Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Howl From the South: Battling to Blue

Welcome loyal Greyhawkers, today is the tenth 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!

Dramatis personae:

Cullen (carousing captain, human rogue)
Sabriel Loreweaver (fatigued first-mate, human bard)
Tyrrus Bandale (boastful bosun, human fighter)
Kuma Sand (sleeping surgeon, human druid)
Ostyn (deft deckhand, human fighter)

and Lash Driftwood (queazy quartermaster, sea elf ranger)

When last we saw the crew, they had just teleported away from the capital city of the sahuagin empire with the third Blade of Corusk, Stalker. Now safely onboard their vessel, the Envy, the crew knew they had to move immediately and get to a safe port. Unfortunately, while the resonating power of the three swords had saved the day, it had exhausted Sabriel and Lash and rendered Kuma Sand unconscious, Cullen barked orders to his healthy crew, especially the strong ogre Ogie, to get the pinnace under way. Mallon conferred and told Cullen that Blue Port to the north was closest, but in the middle of the Azure Sea and shorthanded they had trouble steering the right course. Less than a day to the north, much of the crew tried to finally get a difficult rest. That is when weary Sabriel was visited in her spell by another vision from her magic rapier, Dreamsinger:

Your vision swirls still from the inky blackness of the deep sea, crashing into the sudden stillness of a blank void. Points of light come into focus gradually and you sense the seething bloodlust of the hunters as they restlessly hunt in all directions.

Waking in fright, she ran to the aft of the Envy to tell Cullen of her dream. Just as the rakish rogue was about to dismiss her, she looked over his shoulder to see several large wakes in the water behind their ship and closing fast! Yelling for Lash, the sea elf wearily trudged up to see what commotion the bard was causing and that's when his eyes grew wide and he groaned. A sahuagin raiding party from the city was chasing them down, and this time they had brought sharks as transportation. The rest of the crew began to converge at the rear as Lash went the opposite direction. Eristen, their other sea elf companion then gasped and pointed as the largest wake was indeed a giant shark, what storytellers in the Sea Princes called a megalodon.

Lash ran to climb the mast and get to high ground, his new weapon Stalker was attuned and he knew suddenly that he could turn invisible, the sea elf faded from view gradually like a shadowy mist. Captain Cullen remained at the wheel defiantly to try to out-maneuver the host, but the sharks were fast and the sahuagin too sharp to out-wit. Tyrrus busily enlisted Mallon the mage to help aim and fire one of their rear cannons. They had not spent much time practicing how to use the black powder weapons since acquiring the new guns, so the fighter and wizard bickered on how to point the weapon that the giant shark rose up first and bit a hunk out of the rail in front of them. Sabriel was concerned with the sahuagin raiders and sang a song of sleep, causing a few to fall off in pursuit.

Ostyn retrieved his crossbow that he had left about for just this scenario and began firing at the attackers. Likewise, Ogie had a harpoon he was saving for just this occasion and he plunged it right into the hide of the unfeeling megalodon. Cullen continued to turn the ship and avoid the largest shark even as the smaller ones swam alongside their hull to allow their sea devil passengers to climb off to the side. Spears were thrown in advance of the boarders, one striking the preoccupied Tyrrus. Sabriel was also distracted by the huge shark and used her bardic powers to inspire the crew while viciously mocking the uncaring beast. Cullen looked behind him to see spears flying all around and invisible Lash's arrows zipping back at them from nowhere. Eristen stood by in defense of Cullen as webbed hands scrambled for the rail. Just then Tyrrus and Mallon finally got the point blank shot they needed, the cannon was lit and an ear-piercing blast blew a gaping hole in the giant shark. The smoke cleared and the monster was still unfazed, perhaps controlled by the evil will of its sahuagin masters.

