Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sea Princes #33: All's Well That Heals Well

Hoist the sails! At long last the high seas adventures of our second Sea Princes story arc comes to a end. Previously, the combined crews of the Bird of Prey and the Crimson Fleet's Laughing Rake defeated the Keoish privateer Lydia's Light in a stirring sea battle. All that is left now is to tie up the loose ends and finish finding the Well of All Heals to cure Captain Rennaud's curse. Here is our dutiful protagonists...

Captain Victor Emmitt Hammond
Captain Araxo Tydan
Quartermaster Cuahtehmoc aka "Cuahto"
Brother Pickles
and Lt. Henri Morgan

With the battle ended, wounds mended (with Sister Aurora's aid) and accords made by Sir Aris Westford and Ironclaw McGrath, Cpt. Hammond agreed to spare the remaining Keoish sailors and drop them off at nearby in the port of Narisban where Rennaud and Osprem's Kiss still awaited their arrival to undertake the journey to the Well of All Heals. Treasure, weapons and supplies was collected and reallocated between vessels. Slain privateer captain Rynn's book collection and valuable garments, a tricorn hat and black lion embroidered cloak were taken by the Bird's crew. Sister Aurora gave her protective signet ring of Lydia to the sea cleric Brother Pickles for saving her, she then apologized to Henri Morgan for thinking him a pirate for he nobly aided in her rescue from plundering crimson fleet thugs.

Lydia's Light itself was claimed by Hammond as a spoil of battle for the Sea Princes. Old Cpt. McGrath, and what little remained of his pirate crew helped sail the mighty carrack to Narisban (since the Laughing Rake was scuttled) but rather than join, most of the scalliwags opted to stay behind at the tropical port along with Aurora and the Keoish crew (Ens. Harrowmire and Whitecliff tried to join but were denied by Morgan and Pickles so they stowed away instead). Vic renamed his new ship, the Blackguard's Revenge in honor of redeemed Sir Eduard Rennaud whom the privateers hunted for so long. Henri was promoted to his first mate. Lt. Araxo Tydan then assumed captaincy of the Bird of Prey and he promoted his female bodyguard Scar to first mate. Cuahto remained quartermaster on the Bird, enjoying his role as right hand man to Araxo, while Pickles the free spirited cleric and cook was left to stay on whichever ship he desired.

Now rejoined in Narisban with their comrades Rennaud, Cpt. Jet Cassidy and the sage Lockard Meek, epic stories were shared, supplies were arranged, repairs made and their final destination was laid out. The cryptic map that tracked the cyclical appearances of the Well was deciphered by the sages and the course was found to be a tiny island off the west coast of Hepmonaland in the chain known as Breeka's Teeth. A week and a half, east by south-east out of Narisban, the convoy of three vessels uneventfully shirted along the Densac Gulf, over the Vohoun Ocean till they passed through Xuxchan Bay whose strange currents, sand bars and nauseating waters discourage most ships from entering. The northern isles here are popular hiding places for pirates, but the southern isles are altogether wild, each supporting a unique tropical micro-environment.

The rocky, jungle isle they arrived at already had been visited long ago by the half ran-aground wreckage of an Aerdian vessel. Around it scuttled crabs of unusual size so it was left alone. Staying at a safe distance, all three ships sent launches to form a large search party, ready to go ashore in search of the Well. The party included Araxo, Vic, Pickles, Victor, Cuahto, Henri, Sir Aris, Cpt. Cassidy, Lt. Sasha Dirk, Rennaud walking slowly by cane or carried by Blonde Barry, Olfon Trebus the botanist and Lockard Meek. Lockard felt as if his life's work was validated when he found the stone marker left by the ancient Olman to show the Well had been here 800 years ago. They marched inland until they came to a glen surrounded by high peaks. There the party was confronted by a gray haired, golden skinned man named Nesfar and his consort, a ruddy woman in a feathered headress named Seara. Blocking their progress they ask Rennaud and his compatriots who they were and what they sought. The party acted nobly and responded sincerely gaining the advice and guidance of Nesfar toward their promised prize...

