Session Recap Week 7: Blow the Man Down

On the 24th of Zarantyr, Master Scourge shouted everyone awake early and called all hands on deck.  The inclement weather that had been steadily building over the past three days had developed into a full-blown winter squall, and as the Storm Reaver rocked back and forth in the storm’s clutches, the crew quickly donned their foul weather gear and hurried up above.  They were greeted with sharp gusts of wind and sleet in their faces, and a coating of ice already covering the deck and rigging.  

Scourge wasted no time barking out orders — he needed everyone in the rigging.  Rus was sent up into the mainsail, Trucco was sent to keep ice off the upper lines, Torlan was ordered to secure, stow, and double-check all the ropes on deck, and Daina was ordered away from the galley that day as Sourge sent her up to Giffer and Tamroth to keep repairing the rigging as the storm conspired against it.

As Torlan worked, he easily made small talk with those working with him.  It seemed he was gaining some popularity among the crew thanks to his nightly performances, and had been approached more than his new friends.  Chatting more with Cog, he learned that the man was not only one of the only humans on board, but only one of the few crew members who was, technically speaking, unaffiliated with the Cloud Reavers.  He did not consider himself one of them, but had volunteered to join the Storm Reaver just a month earlier when it had been docked in Cliffscrape.  Filing away that curious piece of information, Torlan began working alongside Badger, a dwarf who was definitely a Cloud Reaver — and proud of it.

Asking Badger if there was more to being a Cloud Reaver than reaving and pillaging, Torlan was met with a sneer.  What, Badger demanded, was the point of being out in the Lhazaar if they weren’t going to do that?  There were those who spoke of unifying the Principalities, in which case there would be no need to reave against each other anymore — had they lost their minds?

Torlan frowned and asked Badger if these practices earned him favour with Arawai or the Devourer.  The Cloud Reaver gestured up to the quarterdeck where Prince Mika herself was manning the wheel.  She’d outlived many other captains he’d met, and sunk and taken the vessels of many other captains as well.  If that wasn’t a mark of the Devourer’s favour, he didn’t know what was.

At their respective ends of the ship, Rus and Trucco threw themselves into their work.  Placing his hand on the mast, the shifter whispered sweet nothings to the Storm Reaver, commiserating over Scourge’s mistreatment of both of them, and promising her they’d have their revenge.

Up in the rigging, making a steady stream of repairs alongside Giffer, Daina remarked that the ship seemed to have sailed clear past Port Verge, and that they didn’t seem to be heading anywhere that would help the state of the perpetually broke dwarf’s purse.  Giffer shrugged at that; Prince Mika went where she wanted.  He recounted a story of them having been chased a few weeks back by a Karrnathi privateer, and the ship’s navigator had been lost in the ensuing fight.  Taking a quick glance around, he confided in Daina that the ship felt a bit aimless at the moment, but he was sure that the Captain would get them where they needed to go — it would just take a bit longer than usual.  Daina asked Giffer what prizes or ports lay this far north, and he replied that if they stayed on their current course, they’d soon hit a shipping lane.  He suspected that Prince Mika’s goal was to catch another vessel at a disadvantage, wounded or isolated, and take them as a prize.  Daina remarked that a ship as well equipped at the Storm Reaver picking on an injured ship wasn’t a fight to be proud of, and her companion scowled a little at that.  He insisted that Prince Mika was as tough as they come, to which Daina shrugged and questioned how tough Mika was if the only fight she’d pick was against a much weaker opponent.  

Seizing on the revelation that the ship was missing a navigator, Daina suggested to Giffer that she might be able to step up and fill that role.  As they continued to work and chat, he confirmed her observations that there was a sharp divide between the officers and the crew, and that approaching the Prince herself would be a bold, unusual, and perhaps foolhardy move.  

Late into the afternoon, the storm continued rocking the ship.  Still busy doing the unfamiliar work of maintaining the rigging, Daina was tying down lines as she felt and heard something snap.  From above her head, a line attached to a block and tackle came flying past her — and slammed into Giffer, knocking him out of the rigging and into the raging sea below.

“MAN OVERBOARD!!!”