That will was tested by the ranger Lash Driftwood though. Again, using the special powers of Stalker, he was able to converse with the injured megalodon and though frenzied, he miraculously convinced it to calm and turn away without further harm. Meanwhile, Sabriel, Ostyn, Ogie and Eristen began to repel the boarding sahuagin, clubbing and stabbing them back into the dark waters, a handful reached the deck however, led by a fearsome four-armed baron. The sea devils frenzied and ganged up on Tyrrus who had just taken up his great sword. Bites and claws tore into the bleeding fighter and then the leader's trident pierced him for a painful lasting wound. Cullen tied off the wheel at last and dashed in with the rallied crew to defend Tyrrus. The lesser warriors fell easily yet the leader was tenacious and big as the ogre, his wicked trident deeply stabbing Ostyn's weapon hand at one point. Cullen circled and lunged back in to wear the leader down, while Ogie's huge club battered the creature to his knees. With a determined stab, Cullen finished the sahuagin off, ending the battle ended with all exhausted and bloody except Lash who appeared from the shadows.

The next day the crew had finally got the rest they needed and came upon the relatively safe harbor of Blue Port, a pirate haven in the peninsula called the Pomarj ruled for life by a group called the Council of Three. The most notable feature of Blue they saw was the Dock Wall, a high wall and rampart lining their port, to defend the city from sahuagin attacks. This was surely a place that would be sympathetic to their cause. Upon arriving the party split up, Lash sold the pearls and other treasures gained from their undersea jaunt, Sabriel and Ostyn talked to the shipwright of the town about upgrades to their pinnace, while Kuma and Cullen separated to go wander the town alone. Tyrrus meanwhile took Mallon with him to the fish market to string up their catch of the day: sahuagin bodies including a four-armed specimen. The hatred the town had for the sea devils was great and most just spit on the carcasses, but eventually a wealthier local bought them for his own reasons.

That evening Cullen was itching to get back to his old profession before hard times had found him on a crab ship then questing for swords. He had been carefully watching for a mark in Blue Port and found one that likely deserved his fate. From the shadows, Cullen jumped a haughty tax collector and his two goon guards in an alley. After intimidation for half their money or their lives failed, he slew one guard and gut shot the second, leaving him to bleed as an example. The tax collector for his worth did make the deal, handing over half the day's take. The man ran home, but was secretly followed by Cullen. That evening at the Low Tide Inn, the crew of the Envy and all in attendance were treated to food and drinks on Cullen. who had brought his own date to the celebration, the tax collector's daughter.

The next morning the Low Tide Inn was quiet and hung over. Sleeping idly, Lash had cleaned up on side bets while snoring Ostyn had been the life of the party with his antics. Kuma, Mallon and Eristen were nowhere to be seen, having left the raucous party early. Sabriel had performed her bardic duties all night and now slept soundly in their common room. Tyrrus had got blitzed however, and eventually woke up in a totally different location; light on some coin to boot. Cullen also rested with a rare smile on his face in the arms of his new paramour, what's her name. Sabriel was then nudged awake by a boot. Gazing up with a sleepy frown she she saw a familiar face who had missed their party, the charmingly handsome Blue Port pirate Captain Kendrick.

To be continued...

Campaign notes: Most of you probably haven't owned or read Howl From the North, the continuation of the five swords quest. Naturally since this is set in the south seas I am calling this adaptation "howl from the south", but the reason I bring it up is that HFtN is utter trash. It was written by a different author from Five Shall Be One so it loses a lot in the transition, failing to come through on promises from the first, as well as failing to capture the feel of FSBO in both adventure and the nature of the swords, and then there is the crappy NPCs and the infamous ending. The impending war backdrop is also sketchy. The author tried admirably to deliver on this threat but for well-versed Greyhawk historians like myself the story doesn't work. I'll rant on that another time. All you need to know for my campaign is that Howl From the South will bear little resemblance to this module except in the objects of the quest. More next time!


Jason Raabis said...

Given the southern setting as well as not connecting the reunification of the blades to the impending Greyhawk Wars, was there a campaign type reason to keep these swords as the "Blades of Corusk?" Or are you planning on reconnecting the adventure to a northern type plot somehow? I could just wait, but I'm curious!

Mike Bridges said...

Well it would be improper off me to rename the proper name of the Five Blades. Plus, the nature of the blades are that they move around a lot so the events of the original mod can still transpire technically. Now my idea is that the proper name origin of Corusk is open for debate. It may be that its an ancient Suloise name that was carried to the north by migrants in addition to the name of the person who forged them back before the Twin Cataclysms.

While you got me thinking about it, not a spoiler, but in the original story, I think only 1 of the 5 blades is even recovered in "barbarian" lands. The original quest spends as little time as possible IN the Corusk mountains.