The entire group awoke the next morning laid out in the same glen, unharmed and with all their belongings intact save one missing map and a loss for memory of what happened the previous day. One thing was for certain however, all those present felt renewed. Cassidy's ring finger, once cut off by her jealous pirate husband had regenerated. Sasha Dirk, whose heart had been impaled by a spear was healed, and with it perhaps her dark mood as well. Victor Hammond once frail due to a childhood illness felt somewhat healthier. Araxo looking back on his voyages had certainly gained new insight on his life. The fumbling Henri Morgan, who had been shot, rended, whipped and poisoned was suddenly more robust. Island born Cuahtehmoc also found new fortitude against the hardships of life at sea with foreigners. Some say "Blonde" Barry Picaroon's bald pate began to grow hair back. Sir Aris felt rejuvenated and ready to return home and thus redeem Sir Eduard's name. Olfon and Lockard while in their twilight years, would probably see their life extended thanks to the special experience. Dimwitted Pickles seemed unchanged outwardly, but surely he now retained alot of knowledge gained during his misadventures. And Eduard Rennaud, at long last was free of his terrible curse.

Epilogue: Rennaud thanked his friends and decided to leave with Osprem's Kiss again and return with his love, Jet Cassidy to her home in the Lordship of the Isles. Sasha Dirk nodded to Victor and said she looked forward to meeting him again. Sir Aris remained with the Bird of Prey to be brought back west where he vowed to spread the word throughout the Kingdom of Keoland and clear Rennaud's name. The sages also remained on the Bird, eager to journey back to civilization to share their tales at a local Seeker lodge. Rennaud's last words to the officers before departing for the eastern seas, was to do him a favor and repaint the old Sea Princes shield that still hung in his former cabin on the Bird of Prey. Rennaud emphasized the flaking paint would need to be stripped off first. Before the Kiss' sails dipped to the horizon, Araxo quickly dashed to the cabin and scraped a piece of peeling paint off the kite shield to reveal a hint of a treasure map burned into the wood. The Blackguard was lying all these years and McGrath was indeed right. The "Owl's Nest Egg" did exist.


Game notes: For brevity and spoiler's sake I omitted the details of the Well of All Heals encounter. The Well is found in Treasures of Greyhawk and is easily adaptable to any locale. We could have went into more detail with the voyage to and the search on land for the Well but two things happened, first we had other time committments so finishing this story arc without delay was important. The other is that over the weeks I gradually realized the main goal of the quest was not about finding the Well it was about finding the man who could find the Well. It was a manhunt unlike any I've ever ran and I'm utterly pleased with how it all went. As I tell my players, when I plan a long term quest I already know how it starts and how it most likely will end. The stuff in the middle is the fun part. One last note for DMs, try to leave a hook or two at the end for the next story. Leave your players wanting more!



Anonymous said...

This was all great, Mortellan! Your campaign has given me quite a bit of inspiration. :)

And, thanks for allowing me to make use of that awesome map of yours!


mortellan said...

I wish I made more use of it! :P

Yeah this campaign is going to be around a long time, I have a good feeling.

Anonymous said...

Great Read Mort,
And as others here and CF have said, good inspiration to build from. I second sirXaris on the wonderful map! Between yourself, Joe and Anna you 3 are indeed the holy trinity of Cartography.
Dark Lord Galen

mortellan said...

DLG: Well I'd probably pull myself off that list and put Eric Anondson in there. I did one good map. Ever. I'm a hack otherwise. ;P

Valkaun_Dain said...

*climbs up on soapbox - clears throat... Cracks knuckles is probably more appropriate*

This is the greatest adventure we've ever done. It's amazing to me that they get better every year, rather than stale and rehashed. Even when we do stuff that is SUPPOSED to be rehashed it's fresh and new. This is all due to you tireless effort and creativity, Mike. I'm proud to call you not just friend, but one of my bestest pals. I'm lucky to be able to hang out, roll some dice, laugh (until I cry) and fart with my best friends every week.

Thanks buddy.

*climbs down... Pauses to consider; climbs back up*

Cuahto suggested the name Blackguard's Revenge. Jus sayin.

And you're only a "hack" when it comes to map making and sketching dungeons when you're in a hurry. And SPIT is still not an appropriate vis-a-vis solvent.