Hearing Daina’s call over the raging storm, Trucco sprung into action.  Dropping out of the rigging and running across the main mast’s spar, the nimble rogue began to shift.  Hopping over the rail near where Giffer had fallen, Trucco dug the claws of one hand into the ship’s hull to secure himself as he extended his other hand to Giffer down in the water, shouting at the dwarf to grab his hand.  Dropping the coil of rope he was working on, Torlan barreled over to where the ship’s mage Grovis Stormbeard stood on the quarterdeck, hoping he could work his arcane skills to help Giffer somehow…and out of the corner of his eye, saw a fist come flying straight for the side of his head.  Knocked on his ass, seeing stars, Torlan looked up to see a large orc looming over him, yelling at him to stay off the quarterdeck.

Shoving any guilt for fear to the back of her mind for later, Daina steeled herself and grabbed the same rope that had knocked Giffer into the water.  From his vantage point, Rus called out to guide her throw, and the weight of the block and tackle served Daina better than it had Giffer as it helped her send the rope through the winds.  

Seeing Trucco perched on the hull, but Giffer no closer to the ship, Rus ran to the end of the spar he’d been perched on.  His soldier instincts kicked in as he crossed his arms over his chest and dropped feet-first into the raging sea, plunging right past Daina as he finally made her way down from the rigging and ran up to the rail.  Seeing two people now overboard, Daina expertly secured a lifeline and threw a second one into the water.  Grabbing the first rope Daina has sent down, Trucco called out “hey Rus, catch!” and tossed the line, buoyed by the block and tackle still attached to it, to the exact spot where Rus had disappeared into the sea.

Shaking off the effects of his blow to the head, Torlan decided that the Devourer needed to be satisfied one way or another in order for fortune to better favour whoever had fallen overboard.  Glancing around, he noted that everyone’s attention was occupied by Rus and Giffer in the water, and settled on his quarry.  Narwhal, the Cloud Reaver dwarf who had jumped him and the others a few days earlier, was standing apart from the others, peering over the rail at the commotion below.  Striding up behind him, shielded by the deafening sound of the wind and waves, Torlan grabbed Narwhal’s belt with one hand, his leg with the other, and pitched him over the side before quickly making his way over to where the rescue operation was in full swing.

Giffer was swimming for his life, and though visibility was low, Daina felt tension on the end of her line as her new friend grabbed onto it.  Bracing herself with one foot against the rail, She leaned back and began to pull Giffer in.  As she fought against the sea trying to claim the dwarf for itself, Torlan appeared beside her and joined his greater strength to hers and they began to make headway, drawing Giffer closer and closer to safety.

While Giffer’s prospects were looking good, Rus’ attempt to save him had taken a turn for the worse.  As he broke the surface of the water beneath the line Trucco had thrown to him, he smashed his head on the tackle still attached to it.  Stunned, he took in a mouthful of seawater and began to struggle against the waves.

As Daina and Torlan continued to pull Giffer in, the former mercenary scanned the surface of the water and realized that she had seen Rus go into the water — but hadn’t seen him come back up.  Telling Torlan that someone else was in trouble, she exhorted him to finish helping Giffer as she tied a lifeline of her own, and dove in after Rus.  Seeing Daina go flying over his head, Trucco decided it was time to wrap things up as best he could.  Climbing back onto the deck, he joined Torlan at the rail and together they finished bringing Giffer to safety.  Coughing up water, he thanked them profusely as Torlan cryptically replied that he should thank Narwhal instead.     

With Giffer safe, and Daina in the water, Torlan decided to take that particular matter into his own hands…and dove in after her.  Watching everything go to Khyber as even more people went into the water even though Giffer was now aboard, Trucco looked wildly around the deck and ran up to the one member of the crew he knew he could trust: Owlbear.  As he begged the big man to lend his strength to the rescue efforts, he also caught Conochbar and Rosie’s attention, and the excitable halfling immediately rallied the others on deck to get off their asses and get everyone out of the water.  

As Daina began to swim for Rus, she saw him make it to a rope that began pulling him towards the ship — and could make out the shape of a dwarf swimming for her.  Fighting her way towards them, already tired from the events of the day and suffering from the shock of the freezing water, she found herself unable to make any headway as the dwarf swam strongly for her…and she could see that it was Torlan.  Grabbing the lifeline, he helped her back to the ship, where they hardly had time for a quick embrace before Master Scourge shouted at everyone to get back to work.  

