Session Recap week 8: The Highs and the Lows

After working throughout the night due to the storm, the crew was dismayed to be put to work immediately the next morning with no respite — but Torlan, having managed without falling asleep, was not only in good shape but found that the wound he had taken down in the bilge had finally healed.  Fishguts, for his part, was even more drunk than usual, and Daina had to take over the job of handing out the hardtack that morning as well before the cook passed out too many biscuits over the side.  Scourge ordered Trucco into the mainsail with Giffer, yelling for Narwhal to get into the rigging with him, and ordering Rosie to go find the missing swab.  Rus was ordered to inspect and fix the ropes, and Torlan ran messages for the officers again.

In-between messages, Torlan sought out Badger and found the surly Cloud Reaver dwarf working the weapons deck.  Badger expressed surprise that Torlan had the stones to go in the water during the storm — was he brave, or just daft?  Torlan replied that he was a little of each, and Badger nodded in agreement.  Changing the subject, Torlan lowered his voice and wondered if nearly losing Giffer during the storm, and Narwhal having gone missing as well, wasn’t a sign that the Prince had started to lose the Devourer’s favour.  Badger made the sign of the dark god, looking around to make sure no one was listening, and cautioned Torlan not to let any officers hear him.  The old talespinner pointed out that the Storm Reaver had been sailing aimlessly, and then they’d been caught in a storm.  Badger declared that the Prince knew what she was doing, and he trusted her, but his demeanour suggested to Torlan that even a die-hard Cloud Reaver such as he was beginning to have doubts.  

As he worked, Trucco decided he’d try to see what chatter he could overhear from the quarterdeck.  Easily remaining unnoticed in the rigging above the officers, the continued rain kept too much of his focus on keeping his footing and muffled the conversation to boot.  As he watched the ship’s artificer Hakrilli Quarne, pondering how he might steal something from the bandoliers full of vials and other items she was draped with, she disappeared into the map room and he overheard that the ship had indeed been blown off course and the officers were debating whether or not to continue sailing north.  

That afternoon, Grok made her daily pilgrimage to the galley to drink with Fishguts in spite of the dwarf already being three sheets to the wind.  As he finally passed out, Daina seized on the opportunity to get to know the genial but mysterious quartermaster, asking when she and Fishguts had begun this little ritual of theirs. Grok replied that they’d been doing it as long as they’d been on board together.  Fishguts knew his stuff, and he was able to give her something that wasn’t rum, which she was tired of.  Daina remarked that Grok wasn’t like the other officers on the Storm Reaver, prompting Grok to demand if that was supposed to be an insult.  “Well, no” Daina replied.  “Not to you, anyways.”  She observed that Grok seemed to care about the crew in a way that the others didn’t.  Grok treated the crew like people, rather than like tools to be used up and discarded in order to make the captain rich.  Leaning back in her chair, Grok thanked Daina for her opinion and said she was just trying to do her job.  She served the Captain — Mika had been good for her.  Daina asked if Mika had been good to Fishguts as well, prompting a shrug.  Grok thought that the cook was still on board because of his skills, but she was worried that he might be wearing his welcome thin due to his frequent incapacitation.  Daina sighed and shared in Grok’s worry, promising to look after Fishguts, and expressing hope that Grok would look after them both in return.  Ever the mercantile mercenary, the quartermaster replied that she’d look after anyone who had a good deal to be made.  If Daina found anything that wasn’t rum, she’d appreciate it.  Daina chuckled and questioned if she could do anything about that before they made land, and Grok suggested that there might be something hidden away in the galley’s chaos.  Daina told Grok that she’d remember her if she found anything, and hoped they could make a good deal soon. 

Bloody Hour found Rus, Trucco, and Daina all given six lashes for falling asleep during the night’s travails.  Trucco held his words in the face of Scourge calling him a “pussycat” once again, and took his beating in stride.  Rus managed the punishment as well, but already doubly exhausted and still injured from her fight with Owlbear, Daina passed out, slumping against the mast as the whip fell.  Trucco helped Torlan get her to bed and the old dwarf sat beside her that night, keeping a protective watch while Trucco and Rus both went straight to sleep.

The next morning, the sea had quieted, but it was back to work as usual.  Scourge narrowed his eyes at Trucco and ordered him to work the lines, hoisting and lowering the sails all day, while Rus was back to hauling and stowing the ropes on deck and Torlan was told to grab a bucket and scrub.  As they began to disperse for their duties, Mister Lagraa strode to the edge of the quarterdeck and shouted at everyone to listen up.  Narwhal had gone missing — had anyone seen him go overboard during the storm?  Conchobar piped up that he hadn’t seen anything, and Lagraa took a particularly long, stern look at Rus, Trucco, Torlan, and Daina as she announced that anyone found to be involved with Narwhal’s disappearance would be keelhauled.

