Morning broke far too early on the Storm Reaver. As the regular crew hustled to their duties, Daina, Torlan, Trucco, and Rus took a few extra moments to find their bearings. Making their way to the stairs, they heard the ship’s bell ring, summoning everyone to the main deck…and found their path blocked by a group of five scowling pirates. Stepping forward from the others, a large orc with a scarred eye shoved his finger into Trucco’s chest and asked him why he was in such a hurry. Unflappable as always, the roguish shifter wished the orc a pleasant morning and asked if there was a problem.
“Yeah,” the orc snarled, “there is a problem! You four! You all stink of filth, and you” — he pointed at Trucco again — you snore!”
Trucco shrugged and replied that it wasn’t the first time he’d been accused of being smelly. But the snoring? Well, the orc and his friends would just have to get used to it, he declared, affably patting the much larger man on the shoulder with a smirk. The orc growled. Who, he demanded, had given Trucco permission to touch him? Trucco pointed out that the orc had started it, and his reply was to wind up a punch.
Twisting out of the way, Trucco ducked low and swept his leg out to take the orc’s out from under him, but his opponent was surprisingly nimble and leapt out of the way himself. Eager to de-escalate the situation, Daina pushed her way past Torlan and called out to the orc that being smelly wasn’t a crime, and there was no need to fight. He hesitated for a moment, glancing over at her, and Rus took that as his cue to move in. Cocking his fists, he dealt the orc a glancing blow. As Trucco bounced back to his feet, the lone human in the group moved in and slugged him in the head, cracking the shifter’s nose as blood sprayed everywhere while a stout, sweaty dwarf stepped up to take a swing at Rus. Wading into the fray, Torlan came to Rus’ side and hit the dwarf with the full force of his fists, sending her flying into some barrels where she slumped over, unconscious. A second orc moved in on Torlan, raining him with blows that he adeptly staved off. With the heat off him for a moment, Trucco hopped up onto a nearby ballista and crouched over in a feline stance, surveying the fray from higher ground as he began to shift, calling on the power of his beast ancestors.
If Daina had had her own plans much to Torlan’s dismay the night before, the old man had his own plans this morning. Quickly backing away from the orc’s flying fists, Torlan took a running start and bull rushed the pirate, knocking his legs out from under him and sending him somersaulting over the dwarf’s head. He fell hard, his head slamming into the deck, and he didn’t get back up. With his own quarry having temporarily escaped, the orc with the scarred eye turned his attention from Trucco to Torlan, moving into take an ineffectual swing at him as the old man jeered and suggested that the orc’s blows were gentle enough to caress his mother with. As the orc’s human companion tried to put Torlan off his game, feinting to one side and then the other, Daina could see that there was no reasoning with them and waded into the fray herself at last, putting Torlan’s newest opponent down with a well-aimed blow. Still barely breathing hard, Torlan announced that it was time to introduce the Cloud Reavers to the might of clan Kolladron, hopping up on a ballista next to where Trucco was perched and launching himself forward at the last dwarf standing among the pirates. Much to his (and Daina’s) dismay, he misjudged his leap, and as he clumsily fell onto the other dwarf they both wound up tangled in a pile of netting as the pirate tried to take a bite out of Torlan’s face. Sensing which way the wind was blowing, the lone attacker still standing turned and ran.
Everyone’s attention was now on the pirate grappling with Torlan. As Daina leaned forward to plant her foot on the man’s chest to pin him down, Rus grabbed the pirate’s legs in his own attempt to help. His swift, sweeping motion tripped up his fellow soldier and sent her toppling flat on her back, the wind knocked out of her. Looking up in annoyance, Torlan growled at Rus and Daina to back off — this dwarf was his. Getting back up, Daina took one look at Torlan’s red, flushed face and heavy breathing and promptly ignored his instructions. Once again striding forward to try to pin the pirate as she inquired if he was ready to have a conversation now, Torlan elbowed her out of the way and rolled on top of his opponent, pinning him at last. Looking down at the man, Torlan rumbled that the Kolladron family has long been seen as lesser among the clans, and he was damned if he was going to give the Cloud Reaver dwarves the same satisfaction of looking down on him. Having said his piece, he delivered a sharp headbutt to the grappled pirate, smashing his nose and knocking him out cold.
