On this episode of Mourners of Lhazaar, our four unlikely allies take Sandara Quinn’s advice to make friends on board the Storm Reaver to heart after they learn who among them can handle themselves in a fight. While Rus discovers a secret lurking in the cargo hold, Torlan fights for the honour of clan Kolladron, Daina gives a flirtatious gnome a second chance, and Trucco cozies up to Sandara himself.
Special thanks to Kristian Serrano for the intro narration!
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.
As the unwilling new crew members of the Storm Reaver get to work, the promise of a bold new alliance gives Rus much to think about while Trucco and Torlan find their own ways of dealing with Master Scourge and Daina soon discovers that her own code is no match for the bloody ways of Prince Mika Rockface and her crew.
Special thanks to Kristian Serrano for the intro narration!
As the shock of their new situation turned to a cold acceptance — not that Master Scourge and Mister Lagraa gave them any choice in the matter — the unwilling new crew members of the Storm Reaver were assigned to their duties, and it was time to get to work.
Master Scourge, the half-orc whose temper belied his unusually small stature, set the cocky shifter Trucco to man the sails and run gear up and down the rigging. The scarred old dwarf Torlan Kolladron, still clad in nothing but underclothes that had seen better days after having been stripped of his amour upon being brought on board, was sent belowdecks to take care of the ship’s rat problem, and Cyran skyknight Rus was tasked to be a runner, delivering messages at the regular crew’s beck and call. Torlan’s goddaughter Daina, a former House Deneith mercenary, had been ordered by the fearsome first mate Mister Lagraa to report to the ship’s cook.
Down in the galley, Daina found a dwarf with a mug of ale in one hand and a skillet in the other. He was juggling both of them with ease as he rocked back and forth with the motion of the ship, and it was rather obvious that he’d refilled his mug plenty of times that day already. When he didn’t look up at her approach, she called out to him.
Turning his head, he gruffly sized her up as she introduced herself and asked what she should call him in turn. He genially declared that his name was Krornik Kragshard, but everyone on board called him Fishguts. He’d been aboard the Storm Reaver “three years too long,” and was glad to have an assistant at last. He pointed at a row of harpoons propped against the wall and told Daina that he needed some turtles for that night’s stew. She remarked that it was nice to have fresh food on a ship and asked what the crew normally liked to eat, hoping to ingratiate herself in ways that could benefit her and Torlan’s situation. Fishguts scowled and told her it didn’t matter what the crew liked. The Storm Reaver, he declared, was rotten to the core. Her captain was the worst, meanest, most sour captain he’d ever met, and the first mate was no better. As Fishguts shooed Daina off to get hunting, she told him that they seemed to have something in common, and that she’d be back later to share his ale.
After a few hours working the rigging, Trucco had become impatient with his situation and decided it was time to take matters into his own hands. Hopping down to the deck and approaching Master Scourge, he told the pirate that he’d seen something wrong with the ropes used to move cargo, hoping to distract him enough to sneak away. Ultimately, his distraction was handed to him on a platter when Torlan returned to the deck with some dead rats in hand, and Scourge turned his back on Trucco to lay into the old dwarf for not working hard enough. Stealthily disappearing down a hatch, Trucco explored his way to a partially open door through which he could see a female half-orc working among a series of locked chests and well-stocked shelves — he’d found the quartermaster. Hearing Scourge’s yelling grow louder, he quickly returned to the deck feeling confident that his absence had gone unnoticed.
As Master Scourge laid into Torlan, the old dwarf calmly replied that he’d been working his ass off and there just weren’t that many rats to catch, which only served to enrage Scourge further. Torlan assured him that he’d keep at it, changing the subject to get a better sense of what daily life was like on board the Storm Reaver, and how Scourge fit into it. He inquired as to how the pirate liked to spend his free time, and noted that it was curious that, on a ship like this one, that there had been no bets placed on the earlier climbing contest between Rus and Trucco. Scourge sneered at the attempt at small talk. Torlan, he growled, wasn’t a true Cloud Reaver dwarf. After enduring some more insults, Torlan accepted that there was no progress to be made in speaking any further.
As far as Rus was concerned, no one on board could accuse him of slacking. After a long afternoon of relaying messages back and forth, he found himself becoming quite familiar with the layout of the ship, but he was unused to this kind of exertion and soon found fatigue setting in. On the main deck, in his first real moment of peace and quiet that day, a woman approached and introduced herself as Sandara Quinn.
Furtively looking around, she pulled a wand out of the pouch on her hip and held it out to Rus, saying she’d seen it taken from him when he’d been brought on board. She told him that she’d convinced the quartermaster, Cutthroat Grok, that Rus worshipped the Devourer and would curse her if she kept that wand in particular. Rus asked Sandara how long she’d been on board the Storm Reaver, and she replied that she’d been press-ganged in Elysium less than a week earlier. He asked if she knew what kind of action the ship was preparing for, and she told him that Prince Mika had recently suffered a streak of bad luck. After a failed attempt at reaving that had ended in being chased down and badly damaged by a Karrnathi galleon, the Prince had elected to sail into Regalport for repairs, and Sandara mused that her decision to press-gang Rus from under Prince Ryger’s nose had likely been a way to feel better about failures. Rus asked Sandara what her usual profession was when she wasn’t sneaking around and telling lies, and his undertones went over Sandara’s head or ignored as she told him that she’d previously been working with her late father, a fisherman. Rus noted that she had spirit, and if nothing else, that was at least half of what it took to be a sailor if the stories were to be believed. With that, he was shouted at to deliver another message, and they parted ways.
As dusk fell, a loud call echoed throughout the ship: “Bloody Hour! Everyone on the main deck!” Looking up from the stew she’d been stirring, Daina turned to Fish Guts with a question in her eyes, but the dwarf simply shooed her out of the galley and returned his attention to his ale.
The whole crew was assembled. Scanning the deck for Torlan, Daina took note of roughly half a dozen assorted dwarves and orcs, along with a couple of halflings and a gnome who was doing his best to stand out from the crowd. Dressed in a gaudy purple outfit and sporting an eyepatch, he met Daina’s eye as she looked out over the deck and swept off his hat, bowing deeply and giving her a wink. Sensing an opportunity, Daina sidled over to the gnome and asked him what was going on. He gleefully informed her that it was the Bloody Hour — and though it would likely be too frightening for a dainty lass such as herself, who clearly didn’t belong on a rough vessel like the Storm Reaver, the Bloody Hour was a regular occurrence. Tonight, however, he promised her that it would be different.