At the mainsail, a rope wound around Trucco’s leg and hoisted him up into the air upside-down.  As Scourge and some of the other swabs gathered around and laughed heartily while the hapless rogue dangled above them, Trucco managed to cut the rope and dropped down hard on the deck to even more laughter with little more wounded than his pride.

As he worked, Rus struck up a conversation with a fellow swab named Aretta Tarravan, a half-orc he’d known to be fairly foul-tempered.  He’d seen her enjoy the assorted fights and contests that had taken place over the past week, and casually asked if she’d be down for some arm wrestling later.  She perked up at that, and Rus admitted that he found himself in a bit of a foul mood, and wanted to blow off some steam.  Aretta lamented that she was getting bored after everyone having gone to bed early the previous night, and Rus observed that she’d worked well throughout the storm.  She replied that the storm was just the Devourer talking — they were in his domain, were they not?  Rus agreed, keeping up his ruse as a vassal of the dark god, and Aretta looked him up and down and remarked that he seemed a bit scrawny to arm wrestle with.  He shrugged off her dismissal and told her he’d been a soldier, asking her how she’d spent the war.  Aretta had been with the Cloud Reavers for years, relieving other ships of their goods, and that was enough for her.  Rus asked if they were reaving for Prince Rockface, or the Devourer, and Aretta leaned in for a story.  Prince Rockface, it was said, was born of the sea and favoured by the Devourer.  Aretta claimed to have seen a halberd bounce straight off the Prince — if that wasn’t proof of the blessing of the Devourer, what was?  Rus listened with interest and then told Aretta that he looked forward to their match later, and she proposed a game of Hog Lob instead.  Rus agreed, and she followed up a friendly punch on his arm with the declaration that she liked him.

Shockingly, Fishguts was sober that morning, and though he kept Daina busy helping him, she had other things on her mind now that she wasn’t tied to the stove all day.  Gathering up the small cask of Karrnathi wine she’d found the previous day while trying to make heads or tails of the galley once again, she told Fishguts that she was off to visit Grok.  At the other end of the hall, Grok was taking inventory, and they made a little small talk about Fishguts soberness until Daina informed the quartermaster that she was looking for some things that belonged to her, and it was time to return them.  Grok insisted that she ran a business and didn’t hand out free stuff.  Daina pointed out that Grok had gotten it for free, to which the quartermaster replied that it was now Prince Mika’s property, and Daina replied that the Prince hadn’t paid for it either — but she’d cut Grok a deal.  Placing the cask on the counter, she announced that it wasn’t the best vintage she’d ever had, but it wasn’t rum either.  Pouring a small cup, Grok declared that she’d drunk better piss-water at a brothel in Cliffscrape, and definitely wasn’t giving Daina all her stuff for it — but she could be convinced to part with some.  Daina offered the cask in exchange for two items: her rapier, and her sextant and compass.  She suggested that, since the Storm Reaver was without a navigator, those tools would allow her to help the ship get where it was going faster and more reliably.  

Grok laughed in Daina’s face.  Did she really think the captain would listen to her?  Daina affably replied that she didn’t, but that was why she’d tell Grok what she found instead.  Grok informed the other woman that she found it hard to believe she was anything other than daft, but she’d humour her this time.  And what, she asked, was the other thing Daina was after?  Appealing to Grok’s sense of how rough life was on board — especially for a woman —  and the fact that everyone else on board was armed, she declared that it was high time she got her rapier back.  Grok crossed her arms and told her that if Daina tossed in a couple of galifars alongside the keg, she’d call it even.  Grateful for the bet Trucco had placed on her fight with Owlbear that had put those galifars in her pocket, Daina slid the coins across the counter.  Placing her compass and sextant into her belt pouch and strapping on the comforting, familiar weight of her sword, she nodded to Grok that she’d see her at six bells as usual and returned to the galley.

After the evening meal, Aretta began to call out for the game of Hog Lob to begin, and the crew began to trickle up on deck while Torlan snuck away to his berth to consult his magical augury on the wisdom of giving a eulogy for Narwhal, the man he had thrown overboard during the squall.  As his fingers began to dance over his harp, the notes came forth in equal parts discord and harmony.  Musing to himself that the Traveler brought sorrow as well as revelation and change, he spoke to the air that he would see which one was brought to him tonight.  Turning to see Daina behind him, he let her in on his plans.  He revealed that he planned to use the eulogy to try to subtly sow seeds of discord among the crew, prompting Daina to question when he was ever subtle, but also tell him as much to reassure herself that they’d be fine together.  