The storm continued to rage throughout the night.  Food was taken in short shifts, no one was allowed to leave the deck to sleep, and everyone received a new assignment.  Rus and Trucco took Torlan’s place stowing the ropes, Torlan was to replace Daina working alongside Giffer in the rigging, and Master Scourge sneered that Daina was good for nothing as he ordered her up into the crow’s nest.  

Some time later, Daina found herself being slapped into consciousness by a dwarf named Ratline.  Rus and Trucco had also passed out in the coils of rope on the deck, but weren’t so lucky as it was Master Scourge himself who discovered them, and promptly assigned each of them six lashes for laziness.  Ever the resilient one, Torlan worked through the night with no issue.

The next morning, the storm had begun to break at last, but there was still no rest to be had.  As the roll call was taken and breakfast was passed out, Master Scourge doled out yet more assignments for the day to clean up the storm’s mess and the Captain handed over the wheel to Mister Lagraa as she disappeared into her cabin.  Though the sea was at rest, there was none yet to be had for the crew, and tensions remained high as everyone wondered what the new day would bring.

Behind the Scenes

  • Question of the week: What is one special or unique thing about you?  Is this hidden or known by your friends?  Do you encourage this in yourself or are you ashamed of it?
  • Choosing to let Daina’s work roll up in the rigging sit as a failure (I decided not to bennie it) served as the narrative catalyst for the line to snap, knocking Giffer into the water.  The ensuing Dramatic Task had an interesting twist, as the tokens the party accrued were to support Giffer — each of our success added a bonus to his roll to swim back to safety.
    • The DT kicked off with Rus netting himself a joker for +2 to his rolls that turn, and bennies for the whole party, thanks to his Level Headed edge that allows him to draw two cards per round and keep the one of his choosing.  Torlan, meanwhile, decided to keep his cards — which came up clubs, imposing a -2 penalty to his rolls as well as an unintended consequence determined by the DM.  
    • Torlan had a rough round one, rolling a crit fail on his action, and then suffering a blow to the head as his complication.
    • Rus used his Joker to support Daina in getting a rope to Giffer, narrating it as him using his good vantage point on the spar to guide her throw.  Daina was permitted to use Martial Flexibility —  which RAW does not specify that it can only be used in combat encounters — to take on five rounds of Nerves of Steel, which negated her wound penalty left over from the fight with Owlbear.  Between that boost and Rus’ excellent support roll, she had a success with two raises on the throw.  After that first round, Giffer had enough bonuses to net him a success with one raise, and things were looking good.
    • Round two kicked off Level Headed pulling in another joker for Rus.  The odds of that are pretty crazy, since the deck re-shuffles after a joker is drawn.  Unfortunately that round also saw his critical failure of the night, which was narrated as him hitting his head on that good ol’ block and tackle after diving in after Giffer.
    • Daina rolled a success with three raises to secure her own lifeline and go in after Giffer, but after acing his rolls to stealthily throw Narwhal overboard, Michael decided to let the dice determine his response to seeing Daina go into the water.  He rolled Smarts vs. Spirit, to follow his head or his heart, and his heart won the day.
    • At that point, ¾ of the party was in the water…and Giffer was fine.  Ernesto played the “Get A Clue!” adventure card to ask the DM for advice on how to resolve the scene, and he was reminded that we’ve made some friends aboard the ship, which led Rosie and Conchobar to rouse the crew into action and end the encounter.
    • Once we were all safely aboard, Daina played the Folk Hero adventure card in the hopes that it might sway some of the crew over to her side, for her part in rescuing Giffer.  The effects of that card will play out in the weeks to come, and are not up to me!  I’m excited to see it.
  • After almost a year and a half, this session marked the first time I’ve seen Ernesto (who plays Trucco) be wary of getting a critical failure. He typically approaches crit fails with gusto, and sometimes even spends his bennies to chase them on purpose! But with so many lives at stake, he felt uncharacteristically cautious, and acted accordingly. Though he did at one point ask me if I had a spare character handy. 😀

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