Before Daina could draw an explanation out of him, a group of pirates appeared from below, escorting the dwarf who had been chained up in Torlan and Daina’s cell that morning. Looking down from the quarterdeck, clearly relishing the moment, a terrible grin sat on Prince Mika’s face as she declared that Jakes Magpie had been caught stealing. Theft was a grave crime aboard the Storm Reaver, and he was hereby sentenced to keelhauling. At Mika’s orders, Scourge and Lagraa bound Jakes’ hands and feet to a long rope hanging over the ship’s rail, and as Lagraa loosened her grip on her end of the line, Jakes was quickly pulled over the edge and disappeared beneath the surf.
Exhausted from his day’s work and still coming to terms with his new situation, witnessing this gruesome punishment was too much for Rus to bear. Bile rose in his throat, and he ran to the rail to avoid vomiting on the deck. As Daina watched, stone-faced, Torlan found her in the crowd at last and muttered that Master Scourge seemed to have it out for dwarves in particular — a suspicion Daina found herself believing as she observed that this keelhauling was looking particularly slow and painful. Torlan turned to another dwarf nearby and asked her if she knew what Jakes had stolen. The pirate simply replied that he had been caught stealing from the quartermaster’s stores, but didn’t say what he’d been accused of taking. Jakes had confessed to the crime, but she suggested that his guilt was not quite as certain as Prince Mika made it out to be.
Trucco, for his part, had never witnessed a keelhauling before and watched the proceedings with a combination of fascination and fear. He told Rus that it was a good thing he’d puked overboard, for throwing up on the deck was very bad luck, and inquired if he was alright. Rus waved away the shifter’s concerns and said he was just tired, and Trucco complimented him on his ingenuity during their unwitting climbing contest — it had been an excellent game. Looking around, the unflappable rogue loudly announced that this was a good lesson not to steal, then leaned in close and whispered that he knew where their belongings were being held. He inquired if his new friend would be up for a little thievery, and Rus agreed to try should the opportunity present itself.
Meanwhile, as Torlan tried to get to the bottom of whether Jakes Magpie had been falsely accused, Daina sensed that the dwarf’s time was running out. Unable to contain herself any longer, she stepped forward before Torlan could stop her and boldly told Mister Lagraa that it was time to pull Jakes out of the water. He’d done his punishment, the Storm Reaver didn’t have enough crew to spare, and it was time to end it.
Turning to look down at Daina with a sneer, the hulking orc asked the brazen human what else she thought they should do. Standing her ground, Daina replied that she thought they should pull Jakes up and let him get back to work. Mister Lagraa’s voice grew darker as she asked Daina how she would run the ship, and Daina was not ignorant to the threat in Lagraa’s voice. She cautiously replied that it wasn’t her ship — she was just a woman with an opinion. “Oh, that’s right!” Lagraa shouted. “It’s not your ship! So shut up, and don’t speak again.”
Unfortunately for Jakes Magpie, it was clear that Daina’s intervention had the opposite effect she’d intended. While she and Mister Lagraa had been speaking, the orc had let go of the rope dragging Jakes entirely, leaving him fully submerged. He was drowning. Though Mister Lagraa’s warnings were clear, Daina saw no other hope for the dwarf than to keep pushing her own luck. Raising her voice, she turned to look over the crew and again called out that they didn’t have enough people to let Jakes die. Though confident that there was little chance of appealing to the crew’s better nature, she hoped to at least make a last-ditch appeal to their pragmatism.
Mister Lagraa was done entertaining Daina’s defiance. Drowning her out with her own shouts, she ordered a couple of pirates to seize Daina and tie her to the mast while she pulled a cat o’ nine tails off her hip. “No!!!” Torlan cried out in horror. “Let me take the lashes instead!” Craning her head back to meet his eyes as she was dragged across the deck, Daina shouted back that he would do no such thing as Mister Lagraa laughed that he’d likely earn his turn in time. As the pirates finished tying Daina’s hands, another man under Master Scourge’s watchful eye pulled Jakes Magpie’s limp, bloodied body back onto the deck at last. Scourge ordered them to cut the line and throw him back in for the sharks, and with that, Mister Lagraa stepped forward to deliver Daina’s punishment with a cruel grin on her face. It was clear that she aimed to enjoy herself.
Daina was determined to not give Lagraa the satisfaction. As the cat fell on her back once, twice, three times, she let out small sounds of pain through clenched teeth, and focused on the crew watching her. Many of them seemed to be enjoying this spectacle a little too much, but one seemed uncomfortable at witnessing the beating, and she made a mental note to seek him out when it was all over.
As Mister Lagraa stepped back and ordered Daina to be cut down, Master Scourge called out “Shifter! Your turn!” Trucco looked up, confused, as Scourge ordered him to take Daina’s place at the mast as punishment for having spoken to Prince Rockface out of turn earlier that morning. Despite Trucco’s protests, and Torlan’s attempt to avoid seeing another person beaten, this was one situation the wily rogue could not talk himself out of. Unlike Daina’s punishment, however, his was much less severe. Master Scourge delivered the lashes with a simple whip instead of Lagraa’s cat o’ nine tails, and though it still stung, the easier weapon combined with the scrawny man’s inability to hit nearly as hard as the hulking first mate left Trucco with his pride injured more than his body.
While Torlan pushed his way forward to assist Daina to a seat where he could tend to her wounds, the quartermaster Cutthroat Grok appeared on deck with a barrel of grog and began doling it out, ordering everyone to drink their ration or else face three lashes. Daina raised an eyebrow and questioned that it must be pretty special grog, prompting a laugh from the quartermaster, who simply said that the captain required everyone to drink it before retiring for the night. On edge after having had her drink drugged the night before, Daina gave the mug a cautious sniff and a small taste but couldn’t find anything off about it. After taking a deep drink, she held the rest out to Torlan and asked that he pour it over her back to try to stave off infection as she gestured to Rus and Trucco to come shield them from prying eyes. That caught the attention of Sandara Quinn, the woman who had given Rus his wand earlier that morning. She echoed the quartermaster’s orders not to spill any out, and offered to take a look at Daina’s wounds instead. As Daina drained her mug under Torlan’s watchful eye, they made their introductions. Sandara drew a small pot of ointment out of her pouch and began applying it, prompting Daina to question her access to important ship’s resources. The other woman replied that the ship had recently lost its healer, and she was the next best thing. While Rus continued to sit in silence, Trucco perked back up as he enjoyed his drink and complimented Daina on her ability to take a beating. Pulling her shirt back down, Daina carefully stood up, and the four newcomers made their way belowdecks.