As Daina held out her hand to pull Torlan to his feet, the old man brushed her off and told her to wait while he rifled through the unconscious dwarf’s pocket. As Trucco did the same among the other pirates, Daina shook her head ruefully and held out the same hand to the man in the blue coat, introducing herself as Daina ir’Lizani of the House Deneith 85th. Crouched over the body of the human Daina had put down, the object of her attention also ignored her hand and cagily introduced himself as Rus, offering no further information. Undeterred, Daina remarked that Torlan didn’t think Rus had come by his coat — which identified him as a former Queen’s Own Skyknight of the Northern Cross — honestly, but she didn’t agree with her friend, and asked Rus what he had to say on the matter. Rus’ voice got a shade darker as he brusquely replied that people tell a lot of stories. Quickly changing the subject, he told Daina that he planned to carry the pirate up onto the main deck and throw him at the feet of the others assembled there. Frowning, Daina asked what he hoped to gain by such a brash move, and Rus replied that it would teach the others that these newcomers were not to be trifled with in the future. Conceding Rus’ point, Daina gathered up the pirate’s legs as Rus grabbed his arms, and the two of them began to make their way up the stairs. Behind her, Torlan stashed a belaying pin in his sash as a trophy, and hid a dagger behind a barrel and quickly followed while Trucco lingered behind to cheekily pose the unconscious pirates in chairs.
Emerging into the morning light, Daina followed Rus’ lead as he unceremoniously dropped their quarry on the deck in front of the first group they came across. “Found this one sleepin’” he announced, standing his ground as all eyes turned to him and Daina. The attention on them, however, was short-lived as Trucco appeared, and was promptly assigned three lashes by Master Scourge for being the last one up. While Scourge angrily demanded to know where the remainder of his crew was, Fishguts passed around a breakfast of hardtack, and the day’s duties were handed out. Trucco would spend his day manning the mainsail, while Torlan and Rus’ duties from the previous day were reversed as the dwarf was ordered to be the day’s runner and the former skynight was sent below on rat catching duty. Daina remained assigned to the galley, and as Fishguts began to make his way down ahead of her, it was painfully obvious that he was already well into his cups, even more than they day before. Finishing her breakfast, she went down after him several minutes later, and found him nearly passed out in a chair and completely incoherent. Sighing, she realized that her job for the day would be to handle all the cooking herself, and she rolled up her sleeves and began to acquaint herself with the chaotic, cramped galley as best she could.
Down on the lower decks, Rus had no problem taking care of the vermin scurrying about. By midday, it seemed like the bulk of the crew was working up top, and he found some time to himself. He recalled that he’d hear a faint sound of whimpering from the cargo hold the day before, and decided to investigate. Dropping down in the cargo hold, he found it surprisingly empty but for a meager assortment of crates and several pigs wandering freely. Ducking around some cages towards the back of the hold, he came face to face with a latched door, some more pigs…and a large, muscular human man with a chain around his neck. The chain was bolted into a bulkhead, and the man sat on the ground petting a pig and whispering to it softly. He was wearing nothing but ragged, cut-off pants, and even in the dim light Rus could make out black gunk and what appeared to be feathers stuck to one of his shoulders.
Cautious and calm as always, Rus approached the man. “Hey there, friend,” he called out quietly, “you alright?” Startled, the man demanded to know who Rus was. Introducing himself, Rus tried to piece the situation together as the man asked in broken Common if “owlbear” had hit him. Confused, Rus replied that he hadn’t seen any owlbears on board, and it soon became clear that Owlbear was the man’s name — or at least what the other pirates called him. Rus casually asked what was behind the latched door, causing Owlbear to become agitated and insist that he didn’t go there, only officers went there, and if Rus tried to go there, Owlbear would hit him. He guarded the door day and night. Trying to keep the other man calm, Rus asked if Owlbear had heard any whimpering sounds from behind the door. The large man looked back down at the pig he’d been petting, sheepishly declaring that there was no whimpering here, for Owlbear was strong. As Owlbear turned away, Rus saw even more black gunk and feathers spread all across the man’s back and legs, and the surrounding skin was red and inflamed — for someone who had spent as much time on ships as Rus had, it was painfully obvious that the man had recently been tarred and feathered. Sensing a dead end and not wanting to push his luck, Rus returned to the main hold to catch more rats, and considered everything he’d just witnessed.
For the second time in as many days, Trucco gave Scourge the slip while the taskmaster was focused on berating some of the other riggers. Sneaking back down to the quartermaster once again, he found the door locked and Grok missing, and sneaking further down the deck he found her drinking in the galley with Fishguts. Taking note of the time, Trucco suspected that this was a daily routine, and filed that information away for later.
Torlan, for his part, decided to suss out more information of his own, but unlike Rus and Trucco, he threw himself into his duties diligently. Like Rus and Trucco, his own gamble paid off, and as he spent his day delivering messages back and forth he found himself meeting many of the officers and taking note of them. Over the course of the day, he encountered the pilot, the master gunner, and one man who appeared to be some sort of wizard who spent most of his day poring over maps that Torlan couldn’t get a good look at.
