Saturday, June 18, 2016

Howl From the South: Enter Port Toli

Welcome again Greyhawkers, today is the twelfth 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?

Dramatis personae:

Cullen (consecrated captain, human rogue)
Tyrrus Bandale (blessed bosun, human fighter)
Kuma Sand (sacred surgeon, human druid)
Ostyn (devout deckhand, human fighter)

and Lash Driftwood (quibbling quartermaster, sea elf ranger)

When last we saw the crew, they had returned, with Mallon the mage, to their pinnace and jogged Ogie the ogre awake to get ready for a southwesterly course from the shores of Keoland back into their home waters of the Hold of the Sea Princes. Their first day out was slowed by a deadened breeze but Kuma feeling more at home on the deck of a ship went to his usual post at the bow of the Envy and called upon the nature gods to aid them. Ostyn and the others couldn't be sure but a strange ethereal form could be seen flying about their sails causing them to fill with air and push the vessel forward. This boost by Kuma and his always dependable weather predictions of the next day's heat wave were appreciated by his compatriots who busied themselves that day. All save Sabriel who remained below deck half-awake, listing over visions she had from her rapier Dreamsinger:

"You hear the ring of metal on metal – there is a sense you are in a place of great reverence to swordsmen. As if answers you seek are here. The smell of seawater is strong yet all you see is clear blue skies with sea birds circling overhead."

The next day it was blistering hot as Kuma foretold. The druid stood at the fore of the ship and soaked in the sun's rays while the sea elf Lash, up high on the central mast miserably sighted a small convoy of merchant-marines on a route counter to theirs. Ostyn confirmed from their colors, it was friendly Hold warships out of the capital Monmurg. As they passed their kin, ships waved and signaled to one another and the last vessel in line even anchored to share news and toss over mundane items to trade. They were star-struck upon learning it was the famous crabbers who defeated the Toli's best at the Prince's Regatta recently. The Holders were further blessed when Kuma began blessing their ship in the name of the sea gods. Again an appeal was made for the Envy to join the muster of the Prince's Fleet. There had been reports that the Provincial Navy armada was encroaching farther east over the Azure and disrupting their trade routes. A show of force was going to be made soon. Captain Cullen and the others again turned down the call, citing Kuma and vague divine mission. The Envy was wished well and both ships went on their ways.

Now in the middle of Sea Princes waters, Kuma gathered the crew after their late meal and advised the next day a gale storm would come up from the southern Jeklea Bay. They would best remained anchored in a cove out of harms way until it passed. The temperature cooled but did little to assuage the crew's mood as the storm arrived as predicted. The tiny pinnace though seaworthy and stronger than it looked rocked and rolled in the water. The Envy's hull cracked in spots but the ship held together while everyone remained below deck to ride out the gale. Mallon snored while Ogie, formerly a jungle ogre became sick and if not for the druid's sleeping poultice would've drove the others above deck due to the stench.

The next day the winds subsided and it was a beautiful sailing day. The Envy  however limped toward the sheltered harbor of Port Toli at last in need of some minor repairs. The city's defensive sea towers and light house were spotted from afar and a dazzling array of ships of all sizes came and went that day. Kuma was first off the ship, eager to find the city's tattoo parlors to add to his already impressive body art. Meanwhile, Cullen secured a spot at the docks so Ostyn could arrange repairs while he and Tyrrus went into town to check on the elven pirate's lead that Dreamsinger and another Blade of Corusk, a great sword, was once seen here at a school called the Sanctuary of the Sword Saint. It wasn't hard to find the place, all in the city knew of the place, down the coast from the sea port on a self-sustaining farm; the Sanctuary is a sprawling complex consisting of white stone buildings with clay roofs connected by broad steps and pathways, gardens, fountains and well manicured hedges maintained by a cleric of Phyton. The sound of sea gulls and ringing metal echoed in the air here. The city's best nobles, ship captains and mercenaries spent their hard earned gold to learn from the masters of the blade here.