Down in the galley, Daina decided to seek out the dwarf who had seemed to find her beating distasteful. She found him sitting alone over his supper. Looking up at her approach, he remarked that she’d handled herself well during Bloody Hour. He gave his name as Giffer Tibbs, and told her that he’d been aboard about two years. Lowering her voice, Daina asked Giffer whose choice it was for him to sail with the Storm Reaver. He replied that he hadn’t come aboard all too willingly — not press-ganged, but he needed to make a living, and he hadn’t been doing too well with that. Daina asked if the ship wasn’t doing well in that regard, and he growled that the Storm Reaver was a rough ship to be on, with the meanest captain and first mate he’d ever sailed with. In spite of that, he had no complaints about Prince Mika’s ability to keep the crew paid. She was very good at what she did, but his spending habits left something to be desired. Daina chuckled and told him that she couldn’t help with that part, but suggested that he never knew when a better opportunity might present itself. As they chatted, he complained about the harsh discipline on board, and spoke of a sharp divide between those who were in Scourge and Lagraa’s good graces, and those who were not. The latter group suffered the worst of things by quite a bit.
Exchanging a few last pleasantries about the stew, Daina excused herself for the night, and Torlan quickly followed her back to the weapons deck where Rus had already strung his hammock and was fast asleep. Sitting her down on a crate, he insisted on inspecting her back for himself. Gently feeling the wounds for any sign of infection setting in, he had to admit to himself that Sandara’s ointment had done an excellent job. He’d seen much worse damage from a cat o’ nine tails, but still rumbled that it was good that his young charge would be working down in the galley and not exposed to the salty sea air that would cause her wounds to sting. Daina tiredly assured him that she’d been fine, for she’d seen worse. He sighed and reminded her that after all their time traveling together, she’d agreed to tell him before acting on her brazen plans so that he wouldn’t have to be so damnably worried.
“What was I supposed to do, Torlan?” she replied sadly. “He was running out of time.” Besides, the more attention there was on her, the less there would be on him. Torlan raised an eyebrow at that — there was hardly any attention on him, beyond it seeming that Master Scourge had it out for him in one way or another. Alarmed at the news that Scourge had Torlan in his sights, she admonished him to keep his head down and stay out of trouble, and that he should let her handle any trouble that came his way. He shook his head ruefully. That’s what made her a good person, he said, pride slipping into his voice. He knew she had wanted nothing more than to save poor Jakes Magpie, with no thought for herself. She sighed and reminded Torlan that she’d failed to save Jakes. He wasn’t the first, and he wouldn’t be the last. But she had to try.
Quickly changing the subject to put Torlan off fussing over her, Daina asked her godfather what his first impressions were of the shifter and skyknight who had been willing to help her after Bloody Hour. He felt that the shifter seemed a decent sort, but he’d had more than his fill of the other one’s type, though he conceded that anyone who shared in their current troubles was an ally. Daina expressed her desire to approach Rus, thinking that the more common ground she could find with other crew, the better their chances were of improving their fortunes. She had, after all, served alongside Cyran regulars for many years during the war. Torlan cautioned her against trusting Rus. He suggested that an insignia coat could be purchased anywhere these days, prompting a small laugh from Daina. Who, she questioned, would be selling a Cyran skynight’s coat all the way out in Lhazaar? Torlan conceded that the man did seem awfully attached to that coat, and Daina again insisted that she would seek him out tomorrow.
As the hour grew late, the deck began to fill up with sailors hanging their hammocks for the night. Daina and Torlan did the same, claiming spots near where Rus and Trucco were already fast asleep. Though not without incident, the four new arrivals had survived their first day aboard the Storm Reaver, and could only guess at what tomorrow would hold.
Behind the Scenes
Question of the Week: what are your feelings about the Treaty of Thronehold and the end of the Last War? If you’ve been reading the recaps for Seekers of the Ashen Crown, you know all about the Question of the Week, and if you don’t, I am going to tell you about it! DM Phillip has a table of background questions, many of them Eberron-specific like this one, and rolls on it at the start of every session. Answering the question not only helps us enrich both our characters and the game world, but we get a bennie for it too, allowing us to start the session with four bennies instead of the usual three. It’s something we all look forward to.
Everyone’s new duties were played out similarly to a Quick Encounter. We each made one roll specific to our jobs, the outcomes were narrated, and failure to meet the Target Number of 4 resulted in taking a level of Fatigue.
Trucco was given the choice to roll Athletics or Boating to work the rigging. He chose Athletics, and succeeded.
Torlan was given the choice of Stealth or Survival to catch the rats. He chose Stealth, and also succeeded.
Rus was required to roll both Athletics and Vigor as a runner. He failed his Vigor roll and elected not to bennie it, taking on a level of Fatigue.
Daina was required to roll Survival. Though Untrained and rolling a d4-2, a sufficient dice explosion ensured that she completed her turtle hunt with no ill side effects. Which was a good thing, considering what happened next…
Both Daina and Trucco earned their beatings by playing to their major Hindrances. Trucco’s overconfidence meant he couldn’t resist talking to Mika Rockface in spite of being ordered not to by the Prince herself, while Daina’s strict code of honourwould not let her stand by and watch Jakes Magpie drown. Resisting the cat o’ nine tails required a Vigor roll made at a -1, while the roll to resist the easier whip was made at a +1.
Each day, we are allowed to take two Shipboard Actions: one during the daytime, and one or two at night. Trucco’s decision to sneak away from Master Scourge to explore the ship was his Shipboard Action for the day, while Daina’s attempt to seek influence with Giffer Tibbs was hers for the night. Like their jobs, both these actions were resolved with a single roll.