In the galley, Daina was putting the finishing touches on a surprisingly passable stew when she heard a voice out in the dining area — someone was trying to get Fishguts’ attention. Knowing that was a lost cause, Daina called out and asked what they needed, and a familiar face appeared in the door. It was the foppish, gaudily-dressed gnome who had gleefully informed her the night before that she was far too delicate for the Storm Reaver, right before she’d found herself on the receiving end of Master Lagraa’s cat o’ nine tails for trying to save Jakes Magpie from a horrible death.
Perking up at the sight of Daina, the gnome affably declared that he’d much rather see her than he would Fishguts, and asked how she was getting on. Daina decided to indulge him, and they chatted for a while. The gnome formally introduced himself as Conchobar Turlach Tomraan, once upon a time from Zilargo. It became even more clear than it had been the previous night that while Conchobar had taken a liking to Daina, his interest was at least somewhat lecherous, and as they spoke, he said more than a few things that made her question his experience at sea. Seeing an opportunity, she remarked that Conchobar was perhaps as unsuited to the rough and tumble Cloud Reavers as she was, and he proudly declared that he was nothing like them. Pressing further, Daina asked Conchobar was he gained from sailing with this crew. “My dear,” he replied with a sly smile, “what makes you think my circumstances here are any different from yours?” With a wink and a flourish, Conchobar left the galley…and left Daina with some new angles to consider.
Evening fell, and with it, the Bloody Hour. Trucco once again easily endured his three lashes from Master Scourge, but the pirates who’d arrived on deck even later then him due to having been rendered unconscious in that morning’s brawl were given six lashes a piece. Ironically, the only one exempt from that punishment was the one Rus and Daina had brought on deck as an example to the others. Glaring at Torlan, the pirates protested, but Master Scourge wasn’t having any of it. He dealt out their punishment, the quartermaster Cutthroat Grok appeared once again to pass out the daily grog, and the crew was free once again to go belowdecks and enjoy a second or third helping if they wished.
Torlan drew two more mugs and made his way down to the galley as Daina followed suit. Torlan rumbled that he wanted to see how these Cloud Reaver dwarves felt about being bested in combat — would they respect him, as he was accustomed to in such situations? As he approached them, they scowled and walked away before he could get a proper word in. Regrouping, Torlan elected to do instead what he did best: tell a story. He spun a tale of how Kolladron himself, an accomplished sailor, had challenged his clan rival and sea captain Kolkarun to a duel — one that had come to an ignoble end when Kolkarun’s bad grog gave him the bilge rot. Ever since, the Kolladrons had prided themselves on excellent hygiene and quality food and drink, which the Kolkaruns clearly did not enjoy for themselves. The gathered sailors listened with rapt attention. Turning back to Daina, he lamented that he didn’t have any coins to throw overboard for the Keeper as he was accustomed to doing every morning for good fortune; surely they could use more of that right now.
Daina seized on an idea. Seeing a card table in full swing, she asked Torlan if he had anything she could stake into the game with. He handed over a small chunk of hematite he’d looted from one of his opponents earlier that morning, and she confidently strode over to the gamblers and demanded a seat at the table.
Gambling had never been a particular skill of Daina’s. Giffer (the dwarf she’d chatted with the previous evening following Bloody Hour) and Conchobar made off with the lion’s share of the pot, and while Daina did come away with some coin, it was much less than the hematite was worth. Flirtatiously apologetic at taking her money, Conchobar winked as she excused herself from the table, and she noticed with bemusement that his eyepatch was on a different eye than it had been earlier. Taking her meager winnings back to Torlan, she pressed the coins into the old dwarf’s hands with a smile and told him it was for the Keeper, to turn their fortunes around. Sighing a little, he gently chided her for not cheating to even the odds, but acknowledged that he knew she never would. Sighing a little herself, Daina slouched down in her seat and nestled up against her old godfather as they finished their grog in silence.
