Sunday, April 3, 2016

Five Shall Be One: Flags Fish and Flirtations

Welcome back loyal Greyhawk readers, today is the seventh installment of my ongoing 5E Hold of Sea Princes reboot of the 2E modules Five Shall Be One and Howl From the North, set in the south seas. What sort of high adventure will the crew of the Envy get into this week? Read on, and beware, this story may contain spoilers!

p.s. the game group got to level up this session, thanks to the capable cosplay antics of "Sabriel" who sometimes live tweets the game at @xb0shi3x

Dramatis personae:

Cullen (courageous captain, human rogue)
Sabriel Loreweaver (unflappable first-mate, human bard)
Tyrrus Bandale (bombastic bosun, human fighter)
Kuma Sand (seafaring surgeon, human druid)
Ostyn (devoted deckhand, human fighter)

and Lash Driftwood (quick quartermaster, sea elf ranger)

When last we saw the crew of the Envy, they were under the sea in the watery palace of the Archmage Drawmij. Knowing that their quest to find the third Blade of Corusk would take them to the darkest depths of the Azure, the resourceful wizard brought his guests to a vault where he then began to lay out a great many magic items for them to use. Caps, rings, cloaks and other wondrous objects were created by Drawmij over the years to assist surface dwellers in exploring the depths with him. Lash, the sea elf of course did not need any aid, so the great mage instead equipped the archer with a clutch of deadly sahuagin slaying arrows. The last object given to them was the rarest of them all; Kwalish's Deep Sphere. This spherical transportation looked like a giant metal sea urchin. But inside it was a work of mecha-magical genius like it's more famous cousin Kwalish's Apparatus. The veritable 'diving bell' was powered and protected by a bound air elemental and if taken to the right point in the deep Azure, the sphere could easily take the party to unimaginable depths.

With the party outfitted, Drawmij took them back to the Envy in his metal whale-ship; the thing rising in a crashing wave next to the small pinnace, freaking out poor Ogie the ogre who waited patiently alone by the cliffs. Mallon and Eristen offered to continue the quest and joined the vessel, allowing Drawmij submerge again. Captain Cullen and the crew then unrolled their charts and set course, east for the Pomarj coast and from there a southerly route into the deep Azure where lay the chasm called the Mirodian Deep and the capital of the Sahuagin Empire, Their first day out of Keoland waters, the Envy came across a swarm of sharks around broken wreckage. Sifting through the flotsam with poles, they found little of use - floating pouches, rubber balls, perfume bottles, a live mouse. Ogie wanted to catch a shark, even casting a net to snare one, but the wily creature slipped his trap making the big-oaf frustrated until Sabriel scratched his ear.

The next couple days were rougher. First a storm hit and all hands were on deck; hatches were battened and the bard encouraged them all to heave ho until the winds passed and the Envy was secure. Worse, the two susceptible sea elves Lash and Eristen caught an illness, fatiguing them for forty-eight hours despite Kuma's medical attention. The ship has pushed east for four days now and soon sighted a caravel heading toward them, signalling them for parley. Looking out, Sabriel saw that they flew one of the flags of the Pomarj. They were pirate-folk like themselves, but could they be trusted? Fortunately the crew was mostly human, running a swift vessel called the Harpoon. The Envy pulled up to the larger ship where from a rail, the very handsome Captain Kendrick of Blue Port introduced himself to his Sea Prince cousins, Kendrick had need of news and trade, namely to unload a hot weapon he had recently smuggled out of Irongate through the Provincial Fleet's blockade. Tyrrus, Cullen and Lash began to anxiously lick their lips when it was discovered Kendrick had a cannon and more powder than they'd ever seen. Inviting the captain to the Envy, Kendrick told them of dangers in the east with the blockade, especially word of the province's new metal-plated galleon, the Tyrannic. From what he heard, dwarves had been abducted to not only engineer the ship but also to construct cannons for the huge vessel. It was dark times for the Iron League.