Up on the top deck, Aretta laid out the rules of Hog Lob.  Hefting a misshapen lump of lead in her hands, sewn into pigskin and coated in lard, she announced that the rules were simple: throw it across the deck, and the one who threw it the furthest over three rounds would come out the winner.  Removing his jacket and scarf, Rus stepped forward while Trucco cast an eye over the swabs who had laughed at him during his mishap in the rigging and placed his bet on his new friend.

The game began.  Rus’ first toss came up short, but he easily took the second round as Trucco cheered him on and upped the ante.  His faith was rewarded as Rus emerged victorious, prompting Badger to demand how he’d pulled it off.  He’d used some kind of magic, hadn’t he?  The skyknight raised an eyebrow and insisted that he had no magic with him, while the surly dwarf insisted that there was no way Rus could have bested him.  As Rus reached for a mug of grog and replied with a smirk that he obviously just had, Aretta quickly moved to defuse the situation, declaring Rus the fair winner and sending Badger on his way.   

With the festivities over, some of the crew returned to the galley to drink, and Torlan stepped forward to give his nightly performance — with a twist.  Strumming his harp as he appeared in the doorway, he hopped up onto a table to get everyone’s attention, and began the evening’s tale.

“Blown off course, our destination is far ahead, and possibly in the opposite direction.  Storms wracking at our sails, deckhands lost at sea…we’re aimless.  I didn’t know this Narwhal fellow.  Well, he was probably a right sorry bastard, just like the rest of us.  But he was hearty enough to go blow-for-blow with me a few times in fisticuffs, and I think that deserves a little bit of homage.   And I haven’t heard any of you — even you sorry fellows over the yonder — even you sorry fellows he hung around with, I haven’t seen you pay him any respects.  So I mean to give him a send-off.

I think we all have been thinking the same thing: the Devourer sought us out yesterday, and perhaps we have Narwhal to thank for us all not sinking to the bottom of the sea.  For it was after he went and disappeared some time that night in the storm, that the storm disappeared as well.”

As Torlan began to play a dirge, he told a mythical tale of a narwhal fighting a kraken, and it seemed that his steady week of performances had ingratiated him to at least some of the crew.  Grok and Cog listened intently, hanging on his words, and many of the other sailors gathered took his words to heart.  Raising their drinks in the air, many toasted to Narwhal, and began to reminisce about him in their own morbid way.

Having had a bit too much to drink himself, Trucco began to applaud wildly and stumbled up to where Torlan was standing.  He drunkenly announced that he had a few things to say about Narwhal as well.  He’d been kind of ugly, and he’d tried to beat Trucco up on his second day aboard the ship, but…no, that was all he had to say.  Staggering over to the sailors who had mocked him earlier, he challenged them to another arm wrestling contest.  They easily took his money, and Trucco made it five rounds before falling off his stool, too drunk to keep going but convinced even as he began to pass out that he’d won the day.

Relieved that Torlan’s eulogy had won the crowd over, Daina found a table and relaxed with a mug of grog as the reminiscing continued around her.  Not particularly wanting to honour Narwhal, she nonetheless for Torlan’s sake decided to contribute a song — a Cyran song of lament.  As she began to sing, Rus added his own voice to the familiar tune, and he joined with her in harmony and the Lhazaar crew began to pick up the refrain as they learned it.

Holding out her mug to Rus, she thanked him for joining in, noting that she didn’t normally sing with others.  He chuckled a little and pointed out that she was on a ship, and should probably get used to it.  She thanked him again, musing that it was good to enjoy a memory of what once had been, and he remarked that it had turned out to be a good night.  She asked if he’d made himself a few coins for winning the hoglop game, and he quickly replied that he hadn’t bet anything.  He hadn’t done it for money.  That caught Daina’s attention.  What then had he done it for?  Uncharacteristically letting his guard down, Rus admitted that when he’d jumped off the spar in the storm to save Giffer, it had reminded him of his training in the aerial corps.  It had made him feel alive in a way that he hadn’t felt in a long time.  “And the contest?” Daina asked gently.  Rus shrugged and replied that he supposed that had just been him riding that high.  Things had been real frustrating as of late, and he needed that conflict in his life.  “The highs and the lows?” his fellow veteran asked with a sad smile.  “The highs and the lows” Rus replied, and Daina raised her mug again as they drank together.     