Groggy, cold, and sore, Torlan Kolladron slowly opened his eyes to find himself in a small, cramped cell. The ship was unfamiliar, but he could tell from its rocking and creaking that it was clearly at sea. Hearing footsteps start to approach, Torlan looked over to see his goddaughter, a human woman, slowly coming to on the floor beside him. Beside her lay an unfamiliar dwarf in shackles, fast asleep.
“Where are we?” Torlan rumbled. “Last thing I remember was drinking with you and then — Daina? Are you awake?” Stirring at the sound of Torlan’s voice, confused, Daina opened her eyes as the footsteps grew louder. “Torlan? Are you hurt? Are you okay?” Reassuring her that he was fine, satisfied that neither was in immediate danger, Torlan looked around again and took stock of their situation.
The previous night in Regalport had been one full of promise. Torlan had gotten a lead on an old crewmate he’d been looking for, and his search —and Daina’s single-minded quest to build a true New Cyre in the Lhazaar Principalities — had taken them both that evening to the Salty Dog and Baron. While Daina met with a man whose promise of financial resources seemed to be the most genuine offer she’d had yet, Torlan settled in at his own table to keep his ears open and hope that Hershen himself might yet walk through the door. As Daina drank to a new partnership, Torlan enjoyed a few drinks of his own, but she never drank to excess, and Torlan knew it would take much more than he’d consumed last night to put him down. He felt fairly confident that he knew the nature of their predicament, as he’d found himself in similar straits before…
Down in the bilge, Ruskel awoke to feel water sloshing around his feet, and his hands shackled. Next to him lay a slender shifter with spotted grey fur, out cold or fast asleep, and shackled as well. As the hatch in the ceiling banged open, Ruskel saw flickering torchlight and the shifter awoke with a start. “I didn’t start shit!” he shouted. As Ruskel tried to calm him and urged him not to make any sudden moves, his outward steadiness belied his swirling thoughts. “Let’s start real slow,” he said, keeping his voice level. “I’m Rus.” “I’m Trucco” the shifter replied.
Becoming more aware of his surroundings, Trucco remembered very well that he had, in fact, started shit. He’d been looking to get drunk, wound up finding himself trying to avoid two familiar faces with bad intentions, tried to create a distraction that had morphed into a bar fight, and his attempt to escape the fray had ended with him getting knocked out cold before waking up here, with Rus, in shackles. He declared that there was a second time for everything, and they’d been put into service on this ship. “Press-ganged”, Rus corrected him with a sigh. “You mean we’ve been press-ganged.”
Rus, for his part, had been having a drink at the Salty Dog and Baron and trying to sort out his rapidly dwindling finances when he heard a scream from outside — a scream that sounded an awful lot like Kayte, the shopkeeper he’d befriended during his brief time in Regalport. Running out the door, he turned down the alley beside the tavern…and the last thing he remembered was a sharp blow to the back of his head.
Three pirates made their way down the ladder and ordered the two captives to their feet. Making sure Trucco was able to stand, Rus got up himself, and Trucco asked one of the pirates for his name. He was met with disdain, and he and Rus were hurried out of their cell and up the hatch.
Back in his own cell, Torlan chuckled at the realization that of all his possessions, he’d managed to hang onto a small holy symbol of Kol Korran which had fallen into his bird’s nest of a beard. Though she’d been relieved of her sword, knife, and satchel, Daina’s panic turned to a sigh of relief as she felt the familiar shape of her locket through her shirt. Of all the things their captors could have missed, that was the one that mattered the most. They quickly quieted down as three pirates came filing into the room — an orc, a dwarf, and the skinniest, scrawniest half-orc either Torlan or Daina had ever seen. The half-orc ordered them to get on their feet and up on deck, unlocking the cell as he did so. Standing up, Daina gestured to the shackled dwarf. “What about him?” The half-orc snarled that the dwarf had a date with the Keeper that night. Understanding his meaning, Daina asked what the dwarf’s crime was, and was ordered to shut up as the pirate raised a belaying pin to strike and Torlan urged her to obey. He exited the cell and fell in line in front of the half-orc, and Daina quickly followed him.
As they made their way up to the next deck, they were joined by more guards, escorting Rus and Trucco. Both stood out in their own way. Trucco’s red jacket was open, exposing a golden navel piercing that complimented the two more dangling from one ear, and his loose, yellow woolen breeches swished as he walked with unusual confidence for a man in his predicament. While he was truly a sight to behold, it was Rus who caught Daina’s attention. An otherwise unassuming human man with fair skin, messy brown hair, and a five o’clock shadow, he was wearing the royal blue coat of the Cyran military — and insignia that denoted him as a Skyknight of the Order of the Northern Cross, the Queen’s own. Beneath his coat, empty bandoliers crossed over his shirt, and he wore a rather plain necklace that had presumably not seemed valuable enough to their captors to take from him. For their part, Rus and Trucco found themselves looking over an old, particularly short dwarf with weathered skin, his long hair and beard slicked with dirt and grease. Half his scalp was bald and scarred, and he was dressed in nothing more than tattered underclothes. Standing over him protectively was a human woman, pale and red-haired, dressed in a simple shirt, vest, and trousers tucked into plain boots. Her clothing was obviously old, but well made and well cared for, and she carried herself with a military air. Still kept largely separate and urged along by their captors, with some occasional shoves and nudges here and there, the four of them could do little more than acknowledge each other with a glance and keep moving.
Ushered up yet another ladder, they passed by a set of open doors leading to a mostly empty cargo hold from which they could hear the sounds of pigs, and from which Trucco thought he heard a quiet whimper. Next up was the gun deck, an impressive affair with five ballistas lining the port and starboard and the even more impressive prize of a siege staff mounted in the bow. “What a beauty!” Trucco marveled. From behind him, the orc who was nudging him along declared that the Storm Reaver was one of the best on the water.
Torlan immediately recognized the name. The Storm Reaver wasn’t just any ship — it was the flagship of the Cloud Reavers, captained by Prince Mika Rockface herself, and the ship’s reputation was every bit as fearsome and ruthless as that of its crew. Whispering to the others, Torlan told them that he’d heard of Cyran ships escaping the Mourning being commandeered by the Cloud Reavers, and noted that it was unusually bold of them to press-gang anyone from Regalport, the capital city of Prince Ryger ir’Wynarn’s Seadragons.