As Tyrrus and Cullen wandered the grounds, a servant found them and ushered them to find a master. On their way they came to the sanctuary's namesake shrine. A round fountain of clear water surrounded a life sized marble statue of Kelanen, the hero-god of swords. The sword saint's hands were held out upright and his hooded gaze looked down to his palms while his twin swords remained sheathed. The legend it was said, that if you placed your blade in the saint's hands and prayed, your weapon would be blessed by Kelanen. Cullen always needed an advantage so he nimbly stepped up on the ledge of the fountain and leaped across to the base of the statue. Placing his weapons in the palms of the statue he gazed back up into the marble eyes of the deity to see his distinctive silver scar. He could also see engraved in the statue's swords their names, Sureguard and Swiftdoom, blades just as legendary as the ones they quested to find. a rush of good feeling came over the surly rogue and he returned to Tyrrus who decided he wanted blessed too, he slipped however and drenched himself in the formerly clear waters. He saw coins in the fountain but superstition kept the fighter from taking any. He climbed out and placed his great sword in the palms and waited and waited and waited. Finally he decided the blessing must be over and sloshed back out in time to see a master had found them! The affably well-dressed fencer introduced himself as senior instructor Vero Vocho. 

Master Vocho inquired to their names and business, immediately becoming pleased when he found they were formerly of the famous Sea Hag and by reputation phenomenal sword arms. He gave them an invite, provided they could afford the sanctuary's tuition, to stay at the complex and train under him for a couple months. Distracted by the offer and the luxury of the place, the pair did not get around to finding out about the rumors of the Blades of Corusk and returned to the crew instead to see if any others would join. Lash was eager and began gathering his hoarded treasure and planned on selling anything else to cover the cost, while Ostyn humbly went to Kuma for a loan. Sabriel pondered the choice and seemed to lean that way given her bardic background in valor. The half-elf Mallon usually quiet wanted to remind them of the Fivefold Council's quest, the spots they bore a constant reminder, but it seemed a lengthy interlude in this large port was unavoidable.

A few weeks later, the crew of the Envy was getting used to the school. Lessons were learned, tailored to each's style and type of weapon; Tyrrus worked on becoming more combat aware while Cullen's attacks became more precise. Ostyn learned to engage his opponents quicker and battle-hardened Lash unabashedly using the long sword Stalker soon caught the eye of the sanctuary's headmaster, Macario Paavo. The crew attended an audience with the reclusive old swordsman who seemed pleased to once again have Blades of Corusk among his school. When last he saw them he related, he was a young man. Dreamsinger was borne by a female bard named Lhoria of Narwell and her companion was a roguish captain named Galen "Silvertooth" Zain. Lhoria went missing into the Amedio Jungle in search of treasure and lore, while Captain Zain and his great sword (if the old man could be believed was light as a dagger) departed to find his lost brother Allan who went exploring to the east in the hidden Kingdom of Shar. The crew had already been to the jungle, so they knew now were they needed to go next. Ostyn seemed excited and nervous, he had been to the pirate haven called Kro Terlep before, but the local lore there said inland was a massive jungle plateau where the isolated kingdom of Shar was found. Few ever went there unbidden and returned.

The swordsmen left Paavo's chamber to rest and ponder the quest again, before resuming their training the next day. A new distraction would arrive that morning as letters arrived to each of the celebrated sailors: it was a formal invitation to Prince Varek IV's birthday party at the palace. Having slogged through jungles, a sahuagin city and fought blobs, the group agreed they couldn't possibly pass up such a party. Unfortunately, they would need to clean up and get new clothes, however they had very little notice or money remaining.

to be continued...

Campaign notes: As a house rule to this game, one extra feat or martial maneuver was given to any PC who paid the Sanctuary's 4000 gp tuition and spends 2 months game time there training. It was fun to see the guys scrape together the gold and research what they might want their characters to learn. It's interesting that core 5e doesn't have a lot of rules bloat in their feats (yet) and that there were very few options the players wanted to take. If we had still been playing 3.5e/Pathfinder I'm sure this interlude would've taken less time and the bonus ability would also be less appreciated. Let's hope 5e sticks with their less is more ways.
The statue did indeed bless their swords, for a one time "advantage" on any combat roll.
Next episode, I'll also be going into some mechanical benefits for social interaction gained from patronizing some of Port Toli's luxury businesses.


Jason R said...

Is the Sancuary and its instructors all home brew?

Mike Bridges said...

Yeah they are. Kelanen's reverence in the Sea Princes is real though.