Grim news aside, Sabriel negotiated with the charming pirate captain, getting him to cut his price in half. The deal was shook on, but she hid her cursed black spot from sight lest it become a deal-breaker. The rest of the afternoon, the two crews drank rum, smoked with Kuma, played music and Kendrick even danced with Sabriel. Kendrick showed his brash style, spinning and tilting the bard, while Sabriel outdid her partner using her own knowledge of the south sea's acrobatically daring dance-moves not seen anywhere else in the Flanaess. Before the evening's festivities were out, Kendrick invited wild Sabriel on a tour of his ship and to help bring up his private cask of rum from the hold. The trip took them quite a long while, but all above deck knew why, save perhaps Ogie...

The next day, Sabriel was haunted by Dreamsinger's visions of a pirate king and a great blade while Tyrrus and Ostyn busied themselves situating their two cannons in a strategic position on the pinnace. The Harpoon was sailing in their direction now as well, heading home to Blue Port. It was when the ship changed tack that the Envy knew there was trouble. On the horizon a forlorn warship sailed on an intercept course. It was the provincial navy privateer, Discord still chasing down vessels like the Harpoon who dared to evade their searches. Now it came at the Envy, a smaller and easier target they thought. First Tyrrus and Ostyn ran up a false signal flag that they were a plague ship. The Discord was captained by a fearless Hextorian priest however, so they ignored the warning and kept course. That's when the Envy sprang into action to evade the warship. The speedy pinnace was too fast and maneuverable for the Discord and when the two ships passed at their closest range, Lash fired three quick and uncannily precise arrows at the glowering plate armored captain. One penetrated his shell causing him to kneel, the second clipped his shoulder guard and the third killed his cabin boy. The Envy was at full sail and effortlessly lost the larger ship, for now.

Turning south from this point they headed away from safe sea lanes into the Azure Sea. It wasn't long that Ogie got excited to see a mast ahead. A merchant vessel was dead in the water from damage and a battle buzzed about the deck of the ship. Lash and the others immediately deduced it had to be a sahuagin raid. Indeed the sea devils as they were called were accosting this derelict ship which was defended by a handful of dwarven crossbowmen. More sahuagin crawled up the ship from all sides while sharks swirled in a circle ready to carry away any who were captured down to the deep. The Envy crew all agreed that these monsters had to die and so the pinnace was brought in close to board. Sahuagin immediately scattered to the water seeing the second ship. Ostyn threw a grapple to attach them and Tyrrus bounded across alone swinging his lengthy sword. Sharpshooting ranger, Lash covered the fighter's charge, sniping at the scaled humanoids from the crow's nest. Creatures fell in Tyrrus' wake yet Sabriel at Ostyn's side and with Dreamsinger drawn remained on the pinnace, for they saw more sahuagin swimming for their ship next!

Ostyn, thrashing with two weapons in hand held off the boarding fishmen, while Sabriel also pierced one with a couple lunges of her rapier causing it to fall back into the drink. On the dwarf ship, Tyrrus continued to cleave a path to the crossbowmen while Lash bulls-eyed others one by one. One sea devil managed to get on board and slipped under the grabbing arms of Ogie to get a wet claw on Sabriel's arm but Tyrrus saw this and whirled from a distance to heave a hand axe expertly into the creature's back, killing it. The battle over, the surviving dwarves caught their breath and thanked their rescuers, Their leader Gandred Glimdoor had lost many men that day, including his cousin Godred, who was pulled down below the waves. Lash knew why too, it was because the sahuagin loved to make other races fight for their amusement before turning them into food. Sabriel meanwhile called for Ostyn to bring her a body and for Lash to translate. She was going to use her bardic magic to speak with the dead thing and possibly gain a clue on how to find the exact way to their capital city.

To be continued...

Campaign notes: This session started with a cut scene on board the H.M.S. Tyrannic where I had the players each controlling peon cannon crewmen. Some loaded, some aimed and some lit the fuses. In the end one Lordship of the Isles vessel was destroyed trying to run their blockade. This scene was important two-fold: one it was foreshadowing for later in the story and two it was a playtest for 5E siege weapons. More next time!

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