Emerging into the morning sun, the captives heard a cruel voice call out from the quarterdeck. “Glad you could join us at last!” They looked up to see a huge, hulking orc woman, dressed all in red and standing on the railing. From behind her, a dwarf appeared. Set apart by her ostentatious armour and rings on every finger, she strode to the edge of the quarterdeck and welcomed the new crew members to the Storm Reaver…and introduced herself as Prince Mika Rockface. She declared that she only had one rule: none of them were to speak to her. Ever.
Trucco couldn’t resist. Immediately trying to ingratiate himself to Rockface, he earned himself a sharp rap on the head from the orc standing guard behind him. The Prince smirked and remarkedd that it looked like they had another one for the Bloody Hour. Without elaborating further, she announced that the ship remained short-handed, and anyone who killed a fellow crew member would be keelhauled. After she was satisfied that the new crew understood her orders, she gave them over to the orc in red — Mister Lagraa — telling her to make pirates of them.
Hopping down onto the main deck, Mr. Lagraa declared that she needed a new rigger. As she ordered them to climb to the crow’s nest on her mark, Torlan counseled Trucco to save his strength for more important things, and he responded by beginning to call on his beast ancestors as his claws began to grow. Daina, for her part, suggested Rus remove his coat so that he wouldn’t get tangled on it, advice which he flatly refused. Stretching, Trucco loudly announced that he was an excellent climber and that no one should be ashamed of their own inferior performance, and introduced himself to his fellow climbers with a flourish.
Still a bit groggy and unsettled, Daina’s leadership instincts kicked in, and she launched herself into the rigging before Mister Lagraa started them off. Taking that as his cue, Rus shed his jacket after all and scrambled up after her. Seeing an opportunity, he kicked a large crate down from where it was being held aloft by a block and tackle and, grabbing the rope for himself, rode the ensuing momentum high into the air. Seeing Rus get the best of him, Trucco decided to forgo the rigging in order to scramble straight up the mast, quickly gaining on his human opponent.
Still on the deck, Torlan turned to the skinny half-orc and commented that he knew his way around a ship, but the pressure was making him topsy-turvy and shouldn’t be held against him. The furious man screamed at him to get climbing as the crate Rus had used as a counterweight came crashing down, barely missing him. Stumbling out of the way, Torlan told the half-orc that there was no way he could catch up with the others, but they could make the contest interesting. If he pulled the other side of the rope Rus was hanging from, it would throw him off-kilter. Without looking up, the half-orc snarled that he was one step ahead, and threw his belaying pin high into the air. As Rus reached out to transfer from the rope to the rigging, the pin smacked his hand away. Clinging to the rope, he felt his momentum shift and he began to descend.
Giggling to himself, Torlan began climbing the rigging at last, and quickly caught up with Daina. Though an experienced sailor, this had never been one of her roles, and while she was able to hold her own she remained far behind Rus and Trucco. As Torlan passed her, she admonished him not to strain himself and continued to scramble after him. He called back that he’d been a rigger while she was still in swaddling clothes, and then shouted up to Rus that peacocks didn’t fly very well. The younger man retorted that they flew very well in the autumn when they shed their tail feathers, and continued to climb. Trucco wondered aloud if there was a prize, and if not, there should be, for he was about to win! Pulling himself into the crow’s nest, he found himself face-to-face with a human man with a huge head of wild, curly hair and a beard to match. He ordered Trucco to get out of his crow’s nest, to which the unflappable shifter replied that he was just visiting.
As the others returned to the deck, Mister Lagraa lined them up again and asked Rus if he could cook. He replied that he had lived most of his life on military rations. Sneering, she barked the same question at Daina, who cautiously replied that she could cook well enough. Putting the same question to Torlan, the dwarf replied that with nary a tuber or mushroom in sight, he was out of his element. Turning back towards Daina, Mister Lagraa shoved a finger into her chest and ordered her down to the galley to serve as the cook’s mate. Unwilling to be separated from Torlan, she hesitated, earning her another shout from Mr. Lagraa and a reassuring look from the old dwarf. She went on her way, and Mr. Lagraa informed Torlan and Rus that they were to report to the skinny half-orc — Master Scourge — as his new swabs…whatever that meant.
Behind the Scenes
The contest to climb the rigging was run as a Dramatic Task…with a few twists. Successes were individually tallied instead of accumulated as a group, and Michael (as Torlan) threw a monkey in the wrench with the Turncoat! adventure card that led Master Scourge to take Rus down a peg on his behalf. The belaying pin thrown at Rus imposed a -2 on his next roll. Do I sense a rivalry brewing?
Daina and Torlan both kicked off the Dramatic Task drawing clubs, which impose a -2 penalty on the roll as well as a complication of the DM Phillip’s choosing. We could have spent bennies trying to get better cards to make things go more smoothly, but where’s the fun in that?
Rus, on the other hand, began the Task with three raises. Kevin is new to both Savage Worlds in general and this table in particular, but he had no problem embracing both everything SWADE has to offer and our table’s flair for the dramatic as he described riding a block and tackle up the mast to express that fantastic roll.
Phillip allowed me (Daina) to treat the Dramatic Task as an encounter, which allowed her to make use of her Martial Flexibility skill. We are using the bones of the class edges from Savage Pathfinder with some adjustments, and Daina is a Fighter. She chose to claim the Free Runner edge for five rounds, which added a +2 to her Athletics roll for climbing and also allowed her to negate penalties associated with difficult terrain, which the rigging was considered.
Speaking of adventure cards, we’re trying something different this time around. In Seekers of the Ashen Crown, there were only two adventure cards in play per session, doled out to the players who rolled the highest on a d100. This time around, we’ll each be receiving one card per session. We’re free to give our cards to other players, but can only play one of them.
Phillip has been a Dungeon Master since the days of the Red Box Edition. Loving Eberron for 10 years, and converting everyone one he can to Savage Worlds since he received his Adventure Edition rewards from Kickstarter. When not plotting to kill his players by the Emerald Claw or Dreaming Dark, he likes gardening, reading, cooking, watching movies, playing video games, diving into deep personal growth, and leading men’s retreats.
Michael has been at both sides of the gaming table since becoming enchanted with the Eberron world three years ago. He received his introduction to Savage Eberron via the characters of Quentin and Ivello in Seekers of the Ashen Crown.