On the far side of the room, Trucco dropped into a seat across from Rus and whispered that he had new information about the quartermaster. He suggested that he knew her schedule now, and suggested again that Rus might want to partake in an opportunity if it presented itself, and that Grok might not notice if a few things went missing. Rus reminded the rogue that theft was what Jakes had been killed for, and Trucco shifted uncomfortably in his seat, scratching as the lash marks on his back and grudgingly conceding that it was perhaps not the best idea. He admitted that he was happy to have allies, though he was unaccustomed to it, and Rus admonished him to keep his head down and stay out of trouble, and they’d all get through this together. Trucco demurred that he couldn’t promise to stay out of trouble, and quickly changed the subject. He complimented Rus on how he’d handled himself in the brawl that morning. Rus pointed out that Trucco’s nose was still broken as a result, and suggested that he go look for Sandara Quinn. Trucco perked up, recalling that Ms. Quinn had healed one of the newcomers the previous night – Daina, was it? Rus cautiously replied that the woman had, indeed, claimed that was her name. Trucco asked what Rus thought of her and Torlan — he remarked that Daina had seemed unwilling to fight. Rus replied that it was hard to judge someone on how they fought belowdecks, unarmed, bereft of any weapons they might have trained with, but that the dwarf had acquitted himself admirably. Trucco agreed that Daina at the very least carried herself with confidence, and excused himself to go find Sandara to see about his injury.
Finding Sandara sitting alone, Trucco brashly lied that he’d smashed his nose in after falling from the rigging, and asked if she could help. Assessing his injuries, she lamented that he may have waited too long, but agreed to try. Scooping some sea water out of a bucket, she murmured a prayer to Arawai and splashed it over Trucco’s face. The salt stung at first, but he felt the bone crunch as it mended itself. Scrunching up his face, Trucco thanked her, and promised to return the favour at one point. She nervously insisted that she was just trying to make friends, to help her stay safe. Trucco commended her attitude, and as Sandara began to lecture him about staying on Master Scourge’s good side, the cocky rogue turned and walked away mid-sentence. With his injury taken care of, he had other things on his mind, and he had never been one to suffer being told what to do.
It was getting late. Returning to the weapons deck to string up their hammocks once again, Trucco, Daina, Torlan, and Rus mulled over their days. It did seem, more and more, that Sandara Quinn’s insistence that “who you know” on the Storm Reaver mattered above all else. As Daina closed her eyes and tried to get comfortable, she reflected on the day’s conversations. There was the skyknight, Rus, playing his cards very close to his chest. Daina had hoped to appeal to the common ground of their service to Cyre, but his caginess allowed Torlan’s insistence that he’d bought or stolen his service coat to scratch unbidden at the back of her mind, like a cat begging to be let in. Pushing that thought away, she considered the flirtatious gnome, Conchobar. The revelation that he was also on board the Storm Reaver unwillingly was giving her pause regarding her initial assessment of him, and she suspected that there was more to him than his foppish, lecherous exterior suggested.
But those thoughts, and those questions, would have to wait for yet one more day.
Behind the Scenes
- Question of the week: Where did you grow up? What is your relationship with that place? What is your relationship with that family? While the full answers to this question can be found in the session audio, I’m just going to point out that 3/4 of the party is from Cyre. 😂 Too soon?
- Torlan had the highs of that fight…and most of the lows! With big dice explosions on his attack rolls (and passable ones on his damage), he put on an impressive show…but also suffered either two or three crit fails in the space of about twenty minutes, followed up by one from Daina. Kevin likes to refer to critical failures as “character development.” Boy howdy did we have plenty of character development in this session!
- Our unplanned encounters this session yielded some very interesting results! Rus taking a break from rat catching to investigate the cargo hold constituted his Shipboard Action (sneaking) for the day, which led him straight to Owlbear and a few more questions to hold onto for the future. For Daina, I took Influence as my Shipboard Action and asked Phillip to play it out as someone I’d already crossed paths with coming down to the galley for a snack or something. He rolled to determine who I’d meet, and the result was Sandara…but after starting the scene, he did a pivot to say Conchobar was there instead. I was caught off-guard, but Phillip assured me that he had a good reason for bringing Conchobar to me instead, and I have to admit that the end result was me warming up to him more than I’d anticipated.
- I had originally intended to have Daina use that chunk of hematite to stake Giffer at the card table, because Daina doesn’t have any points in Gambling, and thus had to make an opposed roll at a d4-2 plus the wild die (1d6). Torlan was alarmed when he realized Daina’s plan, and Phillip encouraged me to roll for myself as Giffer isn’t a Wild Card and thus would only have whatever single die he has in Gambling, so to that end, I had little to lose (metaphorically speaking) by making my own skill check. Well, I went along with it…and both Giffer and Conchobar enjoyed substantial dice explosions (actually resulting in a tie) while, with no more bennies to my name, I wouldn’t even have hit an unopposed target number. And that’s just how Savage Worlds goes sometimes. The fact that anyone can, at any time, wildly succeed or fail miserably at anything they try is part of the fun.