ship, influencing other characters, getting their gear back. But, my players aren’t used to this. I’ve learned that they are used to doing what they want or doing as best they can at what tasks are in front of them. Most of them spent their day working hard and getting a bonus to the roll out of fear of failing their jobs. Then, spending the night sleeping and not doing anything. Only occasionally would one decide to get other stuff done while they work. 

They take a penalty to the job, but are rewarded by getting gear back, learning the ship, or earning some side cash. I think I’m going to have to put the idea in their head that if they continue to work hard, then a dreary life awaits them, always obeying orders… Eventually settling in like the ships Cook, a depressed drunk who has resigned himself to a life of never fighting back so he doesn’t get punished or bothered. That is what awaits those who work hard in order to save themselves from punishment. Those that are brave and want to make a name for themselves have to snatch it from others, or risk their own hide to get somewhere on a pirate ship.

I think with sick players, and the glitch, the night wasn’t all it was hyped up to be. Hopefully this Saturday will be. Through all of my reading, I was well prepared but, I still had to flip back and forth and bide time here and there for responses. Running a pre-written adventure is interesting, I really enjoyed how things went off for the first night and I look forward to our next session. Some very interesting things happen in the coming days. I have modified the adventure path a little, adding an extra day here and there to get the players used to things just a bit more.

In any case, till next time! ~Vexar

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