Ernesto is a loquacious and easily excitable roleplayer from a far off land known as Uruguay. His tabletop journey began in 2017, but he didn’t fulfill his dream of finding a long-term group until he stumbled upon the Savage Tales of Eberron crew. After a year of filling the role of Aruget – an honourable hobgoblin with a thirst for single combat – Ernesto was finally able to say he’d achieved that goal…but not without the desire for more. Rumour has it that he loves to dance in elevators when there’s no one else on board, and that a chocolate bar left his in his house will not survive longer than 24 hours.
Kevin is new to the Savage Eberron table. He has been playing in Eberron since the Summer of 2020, and is now a sometimes DM on top of playing in that world. His first long foray into TTRPGs was the White-Wolf game Exalted. When not tossing math rocks, he might be spotted enjoying various dark caffeinated beverages.
Elly has been adventuring in Savage Eberron since August 2020. An avid roleplayer who loves talking about Savage Eberron to anyone who will listen, she is the primary author of this blog and has really enjoyed finding this new outlet to support her lifelong love of writing. When not at the game table (or writing about it), Elly can be found painting miniatures, playing video games, knitting, cooking, and tending to what some might call far too many houseplants. Her orchids are doing great, by the way.
Savage Tales of Eberron is a labour of love which Elly has been writing since April 2021. Originally created as a place to house her session recaps and mechanics talk, it’s now expanding to include an actual-play podcast of our tables continued adventures in Eberron using the Savage Worlds system. There’s a good deal of content to sift through already, so let’s get you started!
Campaign 1: Seekers of the Ashen Crown (text recaps only)
This epic, 45-week journey took the party from Sharn to Droaam and back again. It’s a story of hair-raising battles, hidden motives, friendship and treachery, and the fluid nature of honour. Click here to get started.
Campaign 2: Mourners of Lhazaar (text recaps)
Join us on the high seas of the Lhazaar Principalities! New narrative recaps every week, featuring behind-the-scenes looks at each session that you won’t get anywhere else. You can find those in the Session Recaps menu, or click here to get started.
Savage Tales of Eberron: An Actual Play Podcast
Mourners of Lhazaar will be the first campaign featured on our podcast! Those episodes will be available to stream or download via the Podcast menu, as well as on Spotify, Amazon Music, and Podbean. Click here to get started.
Table Talk: Playing Savage Worlds
This category features dedicated mechanics articles that take a deeper dive into core aspects of Savage Worlds, such as hindrances, bennies, and cinematic combat.
Yes, you heard that right. I am delighted to finally be free to announce that the newest project on the Tales crew’s slate is a weekly, actual-play Savage Worlds podcast set in Eberron! While the text-based recaps (and attached mechanics talks) you all know and love will continue to be posted every Wednesday as usual, you’ll now have the chance to enjoy our actual sessions, in full, start to finish. Join us as we laugh, cry, make questionable decisions, and discover new and creative ways to throw curveballs at the GM. You won’t regret it.
The first episode is slated to launch in late September/early October. You’ll be able to access it here, and we are planning to make the show available on streaming services such as Spotify soon after. Keep watching this space for updates on where to find Savage Tales of Eberron for your listening pleasure.
New Names, Old Faces
You’ve probably noticed that this site hasrebranded to Savage Tales of Eberron. This was a choice we made together to unify the site, recaps, and podcast under one umbrella.
As well, I’ve updated a few things to keep site navigation streamlined as we add a new campaign, and a new section for the podcast. The recaps for Seekers of the Ashen Crown and Mourners of Lhazaar campaigns are now accessible through the Session Recaps menu, and the archives are now housed under their own drop-down menu on the sidebar. The url hasn’t changed, so all that tasty content is still (mostly) all in the same place! It’s just becoming a bit better organized as we continue to grow, and as always, I’m really excited that you’ve chosen to join us on this journey.
While the Savage Eberron community is still a small one, it continues to slowly but surely grow. Since 2019, gamemaster Dylan Ramsey and the Pizza Party have been doing their part with an epic, evolving story that’s taken them all across Khorvaire and beyond, with Savage Worlds Adventure Edition helping them get there. Dylan is an accomplished GM, skilled storyteller, incredibly talented artist, and this past year he has twice lent his voice and acting chops to portray plain, simple tailor Deven Sar’kaas in the collaborative campaign hosted by Eberron creator Keith Baker for his Patreon supporters. I had a chat with Dylan about our mutual love of Savage Worlds, the adventures of the Pizza Party, and a slightly distressing coincidence of sorts involving an eel. Enjoy!
Dylan, which came first in your life, Eberron or Savage Worlds (and how did you get from one to the other)?
DR: Oh, Eberron, for sure! I’ve been an Eberron fan since I was in elementary school and remember carrying around that original campaign book just about everywhere. Granted, I never PLAYED a game in Eberron until after I discovered Savage Worlds (via the actual plays of Saving Throw Show). After my group finished up our last campaign in 2019, I was glad they decided to give a new system and a new world a shot with me for Towering Tales.
Excellent. It hooked you in pretty quick, then! So, why do you love Savage Worlds as a vehicle for Eberron so much?
DR: The mechanics really do it for me on a lot of levels. Edges and hindrances help get across that pulp-noir feel of Eberron (no hero is perfect), and are just a great foundation to build characters off of in general. You can really mix and match them and make just about any character you can imagine – and there are A LOT of characters you can imagine in a setting like Eberron. Bennies and exploding dice are also some of my favorite game mechanics ever. I love being able to reward players in a meaningful way and for the dice to be able to REALLY tell a story when they decide to keep on acing (or critically fail)!
You have been running and chronicling a Savage Eberron campaign called Towering Tales for over a year now. How would you describe Towering Tales in five sentences or less?
DR: Oh gosh, over TWO years at this point–where did the time go?! Towering Tales is an odyssey of love, war, and hijinks, all tying back to a conspiracy of nightmare spirits pulling the strings of the waking world to try and save their own from utter annihilation. Over the course of the campaign, the Pizza Party have encountered everything from pint-sized velociraptor luchadors and flumph-based vigilantes, to dancing leprechaun slavedrivers and a warforged detective who goes off on monologues at the drop of a hat. I love blending drama and silliness to really get players invested in the world, and it’s definitely worked out! So if that sounds like your cup of tal, get ready to laugh, cry, and lie awake at night wondering how in the world my players get away with some of these ideas.
