Down a player for the night, but no worries since her character died last week I can hold off on introducing her new one. The party gets a bit faster at handling ship actions. They get some practice boarding ships, and a player finds out what it’s liked to be whipped. Warning: This contains spoilers for the Skulls and Shackles adventure path!
The player of our former party rogue couldn’t make the most recent session. This gave me a chance to test out what it’d be like to be down a player. It wasn’t too bad since this makes it to where I do not have to worry about introducing two new characters in one session.
We do introduce Rob’s new character. Padre, a human cleric. He had been press-ganged along the same time as a friend of the party, Sandara Quinn. She is a fellow cleric as well. Since the ship lost two members, it was up to find out who would be up to the task of being the new rigger.
Wait, Rook is the ship’s rigger, and she can fly! Well, Plugg and Scourge could care less. Since she returned first, hauling crab and not crew members, she became the replacement cook. The remaining swabs in the party had to do the challenge where they all climb the main mast and the first there gets the job. It went to the not so new, new guy, Padre.
The party is now growing tired of Scourge and Plugg. They’re finally gathering friends after finding things out the hard way that they are harshly out powered on this ship. A trap has been set off, things are under constant watch. It’s just not good times without friends on this ship. Slowly there is separation forming between Capt’s goonies, and the party’s friends.
They are getting more brave too. Rook, the Strix gunslinger, decided to directly ignore orders to stay off the main deck at night unless your job tells you to. She tried to sneak up, only to fail. Rather than flee before being identified, she stayed and tried to explain.
Her curiosity got her on the receiving end of Plugg’s cat-o-nine-tails till she was bloodied and knocked out. Throughout the night she was in and out of consciousness. She found herself bandaged, in a bed… Eerie humming, and could see Plugg studying her and noting it in a bound journal. By the next morning she was tied up to bake all day. Cook’s should be good at baking. She was left out on the main deck as a warning to those who sneak about. Some of the party wanted to cut her down when Plugg would allow, but she said not to, she wanted to endure it and learn what she can over the coming night.
Several players nearly got caught, but it was Scorch, the goblin alchemist, that saved her. He broke his portable alchemy lab in the process. He couldn’t cut her down but he got her a potion of cure light wounds to keep her up. And by morning, her npc friend; Jack Scrimshaw, came to cut her down. She had seen him about the deck the night before.
Injured but wanting to show she can hold her own; and prove that she was better than lowly humans… She refused help from the party’s new cleric. It was time they learned how to board ships.
A small boarding party was formed, and they were given grappling hooks and ropes. They got in row boats and were forced to row some forty feet out. They were to grapple the railings of the ship and climb aboard. Should they fall, they have to swim back and try again until they make it.
Riaris Krine, a mad woman, yelled and cursed them through the start of it. But, it was Plugg’s goonies that made things tricky… They threw whatever they could get their hands on to knock the party members down. It worked decently for the first two to try it. Padre and Scorch raced across, Padre fell once. It was about halfway through his second attempt that they realized some of the old fish and bilge water had been tossed overboard and drew the attention of a nearby thirteen foot shark.
This wasn’t included in the original adventure. I felt like climbing over ropes with the crew throwing stuff at the party members wasn’t exciting enough. The shark added the sense of danger I was looking for. The sense of urgency if someone fell in the water. Padre nearly got bit. My rule was if you fell close enough, and tried to swim away, it would provoke an attack of opportunity. Scorch couldn’t resist the temptation of throwing stuff. He’s a goblin alchemist and gets the throw anything feat for “free”.
The rule was, roll 1d20, on a 15+ Scorch would actually throw in Padre’s direction. It happened a couple of times but Padre had fast reflexes. It wasn’t until Rook and Machev’s turn that things took a turn for the worst.
Rook flew the grappling hooks over, just hooking one for Machev. No one hit her with stuff as she flew. Macheve isn’t the best climber, and it was known fast as he slowly climbed over the water, the shadow of a shark circling underneath. The crew missed shot after shot in the first round. In the second… It was Scorch’s throw that caught Macheve square in the face, sending him into the water below. Sure enough, landing within reach of the shark. When he swam, the shark gave a test bite worth six damage. When he struggled in the second round, the shark bit deeper and dragged him below the surface.
A shot rang and a bolt of fire pierced the water. Searing hot flames hit the shark and left a long singe against the beast.
Splashes sounded as Scorch and Padre dove in to bring Machev to the surface. Smoke rose from Riaris’ pistol. She cursed at wasting ammunition like that, but the crew couldn’t afford another loss. Thus, ending the practice for the day with only one failure, and …
MAN WAS IT EXCITING!
That whole moment encapsulates everything I love about Dungeons & Dragons / Pathfinder. Here I am in a pre-written campaign, but with freedom to spice things up and do what I want when I want… One small change goes a long way.
Machev was healed up thanks to the cleric and everything ended up being okay. Riaris didn’t care to mention the failure to Capt… Being nicknamed Sharkbait on a pirate vessel was enough punishment for the lad.
The party has advanced 16 days into the campaign. Most know that they are nearing high traffic trade routes, and now they’ve had boarding practice… I’m waiting to see when or if they have put two and two together.
So far, Skulls and Shackles is building up to everything I’d hoped it would be and more. The player’s seem to love it as well!
Till next time,