Picking Trucco up off the ground where he lay snoring, Torlan helped the drunk rogue back to his hammock as the young man woke with a groggy start.  “Did I win?” he mumbled.  “You should see the other guy” Torlan assured him, as he ensured Trucco was comfortably situated for the night.  

The next morning, Scourge continued to shout slurs at Trucco as he ordered him into the rigging again.  Rus was sent to do some repairs under the watchful eye of the ship’s artificer, while Torlan was ordered to the bilge to help pump out the remaining storm water.  Making her way down to the galley as usual, Daina found Fishguts sitting and drinking, and he insisted that she take a seat and join him.  Passing her his mug, he grabbed another one for himself, and urged her to drink up as he began to tell a story about an uppity Thuranni heir he’d served during his time as the chef at the Armoured Lobster.  He continued to tell stories and pass Daina drinks, and they spent the next couple of hours shooting the breeze with no mention of the day’s menu or work.  

Excusing herself, Daina went on deck to try to take a positional reading with her compass and sextant back in hand…and determined that the ship had turned around. They were now headed south.  Even more determined to get a handle on things, Daina returned to Grok to let her know the ship had turned around.  Didn’t it strike her as odd that they’d spent that long headed north, done nothing, and then turned around?  Grok insisted that it wasn’t her problem, and she didn’t care anyways.  Daina asked if the quartermaster had a chart, and Grok replied that she was welcome to buy it.  Daina scoffed at that.  Did Grok really expect her to buy a chart sight unseen?  As Grok sarcastically produced a chart and held it at arm’s length, Daina squinted and as best she could determine, it showed little more than a few local landmasses.  “Fifty galifars” the ornery quartermaster declared.  Daina chuckled incredulously.  She’d been press-ganged and all her things had been stolen from her.  Where did Grok think she’d find fifty galifars, when they hadn’t even taken another ship or made landfall yet?  Grok insisted that it wasn’t her problem, and Daina mused that it would become the quartermaster’s problem soon enough if the ship didn’t make more money and people ran out of things to trade.  Grok insisted again that it had never been a problem on the Storm Reaver, and that Daina needed to be more resourceful before coming to her in the future.  Unphased and unimpressed, Daina reminded Grok that she was known to be good for her word, and that she was a good person to have in one’s corner.  Grok declared that she didn’t take Cloud Reavers at their word, which got under Daina’s skin as she bristled that she was no Cloud Reaver.  As the quartermaster stubbornly refused to tell Daina what she might be interested in trading for, the mercenary ended the conversation by telling Grok that she now saw how the quartermaster liked to do business — and she’d keep it in mind.   

Behind the Scenes

  • Question of the week: Describe a situation in which you witnessed or experienced corruption or intrigue firsthand.  What reaction did you have to these events?
  • This week marked the Mourners of Lhazaar’s first advance!  Advancement in Savage Worlds is a little different from “leveling” in other systems (very different if you’re used to 5e), and Phillip’s Table Talk article about advancement explains how it works.  Here’s what we all chose:
    • Rus: power points increase, bringing his base pool from ten to fifteen
    • Torlan: Edge – Berserk (SWADE core rules p.38)
    • Trucco: Edge – Deadshot (SWADE core rules p. 41)
    • Daina: Smarts increased from d6 to d8 in preparation for her next advance
  • Ernesto narrated Trucco’s drunken arm wrestling contest as this week’s way of expressing his Poverty hindrance, which requires him to regularly reduce his funds by half.
  • It was established during a previous week’s background question that while Daina loves to sing, and that while singing is important to her, she’s not very good at it.  The evening of Narwhal’s wake, she also still had a point of Fatigue (she was unable to recover properly due to failing her roll at Bloody Hour) and zero bennies left.  Rus also had zero bennies — but he had an Adventure Card, and played Teamwork to double the bonus from his support roll.  He passed his roll, the card brought the modifier up to +2, and after rolling Untrained (d4-2) for Performance with an additional -1 from Fatigue, that support gave me a success with a raise.  The ways in which mechanics can help tell and support the story is probably my favourite thing about Savage Worlds, and it made for a great moment since Rus has been very quiet and keeping to himself.
  • After the second or third time this session that Master Scourge made yet another racist slur towards Trucco just because he could, there was a declaration from Michael as we spectated the scene to the effect that he hopes someone has mercy on Scourge’s soul, because we sure won’t.  It should be quite the reckoning.

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