What’s the hands-down best thing that’s ever happened in Towering Tales? I guess if you have to you can pick more than one moment. But it’s okay to say you have a favourite. I won’t tell your players, I swear.
DR: Dramatic: picture a runaway lightning rail emerging from the dead-gray mist of the Mournland. A warforged boxer named Crown is locked in combat with warforged fanatics atop the speeding car, electricity arcing all around them; while inside, Waxillium d’Cannith (whiskey-loving lawman and team dad) tries to defuse bombs rigged to explode when the train hits Vathirond station! I ask Wax’s player to make a Vigor roll. CRITICAL FAILURE! I read verbatim from the book: Wax WILL die by session’s end. His friend, the drow fashion designer Lana, swoops in to try and help him as he begins bleeding profusely from the toxin the Lord of Blades injected him with, but he asks her to give his final regards to their friends and pushes her off the train. Wax takes one last swig of whiskey and tells his dead wife that they’ll be together again soon as he derails the train at the last possible second and saves the city. A sobbing Lana is silhouetted against the explosion, vowing never to let this happen again.
Silly: probably that time they yanked an eel out of an undead fishman’s butt and then shoved a staff up there, which they promptly used to summon a couatl INSIDE the dude, causing the necromancer to explode in a burst of radiant energy! I guess you could say they rekt ‘im.
Okay, first of all, I’m just gonna point out that my very first TTRPG was Jason Statham’s Big Vacation, and one of the random complications you can roll for a scene is eels. So while I am kind of grossed out by this story, I also feel a strange connection to it. Anyways, last question: where can people find the full and continuing adventures of the Pizza Party? Shamelessly advertise yourself, my friend. I’m here for it.
DR: A scene with eels is such an oddly specific complication… But hey, here’s a handy-dandy link to the main session directory. That page includes links to every session recap, as well as to the player character pages, which list their edges, hindrances, advances, etc. We play pretty much every Friday, and I usually have new recaps done by Monday. I foresee things getting even more insane as we speed on towards session 100 and the fate that awaits the Pizza Party at the end of this road, so stay tuned. Whether you pick things up at session 1, 21, 65, or anywhere in between, I hope you all enjoy reading about whatever happens NEXT TIME ON TOWERING TALES!
That’s all for now, folks! Keep your eyes on this space later this week for more pre-campaign planning…and a very exciting announcement.
It’s finally time for that new campaign I’ve been talking up for weeks, which means it’s time for a fresh cast of characters. As we prepare to take to the high seas of the Lhazaar Principalities, I want to take a look at the single biggest aspect of Savage Worlds that vexed me the most as a new player: building a character.
My TTRPG experience prior to taking up Savage Worlds was largely one of what I like to call “plug and play” character creation. Powered by the Apocalypse uses “playbooks”, pre-built archetypes that the player selects a small set of abilities from but are otherwise clearly defined in terms of a characters build and purpose and even include guidance on how to roleplay each archetype. Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition provides players with more flexibility in the form of subclasses, feats, etc., but still holds to some hard and fast truths. All paladins can smite, all rogues get Sneak Attack, and all characters across all classes have the exact same set of skills, albeit with varying degrees of proficiency. Bards have access to different spells than wizards, wizards can swap out their prepared spells after a long rest, and if your table allows feats, that’s a whole other area to explore. But my point is that, at the end of the day, the bard can’t ever smite, the wizard can’t ever make a sneak attack, and the rogue is getting Uncanny Dodge at level 5 no matter what. Even with considerably more flexibility than the afore-mentioned Powered by the Apocalypse, 5e is still at its core built around archetypal character classes designed to stay in very particular lanes. And I have no problem with that; it’s a good and valid way to approach tabletop gaming that many players (this is an understatement) enjoy and have lots of fun with (I personally love a good game of Masks, in which I’ve been using the Delinquent’s playbook). But Savage Worlds has a different appeal.
Savage Worlds doesn’t so much ask the player what role they want to fill as it asks them who they want to be. With a point buy system that allows and encourages players to invest in a wide variety of skills, edges, and powers, everyone begins with a d4 (basic training) in five core skills, but from there the world is your oyster. If your dream is to play as a traveling storyteller who is adept at navigating the seedier parts of town and might not be the best fighter but knows how to control the flow of battle so that their companions can more effectively dispatch the bad guys, there is absolutely nothing baked into Savage Worlds that is stopping you from doing that and being supported by the mechanics while doing it. How you play your character depends heavily on how you choose to customize them.
With that in mind, there are certain guidelines for character creation that are encouraged by both the core rules and my GM. Let’s take them from the top!
Who do you think you are, anyways?
With so many choices in play, where does one start to figure out what their character is going to look like? The recommended answer is to first determine your race (human, elven, dwarf, etc.) and hindrances. You can take as many hindrances as you like, though you can only use up to four points worth of hindrances to trade for an attribute increase, more skill points, or an edge. Choosing hindrances early on will help you narrow down what skills and edges matter to your character, and when it comes to edges, there are quite a few that can actually compliment hindrances! A character who is Hesitant is required to draw two Action Cards and choose the lower of the two…but if she is also Calculating, she receives an advantage if her Action Card is five or less. Not only do that hindrance and that edge feed each other mechanically, they also tell a great story.
Next up is to determine how to distribute your attribute points. Your Agility, Smarts, Strength, Spirit, and Vigor all start at d4 and serve as a baseline for how costly it will be to increase their linked skills, and there are attribute prerequisites for many edges. With the Multiple Languages setting rule in play, the size of your Smarts die will also determine how many languages you can start the game with at no additional points cost.
Then comes choosing and increasing your skills. Every player character begins with a d4 in five core skills: Athletics, Common Knowledge, Notice, Persuasion, and Stealth. Depending on what setting your game is using, you could find yourself choosing from a pool of two dozen more skills — or more, or less, depending on the game world. While it’s possible to overdo it by spreading yourself too thin, I would suggest that Savage Worlds rewards diversifying your build as opposed to pumping points into maximizing a small number of skills. Core rules allocate twelve points for skills at character creation, with the possibility of an optional setting rule that allocates fifteen points to start, and the option of using hindrances to buy more.
Next come edges. Edges are special abilities that confer bonuses like improving skill checks, the ability to take actions that you wouldn’t normally be able to, penalty reductions, improved resistances, better outcomes from certain roleplaying scenarios, and more. As per the core rules, if you purchased points through hindrances (up to four points total), you can use those points to take up to two edges at character creation. Typically, that means that you can only take Novice edges, and will still need to meet any attribute or skill requirements as well (e.g. the Charismatic edge can be taken at Novice rank, but requires a d8 in Spirit). I say “typically” because my GM is partial to the setting rule Born a Hero, which waives the rank requirements for starting edges, opening up even more ways to tell your story from the beginning.
Edges are, in my opinion, the best argument for a practice my GM strongly encourages: planning your advances ahead of time, to the tune of ten advances or more. While this plan will almost certainly change over time as your role in the story evolves, having it in place will help ensure that are largely able to meet all the skill and attribute prerequisites in order to take the edges you want, when you want, and will also save you a lot of frustration and (if you’re anything like me) decision paralysis. Take it from someone who knows.
The last thing to do is purchase your starting gear. At my Savage Eberron table, everyone starts with 300 galifars (gold pieces) to use at their discretion. You can immediately spend as much or as little of those starting funds as you like, on whatever you like. What does it make sense for your character to have on their person when they join the party? What sort of eventualities are they prepared for? What matters to them? Answering those questions will help you decide how to spend — or hoard — your starting funds.
Introducing Daina ir’Lizani: Soldier, Sailor, Leader.
So what does all this jargon look like in practice? Glad you asked! My new character, Daina ir’Lizani, is a human war deserter from the dead nation of Cyre who has found a new purpose as a champion for her fellow survivors, and now seeks to carve out a piece of land in the Lhazaar Principalities that the good people of Cyre can call their own. Pre-emptively elected as the future captain of the ship the party will inevitably commandeer, Daina is built for leading, commanding, and supporting Extras and Wild Cards alike in and out of battle. Her Code of Honor (major hindrance) compels her to keep her word, treat prisoners fairly, and behave according to her beliefs of what a gentlewoman should be. Her Vow (minor hindrance) is to her friends and her crew, to put their needs first and keep them safe and prosperous and seek to help them achieve their own goals and purposes. And because everyone has a “tell”, when Daina is concentrating or focusing on something, her Quirk (minor) leads her to idly play with the hilt of her tago knife — a ceremonial dagger used in the traditional Cyran courtship dance, a gift from her late husband, and a gesture that could be easily misinterpreted as a threat if whomever she’s speaking with does not recognize the knife’s innocent purpose. Here’s what all that looks like as a Novice:
First of all, you may have noticed that the base math for attribute points doesn’t line up here. As a human, Daina’s Adaptability gives her the choice of starting with a d6 in the attribute of her choice (as opposed to the standard d4), and she used two points from hindrances to get that second d8. So that’s how she is able to start with a d8 in two attributes.
The skills are business as usual, using the optional setting rule that allocates fifteen points instead of twelve. With five new skills in addition to the core set, plus the three additional language choices granted by Multiple Languages, this distribution takes into account the edges she wants to gain within the next two ranks and how to get there without feeling like she’s just treading water while getting set up. This particular assortment of skills also reflects her military background and experience as a sailor.
Next up are her starting edges:
Alright, this one’s gonna take some explaining.
First things first: a staple of my GMs games is everyone getting Hard to Kill as a free edge at character creation. Hard to Kill removes wound penalties from the Vigor roll needed to determine whether or not an incapacitated Wild Card lives or dies (and, if they live, how badly injured they’ll be as a result) and gives players a fighting chance against what is otherwise a very ugly death spiral.
For this campaign, we were each also given a free class, background, or professional edge. For Daina, that’s Savage Pathfinder’s Fighter edge…with a few changes. There’s been a lot of debate in the community about the balance of class edges, and this is one of several which my GM adjusted for our table. With that caveat, Martial Flexibility and Combat Training are both benefits of this customized version of Fighter (the original design only grants Martial Flexibility). Two Weapon-Fighting and Command round out the group thanks to the other benefit of Adaptablity (all humans receive a free edge at character creation), and my remaining hindrance points.
Finally, we have all the gear an itinerant sailor needs:
Daina’s starting inventory tells a story. The rapier with its +1 parry bonus seemed like a natural choice for an accomplished swordfighter. The grappling hook, rope, tinderbox, whetstone, and whistle are all handy things to have at sea, and the navigator’s tools give a +1 to Survival checks used to read maps and charts and determine a sense of direction. Since I will be making all those checks at an Untrained d4-2, navigator’s tools were an easy choice for this ship’s captain to have in her arsenal. The flute is a nod to the famous Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Inner Light”, but without any training in Performance, I suspect that playing the flute will be something Daina enjoys but does very poorly.
You may have noticed a glaring lack of any sort of armour. That is a conscious decision on my part at the moment, with the campaign expectation that we’ll be spending a lot of time at sea. An armoured character falling overboard is probably going to have a really bad day, and to help support the story of it being rather impractical for a sailor to wear anything that could drown them, the setting rule Unarmored Hero is in play (+2 on soak rolls when not wearing any armour).
The lion’s share of my starting funds went towards Daina’s tago knife and locket. Both items with profound personal significance, the tago knife’s handle is quite ornate and the locket contains a minor illusion. You’ll be learning more about that locket as the campaign progresses.
Everyone has a story to tell.
When people ask me why Savage Worlds has become my preferred TTRPG system, I have one consistent answer: for me, it hits the sweet spot between the mechanics supporting the story and the story supporting the mechanics. I think this is particularly evident in how characters are created and built, the customization available to all characters, and the flexibility and diversity the system provides and encourages. It can take some doing to figure out exactly how to arrange the mechanics of it all in order to match your story, but it’s worth it in the end.
Interested in experimenting with building a Savage Worlds character? It’s easy to get started on savaged.us! The Savage Worlds Aventure Edition and Savage Pathfinder core books are available on peginc.com and DriveThruRpg. (Note: Savage Pathfinder includes the Adventure Edition core rules, so you do not need to purchase both books in order to get all the content.)
Follow our heroes on their adventures in Eberron for Savage Worlds!